Like so many young men from the Outer Banks, Junius entered the US Lighthouse Service. In July, 1918, when he was 42 years old and married with an eight-month-old daughter, Junius was called into service with the Naval Reserve.
Junius Fulcher served as Lieutenant (junior grade) on board the USS Ticonderoga, a 5130 gross ton cargo ship under charter to the United States Navy. The Ticonderoga was built at Bremerhaven, Germany in 1914 as the German flag merchant steamer Kamilla Rickmers. The ship was seized by the U.S. Government in 1917, and renamed Ticonderoga later in that year.
On September 22, 1918, the Ticonderoga left New York on her fourth voyage to France. Eight days later a German U-boat, U-152, surfaced in her path. Commanding officer, James J. Madison, attempted to ram the submarine, but missed by just a few feet. The U-boat attacked, critically disabling the Ticonderoga, and killing and injuring many of the crew, including the captain.
Seriously wounded and losing consciousness, Madison ordered his crew to abandon ship as it sank. His lieutenants, Frank L. Muller and Junius Fulcher, were placed in charge. Of the ship’s 237 crew members only 22 sailors and the two officers survived the battle. Lt. Junius Fulcher, badly wounded, and Executive Officer, Frank Muller, were picked up by the German submarine and taken aboard as prisoners of war. Junius Fulcher was treated by the U-boat’s doctor and recuperated well. After the November 11 Armistice, Fulcher and Muller were released in Harwich, England.
|US Naval History & Heritage Command Photo|
Muller, left foreground; Fulcher, right foreground
Fulcher returned to work with the US Lighthouse Service, where he served for 40 years. He and his wife Grace had one more child, a son. Junius Fulcher died in 1967 at the age of 91 in Norfolk, Va.
James Hardy Overton met and befriended Junius Fulcher around the turn of the 20th century, some years before Fulcher’s fateful encounter with U-152. Impressed with Fulcher’s character, Hardy Overton named his first son Junius Fulcher Overton. Years later, Junius Overton’s two daughters, Margaret and Kay, married Ocracoke men, Danny Garrish and Mike Riddick. A number of the family continue to live on Ocracoke Island to this day.