Happenings During My Tour
on the COLLETT
Jack D. Belleau, Fireman Deuce 1946-1948
I came aboard in the
latter part of ’46 in Yokosuka or Sasebo, Japan, and stayed aboard
till 2/4/48 when discharged.
Sometime in the
latter part of ’47, the COLLETT was involved in an excursion into
North Korean waters just a few miles off the coast of a large city,
can't remember the name.
We had the fastest Destroyer in the Pacific, 35 or 38 knots as I
recall. This was the
first time I was under fire.
The North Koreans sent a gunship of some kind to get us.
They cannon shelled towards us 3 or 4 times.
None of them hit the ship but the first one hit the water
several hundred yards off the fantail then each one thereafter
further astern. (Rather
The other time I was
under fire, at least I thought I was, was in Tsingtao, China. I was on the beach with
guys from the ship getting plastered in a bar owned by a White
Russian. He was selling
us 4 Roses and 3 Feathers whiskey out of OPEN BOTTLES -what dummies
I was THREE SHEETS
to the WIND when the first BOOM sounded.
The Russian bartender said it was the RED ARMY advancing on
the city, I don't remember if this was ’46 or ’47.
Anyway we dropped our hamburgers and french fries –another
mistake. (Dog burgers or
something else you can bet, I think I also had a glass of milk.)
Lord knows what any of that was.
So stupid, I didn't die though.
We started back to
the ship (about 3 miles away) as fast as we could, commandeering
bicycle rickshaws or any type of transportation we could get.
By the time we reached the ship I was stone sober, it took
about 15 or 20 minutes.
I never got a ribbon.
There was also the
time the ships purser found Chinese potatoes at a terrific price -we
had only powdered in stores.
In a few days everyone had dysentery and the harbor, from
shore to shore, was filled with you know what.
All of the ships had to go to sea to make fresh water (the
Chinese fertilized with human manure).
Another thing I did
on the ship was to overhaul the motor whaleboat.
Boy, did I screw up. I
had taken auto mechanics at school in Indianapolis, thought I was a
great mechanic. I placed
the motor on the 01 deck aft and proceeded to dismantle it.
The Chief and several others said that each time it was
overhauled in the past there were never any new parts to replace the
old ones, so I threw all the SPARKPLUGS over the side, but they were
not SPARKPLUGS, they were FUEL INJECTORS.
I guess you know what happened next.
I was sent to the mess hall
and was a Spud Coxswain, a Messcook, and a Chiefs Messcook for the
rest of my tour. I was
there so long I was made the head of the Messcooks.
As Spud Coxswain I
made the best mashed potatoes the ship had had, even the Stewards
Mates were sent to the mess hall to get them for the Officers Mess.
We went from 10 or 20 pounds per meal to about 80 to 100 each
meal. Some may remember
I had butter in multiple indentations in the pan with paprika on
As a Chief’s Messcook I made them Hoosier chili.
They had never had chili with spaghetti.
The First Class
Motor Mack and some others did midnight parts runs to the other
ships we were tied up with in Tsingtao
to secure parts because the neither the Tender or any other ship had
spares for us. There were a
few inquiries as to missing boat parts on the other ships, but the
whaleboat was repaired.
We came back to the
States in the fall of ’47 and tied up in San Diego as our home base.
We were to have a practice fight with another Can, don't
remember which one. We
ran at flank speed with the whaleboat over the side to test out the
boat, and to recover the dummy torpedo that was to be fired at us.
The ship made a sharp evasive turn to dodge the torpedo.
A large wave hit the whaleboat while hanging there and it
bounced in the air a couple times.
But then the bow went down and the motor flew forward like a
I took an early out
that was offered by Harry Truman, the President that is.
He said if you’re not shipping over you can have an early
out. I didn't find out till
later that because I took the early out, I was again eligible for
Sure enough, the
Korean War started and I was called by my Indianapolis draft board
in 1950 or 1951. I was living
in Phoenix AZ at the time, two babies, a wife, deep in debt, and
working for the Mountain States Telephone Company.
The Phoenix draft board said the state of AZ didn't want to
take care of my family while I was gone (hot darn, I got away with
That's the end of
this story. There are a
lot more I could tell but this one is long enough.
(Transcribed by Chuck Kiesling)