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Standard Landing Craft Unit Number 30
Watch Corley's Story - Corley describes his first experience with war on Guam in 1944.
Profile by Adiba Rehman
Corley Haggarton could not wait to join the military when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, but he was just a freshman in high school. Two days before the end of his junior year, in May of 1943, Corley and his buddies entered the Naval recruiting station across from high school. He selected the Navy because he would get “three square meals” and mainly because he was a good swimmer. He enlisted as a swimming instructor. “I was ready for a new adventure, to try it and see how it was,” he recalls.
He received his basic training in San Diego, and for a year trained sailors to swim. After that he learned to drive landing boats. He joined the Standard Landing Craft Unit Number Thirty. In 1944, they deployed to Guam. As the salvage crew, they encountered many memorable situations. Corley describes how they carried wounded Marines on litters across boats to put them onto the sides of the hospital ships. “You had blood running between your legs out of the litters. It was just awful.”
They made their headquarters on Piti Boat Basin, east of Apra Harbor. “I rode out two typhoons on Guam. We were on landing boats, pushing on the port side and the starboard side of the ship to keep them from being slammed up on the wash and up on the rock.” But Corley did not forget to have a little fun. The best thing about the hospital ships, he says, was that “they had them all loaded down with nurses.”
He stayed in Guam for eighteen months. His duties included getting supplies and securing ships coming into the harbor. Corley remembers the USS Indianapolis, which delivered the atomic bomb to Tinnean Island, coming to Guam. Corley was the coxswain of one of the landing craft that cast off the Indianapolis the next day, only to find that she sank five days later.
On Christmas Eve, 1945, Corley came back to Chandler. He started working at Williams Air Force Base in the salvage department but quit to go back to high school as a senior. Ten former Chandler High students who joined the Armed Forces during their junior year all graduated with him in 1947. In October of that year, he married his current wife, Marie. They have three children, fifteen grandchildren, and 27 great grandchildren.
His service affected him tremendously. Not only did it make him more patriotic but he was especially thrilled to learn that foreigners serving in the Armed Forces could become citizens of the United States. “Every one of them, from different countries, Asia, Africa, England, China, Tongans; all of those people that served this great country are true blooded Americans. And I salute them.”
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