Saturday, June 28, 2008

Crash landing into the mess hall

My dad's brother, William Bryant Green was four years older and set in motion the family having four sons serving in World War II but was the only one who didn't survive the war. Bryant enlisted in the US Navy in 1927 at age 19 and served on-board the USS Lexington, one of the first aircraft carriers.

I'm not sure if Bryant was aboard the Lexington when it went down on May 8, 1942 in the battle of Coral Sea. I don't know a lot about Bryant's military service. I do know he was discharged before the start of WWII but re-enlisted on December 31, 1941 just a few weeks after Pearl Harbor.

Bryant was killed on February 1, 1943 when he was catching a ride on a Navy bomber flying east out of California. The best I can tell from the Navy records the plane was being ferried east and crashed into the mess hall at the US Army Base - Davis Montham Field in Tucson, AZ. His funeral was held in Perry, FL and my father and his two other brothers who were in the military were allowed to go home for the funeral. The oldest brother, Alton had lost an eye as a boy and was rejected when he tried to enlist in the military. This photo taken at his funeral is the only one of the family.

The report said Bryant's death was apparently instantaneous due to multiple injuries and third degree burns of entire body surface. "Died in Airplane crash, PV 1 Navy Patrol bomber, crashed into Mess Hall at Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson. He was a Machinist Mate - US Navy."

From the US Navy Records: AMM William B. Green was on a PV-1 #29830 from NAS San Pedro, CA landing at David Monthan field in Tucson, AZ. The pilot was Lt. Curtis M. Henderson.
"On his first attempted landing during a ferry flight to the east coast he overshot the field and went around again. His next approach was normal until almost on the ground when he began to drift toward a group of parked aircraft. He apparently decided to go around again but as he applied throttle the port engine failed and the aircraft executed a maneuver resembling a wing-over from which it crashed into a mess hall, killing an Army Sergeant besides the pilot and crew member.
Lt. Henderson had previously mentioned to other pilots a pronounced fear of landing the PV-1."

Bryant's only daughter, Virginia Elliott died in 1989 so when I found his concrete grave marker had disintegrated after 50 years I asked the VA to replace it. They shipped it to my brother Ben's house and he took it to the cemetery in Perry, Florida and put it on the grave.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lost at Sea

The oldest son of Aaron Parx and Jessie Fulford Bell, Warren Aaron Bell enlisted in the US Navy after the start of WWII. His mother was the first cousin of my grandfather Tink Fulford.

He had spent his life on the water, working in his father's fishing business in Cortez. In fact his family had been making their living on the water for several generations. He probably thought the Navy was a good fit since he would be on the water but it didn't work out that way.

He was a Seaman Second Class aboard a ship in the North Atlantic on January 2, 1944 when he was lost at sea. I don't know if he was lost during a battle or just some kind of accident.

His body was never recovered. Warren's name was added to the memorial for MIAs in the North Africa American Cemetery in Tunisia. His parents also put a memorial for him in Manasota cemetery in Oneco, Florida.

The Tablets of the Missing at the cemetery consists of a wall 364 feet long, of local Nahli limestone, with local Gathouna limestone copings.
Built into it are panels of Trani limestone imported from Italy on which are inscribed the names and particulars of 3,724 of the Missing:
United States Army and Army Air Forces…..….3,095
United States Navy.................................................615
United States Coast Guard.......................................14
These men gave their lives in the service of their Country; but their remains either were not identified or they were lost or buried at sea in the waters surrounding the African continent. They include men from all of the States except Hawaii and from the District of Columbia.
Without confirmed information, a War Department Administrative Review Board established the official date of death of those commemorated on the Tablets of Missing as one year and a day from the date on which the individual was in Missing in Action status.

At each end of the Tablets is this inscription:


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Smoked Mullet

We are having a Fulford family reunion July 4th weekend in Cortez, Florida. One of my best memories was the one my Grandpa Tink had in 1965. He had come down with cancer that year and had gone through several months of surgery and difficult treatment, which was unsuccessful. He would pass away in a couple months and I think everyone knew it except us kids.

He organized a big reunion that summer and I can vividly remember him smoking mullet in the concrete smoker he had built next to the boat shed. It was made of concrete block with a metal roof about 8 foot by 8 foot. He had metal trays that looked like they came from an old refrigerator that he stacked inside. He made the fire underneath but it held the heat and smoke so well it didn't require much of a fire.

There were rows and rows of mullet fillets laid out on the cutting board at Fulford Fish with salt and pepper on them, waiting their turn in the smoker. I was too young to pay a lot of attention to who or how many people were there but I know there were a lot of people. Tink was in his white dress hat and had a big smile.

I consider myself a pretty good cook and can produce championship quality smoked ribs or pulled pork in my back yard smoker but I have never tried to smoke mullet. My cousins Blue and Donald Fulford in Cortez are really good at it. I may attempt it one day but I know no matter how they come out they won't be like Tink's.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Family quality time

My girls haven't had a lot of genealogy experiences but in December 2002 while on Christmas break we did make a detour on our way to Panama City, Florida to visit Clay County Alabama.

Mary's relatives on the Glenn side had settled in the area in the 1830s and I wanted to see if we could locate the old family cemetery.

Kristen and Laura now claim they were asleep in the back seat when we stopped at the old Sardis Baptist Church Cemetery and didn't want to get out of the car. I don't know, they look like they were having a good time don't they?

We located the graves of several of their ancestors, including this one of William Glenn who was born in 1798. His marker has broken and it was put back in the ground in a way that you can no longer read the bottom of it. His grandfather, David Glen was a Revolutionary War Colonel but died soon after the war ended and his service can no longer be documented. I might do more research on his military service but my girls have 5-6 other revolutionary war patriots in their family tree if they ever want to join the DAR.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Grandma's lifesaving story

My Grandmother, Edith Wilson Fulford had two events in her life that involved water tragedy but were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Both are not clear on the all facts but she was a major part of both stories.

When she was she was four and a half years old she was walking with her two year old brother Freddie when he somehow slipped and fell into a canal near their farm in Oneco, Florida. She wasn't able to get him out and by the time adults came to help he had drowned. Today we would question the parents for letting a four year old watch a two year old but on a farm in 1910 rural Florida children were expected and did do many chores that today would be unheard of.

Thirty years later, on March 8, 1940 (her husband Tink's birthday) it was Edith who along with several others from Cortez travelled across the bay from Cortez to Anna Maria Island when they heard about a shipwreck. They found an old steamer which had converted to a molasses barge, The Regina run aground 100 yards off the beach and it was in danger of breaking apart in the surf. The waves were too rough for the 8 sailors to swim to shore and the men and women from Cortez were faced with the prospect of men losing their life in their sight. After one of the sailors panicked and tried to swim to shore and was lost in the surf the other men stayed on the ship.

Throughout the night the men and women from Cortez stood by, lighting fires on the beach to let the crew know they were still there.

The next morning the Coast Guard Cutter USS Nemesis arrived to rescue the men. Each time it approached the waves were too high and kept the Nemesis from getting close to the Regina. They finally gave up and left. Then two Coast Guard Bi-planes flew over and tried to drop life preservers on the ship but they were washed away. It was at that point the men on board and on shore had to have felt completely helpless.

It was Edith who no doubt remembered the drowning death of her brother who came up with the idea that they could take a rope out to the ship, using a row boat and it would allow the men to safely get across the rough sea.

Henry Clayton Adams a cousin from Cortez along with two others were able to row the boat out with the rope and used it to ferry the crew to safety. The only life lost was the one crew member who tried to swim to shore on his own. If you look closely at this photo you can see the row boat going out to rescue the crew.

Grandma lived on the water but I don't think she ever got over these experiences. She was always telling us to be careful when we played on the docks in front of her house. She liked the beach and I can remember her wading in the surf, in a bathing suit that could have covered a car, but she never went too far into the water.

The State of Florida designated the Regina shipwreck an Underwater Archaeological Preserve in 2005.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A visit to Carteret County NC

My wife and I visited Carteret County North Carolina in 2003. It was the original home of my Fulford family as well as the Foreman side of the family. Many of the families living in Cortez, Florida trace their roots back to Carteret County.

I had never been there but had heard of it from other family members. My brother Ben went there in the early 1980s when he was doing research for his book, The Finest Kind. He didn't keep photos or the notes from his trip so when we got there we had only vague recollections on where things were located.

Mary and I stayed in a very nice B&B, The Langdon House for 5 days and had a great time, taking a Catamaran out to Cape Lookout, doing all the tourist sights, a civil war era fort, museums, etc. but the best part for me was looking for dead relatives. We found a whole lot of them at 5-6 different cemeteries and I made a video of the trip. I had to edit some of it to make it fit on YouTube.

One of the main targets was Fulford Cemetery on Piper Lane but we didn't find it on that trip. I didn't have a GPS at the time! I obtained better directions and when we went back in 2006 we located it. It is the original Fulford family cemetery but most of the grave markers are gone. At one time it had 150-200 graves but now less than 10 are marked. Homes and garages have been built in the area and no doubt are over many of the old graves.