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….