FOUR YEARS IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††† By
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† Kim Richardson
††††††††††† It was about ,
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† Everyone at CHB-1 had to go through
††††††††††† 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 -minute break in the morning.† At 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.
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† Thirty minutes later I was on a bus
††††††††††† The nights around CHB-1 were
quiet.† The base was essentially in the
middle of the woods.† The nearest road,
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† We started out on Friday at 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 in the morning I found myself hitch hiking to
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
USS Great Sitkin† AE-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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† It was in the fall, so it was nippy
when I got off the train in
††††††††††† Once checked into the school, I met
Don Hale who was off a stores ship out of
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† Finally in the middle of January,
l967, we graduated.†† Don and I went back
††††††††††† 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.
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† Soon we were in the air again.† I remember looking out and seeing the Swiss
Alps, closing my eyes and then landing in
††††††††††† He was going to
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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.†
††††††††††† We landed in
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† Ranahan was very friendly and took
me over with some other guys for my first liberty in a foreign port. †
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† Then it was time to leave
††††††††††† The ship then headed for
††††††††††† 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.
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
††††††††††† We went to sea on May 8, which, with
the exception of a couple of short visits to Augusta Bay, Sicily and
†On June 5, we were refueling the carrier USS
America when we got the news that the Six-Day War broke out in the
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† As tensions eased we pulled back
††††††††††† In August we pulled into
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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††† 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
††††††††††† We went back to sea and stopped at
††††††††††† Back in
††††††††††† 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.
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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.††††
††††††††††† While we were there, an Egyptian
plane buzzed a Navy spy ship.† In the
past year the
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
USS Neosho† Ao-143
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† In April, while in
††††††††††† We soon entered our
Naples-sea-Naples-sea-Naples routine with an occasional different port
visit.† We went to
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† We enjoyed the day in
††††††††††† Upon leaving
††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††† John Harris, Kim Richardson & Don Ranahan†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
We first took a bus to
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
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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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 take† a 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
††††††††††† 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.
††††††††††† 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.
††††††††††† That night I was sick to my
stomach.† The next morning we left
††††††††††† Friends packed me a small bag and
when the ship docked at
††††††††††† 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 , 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 outside† I 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
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.
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
††††††††††† Shortly after I came back, Don Ranahan's enlistment was up and he flew back to the states for discharge.
††††††††††† Back in
††††††††††† Pat Ranahan, Don's brothers and I
drifted apart.† He got in with a bad
bunch.† They rented an apartment in
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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.
††††††††††† After one more trip to
††††††††††† We stopped in
††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††
††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† John Harris and Kim in Gibralta
Next it was back to
††††††††††† During my time in the
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† We were at
Everyone on the ship is involved in this evolution.† At 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
††††††††††† We then went to sea for a day and
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† Back in
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† 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
††††††††††† It was a great adventure.