John W. McCullah (1945/05/04)
A local naval reservist went down to the sea with his ship.
John W. McCullah was born in Texas about 1915 to John D. and Mary McCullah. By 1920, the family had moved to California, first to Mariposa and then to Hanford. Jack, as he was more commonly known, spent his formative years in Hanford, California, along with his brothers Melvin, Glenn, Robert and Duke. Jack and his brother, Glenn, continued their education in Hanford and graduated from high school prior to the family move to Santa Cruz about 1933.
McCullah joined the Merchant Marines about 1938 and served aboard a tanker. In 1940 he returned to the Bay Area where he was employed by the Coast Counties Gas and Electric Company in Pittsburg, California. In that same year he joined the US Naval Reserve. At this time, Jack married Ethel.
In June 1941, the Navy activated McCullah and assigned him the rank of machinist mate first class. Ethel quit her local teaching job and moved to San Francisco to be closer to Jack when his ship was in port. McCullah was assigned to the USS Morrison and served aboard that destroyer throughout its service in the Marshall, Marianas, Carolines and Philippine Island campaigns. The ship's final campaign occurred when
“On the morning of 4 May , Morrison was on station with Ingraham and four landing craft. When enemy planes appeared, Morrison, as usual, coached her combat air patrol into position to intercept and in an hour-long battle the Corsairs shot down two. Others broke through, however. While Ingraham and LCS 31 were hit, LSM(R)-194 was sunk and LCS-21 was also damaged, four suiciders struck Morrison in quick succession; three more grazed her and two others narrowly missed. There were also bomb explosions. Ripped apart, Morrison sank in fifteen minutes, before there was time to abandon ship. "Pall bearer" LCS-21 picked up 179 officers and men, 108 of whom were injured. The remaining 152 shipmates, including most of those stationed below decks, were lost.”
John W. McCullah, along with 151 of his shipmates went down with the ship. His body was never recovered and he is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial. His awards include the Purple Heart.
(ABMC; SCSn June 5; SCR June 9, 1944, 1945 1:4, June 15, 1945 -1; Destroyer History Foundation, USS Morrison DD-560, 2008, http://www.destroyerhistory.org/fletcherclass/ussmorrison/ index.html, [16 September 2008])