Interview With Joseph Harrison

From the interview with Joseph Harrison of Spanaway, WA conducted by Clio Ward by phone from the Fort Worden History Center on October 14, 2014. Mr. Harrison served in the 144th National Guard Battalion out of Tacoma in the 1960’s 70’s and 80’s when the unit held summer camps in the area, and later when they helped Washington State Parks prepare the Fort for the State Park. Here he describes his duties assisting State Parks:

“ As time went on, I was a supervisor for them on a 210 foot floating machine shop and we would tow that machine shop up there and tie it to the dock and do things around the area with the machine shop. There was also a 60 ton floating crane up there. There was an 176 foot inner island freighter that the Army brought around and we commissioned that vessel, FS313 from the Army at the dock there. That particular vessel is the sister ship to the Pueblo and it is an exact replica of the ship that the film Mr. Roberts was filmed on.

…: when they repaired the dock, in maybe, 1982, 1983, the Guard came up there and brought some of the boats again and we took all the cement off of the top of the pier and replaced all of the frame work under the dock and then put the cement back.

State Parks brought a little tug boat up but they didn’t have an operator for it all the time. The supervisor for them was Paul George, and I ended up, I had permission from the National Guard, and I ran their tug boat for them also. I ran a couple of landing crafts that we put stuff in and we moved the cement around and we did some grading on the beach there. At that time you could get behind the dock. There was lots of water. It was a lot deeper than it is now, so you could get a pretty good sized boat in there.

We put the concrete on a barge that they had and also put it in some landing crafts which were 78 feet long. And then ran them around and put them on the ramp and unloaded them and just stored them on the beach for a while.

On the FMS 313 there were 28 different working positions. There was one person from the Parks Department and the rest were all National Guard people. That was the whole idea of the Guard doing it was to save money for State Parks. They didn’t have the money to repair the dock.”

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