Tag Archives: Daniel O’Connell

Capt. Dan, conclusion

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.

Capt. Dan, part 18

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….

Capt. Dan, part 17: ’56-’59 the East Coast again

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…

Capt. Dan, part 16

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…

Capt. Dan, part 15

In January ’50, we sailed for a 2ND FLEET cold weather operation above the Artic Circle. Funny thing was that it was colder when we left Newport then it was up in Davis Strait, which lies between Labrador and Greenland. We had snow but temperature only got down to 15 degrees compared to 5 above at Newport when we sailed. We had to take bathythermograph readings every four hours. I worked with two of my sonar men, as it was hairy on the fantail with mountainous seas washing over where the boom and winch for the bathythermograph was located. Naturally, we would get soaked with 30-degree water! We shifted ops to the area between Greenland and Iceland and really had mountainous seas. I saw the MIDWAY take solid green water two thirds of the way down her flight deck. Fortunately, her aircraft had been struck below. We had to refuel running down sea with lots of yawing. One time we had to go alongside a tender to highline guard mail. On the approach a huge sea caught us from astern and surfed us about two hundred yards ahead of the tender! We finally got into position and completed the transfer. In April, I got orders to be XO of the USS WALLER (DDE-466) at Charleston. I had to develop a new ships organization book, as the many alterations of weapon systems made the old one useless. CNO accepted our version to be used by the squadron.
Eunice came down in early June with Pat. We rented a house out near the swamps. A paper mill factory to the north of us had a terrible odor. Poor Eunice who was several months pregnant could hardly stand it. That along with all kinds of insect noises at night and wasp nests around the house made it miserable. We commissioned the WALLER on July 5th.
Three different PCO’s were ordered to the ship during the period I was PXO. As we were winding down the conversion work and approaching commissioning date, we got a break. A LT Supply Officer who had been in charge of all equipage for the recommissioning ships got orders to the WALLER. Well, you can be sure we had 100% allowance when we left Charleston! He had a great stowage plan and schedule, so that all our gear was properly stowed before we departed. The other destroyers in our division still had gear on deck that had to be struck below when they departed. We had some drills and exercises on the way to Norfolk. We had trouble with our distilling plant that was never properly repaired at Norfolk. The Captain sailed under protest when we left Norfolk for Guantanamo. While in Norfolk, may parents had dinner aboard, on a cold snowy night.
On the run south, we almost piled up on the reefs of the Great Bahama Banks. We were doing 25 knots heading for the Straits of Florida, and we had no sight on the way down due to bad weather, and we were trying to get there before a hurricane intercepted us. I got a call at 0200 from our weakest OOD that he had picked up a flashing white light on starboard bow. Since we had no land on radar, it suddenly occurred to me that it was the light off the NW corner of the Great Bahama Bank. I ordered him immediately to reverse course with full rudder. You can bet your bottom dollar the Captain was shook up when I told him where we must be. We headed north for a while then west until we picked up the Florida coast, then south. After an investigation it turned out that the Chief Quartermaster, myself as Navigator and a First Class 1C failed to adjust the master gyro to compensate for latitude change. We had been eating up latitude at a high rate due to our speed. The error that had accumulated was enough to put us well to the east, into the SW corner of the Bermuda Triangle!
When we got to Guantanamo, we had salted up our boilers due to the feed water problem. The engineers cleaned two boilers over the weekend so that we could start shakedown training. While we were at sea training, the engineers were cleaning the other two boilers. On the way back to port on a change of speed, someone accidentally opened a bulkhead stop valve that permitted live steam to enter a boiler with two men inside. They were killed, skin pealed off them like boiled lobsters! When word had come up from fire room that two men had been scalded to death, the Captain almost jumped off the bridge. I grabbed him in time. He mumbled that this was the end of his career, as during WWII he had run a destroyer into a minefield off Key West, and was hit with a freighter in a North Atlantic convoy resulting in the death of crewmembers.
A court of Inquiry determined which bulkhead stop valve had been opened, but never did determine who did it. In addition, the guarding valve at the top of the boiler, where the steam came in, had not been fully secured. The Chief Boiler man and Engineering Officer had their careers altered, the Chief being reduced in rating to BT 2/C and the Engineering Officer getting a letter of reprimand and loss of numbers, seniority-wise. By now ship’s morale was low. This, plus the feed water problem, and the deaths of three crewmembers in Norfolk from auto, motorcycle and overdose of alcohol, were severely felt. Fortunately, the Fleet Training Group personnel went all out to train our crew, and that helped get their minds off our problems. At the end of the first month, we got a weekend to visit Montego Bay and Kingston in Jamaica. That helped a bit on morale.
We had a close call on entry to Kingston, very tortuous channel with a few “S” turns. We were heading into the sun and the Captain thought we should come left at one point, and had so ordered the helmsman. I countered the order and pointed out the close-lying reef on the port side. When we finished shakedown training, the CO was left in command; we headed for Key West.
We had a big ship’s party at a local bistro. Every one got drunk. About 0100 two of my Chiefs came over to me with a bright idea, seems like there was a Sophie Tucker type gal singing, and they said she would be willing to come down Sunday morning and hold reveille. I sold the Captain on the idea. We picked her up and drilled her on using the Public Announcing system, with what to say, plus adding a few of her own words. Well, she belted out the Reveille part real good then added, “alright you boys your Momma is here so rise and shine!” The Chief Master at Arms then took her below to go through the berthing compartments and rouse the crew out. Most were naked due to the heat. (Didn’t have air-conditioning those days and Key West is hot). Well you should have seen those young sailors scurry to get something on! “Sophie” swatted sailors on their bare butts saying, “Get up your Momma is here”. Then she sang a few ribald songs on the PA system. This woke all the ships crews in port. The cooks in all the ships were mad because very few sailors ate breakfast on Sunday morning. Now they were all up and hungry! The morale of the crew turned 180 degrees. The crew talked of that event for a week, and no doubt wrote letters home about it, must have been the first time in the Navy that a woman had held reveille on an all-male crew!
After Key West, we sailed for Norfolk for post-shakedown availability. While there, the battleship MISSOURI, known as “Mighty Mo,” had just returned from Korea. I got the bright idea of challenging Mighty Mo to a baseball game, as I knew two thirds of their crew would not be available, what with leave, etc. I got the newspapers to print “Mighty Mite” challenges “Mighty Mo.” We won 6 to 4. I know they would have beaten us if they had their full team. In any event, it gave our crew another boost.
On completion of availability, we received orders to sail for Korea at best speed via the Canal and San Diego, Hawaii and Midway. By now, our material problems had been corrected so we made the Canal at 25 knots, then 16 knots to San Diego, as that is a long leg, then 20 knots to Pearl Harbor, 25 to Midway and 20 to Sasebo, Japan. We had one day in each port to fuel, take on provisions, etc. I managed to see Eunice and our new son Steve, who was born February 1951. I got back to San Diego for Xmas 1950, but was not around when he was born. Eunice had rented a nice cottage on Bayside Walk, Mission Beach by Ormond Ct, after she left Charleston in August ’50 with Pat in the new Ford convertible. (The day we bought the Ford in Providence, believe Nov ’49, we had a great lobster dinner on the way back to Newport).
When we got to Sasebo we fueled, provisioned, and topped off ammo. Our Squadron Commander shifted his pennant to the WALLER, and we headed for Wonsan Harbor about 60 miles north of the “Bomb Line.” The division we relieved there had one of its ships hit from shore artillery fire, sustaining some casualties. After they briefed us, we moved in shore to do bombardment of shore facilities, both night and day. All night long, we fired interdiction fire on target areas that had been assigned to us by the USMC intelligence outfit on an island called Woje Do. We would send a boat over at dusk get the dope. After several nights, you got use to being shaken up every time we fired a mount. The Commodore had requested my Captain to let me be his operations officer. This meant double duty; guess it was worthwhile, as I received a combat decoration for my work. We were in Wonsan for about three weeks, and came under fire three times, with no damage. Every four or five days, we proceeded to the outer harbor to refuel, rearm, and re-provision.
I received orders to go to BUPERS for duty, and was relieved in Yokosuka. On the way back from Korea, we came through the Shimonoseki Strait separating Honshu from Shikoku and Kyushu. I had leave in route, so went to San Diego, and picked up Pat. He and I rode back to NY. Eunice flew back with Steve making a stop at Phoenix to see her sister. Eunice, Pat and Steve stayed in the vacant apartment above my parents place. I drove down to Washington and reported for duty, and assigned as Armed Forces Information and Education Officer in the Training Division. My main contribution in that duty was developing Overseas Information Kits to be used by our ships visiting various parts of the world. The kits contained pocket size pamphlets about each country plus a language guide, maps, etc.
I rented a house, drove up and got Eunice, Pat, and Steve, then back to DC. A few months later (believe December), we bought a small Cape God style house under the GI-Bill. While there, I finished off the attic in pine panel, insulation and laid an oak floor with my own labor. We had a good Lionel train setup and a great place for the kids to play. It got quite hot in the summer, rigged a large attic fan that helped plus an air conditioner for the living room. We had nice neighbors. One couple, the Appleton’s still send Christmas cards. My brother Tom, wife Mary and the twins visited us the summer of ’55. Tom was killed in an American Airline crash at Albany, NY, September l6, 1955. On the I & E job I also had to review Armed Forces Info Films from Navy standpoint to see that the Navy was shown in a good light . I also got involved in coordinating with small film companies making strictly Navy info films. We made a good number of trips to NY to see my folks, Tom’s family and my sister Margaret. Her children were living with my parents, as she was unable to take care of them
While at BUPERS, I was also assigned as the Recorder for the High-Level Post Graduate School Selection Board. That took two weeks and a lot of work. Naturally, we took in all the sights around the Washington area. In ’55 Steve got in our Ford and it rolled down the driveway right across a busy road and up on a neighbor’s lawn. Fortunately, there was no accident. Another time, I made a brick patio behind the house, put up a nice wooden fence, first day we let him out there he climbed right over the fence. He was about two and a half yrs old at that time! We had an Air Force Lt.Col. Bill McGarrity next door to us. We each made a deposit on a lot over on Chincoteague Island just south of Ocean City Maryland. It was subject to on-sight inspection, so drove over one weekend. We had to take a boat from the mainland across a three-mile wide bay with a strong northeast storm blowing. When we arrived at the island, we got a jeep and drove down the island about six miles, then onto a land rover to the lots. When I saw hard-packed sand with clam holes, and a huge piece of hull of an old sailing vessel, I told Bill, “Let’s get our money back this place is under water in big winter storms”. We got the money back ok. I took Bill to Ocean City, and we talked with the local fishermen at the docks. They told us the storms wash across the island where the lots are.
While at BUPERS, I received a combat decoration, with the head of the Training Division pinning it on me. I put in for a DE out of Pearl but no luck. Finally, I got orders to the USS SPANGLER (DE-696) home ported in San Diego. Before reporting as CO of SPANGLER, I was sent to Fleet Sonar School for a three weeks refresher course. We all drove cross-country in October, and rented a unit in the Klaus apartments on Ocean Front walk, Mission Beach. Later we bought a house on Jewell Street in Crown Point (5548). It was 5BR, 1 bath plus 2 car garage. We had happy times there. We had the best apricot tree ever. They grew like grapes! Eunice canned a lot of them. While there, we became friends with Doc Rails and his wife Jeannette plus sons Walter, Steve, and daughter Chrissie. Chris and Steve were the same age and played together a lot.
I relieved Dick Law as CO in Dec 1955. The SPANGLER at that time was the Sonar School Ship, training ASW enlisted and officers from the Sonar School. It was in and out daily some weeks, and out all week other times. We had a cracker jack sonar team aboard, great crew. Finally, in 1955 we got to deploy to Westpac. On the way to Guam, the DE that was suppose to go to Hong Kong as Station Ship had an engineering casualty, so we were sent instead, and spent six weeks there. We were responsible for the Shore Patrol, radio communications for the Consul General, meeting VIP’s at Kai Tak airport over in Kowloon, and arranging boating service for visiting ships, etc. I had to put the crew on port and starboard watch to handle all the chores. I really enjoyed Hong Kong, met many nice British and American businessmen at cocktail parties. My favorite spot to swim was out at Sheko Beach on the northeast end of Hong Kong Island. Use to go to British “0” Club in Kowloon where they had a pool. Our officers had guest privileges at the Hong Kong Yacht Club. I did a lot of sightseeing. Bought many gifts to take back, some of which I shipped in ships heading for the States, and bought a good collection of Marklin HO Model trains.
We had a lifeboat race with a British crew after two days practice. The British crew won easily, as they had won the British Fleet Regatta a month before. Mary Soo the Chinese mamasan, who painted ships hulls, did a lot of painting for us, and got a lot of fittings chrome plated in exchange for the ship’s garbage!

to be continued…

Capt. Dan, part 14: The Ongoing Autobiography of a San Diego Surfer

I stayed at the BOQ for about two months. Eunice flew out later with Pat and stayed with her parents for a few days. We got quarters at Cyane Navy Housing on Jewell Street in Crown Point. Living at Cyane Housing was fun. I use to take Pat out to the Cove when I could. He even went in the water when it was about 58 degrees! He could sense when a wave was coming, get on his belly, and ride it up the beach.
There were good times on this tour of duty. One day, I had to give a lecture ASW Hunter-Killer operations to a group of high-ranking officers, one of whom, was RADM Dan Gallery, who really wrote the book on such operations! He congratulated me after the lecture saying I did a good job. ADM Gallery, when in command of the USS GUADALCANAL (CVE-60), had captured the U-505 off the African coast in May 1944. He also instituted night flight ops from a CVE, which had a great impact on getting u-boats. During a typical three week course for the PCOs/PXOs, the first week was shore side instruction, the second week single ship runs on exercise sub at sea and the third week hunter-killer ops with a CVE, escort, and sub; rotating officers from each type by whaleboat at sea, many of them getting drenched. In addition to spending as many as three weeks at sea, I also had OOD duty every third weekend! Funny part, all this counted for shore duty even though my CO, and certain other staff members, were considered on sea duty! I received my regular Navy commission in August ’46. Some of the ships I got TAD to for Hunter-Killer ops were: USS RENDOVA (CVE-114), USS TURNER (DDR-834), USS Lyman K SWENSON (DD-729), USS W.M. WOOD (DD-715) and USS Badoeng Straits (CVE-116).
In July ’47, I competed in the All-Navy Swim Championships, and won the 100 free for West Coast units, also won the 1500. I then went to Pearl and won the 1500 there, from there to Jacksonville, FL for finals finishing fourth in the 1500. I also swam on 800-meter relay, and we finished fourth. The West Coast events were held at old Navy Field, about where the Convention Center is located.
After the swim bit, it was back to duty aboard USS JAMES E. KYES (DD-787) for Hunter-Killer Ops. In October, I received orders to report to the USS HARWOOD (DD-86) for duty and assigned as Operations Officer. Eunice had to leave Cyane Housing as I had regular sea duty. She rented a place on Emerald Street just off Mission Blvd, 2BR 1 bath, and had to buy some miscellaneous items of furniture.
Our squadron 21 deployed to WESTPAC in Nov. 1947 for an 11-month tour. We made the usual stops at Pearl, Midway, and then Yokosuka. Leaving Yokosuka for Tsingtao, we had a spinal meningitis case and had to return to Yokosuka and anchor in quarantine. Medics put us all on antibiotics for a few days then let us sail for Tsingtao. We operated out of that port for a while, coming in on weekends when I would catch Shore Patrol duty. Man it was cold there in winter, below zero weather, blizzards and tough boating to get to the beach. One time we thought we had lost the crew of the Captain’s gig. Captain had to go ashore for a conference, when we sent the gig back to pick him up, we got a radio message that it had not arrived. By then there was a howling blizzard from the north. We got underway figuring the gig broke down and had drifted out into the China Sea. We searched a few islands off the mouth of the bay, but no luck. We moved in as close as we could get to the beach and put the whaleboat in the water. I was appointed Boat Officer. We headed in among many junks and sampans anchored further in, hoping they might have seen the gig. Lo and behold, out of the poor visibility, we spotted the gig moored astern of a junk. After the gig had lost power, it drifted and was fortunate to reach a junk, which let them tie up. I radioed the beach to let the CO know, and that we would pick him up when sea conditions permitted.
When we were operating out of Tsingtao, we got secret orders to proceed to the inner harbor arriving at 5:00 A.M., and have four boilers on the line for special mission to be divulged to us after Commander Naval Advisory Group, China came aboard. We arrived on time; lines singled up, when a cavalcade of black limousines with Chinese Generals and Admirals came down the pier. After they boarded we got underway, and directed to proceed to the Gulf of Pohai, which separates Manchuria and Northern China from Korea. We were to proceed at flank speed to all the ports still in Chinese Nationalists hands. Upon arrival off each port, and exchange of appropriate recognition signals, we sent some of the Chinese Generals and Naval personnel ashore to check up on how long they could hold out. We made about six ports. We could only make 22 knots, as the water was too shallow for higher speed due to bottom drag. We had to go battle stations at each port, as they were not sure who held the port. The Chinese CNO gave us a case of Chefoo brandy that you could run torpedoes on.
After that mission, we were sent to Okinawa to act as Air-Sea Rescue Ship for the Air Force’s new P-80 jets. While there, we got orders to head up to Amami Oshima, and pick up the body of an occupation soldier who had died of poisoning. We had a difficult time finding the entrance from the Pacific between the two close islands, quite a current in the passage. It widened out to a small bay, but we had to practically put the bow on the beach to get water shallow enough to anchor and hold her with the engines. We put the body in the reefer and went back to Okinawa by way of the China Sea side of the island.
When we first pulled into Buckner Bay at Okinawa and anchored, Stan Dornblaser, our Gun Boss, spotted a sunken crane barge lying on its side just off the starboard quarter with the wind swinging the stern towards it. Fortunately, the engineers had not secured from the anchor detail, so we were able get underway and move further away to anchor. I took the whaleboat over, dove down and fastened a line and buoy to mark it. The barge was only about 6′ below the surface lying on its side. We believed it had sunk during a typhoon at the end of the war and was never put into the Notices to Mariners warning of such hazards.
To pass the time, we ran an athletic program over on the beach. An Army Major let us use two Quonset huts, one for officers, and the other for enlisted to make into “clubs.” We exchanged the 24 bottles of Chefoo brandy we brought down from Tsingtao for things we needed; such as good white paint, steaks, et al, and we got a 10 to 1 exchange. A civilian outfit was rehabbing WWII Army tanks, trucks, etc. to turn over to Chiang Kai Shek. They were living like kings over near Kadena, and heard about our Chefoo brandy. We had a top-notch hardball team and challenged the all-black Army team called the “Black Yankees” to a game. They sent their engineers over two days before, and built a ball field just off the beach, as we could not leave that area due to Air-Sea Rescue duty for the Air Force. They beat us 5 to 3, but they had been playing a long time, while our team had not played in several months. We let a third of the crew ashore for the game. The Army brought several thousand troops over, so you know how the cheering went. The Quonset huts we had were on a 200′ high cliff just a short way behind White Beach. They even had wooden balconies that projected out over the edge of the cliff with a great view of Buckner Bay. I got down to the main city, Naha, which was slowly rebuilding from war damage. The water was crystal clear for swimming or diving.
We rode out a typhoon in the China Sea. Since it is very shallow, the seas are very steep-sided with little fetch between them. We just kept our bow into the seas. Later we went to Hong Kong. I had a great time there, my first visit, and met some British types, who had great stories to tell of their experiences as civilian prisoners of Japanese. On way up Taiwan Straight, we had to maneuver through about two hundred Chinese junks proceeding in company, stretched across the horizon. On the run up, we had come down with dysentery. Since the heads were limited many of us had to poop over the side.
We stopped at Amoy (Amoy is the old name for Xiamen, a large island off the coast of China) for a visit, quaint city. I met an American missionary who had a gunnysack full of Chinese paper money. He said he was on his way to market and due to inflation of several million Yuan to the dollar, he had to carry a bag full! From Amoy, we proceeded to Shangai. Just before entering the mouth of the Yangtze River, we steamed through some islands at the mouth of the Hangzhow Bay, where they have one of the great tidal bores. The off-lying islands act as a sort of dam impeding the tidal flow, which builds up a head of water. Finally, it breaks and rolls up the bay to the river mouth, a 15′ wall of water! We did not see the bore, but we did have 10-knot currents between the islands. The fishermen know when it is coming and haul their boats out of the water each time.
Shanghai was in the midst of evacuating foreign nationals as Mao Tse Tung’s forces were driving Chiang Kai Shek’s forces to the coast. We had two Military Sea Transport ships loading out. I was still weak as a kitten from my bout with the flu, but managed to get ashore one day. There was lots of shipping, filthy water, city dirty due to civil war, etc. On top of that, the temperature was in 90s with similar humidity.
In November ’48, we participated in a big First Fleet Exercise off the Oregon coast. One phase involved using the Heavy Cruiser Augusta as a target ship. We had 12 destroyers in a column that were supposed to shift from column formation to line abreast, steam towards the AUGUSTA at flank speed and at 10,000 yds. come left to a column formation and open fire. Well, we had a Cruiser-Destroyer Rear Admiral aboard and his staff in our Combat Information Center running the show. While we were waiting some two hours before starting our run, the distance to the Augusta had increased to some 20,000 yds. The Admiral’s people, who were doing all the plotting on our Dead-Reckoning Trace failed to consider this, as the DRT does not show drift. We tried to tell them that fact but were ignored. Therefore, when we charged in for the 10,000 yd point and came left we were actually at 15,000 yds. instead of 10,000! All hell broke loose from COMFIRSTFLT’s flagship. We had to reverse course, get lined up then steam into the 10,000 yd point and open fire with our 5″ batteries. After that, we closed to 4000 yds. and launched torpedoes sinking the Augusta, talk about one embarrassed Admiral!
After we returned to San Diego via Guam and Kwajelein, where we had a surplus LST to shoot at, and finally sink with torpedoes, it was back to local training operations after some leave. In January 1949, we sailed to Mare Island and converted into a DDE and other modifications. On way up to Mare Island, we had heavy seas due to strong northerly gale, many seasick sailors, as it was right after Christmas holidays.
Eunice drove up to Mare Island with Pat. We had a Quonset hut for quarters, while there for three months. Some great parties, as the 0-Club was super. In those days, they had slot machines. The profit from them permitted cheap steaks and drinks. There were lots of athletic competitions amongst ships while there. Many of the CO’s were Naval Academy classmates. I was sent to San Diego on TAD for a special course in new sonar gear installed in ship, also had two-day ship handling course.
After overhaul, the squadron was ordered to the Atlantic Fleet to be based at Newport RI. We arrived there in October via the Canal. Shortly after, I was promoted to LCDR, and assigned Senior Shore Patrol Officer for Newport-Fall River area from Thanksgiving until after New Year. On the way from San Diego to Newport, we put into Guantanamo for post shakedown training. We also had some great shore bombardment exercises at San Clemente Island. Our Gunnery Officer had been a Chief Fire Control Man so we had high scores in all our shoots including surface and air.
Eunice shipped our car back, a 1941 Oldsmobile 8 and flew out with Pat. She spent sometime with my parents in Elmhurst and drove up to Newport in late November. On the way, she lost control of the car on an icy hill but suffered no damage. A good Samaritan helped her get up the hill, as it was her first experience driving on ice. We rented an apartment out on the Coast Rd, an attic converted into an apartment. While there, we traded the Olds in for a new ’49 Ford convertible. Eunice had picked up the Olds at Bayonne NJ where it had been shipped.

to be continued…

Capt. Dan, part 13: The War ends and a runaway train…

I finally got orders to the Sub-Chaser School at Miami, a one-month course. Upon completion, I was ordered to the Fleet Sonar School in San Diego. At night, while at Sub-Chaser school, Eunice would flash signal cards at me so I could memorize them. While in school, Pat was born at Fort Lauderdale in Broward Hospital, Dec 11, weighing in at about 9 lbs. Eunice had to stay in the hospital more than a week. Doctors were awful fussy in those days. Eunice drove herself to the hospital as I was out on a sub-chaser. The course at Fleet Sonar School, now Fleet Anti-submarine Warfare, was four months training to be an ASW Specialist. I came cross-country by train from Miami to San Diego the end of Jan ’44. Eunice followed in early April with 4 months old Pat by train, stopping in Phoenix to visit her sister Libby. Before Eunice arrived, I billeted in Balboa Park with 150 officers in one big room, double deck bunks. You lived out of your suitcase. There were three showers, three washbasins and commodes. To beat the crowd you got up way before 5:50 reveille. Buses took us down to Sonar School where we ate in the general mess. We also had lunch there but evening meal back at Balboa. We sure made use of the small “0” club at the school. That building is still in Balboa opposite the large gym building.
When Eunice arrived in San Diego, we shared a house with a divorcee with a baby girl Pat’s age. The deal was that Eunice would mind both tots while the divorcee worked in a defense plant. It worked out well since Eunice is easy to get along with and loved kids. The house was the second one in on the SE corner of Pescadero and Sunset cliffs Blvd. It is still there, same color, light green; we got the place by placing an ad that read about as follows: “Four months old baby boy looking to share home with baby of similar age. My Mommy will take care of both of us while yours works.” It got a few quick responses. I use to walk from there over the barren hills of Point Loma to ASW school and back as we had no car, about 2 miles. Eunice use to push baby carriage from Pescadero up to Newport Ave to shop in OB. A few times, Eunice and I rode open busses from Grant Hotel out to Camp Elliot, a Marine Camp at that time, to get a steak dinner for $1 and drinks at 10cents each!
Netting covered Pacific Highway, so that from the air it camouflaged the Convair plane buildings. They are now General Dynamics. From the air, the area looked like a farm as they had rigged barns, silos, etc on top of the buildings to blend in with the netting that looked like plowed fields, grass, etc.
I really learned a lot, as we had to break down sonar gear, trouble shoot, etc., plus learning all sorts of ASW tactics on training devices plus, at sea in ships. After finishing the course, I received orders to report to the Fleet ASW Command in Boston Navy Yard. We rode the Santa Fe Super Chief, 59 hours to Chicago at which point our sleeping car shunted over and hooked onto the 20th Century Limited for 15 hour run to NYC. I had some leave so we stopped and stayed with my parents for a week.
Eunice rented a small house over by LaGuardia Airport. Planes use to fly right over it at low altitude, as it was in line with runway. She pushed Pat in baby carriage all the way up to Roosevelt to shop, even when snow covered the streets. When I didn’t have the duty I rode the train down from Boston on weekends. One weekend I was to meet Eunice, my parents and Frank Costello’s friends at the Copacabana for dinner. The Boston train was two hours late. I hadn’t eaten since early that morning, made the mistake of tossing down a few hard drinks and just about passed out in the men’ room at the Copa.
While at Boston, I use to operate an Attack Teacher for training ship sonar teams. I remember a French crew, one day they were taking a run on a sub on the attack teacher when the French sailor started arguing with a French LT which way to turn to attack the sub. He let go of the helm while arguing and the ship went around in a circle while they jabbered away in French! I thought to myself, my God no wonder the Germans knocked the French out of action so quickly.
I received TAD orders to go to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for two weeks to work with their scientists in developing tactical sonar doctrine on how to use screening ships depending on sonar conditions determined from bathyograph readings (temperature vs. depth). From this, we developed screening tables used by sonar-equipped ships. Next, I attended a one-week course of instruction on the new British l47B submarine depth determining sonar gear. We also received instruction on how to install it in escort ships.
While at the Boston Navy Yard, I was under the command of the ASW Unit, Fleet Operations Training Command, US Atlantic Fleet. I received further TAD orders to Quonset Point NAS for a one-week course of instruction in Sono Buoy operations, devices used to track submarines. This was during August 1944. In October I received TAD orders to supervise the installation of the British l47B depth determining sonar on the UCS HAVERFIELD (DE 595) at Boston Navy Yard. On completion, I rode the HAVERFIELD to Bermuda, and while in the Bermuda area, we were involved with making practice runs on an Italian Sub that had previously surrendered. While on the Haverfield, which was part of an ASW Hunter-Killer Task Group, we chased a German sub for three days. The carrier’s (BOGUE (CVE-15) air group caught the sub on the surface, about 50 miles from the surface escorts.
I flew back from Bermuda landing at Floyd Bennett NAS in Brooklyn in a PBY. In November, I received orders to report to ASW Unit in Norfolk. While there, I attended several short courses in damage control, sonar buoys, and radar. In addition, I attended a four-day course in Loran and a five-day course in ammunition handling at the Mine Warfare School at Yorktown, VA. The Radar School was in the Cavalier Hotel at Virginia Beach, which the Navy had requisitioned. There I also had a two-day fire-fighting course.
In January ’45, I received TAD orders to Key West to conduct special sonar tests at sea using sono buoys by an Escort ship against a sub. Working up a system wherein sub could be located near a sono buoy pattern. I managed to get to New York a few times, and took ferry from Little Creek to Cape Charles, then the train to Philadelphia, transferred at Pennsylvania and then on to NY.
At the end of February ’45, I received orders to report to Fleet Administrative Command, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for duty as an ASW Specialist. While there I supervised the installation of l47B depth determining sonar in the USS RAMSDEN (DE-582) and USS EDSALL (DE-129). The war had ended in Europe about this time. Eunice and I rented a cottage in Bayville east of Ferry Beach. There we used a kerosene heater to heat. We bought an old Dodge from a local clam digger, and Rode to Locust Valley to take the train to Brooklyn, then the bus to Brooklyn Navy Yard. Pat loved to push the frame of a baby carriage all over. He also liked to push boats out into the water. I bought a small dinghy for $25, and took Eunice and Pat sailing to Lloyds Neck and back. Eunice would take Pat in the baby carriage to shop in Bayville village, which was a good ¾ mile from the cottage. We also picked up our mail at Post Office there.
In September, I received orders to the Mine Warfare School at Yorktown, VA. While at Yorktown, we had rented a large cottage across the river. The cottage had a wood stove in the kitchen that was a combination heater and hot water heater. I had to load it up every night with wood so that on the cold fall mornings I would get up and light it off before Eunice got up. We had a shuttle boat to take us back and forth across the York River.
Flu finally got me and I ended up in NAVHOSP, Ft Eustis, where I was diagnosed with T.B. (Eunice went to NY and stayed with my parents when I went to NAVHOSP). I was there about two months, at the end of which time, I was ordered to be survey out on a medical discharge stating that I had contracted TB before I entered the service. I wrote a strong rebuttal to the Survey Board’s findings and eventually BUMEN reversed the findings. I was then ordered to COMFIVE for TAD awaiting orders. While at COMFIVE, I was sent over to Norfolk Naval Shipyard to inventory equipage aboard the ex-HMS TRACKER, a CVE we loaned the British. I wish I had kept a huge oaken whiskey cask trimmed in brass with “GOD SAVE THE KING.” I am sure some shipyard worker made off with it after it was removed from the ship.
In January 1946, I received orders to report to the Fleet Sonar School in San Diego for duty as a PCO/PXO Instructor. In December, I had requested transfer to the regular Navy at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Navy was seeking Reserve Officers for the Regular Navy. I dropped by NY for a few days before taking the train to San Diego. On the way west the train stopped at Needles, CA for a 15-minute stop. Everyone got off to stretch their legs including the conductors and porters. The train started up, but the conductors said not to worry they were just changing engines. Well, the train proceeded out of sight and all hell broke loose. The Station Master wired ahead, to have the train stopped. Meanwhile, a good number of school busses, local city busses and two greyhound ones were employed to take us up into the mountains, and get back aboard the train. We had to hike about two miles from the last passable road and finally got aboard. Our sea bags, orders, etc were on the train. I never did fine out why the train left, maybe the engineer didn’t like the conductor or was drunk.

to be continued…

Capt. Dan, part 12: Eunice, Annapolis, New Orleans, Miami and the Caribbean

When a recruit company finished training, they had a company picture taken. The photo shop was by the CPO Mess (the present commissary). It was a concession working under the Navy Exchange. This is where I first met Eunice. Mr. Waterman, the owner, introduced us. I had about 10 dates with Eunice and we eloped to Yuma, AZ to get married on May 1, 1942. I borrowed another chief’s car but on the way out an old-time Chief Quarter-master spotted a bottle of booze in the back, which was forbidden on base. I had to see the commanding officer. Fortunately, his name was Kelly. I told him the circumstances and he let me off to go pick up Eunice and head for Yuma. When we got to the border, the Army wasn’t going to let me into Arizona as a number of servicemen had been deserting. After much explanation and having his sergeant go along to see, we checked into a hotel. However, I had to report at 6AM the next morning! We stayed at the San Carlos Hotel, had civil wedding at Gretna Green’s. When we arrived back, we rented the upstairs apartment at corner of Cohasset and Ocean Front.
A week later, I got orders to report to Annapolis for 50 days officer training and commissioned as an ensign in the Ton Hamilton Naval Aviation Cadet physical training program. A good number of us original “Tunneyfishers” went to that program. I sent for Eunice and she flew, arriving about when I finished the 30 day wonder program. Eunice stayed at Mrs. Ellison’s home just outside the gate at Annapolis. Mrs. Ellison was the widow of the first Naval Aviator, Lt. Ellison. They had a daughter who really use to boss the midshipman around when they were invited to the Ellison home for tea. Tommy came down. He was a boatswain mate third class the Coast Guard, operating a patrol boat in lower bay of NYC.
We went to NYC and stayed at my parents place on 45th Avenue, as I had some delay before having to report to Naval Air Training Facility at Lake Ponchatrain, just outside New Orleans. It was hot and miserable there. I was in charge of physical and military training of cadets going through basic flight training. When we first arrived at New Orleans, thanks to my father’s connections, we stayed at the Roosevelt for a few days until we found a small house on Lapeyrouse St. It had giant cockroaches, especially in the basement. At the waterfront restaurants on the lake, we would purchase a giant platter of shrimp for a $1.00. You would have to peal the shrimp, and make your own sauce from a large selection of supplied condiments. While at New Orleans, I was ordered to Naval Hospital at Pensacola for treatment of cystitis. A Navy nurse inserted a catheter in my pecker so they could work on the cystitis. While I was at the air facility, the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox came down to look into the reason why so many cadets washed out of flight training. Apparently, it turned out that the regular Navy flight instructors were telling the cadets they were muscle-bound and would never learn to fly. Knox cleaned house and got in new instructors. The reason for the intensive physical program was the fact that our flyers didn’t have much stamina to survive in a jungle, or afloat at sea for any length of time.
I got itchy to go to sea; I felt I wasn’t doing my part in the war effort. I applied for sea duty, and I got orders in October to report to the Gulf Sea Frontier Headquarters in Miami for further orders. Before I went there, I had to go to the Naval Hospital at Pensacola as I had cystitis. HQ ordered me to an YP that patrolled along the Florida coast from Fort Lauderdale up to Stuart Inlet, back and forth looking for U-boats. It had some depth charges and a 20mm gun. I got real seasick on the first patrol.
Eunice and I had a small apartment in what use to be Thomas’ Cottages. There were several other military couples living there, one was Ralph and Gretchen Underzuper. He was a Coast Artillery Captain and had the battery guarding the entrance to Port Everglades. The Sea Train ships operated from there taking near a 100 freight train cars to Havana and back. Later in ’43, these ships were used to carry the tanks that saved the British in their battle in the deserts against Rommel in North Africa. The ships under heavy escort ran the gauntlet in the Mediterranean to reach Suez.
The Navy Section Base from which my YP operated was in Port Everglades just opposite the Sea Train piers. Eunice use to see the YP go by once in awhile when she was on the beach. Our place was only a block in from the beach. Everyone used rationing books during the war. I still have one, however with all the stamps gone. I had my mother and Ellen down for a month or so during the winter. Should mention here that when Eunice and I first went to NYC to stay at my folks home (place upstairs was empty at time) my mother had all the O’Connell relatives over for dinner to give Eunice the once over. She made it with flying colors. She got along real well with my parents and learned a lot from my mother over the years we were in that area.
The base needed someone to take charge of a 60′ Alden schooner that was to be used for coast patrol. I volunteered as I had some sail experience from my younger days. It was named “KIKI”. My crew was a seaman and fireman first class and myself. We went on 5 day patrols. I had to teach them how to handle sails, work the voice radio, etc. It was tiring duty as the few times I could grab a catnap I would be called for something or other. When a good northerly blew down the Florida Straits, I would hole up in the lee of a breakwater, by harbors along the coast. Nothing exciting occurred except avoiding tankers running independently.
After a few months of that, I got orders to take a 50′ crash boat down to Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. We picked it up in Miami, joined a small convoy escorted by a Canadian sub chaser. I had to go in at LaFe on the western tip of Cuba and get fuel from a base we had there. They gave me aviation gas, which apparently was too much for the engine I had. We ran into the tail end of a hurricane. The engine quit, and the sub chaser took us in tow. Seas were mountainous, and we ran before the seas. The strain was too much, as we would surge a few hundred feet on the tow hawser then fetch up. It finally caused the stem of the crash boat to pull away along with the Sampson post and we began to take on water. All that night my 2-man crew and I bailed water trying to stay afloat. By dawn, we were pooped, and the boat sank. The crewmembers were not good swimmers, so I tied us all together to prevent separation. After two to three hours in the water, a small freighter rescued us. The convoy lost its position, as we had been socked in for a few days. They radioed Grand Cayman, which sent out a PBY that located us the next day, and gave us a steer to the island. It was a British possession, which we got the use of under the Lend-Lease program when Roosevelt gave them 50 WW l destroyers for our use of some of their islands to set up anti-submarine patrol bases. I can remember the swarms of mosquitoes on that island!
I flew back to Key West in a PBY and got Navy transportation up to Miami. I received orders to take charge of a 125′ wooden trading schooner the ICAROS. It had a 12-man crew, plus two ensigns besides me. We carried 200 tons of cargo; spare plane engines, ammunition, and high-octane aviation gas in drums, spare parts and chow for the outlying bases in the Bahamas and Caribbean waters. The ICAROS drew 16 feet when loaded.
Just before the ICAROS orders, I was sent on temporary duty on a 70′ ketch out of Port Everglades. The Navy had many ocean going auxiliary sailboats, some were 125′ “Bluenose Schooner” types. We use to leave Port Everglades, six boats on average, bend on every inch of sale and race across Florida Straits to Great Isaac Light House, where we anchored inside the reef for the night. We would have a great gathering there. Next morning we all went our separate ways on assigned patrols, covering various passages and islands of the Bahamas looking for subs and to see if Germans were caching supplies on any of the islands, as a great number of them were uninhabited.-
After several runs, each of about 10 days duration, to bases in the Bahamas, Caribbean area, (Neuvitas, Gaybarien both east of Havana on the Old Bahama Passage), and the Isle of Pines off the south coast, I recommended that the ICAROS be surveyed, as there was extensive rot in timbers and planking. In addition, in a seaway the masts would show a 5-degree angle between them, looking from aft. This was due to ship yawing in heavy seas. In addition, when we hit head seas, the masts would whip forward quit a bit. The Navy inspected the ship and agreed. Later on my mother sent me a clipping, which I have in my scrapbook, wherein the ICAROS that, after being sold to a Caribbean trading company, foundered in a hurricane, ran aground and lost several crew.
The ICAROS history is unique. Built in l867 in Greece as a Mediterranean packet, and then sold to the Germans who used it as a pilot vessel in the North Sea. At outbreak of WW I it became a training vessel for the German Navy. After the war, it ended up back in Greece as a packet. The Great Depression caused it to be laid up in the port of Piraeus. In 1939, the General Manager of General Motors, Mr. Sorenson, purchased it. He hired an American crew to go over and sail it back to Miami. While fitting out for the trans-Atlantic crossing at Gibraltar, the engineer sold the big diesel engine. He jumped ship while the Captain, probably drunk, was ashore. A gasoline engine, Chrysler marine type was installed, but due to high RPM, it had to have a six to one reduction gear installed. They finally arrived in Miami, went to a boat yard and had it converted into a yacht at great expense. It took a year to convert the boat from a brig to a topsail schooner rig. Old man Sorenson only used it a few times before Pearl Harbor occurred. The Navy requisitioned it, tore out most of the yacht’s accommodations, painted over mahogany paneling, and converted it into a packet. The Navy gave Sorenson about $25,000 for it. He claimed he had put $250,000 into it!
The ICAROS loaded out of Miami. When we got to sea, I let the crew wear shorts. We had no radar, but sending a man aloft, while the weather was clear, to the spreaders some 70′ high, did just as well. I use to sit up there myself and could go hand over hand along balk stays between the masts, and slide down halyards. One very interesting base was located at Caibarien, a small coastal city just to the west of the head of the causeway and halfway down the coast from Havana. It was a sugar mill port. The bay was triangular with the outer reef some 15 miles from the port. The mouth was also about 15 miles wide. On the reef was an old concrete tanker from WWI, grounded purposely by the Cubans to store molasses in. (The mosquitoes were terrible due to the molasses. You needed netting everywhere). Our Navy restored the superstructure on the stern on a deal with the Cubans. The Navy leased the after half of the ship and used it to berth floatplane squadron personnel. The floatplanes moored naturally to leeward of the tanker. They patrolled the Bahama Passage.
We had an ammo barge and a fuel barge moored inside the reef in the lee of the tanker. There was a passage through the reef to allow the ICAROS, drawing l6′, to get through and moor on the lee side of the tanker. The aviation personnel would always unload the steaks and ice cream and have a feast, plus a beer party. The next day they would get the important cargo off like ammo, spare engines, parts, etc. They were a motley looking outfit. Some of them had been there a year or more.
We went ashore one time to a dance in the town. The Cubans were very Spanish in their customs. The rumba was the big dance at the time. Whole families were there, Grandparents, children etc, all of them doing the rumba! To ask a girl to dance was considered the equivalent of a marriage proposal! I did learn to rumba. I got a kick out of custom in town square, boys walked around in one direction, girls in opposite to look each other over. The chaperones were there in force to make sure everyone kept moving!
On the run back to Miami, I would cut across Cay Sal Bank and anchor in the lee of one of the islands fringing the bank. We would go ashore and have a cook out and a few beers. On the run south from Miami, I would head across the Straits and enter the Bahama Banks near Gun Cay. I then would head SE across 190 miles of banks where you always saw the bottom but never any land! A little eerie at night with a moon and clouds giving the water ahead different shades, making you think you were going to run aground! Actually, the water was about 4 fathoms on average but one never knew. At the south end of the run, you had to feel your way off the bank by putting a boat over to go ahead and sound for a way to get out into the Old Bahama Passage.
After the survey of the ICAROS (YAG-16), I received orders to take over the YAG 20, a twin-screw diesel powered houseboat type yacht, 120′ in length. It had been converts like the ICAROS to carry cargo to the island bases. I made runs to Great Exuma in the eastern Bahamas, Walker Cay in northern Bahamas, Nassau, Grand Cayman and Neuvitas on the north coast of Cuba east of Havana. During this period, a truck strike jeopardized the Key West Naval Base. I was pulled off the Bahamas/Caribbean runs to haul cargo from Miami to Key West, made three runs a week for two weeks. The Navy was not going to let the truckers blackmail them. The truckers capitulated and I got back to my regular runs. We used Hawk Channel on the run south to Key West, which is just inside the fringing reefs along the straits. We ran night and day. I drew 10′ with the YAG 20 and many times, we were smelling bottom from the way she handled. On the run north we went outside the reefs and rode the Gulf Stream north, picking up a few knots speed over the bottom.
We had a great Motor Machinist Mate about 45 years old, a reserve. He owned a fleet of sport fishing boats at Palm Beach, but volunteered for service. He kept our diesels running like fine watches. There was a Radioman 2/c, who I am certain stole $100 from our mess fund. I had accidentally left the cash box in my cabin went on deck for something and later discovered the money missing. He was in the best position to have done it. Could not prove it, but had him transferred. I had to make up the $100 loss from the mess fund! That was near a month’s pay in those days.
On return runs with empty holds, I let the crew troll for mackerel and kingfish, which they sold at the Miami docks for 25cents per lb. They always had several hundred lbs of fish. I had two Lt’s aboard plus an ensign and myself. I was Lt (jg.) then. I was an Ensign when I had the ICAROS. We had one particularly rough crossing of the Florida Straits with a 60-knot wind from the north bucking the Gulf Stream. We rolled on beams ends. We picked up radio transmissions from a group of DE’s that were trying to figure out where they were. Everyone in my pilothouse was seasick had an old-time boatswain who tossed his cookies. I had enough worries as where the DE’s were and unescorted tankers all running without lights due to wartime. Sure was glad to pick up the radio towers behind Miami!

to be continued…

Capt. Dan, part 11: The West Coast

A group of us got orders in early October to report to the Naval Training Station, San Diego. Six of us in two cars drove it in five days. On the way, we stopped at the Grand Canyon for a night. The cowboys and gals who worked there took us down to a place they went to outside the park. It turned out the owner of the place was an ex-Navy man. He was so glad to see us sailors he closed up the place and we had one great party. I woke up at 5Am after two hours sleep and there was 5″ of snow on the ground, and lots coming down. I got everyone up and we drove out to get down to Williams and lower elevation, as we had no chains, we made it. From there we headed for San Diego via Indio along the west shore of the Salton Sea and up the Banner Grade to Julian, which we reached about 8PM. The grade in those days was tortuous for cars. Indians mostly occupied the town at that time. We stopped at what looked like a restaurant but it was dark. I saw a light in the rear, knocked, and got an Indian to open up and feed us. He had steaks, and I’ll tell you they sure hit the spot after our all-day trip. Got to San Diego about 11PM and checked into the Army-Navy YMCA.
The next day we reported for duty, and immediately assigned as assistant company commanders. After taking one company through, we became regular company commanders. Not to boast but we won our share of best company pennants. We use to hang out at the Tower Bowl, Grant Hotel and El Cortez. Since the evenings were cool, we “slick arms” use to carry our topcoat over our right arm to cover where hash marks would normally be worn. Since at that time we had Chief Boatswain Mate insignia, hash marks would have been on your right arm. Chiefs were split into right arm and left arm ratings in those days. Those connected with topside duties were right arm, others left arm. Our regimental training officer was the former skipper of the gunboat “PANAY” that was sunk by Japanese on Yangtze River in 1937, cannot think of his name now.
On Pearl Harbor Day, a gang of us chiefs took a charter fishing boat out to the Coronado Inlands, and fished all day. We had no radio and didn’t know the war had started. We saw the aircraft carrier SARATOGA steaming at high speed and zigzagging that after noon heading for port. When we started back, as we approached Point Loma, a Coast Guard patrol boat stopped us, boarded, lined us up and checked for identification. When they told us war had started we were dumbfounded, they directed us to return immediately to our command. We noticed on the way back from Coronado that many lights were out in San Diego. We got off the boat at Broadway where there were thousands of people.
The SARATOGA was at North Island loading out sailors, Marines, ammo, etc. Boots with only three weeks in the Navy were loaded aboard. The SARATOGA sailed the next morning and made Pearl in 72 hours. Captain Gearing had us all. in the station movie hall telling us that we were going to have to form a Naval Brigade to help the Marines defend the border, as rumors were flying around that the Japanese were due to lend in Baja. I can recall us going through infantry and landing force tactics with officers holding the Landing Force Manual and telling us what to do. About a week later, I got orders to take a 500-man draft to San Francisco and deliver them at the pier in Oakland where Treasure Island officers would get them out to various ships in San Francisco Bay. On the way, I had to march them into the Harvey House restaurant at Los Angeles Santa Fe station. Being a troop train, we highballed it up there.
I had a few night watches patrolling the area where the present Admiral Kidd Club is located; the chiefs ate in the CPO mess that is now the commissary store. To teach boots sentry duty, they carried a Springfield rifle and patrolled behind their barracks. The night duty chiefs would make the rounds checking up on them. Once in awhile you would find one asleep, we never put them on report, which was a most serious offense. Instead, we would get a bucket of cold water, a big dishpan and ladle and a flashlight. One chief would throw the water on the sentry while the other banged the pan and flashed the light into the startled sentry’s eyes. At same time, we yelled, “the ship is sinking”, “abandon ship.” Well, you will not believe those kids would, in some cases, start swimming right on the pavement. That cured them and kept their record clear. Sailors who didn’t clean up after scrubbing clothes would have to carry their wash bucket with wet clothes in it on the end of their rifle all day. Others who looked up at aircraft passing overhead while being lectured to, would lie on their back and point their rifles at planes passing overhead for an hour or so. This was anti-aircraft duty.
Right after Pearl Harbor, the Navy requisitioned all the buildings in Balboa Park for billeting naval personnel. Four of us Chiefs assigned to each of the Hospitality cottages that now represent various countries. They had no heat in them so it was very cold in winter and rainy days.

to be continued…

Capt. Dan, part 9 & 10

A huge hurricane hit NY and New England; I believe that fall, late in September. Fortunately, summer residents had gone back to the city. The large surf caused a lot of damage along the south shore of L.I. and New England areas; new inlets formed on Fire Island and the Hamptons, and damaged the boardwalk at Jones Beach. A 5′ high pile of shellfish covered the beach, what a smell two days later! I was driving over the George Washington Bridge at the time it hit the city. The roadway was swaying a good bit. Between that and the side wind, it was a job steering the car.
My sister Margaret married Eddie Regan about 1935 when I was in the CCCs. Tommy graduated from Newtown HS in 1938 and went to Transylvania College after working that summer as a guard at Jones Beach. I remember taking Jimmy Regan in the ocean when he was about three, even had him jump off a 10′ springboard at NYAC. One time at the NYAC, I had him stand on the side of the pool to wait for me while I dove in and fetched across and back. On my way back underwater, there was little Jimmy coming back up from the bottom. Apparently, he jumped in after me! He swallowed some water but otherwise was okay.
Frank Costello had a power yacht and came to Zach’s Bay a few times with my father and other cronies and usually some show girls. He always had large boxes of sandwiches, which Lindy’s Restaurant in NYC made up for him. I would get about a dozen or so of them to take over to my guard crew. Each sandwich was a meal in itself.
In 1940, I swam on the NYAC 400 freestyle relay team. We finished fourth in the Senior National AAUs. The club would have won it but our two best swimmers; Peter Pick who had tied Johnny Weissmuller’s 51 flat for the 100 free was disqualified along with Walter Spence who won the100 in the National Collegiate Championships. Jack Thompson and I substituted for them. We were only 54 seconds plus compared to 51 and 52 for Peter and Walter.
I loved going to NYU’s fall camp on Lake Sebago in Bear Mountain State Park. There was a time I could identify some 50 or so different trees by the leaves, which was required in one of the camp courses. We took all the Red Cross tests, first aid, lifesaving, water safety, etc. At NYU I always swam the 50, 100 and anchored the 400 freestyle relay. I made Lt. in charge of the Central Mall lifeguard crew at Jones Beach. Pete Carter and I teamed up and won all ten events of the officers’ decathlon, the highpoint of my lifeguard days. Things were going along well at home, no money problems, great years for my mother.

WWII and the Navy:

The National Emergency had been declared and the big talk around campus was when we would be called up. We all registered for the draft. The system then was to have a VIP pick numbers out of a bowl down in Washington. I was Captain of NYU swim team in junior and senior year. A lot of us at NYU got our “welcome to the Army” notices in early 1941. A classmate of mine, Ted Nowasacki, who had worked at Jones Beach with me, went down to apply for the Navy V-7, “Ninety-Day Wonder” program. Ted made it; I didn’t, failing eye and teeth parts of the physical.
The Army was breathing down my neck. At the last minute, we heard about Gene Tunney starting up a physical fitness program for the Navy, and that he was taking college “jockstrap” types in as Chief Pretty Officers. Thanks to Madge Cuggy I got an introductory letter. Along with two other classmates, we were in the first 17 he recruited for the program. I was sworn in at 90 Church Street on May 19, 1941, and left a few days later on a coastwise steamer for Norfolk. We got to the Naval Training Station on a Friday. The next morning we were lying around in the barracks when an inspection party came through. I remember the inspection officer raising hell with us, as he didnt know we had just arrived, had no uniforms and no one in charge of us. Finally, a Chief Gunner’s Mate was put in charge with instructions to put us “Tunneyfish” through the regular boot-training curriculum. He sure did, as the old chiefs were mad that the Navy had brought in “slick-arm” chiefs. We took everything they dished out. When we finished, we were assigned as assistant company commanders learning how to take a company through boot training. I got along well with my commander, as I trained our boat team and we won the ten-man whaleboat-rowing race. We all picked up what had to be done in quick time, as we were older and educated.
I remember working with Fred Apostoli who had been world middleweight boxing champion. Fred and I use to lead all the boots on the parade ground in mass rifle and semaphore drills. We were each up on a 20′ stand. It was a hot summer. We had a chief known as Cannonball Jackson. When boots in his companies goofed, he would make them lug a stack of cannon balls that weighed about 75 lbs apiece down to the other end of the drill field and restack them. We got the boots up at 5AM and took them for a 2-mile jog. Most of them were coughing, but that is what we were told to do.
I use to sail the ketch-rigged whaleboats out in Hampton Roads. On Saturday afternoons, we headed for Virginia Beach. One of the “Tunneyfish” chiefs had a relative who worked at the Cavalier Hotel. He would introduce us to some of the southern belles who came there for the summers. We got chow and drinks gratis, as he was a big wheel in the hotel. We use to rent kayaks and ride waves off the hotel. Later in the war, actually right after Pearl Harbor, the Navy requisitioned the hotel and it became radar, loran, and other electronics school setup. In 1945 I took a one-week radar course there, oh yes; I won the Eastern Collegiate 50 freestyle at Rutgers in April of ’41. I missed NYU graduation, as I had to go in Navy early. I never found out what happened to my diploma, it must have been lost at my home, suppose to have been sent there.
Two “Tunneyfish” chiefs got into a few fights. Vic Marino, who had been an All-American guard at Ohio State, tangled with Woody Hayes also from Ohio State. We had a tough time separating those two. They also got into a fight or two with some of the old-time chiefs who were riding them as “slick arms.” After a few of the old-timers were decked at the CPO Club, they didn’t hassle us anymore.

to be continued…