Biography of Sterling B. Gleason

CCCman, Leipsic, Delaware & Likely, California & Palisades Park, Englewood, New Jersey

5th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, USMC

     I joined the CCCs in 1937. Times were tough and I needed the work. I was sent to the CCC Camp in Leipsic, Delaware. We were right on the Delaware Bay. Our work there was digging drainage ditches for mosquito control work.

     Our company moved to Likely California, a Likely place not to be we used to say. Our work there was to provide better grazing grounds for livestock. We would look for profitable places along the streams, where there was enough water, and form water troughs for the cattle to drink from. I had a blasting certificate and would blast rock where needed for this work. We would also cut down juniper trees for fence posts. With these we would make fences to create grazing fields to control the pasturing of the cattle. Last year I was in Reno, and decided to drive to Likely to see what it was like. I walked into the general store and asked them what had changed in fifty years. The clerk said, "we have new street lights". The place hasn't changed. Altours California which was nearby was also much like it used to be, I recognized some of the old buildings.

     I have many photos of Likely, and also photos of movie stars I picked up while in California. I also collected a lot of old Indian arrowheads we found in the area, made from black lava.

     After Likely I was sent to a new company in Englewood, New Jersey. We would work on the Palisades Park. We did much work there, including the building of a parking lot for the Dikes Street Ferry. We also built the stone wall you can still see along Route Nine overlooking the Palisades Park.

     Unlike Likely, Englewood was in a more lively location. Across the river we could see the World Fair. And we would sometimes go to Ben Martin's Riviera, a famous nightclub nearby.

     I left the CCCs after two years, which was as long as you could serve. I went to work for New York Ship in Gloucester, New Jersey. There I worked in Hull Testing, testing the hulls of the new ships they were building. New York Ship was building many new warships for the Navy, including the Battleship South Dakota.

     When the war started I enlisted in the Marine Corps. I served aboard ship for much of the war, going to North African waters in support of our troops there. Then we moved into the Pacific. Going through the Panama Canal we saw the South Dakota which was returning to have battle damage repaired.

     We went to the Solomon Islands. I was then transferred to shore duty on Guadalcanal. I joined the 5th Aircraft Artillery Battalion. We had 90 and 155 mm artillery pieces.

     We took part in the landing on Vella La Vella, which was further up the Solomon Islands chain. The reason for our landing was to cut off the Japanese troops on Kolombangara, an island just to our South. Once we secured Vella La Vella we would shell the Japs on Kolombangara with our 155 mm guns. They of course would just go underground, we were just cutting the tops off coconut trees. It was just harrassment fire.

     The Japanese would harass us in return with a Washing Machine Charlie. This was a single Jap plane that would come over around two o'clock in the morning and drop bombs. It would keep us up at night.

     After Vella La Vella we returned to Guadalcanal. We joined units preparing for the invasion of Pelielu.

     However at this point I had already had a couple of years overseas duty. As such I was transferred to the States and spent the rest of the War in United States territory.

     After the war I worked for Mobil Oil. I worked in the laboratory at the Paulsboro refinery for forty years.

----- Sterling Gleason




Also Be Sure to Visit

James F. Justin, Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

Justin Museum of Military History

James F. Justin Museum

Please Share your Stories! E-mail the Curator to share or discuss or with any questions!

Copyright 2000, 2001 John Justin, All Rights Reserved