1944 Little Creek...LSMR 408

1944 after Normandy and southern France
George came home for 3 weeks after both invasions "It was good to see Mother and Dad and all the cousins and friends!"

George beside the plane he and Herb Petty flew in

“My cousin Herb took me for a spin in his plane, did all kinds of stunts, including a loop....wow!! It had no brakes so he just spun in 2 or 3 circles at the end of the landing field. What a thrilling end of the flight!!!"

1944 Little Creek, Virginia

In October of 1944, George was assigned to Commanding Officers Training at the Little Creek Amphibian training base that was about 20 miles from the Norfolk Naval Base Virginia. The officers and crews were assigned to quarters alongside the parade grounds. Every Saturday we marched 12 crews around the parade grounds with a big marching band and saluted the commanding officer as we passed by.

"Our day began with all officers and crews saying the Pledge of Allegiance, then off to our areas of duty. I was assigned my officers and crew. The 12 ship captains had their classes, and the rest of the officers to their specialties. The same for the crew. We took many side trips to learn about fire fighting, (actual ship fires), ship handling at sea and visits to the big naval base about 20 miles away.”

“We stayed in a dormitory for officers and we usually ate together. We developed a good comradery with all the other captains and crews. We visited the Naval Base at Norfolk and studied our lessons and saw movies. They had planned recreation for the crew and they had an officers club for us. My salary was $300 a month of which I sent home $100 to Mother and Dad. ”

Harry Rechtin, George and Bob Van Vleck who was the skipper of the LSMR 407

"In February 1945, I went to pick up my rocket ship in Charleston, SC. A new style, 202 feet long with 2000 horsepower, with twice the firepower of a battleship with the initial throw of over a hundred 5' rockets per minute. There were 20 rocket mounts, 2 twin 40s, and four twin 20s plus 2 defilade firing mortors. A 5” 38 cannon in a rotating steel unit enclosure for the gun crew, the loading crew were below. War is not fun and games!!”
“ My ship was put into commission in Feb 12, 1945 making trial runs in the Chesapeake for about a month until we passed all tests by a board of review. They were very stringent about response time to general quarters, fire drills, damage control, radio and visual signaling, ship and small boat handling, plus ships status for combat (firing guns and rockets). I sure learned a lot!!"

launching committee of the LSMR's 407 and 408 February 12, 1945


George F. Fortune Captain of LSMR 408 rocket ship USNR, making his speech at the launching ceremony.

John Anderson (Supply and Assistant Gunnery), Charles Ruth (Engineering),
William Reynolds (1st Lieutenant),
bottom row: O Clayton Hebert (Executive Officer), George Fortune (Commanding Officer),
Al Onofrio (Gunnery).
US Navy photo

“I had 133 men in my crew and 7 officers, Gunnery officer (Al Onofrio) was with George in his old rocket group at Normandy and Southern France as well as the chief bosun mate, plus the quarter master, Charles Ewald.”

Bob Findley, (not shown in group photo) was the 7th officer who came on board
3 months later. A very likable competent man, his dad was head of Safeway stores.

“We had 2 young black men on board who did our cooking and laundry. They also served our meals. My second in command Clayt Hebert assigned the daily jobs.”
“Before going to the San Diego base, 11 more ship’s captains and I had to prepare the officers and men with ship handling and every other duty aboard ship.”

"We went through the Panama Canal to San Diego two ships at a time, the LSMR 407 and 408. The LSMR 407 in the lead because her captain (Van Vleck) was senior officer in time and service. We did get to spend a day in Panama City at the Panama Canal Base for refilling the tanks, and taking on more food.”

“The following is one bit of excitement happened while going through the canal to San Diego. Every four hours we changed officers and helmsmen in directing the ships progress.”

While we were going through the Panama Canal I was relaxed and watching our ship travel, when I noticed the officer in command of the ship was talking with his replacement at changing time, also the 2 helmsmen, were chatting away. Our ship was heading for the shore!!!! I jumped up and hollered out ‘straighten the ships course or we will run aground’. They changed course immediately and sheepishly apologized. I have never seen 2 officers and helmsmen so embarrassed before or since.”

“Somewhere near the south of Mexico at noon mess one half of the rew got deathly ill from bad food. Not me thank goodness. Fortunately we had a man who gave all the sick men some kind of medicine that brought them all back to normal by the next day

officer section of big photo..
Reynolds, Ruth, Fortune, Anderson (behind Hebert's arm), Hebert, Onofrio
double click on photos to enlarge
then click again to see faces

LSMR 408 ( Landing Ship Medium (Rocket): Official Naval site for LSMR's

John Anderson had his own ship previous to being on the 408, and was very trustworthy.

William Reynolds wanted to be a pilot.

Chuck Ruth was an outstanding engineer
and did a first class job on our ship

Clayt Hebert had his own LCT at Normandy
and was a tremendous help in running our ship!!