Banana Fleet

There is not many older Marines to remember serving aboard the Banana Fleet. I enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 1934 at the Milk St. Recruiting Office in Boston Ma. After being processed along with seven other from Maine, we were bussed to the docks and put aboard the ” Fall River Line “, a coastal Motor Ship. Picked up twenty more in New York and continued down coast to Savannah, Ga. where we were met by two DIs with a Parris Island bus. They were not too happy with us at that point and made it very evident. Soon we were on the cause-way to P I. Our senior D I was Sgt. Tarr and Cpl. Finke was # 2. Both were well tanned from serving in Haiti and Cuba. After 13 grueling weeks we had shaped up enough to pass in revue and graduate to receive the coveted EGA. Some wanted seagoing and we were sent Sea School in Norfolk. then to Gitmo assigned aboard a light Cruiser and 3 Destroyers. Our Mission to protect the interest of DOLE and UNITED FRUIT COs. This covered So. America, Cuba and Haiti. In 1939 I transferred to Combat Div. 3, Battleships, USS IDAHO, USS MISSISSIPPI and NEW MEXICO, I was Flag Orderly to Adm. TAUSSIG aboard the IDAHO, steaming to the Panama Canal when Pearl Harbor was attacked., otherwise we would have been tied up in Pearl on Dec 7th. at Ford Island. I shipped back to Norfolk aboard the USS NITRO. and sent to Washington, 8th & I sts. Marine Barracks awaiting discharge with duty at Arlington Art York, Gysgt USMC/USMCR
Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

15 comments


  • Rod Johnson

    At his age, I’ve got to think that some things in one’s memory may be a little foggy, while some are crystal clear. I just hope I and you guys can remember that much, when we reach that age. Semper FI USMC RVN 67-68


  • Jerry Wolters

    (58-61) You are correct, also 3 up and 3 down was Master Sergeant or Top. I had rank change also – E-3 Corporal to E-3 Lance Corporal.


  • WRNicoll

    David, I was discharged August 10,1959 as a Sergeant E4. The addition of Lance Corporal ( a British Rank) caused a lot of confusion. I never heard of anyone,at that time, being reduced in rank while still keeping their pay grades. But at the time I wasn’t paying much attention to rank. Also, as I remember when I was in 1955-1959 we had a Technical Sergeant Rank, 3 up – 2 down. However I do remember we had Sergeants that we called Gunny’s. Probably more an honorary rank as an official one,as it is now. As for the York article, I’d like to think it’s true but it seems a bit of a Sea Story.


  • Edd Prothro, MSgt USMC Ret.

    A quick google check provides the following facts: When Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 Dec 1941 the USS Idaho BB-42 was located in Hvalfjorour, Iceland as part of neutrality patrols in the North Atlantic. USS Idaho and USS Mississippi departed Iceland for the Pacific on 9 Dec 1941. RAdm Joseph Taussig was forced to retire in Sep 1941 due to his age and because his policy views differed with the Navy Department. After many requests he was allowed to return to active duty in 1943 and served on staff of the Secretary of Navy. A lot of disparities in Art York’s story.


  • Harold Allie

    Amen!


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