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James Fecker Navy

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James Fecker - 1606 Views
honored by Michael Ford

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Assigned: USS Scania (AKA 40)
Location of Service: South Pacific
Gender: male
Basic Training: New York
Current City: Ft. Jennings
Current State: Ohio
My War Stories
  1945 (Courtesy Michael Ford, Delphos Herald). Because World War II required much perseverance on the part of the American public and the need for servicemen was high, the Navy found itself in short supply of ships. Their construction was often rushed and they broke down because they were not sea worthy. James Fecker, 82, was drafted into the Navy in 1945. Due to an influenza outbreak at Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago, Fecker was sent to New York State for boot camp. As soon as he finished shining his boots, Fecker boarded the USS Scania (AKA 40), an Artemis class attack cargo ship named after the southernmost historical province of Sweden. The ship was only in use for two years and four months. “We shipped out of Norfolk for the South Pacific, but it was a new ship that was commissioned about six weeks before and it broke down before we got to Panama. We were there for a week or two and they couldn’t fix it here, so we went to San Francisco on one motor. We could only go about eight miles per hour and it took two weeks to get there,” he said. The Scania shipped out of Norfolk on May 31, 1945 headed for Pearl Harbor. Needed turbine repair kept it in port at San Francisco from June 16 until July 1. After arriving at “Pearl,” the ship transported cargo to several small islands, then returned to Hawaii. In September, the Scania made a cargo run to more islands, with Fecker aboard. “We went from San Francisco to Hawaii and sat there for a couple of weeks and didn’t do anything. The war was over in Europe at that point. We went to Enawetok and sat there for a week or so, then they decided to ship us to Guam. On the way to Guam is when the war ended, so when we got to Guam we were there for a while and they shipped us back to Enawetok to get in the boat pool,” Fecker said. Part of his experience was to see some of the smallest “vacation” spots the planet has to offer. “There was nothing to do out there. We could go anywhere we wanted but you couldn’t get off the islands because they weren’t big enough. You could stand on one and see water on each side,” he said. Fecker was not part of the Scania’s crew, it was simply transporting sailors sent to the region to fill in personnel spots as they were needed. One of the interesting things he did while visiting the islands, was pull seaplanes up onto the beach. “We beached seaplanes that landed. We would put the wheels on them and pull them up onto the shore. We only did one or two a week and that was probably the most exciting thing we did. They would land and we would hook a tractor to them and pull them out of the water. “The last one never got on the dock, though. We had our orders to leave and they came over and asked us to beach a plane that was coming in. They asked us real nice, so we went down. We beached the plane and put the wheels on it. Just as we started to pull it up, a gust of wind blew it off the side of the dock. The pilot got out on the wing and cussed us out. We just looked at each other and walked away. We left him sit there; I don’t know if he ever got out of there because nobody ever said a word to us about it,” Fecker said. “Flying boats” varied in size and purpose. Some Patrol Bombers were fitted with depth charges, bombs, torpedoes and .50 caliber machine guns with which to engage in anti-submarine warfare. They also participated in search and rescue missions and convoy escorts. When not beaching seaplanes, Fecker spent many of his days working in the Supply Department, selling ice cream and candy bars. He spent his nights quite differently than many others. “When we went from one island to another, there were about 100 of us. The waves weren’t real rough, but they all got sea sick except me and one other guy. We slept up on deck every night. We’d go down and get out a pillow and blanket and sleep on the steel deck,” he said. Because Fecker was drafted near the end of the Pacific Theater, he was only enlisted for 16 months. “I went in in February 1945 and got out in June 1946. We had good chow and a bunk to sleep in; that’s about all you can say but it was a great experience,” he said.