FOUR YEARS IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† By

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† Kim Richardson

 

 

††††††††††† It was about nine PM, October 6, 1965, when I arrived at the Great Lakes Training Facility.I carried one small bag with no uniforms as the Navy Recruiter back home had told me.I fell in line with a group of new recruits. And we walked to the processing center.Sailors hung out barrack windows and yelled, "You'll be sorry."Since I had been to Boot Camp four months before, I knew that they would be the ones to be sorry when I walked out of there the next day.I was only there to take an audition for the Naval School of Music.††††††††††††

††††††††††† The next day I had my audition and passed.However it was pointed out that my training was not adequate and I would have to apply myself.That day I caught a plane from Chicago to Washington to Newport News to Norfolk.I arrived after dark and reported aboard the United States Naval School of Music.They assigned me a bunk in the barracks and told me where to report the next morning.

††††††††††† The next morning I was yelled at because I didn't have any uniforms.I was still due a partial seabag issue, so they sent me over to Small Stores to get what I was due.I was alone in a new world with no friends, no familiar routine and very little money.I called home and had them send me my seabag.My Mother called the Navy Recruiter and made him pay for shipping it.

††††††††††† By the time the Seabag arrived in Norfolk I had exactly ninety cents to my name.The bus ride to town was thirty cents.After the round trip, I would have exactly thirty cents until payday.

††††††††††† I caught the bus and surrendered my thirty cents.In town I located the bus station and retrieved my seabag.Coming out of the bus station I spotted a bus that said Naval Station on it, so I got on and paid another thirty cents.

††††††††††† Twenty-five minutes later I was standing at the Main Gate that looked very different from the one I had left earlier that night.I asked the Marine on duty where the Naval School of Music was.He didn't know.He asked one of the other Marines and was told it was at Little Creek, the other base.It had never occurred to me that there was more that one.

††††††††††† I only had thirty cents left and if I took a bus back to town, I couldn't afford the bus to Little Creek.I didn't know how to get back to downtown Norfolk or where Little Creek was.With really no options left, I lifted the seabag on my shoulder and started walking back the way the bus had brought me.

††††††††††† I had only walked a few blocks when a car with two sailors stopped and asked me where I was going.I told them and they offered me a ride.We stopped at a bar for a few minutes on the way.I waited in the car and an hour later I was back at the base.

††††††††††† The next couple of months were hard.Not having ever had a music lesson in my life, I had picked up some bad habits.It was impossible for me to overcome seven years of doing it wrong.Also lack of any formal music theory hurt.I had to put in over eight hours of practicing each week after the workday.During the day we had band practice, music theory and private lessons.The pressure was tremendous.

††††††††††† I began to make friends.One, Bill Anthony, was a violin player (the only one in Navy) from Orlando.He came to the school from the submarine fleet.He had a car and we were able to visit Williamsburg, which was only about forty miles away.

††††††††††† It soon became obvious to the school that I was not going to progress fast enough to make it through the school, so in December I received a summons to see the Officer in Charge.Knowing what was coming I refused to let him tell me I was through.I told him I would come back tomorrow and he could tell me.

††††††††††† He said okay, but it wouldn't change anything.After leaving his office, I began to accept the fact and it felt like a great load had been lifted.The next day I reported back in a better frame of mind.He said it was too bad because I had applied myself and put in the extra time.He even asked if I had ever played the Oboe.He said they were short oboe players.

††††††††††† I went to personnel and filled out my dream sheet (as to where I wanted to be transferred) I requested Viet Nam.I got Cargo Handling Battalion One based at Cheatam Annex, just about eight miles outside of Williamsburg, just off the Colonial Parkway.

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††† ††††††††U.S. Naval Cargo Handling Battalion One

 

 

Cheatham Annex was a large land area base filled with many warehouses.Inside these warehouses were food and equipment for the Armed Forces.Supplies came in by truck and train and the warehouses were maintained by Sandcrabs (Government civilian employees), There was a long pier that reached out into the James River and Cargo ships came in for supplies for Military bases in Europe.

††††††††††† In one corner of the base sat the only military command, CHB-1.There were only about two hundred and fifty men assigned.The complex sat in the nook of a small lake.There was just one two story barracks, a very good Mess Hall, library, gym, small ships store, administration building, a mock up of a ships hold with a yard and stay rig for training,swimming pool, tennis courts, and a small bowling alley.

††††††††††† The purpose of CHB-1 was to provide the Navy with trained cargo handlers.It also housed the Navy's school for cargo handling.Drafts of men were sent to locations that had a need.One draft had recently returned from Viet Nam.Each year the Battalion sent a group to McMurdo Sound, Antartica.Also, CHB-1 provided men at various locations through out the East Coast.

††††††††††† As an untrained Seaman Apprentice, the bottom of the bottom in the Navy, I ended up in CHB-1's equivalent to the deck force on a ship.We spent the day raking leaves, painting and other menial jobs that need to be done.

††††††††††† One day soon after I arrived, we were raking leaves as a group by the obstacle course by the lake.Around mid morning a bull session started, and soon everyone but me was standing in a group laughing and enjoying themselves.Since I was the new guy and still an outsider, I kept on raking.When Chief Sims showed up, I was the only one working.

††††††††††††††††††††††† The Chief took me under his wing.The Seaman test was coming up soon, but I hadn't completed my correspondence courses.He obtained someone elseís answers and had me copy them.I took the test, passed and was advanced to seaman.

††††††††††† The Chief then found that there was a vacancy in Disbursing.He figured that since I had a high clerical score on my basic battery tests, that I would be a good candidate for the job.He sent me to see Ronald Walters, the First Class Petty Officer in charge of Disbursing.

††††††††††† Walters was a serious professional sailor.He took his job very seriously.His first question to me was why I wanted to be a Disbursing Clerk.I didn't know what a Disbursing Clerk was, but it had to be better than a leaf raker.In essence I replied that I had a high clerical score on my tests and the Chief thought I would do well.

††††††††††† That was the wrong answer.Walters explained that wasn't good enough.Disbursing was important to the men.They need to be paid the correct amount and paid on time.Then he proceeded to lecture me on all the responsibilities DK's have.Shortly, I traded my rake for a typewriter and calculator.Walters was a strict sailor, but a fair boss.He invited me to have dinner at his home with his wife and kids several times.Out of all the petty officers I worked for in the Navy, I liked and respected him the most.

††††††††††† Life at CHB-1 was quiet.The liberty bus ran into Williamsburg several times a day.A normal evening on the town would include walking the streets of the colonial city, going to the Information Center. There we watched a movie about John Fry, a young man during the birth of our nation (I must have seen this movie a hundred times-it was free), then back to town to watch whatever was playing at the only movie theater in town.On Saturday I would go to the skating rink.

††††††††††† Everyone at CHB-1 had to go through Cargo Handling School.After four weeks of instruction on everything from moving boxes to the use of the Yard and Stay Rig, we graduated.

††††††††††† Our graduation present was tied up at the pier.At 0730 the next morning we climbed down three decks into the refrigerated forward ship's hold.Using the ship's Yard and Stay rig, pallet after pallet was lowered down to us.Fifty-pound boxes of boneless beef were loaded on each pallet.We off loaded the pallets and filled the deck with a layer of boneless beef.Then working on that layer, we put down another, literally working ourselves out of the hold.

††††††††††† I got one fifteen-minute break in the morning.At noon we were driven back to the base mess hall for a thirty-minute lunch.At 1800, I climbed out of the hold for a fifteen-minute break to eat a sandwich.Finally at 2100, we closed up the hold for the night.I was so sore, I could hardly hold up a five pound light for the guys putting the hatch covers over the hold.

††††††††††† We were driven back to the mess hall where they had prepared a steak dinner.The next day was a little easier.We finished up the boneless beef and moved to another hold where they were loading up lighter boxes filled with cupcakes and other goodies.There if you got hungry, you just opened up a box and ate.

††††††††††† In Williamsburg, I discovered I was only about an eight-hour bus ride from New York City.I made several trips there.One of those times, I wrote them I was coming.I mailed the card on Monday and told them I would arrive on Friday at 10 PM.

††††††††††† Friday came around and after I bought my bus ticket, I found I only had four dollars left.I climbed on the bus around one that afternoon and an hour later I was in Richmond waiting for a northbound bus.When I arrived at the Port Authority Bus Station in New York there was no one to meet me.

††††††††††† I called Aunt Helen, who was surprised I was there.She had not received my post card.She also couldn't come and pick me up.On top of everything else there was a bus and subway strike going on.I decided to hell with it, I would just walk.The fact that I didn't know where I was going didn't stop me from walking out the door.

††††††††††† Once out on the street, it was another matter.I suddenly felt like I was in a giant hole, looking up at the tall buildings that surrounded me like a giant wall.The realization that I couldn't find the next block, much less Queens struck home.The only thing to do was to go back to Williamsburg.

††††††††††† Thirty minutes later I was on a bus heading toward Richmond.The next morning at dawn the bus pulled into the Williamsburg bus station.I had been traveling on a Greyhound bus for nineteen hours and was back where I started.

††††††††††† The nights around CHB-1 were quiet.The base was essentially in the middle of the woods.The nearest road, the Colonial Parkway, was several miles from the base.You basically had four options, the liberty bus into Williamsburg, an occasional bus run to the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station where you could go to the movies for a dime, watching color TV (this was before everyone had one) at the barracks or playing basketball in the gym.The base also had a small library, a weight room, swimming pool and a place to buy a hamburger and a coke or beer.

††††††††††† Sports turned out to be the best way to be accepted by others.It seemed that after you sweated with the guys in the gym, you were okay.CHB-1 was invited to play in a basketball tournament in Norfolk.The tournament consisted of two classes of Navy teams.One class was ex-college players and other talented tall men who played on their teams for a living and teams like ours.We were just guys that liked to play.The best team was SUBLANT (Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet). †††

††††††††††† We were fortunate that we didn't have to play them.But we did play another team almost as good.With just two seconds left in the first half, we threw the ball to Kazem, our best player, who then heaved the ball the length of the court for a basket at the buzzer.That cut their lead to just 38 points.

††††††††††† In the second half one of our guys caught an elbow in the face and went to the base hospital.Later, after only scoring two points, I went to catch a pass that ripped open a burn scar on my wrist.They sent me over to the base hospital also.While I was there another one of our guys came in with a sprained ankle.We lost the game by eighty points.Later we watched a game where on team lost to SubLant, 150 to 50.

††††††††††† Six months later, someone got us a game with the Marines at the Naval Weapons Station.Everyone from the tournament team was out on drafts.I rounded up some cooks and whoever else was around.We lost by three points, but I had a field day.I scored twenty points.

††††††††††† One of the duties I had to perform occasionally was Color Guard.The Color Guard had to raise the flag in front of the Mess Hall at 0800 and bring it down at sunset.One time we were led by a boot camp third class petty officer.He was kind of nervous.Another seaman and myself hooked the flag to the tether.The petty officer told us that when the whistle blew, he was going to throw the flag up in the air.The other seaman would then pull it up smartly.Everyone would be smiling at the great job we did as Old Glory was flapping in the breeze.

††††††††††† The whistle blew; the petty officer threw the flag in the air.It opened up and fell back down, draped over his head.The seaman, seeing he was late, began hauling the flag up.Only they were pulling the tether in the wrong direction and the flag was upside down.It was a fitting end to a disaster.

††††††††††† Another Color Guard I was assigned to didn't end up with such humor.I was waiting on my rack (bed) in the barracks for first call to colors, when we started our march to the flagpole.I was reading a James Bond novel.At first call, I ran up to the front, but the color guard left without me.Because I missed it, I received EMI (extra military instruction).Next Saturday I had to wash an ambulance as punishment.

††††††††††† The most excitement that I ever saw in Williamsburg came when Kazem got involved with a local girl.One of the local boys objected.There were words exchanged and a fight was planned.We began to worry that the local would bring his friends, so as the night unfolded more and more sailors gravitated to the bowling alley.Soon there were about twenty of us.We were outside when several trucks pulled up.

††††††††††† The scene was set for a battle.Just then the whole Williamsburg Police force showed up.They even had to use both cars.They surrounded us and then told us to go home.

††††††††††† One weekend in 1966, we got a four-day weekend.I found a guy who was driving to Brunswick, Georgia.Since it was fairly close to home, I decided to go with him.Two others came along.

††††††††††† We started out on Friday at noon with the Mammas and Papas singing "Monday, Monday" on the radio.We dropped one guy off in North Carolina, one in South Carolina and at one in the morning we arrived in Brunswick.The Bus Station was closed so the driver dropped me off by the highway.†† So at one oíclock in the morning I found myself hitch hiking to Florida.

††††††††††† After a few minutes this middle-aged man in a souped up 1954 Ford picked me up.We talked for a few minutes and then he asked me if I would drive.I said yes and got behind the wheel.

††††††††††† Once we were moving again he suddenly became very drunk.He had a bottle and took another drink.He practically collapsed in the front seat.That was find with me.When we got to Jacksonville, I asked him where he wanted to go. He replied the Mayflower Hotel.

††††††††††† When we arrived he told me to park in a no parking zone and asked me to stay with him until morning.He said he would then drive me to Gainesville.I said no thanks and got out of there as fast as I could.I walked over to the bus station and caught the next bus to Gainesville.

††††††††††† Also in 1966 I found I was assigned to a draft of men to go the USS Great Sitkin, an ammunition ship.She was going to the yards and they needed help removing all the munitions from her holds.We soon found ourselves in Bayonne, New Jersey.We arrived on the ship after taps and they put us anywhere there was an empty bunk.

USS Great SitkinAE-17

 

When I awoke the next morning over half our guys were gone.The ship's company sailors had come in off leave and liberty and bumped our men elsewhere.I couldn't believe they were so unorganized.The next night a friend of mine and I decided we didn't want to be ejected from bed in the middle of the night.For the remainder of the two weeks we were on the ship, he and I slept outside under the three-inch guns.

††††††††††† The work wasn't bad.It was kind of interesting moving everything from five and eight inch shells to missiles off the ship.After she was empty we rode her back to Norfolk where we took a bus back to Cheatam Annex.

††††††††††† During football season we formed a flag football team.I became half of a pretty good Quarterback-receiver team.We had a guy who had a pretty good arm.He would heave it and I would try to run under it and catch it.

††††††††††† One afternoon we had a game scheduled with the Marines at the Naval Weapons Station.My boss, LTJG George Shetler, wouldn't let me leave early to go with the rest of the guys.My supervisor even made an attempt to get him to let me go.Finally he relented and I got someone to drive me over.I got there for the second half.We got waxed.We didn't even score.I did manage to catch one bomb, but couldn't get going before they got me.It was the closest we ever came to the goal line.

††††††††††† I had been doing well in the Disbursing Office, so Walters and the Disbursing Officer, LTJG Shetler sent me to Disbursing Clerk A School.The school was in Newport, Rhode Island.

††††††††††† It was in the fall, so it was nippy when I got off the train in Providence.When I left the Train Station a Cab Driver asked me if I wanted a ride to the Navy Base.I said yes and got in.As we took off, I asked him how far it was to the base and he told me 60 miles.I had him drive around the block to the bus station.

††††††††††† Once checked into the school, I met Don Hale who was off a stores ship out of Norfolk.We became friends and began playing chess.We were very competitive with each other.That competitive nature soon carried over to the basketball court.We went through the school together.

††††††††††† I also met two other guys from CHB-1 that were at the Storekeeper A school, Jim Vidocy and Bob Harris.While at School it was announced on the radio that Walt Disney died.Having grown up with the World of Disney and the Mickey Mouse Club, I felt bad about it.

††††††††††† That was the coldest winter I've ever spent.The base sits on an island and the cold wind rips right through you.I found it hard to walk on ice with falling on my rear.

††††††††††† As in all classes, we had our jerk.Ours had been in disbursing for a while and thought he knew it all.He had already taken his third class petty officer exam and was waiting for his results.On the day the results were due back, he called his ship long distance to Australia, to see if he passed.

††††††††††† One of his shipmates answered the phone and told him he passed.The next day he had his crows (third class petty officer rating badge) on and let everyone know how great he was.After a week the school still had not received official words about his advancement, so they contacted the ship.The ship told them he had failed the exam.The jerk learned a hard lesson in humility.

††††††††††† One weekend, Don and I took a train to Boston.It was the first visit for both of us and we were very excited.We visited the USS Constitution, Old North Church and several other historical sites.

††††††††††† Finally in the middle of January, l967, we graduated.†† Don and I went back to Virginia together as his ship was in Norfolk.We visited the Yorktown battlefield together before we parted.

††††††††††† Back at CHB-1, my days were numbered.Now that I was trained at a job, my rating was changed from SN to DKSN, Bupers (Bureau of Naval Personnel) knew of my existence.About a month later a message came in inquiring if I would be interested in a transfer to COMSERVRON-6 (Commander, Service Squadron Six), homeport in Naples, Italy.I was very interested.

††††††††††† On March 14, 1967 at eight PM, I boarded a TWA flight to Rome from JFK in New York.Soon I was in the air and for the first time in my life, I left the borders of the United States.

††††††††††† I got very little sleep on the flight and because of the time change; six hours were removed from the night.Dawn came very early.It wasn't long before Paris was below us.I look for familiar landmarks, but didn't see any.We landed at the airport for refueling, but I stayed on the plane.

††††††††††† Soon we were in the air again.I remember looking out and seeing the Swiss Alps, closing my eyes and then landing in Rome.When I got off the plane I was completely exhausted.I had no idea what to do or where to go.I wandered down the concourse.My first impulse was to buy twenty dollars worth of Lire.Next I saw people filing out through some doors.Going through one, was an American sailor.I followed him through Customs and started up a conversation.

††††††††††† He was going to Naples also.He told me we had to go to another terminal to catch an Alitalia flight.Once we arrived in Naples, we shared a cab to NSA (Naval Support Activity), where I would stay until arrangements could be made to get me to my command.

††††††††††† Finally, in the late afternoon, I checked in at NSA.I was really looking forward to a good nights sleep.That was when I was informed that the sailor who had the mid-watch at the American Dependents School had caught a plane to his ship and I was his replacement.Instead of sleeping that night I would be patrolling a high school from midnight to four in the morning.

††††††††††† When the time came, they gave me a Billy club and told me not to put it in my belt.They said I was to hold it in my hand at all times because some Italian Nationals had beat up a watch stander on a previous occasion.That night there were no Italians, but walking around the school I spotted some rats that were almost as big.

††††††††††† At 0430 I was finally able to go to sleep.I even got to sleep late because I had the mid-watch.I didn't have to get up until 0730.The life of a non-rated sailor in transit is the pits.You spend the day cleaning floors or any other garbage job they can find.

††††††††††† That night I finally got a full nights sleep.Which was good because the next night I drew the mid-watch at the high school again.Every thing was quiet.I was calling in every thirty minutes to let the marines know I was still alive.Every now and then I would brave the darkened area around the back of the school.Then at around three in the morning, I heard three guys walking down the road in front of the school.

††††††††††† I saw them huddle together and then one, he looked about six feet five inches tall, start to climb the school fence.I was scared, but I was damned if I was going to be humiliated by running.I calmly yelled to the guy that he was going to have to leave and started walking toward him with my billy club ready.

††††††††††† The guy didn't say anything, but when he saw I wasn't backing down he raised his hands and said, "Hey hold on, I'm an American.Relax, I just want to borrow the phone and call the Sergeant of the Guard to see if we can get a ride back."

††††††††††† It was just a group of Marines trying to scare the kid on watch----which they did.

††††††††††† A couple of days later I drew Mess-Cook duty.I had to report to the Mess-Decks for a day of washing dishes, scrubbing floors and all the other dirty jobs they had.This might sound bad, but it was the only day in my whole four years in the Navy that I had to do it.Most boots just in the fleet get stuck with Mess-cooking for three months.

††††††††††† Finally after eight days of miserable transit duty, my orders came in.On March 24, 1967, I rode the bus back to the Naples airport where I boarded a twin engine prop plane headed from Valletta, Malta via Sigonella.At the end of the runway, the pilot stopped the plane and a navy crewman grabbed a fire extinguisher, went outside.The pilot revved up the engines and when the engine didn't explode and burn, he got back inside and we took off.

††††††††††† We landed in Sicily, dropped off some passengers and took off for Malta where COMSERVRON-6 was aboard the USS Cascade AD-16.Just as we landed, the bouncing around got to me and I got airsick.It was a wonderful way to land in a new country.

††††††††††† COMSERVRON-6 comprised of about a hundred and twenty officers and enlisted men.The Commodore, A Navy Captain, had the responsibility of all the service force ships in the Sixth Fleet.It was his responsibility to schedule all service force ships in replenishments and port calls.The bulk of the staff, such as myself, was to make the burden of having the Staff on the different ships it rode as light as possible.

††††††††††† I was to work with another DKSN by the name of Don Ranahan for the ship's company DKs.The Cascade would be leaving Malta on April 3, for Rota, Spain, where the Staff would transfer to the USS Truckee and the Cascade would go home.

††††††††††† Ranahan was very friendly and took me over with some other guys for my first liberty in a foreign port. Malta was really interesting.However our first stop was a bar where I had my first beer.I sipped on it for a while and never attempted to drink another one.I stuck to Coke or Pepsi.

††††††††††† It wasn't long before I realized that I couldn't drink as many cokes as they could beer.We drifted through town and visited the area known as the Gut.That was where you could get beer, whiskey or anything else you wanted.I did manage, in the remaining few days we had there, to walk around and see a little of Valletta.I particularly like eating Steak and Chips there.It only cost around a dollar for a meal.

††††††††††† Then it was time to leave Malta.The ship got underway for Rota, Spain and soon I had my first bout with seasickness.Finally I began to get adjusted to the routine.

††††††††††† At Rota the Staff transferred to the USS TRUCKEE AO-147.Don and I ended up working for the Ship's company Disbursing Clerk, a third class petty officer by the name of Peter Stark.He was a reservist who had made third class in the reserves.He came aboard the Truckee and had to learn the job the hard way out of the manuals.

††††††††††† The ship then headed for Naples, our homeport.Don showed me where the USO was and how to rent a locker for civilian clothes.Because we were homeported in Naples, it was legal for us to have civies.The ship's personnel had to stay in uniform.

††††††††††† Routine out at sea was simple.We worked on the payrecords and prepared for payday.We paid dealers bills and prepared financial returns.We got about an hour and a half for lunch and we knocked off work at 1630.Dinner came at 1700 and after that we would wait for the movie to be shown on the mess decks at 2000.After the movie it was Taps at 2200.

††††††††††† In Naples, the Staff got to knock off at 1400 every day.That made the ship's company

a little jealous, but they got to go back to the states at the end of the cruise.We just got on another ship and started over.

††††††††††† The main things I used to do in Naples, was to go to the USO and next door to the EM (enlisted mans) club where they had a restaurant that you could buy a great steak dinner for two dollars.We also used to catch a bus to the Navy Exchange.After a five-day stay in Naples we went to sea for two weeks.We spent most of the time in the Eastern Med as there was political trouble in Greece.Then it was back to Naples for a short visit at the end of April.

 

 

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On April 16, 1967, I was promoted to Petty Officer Third Class.

††††††††††† On May 6, 1967, I had my first visit to Capri.It was about a forty-minute boat ride from the inner harbor of Naples.The Island was beautiful.It was hard to believe the water was so clear and blue this close to Naples.The Blue Grotto was especially beautiful.You took a boat through this little tunnel to a large cavern.The way the sunlight shined through the tunnel and the water turned the light in the cavern into a rich blue.

††††††††††† We went to sea on May 8, which, with the exception of a couple of short visits to Augusta Bay, Sicily and Souda Bay, Crete for fuel, began a long time away from port.

On June 5, we were refueling the carrier USS America when we got the news that the Six-Day War broke out in the Middle East.

††††††††††† During this time, we spent each night refueling the two Carrier Groups.We alternated, from one Carrier Group one night and the other the next night.About that time the Russians show up.There was always a Soviet destroyer or trawler following the Carriers.

††††††††††† One evening, we were following unknown radar contacts off our port bow.One of the contacts turned directly toward us.It turned out to be a Russian guided missile destroyer.She ran a collision course but turned at the very last minute.Both ships were standing dead in the water so close you could have jumped from one ship to the other.Our Captain gave the order to shine our signal light on her.She immediately trained her missiles on us and completely lit us up with her spotlight.After a few minutes, she steamed away and left us alone.

††††††††††† A few days later a message came in that one of our ships had been torpedoed.There were no other details.The news spread through the Truckee like a flashfire.We had been in company with the Russians for days with our guns manned by kids.I could just imagine the pressure getting to some scared sailor and him pulling the trigger on some Soviet Destroyer.

††††††††††† I ran the possibilities through my head.If it was the Russians it would mean war.I didn't like the prospect of a shooting war when I was riding eight million gallons of oil. The idea that it might be the Egyptians wasn't much better.About the only way there would not be trouble was if it was Israel.Two hours later that proved to be the case.The USS Liberty, a spy ship, was attacked by Israeli warplanes.

††††††††††† As tensions eased we pulled back into Souda Bay, Crete for six days.It was a lousy place for liberty, but we traveled into Khania and walked around for a couple of hours.

††††††††††† In August we pulled into Rapallo, Italy.Itís on the Italian Riveria and it was beautiful.We visited Genoa and a beautiful little town of Portofino.We rented two-man three wheel bicycles and rode all around.Waiting for the boat back to the ship my friend and I met three girls.We talked and had my picture taken with them.Two of them were great looking and one was rather large.One of the two good-looking ones seemed to like me so I concentrated on her.However the boat came and we went back to the ship.The next day I had duty so I couldn't go ashore.

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††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††† Liberty on the Italian Riviera

 

It was our last day there so the Captain had an open house and hired a band.We had a dance on the flight deck.The three girls showed up and though I couldn't spend any time with them she did manage to talk me out of my hat.

††††††††††† When the last liberty party was in, one of the guys told me he had a picture, a ring and an address to write to one of the girls.I was in heaven for about ten minutes.The picture was of the large girl and the ring looked like something she found along the side of the road.I never wrote, but it was nice to make a good impression on somebody.

††††††††††† Back at sea there was the beginning of friction between DK3 Stark and myself.I had recently been promoted to third class and we occasionally had a difference of opinion on how to do things.One day after payday we were having a real bad time making the payroll balance.At around 2000, I told Stark that I was going to take a break and go to the movie.I said I would come back afterward and finish balancing the payroll.

††††††††††† He blew a gasket.He said if I left before it was balanced that he would write me up for leaving before it was finished.I told him to go ahead and then went to the movie.When it was over I came back and he was still mad.He showed me a report chit he wrote up on me and then stormed out of the office and went to bed.

††††††††††† I finished balancing the payroll and then wrote out a report chit on him for leaving before the payroll was balanced.Neither was turned in, but it put a bad strain on our relationship for the remainder of the cruise.

††††††††††† Back in Naples, Sinclare, the ships serviceman who was in charge of the bulk storerooms had to go on emergency leave back to the states. Even though I was not Ships Company, I was the one chosen as his replacement.

††††††††††† Before I took over, we had to inventory all three storerooms.One storeroom held all the cleaning supplies for the laundry.Another one contained all the small stores (uniform) stock to be issued to Small Stores.The last and largest held merchandise to be sold in the Ships Store and Gee Dunk (ships soda fountain).That was everything from souvenirs to watches to candy bars to toothpaste.

††††††††††† Since Sinclare had to leave the next morning we had to inventory into the early morning hours.We were all exhausted.It took a long time to complete the paperwork after we finished because Mister Hunt kept falling asleep.He would fall asleep in the middle of a sentence.We kept waking him up over and over, I've never met anyone since that fell asleep like he did.

††††††††††† Back at sea, we had a Vertrep (vertical replenishment).The Ships Store Officer, Mister Hunt, had ordered more Small Store merchandise than the storeroom could handle.When the Vertrep was over I had filled all the shelves and all the floor space from the deck to the overhead with boxes.You could open the door but that was as far as you could get.

††††††††††† Of course it was time for an inspection.Captain Chetlin, a hard nose Staff Captain inspected the supply department a few days later.The man didn't like anyone below the rank of Commander. and he wanted to inspect my storerooms.

††††††††††† When we got to the Small Stores storeroom, I opened it.He started to go in, stopped, looked at the boxes and decided to inspect something else.

††††††††††† In September we pulled into Rota to change to the USS Mississinewa (AO-144).We packed up all the staff files and moved them to our new ship.Don and I made two trips with the Staff Disbursing Officer (who had the job of disbursing all the foreign currency to all the Sixth Fleet ships) carrying over a million dollars in foreign currency in several suitcases.

††††††††††† Don and I were really delighted to see the last of Peter Stark.That is until we met Dale Stark DK1 of the Mississinewa.Not only was he a jerk, he was a senior jerk, which meant I would be doing things his way.Stark had a third class by the name of Paul working for him.

††††††††††† Between the three of us, we hated him a lot.

††††††††††† After we left Rota, it was back to sea for refueling duties and then to Naples.A few days later, the Special Sea and Anchor Detail was called away and it was goodbye Naples and back to sea for nine days.

††††††††††† While on Staff, I was in a five-section duty rotation.On every fifth day I had to stay in the Staff Logistics Office and type messages and anything else the Officers wanted done.Also when there was a major unrep (underway replenishment) involving several supply ships, I had to record the times the receiving ships were alongside the supply ships.The time was from the time the Prep pennant went up, to signify that the receiving ship had started its approach, to the time the Romeo flag came down, to signify that the refueling, etc was over.

††††††††††† Our next time in Naples, six of us, including Pat and Don Ranahan, decided to go to Rome for the weekend.On November 6, 1967, a Friday afternoon, our train pulled out of Naples.We arrived in the early evening.

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†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† Don & Pat Ranahan & Kim

 

I was dying to see the Coliseum.With the aid of a map, we finally approached a main road and to our left was the coliseum all lit up. I was really excited, here was something I had seen in pictures all my life and now there it was.

††††††††††† The next day we took in as many sights as we could get in.We visited the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and much more.Sunday morning we caught the train back.

††††††††††† We went back to sea and stopped at Barcelona, Spain for a port visit. After Barcelona it was a week at sea and then a port visit to Valletta, Malta.It was enjoyable to return.During the late afternoon, they prohibit cars on the main street, Kings Way.Everyone turns out to walk and visit each other.†††††

††††††††††† Back in Naples we were delivered from Dale Stark.His wife had dropped off their five (four were hers from a previous marriage) kids at the neighbors and went to Norfolk (from Newport, Rhode Island) to shack up with some sailor.He took emergency leave and never returned to the ship.

††††††††††† It was about that time that I was caught by the Master at Arms, taking a civilian shower.This guy was a jerk.He had written up one sailor because his feet were touching the wall at the movie on the mess decks.Because of my breech of the rules, I had to stand a midwatch in the boiler room. I was there to learn how we make water on the ship.

††††††††††† Since I had become a Disbursing Clerk, most people didn't harass me much.Most people didn't want to make the guy that took care of their payrecords mad.

††††††††††† While getting ready to go on watch, I decided I was going to be the biggest ass that ever went down into the boiler room.I went into the First Lieutenant's office at 2330 and turned into a lamb.I was overly respectful.Down in the boiler room they spent four hours showing me around.I asked every question I could think of. It turned out one of the two evaporators was turned off because we had an abundance of water.

††††††††††† The next day the first class petty officer came and asked me how I was treated.I said, "Fine."He told me I surprised everyone.They thought I was going to be a hardcase and had planned to make me work down in the bilgeís.I had done the right thing.But, I hadn't forgotten about Humpfrey.

††††††††††† On December 4, 1967, we pulled into Villefranche, France, on the French Riveria.That day we went to Monte Carlo.Later in the week we visited Nice.

††††††††††† In the office we were working on transition.That was a time when we closed out the old payrecords and opened up new ones.There was also a pay raise due on January 1, so no one would know what they were going to be paid.

††††††††††† I changed Humphrey's record so that less withholding tax would be taken out; thus he would owe when he filed his income tax the next year.I also raised his pay so that when the books were closed out in June, he would be over paid and would miss a payday.By that time the Mississinewa would be back in the states and I would be long gone.

††††††††††† At the same time Paul, the ship's company disbursing clerk, had a run in with the ships store operator.He gave him a raise also.When the ships store operator showed up with his friend who had been getting the same pay as he had and was now getting less, Paul raised his pay too.

††††††††††† In January, 1968, we visited Valencia, Spain followed by Naples again then sea and Palma, Mallorca.

††††††††††† In Palma we rented a car and went all around the Island.We sideswiped a donkey cart and put a scratch on the car.When we returned it we parked it so the scratch wouldn't show.

 

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Palma

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††††††††††† One day I heard through the door to the office, Humphrey, joke as he was looking at the pay list, that he wasn't getting enough.I opened the door and asked him if he wanted me to check it.I was going to jack it up again, but he said no it was all right.

††††††††††† It was on the Mississinewa that Don, Paul, and I incorporated the Peanutbutter mess.In order to make things a little more tolerable on board, we kept a supply Peanutbutter and cokes.You could buy cokes at the Soda fountain, but they had a habit of running out between deliveries.Also we bought a popcorn popper.I soon discovered you could scramble eggs in the popcorn popper.We ate well.††††

††††††††††† On February 8, 1968, we pulled into Athens.We pulled in with a Carrier.I went to the Parthanon and the place was covered with blue navy uniforms.It was hard to take a picture without a hundred sailors in it.

††††††††††† While we were there, an Egyptian plane buzzed a Navy spy ship.In the past year the Pueblo had been captured by North Korea and the Liberty had been torpedoed in the Med.The Carrier pulled up anchor and sailed immediately.For that we were thankful.

††††††††††† About this time the ship's company had an air bedding day.They all took their pillow and blanket outside and let them air out.As a joke, Don and I decided to take Paul's pillow.He caught us and in the process, Don dropped the pillow in puddle of water that was on the deck.Paul decided to retaliate.He went into my compartment and took my pillow.

††††††††††† This was a foam rubber pillow I had been carrying around for over a year.In response to that I took a hunting knife he had and hid it in the Disbursing Office.He found it, so I took a roll of film that he had taken in Monte Carlo.This time I put it in my locker.The words flew for a couple of weeks.

††††††††††† Finally just before the Mississinewa went back to the States, I approached Paul and asked for a truce.I said if he gave me the pillow, I would give him his film.He said no way, that his friend had taken the same shots and he would use his pictures.

††††††††††† Thatís the way it ended.I found out a year later that after the Mississinewa sailed, he really tore up the Disbursing office looking for the film.Paul Ryder had made a mistake and it cost him a roll of shots he could never replace.†† I bought a new pillow.In looking back, I should have sent him the pictures.

††††††††††† Just before the Mississinewa pulled into Rota, she stopped just up the coast at Gibraltar.On March 15, 1968, we stopped for two days.It was great.We took a tour of the Rock.We saw the natural caves and tunnels that are believed to travel under the straits to Africa.We saw the Rock Apes and heard that they are never known to die of natural causes on Gibraltar.It is thought that when their time is near that they travel through the tunnels to Africa to die.It was a real interesting liberty.

 

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USS NeoshoAo-143

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††††††††††† I was looking forward to the USS Neosho AO-143.After two Starks, I felt there was no way there could be a third.There wasn't, but DK1 VanAusdale was worse.He was a "by the book sailor."He took no short cuts and would tolerate none.The NavCompt Manual was his bible.He even once went head to head with Captain Chetlin.He may have been right, but Chetlin was a Captain.VanAusdale lost.

When he wasn't talking Navy, he was talking women.He was always talking about his experiences and conquests.However, in the six months the Neosho was in the Med, he didn't go on liberty one single time.

††††††††††† In April, while in Naples the USS Scorpion was in port.They had invited anyone who wanted to come on board for a tour, however I couldn't get off in time.I had always wanted to aboard a nuclear powered submarine.While waiting for a liberty boat, I saw a group of Scorpion sailors talking when their Commanding Officer came up.They were joking and enjoying themselves with camaraderie that is not enjoyed by surface sailors.I found that fascinating.It stuck in my mind when I learned less than a month later they were all dead.

††††††††††† We soon entered our Naples-sea-Naples-sea-Naples routine with an occasional different port visit.We went to Valletta, Malta at the end of April.I was going on liberty a lot with John Harris.He came to the Staff from CHB-1.His brother was Bob Harris that I was stationed with at Newport and CHB-1.In Valletta we went to a movie.The price was four of five shillings.We both gave her a pound note.She gave us a little change and we stepped away.I counted and she overcharged both of us.I went back and demanded the correct change.She shook her head no, but finally gave us more.I recounted and found I was still six pence short.John was twelve pence short.We let it go, but found it very distasteful that she was cheating us because we were Americans and she figured we didn't know the currency.

††††††††††† After Malta we went to sea for sixteen days.I was working in the office when the USS Chukawan AO-100 came along side for off load some fuel.Oilers are used to having other ships come along side of them - not the other way around.

††††††††††† All of a sudden I heard over the 1-MC "Stand by for collision to starboard!"Now thatís the kind of message that will get your attention.Not to mention that our office was on the starboard side of the ship.I rushed out the door to see what was happening and there was the Chukawan just a few feet away from us.The two ships came together and there was a loud bank as the fenders burst that were between the ships.The ships seemed to be blown apart by the fenders, but then drifted back together as the Chukawan (AO-100) cut her speed.

††††††††††† I saw the Chukawan's Captain standing on their port bridge wing and felt sorry for him because I knew he was watching his career go down the tubes.The Chukawan's bow seemed to ride down our aft superstructure and mangle the starboard walkway.Then it was over.The damage was slight and it was repaired by the crew.

††††††††††† At the end of May we pulled into Civitavecchia.There wasn't much to do there, but it was only about fifty miles to Rome, so John and I bought a round trip ticket for the train.

††††††††††† We enjoyed the day in Rome and that evening we caught the train back.On the train we realized I had lost my ticket.As the train proceeded toward Civitavecchia, the Conductor began at the front of the train and moved toward the back taking tickets.I moved in front of him hoping we would get to Civitavecchia before he got to the end.I was standing in the back of the last car and the conductor was taking tickets in the last compartment when the train stopped at Civitavecchia.

††††††††††† Upon leaving Civitavecchia the next day, we went to Livorno.John Harris, Dan and Pat Ranahan and I wanted to go across the boot to Venice.We requested weekend liberty and permission to go to Venice.The request chits came back disapproved because Venice was too far.We resubmitted them asking them for permission to spend the weekend in Florence.They approved them, so the next day we were off to Venice.

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††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† John Harris, Kim Richardson & Don Ranahan†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 

We first took a bus to Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower.We all climbed to the top, then walked around and took pictures.Next we took the train to Florence where we caught another train to Venice.We arrived in Venice about nine oíclock at night.We got ourselves a room and walked around for about an hour.Tired from all of the traveling we slept until almost noon.We had to catch a train back in just two hours.We took a waterbus to St. Marks.I was so excited I left a bag that belonged to someone else on the boat.It was filled with four cartons of cigarettes.It was worth sixteen dollars on the black market, which was a lot back then.

We took some pictures, looked around and then headed back for the train station.It cost us a lot of time and money for two hours in Venice, but none of us would have traded it for anything.

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†††††††††††††††††††††††††

Don Ranahan, Kim Richardson & Pat Ranahan

 

 

In the middle of June a group of got a chance to go see the Harlem Globetrotters.We enjoyed them very much.It was strange to watch them in Italy, as most of the people in the audience didn't understand English and couldn't follow some of the jokes.However they seemed to enjoy it.After the game a few of us went into their bus before they left and got autographs.

††††††††††† On June 30, 1968, I flew out of Naples for the States and thirty days leave.It was my first trip home in fifteen months.When the time came to go back, I ran into a shipmate with the last name of Stanley on the plane.We flew to Nice together where we caught a bus to Villefranche.We were to meet the ship there.We arrived a day before the ship and had to get a hotel room.We spent a pleasant day in Villefranche without the Navy around before the ship arrived.

††††††††††† Back at sea, VanAusdale mouthed off at me and said "I ought to kick your ass!"I replied, "Come on, letís do it."We went down to the commissary spaces in a passageway where the storerooms were.We figured we would have some privacy there.Though neither one of us was really mad, we began to wrestle.I threw him down and let him up, and then he threw me down and let me up.We then grabbed each other for another fall when we both noticed we were attracting a crowd.As senior petty officers, it didn't look too good for us to horseplay like this.We stopped and went back to work.We had to walk by them and there must have seven or eight guys watching.

††††††††††† About this time at the USO in Naples, I developed a crush on one the USO girls.These were girls that came to the USO to play games (pool, table tennis, etc.) with the sailors.Also they were handy at dances.Anyway, Tina caught my eye.She was petite with long dark hair and I thought she was the most beautiful girl I ever saw.

††††††††††† One of the rules at the USO was that the girls could not date sailors.I would visit the USO every chance I got.We became friendlier.A group of us went to the Navy run beach.The girls needed us because they couldn't get in other wise.There were perhaps a dozen of us.We had a great day.

††††††††††† Much to my dismay our relationship started to go down hill.She became more distant.

††††††††††† One of the hazards of being a sailor is that other sailors visit the girls up in the alleys or red light district in different ports.Someone brought a bad case of the crabs to the ship.In the head (bathroom) there was a sign, "If you got the critters, use the first shitter."This toilet had to be the safest toilet on the ship.

††††††††††† To combat the situation, the Medical Department made us turn in all our sheets and blankets and then we had to takea shower and wash down with vinegar.It worked.

††††††††††† VanAusdale like his coffee.We kept a small coffee mess in the office.One day he told me to make a pot of coffee.So I took the pot down to the head where there was a deepsink.There were two faucets, one for hot and one for cold.At least that is what I thought.It turned out that one was for fresh and one was for salt water.

††††††††††† I filled up the pot and went back to the office and made the coffee.Later VanAusdale got a cup and took a big swallow and spit it out all over the office.He later claimed that I was trying to poison him.

††††††††††† We seemed to be in a constant battle with cab drivers.They were always trying to cheat American sailors.In Naples, we once wanted to go to the Navy Exchange.We wanted to pay 1500 Lire, a fair price.The driver said no, he wanted 2000.We said we wanted to go by the meter.

††††††††††† About two blocks from the Exchange the meter said 1500 so we made the driver stop.That was when he produced a sign that said, if the driver had to leave the downtown area, there was a surcharge of 500 lire for the return trip.After some heated discussion we paid the driver and walked the remaining distance to the Exchange.

††††††††††† On August 17, 1968, we pulled back into Athens.This time we took a cab to the small Air Force facility near the Athen's airport.It was a place where you could play a little basketball and then get a hamburger and a coke.

††††††††††† Having been there before, I knew the way.When the driver passed the turnoff, I didn't say anything because I figured he knew a better way.He did, he added three or four miles on the trip by circling around the airport runway.We let him know what we thought of him, but in the end we paid.

††††††††††† On September 11, 1968, we pulled into Palma.While we were there, John and I decided to go to a bullfight.It seemed a little unfair to the six bulls that were killed, but we enjoyed the new experience.

††††††††††† That night I was sick to my stomach.The next morning we left Palma and headed for Rota.I felt the sickness was over with.While sitting at breakfast with one of the Dental Techs, he noticed the whites of my eyes were yellow.He told me to go to sick bay.I did and they put me in isolation.

††††††††††† Friends packed me a small bag and when the ship docked at Rota, I was transferred to the hospital.It was confirmed that I had hepatitis.For the next three weeks I was confined to a room in the corner of the hospital.My command transferred to the Truckee and sailed to the Med.I found myself all alone with no radio, TV, visitors or even a roommate.I slept the first few days and after that I only had a book for entertainment.

††††††††††† Soon I had my appetite back.By the time they brought me my food each meal I was famished.Since I couldn't leave the room I couldn't even get to a candy or coke machine.The Doctor came in and doubled my portions at mealtime.

††††††††††† One of the Nurses came to my rescue and told me that at four oíclock, a man came by with a cart.He sold crackers, candy, and cokes. But, most importantly, paperback books.The selection wasn't good but at least he had westerns.I must have read twenty while I was there.

††††††††††† For two weeks I got no news from the outsideI had written everyone, my parents, friends on the ship and even Tina.But there was no mail.I was bored, lonely and starved for entertainment.They had movies in one of the wards every night, but I wasn't allowed to go.I could hear a little of it.One night they played a movie I had been wanting to see real bad for a year, "The good, the bad and the ugly."I just sat in my room watching the second hand of the clock make rotation after rotation while everyone else watched the movie.

††††††††††† Finally I received some mail.My parentís letter came first, followed by a letter from John.His letter had taken eight days to reach me from Naples.From Naples it went to the Fleet Post Office in New York and then back across the ocean to Rota.I also received a letter from Tina, which was a real morale booster.

††††††††††† After three weeks in isolation I was moved to a ward with nine other guys. It was great to be back among the living, but I wanted to go back to COMSERVRON-6.I also wanted to go back to Naples to see Tina.

††††††††††† In the hospital there was a help yourself refrigerator.In it they kept various cans of juice.The most popular being apple juice.It was a scarce and valued commodity.All the cans were without labels on them, but were marked on the top as to the content.One day right after they refilled the refrigerator, I grabbed a can and with a magic marker, I wrote "Grapefruit Juice" on the side. Even though no other can was marked with a magic marker, everyone assumed it was grapefruit juice and left it alone.

††††††††††† I was now desperate to get out of the hospital.However, everytime the doctors took a blood sample, they said the count was not low enough to be released.

††††††††††† Although I was too sick to go back to the fleet, they said I was well enough to work around the hospital.One day I was assigned to fill all the patients water pitchers in the dependence wing of the hospital.I went around with a little cart and collected all the pitchers.They had the patientís name marked on a piece of tape on the side of the pitcher.

††††††††††† After filling all the pitchers, I realized there were no nametags on the doors of the rooms.I didn't know who got which pitcher.Some of the people were gone and others were asleep.So I pulled off all the nametags and passed them out.

††††††††††† Finally after six weeks they discharged me from the hospital.I went to Personnel and found that to my horror, after you have been detached from your duty station over thirty days, they replace you.I wasn't going back to COMSERVRON-6.

††††††††††† I was given a dream sheet to fill out.I had a bout a year left in my enlistment and figured that my best chance to see the world was in the Navy.I wasn't going to ship over, but while I was in, I wanted to take every opportunity I could to see it.I did not want stateside duty.I requested Naples and Viet Nam.Then I waited a week for them to make up their minds, knowing my seabag with all my gear was in Naples on the Truckee.

††††††††††† After a week in transit I got my orders.I was transferred to the USS Truckee AO-147 as the ship's disbursing clerk.It was not staff, but at least my seabag was there and the Truckee would be in the Med for another five months.

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USS Truckee AO-147 in Malta

 

I was thrilled to be back.I already knew a lot of the ship's company from their last cruise.The first thing I checked on was to see if I could get the new staff DK that took my place transferred to the ship's company so I could have my job back.It was a no go.The new DK had brought a wife with him so it would cost too much to transfer her back to the states.

††††††††††† As a member of the ship's company I was in a port and starboard duty section.Every other day I had duty.On the bright side, the petty officer that was responsible for the watch bill didn't realize I was now ship's company and left me off the watch bill for six weeks.I still had duty but I didn't have to stand any watches.

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Kim & Tina

 

I went ashore the first chance I got to see Tina.She seemed happy to see me.We went out a couple of times.Sometimes it was hard to keep a date.Once I received permission for early liberty.We were moored to the seawall.The Captain decided to have a birthday party for the Truckee (she was 13 years old that day) and delayed liberty.The liberty boats were secured.I found out there was a boat leaving for the Tidewater, a destroyer tender, and caught it.I then took the Tidewater's liberty boat to shore.

††††††††††† Shortly after I came back, Don Ranahan's enlistment was up and he flew back to the states for discharge.

††††††††††† The Truckee made port visits in Villefranche, France in December and Valencia, Spain in November.Now each port visit, I signed up for any tour that was offered.I knew this was my last time around.

††††††††††† Back in Naples, I was dumped by Tina.She fell in love with Danny Moore, another sailor on the Truckee and after he got out of the Navy, he flew back to Naples for six months and married her.They then moved to Fort Pierce, Florida, had a baby and lived happily ever after, or eight years--whichever came first.

††††††††††† Pat Ranahan, Don's brothers and I drifted apart.He got in with a bad bunch.They rented an apartment in Naples and set up house.One evening Pat and a friend were riding the liberty boat back to the ship.His friend (Nick named Peanut) realized he had a bottle of booze on him.Not wanting to get into trouble, Peanut said he was going to throw it over the side.Pat said, "No, I'll take it aboard the ship for you."He put the bottle inside his peacoat and went aboard where he was caught.

††††††††††† Pat went to Captain's Mast where he was handed a thirty-day restriction.The really bad part for him was that he was due to fly to the States for discharge in two weeks.Instead of going home, he had to sail with the ship three weeks later.When we sailed back to Naples several weeks after that, he was rescheduled to fly home.

††††††††††† As we anchored in the outer harbor, a boat containing ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) officers came out to meet the ship.One of the first people they grabbed was Pat Ranahan.

††††††††††† It turned out that Pat and his friends had let an American girl live in their apartment for services rendered.They also indulged heavily into pot and other drugs.Having tired of her, they booted her out.She then went to ONI and turned them in.

††††††††††† Pat ended up being kept in the Navy for a couple of months after his enlistment was over.Then they gave him a general discharge.If he hadn't tried to carry someone elseís bottle on board ship, he would have been home free and clear.

Back out at sea we were scheduled for a vertrep (vertical replenishment).The USS Sylvania AFS-2 was delivering our groceries.The helo began to drop load after load on our flight deck.We received a pallet of sugar, then another, then another and another.It just kept coming.We were stacking it all over the ship.A quick check showed that the petty officer that ordered it, thought you ordered bit by the pound.Only the unit of issue was by the bag.The result was that we received more sugar than the whole fleet would use in a month.

††††††††††† On March 8, 1969, John and I went to Rome for the last time.There were some things I had wanted to see that I just never got around to seeing.We climbed up to the top of Saint Peters and saw the Pope bless the crowd on Sunday.I saw Pope Paul's right hand.The side of the window hid the rest of him.I didn't make it to the Sistine Chapel.But, I enjoyed the visit very much.I finally did make it to the Sistine Chapel in 1978 while serving on my two weeks active duty in Sicily.

††††††††††† After one more trip to Athens, we came back to Naples for the last time.We pulled out of Naples for the last time on April 1, 1969.I played the song "Trains, Boats and Planes" on my stereo for the last time as we steamed out of Naples harbor.My thoughts were of the USO and Tina.

††††††††††† We stopped in Palma for a few days and then Gibraltar.Then to Rota to off load part of the Staff.Next we went up the coast to Lisbon.I took the tour and went to Fatima.It was a great liberty.

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††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† John Harris and Kim in Gibralta

 

Next it was back to Rota where the Mississinewa took the remainder of the Staff.

On April 16, 1969, we headed for the United States.On April 25, we sailed into Norfolk.Danny Moore and a few of us were standing by the hatch watching the USA go by.Danny said that he wished that it was Mt. Vesuvious we were watching.I agreed with him.

††††††††††† During my time in the Mediterranean, my ships took part in refueling many ships.The carriers include the names America, Saratoga, Franklin Roosevelt, Shangri-La, Independence, Forestall, Randolph and Essex.

††††††††††† After being overseas for twenty-five months it seemed only fitting that I should get duty on the first day back in the states.It was also fitting that I should have the first Quarterdeck watch so that I couldn't even go use the phone.The band played and wives and girlfriends filled the pier.I felt my homecoming could have been a shade happier.

††††††††††† We were tied up to the pier in Norfolk for a month while everyone took leave.Then we went back to sea for three days, came back to Norfolk on May 28, 1969 and had an ORI (operation readiness inspection) the next day.We went out for the day's inspection and came back to Craney Island.That's just down the channel from the Naval Base at Norfolk.

††††††††††† We were at Craney Island for four days.While there we had an all hands tank mucking operation.With all the fuel tanks empty, the sides were steamed, so that the black oil settled on the bottom of the tanks.Then, we were dressed in old clothes, handed a bunch of rags and told to clime down to the bottom and wipe the tanks clean.

Everyone on the ship is involved in this evolution.At midnight we climbed into one of the large centerline tanks and started work.When we began it was about 110 degrees inside.We started at the sides and worked inward.Ten hours later we were still working.However because we were getting close to the center of the tank with the same amount of workers, we were bumping into each other.Finally another second class petty officer and myself decided to watch.We were the only second class petty officers working and there wasn't room.

††††††††††† Lt. Wells came down in the tank to see what was going on and when he saw us, he asked,"Why aren't you working?" We replied that there wasn't room.He retorted, "Well, if you aren't going to work, get the hell out of here!"

††††††††††† Sounded like a pretty good idea.We started the climb out.He then went over to the phone talker and told him to pass the word topside to give us the dirtiest job they could find.Of course that was the one we were just leaving.We climbed up and out and went and got cleaned up.Later we found out what Wells had.The phone talker, topside, didn't like the Lieutenant either so he didn't pass the word.

††††††††††† After mucking out a black oil tank, you are covered with the stuff.The old work clothes the Navy provided, had to be thrown away.You are covered with black oil from head to toe.We all wore rags on our heads to keep the oil out of our hair.

††††††††††† After we finished the big centerline tank, we got a few hours off before we started on another one.It only took eight hours to do one of the outside tanks.Then we went forward to muck the JP-d jet fuel tank.

††††††††††† With the jet fuel we were only allowed down there for twenty minutes at a time.When we came up we were feeling no pain.The fumes made you high.

††††††††††† When we left Craney Island on June 2, 1969, we headed for Roosevelt roads, Porto Rico.Itís the largest land area Naval Base the US has.I didn't get a chance to see much, I had the duty and spent one night as one of the ship's shore patrol petty officers.After a couple of days there, we pulled into Ponce, Puerto Rico.I went over and looked around.

††††††††††† We then went to sea for a day and anchored at St Thomas.It was a beautiful island.As soon as I got off the liberty boat, some friends and I spotted a sign that said they rented motor scooters.We went in and each rented one.

††††††††††† As I drove out on the street I was shocked to find that everyone was driving on the left side of the road.I hadn't noticed it before.We spent the day driving all over the island.

††††††††††† Back at sea the Disbursing Officer told me to go get him a cup of coffee from the mess decks.I really felt that was not right and that he was treating me as his personal Stewart.After getting the coffee I stopped and bought a coke.I poured a little in the coffee.

††††††††††† I went back to the office and put it on his desk and went back to work.He took one sip, put it down and didn't say a word.He did not drink any more of the coffee and he never asked me to get him another cup again.

††††††††††† This cruise to the Caribbean could have been dubbed the Royal Crown Cola cruise.With no air conditioning on the ship we drank a lot of soda.It was nothing to drink six or seven a day.Before we left Norfolk, the Ships Store Officer had only bought Royal Crown Cola.When I asked him why, he replied that it was the only soda he could get and still sell to the crew for a dime.††† If he bought Coke or Pepsi, he would have to charge 15 cents.I drank Royal Crown Cola till it was coming out of my ears.I couldn't stand it.The only soda I like less was Tam-Tam, the soda they sell in Greece.That cruise was the last time I ever drank Royal Crown Cola.

††††††††††† Back in Norfolk I decided to take a few days leave.The plan was to meet Rusty Marcus in Richmond and go to New York for a couple of days.I took the bus to Richmond and arrived in the early morning hours.I then walked to the Train Station and waited for the train from Florida.

††††††††††† Daybreak was just beginning when I went to check the arrival board.I knew the train was due in about twenty minutes.However there was no sign of any train traffic moving North or South.All the trains were going East and West.

††††††††††† I went to the window and asked.The ticket clerk told me I was at the wrong station.The station that handled the North-South traffic was on the other side of town.I ran to catch a cab.I got to the train station just as the train pulled in.I found Rusty and got a ticket and we went on to Washington D.C.

††††††††††† We spent the night at the YMCA.That evening we walked around, ate and we went to the movies.We saw the Wild Bunch, a new western.The next day we took the bus to New York.

††††††††††† In New York we got a room at the WMCA.We then spent the next couple of days seeing the sights, eating at a place that sold steak dinners for two dollars and of course going to the movies.We also went to a Mets game.

††††††††††† Somewhere in the middle of July my name quit showing up on the watch bill.There was a shortage of Petty Officers to stand quarterdeck watches, so the watchstanders had to stand two watches a day.Now usually I would have pointed out that I wasn't being put on the watchbill, but that would mean I would be standing two four-hour watches once every four days.So I kept my mouth shut.

††††††††††† Finally the First Class Petty Officer that was in charge of making out the watch bill came storming after.He was hot.He said the watchstanders were standing two watches a day and I could be damn sure I would be on the watch bill tomorrow.I did not understand why he was mad at me because HE left me off the watch bill, but I replied to him that; no I wouldn't be because I was getting out of the Navy the next day.

††††††††††† On the morning of September 5, 1969, I saluted the Officer of the Deck and the Flag flying on the fantail and left the Truckee for the last time.

††††††††††† I really enjoyed the four years I spent in the Navy.It's enjoyable to remember the time when during a VertRep we stole a carton of frozen Strawberries, then feasted on one of the four gallon cans until we were sick of them.We put the remaining three cans in an empty locker and went to sleep.During the night they thawed, and exploded, leaving strawberries all over the corner of the compartment.Or remembering the only time in Naples that I had any dealings with the Black Market.I sold four cartons of cigarettes with a few buddies from off the ship.Because it was a one-time deal, we decided to have our picture taken with the Italian who bought them.He thought we were crazy.

††††††††††† It was a great adventure.

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