JOHN W. FULLER (NAVY)

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John Fuller received the Navy Unit Commendation and a Personal Commendation during his World War II service.

John Fuller arrived in the Philippines aboard his small PT boat just in time to watch a slugfest between Japanese and U.S. warships south of Leyte Island in Surigao Strait. It was Oct. 24, 1944, Fuller’s 22nd birthday. 
“Here were all these big ships firing their guns at each other,” Fuller recalled.
    His PT boat, armed only with a 40 mm cannon and a .50-caliber machine gun, did not take part in that battle.  “There were planes being knocked down, kamikazes flying into ships,” Fuller said. It was the first major battle in which Japanese kamikaze planes carried out their organized suicide missions. 
     Two months later, Fuller, a radarman first class, had a close encounter with kamikazes in another Philippine operation, the invasion of Mindoro Island.
     His PT boat was just setting off on an evening patrol when it was attacked by Japanese kamikaze planes. Fuller went to his battle station on the twin .50-caliber machine guns.  He shot down two kamikazes, with one crashing into the sea just 50 feet from the boat.  Fuller said he wasn’t afraid.  “I was mad. I was hollering, calling them dirty names. I was too dumb and too young to be afraid,” said Fuller, now 87. 
His boat and none of the crew were hit by enemy fire in that fight, he said.

John Fuller is a veteran of the battle of the Philippines during WWII. Fuller was a member of crew PT224 as a radar operator.  Seen here on Friday, March 5, 2010.

Adapted from front-page article by Steve Miller and photographer Ryan Soderlin for The Rapid City Journal, March 7, 2010.  John William Fuller, born October 24, 1922, died August 11, 2010.

Be sure to also read "John Fuller Goes to War"