USS Whitehurst Logo by: Pat Stephens, Webmaster, DESA


 Memories of Pusan and Archie the Korean Rabbit

By Al Crawford  QM1 on Whitehurst now QMCM USN Ret.



 Site Author's note.  The essential facts presented here are true.  There are some embellishments in the Rabbit Story but even those could be true.  Please accept this entertaining story as it was written, tic, with good will.  mc

The USS Whitehurst (DE-634), a unit of DesRon 32, during the Korean Conflict, was sitting alongside Pier 4 in Pusan, Korea, during the month of June 1951.  In fact she had been sitting in exactly the same spot for over five months.
   The Whitehurst was converted to a  Floating Power Plant at Pearl Harbor in May-June 1945; following extensive battle damage and loss of life,  while serving as a screening vessel during the landings at Okinawa.  The other ships in our squadron that were   similarly converted  were the USS Foss (DE-59), USS Wiseman (DE-667), and USS Marsh (DE-669).   We were supplying electric power to the South Korean Power Company.  The need for the Whitehurst and other units of DesRon 32, doing similar duty in other South Korean ports, was created  when the Chinese entered the war on the side of the North Koreans, and captured the hydro-electric power stations on dams in North Korea which supplied electric  power to the South.

  Now in certain ports, a nice pier side stay would be heaven, but in Pusan, Korea it was pure hell.  To get to the city from our berth we had to walk through an area of sunken concrete curing pits containing "night soil."  Tank trucks (honey dippers) toured the city picking up human waste, and opened a valve on the rear of the truck to fill the pits.  After curing for a period of time, it was removed and used for fertilizer.  When the wind was blowing off the land we were almost asphyxiated.  This duty was like living in the head.  We would eat our meals holding our noses, as frankly the smell permeated everything. 
  When we complained up the chain of command, the skipper contacted the Division Doctor who visited our ship.  He gave an all hands talk, and rewarded us with the knowledge that, "You can't catch any disease from smell."  Many of the crew including myself had come down with dysentery.  This is an intestinal inflammation, with severe abdominal pain, frequent and intense diarrhea, and you don't really want to hear the rest.  When hit with this illness the only relief was to lie in the bunk in a fetal position. Pulling your knees up to the chest seemed to reduce the pain somewhat.  I can't remember if we were medicated for this or not.  Perhaps it just had to run its course. 

    These are the conditions we had to work, eat and sleep under.
The doctors informed us that  we were getting dysentery from the dust blowing off the land which we were breathing.  Flies walking on the ground would deposit the dysentery bugs and the airborne dust would reach our ship.  We had to put double layers of cheesecloth over all the ventilators that sucked air to below deck spaces.  We were told never to touch our hands to our faces except after washing.,  Doing this did cut down the dysentery.
  Most men had to make only one liberty,  before voluntarily confining themselves to the ship, and club house. Other men hearing of conditions in town  never made a liberty.    We were told not to eat any food, as it was grown in night soil and probably contaminated, and some of the liquor was lethal, made with  wood alcohol
  Now to keep the entire crew from going "ape," a recreation program was started, and everyone was encouraged to get involved in as many activities as possible.  Most of this took place in a club house that was erected on the pier just across from the ship.  The building was about 20 x 40 feet, and made of solid Philippine mahogany.  It was used for boxing instructions in the afternoon, and bingo, card playing,  and board games in the evening. 
  At the time I was 25 years-old, 6' 2" tall and weighed 225.  I had done a little boxing a few years earlier in WWII.  QM3 Roy Bilck had been quite a boxer before joining the Navy, and he offered to teach boxing.  I being a slugger, thought I could gain a little finesse so I went to a session for instruction.  I sparred a little with Bilck, while he analyzed my style, then he told me to lay one on his chin.  I refused saying, "I don't want to hurt you."  His reply was,
"Go ahead, throw your best punch.  You won't be able to touch me."  Well he was fast, and he weaved and bobbed and was ducking my punches.  In short order, I faked a left, and broke his nose with a follow-up right.  To this day, I'm not sure who learned a lesson.

We were rationed to two cans of beer per day, and were issued tickets each good for one can of beer.  The beer had to be consumed in the club house on the pier, no alcoholic beverages being allowed aboard a Navy ship.  The real beer drinkers would either purchase the tickets from a nondrinker, or give their tickets to a shipmate so that they would go a few days without any beer, and end up on the third day with six cans, etc. This way we had some rip roaring bingo games.  The whole object here was to keep the crew from going "ape."

The one man on the ship who could not let his hair down and get in the swing of things,  was our Commanding Officer, LCDR Malcolm G. Evans.  Being the skipper, and above mixing with the enlisted crew, he kept pretty much to his cabin.  What mixing he did was of course with the other officers.  A recent phone call with our XO Art Hammarlund, tells me that they played cards in the wardroom almost every evening, except Evans would not play on Sunday.  Another officer interviewed for this article tells me that Evans was not above cheating at cards, just a little.

  The monotonous duty must have got to the skipper, as it did to many of the crew.  One day he went ashore and when he returned he was proceeded up the brow by a little hippety-hop  Korean rabbit.  All who saw the rabbit hop aboard thought he was the most, and a big fuss was made over him.  This is what we lacked, a mascot.  The skipper immediately named the rabbit after our executive officer LT Hammarlund.  And there were no bones made by the skipper as to whom the rabbit was named after.  The X.O. didn't exactly like this, but he never complained.  He would just sort of wince when anyone called the rabbit Archie.
  The captain had a carpenter get an orange crate, and it was used to make a cage for Archie.  The crate was turned upside down and kept under the motor whale boat.  The stewards were assigned to feed and water the rabbit daily. 
  Several times a day, when the bulkheads began to close in on our skipper, he would meander down to the boat deck and let Archie out to hippety-hop around the boat deck.  The sad fact began to dawn on the crew, when we realized that when rabbits hop around they usually leave little balls behind, which serves to remind people that they were there.  When the rabbit was returned to his cage, a Seaman would be called to clean up after Archie.  The first day, the first Seaman was called on to clean rabbit dung, there was an ominous note of foreboding in the air.
Storm clouds were brewing!

  Words like mutiny, and insurrection were being bantered about.
Somewhere in the dark recesses deep within the bowels of the Whitehurst a sinister plot was being formed.  A crisis had developed.  Honorable, Navy Seamen were being called on to perform chores so far beyond the call of duty, that a medal had not as yet been struck for this unheard of sacrifice.
  Angry voices were mumbling suggestions.  A midnight swim call for all rabbits aboard the Whitehurst someone suggested.  Another proposed a night rabbit launch, substituting a seaman's strong right arm, for a steam cat.  How about rabbit stew, a chow hound piped up.  We could use a number 10 can, and the hot plate in the Boatswain's locker.  Some sex fiend suggested we catch a female rabbit, and using her to lure Archie into going AWOL.  Only trouble here, was no one knew how to tell a male rabbit from a female rabbit, and we ran the risk of having two Archies.  These ideas are pure conjecture on my part, as I was not present at this clandestine affair; but we know for certain that a decision was reached.  LAUNCH ONE RABBIT!

  We can only speculate as to just what happened next, or which of our honorable shipmates were involved; (no one has ever confessed) but its not too hard to imagine a couple of shadowy figures slipping quietly forward on the boat deck around midnight, towards one unsuspecting Korean rabbit.  The launch was made without any frivolous advance preparation.  This launch required no steam cat, no Catapult Officer, no engine warm-up, no heading the ship into the wind.  Merely the slow lifting of one orange crate, and a secure hold on two long ears, then swoosh, Archie was airborne in an arc calculated to clear the port side at a respectable altitude.  This to give our launch crew time to slither away undetected before the splash in Pusan harbor, alerted the bow and fantail sentries that anything was amiss.

  The topic of conversation at breakfast the next morning was whether or not a rabbit could swim.  When the skipper was informed that his rabbit was missing, he thundered, "I'm going to get me another rabbit, and post a 24 hour guard on him."  Apparently cooler heads prevailed, and the skipper was advised, that guard or no guard, any rabbit pulling duty on the Whitehurst had a limited future.

  Archie was a three day veteran, of the Korean conflict.  The war diary for this date carried the entry; Scratch one Korean rabbit, Archie by name.  R.I.P. The only rabbit the Navy lost in Korea.

Addendum by Al Crawford, Oct, 2002:

I've been talking by phone with Hugh Toney, and he called me today.  We talked about a lot of things, and like a bolt out of the blue, I thought about something I had never thought of before.
  I always assumed the rabbit was tossed over the side by some seaman who was angry about cleaning up those little poop balls.  Tonight it dawned on me.  Not true, cleaning up that stuff would have been no big deal for a seaman.  The rabbit went over the side because the crew hated Evans.  We could not throw him over the side, so the poor rabbit was the only way anyone could get to Evans.  And that is why I believe he was tossed.


Hugh Toney's Memory of the Incident


Hugh Toney  1951 and ca 2000


Hugh Toney BT3 remembers:  Captain Evans was really pissed.  He put everyone on restriction saying, "There'll be no liberty until the one who killed the rabbit comes forward."  No one came forward and no one had any liberty for, as I remember, almost a month.  This was devastating to the morale of the crew.  Finally the restriction was lifted.  There was a hospital ship in the harbor at the time.  Although I have no proof, I've always believed that Chief Hospitalman Mitchell and HM3 "Doc" Brown must have reported the situation to some high ranking naval officer on the hospital ship, who exercised some influence over Evans, causing him to lift the restriction.


Jack Farmer was the Ship's Carpenter


Jack Farmer ca 2002


Jack Farmer DCW2 remembers:  It was Sunday morning.  (We were allowed to skip breakfast and sleep in on Sundays).  A messenger came to my bunk and woke me, saying, "Cap'n Evans wants you to get up and build a rabbit cage for him."  Well I must have been half asleep because I said he could tell the captain that if he wanted a rabbit cage he could build it himself.  I turned over and  went back to sleep.  The messenger apparently went back and told the captain exactly what I'd said because Bill Watson, the Damage Control Officer, came to my bunk and said, "You'd better get up and do what the captain asked."  So I built the cage and it was put up on the 02 level where all the electrical cables and transformers were.  I don't know anything about the rabbit being tossed over board.  I've always thought it got into the electrical gear and was electrocuted.

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