William A. Pullen

Aviation Machinist Mate, USN

East Base




Job Description: Responsible for the readiness and maintenance of the aircraft used on the expedition.




William Pullen was born to William Andrew Pullen and Josephine Morgan Pullen on June 18, 1902, in Portland, Oregon. Pullen worked on his familyís farm and as a lumberjack until he joined the US Navy at age seventeen.


In 1923, Pullen was aboard the destroyer USS Woodbury when it ran aground at Honda Point, California.At approximately 9:00 p.m., on a September night, Destroyer Squadron Eleven, composed of fourteen ships, navigated the notorious high winds and seas, thick fog and rocky shoreline in the vicinity of Honda Point.Led by their flagship, USS Delphy, the ships were in column formation when ten of the destroyers began to run aground on the rocky shore.One ship capsized almost immediately.Pullen was in the engine room as the Woodbury ran aground.Escaping by crawling through a ventilation shaft, Pullen immediately helped numerous shipmates to their safety.Pullen was admitted to the US Naval Hospital at San Diego as a result of smoke, fuel, and water in his lungs. With twenty-three dead and seven destroyers scrapped as total losses, the Honda Point disaster was the worst navigational tragedy in US Navy history and the largest peacetime loss of US naval ships.


Two years after the Honda Point disaster, Pullen married Leilani Pearl Kailihala on Maui, Hawaii.At the time that Pullen was chosen to serve on the U.S. Antarctic Service Expedition, he and Leilani had two sons, Arthur and Robert, and two daughters, Leilani and Artley.Another son, Gene, was born after World War II.


Pullen would later serve on the USS Ranger more than once and on several other ships.During World War II, Pullen was in the Pacific and participated in several major battles, including Guadalcanal.


Among Pullenís post-war duty stations was El Centro Naval Air Station, Calfiornia, where he worked on the early development of the drone aircraft.Upon his retirement, Pullen was employed by McDonnell Douglas.


After 33 years of naval service, William Pullen retired as a chief.Because of his dedication to the US Navy and to his country, Pullen kept his uniform cleaned and pressed in the event that his country would call upon him to serve once again.


In the mid-eighties, Leilani Kailihala Pullen was designated as one of only 500 full-blooded Hawaiians still alive. After sixty-three years of marriage Leilani Pullen died in San Diego in 1988.William Pullen died April 15, 1990, in San Antonio, Texas.Most of Pullenís ashes were buried at sea by the contemporary USS Ranger.†† Pullenís eldest son, Arthur, buried a small portion of William Pullenís ashes in Antarctica on a visit to that continent.


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