The Lady Gangster


This remarkable story began in 1967 with a broken car radio and a father-and-son’s cross-country trek. The two had been making uncomfortable small talk until the son asked, “Dad, will you tell me what you did in the war?”

The father’s answer is the amazing first-hand account of the USS Fuller, The Lady Gangster, an attack transport ship and its courageous crew of “Chicago Boys” who transformed from wide-eyed new recruits to weathered “Old Salts” braving enemy attacks while delivering troops and supplies during many of the toughest battles waged in the South Pacific during World War II. It is also the poignant tale of how a simple question forged a lasting bond between a father and his son.

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The ship is a real live being. She took on the personality of all the men who served on her. Mixed in the paint on her decks was the sweat and blood of a lot of boys from Chicago.

Brilliant assaults and heroic defensive stands are the remembered highlights of World War II’s battles, but few ever wonder how troops and supplies arrived at their destinations, thereby overlooking the vital and dangerous efforts of the military men who sailed on auxiliary ships.  Yet without the latter, victories would never have been possible.
The U.S. Navy’s Amphibious Force was a crucial component of the Allied victory that wore down and ultimately crushed Imperial Japan’s dream of expansion throughout the Pacific region during World War II.  Of the battle-tested attack transport ships involved in the war, only one, the USS Fuller, has a service record that stretched from Iceland and the British Isles to the beaches of Guadalcanal, Saipan, and Okinawa. She was known as the Queen of the Attack Transports, and with good cause.

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Del Staecker


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