CENTER FOR U.S. WAR
VETERANS' ORAL HISTORIES
World War II
United States Coast Guard veteran Herbert Tucker is a New Jersey native who served as a Radioman First Class during World War II, from 1943 to 1945. He shared his personal experience in this oral history interview with the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum. Tucker’s duties included delivering mail and monitoring a library on a ship assigned to the Boston Navy Yard as its home port. He shared the difficulties of transporting mail, as one of 125 men living on a ship originally built for a crew of 60 people, with its shared bunks and close living quarters. Tucker mentioned that seniority affected bunk choices, and that he chose the highest bunk nearest the fresh air intake, as it appeared to be the most comfortable one available. He served on the ship, the Tahoma (WPG-80) for eighteen months, until he was transferred when it sailed to Iceland.
Tucker’s wartime experience ranged in location from Boston to Greenland. He described Greenland as a beautiful country, where the Coast Guardsmen saw huge icebergs and were greeted by Eskimo natives. While his ship was never hit by enemy fire, it was damaged by icebergs in Greenland. Tucker recalled that the Coast Guardsmen on the vessel were very healthy, as they did not have much contact with any outside civilian groups to catch any communicable diseases. The only place that they were in touch with people other than their shipmates was when they were docked in Boston. As far as their mental status, Tucker remembered that “Morale was good, we all knew that we had a job to do, and you had nice people who were bright and congenial; and, we got along very well”.
Tucker belongs to a “Combat Veteran” group. He is eligible because of an incident when torpedoes were fired at a convoy his ship was escorting. Tucker said that he and his fellow Guardsmen were from all over the country. They did not keep close contact after discharge or engage in any reunions. While he did not have specific advice for future generations, he wrapped up his interview with the statement, “I hope they never have to go to war…it’s very bad”. Tucker was good at what he did, and he enjoyed making his personal narrative an addition to the Veteran’s History Project Collection.