Playin’ this Sunday with POKE! It’ll be fun, promise.
I hope you have all enjoyed this amazing document. It’s rare to have primary source history from such an amazing individual, especially one of such modesty and understatement. Once again I’d like to thank Ron StJohn for his efforts and generosity. Enjoy…
In 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred that kicked off the Vietnam War. I was on duty for days at a time. Admiral Sharp was CINCPAC at the time having relieved Admiral Felt shortly before. I got along real well with Admiral Felt. I remember the first time he sent me down to see Admiral Savvy Sides who was CINCPACFLT. He told me to show Admiral Sides a chart of what he intended he wanted done in the South-China Sea. I went down and checked in with their Ops Officer, a Captain. He took me up to a Rear Admiral who headed their Operations Division and finally to Admiral Sides. When I got back and reported to Admiral Felt, he asked me why it took me so long. I told him who I had contacted. He bawled me out and said, “Hereafter when I tell you to see Admiral Sides, you go directly to his office!” (There are many movies on Video reel No. 2. See card listing all the scenes.)
I got orders to the USS PIEDMONT (AD-17), which was in the Philippines, reported about Oct 20, 1964. (Vietnam action was warming up. McNamara did not want to use the carefully developed Contingency War Plan for that area. He made CINCPAC come up with a new plan that met his fancy). I no sooner boarded the ship when a passing typhoon forced us to move to a safer berthing area. I was rusty handling the ship. Fortunately, the XO, who was acting CO until my arrival, was a big help. We made the usual ports in WESTPAC. While in Yokosuka, we had to have the destroyers moored alongside us shifted over to inner harbor piers. We rode 75-knot wind out, moored fore and aft. Fortunately, the surrounding hills lessened the wind force. We had to keep the engines turning over all night to ease the strain on the mooring wires attached to the buoys.
We had a nice five-day visit to Hong Kong, and then returned to Subic. I worked a deal with the Base Commander to let us moor alongside a pier near Cubi Point, that the yard craft were using. They had plenty of room to make a berth for us by doubling up. It was a big help not only to the PIEDMONT, but also to the destroyers moored alongside, as it cut out a tremendous amount of small boat traffic, and saved a lot of time for all concerned. We rigged volleyball and a softball diamond close by the pier area. While up in Yokasuka, a Japanese film company that had shot the Olympics that summer, came down and showed same two hours each of two nights. All enjoyed the films. They had an interpreter, as the sound was in Japanese. The film was top notch with great close-ups and slow motion shots,
We sailed from Subic in early December and took a great circle track directly to San Diego. The trip took l8 days. We skirted the Ryukus, Japan, the Kurile Islands, the Aleutians, Gulf of Alaska, down the West Coast, and finally San Diego. We had heavy westerly gales in northern waters, but the seas were following in general, never rolled more than 15 degrees. We got home in time for Christmas. COMCRUDESPAC shifted his flag to the PIEDMONT, so we had to keep spit and polish going while he was aboard. We moored at the Naval Station and it was back to repair work again. I got along well with Admiral Dornin and staff.
Before long it was time to redeploy to WESTPAC. A repair officer who re-ported for duty wanted to get rid the assistant Repair Officer. The latter put in for retirement. He was well liked and respected. The Repair gang’s morale was at low ebb with the new Repair Officer. He had not been feeling well. Doc sent him up to Balboa Navy Hosp for a good checkup. Word came back that he would not be able to make the WESTPAC tour. I asked the Asst Repair Officer if he would like to become Repair Officer. He said he would. I went to the Force Maintenance Officer. He opposed a LT being Repair Officer as it called for a LCDR. I went to the Chief of Staff, said it was my responsibility as CO, and that I would like to have him as my Repair Officer. He got on the phone to BUPERS and asked them to cancel Al Aspenwall’s request to retire, and cut new orders as Senior Repair Officer. Best thing I ever did as Al won the ship all sorts of accolades for repair work while we were in Subic Bay, and the Vietnam buildup. We had a great Engineering Officer, Tom Ahalen (Lt) and topnotch Supply Officer LCDR Klatt. I started a plaque that was kept at the brow. On it, I listed the leading man in each rating. In that manner when someone came aboard and wanted to see a leading man, the watch knew just who it was; it was a good morale booster.
My Chaplain, CDR Hershberger, and I flew up to Baguio R&R Camp for a few days. The CO of Cubi Point made the arrangements. On Christmas Eve, the Chaplain rounded up a gang of volunteers, put his organ in the 50′ motor launch and sailed around the bay serenading the many ships at anchor. He even had luminaria all around the gunwales. I rode with them, and we sang Christmas carols. All the ships enjoyed it. On way out to WESTPAC we stopped at Pearl and invited Admiral Persons, COM l4, aboard for lunch. I had many dealings with him when we were both on CINCPAC’s staff. He asked me if I would like to be his Inspector General after the PIEDMONT duty. I said yes. So sure enough, I got the orders and was relieved in Subic Bay, 24 Jan ’66. It was my last ship command and as always, it was sad to leave a ship you have commended. (I have many pictures of PIEDMONT officers, etc. The same goes for ISHERWOOD, WALLER and SPANGLER and a few of HARWOOD). I reported to COM l4 on I7 Feb ’66.
(Back to CINCPAC tour). We use to get a steak dinner for $1.00 and drinks for 25cents at Hakalapa “0” Club. There was a barbershop there. Steve didn’t like getting his haircut there, as the Filipino barber (Navy type) cut it very short. The Club had a great Sunday brunch, as did Fort Shafter for $1. In ’64 I tore a ligament in my knee joint and had to have the cartilage removed. While on crutches, Pat came over from USC on summer leave. He was on crutches also, from an injury in an inter-fraternity touch football game. (There is a picture of both of us with Steve between us). I got my injury surfing at Haleiwa. I fell down the stairs twice while on crutches, both times with no further damage. I only missed one day of duty at Cincpac.
In early Nov ’65, Jim McCormick and I were ushers at Makalapa Chapel the Sunday President Kennedy attended Mass there. We were assigned quarters at Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Very old building, built in 1915, roomy and airy. One problem was the stack gas from the ships moored about two blocks away, and the traffic noise on weekdays. However, we were only a block or so from Pearl Harbor “0” Club and the officers’ 50-yard pool. We went to some great Mardi Gras parties there. Steve went to Bedford HS, graduating in ’69. He then went to Chaminade College, a Catholic school by St Louis Heights. He transferred over to Aiea Community College after one semester at Chaminade.
We had a pup by name of Barkley. He was cute playing with our kitten. I was Chairman of the Pearl Harbor Youth Carnival. We raised $l6,000 plus profit. I was Admiral Person’s executive for conducting the Combined Federal Campaign. I had to coordinate all the military services and some 50 Federal agencies. We tallied some $2 million, more than double the previous record. Admiral Persons was delighted, as his home of residence was Honolulu, he had married a haoli girl there at beginning of WW II. I made two trips to Washington to discuss the campaign with United Fund officials, as they are the recipients of what CFC raises.
As Naval Inspector General, I had to inspect various shore facilities, including Midway and put out the paper work for the Admiral on Area Coordination matters. I was host officer to visiting foreign warships. One time HMAS CANBERRA, flagship of Australian Navy visited. Before arriving at Pearl, they reported a case of measles on board. Admiral Lynch, who had relieved Admiral Persons, was concerned. Actually, it we Lynch’s wife that was concerned, as she gave birth to a child exposed to measles and was retarded. She didn’t want the ship to come in, as she was worried that some of the women attending the various receptions for the CANBERRA might be affected. To calm her we sent the DISTRICT MED OFFICER out by helicopter to evaluate the case. He did, and radioed back that it was okay, as there was only one case and the sailor was in isolation. She wanted the Admiral to notify the hundreds of VIP’s not to bring their wives if latter pregnant! Hell, 90% of them were beyond childbearing age! The ship moored, and we had a great reception on board. They put on their famous “Tattoo” ceremony on the flight deck. I had seen one of them in Hong Kong years ago, quite stirring. Eunice and I were invited for lunch aboard one day; there is a picture of us leaving CANBERRA.
When the battleship NEW JERSEY visited Pearl on the way to Vietnam, I was placed in charge of public visiting. I had orders not to let any trouble makers get on the base, worked with FBI, Honolulu detectives and Naval Investigative personnel. Thousands visited the ship, and we had no problems, as Security personnel at the gates kept known troublemakers outside the gates.
I use to pick Steve up at Radford on Wednesday afternoons and take him and a few of his friends to DeRussey for surfing. Steve’s favorite spot there was Kaiser’s. We use to eat at the Snack Shop on Kalakaua, just behind the Royal Hawaiian. It is not there now.
We bought a ’68 new Mustang in ’68 and sold the Chevy Impala convertible to a sailor. About this time, my Detail Officer at BUPERS notified me that I would be going back to Washington for my last tour of duty. At this time the Honolulu Harbor-master, Capt. McManus died and the State was advertising for his replacement. I took the Civil Service tests and was selected. I still think my old shipmate, Jim McCormic, who was then head of the State Harbors Division, had a hand in my getting the job. I then requested retirement from the Navy effective June 30, 1969. We had bought a condominium at Fairway Manor on Ala Wai Blvd near Liliokalani, 1500 sq.ft. There was a beautiful view of Koolau Mountains with rainbows in the afternoons, etc.
Eunice and I sailed on Lurline back to the mainland, and then flew to NY, where I had requested to be retired, as that is where I first enlisted. I retired at COM Hdqtrs. There was a nice retirement reception at Maude Craig’s restaurant out in Great Neck, with all the relatives there (have pictures of same).
We came back to Hawaii and started work as Harbormaster of Honolulu. I had responsibility for The Harbor Police, Cargo Coordinators, Pier Sweeper; Cleaning Personnel for the passenger ship terminals, Kewalo Harbor (used for tour boats and commercial fishing craft), Aloha Tower operators (who controlled inbound and out-bound traffic via signal flags and radio), Pilot Boat Operators, Sand Island Bridge operators and most importantly, the pilots. I had trouble with the latter as Merchant Marine Officers always had it in for Naval Officers. They would pull slowdowns, call in sick, etc., just to make things difficult, and require me to rouse off-duty pilots to fill in with overtime. Finally, a few quit. I anticipated it and had advertised for pilots in a shipping publication, and picked up three young ones from the Panama Canal. They had gone through Kings Point, and were more adapted to working with a Naval Officer. They all had Master papers, which were required for the job. They worked out fine. I was called at all hours of day and night, as there was always something happening around the waterfront requiring the Harbormaster’s attention.
Eunice began to get “Rock” happy in ’71, so we decided to move back to San Diego. She flew back in June; I remained behind to sell the Fairway Manor condo. I finally did, and flew back in August. Through Johnny Regan, then CO of submarine BARBEL, I was able to ship the Mustang and a lot of personal items back to SD in a floating dry-dock that was being towed there from Pearl.
After I resigned from Harbormaster in ’71, I attended the University of Hawaii on the GI bill, and took some courses. I got a lot of surfing in during ‘71 to ’75, and met a lot of older locals surfing at Kuhio. I only had to walk two blocks from condo to Kuhio.
In ”71 I got orders to attend a Convoy Commodores school in San Diego. It put me back on active duty for two weeks. A change was made in the orders so that I took the course in March ’72. Met many Captains I had known previously. The Navy keeps you on the Convoy Commodore list until age ’62. One of the Captains was my former COM l4 Chief of Staff.
Before we left Hawaii, my father passed away Sep 15, 1966. I had visited him two weeks previously when I was back on CFC matters. Therefore, I flew back again for his funeral, poor Maude was devastated by his passing.
This is about as far as I want to go at this time on this biography. The following are sources for further information:
1) See calendars in second drawer of desk facing window in master BR.
2) My Navy files, one folder covering orders, the other, awards, commendations, letters of appreciation, etc. ‘
5) Photo file by years in second from bottom drawer of chest in back BR
4) Photo albums, family, Navy, O’Connell relatives and athletic scrapbook.
Pat and Steve were old enough from ’75 on to fill in events from that year on.
5) Oh yes, Eunice and Dan’s HS yearbooks in large cardboard box back BR closet b; Also see Genealogy file in back BR on bed
7) Also, see Video Tapes with file cards behind LR TV.
In early ’59, I traded the Chevy in for a ’59 Chevy Impala convertible. There are movies of it in NY area, and on our trip back to San Diego in spring ’59. It was grey with black top and red upholstery, great car.
I received orders in early ’59 to proceed and assume command of the USS ISHERWOOD (DD 520), at San Diego. I was detached from COMTHREE on 19 March ’59. We had a great trip cross-country. See movies on reel 2. I had leave so we weren’t rushed. “Mrs. Ralph,” the cat, had a litter just before we left. We hauled all of them in the car! Said our goodbye’s to all and headed west. I remember the Painted Desert, stopping by Libby and Charlie’s home in Scottsdale. We arrived in San Diego in early April.
I went to Sonar School for a week, and reported to ISHERWWOD May l6th, relieving Jim Mathews of command. While there, we stayed at the Klaus beach units for a good two months. Finally, we moved back into our house on Jewell Street. I was able to get the movers to load the canoe in the van and bring it to SD! The kids had a lot of fun with it in Mission Bay. I have some nice movies, reel 2 of Eunice picking apricots from our tree. It was a great tree, lots of canning for Eunice and some for neighbors.
Pat went to Mission Bay HS, Steve to Crown Point Elementary. There are movies of Steve in Little League, color guard at school, beach, etc. Pat joined Naval Reserve on his 17th birthday. He did real well in HS; swimming, cross-country, drama club, and represented his HS at Sacramento Boys Legislature. He won an NROTC scholarship to USC, movies of his graduation.
After taking command of the ISHERWOOD, on my first underway, we had to rendezvous with a carrier for night flight operations, sweated a bit, as we were operating at 50 knots with lots of maneuvering. We participated in a lot of Navy exercises, etc. along the west coast. We later deployed to WESTPAC, and Chased the LEXINGTON a good deal of the time out there as plane guard. We had to make a transfer alongside the LEX at 20 knots one time, it made quite an impression on my Squadron Commander.
We had one DESRON commander who was a pain. He drove two skippers into retirement. Only reason I got by was due to a good engineering officer, who kept our plant running so that we met all operational commitments. The Commander sent a long classified message to a ship in our squadron at Hong Kong about a quarterly recreation report, a peanut report. He was chewed out, as CINCPACFLT had directed ships to reduce radio traffic to only essential business. Another time he kept me aboard for several days and nights making reports every four hours as to how repairs were coming along on my master gyrocompass! He even ordered me to keep the engineering officer aboard also! Another time, on the way back from a major two-week FIRSTFLT exercise, he kept us out two extra days to get some annual gunnery, etc. exercises completed. Our employment schedule called for us to come in with the FLEET for regular upkeep. Well, some of the wives wrote their Congressmen about him. Word came down through naval channels and he was relieved of command. He use to require his staff duty officer to look the ships over and report anything amiss. He told us in the beginning he was shooting for flag rank, and nothing was going to stand in his way. Another time, he joined us at the officers’ Club at Cubic Bay. We were playing dice, rolling to see who would pay for a round of drinks. When he rolled, he lost. He got mad, got up, left the table and never paid for the drinks!
On our next deployment to WESTPAC, we had a new Commodore, and had a good tour with him. One time, we had to search for a missing Air Force pilot, who had crashed off Okinawa. It was a wind-swept sea. We searched in a line abreast, at 2000 yd interval. Take a guess who spotted the pilot’s white helmet in the sea? That’s right, yours truly with my poor vision. I had a gang up on the bridge searching. Even when I spotted the helmet and pointed in its direction, they failed to see it! I had to reverse course, and told them where it would be as we came about. Again, they could not see it, and again I did. Finally, as we headed directly at it they picked it up! We made the recovery and reported same. That was all we were able to find. Scratch one pilot.
I had to make the Taiwan Patrol, and was out there on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Heavy seas in wintertime, and we always had to pass word to “Standby to come about,” as we would roll very badly. I always timed it, so as not to have to reverse during meal hours. We had a good visit to Hong Kong during that run. One time on the way from Okinawa to Yokosuka, I had to return to Buckner Bay with an injured seaman. A typhoon was approaching at the time. We got into Buckner Bay late at night with gale force winds, and could only put the ship alongside without mooring lines and hold it there with the engines. A crane hoisted the man from the foc’sle to the pier and into the ambulance. Seas were breaking on the pier, sort of hairy! We then had to race back to catch up with my division and the LEXINGTON, holding 27 knots putting the stem under water a good deal of the time. The Fletcher class rides the sea much better than the Gearing class as it only has two single mount 5″ guns, compared to two twin barrel 5” mounts in latter class. It took us a good part of a day to catch up to the division, as they were steaming at 16 knots.
When we returned to San Diego, we were scheduled for overhaul at Long Beach. The entire division went there. It was a three-month overhaul. I use to drive up with other CO early Monday mornings, returning to San Diego Friday afternoons. We stayed in BOQ at Long Beach when ship was not habitable. The overhaul went well. We were first to pass post overhaul sea trials, including full power. My crew broke their backs while there to make us the best ship.
On the way to San Diego, we received a message that the ship would be transferred to the Peruvian Navy, with orders for me to report to CINCPAC for duty. What a blow to the ships crew after all the hard work they did. The Peruvian Officers entertained my officers at a nice affair at the Naval Station “0” Club. My EXEC, Dick Pabst relieved me. He turned the ship over to the Peruvians. They sure got themselves a good running ship! Before Pabst, I had a wonderful Exec by name of Dick Scott. He had about five children. He was a fine looking officer. I have photos of ISHERWOOD, officers and crew in my Navy stuff. My orders were modified so that I was detached 7 Sep ’61. We sailed in the USNS PATRICK, an MSTS ship out of San Diego on Sep l6th and arrived Honolulu Sep 21st. Steve made the trip with Eunice and I. Pat had gone to USC to start his freshman year. We stayed at the Hale Kalani until government quarters were available at “Little Makalapa.” There was a Marine family next to us. Steve made friends with Ricky their son.
I reported for duty on CINCPAC’s staff Sep 21, 196l and assigned duty as Current Naval Operations Officer in the J3 Division. I had been selected for Captain back in June of 1961, but had to wait until June ’62 before I could put the 4th stripe on. We were assigned quarters in the “Big” Makalapa area. Our next-door neighbors were the McCormicks. We had a lot of good times with them, Jim, Irene, son Mike and daughter Jamie. Mike went to Notre Dame, so Jim and I were always betting on the USC-Notre Dame game.
I was involved in all kinds of naval matters in the Pacific area involving operations. One of my duties involved coordinating Navy and Air Force planes and ships in intelligence operations against the Russians when they were conducting long-range ICBM tests into the Central Pacific area. Many a night I had to rush up to Kunai, where we had an underground command center, to monitor and direct operations. I also made trips to Johnston Island to observe some nuclear testing, and to the Philippines to observe a large SEATO amphibious operation on the island of Mindoro. We flew around in helicopters, and lived in a tent, but did get a few days at Subic.
My father and Maude visited us, as did DeeDee. Steve got third in the Waikiki Junior Surf Meet There are movies of it and a lot of Haleiwa surfing footage. Pat came over in summer of ’62 after NROTC cruise. Steve went to Pearl Harbor Elementary School. He was a Kahili bearer during King Kamehamehe Day. There are movies of picnics at Barbers Point, and Fort DeRussey. Eunice made a trip to mainland to see her mother and Eileen. She also made a trip to Japan on an MSTS ship.
to be concluded….
Before heading back east, I traded the ’49 Ford convertible in for a new ’55 Chevy 2-DR coupe, aquamarine and white. We visited Aunt Bessie and Betty in Palo Alto and Eunice’s sister Eileen on the way. We also visited Sequoia Park and Salt Lake City. We tried to get to Yellowstone, but the south entrance was not yet cleared of snow. We stopped in Chicago for a night, and somewhere in Pennsylvania then NY. I have some movies of trip on reel #1. It was a good trip. Pat may recall some of it. Steve was only five at the time.
I reported for duty at COMTHREE 26 May 1956. A Capt. Morgan was my superior, a tough old bird, but I got along well with him. I was also designated as CO of Staff enlisted personnel. My duties involved making personnel assignments to various shore commands in the Third Naval District. One of the headache jobs was getting a good steward for the Commandant’s quarters, as his wife was very fussy. She was allowed three, but was always pulling strings to get five, two being in training she would say! The other Commandants were more reasonable on stewards. Captain Morgan and I made a study of the Reserves to see what we had available in event of mobilization. The study revealed that we were extremely top-heavy in certain categories, and way under in other billets. As a result, Admiral Felt in CNO accepted our findings, which recommended setting up pay billets based on what billets were necessary to fill in event of mobilization. We also, in conjunction with a Naval Reserve Mobilization Unit, set up procedures on how to handle mobilization, and ran a few f drills to work out kinks.
I had a lot of TAD orders to BUPERS and COMTHREE shore activities. As CO of enlisted personnel I had to conduct personnel inspections, etc. I had a great Chief Yeoman and a 1st class Wave Yeoman. I wore civvies going to and from duty via the subway. I was living in old house behind my parents in Elmhurst. They had restored one of its two units. It was 108 years old. We were comfortable there.
Pat first went to a public school on Woodside Avenue to finish eighth grade, then to Bishop Malloy out at Kew Gardens. He used the 8th Avenue subway system to get there, as I did to get to 90 Church Street.
In December 1958 I presented a large painting of the Battleship MAINE to one of its survivor. I got the picture through Maude Craig who had found it in her attic. It was inlaid with mother of pearl. The 81-year-old vet was very thankful.
My mother came down with cancer and died in 1957, April 2nd.
Pat and I went to the Army-Navy football games at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in 1956, ’57, and ’58. My nephew Jimmy Regan was a midshipman there during those years. We also went to an Army-Navy swim meet at Annapolis, and one at West Point, as Jim was on the team.
While at COMTHREE, I completed several Naval War College Courses at home, took a lot of my time. I use to take the family to Jones Beach and Far Rockaway during the summer, on Sundays. In other months, we occasionally visited my sister at Kings Park, and my cousin Virginia Taylor at Northport. I use to drop by Westside YMCA on way home from COMTHREE for a swim a few times a week.
Eunice and I got to a lot of formal affairs at Waldorf Astoria. On one occasion, I had to pick up Navy Secretary Gates who was staying at an estate in New Jersey. The day before we made a dry run using Navy vehicles to get an idea how much time we would have to allow. Day of the affair, which was honoring some 50 WW II Admirals and Marine Corps Generals, I went out with two Navy sedans in case one broke down. We got to the Waldorf on time. On another occasion, I led several thousand sailors up Broadway from City Hall to Columbus Circle; I had my white uniform on. My white shoes were not made to walk that distance! You should have seen my feet afterwards, blisters and black large toenails!
Steve started school at St. Mary’s. He was scared of the nuns, especially the Mother Superior. One day Eunice got called down to the school and the Mother Superior, who was only about five feet tall, bawled her out for giving Steve a meat sandwich on a Friday!
When not involved with summer training cruises, Johnny and Jimmy were guarding at Jones Beach. We had great barbecues in the back yard with my Dad doing the chef bit. He made the best ribs, chicken and filet mignon steaks! We visited the Ralls at Delgren. Pat and Steve also went there by bus one summer. Libby and Charlie visited us one summer. They stayed at a hotel in NY City. They had a good time with us at Jones Beach one day. My father introduced Charlie to a lot of important people in the sports world.
We chartered a small sailboat for a week out of Sheepshead Bay. Pat, Steve and I picked it up there, and sailed from there to Long Island Sound via the East River, have movies of it. Eunice and I had lunch aboard the SS United STATES when it was in port. Steve made his communion at St. Mary’s, have movies of it. On this reel are shots of Memorial Day weekend at Southampton, visit to Rails at Dahlgren and a get-together at Lake Sebago of my Class of ‘4l School of Education, NYU.
Jimmy Regan got a Congressional appointment to Annapolis in 1955 through my father and Madge Cuggy. He graduated in 1959, and became a Naval Aviator. His brother Johnny got an appointment in 1957, but just missed passing entrance exam. I sent him to Columbia Prep School for a 5-month cram course. He retook the exam, and passed, entering the Naval Academy in 1958. Jim did 12 years active duty, and then resigned his active commission, and went into the ready reserve. He was a LCDR at the time. He eventually made Captain in the Reserves. Johnny did 26 years, and was CO of a sub, and retired as a Captain.
I bought an Old Town canoe while in NY. Have some shots of it on reel no.1, with Johnny Regan.
We had great dinners in the old house at 45th Ave, plus tasty barbecues in the back yard. “Corky” and “Jacque Pierre” were always looking for some of the meat. (Have some good movies of these events on reel no.l). Interesting aspect of old house, it had a very large kitchen. It was 4″ lower in SE corner, as it was over an old well that had settled a bit! Eunice wallpapered the living room, even going up the staircase to the bedrooms. We only had one toilet, which was off the kitchen, with the bedrooms upstairs it made a problem. Fortunately, I had no prostate trouble in those days! Pat went to Bishop Malloy HS out at Kew Gardens, Queens. We had a steep ramp from back street up to our yard. Steve and pals used it in winter to ride their sleds down. There are movies of it on reel l. There also was a basketball hoop in backyard. There are movies of Steve shooting baskets.
I built a nice model RR setup in cellar with the Marklin HO trains.
to be concluded…
One time GOMSEVENTHFLEET visited his flagship. I made the usual call on him, which I figured would be about five minutes at most. It ended up to be an hour, as his hobby was collecting ancient Chinese navigational devices, plus he wanted me to find a shoe to match one his wife lost. He gave me the remaining one. It took one of my Ensigns four days to track down the factory that made the shoes out in the New Territories! Another time, Admiral Kadford, his wife, and staff flew in for a visit. All the VIP’s came around the holidays mostly to shop. I had to meet them at the airport and bring them over in an Admiral’s barge that went with the Station Ship duty, then in station wagons up to the hotel. When it came time to take them back to the airport the barge broke down, as the Admiral’s party was coming down the street to the landing. What a break I got as just then the HMS TAMAR gig came alongside. I knew the British Lt. and asked him if he would be so kind as to take the Admiral’s party and myself to KaiTak. He said he would be delighted, as he was going with the Admiral’s party to marry an American girl in Hawaii! Admiral Radford thought I had arranged using the British gig and complemented me. Little did he know!
We had a Fleet Landing up in the Wanchai area of Hong Kong. The British local officials, along with the American business and religious groups had it made, with a nice rest room area, which always had coffee to help sober returning swabbies. A missionary priest from the Maryknoll order was the principal overseer of the landing. He would ask sailors what they paid for some gift. If they had paid too much he would have one of the volunteer women go to the store, and either get the sailor’s money back, or only pay what was reasonable. If cab drivers tried to cheat sailors, he would intervene and make sure the sailors were not cheated. I had him out to the 5PANGLER a few times for lunch or dinner. He had me up to the large Maryknoll rectory. What a meal I had there, with lots of Chinese servants!
Officers also had guest privileges at the International Press Club up on Victoria Hill. I was up at the Naval Attaché’s quarters at the top of Victoria Hill. He had loads of Chinese servants also. His young 5-year-old son could jabber away in Chinese with the servants. He told me, he and his wife had only two free nights between Thanksgiving and New Years, due to all the various social functions entertaining VIP’s.
At a British social affair at HMS TAMAR (the Royal Navy Shipyard or Dockyard), I had an interesting conversation with an elderly Englishwoman. She was descended from Lord Nelson. She told me emphatically, not to refer to her as British, as she was English. British are colonialists, while Englishmen are born in England proper. We had some delicious Chinese dinners, with Chinese businessmen seeking to do business aboard Navy ships. I also talked with the British Chief of Police. They rely mostly on Chinese men for the job. In early days, after the end of WWII, it didn’t work, as the Chinese police were intimidated Chinese thugs, etc. The British then built large compounds for the police and their families; put the men on better diets so that they grew bigger. After that, they developed a good police force.
I also had a long chat with an elderly British lady who was an old-time colonialist, and had been taken prisoner at the start of WWII with her husband, who died in prison. They were all incarcerated in Stanley prison on the South China Sea side of the island. After four years of imprisonment, she still had pieces of the original clothing that she entered prison with. Many died while there. Others who had gout and other white diseases got over their problems on the fish and rice diet. They slept on concrete floors. A few times a year they were allowed to bathe in the sea. She said the local Chinese looted all the homes during the fall of the island. The Japanese restored many of the homes for their own billeting purposes. Again, when war ended Chinese looted the homes. When she was released from Stanley prison by a British Commando outfit, they escorted her to her home and had to drive out about 100 Chinese occupying it. During the fall of Hong Kong, she was a volunteer field nurse. An entire Canadian regiment defending the island was wiped out before the surrender on Christmas ‘4l, quite a story. Their national cemetery can be seen on the approaches to Hong Kong harbor. She said it was quite a sight when the Japanese swarmed across in everything that could float from Kowloon to the island.
We got orders to proceed to Yokosuka. After clearing the approaches, and well out in South China Sea, we ran some General Quarters drills, and engineering, casualty drills. In one drill, our port shaft fractured at a flange joint, and at the same time, a generator caught fire. We got the fire out. However, we had to rig a ship’s service generator from the forward engine room to after engine room by running cables up over boat deck from each engine room. All the while, we were rolling 40 degrees in high seas due to northerly storm blowing down from Taiwan Straits. I had to get a casualty message off and stated, “Unless otherwise directed I was proceeding to Subic Bay on one shaft”. COMSEVENTHFLT went along with it. Naturally, there was an investigation after we were dry-docked. The first check the investigators made, was to see if we had struck anything. The props were okay. In dismantling the broken shaft, it was noted that most of the studs holding the flange were rusted where they had separated, with two that were clean. Apparently, we had been running around with a shaft that was held by two good studs. No blame was placed on us. We finally got to Yokosuka, but developed a boiler problem. Our escort squadron was due to sail for the States. I talked the Commodore into letting us sail on one boiler, as it would have kept us in Subic for another week or more. He concurred, and we were made guide.
In summer of 1954, we picked up a group of Reserves at Long Beach for a training cruise to Acapulco, in company with three other DE’s and a submarine. We conducted exercises in route with the sub. We then spent several days in Acapulco, and had a great time. The American Optimist’s Members were there for a convention. They were so delighted to see our warships that they wined and dined all the crews the first night we were there. Next morning, with a big head, I had to make protocol calls on various Mexican officials. At each stop, you were offered a black Mexican cigar and tequila in warm coconut milk! You can imagine how I felt. That noon we attended a luncheon aboard the Mexican flagship that lasted three hours with lots of Mexican food, Tequila and cigars. We gave officials a case of canned fruit, which seemed to be a big thing with them at that time.
We sailed back to Long Beach, landed the Reserves and stayed overnight for crew liberty. The next morning heavy fog, with zero visibility, delayed sailing until early afternoon, even though the fog had not lifted. I could not see the jackstaff of the SPANGLER, and never saw anything all the way down the coast visually, until we were about 75 feet off our squadron nest in San Diego. Thank God for radar! While coming pass Shelter Island, radar showed a large ship lying athwart the channel. With my 1st Lt in the bow with headphones we were able to get around, under its stern, which was pointing towards North Island.
In late 1954, we sailed for Pearl Harbor alone for overhaul, as Pearl was our home yard with San Diego as homeport. Most ships had Long Beach or Mare Island as home yards. We spent three months at Pearl plus a week over and a week back. While dry-docked, a destroyer ran aground at the entrance to Pearl, and had to be immediately dry docked in our dock. This necessitated flooding the dock and towing us out into the east lock. We had no power aboard and floated around for some eight hours in a Kona rainstorm, miserable! We finally re-docked that night. After leaving the dock, and towed alongside a pier, we were told it was necessary to cut out a 25’ section of hull plating on our starboard. It was right at our waterline, so it was necessary to heel the ship about 5 degrees to port. I sure sweated that out lying there with s 25ft x 4ft gash in the side for several days! We finally completed dock trials and steamed over to the degaussing station to get the shin degaussed. This is done by removing the crew and the degaussing personnel wrapping large electric cables under the keel and over the top of the deckhouse the length of the ship, and passing 12,000 volts DC current through them. After that, you run the degaussing range a few times with the ships degaussing on to make final adjustments. After degaussing, it was up to West Lock to load ammunition. On the way up I passed Art Emerson, who was skipper of another Pearl Based DE. Art was an old shipmate from Sonar School, and swam in All-Navy with me. After rearming, we sailed back to San Diego, and had heavy weather the first few days. Eunice met the ship with Pat and Steve.
While at Pearl Harbor, I made Commander. The SPANGLER operated in and out of San Diego the remaining part of my tour as CO., I finally got orders in March 1956 to proceed and report to the Commandant, Third Naval District where I ended up being Director of Naval Personnel. Headquarters was located in the Federal Building at 90 Church Street.
to be continued…