Sea Stories!!

This Sub-Page has been inserted specifically to capture a document that Bill Hamel organized and compiled as a part of the effort to publish our Book of Memories, “The First Fifty”. It is fairly lengthy, some two hundred pages. Your WebMeister has included two versions of the document, a Word File for direct reading and a PDF file for those who might want to download a copy. The translation fro PDF to Word was not precise and it’s way too long for any effort to edit it up a bit. So just be patient and do the best you can if you choose to read the word file. The opening sections of both documents explain how to navigate through the document if you want to look for something specific. Although those sections are also in the Word document that do not apply to that version.

Your WebMeister is adding a second Sub-Page for more recent Sea Stories.

Sea Stories

Sagas, Epiphanies, and Anecdotes: Sea Stories of the Class of 1957,
U.S. Naval Academy
Compiled by Bill Hamel ‘57


Our Class has published, in the summer of 2007, a wonderful book of memories called The First 50, edited by Fred Howe.

We included in this book a 20-page section entitled “Class History”. Not a real history, it was intended instead to be a collection of stories gathered from our classmates and presented in our historical context.

In early 2004 we put out our first call to all hands, to write up and submit stories about their experiences. As we said in our rather unspecific “Guidelines for Class History Inputs”:

“So should you or any other classmate wish to submit a personal input to the class history section, presenting interesting anecdotes, adventures, comedies, epiphanies, struggles, achievements, or reactions to the one-list, such inputs are welcome and are solicited. . . .

“Basically we are asking for Interesting Stories which we can integrate into a history section which will be informative and enjoyable reading for our classmates and their families.”

Your response was gratifying. You sent in many stories, varying widely in tone, nature, size, and age – some 200-odd pages of them. If you have seen The First 50 you know that the Class History section is not very extensive – our bios take up most of the book, as they must and should.

Thus we had to leave a lot of stories out, and had to condense/edit many that were used. As a result we were left with a collection of priceless stories, unpublished in our book, which might go nowhere and never see the light of day.

This CD is our attempt to preserve and make available all the wonderful stories you have sent in for this project, uncut and unedited.

Reader Guide

All the stories have been reformatted into this single PDF (Acrobat Reader) document. They are arranged in alphabetical order of the contributors’ surnames.
The contributors’ names, large bold-face font, precede the story or stories they contributed. The contributors’ company in the Brigade of 1957 follows his name.

To find any word in this document quickly, be it a person’s name, a company, a ship, or whatever – use the Acrobat Reader “Find” function: A “Find” window appears at the top of the window. Enter the word/name/number or whatever you seek.

When you have entered the target word/number/name, left-click on the menu pull down arrow next to the window in which you typed your query. Select the menu item “Find Next in Current PDF”. Voilá! You will be there. If the target word appears in the document more than once, just repeat the “Find Next in Current PDF” until you find the one you’re looking for.

Alternatively, you can just browse by scrolling through the document.

This CD is a read-only, so you will not be able to make any changes to this document. Of course, you can cut and paste any of it into your own document, and you can print any or this entire document on your computer’s printer.

Please be aware, however, that this document and these stories are published to you, members of the Class of 1957, USNA, and your families and friends solely for your or their personal use and enjoyment. None of this should be reproduced elsewhere or for any other purpose without the written permission of the Association of the Class of 1957 of the U.S. Naval Academy, or of the individual authors.
And Now the Stories

Gary Alkire – 9th Company
I considered myself fortunate and honored to enter the Naval Academy. Attendance there had been a goal through high school – the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Poly provided strong foundations in the sciences, engineering, and the humanities. And, maybe more important, the school instilled study habits and discipline for daily living. Over the years there had been a special relationship between Poly and the Academy; in our time several dozen members of the Brigade were from Poly.

Growing up I read everything I could find about the Navy – especially during World War II. When graduation from the Academy came near my preference was to enter the Navy Civil Engineering Corps; the Navy’s preference was Navy Line. I was pulled to engineering because of my experience at Poly combined with summer work with an engineering firm. The Air Force had a need for civil engineers because of many construction requirements generated by the Cold War… So the pull to an engineering profession overtook a call to the Navy.

My professional career was greatly influenced by and seemed to involve some of the Cold War … and the sometimes not so Cold War.

My first assignment after the Academy in 1957 was at Warren AFB, Wyoming. We rebuilt a historic base, dating back to the Indian Wars of the late 1800’s, to support the first operational intercontinental missile wing in the Air Force. It was great work for a lieutenant learning his way.

In France, now 1963, at Toul Rosieres AB, we built the unique facilities for a new reconnaissance airplane, the RF4C, on the way to Europe. The base was one of many NATO had just finished building for Canadian, British, French, and US Air Forces in response to the Iron Curtin.

The assignment to Vietnam, in 1970, was different; continuing the work begun by others to build a system of highways for the Vietnamese commerce and military movements.

Moving on to England AFB, Louisiana, in 1971; the base changed aircraft twice in the two years that we were there, reflecting the turmoil of the end of the Vietnam War. A wing of new close air support aircraft replaced training of Vietnamese pilots and crew.

At the Air Force headquarters in Europe in the mid 1970’s, I oversaw Air Force engineering operations in NATO countries, from Norway in the north to Turkey in the south. It was during this time that the great buildup of readiness

construction began, primarily facilities designed to resist bomb damage – aircraft shelters and maintenance facilities.

In the early 1980’s, from a base in Ohio, we managed construction funded by foreign nations – Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the time. We built the bases in Saudi Arabia ultimately used by the Allies during the war in Iraq in the early 1990’s.

Mixing these assignments with three tours in the Pentagon and several tours at major commands rounded out a busy engineering career.

My final Air Force job starting in 1984 and lasting until 1989, was to lead the Air Force Commissary Service, a major grocery chain … completely different and a lot of fun … supporting military personnel and their families with US food products wherever assigned. We operated 150 stores from Korea, through the United States to Turkey. It was a very rewarding experience for both my wife and I.

Most of the military programs and bases are gone now that the Cold War has been won; many of the bases closed. Through these assignments it was always clear that it was the people that make the difference. Those relationships provide lasting memories for both Ellen and I.

One day our grandchildren, who we surely hope enjoy a more peaceful life, may ask about this career … what did we do … what memories linger? Ellen and I will think for a moment and tell the story of our 1989 visit to Berlin.

We will tell our grandchildren of the great world war and the division of nations by the victors who could not agree on how to win the peace because of the differences of how people should be governed. And so Germany was divided between the west that believed in freedom and the east where people were wards of the state. And a wall, the Berlin Wall, was built between the people separating friends and family and ideologies.

Our visit occurred by chance the week after the Berlin Wall opened in November 1989 and on that visit we clearly felt the true meaning of freedom … a concept we in this country have tended to take for granted because it is such a basic concept imbedded in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

On that trip in 1989 we heard and understood the sound of freedom in many ways.

We left Frankfurt Germany one evening on the American troop train; a train that had traveled from Frankfurt, Germany to West Berlin each evening since the Wall was built. The purpose of the train … and it was one of three; the other being a British and French was to maintain US right of entry into West Berlin.
But the weekend before our visit, the wall had opened and people behind the Iron Curtain were free to visit the West. For many, it was the first time in their life ... a trip for some of only a few feet, for the wall had kept families and friends separate for so many years.

Our train took most of the night to travel the 100 miles or so, because we kept being placed on a side track to clear the way for trains filled with East Germans, Polish, and others traveling to the West. I don’t thing we got any sleep that night because we were busy returning the waves and cheers from those on those freedom trains to the west; each window open and full of people celebrating freedom.

In West Berlin, we visited the graves of the many that had tried to swim to freedom, or hide under a truck, or dig a tunnel. Some really novel attempts were made over the years, for freedom … some successful, many attempts ending in death.

We went through CheckPoint Charlie, the border crossing between west and east for so many years. The current events had not changed procedures of so many years … sitting erect in the bus, Ellen with her passport to the window and I in uniform looking straight ahead. But there was hardly anyone in East Berlin … they had poured through the open wall to the West.

We later returned to West Berlin and visited the wall where thousands were chipping at the wall with any implement they could find. Maybe it sounded like a tiffany of chimes; certainly it was another sound of freedom. We remember the East German guard walking the wall with his gun … joking with the Westerners he had watched in such a threatening manner only a few weeks before.

We found many people at the Brandenburg Gate waiting for that specific gate to open… a place so rich in history. There were many thousands waiting, quietly but yet in a very festive mood. There must have been a dozen construction cranes with television cameras up high waiting for the anticipated moment in history. The gate would open several days later.

Since retiring from the Air Force, Ellen and I have been busy serving the community; Ellen as a Councilmember for the Town of Hollywood Park, Texas as well enjoying a very active membership in the Hollywood Park Garden Club – her hobby. After retirement from the Air Force in 1989, I was a program manager for an international environmental/engineering firm. More recently I serve as a trustee on the Board for Air Force Villages, a senior retirement community in San Antonio; I was elected Chairman of the Board in 2002 and continue in that position as this is written.

Ellen and I are blessed with five children and their families – especially our seven grandchildren for whom we pray that they will live in a more peaceful world.


In 1970, I was assigned to the MACV Lines of Communication Division with responsibilities related to the reconstruction of the Republic of Vietnam highway system. We spent considerable time traveling the countryside monitoring construction and sorting requirements for bridge and highway construction.
Travel was by commercial minivans inherited from the Thailand AID program.

So, one sunny day we were in the Delta among the rice paddies traveling at a “reasonable” rate of speed when we heard a siren behind us. As the vehicle got closer, it was clear that we should pull over for the Military Police. The MP sergeant advised us that we were exceeding the speed limit and that we should drive slower. He issued us a speeding ticket and was on his way!

The ticket indicated that I was the senior officer responsible … but we all rotated home before the ticket became an issue.

In 1970, I was assigned to the MACV Lines of Communication Division with responsibilities related to the reconstruction of the Republic of Vietnam highway system. A Lt JG assigned to the office invited his wife to Saigon for a weeks visit. We decided that we would take the two of them to a French restaurant for lunch. We would give her a tour of the city on the way. Our transport was a Mercedes sedan from the Thailand AID program … steering wheel on the right side of the car.

The driver, an Army major, was not used to the car … he could not judge clearance on the left side of the car. We started the adventure by sideswiping a Vietnamese Army ton and a half. As our tour continued we approached the Presidential Palace and the driver hit one of the concrete blocks in the middle of the road (placed to keep two way traffic separated) and ruined the left rear tire and wheel. The repair saga required over three hours because we did not know how to open the trunk (turn on the ignition) … once open there was no spare tire or lug wrench … once acquired the wrench did not fit the metric bolts … the Mercedes dealer did not believe our problem and would not loan us a wrench … finally solved by a trip into the black market where we rented a wrench with a 12 year old youth to be sure the wrench was returned.

All this while the Palace Police, Saigon Police, etc., became increasingly nervous. We never had lunch … and when we got back to the office our colonel boss who had no sense of humor heard a short version of the story and banned the car till after he rotated (took that long to get it fixed).

Ted Almsted - 13th Company
A day in OP 63: Whether it was whisking the CNM and Chief or the Supply Corp around the world on a chartered Naval Reserve DC9 once a year, or working with CEOs of multinational corporations, and foreign senior Naval and Air Force leaders to consummate military sales, there was never a dull day that the unexpected did not occur. Flying back non stop on my chartered plane from Australia to Hawaii, the CNM turned to me at 2300, and said how about a midnight swim. That was arranged by the OIC of the Coast Guard Station on Fiji whom we contacted, aroused from his sleep, and who met three swim clad Admirals in his dress whites around 0100. Great Swim! For his efforts he got a nice CNM, Supp Corp and OP63 set of plaques. I am sure that really helped.
Then there was the day a Senior FBI agent appeared at my desk. Seems he wanted to know, if I was involved in drug operations. At the time we were supporting the Guatemalan Navy’s interdiction of communist’s sea bourn ops, by providing them with MAP funded small boats, and training. (All this started when I had asked Adm. Buckley to clean house with the small shipbuilders that were under NavSea contract. The Adm. and I go back to the day in my cabin in Bainbridge, when I sat between him and Rickover, each haranguing each other. In subsequent meetings with Buckley, I discovered prominently displayed in Buckley’s office a picture of the two of them as Lcdrs. sitting on a water buffalo in the Philippines. But that is another story.)…. I had just received a complaint from one of those shipbuilders, that the Guatemalan’s had missed their second progress payment, and asked to investigate. Shortly afterwards the FBI agent appeared, and I found out that the Guatemalan Navy had used the MAP money to buy Israeli armored vehicles, and were counting on making the payments for the boats from profits in a drug operation, which the Coast Guard had caught. I pleaded innocent! Straightening up that mess with State, Congress and the Navy was a real tap dance routine, if there ever was one. Two of my officers were assassinated, and one wounded in the assignation of Anwar Sadat. Terrorism was real in the 80’s and my office was deeply involved in combating it.
If we played our cards right and could navigate all the wickets (State, Congress, Navy, DOD, Industry), we could cut Navy’s procurement costs, with international arms sales.
To cement the first F/A 18 deal that lead to its world wide reception, took the chutzpah
of the Australian Air Force and two of their pilots. To overcome Australian opposition to the sale,”the aircraft had insufficient legs for their mission;” two of their pilots flew an F/A 18 non stop from St. Louis to Sydney. With the help of Air Force Tankers, and Sandy McDonald who had the plane modified to carry sufficient oxygen, and lube oil, and a lot of senior guidance to me of what I was risking, the pilots took off. Was I relieved when I got the following message: “Landed, two Fosters to spare” and for me a sigh of relief. The Australians also paid for the adaptation of harpoon to the aircraft…. and so it went.

Frank Alvarez – 9th Company
I first thought about writing of my second WESPAC Cruise as Chief Engineer of Midway after observing the attention that Lincoln received upon her return after a nine-month deployment. She had just set the record for the longest carrier deployment since the Vietnam War, and the longest deployment ever for a nuclear powered carrier. I am sure the ship’s company and air wing deserve all the kudos they received.

However, I don’t think anyone else except our immediate families was aware of our return as we slid into our birth at Alameda Naval Air Station on 3 March 1973 after setting the record of eleven months for the longest deployment for a carrier. As you were aware, the public reaction to the military in those days was pretty grim, and thinking about it made me a little sad. Particularly, since we had a very arduous deployment, with eleven brave aviation personnel dead or lost at sea, seven aviators missing in action and six more prisoners of war at that time. Lincoln lost none, and I don’t think it was just because of their excellent training as implied by the press.

This history story starts on 5 or 6 April 1972 as the attack carrier USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) was sailing off the coast of California only into the first several days of operational training that were supposed to last a couple of weeks. I was the Chief Engineer of this conventionally powered ship. Unexpectedly we received orders to return immediately to Alameda our homeport. That started rumors flying, the most popular being that we would deploy early to Vietnam waters. Our current date for our next deployment was around 1 June, and we needed those seven weeks to complete all our training. That rumor proved to be correct when on 7 April the CNO, Admiral Zumwalt, flew out to the Alameda Naval Air Station and gave us the news that we were needed now to help respond to a North Vietnamese massive offensive across the Cambodian border. We were to sail in just three days. Right on schedule we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on the 10th of April with no idea when we would return. Soon thereafter, Carrier Air Wing Five landed on board. Just nineteen days later, the 30th of April since we were crossing meridians to the west, the Air Wing made its first strikes over Vietnam. Ships have a life of their own, and Midway always had an outstanding reputation since her commissioning in 1945. We all knew that this would be a very successful deployment even though we did not complete our training, had only three days to load out and many in the crew and air wing did not have time to square away all their personal business before departure. Fortunately that turned out to be so.

We soon settled into a routine of long periods on Yankee Station with short visits to Subic Bay in the Philippines for some needed material upkeep. While on station we would launch aircraft every day, and replenish for about five hours every other night, refueling, taking on avgas, replenishing bombs and loading new stores. Since Midway was multi compartmented due to the WWII experience with Franklin, mine was the largest department on board with approximately 700 enlisted and 18 officers. This number was necessary to man all the compartments under engineering responsibility, stand the required watches and
perform the necessary maintenance and repairs throughout the ship. While the aviators were putting their lives on the line every day, the best thing we could do in engineering was to maintain the ship in tip-top material condition. This made it possible to always make enough speed to provide sufficient wind over the deck for safe flight operations, provide enough reliable steam to the catapults for hot shots every time, keep the arresting gear machinery in excellent working order, ensure good working aircraft and weapons elevators, maintain well air conditioning spaces, keep the gallery equipment in proper working order so excellent meals could be prepared and provide safety in the way of firefighting and damage control. This we did in an outstanding manner. The only times we had any discussions with the air wing was when we insisted that the ready rooms be furnished and enhanced using only fire retardant materials, and that water be conserved as much as possible as the air wing washed down their planes each day, and some of the air wing and ship’s company personnel took non navy showers. Incidentally, classmate John Disher was XO of VF 151 of the attached air wing.

An unexpected kudo for my department arrived by way of a letter to me from the Assistant Ship Material Officer on the COMNAVAIRPAC Staff. It appeared that Midway would be making port in Singapore in the near future, and he wanted me to investigate any possible capability for carrier repair work there. He ended the letter with the following: “In the past month I briefed VADM Holloway (The new COMSEVENTHFLT) and RADM Flanagan (The new COMCARDIVONE whose flag was on Midway) as they toured through the Staff prior to assuming their present jobs. I advised both that, in terms of material condition, I felt Midway was our best carrier. Keep up the good work!”

It was necessary that we kept Midway in the very best material condition because during the whole deployment we were always kept in the hottest spot. The above referenced letter that mentioned an impending visit to Singapore was dated 18 July. We finally got there for Christmas. This was only possible after the unrestricted bombing of North Vietnam, which was allowed by the President earlier in December, finally brought the enemy to the bargaining table. During the deployment, we eventually stood by at one time or another for every carrier out there due to material problems except for Hancock. She had a wooden flight deck and could not take on the assignments of the steel decked carriers. Kitty Hawk actually didn’t have a material problem, but she eventually had to stand down due to personnel problems.

The diversion of a port call in Singapore was greatly appreciated by the whole crew. Not only did it take place over Christmas, but also it turned out to be memorable because Bob Hope and Company came on board and put on a wonderful show. I personally felt fortunate, since that was the second time a Bob Hope show was performed on my ship during seven WESPAC deployments. He had also come aboard the cruiser Los Angeles in Buckner Bay, Okinawa just before Christmas 1958. On that occasion we newly made jay gees had the opportunity to meet and talk to Jayne Mansfield in the wardroom.

All of our successes during this deployment came with a high price for the air wing. Eleven members died or were lost at sea. Seven aviators were missing in action, and six more were prisoners of war. I do not know the final disposition of the last two groups since the air wing left the ship upon our return.

outstanding recognition for all our accomplishments in that we were jointly awarded THE PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION for the period 30 April 1972 to 9 February 1973.

Soon thereafter we were finally out chopped and we returned to Alameda on 3 March 1973. That was just one week short of eleven months of deployment. At that time that was the longest deployment for a carrier. I am not sure, but I think it still holds true as the war started to wind down after then until the end in 1975. Incidentally, my Meritorious Service Medal Citation signed by COMSEVENTHFLT states in part “…meet all operational commitments during a record setting number of combat days on an extremely arduous deployment.” That is an even better record to have than the one above. Likewise, I don’t know if that record still stands.

As I mentioned earlier, ships seem to have a life of their own. Midway always had on outstanding reputation. She was the best ship in which I ever served!

Gerry Anderson – 22nd Company
From Engineer to Small Town Newspaper Owner

After 20 years as an Air Force officer and 16 years working in the defense industry as an engineer, it was a total shock for Edie and I to find ourselves to be owners of the weekly newspaper on Molokai, Hawaii, the “Molokai Dispatch”.

A sequence of events led to this unexpected happening. In 1987, when I was transferred to the newly opened Hawaii office of ORINCON Corporation in Kailua, Oahu, we tried to find a home to purchase on Oahu, but everything we looked at had some problems, including being overpriced, leasehold land, poorly maintained, and spotty neighborhood. Thus we made the fateful decision to purchase a home of the rural neighbor island of Molokai – with 5 acres, none of the Oahu problems and a spectacular view over the channel to Diamond Head.
While I commuted to work daily via a small commuter airline ($25 round trip them), Edie started to write for a new bi-monthly newspaper the “Molokai Dispatch”. In 1992 the newspaper changed hands, became weekly, and we became more involved – with Edie writing more and me joining the Board of Directors since the owner was a resident of the mainland and at least one Hawaii resident was required on the Board.
Then in July 1993, after returning from a European cruise, we were informed by the owner that he was moving to Texas and either we could purchase the paper for the cost of the equipment or he was going to close it. Since we did not want to see Molokai without a quality newspaper, we bit the bullet and took over.

We found that owning a business in a small rural island community like Molokai presents many challenges. The population of Molokai is less than 7,000, many of whom are on welfare and drug problems are rampant. The schools are terrible and most families that care about education move away. Of the few sharp kids who finish high school on Molokai, most move away after graduation never to return. This leaves the remaining population with few skills and no work ethic – never plan on an employee showing up on Monday morning. There are very few facilities on island – no supermarket, and, in our neighborhood, no cable TV. We had to have the newspaper printed on Oahu and flown back.

When we took over the paper in 1993, we found a money-losing operation with bloated staff. We immediately reduced the staff to 2 and I attempted to run to paper while continuing full-time work at ORINCON. Then early in 1994, we found that one of our employees was embezzling money from us – she eventually served 6 months in prison and had to pay partial restitution. At that point we were down to one employee and I reduced my ORINCON job to part time, retiring completely in 1997. Edie and I rapidly learned to do everything to put out the newspaper every week – covering events, writing, selling advertising, page layout, subscriptions, and bookkeeping. We had to do it all ourselves because of the lack of any reliable employees on Molokai, and it required 7 days a week.

We found the only way to survive this high-pressure environment was to totally get away from Molokai 2 or 3 times a year. We found the most enjoyable way to do this was to go on cruises, which we did on a regular basis starting about 1995. The good part of cruising - we were totally isolated and if something went wrong at the paper we did not find out about it until we got home. The bad parts were we had to prepare in advance the issues while we were gone, leaving provisions for last-minute ads - meaning we had to find someone reliable to do the required last minute things to the paper, get it to the printer on Oahu, and make sure it got distributed, and we always had to correct the screw-ups that happened while we were gone. But getting totally away was worth it and helped us retain our sanity. We also wrote up many of the places we visited, which turned out to be a very popular travel series.

The good parts of running the newspaper included meeting some very interesting people and, through press passes, attending some interesting events, including the 50th anniversary celebration of World War II on Oahu with Pres. Clinton attending and the dedication of the Battleship Missouri museum in Pearl Harbor. One amusing incident occurred in Washington, DC when Edie had a White House Press Pass and was in the pressroom. Suddenly a group of reporters left to go elsewhere in the White House and Edie joined them. It turned to be a small meeting by Hillary Clinton with the press to discuss her health care
ideas. Everyone from the press was asked to introduce them selves. Along with the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, etc. was “Edie Anderson, Molokai Dispatch in Hawaii,” to which Ms. Clinton responded with a comment about the fine health care programs in Hawaii, and Edie corrected her.

With my battle with lymphoma in 2003, we started reevaluating our priorities and started thinking about selling the paper and getting out of the rat race. This we finally did in March 2006, selling to a 30-year old former Molokai boy who moved back from Montana to take over. We are now finally retired and The Molokai Dispatch is under a new generation.

Which brings us to our 50th reunion. One thing we both can say with sincerity is that through the years, USNA and ’57 have come to mean more and more to us and that classmates most certainly have become extended family. Personally, I would like to thank the late Ron Marryott, John Stacey and Harry Yockey for being there for us as we all fought the “Big C” together and for reminding us what remarkable people make up our alumni. Mahalo nui loa!

OC Baker - 24th Company
. . . One of my incidents while flying Marine CH-46 helicopters in HMM-364, the Purple Foxes, in Viet Nam.

Cpl King was my .50 cal gunner the day we were shot down near An Hoa. The rest of us left the helo and were lying down for protection in the rice paddy, but Cpl King stayed exposed in the helo with his machine gun and was firing these impossibly long bursts that were sure to burn up the barrel. I finally got up and ran back into the helo to tell him to fire shorter bursts. What I found was that the firing mechanism on his machine gun was sticking so as soon as he started firing he had to then pick up a nearby M-16 rifle and start beating on the .50 cal in order to get it to stop firing. Naturally he couldn't point the .50 cal very well while he was beating on it so he was very frustrated with the situation. I found the scene very amusing. We were picked up by the wingman within about 30 minutes and the aircraft was recovered later. We had been shot down with one AK-47 round that penetrated the transmission oil cooler. As mentioned earlier I have that round fastened to a plaque hanging on the wall in my home.

Copied below is the email from Jim King that prompted the response that I sent on to you. Below his email are some comments from me that have nothing to do with the yearbook input, but reflect some personal feelings.

Subj: April 14, 1969 Date: 04/15/2001 4:57:52 PM Eastern Daylight Time From: (James King)
Reply-to: (James King) To:

Mr. Baker:
I just had a great conversation with Bob Steinberg about his recent contact with you. I am the same Corporal King who stayed on the 50 Cal the day you were shot down near An Hoa. I was trying to provide covering fire to both sides by alternating guns. I realized that the gun I would leave was cooking off rounds after I quit firing and went to the other gun. When the recovery aircraft came in I was trying to get the butt plates off, as per standard procedure. Besides being scared out of my mind!

At the reunion we were trying to identify the pilot of the helicopter I was shot down on that April morning. So glad to share your memories. Who were the other crew members, if you know. I survived RVN and became an Electrical Engineer with a Mining Company. Last year was my first contact with any of the old squadron, it was great. I got to see Col Brady, Rich Bianchino, and Ernie Gomez. Rich and Ernie were on a crash we helped recover later the same day you and I were shot down.

It was so good to hear from Steinberg again, he was my first medevac crew chief. All war stories aside, I hope my message finds you well. Please drop a note sometime, I'd love to here more from you.

Jim King- former Sgt USMC- present gray haired old engineer. Maj. Owen C. "O.C." Baker Remembers
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2001 8:01 PM
Subject: Re: April 14, 1969

April 15, 2001
Hello Jim King, It is difficult to believe that it was 32 long years ago yesterday that we were together in a dry rice paddy in Viet Nam trying to stay alive until our wingman could come down and pick us up. Some aspects of that event are as clear as if they happened yesterday. I was delighted to get your email today and to learn of your great success in life after the Marine Corps. I hope that your family and friends appreciate the great courage and dedication that you showed as a helicopter crewman in the Purple Foxes.

I'll try to answer some of your questions and give you a recap of the incident from my perspective. We had picked up some grunts from out in indian country and got hit by a single AK-47 round as we were climbing out of the pick up zone. I'm not sure of the first indication we had of trouble, but the first thing I recall was the crew chief (I don't remember his name) complaining over the intercom of all the smoke back in the cabin and the uneasiness of our grunt
passengers. I turned my head around to see what the problem was and I saw seven or eight of the largest pairs of eye balls that I have ever seen in my life as those grunts were peering forward through the smoke toward the cockpit and wondering how soon we were going to explode or crash.

I began an immediate descent towards an island in the An Hoa river that we called football island because of its shape. It had a reputation for being bad indian country, but I was fairly keen on getting the helo on the ground before something bad happened. As we were descending through about seven or eight hundred feet the bad guys began firing at us. This was a mistake on their part because if they had just waited until we had landed and shut down they could have had easy pickings. Instead I added some power, hoping that the helo would last until we landed elsewhere, and extended our approach to land on the far bank of the river.
We used to fly with "bullet bouncers", heavy, rigid, curved armored shields that covered the front of our upper torso and rested on our thighs. There was a pocket in the fabric on the front of the shield that held a survival radio and the shoulder harness held the shield against our body. In order to get out of the seat one had to first remove the survival radio from the front pocket (it was held in by a large rubber band), unhook and lay aside both the shoulder harness and lap belt, pick up the heavy bullet bouncer, set it out of the way up on the glare shield, unplug the microphone and earphone cords, and then turn and crawl out of the seat and back through the opening beside the control closet. It normally took a while to accomplish this exit and it could not be done gracefully.

Our co pilot on that flight was Sam Ware and I don't think that he had been in country very long and I guess being shot down was sort of a shock to him. I had the helo shut down and had gone through the exit process so fast that by the time Sam turned his head toward me to ask me over the intercom what he should do that I was already unplugged and crawling out. (I expect that that was a world record for exiting a CH-46, I know it was for me.) I can still remember how amused I was by the look of surprise on Sam's face when he saw that he was about to become the sole owner of that helo. It didn't take him long to scramble out after me.

Our wing man that day was Lt. "Beach" Baldwin. I guess he had to go off-load his troops before he could pick us up, but it didn't really take that long. Besides we had you on the .50 cal machine guns and those few grunts with us so I think we were in pretty good hands during the wait.

Beach has been one of my favorite people ever since that pick up and it wasn't until years later that people told me a story about him. As squadron operations officer I had the reputation of being a pretty demanding (read unreasonable) task master among the junior pilots. I never really realized the extent of this reputation until I heard this story. Beach was my wing man on another mission (I'm not sure whether it was before or after April 14,1969) and he was suffering from a case of diarrhea, but he was so afraid of asking me to interrupt our
mission long enough to go some place that he eventually went in his flight suit and then flew for some time after rather than let me know that he needed some relief.

You mentioned the crash of Rich Bianchino that same day. That would be the one that killed Lt. Mike Nickerson. Mike had been with the squadron since up at Phu Bai and was considered one of the old hands, very experienced and very capable. He was the one who dressed up as Santa Claus in December of 1968 when we flew beer out to the grunts.

I later met Mike's widow and learned that he had a very young daughter at the time of his death -- so tragic to lose so many good Marines.

Enough rambling from an old man. Let me say again how happy I am to know that another one of our Purple Foxes has survived our time together in Nam and is living a long happy life after the Marine Corps.

Semper Fi, OC

[OC Comments:] Cpl King was one of the very fine young enlisted Marines that volunteered to be a helicopter crewman in Viet Nam. To this day I continue to ponder at the motivation and be amazed by this purely voluntary act. It was dangerous, we suffered many aircraft losses and Marine fatalities (including some that same day in the crash mentioned in Cpl King's email above), the enlisted men were under absolutely no pressure or requirement to fly, and the additional flight pay was trivial.

I attribute their actions to the fact that they realized that such flying crewmen were absolutely essential to the success of the helicopter's mission (unlike jet aircraft where the enlisted stayed back at base on the ground) and their desire to be with fellow Marines who were actually confronting the enemy.

Their faith in the ability of the (sometimes very young and inexperienced) Marine helicopter pilots up front and their steadfastness in the face of long mission hours and extreme danger during the missions have earned my undying respect for every enlisted Marine helicopter crewman.

Pete Baker – 8th Company
Subject: Submarines are Targets

Last week the former boy soprano from San Antonio, Aloha Hemphill, made a snide remark about surface ships are nothing more than "targets" for submarines. Let me tell y'all that the opposite is the case (and it can get you thrown out of bars). After commissioning King (DLG-10) in Bremerton, Wa. in 1961 we proceeded to San Diego for shakedown training and firing of our ASROC system among other things. One Friday we teamed up with an old diesel boat for
a little ASW games and live firing of the ASROC torpedo. After several hours of "games" we fired the torpedo. Our sonar gang evaluated a hit and passed the information down to the submarine via underwater phone. The submarine reported back that it was a clean miss and that they were surfacing and then proceeding to San Diego for The Broadway Pier and would see us there as we were both assigned "Visit Ships" for the weekend. As she surfaced about a 10000 yards off our port side what do think we saw? Nothing but the after half of a torpedo stuck in its sail. We couldn't break out the cameras fast enough.
Nothing from the submarine as she went to full speed and high-tailed it for home. We arrived about two hours later as we had one more exercise to complot. After mooring we went over to take a look. No torpedo; and in its place was a piece of freshly painted over canvas patch.

Ten days later we were in Pearl Harbor(part of our shakedown cruise). A group of us decided to pay a visit to the Sub Base O'club with some pictures in hand.
After a few cool ones we started to hang our art work with cool things written over them-such as "submarines are nothing but targets for destroyers". We couldn't believe the lack of humor displayed by the manager when he asked us to take our pictures (or words to that effect) and leave. Perhaps some of you may have seen the picture as it appeared in some publications over the next several years.

Jerry Barczak – 5th Company
June14 to July 1, 1985 was a once-in-a-lifetime event for anyone. I was a hostage of the then-current Mideast terrorists. After being safely home and over twenty years, I have not researched the incident, have not read books and magazine and newspaper articles or have not viewed TV program tapes I have been given. All are boxed and put away for any of my descendants that might be interested in grand dad or great grand dad. Usually, conversation regarding the incident was brought up by the other party, as I normally did not initiate it.
Other than few questions in public, I have entertained only one reporter’s scheduled interview and have made one safety video for my employer. The following is my recollection of events in which I participated or that which I learned during discussions with others in captivity.

On graduation I was commissioned into the Civil Engineering Corps (CEC), so my career was in maintenance and construction management of military facilities throughout the world. I retired from the Navy in 1980 and started my second career in civil engineering positions in the Middle East. In June, 1985, I was working on the construction of an Egyptian air base and took home leave to attend my daughter’s high school graduation from Mission Bay High School in San Diego.

I left Cairo with planned connection in Athens, Greece to the United States, but my plane was late and I missed the connection. As I was walking in the Athens
airport evaluating my travel problem, an airline hostess recognized my concern and asked about my situation. On hearing my needs she said there was TWA plane to Rome where I could get a direct flight to California. Fortunately it was leaving shortly so she called the plane to wait. It had left the parking area, so they took me out to the tarmac in a truck with steps and I climbed into the plane. What luck! The last person on TWA flight 847 with seat 4D in the first class section. My luggage can catch up with me in San Diego.

My row mate in seat 4C was a young man from the Chicago area who was a reserve Army Major on active duty to assist in the planning of a joint military training exercise. Although I didn’t know it at the time the passengers included
U. S. Navy enlisted men who had been working construction projects in Greece. They carried passports which indicated they were active duty military. Also, I believe some passengers carried diplomatic passports. Within fifteen minutes we took off and while the plane was climbing a passenger ran past our row to the front of the airplane. My row partner said, “He’s got a grenade”. All was out of my view and I was taken completely by surprise. My initial reaction was, “uuhh, what faction?” because there had been several aircraft hijackings in the early eighties. All passengers were caught off guard, but I believe Seaman Stethem and one other navy man rushed forward in attempt to stop the hijack. The hijacker stopped them with a handgun and told them to return to their seats. Later I found out that there were two hijackers on the flight and a third was denied passage and left behind in Athens where he was arrested. During the flight air hostess Uli Derickson was able to converse with the hijackers in German and she was excellent in passing any word very quietly advising the passengers of what was happening , but did so very carefully as the hijackers were against it.

The next announcement from the plane captain was that we had a couple passengers that want to go to Beirut, Lebanon. We were told to sit quietly in our seats. After a short while those of us in first class were moved to the rear of the plane and I was ordered to sit on the floor in the small space between the seat row and the fuselage in one of the last rows. Everyone was ordered not to talk, to bend over and place our heads between our knees. For me, being on the floor in so small a space was a very uncomfortable position and later I developed leg cramps. (Later this lead to an individual event for me.)The hijackers collected all ties and belts from passengers so these could not be used against them.

We landed in Beirut where some children and women, believed to be Muslims, were allowed to leave the plane. All the rest remained on board while the plane was refueled. After about two hours. we took off for an unknown site and we were told to remain in our bent over position. For me though I now had a seat. It turned out that we landed in Algiers where the hijackers originally wanted to go but fuel was too low to fly there, hence the stop in Beirut. In Algiers more children and women were allowed to leave, but here also, the beatings of the Army Major and two U.S. Navy men began. The beatings were done in the first class area so very few, possibly only the plane staff, observed these actions. The

men were told to crouch in the doorway and were then pounded with a seat arm that hijackers had broken from a seat. We heard the blows and the cries of the beaten.

In Algiers the hijackers apparently do not get any satisfaction and after about five hours the plane is refueled and we take off again. During the flight we learn we will land again in Beirut. The pilot advises that he plans to land even though the Beirut tower says, “No”, and will not turn on the runway lights. Essentially he says, “Here we go”, and proceeds to descend as best he can on his instruments. Later I found out that the hijackers wanted to trade the aircraft and all passengers for hundreds of Lebanese or Muslim prisoners held by Israel. We were political hostages.

Now Day Two starts in Beirut. It is here that Seaman Stethem is beaten again and executed. When this occurred, the flight attendant, Miss Derickson, announced, “You may want to plug your ears. You will soon hear a sound you might not have heard before.” Then there was a sharp pop that was definitely a gun shot. What it meant we did not know at the time, but found out later that Seaman Stethem was killed and thrown off the plane to the tarmac. Early in this stop more gunmen came on and it was the Hezbollah, the group to which the hijackers belonged, and Amal militia, now to number about twelve. At this stop I think the military, diplomatic and persons that had Jewish-sounding names were taken from the plane.

No one had been allowed out of their seats, even to go to the toilet. Eventually, after a rather long time, one person raised her (his) hand and asked permission to go. After some conversation between the hijackers in their language, they said, ”OK, but leave the door open.” One of them then stood by the open door. After the first person had gone another raised her(his) hand and was ok’d. After this happened four or five times, the guards were frustrated and changed the routine. Now any one could go, only one at a time after the previous was back in her (his) seat. Without a doubt we all were physically relieved after a while.

After a very short stay and with the addition of gunmen to the original two we took off, again not knowing where we were headed. It turned out we returned to Algiers and stayed day and night two. Here the potential third hijacker, arrested in Athens, arrived under the care of Greek officials, one of whom was very distinguished and personable. He tells the hijackers that for their potential third hijacker to be released back to them he wants all the women, children eighteen and younger and any Greek persons. As different individuals stood and said a few Greek words, he said, “OK, outside”. Then he chose a few “older “ - over eighteen, but young looking - children to be freed. As a closer he insisted that people with health problems also should be released . In the end most of those on the plane were now released at this stop which left about thirty of us as plane hostages plus those taken off earlier to captivity in Beirut. Day Three we flew back to Beirut and within the next two days a few more Greek citizens and medical problem persons were released. The hostage count was then thirty
seven male passengers plus three male pilots. Also later two or three men who had extreme health problems were released from captivity.

Now was robbery day. In the previous days the hijackers occasionally stole such items as watches, earrings or other jewelry of the passengers, but now each of remaining hostages were called individually to the first class section where they and their wallets were searched. Cash, traveler’s checks and jewelry were taken. In my case while going through my wallet they passed over my retired military identification card, probably not realizing the color differed from the active duty cards. Returning to my seat I decided to remove my ID card and put it in my suit coat breast pocket - which later brought it back to their attention.
During the robbery phase they rifled through everyone’s carry-on items and I lost the souvenirs and gifts I was bringing home. Also this day they broke into the plane’s luggage area and went through many of the suitcases, scattering much on the area near the plane. We were parked well off the active area of the airport.

Everyone lost their traveler’s checks and one of the men lost three very expensive cameras. He was an architect and lost reviewed engineering drawings of palaces he was designing for some Saudi Arabians. Luckily, I think he had the originals in his home office in the states. Later the hijackers initiated what I thought must be some reaction to some of their guilt - an act to replace or trade for what they had taken. They passed out traveler’s checks to most of us without regard to names. I never found mine, but I found the owner of those given to me and passed them back. Regarding the expensive cameras, the one who took them gave the architect a low cost 35mm camera.

Since most of the initial passengers were left off in Algiers all hostages were male. While we were awake during the day we were seated in the center section of the plane, three in each row on each side of the passageway. At night for sleeping they allowed us to split up and each take a three seat section for a bed. Food and drink for us was provided from the kitchens of the airfields wherever we were. Now the additional guards that had come onto the plane were much less fierce and cruel than the original two, yet it was obvious that they were part of the operation. They had their weapons and had also placed what they said was an explosive system on the deck of the fuselage. During the day as we sat in our required area their leader would talk with us to improve his English. In my opinion he was an excellent leader, had complete control of his men and if he had been on the right side, I think he would have done well. When asked, he told us he had been trained in Egypt and he belonged to the Islamic Jihad. That was the first I had heard this group mentioned , so now we were held by the Hezbollah, Amal and Islamic Jihad, with the Amal probably being the most stable of the three. Another interesting fact was that the parents and families knew that these men were in these radical organizations and had hijacked the airplane.
On the early morning of Day Four. approximately two or three A.. M., we were awakened a few at a time by the guards and told to leave the plane. Only the pilots remained. When told to leave I said I had to get my jacket from the seat area I was in during the day, but they said, “No, move out.” Later I learned that the reason we left the plane was because they feared a commando type attack on the plane. We were all taken to an apartment house and split into two or three groups. A day-or-two later eight of us were moved to a house which was our stay until release. Luckily after we left the plane to the apartment or house we were able to shower, shave and somewhat wash our under clothes. They gave us toiletries from the airline stock. In each place there were a few beds, but most of us slept on the floor throughout the space available. The stay in these areas was rather boring and time moved slowly. In fact, throughout the entire time of our captivity, I felt rather at ease, expecting to be released eventually, but I also realized the guards would shoot any of us at any time if ordered to do so by the leaders. (Note. I kept no notes, so the happenings of the following days are not identified to the day, but are essentially in somewhat of a chronological order.)

Three personal incidents are principal remembrances for me. The first happened on the airplane. One of the guards had a habit of walking the aisle and pressing the trigger on his handgun - a forty five. He walked by me, pointed the gun at my head and pulled the trigger. Then laughed. It seemed a loud snap and happened so quickly I just froze. Thank goodness I heard the laugh.
The second happened in the apartment when I suffered very bad leg cramps which I thought were the result of the aircraft cramping and maybe some dehydration. At night I tried to sleep against a wall with my legs raised up to the wall, hoping for some relief. At this time one of the guards was a fellow named Ali. I believe he and my fellow hostages told one of the terrorist leaders of my trouble and they took me to a doctor who prescribed a relaxer prescription which was picked up at a drug store. Three men took me to the doctor and pharmacy in a Mercedes Benz and sped through the streets as if no other cars were on the road. I returned to the group with the medicine which did help stop the leg cramping. I admit that while I was away from the group I was not sure I would be returning. The third incident had to do with my military ID card. Since my suit coat was left on the plane, when the pockets were checked by the guards, they found the ID card. At this time I was with the other seven in the house and one of the captors came and asked if I was in the navy and what I did. I told him I retired in 1980, was a civil engineer and was working on construction of water and sewer lines, roads and buildings in Egypt. He wanted to know specifically what I did in the Navy, so I told him I built and maintained military facilities such as airbases or ship ports. His English was not very good and he appeared confused by my answers, so he left. Later another man talked with me and understood everything, especially my retirement and not being in the active Navy for the last five years, so he told me to just forget the incident. His English was completely American, so I asked him how he came to speak so well. He answered that he had attended college in California. What a surprise! The Hezbollah was extremely angry with the USS New Jersey’s shelling of the coast with their 16 inch guns and one of the Hezbollah guards had lost all members of his family.

Overall the group of Hezbollah, Amal and Islamic Jihad had very strong ideas. This was obvious when they were extremely excited on the arrival of the media persons to Beirut. I overhead a few speaking in English and they were amazed that a full plane load of newspaper and TV people came to cover their hijacking and holding of hostages. One said something like, “Wow, a whole plane full.
We’ll sure get our views to the people of America and the world.” Their intention was to get the world behind their desire to have Israel release the hundreds of Muslim prisoners being held and to embarrass the U. S. A.

Not then, but now looking back, some incidents were humorous. While in the first apartment, Ali - the guard - took the hostages two or three at a time upstairs to another apartment to have tea and cookies with his mother and family members. Once he set his rifle in the corner of the room, forgot and left it. Later he came back excited and asked where the rifle was. Since it was obviously no advantage to any of us at the time, it was pointed out to him and he retrieved it. He looked extremely relieved. Another happening took place in the house where we were eight. The house had an outside second floor landing which was always occupied by one of the armed guards. One, a young man looking about eighteen or nineteen had a habit of cocking his pistol and pulling the trigger while pointing the barrel downward. One day our food delivery came by a couple men in a van while the young man was on guard. He did his trigger pulling but this time a shell was in the chamber and he shot the van driver in the shoulder. He was taken away immediately but returned in a few days. We asked him about the shooting and he said he was disciplined and ordered to visit the hospital and stay with the injured man a few hours everyday.

While in the house the eight of us got along well, but we all kept relatively to ourselves. We had not known each other before and each had his own worries. The men who slept in the bedroom searched the room and found an engineering survey of the house. One kept it and passed it to the interrogators in Frankfurt after our release. We did pass time by playing cards which were found in the house - blackjack, poker, hearts and crazy eights. Fortunately we were allowed to listen to the radio, so we got news about us a couple times a day as the status of our hijacking was always being reported by BBC. It was one day late June when there was almost no news, so we concluded that something was up. But what??

Twice we were taken out to very nice hotels for dinner, but mainly to be presented to the newspaper and TV reporters. Many of the thirty-seven were interviewed but one fellow and I kept to ourselves. Now and then I would walk in the background of someone being interviewed hoping I would be on camera so my family could see I was alright. As it turned out, someone must have kept track of the interviews because the two of us were eventually told we had to sit for a short interview by the media. I’ve blanked out whatever was asked or how I answered.
After the news lessened on BBC we felt that our government must be negotiating and maybe we would be released on the 4th of July as a grand gesture. On June 28 we were taken to a hotel for a big dinner affair, one with a large cake. During dinner we were told we would be going home but no date was given, yet obviously our hopes were raised. The next day we were taken to a school yard which was under heavy guard, more than any previous time. The media was there also. We expected to be freed that day, but not all hostages were there; a few were still in confinement somewhere. I talked to some of the Navy men and they told me they were being held in a basement prison.
Apparently negotiations that were underway did not meet the captors satisfaction and later I learned there were internal differences among the three factions holding us. We were sent back to our holding areas very disappointed. On June 30 in late afternoon we were back to the school yard with all hostages. The Red Cross was there with a convoy of automobiles into which we were loaded, told we being released and to be driven to Damascus, Syria. Though the distance is about one hundred miles, the trip was about five hours, a long five hours because of the many check points and our psychological anxiety.

We arrived in Damascus very late at night and we entered the Sheraton hotel to be met by the U. S. ambassador who told us we would not be staying at the hotel. Rather we would be taken directly to a waiting U. S. Air Force C-141 which we boarded and took off in the dark of the night for Rhein Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany. At this point I believe we all felt we were on our way home. It was early morning July 1, 1985.

At the time of the hijacking my brother, Edward, was a Chief aboard a carrier in the Med working in the Intelligence Division. When the ship learned I was a hostage, he was immediately removed from intelligence and re-assigned to another division. He took leave when he heard we were being released and met me at the Frankfurt hospital where all of us were taken for a health check-up and a debriefing interrogation. When I saw Edward I was very pleasantly surprised, great to have a family member nearby. He stayed with me until I returned to my home, then in Memphis, Tennessee. I also visited my other family members in San Diego and West Allis, Wisconsin.

While in the hospital we were given physical and psychological checks. I thought that I had weathered the incident fine, but I guess I fooled myself. When I read my record apparently did have some psychological downs. The doctor had written that I looked older than my age and that I answered easy questions slowly or incorrectly. While in Frankfurt I was asked numerous times for interviews or to schedule appearances on TV after I returned to the U. S. I decided not to. As it turned out my employer was happy that I never voiced for whom I worked, which at that time was General Dynamics Services Company. As for in- depth newspaper interviews after I returned , I did agree to one with a Wall Street Journal reporter with whom my son had established a good relationship.
The interrogation or debriefing was held very soon after we were in Frankfurt. Each of us was taken individually and asked to just talk our remembrances.
Then we were shown photographs, asked to identify any we recognized and sign our name on the back of those photos. In my case I mentioned the house across the street from the apartment, what it looked like and that in the garage there were military type vehicles. I drew a sketch of the front of the building showing the under building garage entrance from the street. Also I gave the medicine packaging and bag from the pharmacy to a second set of interrogators after I was with my family in Wisconsin. These had names and addresses of interest.

TWA flew us freed hostages and our family members from Frankfurt back to the United States on July 2, a most pleasant trip. We landed at Andrews Air Base in Washington, D. C. Just prior to my departure from the plane, someone gave me a small U. S. flag which I waved as I came through the aircraft door.
That is one picture I remember seeing in the newspaper. Even today I have two very fond memories of my return that day. First, as I was stepping through the plane doorway I saw classmates and posters of the USNA class of 1957. The second was the honor of stepping off the plane, disembarking to shake hands with President Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan. Both I will always remember.

As to my family discovering my situation. When I was not on my scheduled flight that landed in San Diego and there was a reported plane hijacking, my son felt something was up. He checked with the airline and was told to phone a certain number. During that call he was told I was on the hijacked plane and he was asked to provide contact names and numbers. And of course shortly thereafter the media had the names. With my home in Memphis and my family in three places my oldest son took charge because he remembered that I had talked with all my children before starting work in the Middle East back in 1980 and told them that if anything ever happened they should keep my background history to themselves and not talk about my work. With that in mind and since the newspapers and TV had enough other people that would talk with them time passed with minimum pressure from the media.

I did lose my carry-on baggage, watch, passport, money, military ID card, other valuables and suit coat, but I did not lose my academy 1957 ring since I did not carry it with me to my overseas assignments. My checked luggage showed up in San Diego as ticketed and I retrieved it after my return to the states. My daughter’s graduation classmates wore yellow flowers on their graduation gowns at Mission Bay High School and she was asked to say a few words. I did have a few welcome home parties and after a month I returned to my work in Egypt.

It’s been a long time and I do have two concerns when I compare the terrorists of today to the captors of TWA flight 847. First, today’s terrorists are much more violent and ferocious and it is likely that many of us thirty-seven would probably have been killed. Second, the terrorists of today live within the communities with good Muslim people yet these good people do not report the bad in their mist. Difficult for me to understand. Luckily at the time of my
incident, the radicals’ purpose was to bring world attention to their programs and captured aircraft with passengers were normally returned. From that time on, every day is great!

Don Beatty - 12th Company
Tales from a fish Farmer

As I was getting closer to the end of my naval career I was stationed in the Philippines at NAS Cubi Point. I began to think about what I wanted to do after the Navy. All my experience and education had been oriented towards large organizations---Operations Analysis, Masters in Personal Administration and Naval Aviation. I had the idea that I wanted to work for myself and out doors but didn’t know how to get there. I had neither experience nor heritage in farming and at 47 years old I wasn’t a good candidate for carving trails in the Forest Service. I somehow thought that I might find something in the Philippines. I had taken a different approach to that country than some others around me--I had joined the Local Kiwanis service club in Olongapo, became friends with the local officials and business people and had started to learn the dialect.

When a billet in Manila opened at the Philippine American Mutual Defense Board I applied for it, was selected and moved the family from Subic Bay to Manila. We lived in a civilian neighborhood with all Philippine neighbors. I became friends with a number of them and was invited to go to many of their activities.

A few of them were getting started in what was then a fledgling industry—the “ranching” of fish. Prior to that time their favorite fish [bangus} was raised only in earthen ponds. They were going to raise them in huge pens constructed of bamboo and fish net. There was a huge market for that particular fish.

I was invited to accompany them in their business activities on weekends and evenings. I watched their operation for more than a year and observed their problems such as typhoons, securing nets underwater, security. I helped them wherever I could with weather reports, [the Philippines had no good civilian weather forecasting], engineering on their pens, underwater repairs [I was into SCUBA and built them hooka rigs and instructed them in their use] and helped with their communications for security..

One day a group of them arrived at my house and asked if I would like to join them as an independent operator doing the same type of business. They introduced me to a man who told me that he would personally teach me the business from production to marketing. I jumped at the chance, found my wife in one of her weak moments to get her concurrence, retired from the Navy, sold my home in the US to raise cash and became a fish farmer.

We would plant fingerlings in a large area with fine netting. They would eat the natural food in the water. As they grew we would change the netting . At harvest we caught them in a net similar to a purse seine that is used in fishing at sea, dump them into a boat filled with ice water where they died instantly and haul them to market where they were sold by the washtub full. On a given night we would sell 100-200 tubs of fish.

The business was terrifically exciting and enjoyable, but there was one big problem,--The paychecks came only once a year. I had a large native crew who counted on me for their livelihood and if there was a poor crop of fish to market it was a long time between paychecks. I began to look for a business with a more frequent cash flow. I decided to become a poultry farmer in addition to my fish operation.

I approached a large corporation who sold chickens and asked them to give me a contract to grow chickens. After their initial surprise they agreed and gave me advise as to where to locate the farm if I could find land to lease. I needed 10 acres of land for the farm and found a parcel that was in the area they suggested, but it was 100 acres in size. The owner would not break it up so I agreed to lease the 100 acres.

After reading a huge book from cover to cover on everything from poultry house construction to chicken husbandry I built and began to operate a poultry raising business that reached 500.000 chickens per year. Soon a decision had to be made as to how to utilize the remaining 90 acres of land that had been historically sugarcane farm. I decided that chickens could always eat corn and started a corn farming operation. However, there was a problem with farming in the Philippines as there were only two seasons---wet and dry. I had to find irrigation for use during the dry season to efficiently grow corn and there was none available in the Philippines. That’s when I became acquainted with some Israelis and had a sprinkler system shipped in from Israel, The first day it was put into operation people came from miles around to view it.. The Israelis decided that I would make a good guinea pig for trying to introduce new vegetables to the Philippine market and with their help I began to grow a bit of everything from melons to egg plant. I became the largest producer of “baby “corn in the islands and introduced “super sweet” corn to the Philippine market.

Everything went well except for Typhoons, which completely destroyed my entire operation twice. Trying to get started again in a foreign country with bank interest rates as high as 42% was a huge challenge.

My friends from the fish business decided to try to grow shrimp in the same manner in which we grew fish. I was selected to be the main project monitor for the group and found myself living on a gorgeous beach under palm trees in a one room hut with a thatched roof which had been especially constructed for me and which had the only flush toilet within 20 miles. No TV, only short wave radio and
the nearest telephone on top of a mountain that took 2 hours to climb. When my wife, Kay, would fly from Manila to visit me the local people would bring their children to see the “white woman” and to see my toilet. After a year I saw that the shrimp project wasn’t going to work and returned to Manila.

The business environment, the natural environment and the political situation had by that time deteriorated to a point that I decided to return to the US and start another career. After having spent 14 years there I felt sad at leaving. It had been a very exciting, challenging and sometimes dangerous period in my life that I still often reflect upon. I had survived rebellions, insurgencies and business problems that most Americans would not believe but was left with a treasure chest of great memories.

Jim Beatty – 4th Company
Left on the Bridge of a Diving Submarine

Sometime during early to mid 1960, U.S.S.Halfbeak (SS352) was at sea conducting operations. On one dive, a dog on the upper conning tower hatch broke as the OOD slammed it shut. To avert disaster, the newly qualified Quartermaster of the Watch joined the OOD in pulling the hatch shut and keeping it shut until we could surface. The QMOW and the OOD got wet but the rest of us, except maybe the helmsman, stayed dry. As I recall, submarine tender Fulton fixed the hatch, the QMOW got a well deserved BZ, and shortly thereafter Halfbeak headed to Bermuda. During the port call, two events that contribute to this yarn happened. We embarked a few ROTC Midshipmen for a training cruise and I bought a pair of sea boots.

A few days later we were at sea conducting dives. I was the OOD, there were two dungaree clad lookouts, and there was a tall, gangly, khaki clad, wide eyed Midshipman on the Bridge with us. I had explained to him the process of clearing the bridge. I had also decided that he would probably be a little slow on the ladder. The QMOW was the recent hero, at that moment busy in the after end of the Conning Tower plotting a fix. The skipper, then Lcdr Frank Adams, stuck his head up the hatch and gave me the order to "take her down". I increased speed, gave the order to clear the bridge, and while watching the quick lookouts and slow Midshipman drop through the hatch, rang the diving alarm two times. To my surprise, the hatch slammed shut after the Midshipman was through. I rang the diving alarm a third time, shouted "You left me on the bridge, You left me on the bridge" on the 1MC and stepped back to see if I had beaten the Interior Communications Electrician to the cutoff switch. I remember thinking about crawling up the cowling and that I really didn't want to get my new seaboots wet!

A few observations/comments. The noise of the air from the ballast tank vents is loud but fortunately for me, brief in this instance. It is very quiet on the
bridge after the diesels shut down. Halfbeak didn't settle very far into the ocean before the welcome sound of high pressure air to the ballast tanks and the rumble of the low pressure blower were heard.

A brief time later, the upper hatch wheel turned and the hatch opened slowly. Captain Adams appeared with a serious look on his face. I remember saying "Good drill Captain". He quietly responded "That was no drill". It seems that the QM was not aware that the Captain had ordered a dive and didn't realize that a midshipman was on the Bridge. He raced from the after end of the conning tower when he heard the diving alarm, saw two sets of dungarees and a set of khaki go by, and observed a wide open hatch. He did the right thing by slamming and dogging the hatch. (At least I don't think he had it in for me!)

As is said, all is well that ends well. Besides, I have a great sea story that has been told many times.

Positive Leadership

One day in November during First Class year, a week or so before the Army game, I returned to my room very unhappy that I had blown a quiz. I angrily slammed our door open and shortly thereafter heard the sound of shattering glass. What to do? I didn't want a report chit that might keep me from going to Philadelphia. Well, it was close to the big game and the Plebes had started to decorate so I decided to make the best of a bad situation. Somewhere in Bancroft I found some cardboard, tacks and tape and proceeded to build a Mule Meat Market. I put an awning above the now very open door window and a counter at the base. I filled some khaki socks with paper, wrapped them in "Beat Army" stickers and strung them up like sausages. I moved the in charge of room tag to my name and hoped for the best.

It wasn't long before our Company Officer, Captain Patton visited our room as part of his normal rounds. The conversation went something like "Who built this?" "I did, sir" "Very funny Beatty". I waited for the other shoe to drop.

Saturday morning arrived and I boarded the bus for the great adventure. Maybe he would hold the report chit until next week and I could work it off before Christmas leave!

The game was a tie, the parties were fun, the weekend was great but reality set in and we were back Sunday evening. I left the Mule Meat Market in place, figuring that I could wait until Monday for the inevitable.

Upon my return from class Monday morning, I was greeted by a Bancroft Hall maintenance man who informed me that if I would take down my display, he would put in a new pane of glass. As you can imagine the "Market" disappeared in a hurry and suddenly our room was back to normal.
To this day I am convinced that Captain Patton had the maintenance man camped outside our door with replacement glass in hand, waiting for my return, letting me off the hook, but once again exercising very positive leadership.

Bert Benjes – 20th Company

While browsing through SHIPMATE, the Naval Academy Alumni Association’s monthly
magazine, I came across the obituary of my favorite USS CONE (DD-866) skipper, Charles A. Taylor, Jr. He was skipper from December 1959 to March 1962. Enclosed is that article.
I remember him as a pleasure to serve under, a good man with a great sense of humor, and a man dedicated to God, country, and Navy.

The photo was taken while he was a midshipman, class of 1943. His class was graduated early, in June of ‘42 because of the war. He told me once that he was blessed by [being] given a ship with a great fleet reputation, great wardroom, and great crew. I was aboard from August of ‘58 through February of ‘62. During those years we had a number of Academy grads aboard: Commodore Keating class of ‘38, Dave Altwegg ‘52, Bill Romoser ‘57, myself ‘57, Hank Surratt ‘58, Dave Doelger ‘59, and Woody Burns ‘60.

I wrote and invited him to the second CONE reunion, but as his enclosed letter to me indicates, he regretfully declined. In his letter, he mentions, among other things, the emergency anchoring in the Bahrain channel. If I may, allow me to elaborate on that. We were not exactly in the channeL. I was Navigator and Operations Officer as we were leaving Bahrain in a dense early morning fog. We were piloting by sighting numbered buoys close aboard to starboard because of the extremely limited visibility. Captain Taylor was in his chair on the open bridge. I was in the pilothouse piloting and recommending course changes to stay in the channel. Commodore Keating came from below into the pilothouse and asked me what I was looking for. I replied that I was trying to sight buoy number 6 for a turn to starboard to stay in the channel The commodore looked out and mistook buoy 8 for buoy 6 and said, “There’s your buoy.” Assuming that we missed a few buoys because of the limited visibility, I recommended a 90- degree course change to starboard to the OOD, LTJG Dave Powell. He complied without question. This early turn headed us directly for the beach. Fortunately, we had the fathometer lit off and I took note that the water was rapidly becoming uncomfortably shallow I computed that we would scrape off the sonar dome in about 90 seconds if we didn’t stop and reverse course.
Well, the First Class Quartermaster was having a hissy fit and I was becoming increasingly concerned. (officers don’t have hissy fits.) I eased out to the bridge and whispered to the OOD that we should stop engines and back down full right now because we were going to run aground in less than 75 seconds. Well, Dave Powell was my best friend and he thought that I was kidding. I had no time to explain, so in my loudest voice I announced to the captain “SIR, THE SHIP IS STANDING INTO DANGER. I RECOMMEND THAT WE BACK DOWN

EMERGENCY NOW” Well, all hell broke loose. The commodore bolted below as

we backed down and dropped the hook. The water was so shallow and so clear that we could see it lying on the bottom. When the fog cleared a few hours later, we found our forward 5-inch gun battery pointing directly at a nice, sandy swimming beach loaded with sun worshippers less than 100 yards away. We had about 5 feet of water under the sonar dome. There’s an old Navy saying, ‘A collision at sea can ruin your day.” Well, so can a near grounding. That is the true story of our emergency anchoring in Bahrain. Captain Taylor was very kind in my fitness report for that period. He wrote, “LT Benjes is a much better gunnery officer than navigator.” Even with all of that, I managed to retire as a captain. The Navy is good.

Among the things that Captain Taylor forgot to mention was the Battle Efficiency “E” awarded CONE for excellence in gunnery in 1961. As Gun Boss, I was particularly proud of that award. Thanks go to GM1 Dubay, FTC Fisher, and those great 5-inch gun crews who won it for the Skipper. A belated “WELL DONE” to those guys.

Larry Bustle - 8th Company
Stormy 01

On February 15, 1968 I reported to the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Danang Air Base, South Vietnam. I had just recently upgraded to the F-4 Phantom II aircraft, and I was assigned to combat duty as an F-4 pilot. My reporting date, February 15, 1968, was just two weeks after the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive began, so everyone at Danang was still a bit jumpy. North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers had penetrated the base and were repelled after a serious gunfight on the base proper.
I was one of very few pilots in the wing who had been a fighter pilot throughout his career to that point. Most of the pilots in the wing were “retreads” from airlift, air training command or bomber career paths and many of them had reached relatively high rank, some by virtue of Strategic Air Command’s spot promotion program. I was also a graduate of the USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada, so I was rapidly pressed into duty as a flight lead and eventually assigned to work in the Weapons and Tactics section of the wing. I was the 5th ranking major in my flight, which shows how high the rank structure was in the wing. There were four flights in a squadron at that time, with a total of about 10-12 people in a flight.
I flew all types of missions, including close air support, air interdiction and air- to-air, in South Vietnam and in the lower part of North Vietnam (Route Package 1), although my wing’s mission at that time did not include the upper reaches of North Vietnam where the Migs were located. By September of 1968 I had 130 total combat missions, including 68 over North Vietnam. In many of our missions over North Vietnam we worked with the Misty Fast FACs (Forward Air Controllers). The Mistys flew two-seat F-100F Super Sabres, usually with two pilots in the aircraft to increase the number of eyeballs looking around. Their
mission was to get to know the “Pack 1” terrain intimately and search out and find trucks (“movers”), barges, surface to air missiles (SAMs), anti-aircraft artillery (AAA), and any other targets that might be considered of high value.
Then they would work with strike aircraft and designate the targets using smoke rockets. As they searched for targets along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and in the southern part of North Vietnam, Mistys would usually try never to get below 450 knots or below 4500 feet above the ground, and they tried to keep changing altitude and direction continuously so as not to provide an easy target for Vietnamese AAA. If the Mistys decided to go below 4500 ft. to get a better look at a possible target they would up their speed to 500 kts. or above.
After entering NVN on a strike mission, if for some reason we could not attack our previously assigned target, we would contact Misty and see if they had a target for us. We would be flying usually in a flight of two F-4s. The Misty would direct us to the location of a target, describe it to us along with a recommended direction of attack, brief us on any defenses he had spotted in the area, and then we would set up to attack it if we had the proper weapons. We would sometimes wind up in NVN with napalm, high-drag retard weapons and a 20mm gun pod, all of which are generally regarded as low altitude weapons, so we would probably not attack a target in NVN in a high threat area (i.e., one reported to have a lot of AAA). If we had slick bombs (those without retarding fins or chutes) we would attack the target that the Misty had found for us. As strike aircraft, we also tried to fly faster than 450 knots and above 4500 ft. and to keep the aircraft moving around as much as possible. The policy for missions over North Vietnam was that we dive bomb at a minimum of 45 degrees dive angle, so a dive bomb pass would usually start about 10,000 ft. above the ground. When we rolled in on a target we would try to stabilize the bomb sight on the aim point, get the dive angle and airspeed stabilized on the desired numbers, then pickle and pull out so as not to go below 4500 ft. With the accuracy of the gun sight of that day we could not dive bomb consistently with great accuracy, although our accuracy improved as the number of missions increased. This policy also posed a problem for those times we wound up in NVN with low altitude weapons, because napalm, retard bombs and 20mm cannon were not very effective when delivered at a 45 degree dive angle.
The Misty FAC mission was considered to be one of relatively high risk, and they lost about 34 aircraft in the 2+ years of their program, generally to AAA gunners. Since the F-4 was a two seat aircraft it was decided to set up a project to test the use of the F-4 as a fast FAC. The number of two-seat F-100s was decreasing and we had lots of F-4s at that time. We were flying with weapons systems officers (WSOs) in the back seat of the F-4. These aircrews were either another pilot or a navigator, both of whom would have specialized training in the radar and other systems that had the controls in the back seat. They were also called GIBs (guy in the back). Four aircraft commanders (front seat pilots) and four GIBs were selected to set up this F-4 fast FAC program which was to be called the Stormy Fast FAC program. Myself, Steve Ritchie, who later became the Air Force’s only pilot ace in Vietnam (5 Mig-21 enemy aircraft kills), Doug Patterson, and one other pilot whose name escapes me, and four GIBs were selected to be in the initial cadre.
The four of us were sent to Phu Cat AB, the home of the Mistys, to fly with the Misty pilots and learn the techniques of the job. Later on, the Misty pilots who flew with us would come to Danang to fly 3 missions in the back seat of the F-4, presumably to advise on its suitability for the fast FAC mission. I flew five missions with Wells Jackson, a guy from the Albuquerque area, and he taught me many of the fast FAC techniques, including how to see targets from 4500 feet. It was a big surprise for me to find that you could actually see a lot of small detail from that altitude. He showed me how to recognize a 37mm AA gun site, a 57mm gun site, and I believe we might have seen an 85mm or 100mm gun site, but I’m not sure. The sites were laid out in a standard configuration and when the gun site was inactive the gun crews put branches over the guns. When active, the branches were removed and the site stood out very distinctly.
On one mission he showed me how to tell what caliber the guns were by rolling in on a gun site from about 20,000 feet. Immediately after we rolled in we could see flashes from the guns in the site, and by counting the number of rounds a gun fired you could determine its caliber, the reason being that different calibers of guns had different sizes of clips for their rounds. As I recall, a 37mm gun had 6 rounds in a clip, and there was a distinct pause between clips while the gunner reloaded. On this demonstration as soon as we rolled in the guns started shooting, so we immediately pulled up and discontinued the maneuver. There was a well-known fighter pilot rule that you never get in a pissing contest with a gun; the aircraft usually loses.
On another mission he showed me why we should never get very close to the ground at a slow airspeed. All along Route 1 which paralleled the coast there were small white spots where the sand had been disturbed. I asked Wells about it and he said they were spider holes and that there were people in each one of them. He pushed the F-100 up to 500 knots and we dashed across the highway at approximately 1000 feet. As we crossed the highway he told me to look back and I could see muzzle flashes coming from each of the spider holes. We were well above their maximum effective range and we were so fast that they would have had to be very lucky to hit us, but it was still very sobering.
At the time I was flying the five missions with Wells Jackson, I had about 1800 hours of flying time in the F-100, probably a lot more than Wells had. On one flight I convinced him to let me fly in the front seat of the aircraft, although our five flights were supposed to be in the back seat. Our mission with me in the front seat went very well and I had a great time back in the “hun” after several years. You use a lot of fuel quickly in the high power settings required for a fast FAC mission, so we finally had to go out and hit a tanker to top off our tanks before we could continue the mission. The F-100 used a probe and drogue air refueling system wherein the pilot of the F-100 flies behind the tanker aircraft and inserts his wing probe into the drogue which is being trailed behind the tanker. Since I was current in the F-4 which used a boom receptacle system (F- 4 flies in position behind and below the tanker’s boom; the boomer aircrewman flies the boom and inserts it into the F-4’s receptacle which is on the top of the fuselage behind the rear cockpit), and it had been some time since I had air refueled in the F-100, I didn’t hit the drogue the first time. Meanwhile our fuel remaining continued to decrease, not to an emergency level, but to one of

concern. So, Wells decided that he’d better take over and get us some gas and stop fooling around. He quickly plugged-in, took on a full load of JP-4, and we headed back for Pack 1.

With five missions under out belts we went back to Danang and proceeded to start our Stormy program. Steve Ritchie got the honor of flying the first Stormy mission, and I flew my first Stormy mission a day or so after Steve. We would be matched up with a GIB, depending on who was available, since the GIBs in the Stormy program were hand selected also. Although assigned to fly the Stormy missions we continued to fly our regular strike missions. On September 11, 1968 I was scheduled to fly a Stormy mission and was paired-up with Lt. Rick Van Dyke, a young Air Force Academy graduate. Rick was a sharp pilot and was the victim of the Air Force policy at that time to assign pilots just out of pilot training to the back seat of the F-4. Toward the end of my time at Danang they started putting more and more navigators in the back seat, but on September 11, 1968 my GIB was a pilot.
We briefed the mission for a mid-morning takeoff, got the weather and an intelligence briefing and proceeded to launch for a routine Stormy mission, or so we thought. We were over route pack 1 by 11:00 and started looking for anything that looked like a target. Finally, around 12:00 noon we spied what appeared to be a truck. I called in-the-blind to see if there were any strike flights around and a flight of four F-4s from Thailand answered. I briefed them on the location of the target and advised them to proceed to the general target area and hold while we went out to find a tanker and refuel. We quickly found a KC-135 on Tan Anchor off of route package 1, and took on a full load of fuel. We hurried back to the target at about 10 – 12,000 feet, using our inertial navigation system to relocate the target. We made contact with the strike flight and briefed them on the target.
I don’t remember briefing them on any enemy defenses in the area, but it turned out that there were plenty. I advised the strike flight that I would mark the target with a white phosphorus (Willie Pete) rocket, and Rick and I, as Stormy 01, rolled in to fire a marking round at the apparent truck. I fired the marking rocket at about 8500 feet above the ground and immediately started a pull out. During the pull out we experienced a very loud explosion and my cockpit filled with smoke. I continued the pull out and started talking to Rick, advising him to “hang in there, because we’re going to make it out over the Gulf. “ I pushed the “panic button” and cleaned off all the external stores, including two fuel tanks, the pylons and launchers for the marking rockets and the 20mm gun pod which was attached to the belly of the aircraft. I don’t believe we ever got below about 6500 feet in the pull out, and I turned the aircraft to the west, went into afterburner and started climbing. I remember thinking that I had missed seeing the gun site that was obviously down there. I saw no puffs of smoke from flak, but a gun site was definitely down there, and he was a good gunner to get me at our high altitude. This target had turned into a so-called flak trap, and we were the victims.
Shortly after the pull out was complete we experienced another equally loud explosion. All the while I was talking over the intercom to Rick and encouraging him to hang in there with me. In the F-4 there was an ejection
sequencing system that allowed the GIB to select one of two options: the normal option was the Command option which ejected the GIB first and the pilot in front second at a preset time sequence, if the pilot in front initiated the ejection. This was done to protect the GIB from the blast of the seat’s rocket motor if the pilot were ejected first. IF the GIB initiated the ejection in the Command option, he would be ejected and the pilot in front would not be ejected, unless he subsequently initiated it. The second option, Command Override, would eject the GIB first and the pilot in front second, if the GIB initiated the ejection! As I recall the events from 36 years ago, I wasn’t sure which option Rick had set up, so I wasn’t taking any chances and was talking to him to keep him in the airplane. I didn’t want to be ejected over North Vietnam under any circumstances. As it turned out, I was talking to myself the whole time because the second loud explosion I had heard was most probably the sound of Rick’s ejection.
The smoke was so thick in the cockpit that I could not see the instruments on the panel in front of me. I could, however, see out the side of the canopy so I was anxiously looking for the coast line so I could get out at least five miles so the bad guys couldn’t get to me very quickly. I couldn’t breathe using the normal oxygen system, so I switched to 100% oxygen, then to Emergency oxygen, and in those positions the flow was cut off entirely. So, I started holding my breath as much as I could. Meanwhile, we were climbing and accelerating in afterburner. I tried to turn around in my seat enough to see Rick in the back seat, but the smoke was too dense and my harness too tight. Usually you could just barely see the back seater if you twisted around far enough.
I made a Mayday call and the strike flight that we had intended to put in on the target replied. They said they had us in sight and were following us out to the Gulf of Tonkin. I watched the shoreline slide by and when I thought we were at least 5 miles off shore I came out of afterburner and started thinking about ejecting. Many times I’ve reflected on my decision to eject from the aircraft, and I’ve concluded that it was the best decision. The aircraft was on fire, I was gasping for air and I couldn’t see the instrument panel. I could have jettisoned the canopy in hopes that some of the smoke would have cleared, but I remembered that the F-4 had a bad history of sucking smoke and flames up into the front cockpit when the front canopy departed the aircraft while the aircraft was on fire. So, I decided that I had to get out of the aircraft. Unfortunately, I didn’t wait long enough after coming out of afterburner so the aircraft could slow down, and I ejected going an estimated 500 knots. Thus, Rick and I became the first Stormy aircrews to get shot down.
I don’t remember anything from the time I pulled on the lower ring with both hands to initiate the ejection sequence until a pretty violent jolt when I found myself hanging in the chute. I knew immediately that I had hurt myself pretty badly because both of my shoulders hurt, and both legs were swinging the wrong way (sideways…) My helmet had been pulled off by the ejection wind blast. I had plenty of strength, in spite of my injuries, so I pulled out my survival radio and spoke to the F-4s that were following me. I believe they told me they had me in sight, and I told them about my injuries. Looking back, I pretty well described all my broken bones and injuries. I tried to activate my
survival kit which was in the seat pack attached to my chute harness, but it would not deploy so I pushed on the connecter and the seat pack fell away. That meant I would not have a life raft once I landed in the water. I remember asking the strike flight to make sure no bad guys were able to get out to me. I tried to land with my face into the wind which required pulling on the harness to rotate myself. We were trained to try to land in the water with your face into the wind so that the parachute and all of its risers would fall behind you and not get entangled with you. Trying to pull on the risers hurt pretty badly so I stopped trying that. Next, I was going over in my mind the things I had been trained to do in such a situation, and I almost had a heart attack when I remembered that I had to activate my LPU (life preserver-underarm). It’s a good thing I remembered because I would have sunk to the bottom of the Gulf otherwise.
I landed in the water and in about 5-10 minutes there was a Navy anti- submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter hovering nearby. While waiting for the rescue helicopter, I noticed a small trickle of blood coming from my left elbow, and I thought to myself that it would be a real shame to survive a shoot down only to be eaten by one of the notorious great white sharks that are in the Viet Nam waters. Fortunately, the sharks didn’t find me and the ASW helicopter put a PJ (parachute jumper) rescue guy in the water and tried a number of rescue devices to pick me up; including the horse collar, a stretcher type device, and a thing I call the bird cage. Even though the Navy PJ tried valiantly to help me, I couldn’t help myself enough to get into any of those devices, and in the meantime the PJ was having a very tough time getting me free from the parachute riser lines that were tangled around my legs. He told me later that he had worn out the blade of his hook-bill knife cutting the lines. After about 30 minutes in the water I noticed that there was an Air Force Jolly Green helicopter hovering nearby, watching the situation. I pulled my survival radio up out of the water by its lanyard, drained it a bit, then miraculously it worked. I called on guard channel for the Jolly hovering nearby: “Jolly Green hovering, this is Stormy 01Alpha (Rick was Stormy 01Bravo), please come land on the water and pull me in the side door. I can’t seem to get into the rescue devices, I’m cold and I’m beginning to hurt pretty bad.” In a few minutes he landed on the water about 50-75 feet away from me, put his PJ in the water and the two PJs were able to get me to the side of the Jolly Green. I remember looking up in the cockpit at the two pilots in the Jolly, and as luck would have it, they were two of my roommates from Danang, Don Olsen, the aircraft commander and Wendy Shuler, the co-pilot. I mouthed the words “I love you” and my whole attitude about helicopters and the people who fly them has been different from that time on. The PJs pulled me in the side door of the Jolly, got me into a litter, took my g-suit off and strapped me in. When they pulled me in the side door was the only time I ever remember crying out in pain. It really hurt until someone gave me a shot of morphine. I asked them about my GIB and they said that there was a search and rescue effort going on onshore for him. That was the first time I knew that he was not with me in the aircraft all the time. They asked me where I wanted to go, to the Navy hospital ship (can’t remember whether it was USS Repose or USS Sanctuary???) that was off shore near Dong Ha at the DMZ, or to
the AF hospital at Danang. It probably would have been much shorter to go to the ship, but I opted for Danang.
I was pretty much sedated for the next few hours, but I remember the wing commander, my squadron commander and ops officer and lots of the guys from my squadron coming to see me. The next day I remember being in a ward where they told me that there was a captured and badly injured viet cong soldier down the hall. I was med-evacced to Tachikawa AB in Japan where my injuries were repaired. I spent six week at Tachikawa with what they call “butterfly splints” on my two arms and hip-to-toe casts on each leg. When I was narrow enough to fit in a litter on a C-141 med-evac aircraft I was flown back to the US. I eventually wound up at MacDill AFB, Florida, close to my wife and family who were living in Bradenton, 45 miles south of MacDill.
I developed a staph infection in my right shoulder and had to undergo some pretty drastic treatment to get it under control. As a result of the infection I lost some bone in the shoulder joint and some of the muscle and other tissue nearby. It finally healed up and approximately 6 months from the day of the event I passed a flying physical at MacDill and another one a few weeks later at Brookes AB in preparation for my next assignment as a student at the Air Force Test Pilot School.
While recuperating in the hospital at MacDill I received an envelope with several pictures of the target area that we were working that day. The photos, which had been recently declassified, had been taken by Dick Rutan, a Misty pilot who was flying in that same area on the day of our incident. The photos clearly showed a 37mm site in the area that I had missed, and also noted the spot where he saw a parachute on the ground which was undoubtedly Rick’s. Dick Rutan retired from the Air Force and later on participated with Jeanna Yeager in the first unrefueled flight around the world in the Voyager aircraft which was designed by his brother, Burt Rutan.
When the POWs came home in 1973 I met a fellow whom I had been told had some first hand information about what happened to my GIB. Art Hoffson, now retired as a colonel, told me that he had been shot down in the same general area approximately 10 miles east of the cities of Dong Hoi and Quang Khi about two weeks before our incident. He was being held prisoner in a cave nearby while the North Vietnamese collected enough prisoners to transport them to Hanoi, when Rick Van Dyke was brought into the same cave. Rick was in and out of consciousness and was rational only part of the time. The story he related to Art Hoffson was that his aircraft had been hit, set on fire, and had crashed near the target area. He thought that his front seat pilot had gone in with the aircraft. Rick told him that there was fire all around him so he ejected from the aircraft right over the target area. Rick had suffered a broken thigh, caused either by the AAA hit, the ejection or by the parachute landing. It apparently was a compound fracture since it was gangrenous. One day they took Rick out of the cave and told Art that they were going to take him to see a doctor. Rick never came back and the guards told Art that “he die.” Rick’s remains were returned in the late 70s and he is buried in Arlington Cemetery.
I graduated from the AF TPS and went on to complete a 27 year career in the Air Force. I retired as a colonel in 1984 and am living happily ever after with
my wife of 47 years, Edie, in Palmetto, Florida where I am currently serving as its elected mayor. Working with a city commission is sometimes like being in combat, but I’ve been fired at by experts using real bullets, so, although frustrating sometimes, I’m generally enjoying the job. I’m using all the leadership and management skills I’ve accumulated over the years and slowly developing a team to work our city problems. Evidently the community is satisfied with my work because I was reelected without opposition in the November 2004 election.

Robert W. Christenson – 7th Company
Fun at 100 ft.

I have so enjoyed your sea stories that I thought I should join in. Thank you all for sharing great old memories! I was XO of BAYA and the crew was honed to a razor’s edge! It was time for a real drill. With CO’s permission I went up to the Squadron Office, saw the Training Officer and asked for an oil smoke grenade, commonly used to simulate smoke from a fire. Proudly bearing my secret to the boat, I locked it in my desk safe. A week or so later during a most demanding training cruise (we were demilitarized and used for sonar research) down the coast of California on the way to a hectic schedule in Mazatlan, Mexico, it was time for the true test. The boat was at 100 feet. CO said, “You sure this is going to work, XO?” I assured him it would be a piece of cake!

Into the radio shack (a small closet off the control room) I snuck the bomb. I told the Chief Radioman to pull the pin and drop it in the empty waste basket in a minute or two so I could get into forward battery from whence I could jump into the control room and observe the razor-sharp crew perform in their normal confident and cool manner as we surfaced and simulated fighting the fire.

Soon all hell broke loose! Indeed we had smoke, and also gagging and coughing and choking and other signs of great respiratory distress. We got to the surface fine, but the ostensibly benign oil smoke was more than it should have been.
After getting great numbers of the crew topside into the fresh air and thoroughly ventilating the boat with the diesels, things finally calmed down-more or less.

We put on turns for Mazatlan and sent a Op Immediate to the squadron reporting the designation, serial number, etc. of the offending training device and requested the services of the squadron Medical Officer in Mazatlan to check the health of those who seemed to have had greatest exposure. Within a day we had pulled in and there was our Medical Officer waiting on the pier, surf board in tow! After extensive examination of all who had been subjected to the fumes, with one exception (needed a chest X-ray), this smart a.. Lt., MC, prescribed lots of rest, sunshine and rum (to ward off any lingering whatevers). We reluctantly obeyed his advice, giving up visits to local art galleries, churches, historic plazas, gardens, etc. which is why we had chosen this port in the first place. All is well the ends well! Well, not quite. A message from the squadron advised us that the
smoke grenade was not an oil smoke but a marker smoke, used to designate landing zones for helos and other goodness knows what uses. Turns out it was used by the squadron training officer for marking his descent as he JUMPED OUT of aircraft to parachute to the ground! And he was a submariner -:)

Silly Bast He had given it to me by mistake. The message also advised us
that upon return to San Diego, there would be a Squad Dog’s Inquiry-THE LONG GREEN TABLE. So much for my naval career.

However, rested and relaxed after our arduous duty we returned to home port and after some posturing the Squadron Cdr felt my only negligence had not been to turn over the offending missile to the Torpedomen, for storage in the pyro locker, who might have noticed what we really had. After a summary slap on the wrist he said, “There but for the grace of God go any number of us.

I never had the privilege of commanding a submarine (for reasons entirely different from this incident), but hail those who did. My career went a different and very satisfying direction, but I never forgot that everyone (officer and enlisted) in most case probably deserved a second chance. Thanks, Squadron Commander!

Roy S. Dahnke – 5th Company
War Story
[An underground story]

Early in the deployment of the Minuteman Missile Systems in Montana, I was on assignment as a Combat Crew Commander in the Alpha Command Center, which handled all of the communications regarding the status of 150 ICBMs with SAC Headquarters, Numbered AF Headquarters, Bravo and Charlie Command Centers, Home Base Headquarters, 10 missile sites, and any air or ground traffic moving through our area. The command centers were underground in hardened sites, with motion detectors and fences, as well as security guards with fully automatic rifles stationed above the underground site. Each missile command site housed only two people underground, the commander and deputy commander.

Because there was no such thing as an “inhibit override switch” to a launch command, other than within our underground command sites, all orders including launch commands came directly from SAC Headquarters. We in turn made the decision regarding launch, and within 90 seconds, missiles could be launched anywhere in the world. I won’t comment on what kind of warheads they contained, but I’m sure you can guess. This was unique at the time, and needless to say, U. S. Congress was very concerned. Therefore, we had many
visitors from the U. S. House and the U. S. Senate, touring the Alfa Command Site (which I often manned), and asking lots of questions.

One day, I had a U. S. Senator on board and was showing him around when he asked what we had in the file cabinets above our control panels. I explained that in addition to some eatables, they contained cryptographic decoding books. He asked to see them. I replied that no one could see my decoding books other than me, and no one could see my deputy’s decoding books other than my deputy. He responded that he was a “United States Senator” and would see them! I replied that even the United States President, who could initiate a missile launch was not allowed to see them. He again replied that he was a “United States Senator” and would see them, and started to reach for the cabinet, which had no locking capability (mostly due to the requirement for rapid response). As he reached for the cabinet, I drew my 38, placed it one inch from his chest cavity near his heart, and pulled the hammer back, with very audible clicks. I stated that he might see the decoding book, but he would not walk out of the underground site. I then instructed my deputy to call the guards above ground to come down to the entrance to our underground capsule, advised the “United States Senator” that this tour was over, and escorted him to the 8 ton door, which I closed behind him as I turned him over to the security guards. I then went on with my normal business.

I never heard any more about this tour. As to what I would have done if he had continued to grab a decoding book, I leave up to the reader to guess. I clearly had a plan in mind, which I would have executed. Let it suffice to say, the Senator made a good decision not to call my bluff.

Bruce DeMars – 8th Company
Fraudulent Enlistment

During high school on the south side of Chicago I worked as an assistant janitor at the Second Federal Savings & Loan. It was run by the Sierosinski family. The Vice President, E. John Sierosinski, knew I wanted to attend the Naval Academy. He called me in during my senior year and told me I had an appointment to the Academy but had to use this address - 46 Northlake Road, Riverside, IL- a very affluent suburb. I thanked him and asked if there was anything else I should know. He told me that the Riverside congressman owed the editor of the Southwest News a favor, the editor owed him a favor and I was the favor.
However, the congressman was on record that the appointment would be competitive so I had to go downtown to the post office building and take the civil service exam. There were others there from his district and they did think it was competitive. I, of course, said nothing.
I received the appointment but failed my physical at Great Lakes on high blood pressure. I traveled to Annapolis by train and bus for a re-exam and arrived late at night at the Visiting Team Barracks with the others. The next morning a corpsman took my blood pressure and it was still too high. He said I looked tired, which I was, and told me to lie down on a bed in one of the wards. I fell sound asleep and was awakened by the same corpsman, again taking my blood pressure. He said "Red, its OK, you’re in." So I started my long career on shaky legal grounds but with an enduring respect for the fine judgment of enlisted men!

A Pentagon Caper

In 1987 I was a three-star on the CNO’s staff when I was appointed to be president of the O-6 selection board. I called on the CNO, Carl Trost, and he told me to do a good job. I called on the Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman, and he gave me a list of people he expected to be selected! I found this strange but didn’t say anything. We had a good board and worked hard to follow the precept issued by Secretary Lehman. We selected some of the Lehman names, on merit, but not all. I found that some others on the board had the same names.

When I made my out brief to Lehman he was quite upset that I hadn’t done what he wanted. I explained it wasn’t legal and he had communicated to us by the precept, which we had rigorously followed.. I reminded him that each flag officer on the board had sworn an oath and signed the selection report. This started about two weeks of regular meeting with him and selected members of his staff in attempts to get me to do something different. I kept the CNO informed as we went back and force and knew I had his full support. Lehman even offered to give the board five additional selection numbers if we would reconvene and select those we wanted. I refused. He said he was going to remove me as president of the board. Hearing that, I wrote a letter of resignation that somehow got out to the press. I began to consider a civilian career.

The pace now really picked up. Lehman portrayed the matter as civilian control of the military and had several others write articles and op-ed pieces supporting him. I received many letters and phone call supporting me. The Secretary of Defense Inspector General was called in and all were interviewed. The report upheld my position and about a month later Lehman resigned.

Epilog - About 5 months later I was nominated to be the Director of Naval Reactors. Lehman started a rumor that the influential Senator Tower didn’t like DeMars. A senate staffer friend of mine called Tower, who was in London, to ask if he supported DeMars. Tower said "who is DeMars?" and the matter was over.

Ray Dove – 4th Company
Admiral's Inspection

On an afternoon aboard the POCONO, Admiral McCain called for a personnel inspection of the ship's crew. Uniform: Service Dress Blues. All hands were in a panic of preparation. At the time I had only my black working engineering boots (non-regulation) aboard. They were a bit grubby but a good polish job would get me through. Problem: No black shoe polish only a neutral polish. That should work. I brought the boots to beautiful black shine while I was in my stateroom. I was prepared. I formed my Dept on the main deck and every man was in A1 condition, ready for inspection. As I took my position, the admiral arrived in front of me. He was staring at my feet. In puzzlement, I looked down. In the sun light, my boots showed like silver gray lamp lights. The admiral looked me in the eye, said nothing and continued his inspection. He completed the inspection, complimented the C.O. for the appearance of the crew and with a smile on his face returned to his quarters. Nothing was ever said to me about my non-reg silver gray boots. I keep wondering, even to this day, what went through the admiral's mind when he gazed upon my Beautiful Silver Gray Boots.

Liberty Cards

As a Dept Head of an Engineering Dept, one of the minor in-port frustrations was the collection of liberty cards prior to "quarters for muster" every morning. I established and posted a policy which simply stated: If an individuals liberty card had not been placed in the liberty card box prior to "quarters for muster" the individual would be placed in that day's duty section ( if the day was his scheduled duty day then he would be added to the following day's duty section).

One afternoon my log room yeoman informed me that a fireman (a victim of my policy) had complained to the C.O. the day before. His claim was the C.O. had said: "Gee, He shouldn't be doing that". I shrugged and then remembered the uncharacteristic wink and smile the C.O. had given me at noon meal in the Ward Room that day.

On another day, there was a great disturbance outside the Log Room next to the liberty card box. (Yelling,cursing etc.) My yeoman stepped out to see what was going on. He returned and told me a fireman was out there cussing HIMSELF out. I asked "Why?" The yeoman answered "He just remembered he had not turned in his liberty card"

Nothing was ever said to me by the C.O. or X.O. in regard to my policy and it remained in effect until the day I was detached.

Admiral McCain’s Comfort

In the 1963-1964 time frame I was the Engineer Officer of the USS POCONO AGC-16 designated flagship for COMPHIBLANT. During this period VADM John
S. McCain, Jr. assumed command of COMPHIBLANT. he immediately moved his flag and offices aboard the POCONO vacating his Little Creek offices.
Shortly, I began to receive complaints from the ADM, via his staff, that he was too hot or too cold so do something. This was not a happy situation.
I did three things. One- I procured an 18 inch outdoor thermometer and mounted it on the bulkhead above his desk. Two- I left a note to the ADM that I guaranteed the temperature would remain between 68 and 72 degrees at all times. Three- The ADM's quarters were listed on the routine four hour damage control roving patrol check off list. These actions apparently solved the problem - no more complaints were forthcoming.
Later, I had occasion to speak to the ADM's Marine orderly and I asked if the ADM had any complaints. The Marine started laughing and told me the following: Every morning the ADM stomps into his quarters chomping on his cigar, removes his overcoat and uniform coat, bends over his desk and stares at the thermometer. He then [decides] either to sit down and go to work or goes to the closet for a sweater and returns to desk and work. C'est la vie

The Shirt Story

Patricia and I were married two days after graduation in 1957. Shortly,1959, our first of three children arrived. Our only disagreements seemed to be how to raise children and how my white uniform shirts should be washed and ironed. This later disagreement continued for a few years. The shirts either looked like they had just come out of the washer or the collars had so much starch they cut my neck. The disagreement (argument) continued.
Eventually the problem was solved. One day I came home, opened the door and before me stood,on hangers, three beautifully ironed sparkling white shirts. I was truthfully pleased but then I looked closer, all three shirts were giving me a very formal and precise right hand salute. The problem was solved, I agreed to have my shirts sent out to a laundry for washing and ironing.

Counter Insurgency and Survival training

When I received orders to Viet Nam they included a requirement to attend a "Counter Insurgency and Survival" training course at the Little Creek Amphibious Base before departure of CONUS. As a 34 year old LCdr I joined a group of twenty five 18 to 25 year olds. There was one LTjg, one CPO and the others were a mixture, E-3's through E-6's and of various ratings.

The first two weeks of the three week course consisted of class room work, calisthenics, obstacle courses, running and more running. (A two week Boot Camp but no formation marching or manual of arms.) On the third week, we were transported to Camp Hill, VA. and dropped off in the middle of no where. There we were directed to camp out and live off the the land for two days. They did provide us with one dead and dressed chicken as provisions.
It was the end of October, other classes had preceded us in this area, game had been all but obliterated and vegetation had succumbed to the elements. In our pursuit of edibles we captured a stray dog but it had a collar. A Filipino with us offered to cook it if some one would kill it. Instead, I attempted to make a deal with the instructors. We wouldn't kill and eat it and would turn it over to them for a case of C-rations. No deal, so we released it,after all, it was an awful small dog.

On the third day, the training exercise commenced. Initially, we were told to spread out and hide ourselves in any manner we could imagine and try to avoid capture. We had two hours, then patrols would be sent out to find us. All of us were found and rounded up by late afternoon. That evening we were given compasses and instructions to travel and make contact with "Partisans" by early the next morning. "If successful, that would end the exercise." The instructors departed.

After trampling through the night we all made contact. The instructors told the truth, That exercise was over But a new one had commenced. The "Partisans" were NOT friendly. We were stripped down to our T- shirts and skivvies, and force marched to a compound and stockade some distance away where a VC flag was flying on high flag pole. (Sort of a Bataan Death march sans death or blood).

On arrival, we were forced by no casual methods to our hands and knees and forced to crawl into the stockade through muddy trenches. During this entire time we were being addressed as Pig, Swine, Hog and many other epithets.

Inside the stockade we were all subjected to many humiliating and harassing incidents. Finally, a stocky "Partisan" dressed in the uniform of a Green Beret came at me as if he wanted to kill me, screaming "Pig, You're being uncooperative". I had been recognized as the senior prisoner present as a result of the minor resistance which the Partisans met. He stiff armed me in the chest,grabbed me, dragged me and bodily threw me into a three foot deep, grave shaped, pit. Then he and other Partisans threw Buckets of water on me. All the time screaming epithets and obscenities at me. The Green Beret fished me out of the pit, ripping my T-shirt off (it may have been accidental but I lost the shirt in the process) and continued screaming obscenities at me. He then dragged me out of the stockade and threw me into an isolation shack in the compound. The shack was a small structure, no windows and the interior walls were padded with wrestling mats. There he kept bouncing me off the walls, continuing with his screaming. At this point I began to wonder, is this part of the training or sadistic pleasure for this guy? Are they going too far with the game? I finally relaxed and decided with benefit of doubt to let them play their game. At this point the Green Beret stopped the harassment and went out of the shack slamming and locking the door. I was left in complete darkness, no windows, no furniture. I sat down in isolation, shivering from cold and emotions.

When the shack door opened and I was ordered out, the sun had set and it was dark. I was marched into the stockade and ordered by the Partisan to bring my "
Pigs to attention and honor the camps evening flag lowering ceremony". He pointed to where I assumed the flag pole was located. The stockade was dimly lit with low intensity lighting. I ordered "Fall in, two ranks facing me". The prisoners complied and I ordered "parade rest". As I turned to face the flag pole a bugle sounded and a powerful spot light illuminated the top of the flag pole. A tingling sensation of patriotism went up my spine, there was no VC flag instead waving in the wind was the Stars and Stripes of America. I ordered " Attention, right hand Salute".

It may sound corny today but at that moment in time when everyone expected to see a VC flag, it was a dramatic and powerful conclusion to a day of Hell and three weeks of training.

“If you think you deserve it wear it”

As an Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) on 25 February 1975 I applied to BUPERS for qualification as a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO). The request was denied because of a "time of request technicality". I appealed the decision, verbally, to a classmate on the staff of COMNAVSEA. His answer was "If you think you’re qualified, ignore BUPERS and wear the SWO insignia." I did not follow his advice. On 26 MAY 1978, the day of my retirement ceremony I received a letter of SWO qualification from BUPERS signed by a different classmate. I retired as a qualified SWO though my DD-214 does not reflect the fact.
Subsequently, The Navy was shocked by the suicide of a CNO allegedly because he followed the advice "If you think you deserve it wear it"


Williamson Turn

The Canberra CAG-2 was steaming independently in the Med and the C.O. was allowing the OOD's and selected deck officers to maneuver the ship (Destroyer sailors refer to this evolution as Bumper Drills). I, as MPA (Main Propulsion Assistant), was stationed in Main Control supervising the engine propulsion control. Boiler superheat had been secured and we were responding to various maneuvering bells from the bridge for about an hour. Suddenly an order came down on the 1JV sound powered phones. "MPA report to the C.O. on the bridge immediately" I thought, what the blazes is wrong now? And headed for the bridge.

As I entered the pilot house headed for the bridge, some body shouted " The MPA has the CONN" then " Man Overboard, Starboard side". I stated "I have the CONN", ordered "Right Full Rudder" and ran to the starboard wing of the bridge. After one glance I ordered "All engines ahead full". The activity on the main deck and an orange object floating astern made me realize I had been given the opportunity to maneuver a cruiser. When the ship had turned approximately 60 degrees to starboard of its original course I ordered " Shift your rudder". The
helmsman obeyed, the ship responded and confusion broke out with the OOD, JOOD and other officers milling around on the bridge. The C.O. just sat and watched the activity. The OOD had lost sight of the object and didn't understand what I was doing. But I did understand and had not lost sight of the object, also I had the CONN. I had read about the "Williamson turn" for man overboard recovery but never had seen it executed. This was my opportunity and I took it.

As the ship completed its turn I had the rudder eased to amidships giving the helmsman a course to steady on and reduced engine speed. As the ship lined up for a starboard recovery I backed the engines and came almost to a dead stop with the object hugging the starboard hull. I had stopped the backing a little bit too soon but the object was easily recovered with grappling hooks by the deck force.

I returned the CONN to the OOD and reported to the C.O. as originally ordered. He said "Thank you, now you can return to Main Control". On my way back to my station I stopped in CIC (Combat Information Center) and asked if they had plotted the maneuver on the DRT (Dead Reckoning Tracer). They had and showed it to me. The trace displayed an almost perfect "Williamson Turn", there was a left turn hook at the recovery point. I assumed this was caused by my decision for a starboard recovery. I was pleased.

That was the first time and the last time I had been on the bridge while underway. I apparently created a little turmoil throughout the superstructure and below decks when I shifted the rudder. I guess they were not secure for sea and perhaps a reason for not using the "Williamson Turn". I don't know what the
C.O. thought of my performance, but I had fun.

Women at Sea

In the spring of 1977, the project ‘Women at Sea” was a high priority, and I had been tagged as the NAVSEA project officer for the effort. At the conclusion of one of my meetings with OPNAV and BUPERS representatives, I had been tasked to provide information of the ships which could accommodate women personnel ASAP. I reviewed ship General Drawings which were available in my office, conducted a four- day visit to of combatant and non-combatant ships in Norfolk, for three BUPERS women officers. We spoke to the ships’ COs and toured the ships’ living quarters.

I returned to my office and prepared a letter with background, discussion, findings, conclusions and recommendations. The details included ship assignments and modifications, if required, with cost estimates. All were non- combatant ships and could accommodate women almost immediately with minimum alterations - in some cases, just a deadbolt inside a head door. When I finished the letter I took it to my boss for review and signature.
He glanced at the subject line of the letter and declined to sign it. He explained because of high-level interest it would have to be signed by the admiral (Deputy Commander of NAVSEA, SEA 94). But, he added, “Where is the study report?” I told him there was no report, that the letter was my original work. He indicated that was unsatisfactory - we couldn’t take the letter to the admiral without a study report. I told him I would need two more weeks and $10,000 to hire a beltway contractor. He agreed and directed me to proceed.

That day, I called in one of our civilian contractors, handed him my letter and explained what I needed within two weeks. I also gave him the caveat that if he had any disagreements or found any inaccuracies in my letter to indicate them in the report. I specified a flat fee ($10,000) for the work. He accepted the task and was on his way. He returned two weeks later with 30 copies of the study report. He had spent two days at the Norfolk Naval Base and three days on the west coast checking and verifying the contents of my letter.

The report was 55 pages of single-spaced typing with diagrams and illustrations. It was excellent, and fully supportive of my letter. I took the report copies and my letter to my boss. He glanced at the stack of reports, picked up two copies and with the letter headed to the admiral’s office with me in tow.

The admiral received us and read my letter in its entirety while we sat and watched him. When he had finished he picked up the report copies and asked, “What’s this?” My boss responded, “That’s the contractor’s study report on which the letter is based”. The admiral said, “I don’t need this crap,” and threw the report into his trash can. He stood up, glared at me, shook the letter in my face, and said, “This is what I needed two weeks ago!” My boss sat mute as the admiral stalked out of his office, letter in hand.

I returned to my office, sat down, and drafted a letter requesting my voluntary retirement effective 1 June 1978.

Jerry Dunn – 17th Company
CO of Camp David

Alas us "landlubbers" cannot compete in sea stories with lost pubs blown overboard, near collisions and the like which I might add are truly rollicking---in retrospect. Since I am somewhat remiss in preparation for input to the class history I thought I would kill portions of two birds with one stone or some equivalent sage cliché and provide a non sea story, story!

Late in my and MCB Ten's [Seabees for those not familiar with the acronym] second deployment in Vietnam in late 1966 I received astounding word from my detailer I was nominated to be the next CO of Camp David, the official Navy designation of which is a whole different long story. All this contingent of course
upon obtaining all the requisite security and protocol clearances. Attempting to fill out the very long personal history forms, etc., from Da Nang while serving as S-3 with detachments spread over a wide area of I Corps was a real chore I might add. So it was that my family and I came to report in July 1967 to an idyllic location just outside Thurmont, MD, for a truly memorable two-year tour.

The following is one of my favorite stories from that tour:
We arrived at Camp David with our family dog, a beagle named Wiggles, and almost immediately adopted the Camp dog, Brownie. The dogs were free to roam the grounds and presented no problems during the Johnson era, nor even with the large increase in visits and activity during the first months of the Nixon administration. The Nixon’s had three dogs, King Timahoe a young Irish setter the senior White House staff had given the President [not unlike Buddy later with President Clinton], Vickie a miniature poodle who was Tricia’s dog and Pasha, a Yorkshire terrier, who was Julie Nixon Eisenhower’s dog. The Nixon dogs led by eager King Timahoe soon found our dogs and quarters. To the delight of our three young ones they were our frequent "guests" whenever the Nixon’s came to Camp.

The First Family [with dogs] arrived for a short visit in June 1969. They planned to return to the White House on Saturday evening to celebrate Father’s Day in the White House as well as to participate in the Prayer Breakfast the President had established on Sunday’s in the East Room. About mid afternoon on Saturday I dropped in at Aspen, the President’s lodge, as part of my normal rounds to check on things as well as to see if a time for departure had firmed up. I entered the kitchen and found Manolo Sanchez, who was the President’s majordomo. He offered me a cup of coffee and only after I started drinking it casually informed me my dog, Wiggles, had bitten Pasha! Somehow I managed not to spill my coffee and to stammer how and why or something equally appropriate.

He said Wiggles and Brownie had come up while he was feeding the President’s dogs on the patio. So he gave each of them a bowl of dog treats as well. As Wiggles was eating Pasha had charged up to him barking. He then added, Wiggles had calmly lifted his head from the bowl only to encompass Pasha’s head in his mouth and then bite down. He assured me there was no real damage, only a small cut on the top of the head. He had stopped the bleeding, Pasha wasn’t really hurt and he reassured me the incident was his not Wiggles’ fault.

I was hardly comforted but soon put the matter aside as we organized the departure of the President’s party and staff. Some time later, either that evening on the next day, I vaguely remember receiving a call from someone in the Military Office at the White House who wanted only to confirm Wiggles’ shots were current. So while I was chagrined about the episode and intended
to apologize to Julie when next I saw her, I believed the matter was over. Wrong!
Sunday evening I received a phone call from my Air Force brother stationed in the Los Angeles area, who literally opened the conversation by asking why Wiggles had bitten Julie’s dog! I was floored at that and even more so when
he quickly added he had learned about the incident because it was reported in the Sunday LA Times late edition. Indeed Monday’s Washington Post included a prominent picture on the cover of one of the inner sections showing Julie holding up Pasha complete with a huge bow tied around his head over the headline "Camp Commander’s dog bites President’s"!

A few weeks later I saw Julie and apologized. She laughed and told me the picture and news story was all a joke--- the humor of which somehow escaped me I should add. She related since she and David had married, only some six months prior, each time she was in earshot of reporters they shouted out to ask if she was pregnant, which irritated her no end.

Knowing that would be the case again on Father’s Day at the press availability following the Prayer Breakfast, she said she was determined to change the subject when the questions got to her. Thus the outsized bow around Pasha’s head and why she "happened" to be carrying him at the press availability.
Laughing she said she was ready when the reporters turned to her. She interrupted the first question to blurt out the Camp Commander’s dog bite Pasha, then held Pasha complete w/bow! She proudly said it worked like a charm, no pregnancy questions! I told her while I truly appreciated her ingenuity she should know I was dedicated to assuring neither I nor my dog qualified as future press diversions.

I hope the above conveys some small aspect of Julie Nixon Eisenhower's wonderful persona and innate good humor she will always be my personal
exemplar of someone who grew up in the full glare of the public arena and yet retained all of her charm, grace, and most importantly self-perspective tough
to do!

And now back to the sea stories.

Rich Enkeboll – 1st Company
DBF / Diesel Boats Forever

A Sea Story originated by and in memory of Dick Scales (18th) as modified by Rich Enkeboll (1st)

In 6/58 Dick Enkeboll (soon to change nickname to Rich) and Dick Scales (among others in '57) arrived for Submarine School Class 107 after a nominal one-year required "surface duty" tour. After completion 12/58, we reporting to USS Harder (SS 568) as a pair of green 'jg' JOs to try and earn our Gold Dolphins. We wondered
if such could be done readily since the early reputation of that group of boats (Tang Class) was captured in the dig/jeer: "Harder, Darter, Trigger, Trout—Always 'in' and never 'out'." We joined an 'experienced' wardroom that included two from USNA '55 (Tony Cjaka and Jack Renard)—true DBFers—Jack in particular was a promoter of the DBF emblem concept.

Both Tony and Jack had already completed the ‘voluntary’ Admiral Rickover interviews and were 'irked' because it was not clear what caused the ‘non-selection’— certainly not because they weren’t "worthy". Jack’s glass was always at least half-full so he was able to turn this disturbing news into an 'opportunity' and by the time in late '59 that the Enkeboll/Scales duo "wetted down" their dolphins they also found they had orders to be interviewed by the "kindly old gentleman" at Naval Reactors in early 1960. We recalled that Jack's advice was to "think long and hard as to whether going the nuclear route would be best” because once the Diesel Boats Forever pin was 'approved, ‘nucs’ may not be eligible to wear one.

Our skipper at the beginning of that tour was Ed Cooke, who left a few months after we boarded to be groomed by Rickover to be Skate's CO, and he had regularly advised us that if we wanted to be 'career submariners' we had to get accepted by Rickover. These general circumstances/considerations throughout the Submarine Fleet (not just as sometimes claimed by the Pacific contingent), precipitated the DBF movement.

If “boomers” can have a separate and unique insignia for serving in SSBNs on patrol so should those who earned their “Dolphins” in Diesel Boats, especially those who completed Special Operations and didn’t get towed back across the Atlantic as occurred the previous time Harder had tried to make such a trip.

On another trip, Harder in company with Trout (SS566), made a foray under the edge of the northern Atlantic pack ice, surfacing in polynas before dropping below half battery capacity. Reporters were advised that: “two SSs had demonstrated the ‘near ice-edge’ patrol capability of diesel boats to 330 miles.” One incredulous reporter said something like: “Wow, I didn’t know the ocean was that deep!”

Bob Fox – 23rd Company
Taking care of business in the Submarine Force

My story begins in the summer of 1979. I arrived in Washington to be the Project Manager for Attack Submarines. The 688 class was the ship of the time, and they were all broken. One of the enduring traits of all submariners is the realization that “if it is broken, fix it”. The summer of 1979 saw me as a very busy manager, with much guidance and direction “to fix it”. Into this pressure cooker walked Harry Yockey, Project Manager of the submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missile. Harry worked in a Joint Project Office with Air Force and surface Navy guys and gals. Harry ask what I was doing to make 688-class
submarines capable of firing his cruise missile. My answer was easy: “Nothing”. I had enough on my plate, and I didn’t think any more new “stuff” was needed.
However, Harry was a classmate, and I must admit the idea of turning a nuclear attack submarine into the wind to launch a cruise missile was a captivating concept. I did not know Harry at the Academy, nor had we worked together before. But, as I am sure many of us have experienced over the years, there is a union that comes into play. There are certainly exceptions, but I do believe there is a bond between all of us that makes us want to help one another. Besides the fact that Harry was a classmate, I had spent most, if not all, my submarine career with a “weep list” in my hands, and here was an opportunity to do something that might be important to the Submarine Force, the Navy, and the country. One might think that a TOMAHAWK capability would have been a high priority, and an area where intense oversight would be the order of the day. Not so: the Washington bureaucracy was not that interested. I am not sure why. The cruise missile task was Harry’s and mine.

At the start, Harry had a missile that was designed to be fired from a standard 21-inch submarine torpedo tube. My initial task was to make 688 submarines TOMAHAWK-capable. Once I had adequate systems to satisfy the difficult command and control requirements, I wanted to increase the number of missiles carried on board. Vertical launch from tubes installed outside the pressure hull was the idea. This notion was new, different, and transformational. One of my thornier problems was to convince the bosses that we could add twelve missiles without affecting noise and speed. To take my back-of-the-envelope ideas, and do a first-class concept paper that would address all the issues, and have all the “t’s” crossed, and “ i’s” dotted, I needed some funds. Harry and I went to the SSN desk in the Pentagon. The response was to the effect “What, are you guys nuts”, and we left. Retreating to the parking lot, we were marching along an “E” wing corridor when we noticed the Deputy CNO for Undersea Warfare coming towards us. He turned left, and entered an office. When Harry and I reached the door to the office, we noticed it said “MEN”. We looked at one another and entered.

That afternoon, I received a telephone call from the SSN desk. I was informed that funds were located for the engineering work.
Twenty five years later, the Submarine Force is marketing an SSGN that will carry 154 of Harry’s missiles. I wonder if there is any notion that TOMAHAWKS launched from vertical tubes was born in a head on the fourth deck of the “E” wing, by one vice admiral and two captains from the Class of 1957, while taking care of “business”.

Jerauld Richard Gentry (Obituary) – 1st Company

Colonel Jerauld R. (Jerry) Gentry, USAF (Ret.) died March 3, 2003. He was born in Enid, Oklahoma, May 16, 1935, the son of Jacob R. and Louise Hoyt Gentry, both deceased. He is survived by his wife, Anne Rogers Gentry, two sons, Jeffrey
R. Gentry and Alan H. Gentry, daughters-in-law Betsy and Rynne Gentry, and three grandchildren, Ryan Wells, Whitney Elizabeth and Sayler Allyn Gentry.

Jerauld R. Gentry has had an extensive career as a test pilot and fighter pilot. After graduating from Kemper Military School and from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957, he chose a commission in the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to pilot training in 1958. Following a tour as an F-100 pilot, Gentry was sent to Edwards AFB, where in 1964, he graduated from the Aerospace Research Pilot School and began a seven year tour at the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) as an experimental test pilot. Gentry flew tests on the F-1O4, F-5, F-111, and F- 4 while at the AFFTC.

While at the AFFTC, Gentry also participated as the Chief Air Force Pilot with NASA in the joint USAF/NASA Lifting Body Research Program, the initial manned tests to evaluate the feasibility of wingless spacecraft making horizontal landings on runways. The success of these efforts provided the basis for the current Space Shuttle Program. Colonel Gentry flew 35 flights in the M-2, HL-IO and X-24, including the first flight of the X-24 and the first rocket-powered flights in the HL-10 and the X-24. For this work in 1968, 1969 and 1970, Gentry received the Harmon International and Kincheloe Trophies and the Octave Chanute Award and remains one of the few individuals to have ever received all three. During this period of time he also obtained a Master of Science degree, Aerospace Systems Management, from the University of Southern California.

In January, 1971, during the Vietnam conflict, Gentry began a tour of duty in the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, stationed in Ubon, Thailand. He was assigned as a Fast Forward Air Controller and became the officer in charge of the 8th TFW day fast FACs, flying more than 200 missions in the F-4D. After returning to the United States, he was responsible for the Air Force's Lightweight Fighter program which evolved into the F-16 program and then served as Commander of Red Flag tactical training exercises at Nellis AFB. In 1980 Colonel Gentry was given command of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah. Under his command the 388th TFW was the first to transition into the F-16. In 1983 Gentry assumed a position as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Research, Development and Acquisitions, Headquarters for the United States Air Force. Following his retirement from the Air Force, Colonel Gentry founded the consulting firm of Gentry an Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia.

Colonel Gentry was a command pilot with 4,500 flying hours in over 50 different types of aircraft. His military decoration included the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal wit two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with two silver and three bronze oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze service stars, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with one silver and on bronze oak leaf cluster and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. In 1987 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Air and Space Hall of Fame and in 1993 was recognized as an honoree by the Aerospace Walk of Honor, Lancaster, California.
Colonel Gentry's professional and social affiliations included the Air Force Association, Red River Valley Fighter Pilot Association, the Daedalions, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the International Order of Characters.


Mr. Jerome P. Ashfield Mr. A. Scott Crossfield
Colonel Eugene P. Deatrick, USAF (Ret.) Major General Guy L. Hecker, Jr., USAF (Ret.) Colonel William J. "Pete" Knight, USAF (Ret.) Major General Cecil W. Powell, USAF (Ret.) Mr. Burt Rutan
General Alton D. Slay, USAF (Ret.)
Major General Perry M. Smith, USAF (Ret.) Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, USAF (Ret.) Colonel George E. Thompson, USAF (Ret.)
Major General Gordon E. Williams, USAF (Ret.)

Dick Gentz – 24th Company
A Saturday Night in the Cold War

At 2000 on Saturday, 2 September 1961, Labor Day weekend, families were settling down to watch their favorite TV programs, “Leave it to Beaver”, “Bonanza”, or “Perry Mason.” Sunset had been at 1937. The moon was in its last quarter and would not rise until 0054. There had been scattered evening thunderstorms predicted (Source: Washington Post). Somewhere east of Norfolk, ASW squadrons VS 24 and VS 27, flying twin-engined, propeller-driven, Grumman S2F Trackers from the USS Randolph (CVS 15) had just begun conducting night carrier qualifications. Dick’s logbook shows he had flown earlier in the day.

The squadrons were completing the transition from the straight deck USS Valley Forge (CVS 45) to the angle deck Randolpk The Air Wing was getting ready to deploy to the North Atlantic over the winter of 1961-62 aboard USS Essex (CVS
9) to operate with NATO forces and “show the flag.” This was at the time when American and Soviet tanks faced each other across the newly constructed Berlin Wall at an intersection called “Checkpoint Charlie” - but that’s another story. Two other distinguished members of the Class of 1957 were in the Air Wing: Bud Edney and Doug Buns.

A buzz went through the ship - an aircraft was missing in the landing pattern. On board were the VS 27 executive officer, an experienced ASW carrier pilot, and
a lieutenant who was on initial night carquals, having joined the squadron from the recently retired blimp force.

At that time, night operations were conducted under visual flight rules (VFR) meaning aircraft approached. the ship from aft, at 600 feet just to starboard, broke about a minute ahead, dropped the gear, flaps and hook while in a 180 degree turn, maintaining 600 feet. With no moon, and probably some cloud cover, there would have been no horizon. Instruments would have the only cues. It was clear the aircraft had crashed, and no one had seen it happen.

The VS 27 Squadron commanding officer assigned Dick and his normal crew, including an ATC and AE1, to fly the SAR mission. The carrier maintained position while the escorting destroyers also searched. Dick logged three hours and remembers the moon rising over a relatively calm sea. After landing, the CO again approached Dick and told him he was going ashore to serve as the Casualty Assistant Calls Officer (CACO). The Randolph’s Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft launched at first light. Walking to the aircraft on the flight deck, near the catapult, there was a landing gear strut assembly with the wheel, and a pilot’s helmet.

Immediately after landing, Dick, with the NAS Norfolk base chaplain, began the ride to notiIr the families. The XO’s wife was first, if memory serves. That was hard enough, as he had older children.

Then we walked up the steps of a simple home and met a pregnant young woman. The lieutenant had apparently just completed Virginia’s required one awaiting year period to obtain a divorce from his previous wife and had not yet remarried.

Over the next couple of days, after getting some sleep from being up for about 36 hours, Dick, with lots of support from the chaplain and BuPers, obtained the lieutenant’s father’s permission to transfer his benefits to the pregnant fiancée.
The lieutenant’s father had to walk to the local store in the back hills of Kentucky to speak on the phone.
USS Essex (CVS 9), with CVSG 56 embarked, departed Norfolk on 23 October 1961 and returned to Quonset Point, Rhode Island, 22 February 1962. Not a long cruise

Harry Gimber – 4th Company

No group of stories about the Class of 1957 would be complete without mention of Burt Nichols (21) and the Brian Head Ski Resort.
Burt applied for the Marine Corps our First Class year, but the Marines turned him down for physical reasons. While he appealed, June 7th came and went with no resolution, so Burt took his diploma and headed west. For reasons unknown the Navy Department never contacted him regarding a commission so he joined Hughes Aircraft Company and started a successful career. Later he and a few partners purchased a small ski resort in Brian Head, Utah, a three hour drive north of Las Vegas. Burt eventually became the sole owner and in 1979 he invited his classmates for a week of skiing. Seven couples and their families responded and thus began a ten year run of fellowship, enjoyment and a little competition. Burt and his wife Sally provided the venue and the lift tickets, but other classmates, most notably Ron and Barbara Baker, did the organizing.
There were ski lessons for the beginners, downhill races for kids and adults (with video), après-ski events, snowmobiling, hot tubs, and the end of week award dinners. Classmates and their families came from far and near as word of the grand time spread. Led by the regulars, Bakers (14), Banks (21), Beattys (04), Gimbers (04), Kronzers (14), Henrys (24) and Lanmans (06), an estimated 75 plus classmates may have attended over the years and one year more than 120 people were present A few classmates were so enthralled by the beauty of the area that they purchased land in Brian Head and even more became condo owners and enjoyed the area at other times of the year. It was truly a fun and most memorable time. Sadly for ’57, but more so for Burt and Sally, they were forced to sell Brian Head and a memorable time came to an end.

Ron Goldstone – 22nd Company
Sea Story

In July "64, I was the black shoe Surface Ops Officer on Patrol Force Seventh Fleet(CTF 72) Staff based in Okinawa. One of my jobs was to prepare OP Orders and brief DDs assigned to our TF to patrol the Taiwan Straits and to conduct other surface operations along the Western Pacific littoral.
The USS Pickering was designated for an August '64 mission. Being in Sasebo coincident with a port visit by our flagship, I decided to check her out for suitability. She was a Fletcher Class, with 2 single 5" mounts forward and 3 aft, the one on the 01 level facing forward. Pickering still carried a quint 21"
surface torpedo tube between her stacks.
Ships assigned to our patrol force were equipped with van installed between the stacks. This posed no problem since the DDs assigned up to then had had their torpedo tubes removed. If Pickering went, the van would have had to be installed on the fantail, thereby denying the ship use of her 2 after mounts.
After assessing the situation, I voiced my concerns to my aviator boss and together we prevailed upon our Admiral to request that a substitute ship be furnished.
The ship selected was USS Maddox. Its mission was to monitor communications off the coast of NVN.
And now you know the rest of the story.

Another Sea Story

DESRON 18 staff deployed to the Med with a full complement of officers: Chief Staff Officer (me), a CommO, Engineer, Doctor, and Chaplain.
The Commodore was a personable type, eager to observe his CO's up close and personal so as to evaluate their effectiveness. He took advantage of every opportunity to get onboard their ship. Whenever one was in company with the Flagship, the Squad Dog would arrange to pay a visit via highline. Normally, he would go alone so as not to create a burden on the target wardroom.

On one occasion he broke from his usual pattern and invited the Chaplain and the Doctor to accompany him, probably to give them the experience of riding the chair across.

As I was observing the transfer from the bridge, a signalman sidled up and asked what was going on. I told him the Commodore was paying a visit to the other ship. When he noticed that several others were also making the trip, he asked who else was going over. I explained that the Chaplain and the Doctor were with him.
After a pregnant pause, the signalman, wryly opined: "Seems like the Commodore is a God-fearing, hypochondriac"

Moral: If you submit enough bad (but true) sea stories, you might be invited to talk politics.

Another(Yawn) Sea Story

One of the more memorable perks of my tour of duty at NATO in Brussels was the opportunity to visit a NATO country once every three months. It was a family adventure. We pulled the kid out of school and away we went, by car to the host's designated city. During 1972-76 there were 13 NATO members and we managed to hit them all.
One trip took us to Istanbul. To get there we had to cross Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. We were able to transit with but a few anxious moments, since I was incognito, having been advised before my sanctioned travel to conceal my NATO identity.
Since I had previously visited Athens w/o the family, I promised the wife that we would detour to that city on our way back to Belgium after we left Turkey. I assured her that I had been to the Greek capital several times while deployed and that she would enjoy seeing the Parthenon and other historic sites.
We arrived at the city's outskirts after sunset and navigated our way to our hotel. Enroute we encountered an eerie stillness about the city. No vehicular traffic; no pedestrians. The streets were deserted. I thought this situation very odd because I recalled Athens as a very bustling, animated metropolis and so remarked to my somewhat skittish passengers.
That something was terribly amiss was confirmed when we came upon a burnt out bus and then a bank with its windows broken. I immediately decided to change course and executed a Corpen 9.
Upon turning the corner we came face-to-face with a Sherman tank, its muzzle pointing directly at us. An armed Greek army officer waved us to the curb. He didn't speak English, I didn't speak Greek. But we each could communicate in halting French. He indicated that he wanted us and our luggage out of the car.
At this point my wife and daughter were close to hysterics.
As mentioned above, I had been advised to conceal my NATO status, especially when travelling through Communist countries. But since Greece was a NATO ally, I threw discretion to the wind, whipped out my military ID and feigned outrage at his demand. It worked. The officer saluted and sent us on our way.
We arrived at our hotel, parked the car and with rifle shots resounding in the air, raced into the lobby and safety. We soon learned that we had
unwittingly timed our Athen's visit coincident with the Colonel's revolt which overthrew the civilian government.
Surprisingly, all was quiet the next day, but all airports and ferry services were shut-down. We took a leisurely tour of the city, took in the sights, and
,eventually, returned unscathed to Brussels.
Who would have thought that that adventure could be recounted as a sea story.

And Yet ANOTHER Sea Story:

My initial sea duty assignment was DCA on Stormes(DD-780). During underway refueling , I was nomimally in charge of the forward fueling station on the 01 level just below the bridge.
One dark and starry night, I believe during REFTRA, we conducted refueling ops off GTMO. It was a balmy, Caribbean evening. Cruising at the usual 12-15 knots provided a cooling effect on the skin.
Stationed alongside the AO, the hose was secured in the trunk and we began pumping. I was positioned directly below the fuel line, executing my assigned duties flawlessly. Suddenly the hose ruptured directly above my head and pressurized bunker fuel rained down on everybody in the vicinity.
I seem to recall that fuel oil was heated slightly to improve viscosity during pumping. Either that or the friction during transfer caused the oil to heat up. Anyway, my skin immediately sensed a distinct temperature differential between the oil and the cooling effect due to relative wind passing over my exposed areas

My initial reaction was that I was being boiled in oil and my brain told me to escape! However, the slippery deck was unresponsive to my soles. Luckily, the lifeline kept me on the 01 level.
I often shudder when I think what might have been, like, in the water, at night, drenched in fuel oil, watching an AO and DD steaming away at 12-15 knots.
Thank goodness for guardian angels.

Jim Googe – 7th Company

Starting a Tradition

If you remember the life-size bronze statue of Bill the Goat in front of McDonough Hall, you also remember that Bill is sculpted in a fighting pose, as befits the Navy sports mascot, charging forward off his hind legs, horns lowered to ram, with front legs raised, revealing in anatomically correct fashion, those parts which impressively distinguish a billy goat from a nanny goat.

Well, they tell me now that the statue has been relocated to a different spot in the Yard, and that a tradition has evolved requiring Bill’s impressively distinguishing features to be painted by midshipmen, or polished, or rubbed for good luck to the same effect before important events, such as the Army-Navy game or final exams. Frankly, I don’t know what they’re doing now, but I do know how it started, because I started it.

During my second-class exchange week at West Point, I learned only three things of value: (1) academics at West Point are fruit; (2) I’m glad I chose Annapolis, and (3) Woo Poos are oft known to paint the genitalia on the statue of George Washington’s horse. At the time, I didn’t realize how important this knowledge would become.

Fast forward four months to June Week 1956. Finishing touches were being put on a new statue of Bill the Goat by yard workers. The statue was the Class gift of the Class of ‘25, to be presented to the “Supe” at a ceremony to which I had been invited, as one of the varsity sport captains-elect for the coming year. It was the evening before the ceremony when the workers finished up and covered the statue with a tarpaulin. Immediately, I knew what my first leadership assignment as a Navy team captain would be: to surprise the administration with an appropriately decorated symbol of Navy athletics at the unveiling the next morning. I communicated my plan to my teammates.

At 0200, we met in the shadows near the statue, armed with flashlights, paint brushes, and durable enamel paint. Waiting until a routine jimmy legs patrol had passed, we rushed our objective, lifted the tarpaulin, and did our work in seconds, leaving one of Bill’s crown jewels a glistening gold, and the other a brilliant blue. We then quickly re-covered the statue and returned to our rooms confident that I, their captain, would soon be an official witness to the most memorable class gift dedication ceremony ever.

Imagine my disappointment when shortly after sunrise I saw that the workers had revisited the site to remove the tarpaulin and install a fancy unveiling shroud. They had discovered our unauthorized artwork. We thought our plan foiled. But the frantic efforts of the workers to remove the paint during the few hours remaining before the dedication, using steam lances and wire brushes, were not without effect. So although Bill’s jewels were not blue and gold for his presentation, I was pleased to see Admiral Smedburg and the President of the
Class of ’25 laughing, heads together as if sharing a private joke, and pointing at the statue as the drop cord was pulled, and the shroud came down to reveal a dull-green bronze goat, with highly polished brass balls. --- And everyone applauded.

So whatever the present tradition, painting or polishing, a member of the Class of ‘57 did it first.

P.S. Two weeks later, Navy won its first national sailing championship. You can read about it in RADM Bob McNitt’s History of Sailing at the Naval Academy. Regrettably, Bill the Goat’s role in the victory is not mentioned.

Allen Hemphill – 19th Company
I was getting prepared for going to Prospective Commanding Officers School in Hawaii, so my CO gave me the assignment of making an approach on the USS Enterprise during an exercise.

I penetrated the screen between two American destroyers – there were Canadian destroyers in the screen, and they needed to be avoided because they were GOOD. I made the approach, and at 1,000 yards we loosed three Mk. 14 torpedoes directly under the midships of the carrier.

As usual, we fired off a flare and surfaced – right into the teeth of a state three sea! Watching the bow dip under green water, the CO decided that he was not going to take the proffered helo over to the debriefing. He turned to me and said, “You sunk them, you tell them” – so with a three-day growth of beard, drenched in diesel oil and green water, I appeared in the wardroom of he Enterprise. I was greeted by an audience of well-pressed blue uniforms, complete with ties, and an admiral who was not happy with watching three torpedoes run under his hull.

I explained how we had penetrated the screen – not difficult off San Diego where the inversion layer is great protection.

“Nice work, Lieutenant, but we were only doing 19 knots. Would it have made a difference if we had been at 40 knots?

“Not really,” I said, matter-of-factly. “At 1,000 yards, the Enterprise looks like the coast of California.” I then swung a air periscope 180 degrees, and said, “Your bow is here and your stern is way over here.”

My CO got a message when I returned to the boat…something about “insubordination.”

Korean War Service

I served first on the deck force and then as a Fire Controlman aboard the U.S.S O'Bannon (DDE-450) -- World War IIs "Luckiest Ship in the Navy." (Most decorated ship, many battle engagements and ZERO Purple Hearts. Editorial comment: Of course, Purple Hearts were more difficult to earn in the Pre-John Kerry era...)

Other than the usual, we were the first ship to take the "new" 3" 50s into Wonson Harbor, where we wreaked havoc on NK batteries who were more accustomed to the slow response time of the 5" batteries. Just as an aside, the Navy kept a ship doing figure 8s in the harbor because the US Marines held several tiny islands in the harbor, and if the NK could drive the ship out they could overrun the islands in six hours.

The NK had HUGE batteries mounted on railroad tracks on a mountain at the harbor entrance. They would open great steel doors, run out a gun, fire off several rounds, retreat and close the doors before a ship could respond -- but the 3" could fire and "walk" the rounds right on target like a machine gun...after the first day or so they were very quiet.

They also ran their trains through the city because the rest of NK was so mountainous...and again, because of the slow 5" response, they would leave the mountain tunnel, turn on their lights, blow their whistle, and taunt the ships.
The rapid fire 3" made them a lot more circumspect. (If the NK only knew how often the dam

A BB relieved us, and in a salute to our prowess in silencing botht eh guns and the trains, fired a 16" broadside at the entry mountain -- taking so much off the top that cartographers had to change the height! I was below on the fire control analog computer and the shock wave was so strong, I thought we had taken a direct hit...

Navigation by Sperry

As anyone who has sailed off the coast of Southern California can attest, there is a rather constant cloud cover off the coast. During the pre-electronic days it was hard for a surface ship to get a star fix, and near impossible for submarines.

As the Ops Officer and Navigator, I was representing my submarine at a pre- exercise conference. After all of the discussion, the admiral said that he wanted all 0800, 1200, and 1600 positions marked, “Good” “Excellent” or “Poor.”

I remarked that those subjective designations varied greatly between those surface ships with satellite navigation, those without such technology, and a submarine which may not even get a star sighting for two weeks while submerged off San Diego.
I said, ‘To some ships, being off a quarter of a mile is ‘poor,’ while I will mark ‘excellent’ if I am within 10 miles of my actual position.”

The admiral said, incredulously, “How do you find your way back to port?”

I answered, truthfully, “I head east until I spot the coast of California, then north or south until I recognize something.”

Again, my CO heard about my “insubordination” – but it was true!

Once I was returning from such an exercise hundreds of miles off the San Diego coast, running only a DR for several weeks. We spotted the USS Sperry steaming at sea – an event worthy of an announcement on the 1MC. I had no idea where we were, but since Sperry was steaming it was obvious that we were close to San Diego.

Our radar had a solid 35 mile range…but my radar was blank with land. I called over to Sperry and said, “We are calibrating our radar. Where do you hold San Clemente Island?”

The OOD answered, I hold the southern tip of San Clemente Island at 336 degrees, 135 miles.” I answered, “Roger. Concur.”

Since I knew where Sperry was, I now knew where we were…and we were a good 25 miles from where I thought we were….

(It was something like that…please don’t tell me that the point 336 degrees, 135 miles, is 12 miles inland!)

By the way, a friend of mine, CO of a West Coast submarine, was relieved of command when he “navigated” by asking a fishing boat off San Francisco where he was. The skipper of the fishing boat called a local talk show….


Before you can exercise leadership, you must first get to a position of leadership. That sometimes requires POWER. Power can come from the muzzle of a gun (as the Communists w know), but it can also come from position. A title is power within a corporation, particularly t title "CEO."

A few years ago, a Fortune 500 company owned two TV stations in Los Angeles. These station had overlapping signals. One station was a subscription service with an encrypted signal and some 360,000 subscribers. The other was a small cable company. The federal government forbids the concurrent ownership of TV signals, so one of the stations needed to be placed in trust. The FCC has a required method of independent trusteeships, and they must approve th Trustee.

The Fortune 500 company was having major problems with the subscription TV station becau the station was owned jointly by the company and by the owner of AVCO Embassy Pictures,
A. Jerrold Perencio. Perencio was both a 50% owner and the managing partner. (Rule #1: The is no such thing as an "equal" partnership. In fact, I wonder about all partnerships. Fifty percent of all marriages fail, and marriages have sex going for them.) The Fortune 500 compa "bought" time on the station of which it owned 50% for its subscription service, of which it owned 100%. This would have been a fine situation, except that Perencio had a falling out wit the CEO of the Fortune 500 company. The station, under Perencio's control, demanded highe fees for the playing of the subscription service, making veiled threats to "service" the antenna during the closed circuit telecast of some major heavyweight championship fight, thereby threatening to destroy the credibility of the subscription service.

The Fortune 500 company decided that rather than place the calm TV cable under the trust, would place the riotous subscription service under the trust.

I was invited to be the Trustee – and I was approved by the FCC. I later found out that Nick Carter, the CEO of Oak Industries, had tired of the fight with Perencio, and had asked Carl Bradshaw, his Senior V.P., “Who is the meanest SOB in the valley?” Carl “nominated” me. Th only person previously approved as an Independent Trustee had been Walter Mondale, but Ni Carter said, “I don’t want some liberal running my station.”

Once approved, I found out about the problems. And I also learned about a $150 million laws filed by the Fortune 500 company against the TV station. The lawsuit was designed to enjoin management (Perencio) from taking any actions to arbitrarily stop the signal. As a trustee of 50% of the stock (I had a no-cut contract), I was able to name two people to the four-member Board of Directors. I named myself and a friendly female attorney.

It was obvious that the only way to solve the problem between the two antagonists was to tak over management of the station. That would be in the best interest of the Fortune 500 compa with whom I had a legal fiduciary relationship. The "other side," two attorneys who represente Perencio, did not like the two new members – and we, of course, did not like them. Actually, w had never met, but the corporations were at war so we were supposed to be at "war."

I read the by-laws of the corporation and found that the "power" was vested in the President o the corporation, who was the CEO. All directives had been signed by the attorney for Perencio the "Chairman and CEO," so apparently they were under the impression that the Chairman w the CEO. The existing officers of the company were all members of the "other side," but it was a mess because there were people named as officers who had not been with the company in years. Perencio had been running the place for years through his attorneys, and there had no been a meeting of the Board of Directors for many years. So, as an automatic member of the Board by virtue of my 50% ownership, I called a meeting of the Board in San Diego.

The other side refused to come to San Diego from Century City, so when I held the meeting, there was no quorum. They called a meeting in L. A. I refused to go. I called another meeting. They did not show up. When they called another meeting, I did not reply. But three minutes
before the meeting was to come to order, my friendly attorney and I showed up in their Centu City offices.

I had planned with my attorney to take over the corporation by winning the position of Presid and CEO. And I wanted my attorney to be the Secretary of the corporation. (It is not so important what a Board does. It is very important what the minutes of a meeting say that a Board does.) I hoped that the two attorneys who, coincidentally, had written the by-laws seve years before, had not read them recently, and that my showing up without announcement would catch them unprepared. It did.

When we arrived, both attorneys had clients in their offices, and they were stunned to see us. They courteously got rid of their clients and ushered us into their palaceous surroundings. W were impressed, and suggested that there was no particularly important business that really needed to be transacted, but that a new slate of officers needed to be elected because some named officers were not even with the company. I conceded that since the senior attorney had the most experience, and had actually been running the company for years, he should, naturally, be the Chairman of the Board. He glowed, probably thinking that the CEO title wen with that position, and thanked me. He actually seconded the motion. The vote was unanimo My attorney then suggested that since the "senior" position had been given to their camp, it w only proper that the President position be given to me. The new Chairman seconded the motio which passed unanimously.

I nominated my attorney as the Secretary. Since she was a "woman," I felt that it was only proper. (She had agreed beforehand to such a demeaning comment.) We all laughed and vote "yea." We went out to lunch (they paid – $450 – serious money in the early 80s). It was a week or so before new directives began to arrive at the station, signed by me as the "President and CEO." It took about three seconds for the Station Manager to call the Chairman and tell him that some strange orders were arriving from someone who presumed to give orders. It took a f seconds for the attorney to call me, and for me to advise him to read the by-laws which he ha written himself.

The coup was complete. (Not really – there were subsequent lawsuits and great arguments, b won.) Since it took three votes of the Board to replace me, I was "President for Life." I replaced the staff that was loyal to the other side, and notified the Fortune 500 company that they wou have no more difficulty with the station extorting them. The Fortune 500 company did not ret their lawsuit for a year or so, during which time it paid Gray, Cary, Ames and Frye to sue bot me the station and I paid Luce, Forward, Hamilton and Smith to defend the station. My contr called for the Fortune 500 company to pay all my expenses, which included my attorney bill, Oak Industries actually paid both sides.

When I pointed that out to them, they said that I was an "independent" trustee and they had idea whose side I might be on, so they would keep the suit intact. That episode may be the subject of an entire book.

Anyway, the power of the position of CEO is a legally defendable position in California law. Th CEO has the obligation to handle the day-to-day responsibilities, and that gives the title a gre deal of power, particularly when the CEO cannot be replaced.

With the power, the incumbent has the opportunity to exercise leadership, but power and leadership are two very different things. (Leadership can more easily be exercised from a position of power, however.) Leadership does not need power to exist, although it helps.

Once in "command" of the TV station, I started making changes, the first of which was to ass Oak Industries that there would be no further interference with their signal. When the Station Manager left for a better job in New York, I replaced him with his "assistant" – a pretty 27-yea old who had slept her way from Secretary to Assistant Station Manager in four years. Togethe we changed the format of the station from Spanish-language-only from 6 AM to 6 PM and ON TV from 6 PM to 6 AM to ON TV around the clock. Eventually I had to fire her because she wa still obedient to the "other side" – Jerry Perenchio – and was completely standing in my way a every turn and telling them everything I did. Since I could not be fired, it did not bother me terribly until she went too far. Finally, she found a station directive that said that all expense accounts must be forwarded through the Station Manager. She wrote me in a note that I shou submit my expense account through her. I reminded her that I was the President, CEO, and "owner" of 50% of the stock, but she insisted, so I fired her.

Finally, Oak needed to sell the station to cover massive debts and an impending payroll defici Our administration had taken the station from a profit of $1.5 million a year to $9 million a y
-- in a two year period, and had won more than 25 Emmys during that time. I was “retired,” after first being kicked up to the honorary Chairman of the Board of Oak Broadcasting Syste Nick Carter promised me future employment but he was suddenly in command of a company that was losing $100 million and was the subject of many lawsuits. He "resigned" after 25 yea as Chairman of the Board of Oak Industries. He had brought the company from a small business in Illinois to a Fortune 500 company with 16,000 employees, but he went "Hollywoo divorced his wife, bought a Porsche, and eventually nearly destroyed the company. He had be Chairman for so long he began to believe the company was his.

So, I "retired" at the age of 51 to become a core Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at the Vista Campus of National University. I had actually gone to National at the request of the University president to be a Prof. of Business, butthe Dean of the School of Business asked m “Do you have a Ph.D. in Business?”

I said, “No, but I am the CEO of a $100 million Los Angeles corporation. Does that count?” He said, “No.”
So I went down one floor, gave the Dean of the School of Technology my resume and he said, “You, sir, are a Professor of Computer Science!”

So much for academe. I spent 6,000 classroom hours over the next 14 years teaching comput science.

(Footnote: The subscription TV service was in direct competition with a blossoming cable industry, which had several more channels available. We were limited to one channel, over th air, encrypted. To compete we carried first run movies during the day, the home games of the

L.A. Dodgers, The L.A. Kings, The L.A. Lakers and the Anaheim Angels in the evening…then a 11 P.M. we double encrypted and for an additional fee, carried X-rated movies until dawn. Mo than 80% of subscribers paid extra for the x-rated movies!)

Dale Hollabaugh – 6th Company
The Marines of the TBS Class 4-57 - hard chargers - staying in touch!

Based on USNA’s quota, 62 Marine second lieutenants were commissioned out of the 848 graduates of the Class of 1957, on 7Jun57. Much as aviators must go to flight school to qualify to fly, Marines must go to Marine officer’s Basic School,

i.e. “The Basic School” (TBS), at Quantico, VA, to begin their careers as qualified Marine officers. Upon graduation from TBS, you are assigned a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), and usually assigned duty in that specialty to begin your career. Marine officers can be received for training at the TBS from other sources as well, e.g. NROTC, Platoon Leaders Class (PLC), Officer’s Candidate Course (OCC), flight schools and the Chinese Marine Corps.

TBS is run in groups, that is, several classes of Marine officers a year were formed as the officers became available. As a graduate of USNA, all officer’s were entitled to 60 days of graduation leave, plus travel time, i.e. doesn’t count on your new officer’s record, and so we didn’t have to make ourselves available until about 6Aug57 – depending on the city of your home of record. Many of us were “gung-ho” however, and decided to be in the first TBS Class of USNA 1957 Marines out in the fleet. As luck would have it, the TBS Class of 4-57 was forming up about the middle of Jul57 so 18 officers out of the 62 that graduated on 7Jun57 decided to end their graduation leave early and report with the 220 officers from other sources, making a class of 238. The remaining 44 USNA officers reported early in Aug57 and became part of TBS 5-57 – a much larger TBS Class.

Members of TBS Class of 4-57 spent from only 2 to a maximum 35 years in the
U. S. Marine Corps, but no matter how long they stayed, most enjoyed successful military and/or professional careers and have contributed mightily to our great country, i.e. from captains of industry, to the ministry, as civil servants, in the defense of our country, Brigadier General in the Marine Corps, Commandant of the Chinese Marine Corps and even one Medal of Honor winner. Their bond was so strong that after 40 years, a small group decided to begin holding get-togethers and since that time, we have held well-attended reunions in San Francisco, 11/98; Washington, DC, 8/99; San Diego, 5/01; Hilton Head, 11/02; Annapolis, 6/04; Colorado Springs, 9/05 and we are scheduled to hold the seventh in Annapolis again in the Spring of 2008.

The Dark Ages
It has been over 50 years since we endured our first “Dark Ages”, January through March 1954, and for most of us, I’m sure that we would say “good riddance”! We had just returned from Christmas Leave, it was cold as heck (remember, the varied responses to “How cold is it in Maryland in the winter? – “--- cold as the seat of an outhouse head; cold as the ------ of a witches’ ---, etc, etc.”) and all there was to look forward to were tests and a new semester of studies – hard studies for most! Outside, we likely had the wind, snow, cold, overcast skies and dampness. Inside, there were fewer chances to get out, e.g. football season was over, and too many upperclass affected by the same slump that affected us – which didn’t result in a very congenial atmosphere inside the halls of “Mother B”. And to make matters worse for those on the Severn side of Bancroft Hall, they could hear the rollicking fun coming from the old Severn Bridge Inn – the “Greek Place” – which burned down and has recently reopened as the Severn Inn.

There were several ways the “inmates” let off steam. One of the most time consuming for the Plebes were the “Sunday Night Follies”. Usually held after Sunday supper but before the call to Study, the entertainment for the upper class consisted of magic shows, oratory, plays, singing, mimicking and dancing,
i.e. kind of like “trick or treat” for Halloween – but heavy on the “trick”! An outstanding example of a show is in the accompanying photo of a Plebe “Chorus Line”, circa 1954, where partial uniforms were combined with cleaning gear to create the four beautiful ladies that you see. (The location is 24thCo area, 6th Wing, 4th Deck. Note the backdrop painted on the shades and the curtain formed by a couple of Navy blankets – and the cigar and cigarettes being smoked by the upper classmen.) In case you don’t recognize the nubile dancers, from left to right that’s J.J. Stewart, myself, John Sheehan, and John Gilstrap. These shows often ended with a “Bricking Party” in honor of some upper classman’s choice of dates that past weekend. This was a dangerous evolution for Plebes because if the upper classmen liked the show, you’d likely have to plan and rehearse another show for the next week – and if the upper classman didn’t take his “bricking” in good humor, the “brickers” would be “coming around” to the brickee for the foreseeable future!

When we the Plebes were let out, we often went to a movie to kill a couple of hours and try to get our minds off our problems remember the theater names; Circle, The Playhouse, and the Capitol – out West Street? The big movies our Plebe Year were From Here to Eternity, Stalag 17, On the Waterfront, The Country Girl and Roman Holiday and I Love Lucy on TV which most of us never got to see! Or maybe there was a Tea Fight at St. Mary’s, Carvel Hall – “Hospitality Headquarters to the Academy since 1896,” that we might want to check out. If we had a little extra time, we’d indulge in one of the many restaurants that were near the Academy, many long gone – remember the names; Red Coach Inn on King George next to Carvel Hall, Carvel Hall itself had great burgers, La Rosa’s and Antoinette’s, the Royal and the G. & J. Grill, Little Campus Inn, the New Grill, Presto and The Hitching Post, and maybe a “wishful
thinking” stop at Tilghman’s, Jacob Reed’s, Handley’s Ford, Marbert Motors, or Capitol Cadillac/ Oldsmobile?

When one of my friends from Missouri, Bob Beeler, and I were in the mood for a little music, i.e. a few “tunes”, we often went to Ms. Lavinia Fowler’s Drag House at #4 Revell Street near St. Mary’s. (Remember, we could not even have a radio in our rooms!) On Sundays, after the drags checked out, Ms. Fowler would let us sit in her parlor and play her radio and we’d catch up on all the latest Rhythm and Blues songs of the day – as I remember, Howlin’Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard and Muddy Waters were but a few of the R&B hit artists in 1954.

Back in the “Hall”, there was at least one other form of letting off steam during the Dark Ages but it was a little risky, and that was having a good old wrestling match in your room during the Study Period after Supper. The accompanying picture shows how much “fun” Dave Mabry and I had during just such a match in our room circa 1954. We had to “keep the noise down” while we battled from bed to desk to floor and back again in order that we not disturb the Mate of the Deck (MOD) or nearby upperclassmen who just might “fry” us, for fighting, out of uniform, torn uniform, room in disarray, etc., etc. Ha! (J.J. Stewart, our other roommate took the photo and I don’t remember what he looked like!)

Yes, that first Dark Ages was a tough time for all of us but we all evidently found ways to endure and get out with our records intact and on our way to a comparatively blissful Youngster Year. I hope this brought back a few memories for you of that period of time which brought us all together in our beloved “Mother B”.

Cannon Balls

Recipe for a two crust pie

8 apples ½ teaspoon cinnamon 2 cups brown sugar1 cup water

Peel and core the apples. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Fill the centers of the apples. Roll out the pastry dough and cut pieces to cover each apple. Seal pastry with water. Place in an ungreased baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes until crust is browned. Serve with Hard Sauce.

Hard Sauce

2 cups confectioner’s sugar 3 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup butter 2 egg whites

Soften butter and mix in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the vanilla and beat well until all ingredients are blended. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the sauce. Chill 2 hours.

Credit page 33 in “Brigade Seats” by Karen Neeb

Remember When?

Our raincapes were rolled as tight as possible, doubled up, and fastened at the bottom with a buttoned strap. We were required to carry it over our left wrist, forearm horizontal to the deck, when in formation – the better to salute with the right hand! Sometimes it seemed as though it weighed about ten pounds, but suspect it was closer to five. When it was prescribed as part of the liberty uniform, we hauled it around like the dutiful Mids that we were, but we hated it
- except when it rained or snowed, of course!

Laundry Numbers

In the 50's (i.e. "our time"), these numbers were used at USNA essentially as the predecessors of our officer serial numbers. They were without class numerals but were assigned as blocks of about 1200 to each successive class. Mine was “2798” and I'm sure you remember yours as well as your officer’s serial numbers (in my case, initially 072951 and then my SSN). About 1966, the old four digit laundry number was converted to an “Alpha Number" or "Alpha Code” (theretofore only used on "Form 2s") preceded with a class’ numerals. For example, had they been used in our time, my number likely would have been “572798”. When the military converted everyone to Social Security Numbers (circa 1973), USNA retained the Alpha Code for the Mids' laundry and still uses it today (2006). When you think about it, the laundry department at USNA has always performed an incredible service, e.g. can you imagine trying to dry, clean, and press up to 4000 sets if blues and overcoats after a very wet Army-Navy Game or P-rade?!

Marksmanship (or the Admiral Cassady Trophy)

Ever since those hectic days of Plebe Summer, when we boarded motor whaleboats to proceed across the Severn to the Naval Station firing ranges for marksmanship training by the Marines, I have had a knack for shooting. As a young first lieutenant with family in Oct59, I received orders from MCB Quantico to 2ndMarDiv FMF, Camp Lejeune, NC. Upon our arrival, I was assigned to 2ndBn8thMar (2/8) and while assigned as a platoon commander in Foxtrot Co, 2/8, I answered a solicitation for “shooters” to try out for the East Coast Marine Corps Championships, preparatory to designating a Marine Corps team for the annual all-service competition at Camp Perry, OH. While I didn’t make the Marine Corps team, I did learn even more about marksmanship with both the service rifle M-1 Garand and the service pistol Colt 45. Shortly after returning to my unit F/2/8, I received orders to 3rdBn8thMar (3/8) which was preparing to
be the Afloat Marine Battalion in the Mediterranean Sea for at least a six month period. Someone in my new battalion noted that I was the most senior officer who had competed in marksmanship at the highest level in the Corps and so one day I was ordered to the Battalion CO’s (LtCol John F. Paul) office and was told that I was to be assigned to the S-3’s (Maj Jack D. Spaulding) office as a Liaison Officer for our deployment, with the special additional duty as captain of our task force’s rifle and pistol team! It seems that COMSIXTHFLT had received several rifle and pistol competition challenges from NATO countries bordering the Med, particularly the Royal Commandos on Malta, the Greek Marines near Athens, and the Turkish Marines near Dikili (now Izmir) Turkey. I was given complete authority and money to obtain the “match” equipment that I needed and reassign any other Marines in the battalion to my team based upon their recent qualification scores and/or match experience. The CO stood by his word and so I picked the very best pistol and rifle marksmen in the battalion and ordered “match” equipment and ammunition from the Marine Corps Supply Center in Albany, GA. Very soon we were embarked out of Moorhead City, NC bound for the Med.

Challenge details were handled through broadcast communications (several members of the team and I were initially aboard the USS Taconic, AGC-17, so comm was our least worry!), and as we neared the task force’s various ports of call, the team was transferred by highline to those ships making the particular port where the team’s ground transportation was provided by the challenging country. (Note that during our scheduled landings, members of the R & P team did participate in their assigned roles so there was no training lost.) While we never lost a match, perhaps our competition for the “Admiral Cassady Trophy” with the Royal Commandoes is worthy of description. (Admiral J. H. Cassady, USNA ’19, was a former (circa ’53) COMSIXTHFLT who initiated the competitions.)

The team was met at Valletta, Malta, and we proceeded by British trucks to the other side of the island to a Royal Commando Base called Ghain Taffiena. This is a desolate, dusty, dry place which was very hot during the week that we were there in late Aug59. We were met by the captain of the British Commando team, Major Wilburforce (how British!), and the officers on our team were assigned to the BOQ and the enlisted were assigned to a BEQ and after a get-acquainted dinner, we retired but were off to the ranges at oh-dark-thirty the next morning,
i.e. you must complete your shooting before the wind picks up! Both teams “pulled their own butts” and so neither team actually knew how the other was doing, but we did observe that the British Commandoes were using Enfield rifles and Webley revolvers and so we felt confident of the outcome. The end of the week and the competition came quickly and we literally blew them away in both rifle and pistol! Some of the Royal Commandoes were skilled marksmen but still resorting to “Kentucky Windage” while firing their Enfields, and some of the rounds from their Webley’s went in sideways from 25 meters – no match for our match grade equipment and “wadcutter” ammo. We broke every record on their course, and with an aggregate score of 1635 to 1452, we walked away with the
Admiral Cassady Trophy to present to our Task Force Commander, Admiral C.
E. Ekstrom, USNA’24, at our next landing in Porto Scudo, Sardinia. The Royal Commandoes did have the last laugh however, because as they presented the trophy, and a Royal Commando beret to each member of our team, each man was challenged to drink a British Navy day’s ration of rum while standing in the formation and while we all did it, some of us were the “worse for wear” later in the day!

Similarly, we beat all other marksmanship challengers while on that cruise and as captain of the team, I was given the “prize” of publishing the “Cruise Book” in my “spare” time as another additional duty for having received the special treatment when compared to my peers. Ah, the Corps.

Dale and “The Rocket”

In the early ‘80s, Nada and I lived in Del Mar, CA, and were quite active in Class, USNA, tennis, girl’s softball and other activities in San Diego. It was about the time of the initiation of World Team Tennis (WTT) and we decided to go with a group of tennis friends down to the Sports Arena one night to enjoy a match. At that time, “The Rocket”, Rod Laver was playing for San Diego and as was the team’s habit, ticket stubs were chosen for various promotions during a break in the action. Sure enough, one of the tickets chosen to win a new tennis racquet was mine, but you had to come to Center Court and complete at least three volleys with “The Rocket”. Albeit a mediocre player, of course, I made my way to the floor but immediately noticed that the bright multi-colored courts, i.e. red, blue, green, and yellow as I remember, were going to make this even more of a challenge than it appeared to be. “The Rocket” was to serve and “all” those chosen (I think 5) had to do was get the ball back over the net three times. Even though it was apparent that “The Rocket” was playing “nice”, those in front of me did not qualify and soon it was my turn. Of course, I was not dressed to play tennis but I did have “Hush Puppies” on which gave me a little break in the traction department. I was given a team racquet and stepped onto Center Court and the crowd of about 5000 was so noisy that “The Rocket” had to signal me to see if I was ready for his winning serve. As you may remember, he is left- handed and his service to me kicked as high as I’d ever seen, with a terrific twist toward my left. I practically leapt to backhand it and low and behold it went over the net! He then hit it back to my right and I stabbed at it again and sent it back over the net. This time, I believe that he had decided that he played with me enough and sent the ball whizzing low to my left. By this time, the crowd was into it and was cheering me on. I made one last block and lobbed the ball and sure enough it dropped in deep on his side! At that point, he “killed” it easily but he was gracious enough to come around the net and shake my hand, while the crowd cheered, and he presented me with a brand new racquet, signed the cover on it for me and said something nice like, “You’ve played tennis before!” As we chatted, I noted that his left arm was quite a bit longer than his right which I had never observed before. Also, as I was returning to my seat,
Classmate George Lanman was there to congratulate me on my “big win”. A fun night!

A Lost Class Ring Story, or, Never Put Anything ON a Car!!!

My wife, Nada, and I were living in our Del Mar condo at the time (circa 1983) and we were waiting on our daughter Linda’s return from BYU by car. She had called and said she was delayed, so not wanting to “waste time” (learned at USNA), I decided to go outside and drain the radiator in our car – it was time and I had it on “my list” for the weekend and it seemed like I had just enough time – an hour or so - to do it. I pulled the car outside our garage, alternately opened the drain plugs on the radiator and the engine block and let the old fluid drain into a contraption that allowed me to get the coolant into some gallon jugs to throw away. As is my habit when working under a hood (I was a pump jockey at my Dad’s gasoline station in St. Louis before I went to the Academy.), I took my class ring and Omega SeaMaster watch (given to me by one of the units I commanded in RVN) off and carelessly set them on the air cleaner. I waited for the liquid to drain. After the coolant had stopped draining, I returned the plugs to the radiator and engine block and proceeded to pour in the fresh coolant in the radiator. As anyone knows who has personally done this, you can’t depend on the system being at the proper level because the thermostat won’t work allowing coolant to the engine unless the engine/ coolant are warm.

Just at that moment, our daughter pulled up and of course, I stopped what I was doing, closed the hood (oops!), and went inside to welcome and chat with her. Our son, Bret, shortly came in and so after a few pleasantries, I asked him to take the car around the block to warm the engine and coolant so that later I can top off the liquid when Linda and he left. Bret did exactly what he was asked, and took the car out of the association and onto the very busy Carmel Valley Road from the coast – drove it about a mile and then turned around and returned it to our garage. I thanked him! Later, after Linda left, Nada, Bret and I decided to play some tennis on the association courts and so after changing, we walked to the courts. After playing a while, I noted that I was missing my watch and told Nada and Bret that I must have left it in our condo – I’ll get it – I’ll be right back. When I determined that it wasn’t on my dresser or anywhere in the condo, I suddenly remembered putting it on the air cleaner! Of course, that is when I remembered my ring as well and so I ran down to the garage, opened the hood, and discovered that there was no ring or watch. I ran to the tennis courts and asked Bret if he had heard anything when he took the car out for a drive and sure enough, he said that he remembered a slight noise (“clack”) when he turned onto Carmel Valley and another noise (“ping”) when he turned the car around about a mile east of the coast on Carmel Valley Road.

It was beginning to turn dark and when I told them what had happened, we ran to our car and went to the first intersection at Carmel Valley Road. Squinting and hoping with all our might, sure enough, in the driving lights of the car, there was a yellow glob lying in the middle of Carmel Valley Road. Now, several hours
had passed and literally hundreds of cars had driven over my Class Ring but had not noticed it! It had been hit several times and squashed out of round, but it was my ring and I picked it up and ran thankfully back to the car as we had one more stop to make!

Approaching the spot where Bret said that he turned the car around, there was the glare of a circle of gold about three feet in diameter, which told us that the watch did not “keep on ticking!” (Remember the Timex commercial?) I picked up as many of the pieces of the Omega Seamaster that I could and later, I decided that because of its sentimental value (i.e. my troops in RVN presented it to me upon my leaving), I would save it no matter the condition and so it resides as a paperweight in our home, frozen in a butter dish glob of epoxy.

The good news is that a professional jeweler was able to return my Class Ring to almost new condition, and my father gave me his Omega Seamaster when he passed, and I have a not so lovely paperweight to remind me of the old adage that “haste makes waste”! Plus, I’ve always remembered not to let my Class Ring get too far away! And, never put anything ON a car!

Jack Homnick – 20th Company
I guess this goes into the "Sea Stories" category. Summer cruise, youngster year 1954, aboard BB63 - Big Mo - Cherbourg, France. American Express sold us a 4 day excursion trip to London. Bob Mazik (aka, Hunky) and I signed up ... most other classmates were going to Paris. We flew a chartered Air France from an abandoned Nazi airstrip (grass growing up in the tarmac cracks) on the Normandy coast to Heathrow. A classmate and Mo shipmate had a relative who worked at the American Embassy and he got us invitations to the Ambassador's Fourth of July Garden Party. Here we are, new youngster one strippers, going to THE American party of the year in London!

We splurged and took a cab to the Ambassador's residence (not near the Embassy) and entered the front hall where an attendant took our caps and placed them on a shelf along with many "scrambled egg" lids. We dutifully placed our calling cards on the hall table and were ushered down the long hall to the rear porch area where Ambassador and Mrs. Aldridge were receiving guests. As we approached, a voice announced "Midshipman Om-nik, Midshipman Mah- zik." We were very graciously received and made welcome, and shown the way to the party in the lavous gardens behind the residence.

And what a party it was! I think we were the only Mids there and certainly the only young bucks as we were introduced to many lovely ladies/daughters of attendees. The spirits flowed very freely and it was a beautiful Summer evening, highlighted by the playing of the Anthem and God Bless America, sung by Kate Smith (?) or someone who looked like her. We met bearded Admiral Pirie who was NATO chief at the time and many, many other admirals who took us in tow
and delighted in telling everyone we were the "new Navy". We also met Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Sonia Henie (the ice champion/actress). We had a glorious time and got completely smashed as were all the admirals as I recall. At some point, the spigot got turned off and everyone left ... end of party.

Bob and I got a cab back to our favorite Picadilly pub for a nightcap. The barmaid called us "My Yanks" and had some brews on ice for us as we had been there several nights before. She always laughed at our wanting iced beer. I don't think we ever paid for a drink ... God love the Brits! I've never forgotten that lovely event in July 1954.

John Howland – 24th Company
1964 THRESHER Search

When I finished my PG course in Oceanography at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1964, I received orders to the Bathyscaph Trieste II stationed in San Diego. Trieste has received a new float- hence Trieste II – and had been ordered back to the Atlantic to conduct a search for the USS Thresher (SSN-593) that had been lost in April of 1963. A search had been conducted in 1963 and identifiable pieces had been retrieved, but the hull of Thresher had not been found. We were sent back to find it. Shortly after reporting aboard, I got the job of accompanying Trieste II back to Boston on an old MSTS Liberty ship through the Panama Canal. The ship was not air-conditioned and my stateroom was on the top deck where the sun could beat down directly on my overhead – a fun trip! Upon arriving in Boston we were assigned an ARS as tow ship and USNS Mizar which had been equipped with navigation equipment and deep cameras.
Being the junior guy, it was decided that I would make every dive as co-pilot in the Thresher area for continuity purposes with Brad Mooney ’53 and Larry Shumaker ’54 alternating as pilot. The underwater navigation equipment that we had was primitive, at best. We made several dives in the area and found only debris. We made a dive on 17 August 1964 in the area and after no results for several hours, we settled on the bottom in about 8000 feet of water to reorient ourselves. After about 30 minutes we received a steer from the surface and lifted off to go in the direction we had been told to go. Brad Mooney was at the window forward and I was keeping track of the underwater television cameras that were mounted amidships. As we lifted off, suddenly the picture on one of the TVs became clear, and I told Brad to stop the ascent. We were on the hull of Thresher! We had been sitting on the hull for thirty minutes trying to figure out where to go to find the hull. Had we not stopped to reorient, we might have missed it, as it was covered with a layer of silt and was not obvious when just passing overhead.
The Navy’s Deep Submergence program was spurred on by the experiences and discoveries we made that summer and resulted in, among other things, the development of the Navy’s Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles.

Leo Hyatt – 1st Company

ALPHA STRIKE! 1200 Sunday 13 August 1967. Northeast railroad bridge at Lang Son. As a member of RVAH-12, (the Spear Tips) aboard the USS Constellation, it’s this lieutenant commander’s turn in the barrel. Finally, we’re tasked to hit a meaningful target that will seriously disrupt the flow of supplies out of China into North Vietnam. Get the preliminary planning out of the way, check the order of battle, plan a basic flight path, and get the traditional pre-flight meal of steak and eggs before heading to the briefing. Little did I know that this would be the last really good meal I’d have until our release from captivity some five years and seven months later.
The strike plans are unfolded and it’s my turn to explain how and what my RA5C Vigilante, affectionately known as the “Viggie”, a very high-speed reconnaissance plane, are going to do to get the BDA (bomb damage assessment) photos after the last attack plane is off target. My RAN (radar/navigator) had planned a route that would take us west of the target area and then over the bridge two minutes after the last attack aircraft had departed (to allow time for the smoke to clear), traveling at full afterburner, heading east. The strike leader would not accept the plan, saying we would be in the buffer zone between North Vietnam and China too long. There were 20+ aircraft dropping multiple tons of bombs within three miles of China and there is some concern that my plane, with an F-4 escort, was going to cause somebody in China or North Vietnam some heartburn! (We used to joke that the escort‘s sole purpose was to be able to pass on the location of the wreckage if we got shot down. Little did we know.)
He said he wanted us to come in from the south to get the photos. I explained that with my projected airspeed of over 750 mph, the turning radius would be over 15 miles and I didn’t intend to fly into China no matter what. His solution to that was to turn short of the target and take our photos using the vertical camera as an oblique and escape toward the east. I didn’t like this idea at all because it would put us in a very high-G turn and all the gunners had to do was shoot barrage fire out in front of us and let us fly through the hail of bullets -- No tracking needed, no lock-on required, (no radar tracking radar could track us at the speeds we’d be flying, anyway), no need to set fuzes for a particular altitude--just let us do it to ourselves. They weren’t entirely stupid. We would be committed to one direction with no escape route. No use to argue so I went to my squadron CO and told him to please intervene, as I knew we were about to be shot down if it had to be done that way -- he was about to lose two guys and a very expensive plane. He refused to do anything because of seniority and uttered some famous last words, “You’ll be OK, just go like hell.”
Somehow I knew this would be our last flight, but this was a classic case of “Yes Sir, yes Sir, three bags full” we suited up and went to man our aircraft, stopping by the Duty Officer’s desk to pick up a second survival radio, which we carried in our harness, in the space where the arm restraint cable would
normally be routed which would prevent arm flailing in case of high speed ejection. We would not be using the arm restraint by opting for the second radio. Mistake number two!
On the way up to the flight deck to man our “bird”, I mentioned to my back- seater that he still had time to cop out on this mission with a severe stomach ailment or something since we were about to get our asses handed to us. Being the super young officer that he was, his reply was something to the effect that he was behind me all the way -- after all, that’s where he sat in the cockpit!
The dance of aircraft on the flight deck commenced with planes moving out of parking areas and moving to be shot off all four catapults followed by join-up of the group as we headed toward the coast. The F-4 topped off fuel from the duty tanker as soon as we got airborne as the Phantom gobbled gas at a much higher rate than we did and we proceeded to the target area. The “Viggie” was originally built as a heavy attack aircraft for the Navy to deliver nuclear weapons, but it didn’t pan out too well. So, it was decided to essentially jack up the bureau numbers and modify it to an unbelievably capable reconnaissance aircraft with capabilities 20 years ahead of its time. Everything was timed out perfectly and the attack commenced. We had planned out flight path to be about two minutes behind the strike group. A-6’s, A-4’s and F-4’s loaded to the gills roared in from different angles and altitudes to drop their ordnance. 37mm, 57mm, and some larger antiaircraft fire exploded all over the sky, with each having a distinctive color burst, at all altitudes and we watched the fireworks demonstration as we waited for tail-end Charlie to call off target. Time to go full burner and head in. As always, the escort called “Give me a couple”, meaning back off a bit on the power so he could keep up. No way! He could cut the corner and close on us that way. It’s interesting to note that at these extremely high airspeeds the skin of the aircraft became so hot from air friction that you could burn yourself through the leather flying gloves even though we had an air conditioning system equivalent to what you would put in a twenty room house!
We came down hill, going super sonic and my back seater was saying we were at max speed (nearly 800 knots) for the altitude which was about 3500 feet. This was determined so as to allow the camera to give us overlap frames for complete coverage of the target. Time to roll in about 60 degrees of bank and pull close to 7 g’s. The flak at altitude had ceased but there was plenty of muzzle bursts around the target area which indicated uncut fuses and the guns firing out ahead of us in barrage fire. Twenty plus aircraft pounding the hell out of an area were gone and the gunners could concentrate their fire on just the two of us.
Plus, they are now a bit pissed because the bridge was down. I radioed that good bit of news to the strike leader.
Four sledge hammer blows shook the Viggie and caused a near-total blackout for me, as I felt a spinning sensation which I tried to correct. I assume an automatic survival response took over as I do not remember consciously ejecting from the bird. My left forearm was broken by the seat, and since there was command ejection when the front seat fired, my RAN left the plane just before I was shot out. Everything worked as advertised and we both survived. It very well may be that this was one of the highest-speed successful ejections on record. During ejection-seat training, I remember being told that if the auxiliary
ejection handle was pulled with the arm in any position except palm down, the force of the seat would not be distributed over both forearm bones and one would break. Guess that is what happened. I heard nearly six years later that we exploded in a huge fireball with nearly 15,000 pounds of fuel on board. I came to, noticed that it was very quiet, looked up and saw the chute, and said “Fuck me” to no one in particular. What I had predicted had come true. The ground was coming up fast and I landed on my butt in a bunch of scrub brush. There was another chute on the other side of a horseshoe-shaped ridge with a rice paddy between. It was a difficult struggle getting out of the chute harness, helmet, and oxygen mask as my left arm would not work at all. It had been shattered at the shoulder socket and I also had a lot of burns and small cuts around the head and arms. Got up and took off running leaving my gear behind-
-don’t know where I was going as we were over 110 miles from the coast and chances of pickup were remote. Anyway, off I went, and it looked like 1,000 people were after me. They were shooting, and I noticed that the bullets went “snap-pop” as they went by. One hit me in the back of the right arm and down I went head over heels into a clump of bushes. I took out my .38 service revolver and threw it away, along with the two radios, after trying to make a call that we were on the ground. I couldn’t fight an army with six tracer rounds, and although I had vowed never to be captured after going through survival school, I had been talked into not using the gun on myself by my wife who had said, in a very long letter the day before we arrived on Yankee Station 32 missions ago, “I beg you to not do what you said, if you get shot down. You’re not going to get shot down, anyway, cuz you are the best at what you do. You owe it to me and kids to come home.” Little did anyone know that it would be five years and seven months of living in Hell before that could happen.
In short order I was swarmed by a group of guys in uniform that were not at all happy to see me.. Much shouting, kicking, punching, slapping ensued before I was blindfolded, arms tied behind me and we headed off to the village. My pockets were stripped of everything I carried -- cigarettes, lighter, pens, survival packs, water, emergency rations, etc. My right foot was hurting along with the mighty pain in my left shoulder and arm and it turned out I had lost the heel of my right boot and a nail was lodged in my heel. Upon arrival in the village, Wayne (my RAN) and I were placed in what appeared to be a cave. The blindfold was removed and shortly a woman appeared with a pan of hot water for me to drink. She also offered some sort of small pork pie which I took a bite of but couldn’t swallow because I had no saliva. A medic then came in to look me over and pulled a half pair of surgical scissors and a bottle of what appeared to be mercurochrome out of his little canvas bag with a red cross on it. I don’t think there was anything else in the bag! He proceeded to rip away the right sleeve of the flight suit and swabbed around the bullet hole and then poked around in the hole. Crazy thought went through my mind--Aren’t they supposed to give you a bullet to bite on while they get the slug out? I heard a clank as it hit a pan he had under the arm and then he pulled the nail out of my heel, swabbed the area, put the left arm in a make shift sling and left.
We sat there in the semi-darkness until nightfall, and then were piled into a jeep-like vehicle to commence riding around to various flak sites in the area to
show us off. The first thing of note was that nearly all the sites were manned by Red Chinese Army personnel. They wore different uniforms than the Vietnamese, had different insignia and red Mao Tse Tung think books were carried by most of them. The Chinese were just helping them out with military supplies--sure they were!! The villagers got more rowdy as we went from site to site and guards got tired of the game, letting them get closer and closer to deliver punches, spit and scream at us. No one wanted to lose their vantage point for any reason and I saw one gal with a baby on her hip pull up one pant leg and urinate standing up so she could keep her vantage point. One toothless old hag got me flush across the face with a handful of some kind of dung and my eyes stayed infected for months thereafter. This was rapidly becoming a lynch mob, and finally we were taken somewhere and tied to two posts for the rest of the night, to let the People’s mosquitoes take their share of revenge.
Early the next morning we were trucked to a grass landing strip where a Russian biplane aircraft was warming up. We were thrown in the back and took off for about a 45-minute flight to land on a concrete runway. This no doubt had to be Gia Lam airfield near Hanoi, since the truck ride to Hao Lo prison (to which the POWs gave the name Hanoi Hilton) was only about 15 minutes. I was put in a room with a table, chair, stool, slop bucket, tea pot and cup, stripped down to shorts and given a pair of red and gray striped pajamas, black cotton T shirt and shorts, and a pair of flip-flop type sandals (we called them zaps) made by cutting the sole shape out of a tire with pieces of inner tube across the instep to hold them on. During the course of my stay in Hanoi, I don’t think I ever saw a slop bucket without the upper edge of the pail rusted out. One learned quickly to very carefully place his zaps on the edge before perching to prevent severe damage to one’s buns!
Time to take stock of myself before the inevitable happened. My left shoulder looked to be about four to five inches out of the socket and pushed in. The way it hurt, it had to be broken in many places and the upper arm broken about two inches below the ball. This must have occurred from the high speed wind blast during ejection. A lot of good the extra radio did me. The arm restraint cable could have at least saved me this misery. Everything else was minor compared to that.
The door opened and in walked the devil himself in the shape of a small Oriental man in uniform who was about to give me my introduction into Hell. This English-speaking (but not very well) officer sat behind the desk, motioning me to sit on the stool while an enlisted man stood behind me. The interrogator asked my name which I had to spell and he said, “You Vietnamese name Hy.” Then came rank and serial number and I was thinking that this was just as it was supposed to be, according to my trip through survival school. Then came a series of questions like what squadron, ship, type aircraft, etc. to which I replied that I couldn’t and didn’t have to answer those type questions according to the Geneva Convention. This really pissed him off. He started yelling at me that I was a black criminal, air pirate, there was no Geneva Convention, there was no declared war, it was an unjust war and I had a very bad attitude for which “You must be punish!” This was the first of countless times I was to hear this. I was grabbed from behind and then it began.
The wrists were bound together behind my back by rope and the ankles were secured spread eagle by shackles to a rusty metal bar across the top of the feet. The rope was looped around the tips of the elbows which were pulled together and then the rope passed over a shoulder to the bar. Then the whole thing was cinched down to fold one up into a suitcase position--arms extended to dislocate the shoulders, (but my left one was already detached!) and the legs pulled up to form an unbearably painful position wherein it was nearly impossible to breathe. Screaming got you a filthy rag in the mouth, held in place by a piece of rusty pipe. There can be no way to really describe the pain or the position you were in. The enlisted guy doing the work was enjoying it and it must be said that they were masters at inflicting massive pain for prolonged periods of time. They would leave for a smoke break, while parts of you went numb and you gasped for air and wondered how in God’s name you could survive this. I remember asking God to give me the strength to make it for a minute, count it out and then ask for one more. (This whole ritual went on and on, over and over during the next two to three weeks.) They would come back in, release the rope and the blood rushing back in to the extremities and the nerves coming back on line was nearly as painful and the tie-up. “You answer question now.” “No.” Back in the position. I honestly do not know how many times this went on over the next many days and nights. It was terribly hot and I could not get enough liquid in my body with two liters of boiled water flavored with a bit of tea and two bowls of cabbage soup each day. I couldn’t eat much anyway as I was nauseated. On one occasion, I remember trying to lap up some of my sweat from the floor and got my head pounded into the concrete floor for the try. He was getting more upset with me and yelled at the goon doing the damage on one particular day.
He cinched down extra hard as he kicked me in the right rib cage. I felt the ribs crack and my neck broke around the fifth vertebrae (this was confirmed by X- Ray after I got home.) I started to vomit and had to blow it out my nose as I had a rag in my mouth. The English speaker was down on the floor next to my face and kept yelling, “You talk now?” I figured that this was a pretty stupid way to die--drowning in your own vomit, so somehow indicated that I had had enough. I don’t know of a single POW that was able to beat the ropes unless they chose to die. I was turned loose and refused to answer anything until I had crawled back up on the stool. The main purpose of the questions now was, what would future targets be?
Of course I did not have a clue, but figured I had to give him something. I said I needed some maps and he ran out to get some. I then proceeded to point out various areas all over N Vietnam. Saying that here was a truck park, rail siding, someplace along a road, etc. This went on for several days and each time I would give him something, he’d run out to another room and I could hear him yelling as if on a very poor circuit phone connection. If they sent flak sites, SAMs or whatever to the places I told them from one end of the country to the other, they burned up one helluva lot of fuel.
The next step was to write about myself in a biography sort of thing. I was put into another room and told to write. I would jot down a few sentences about nonsense and then write that I had much pain and had to rest. I did a lot of crying, feeling sorry for myself, along with a bunch of “Why me, God?“ I was
lower than whale shit at the bottom of the ocean. I had broken faith with my fellow prisoners by giving more than name, rank, serial number and date of birth in accordance with the Code of Conduct. I was a total and disgusting excuse for an officer in the Navy. What would the rest of the POWs think? I found out some time later after communication links had been established with the senior officers in the camp that the rules were to not endure torture to a point of no return, but to give something and live to come back and fight another day. We were most fortunate to have a superior group of seniors who had some great advice, made tremendous policy and kept us together in a unified front. There were a few POW’s who strayed, doing anything to save their own hides and, over the years to come, eight were given early release because of propaganda they made for the V. One was ordered to take early release if offered in that he was a seaman who had fallen overboard from a cruiser in the Gulf and picked up by fishermen. He was responsible for giving nearly 300 names of POWs to our intelligence folks -- men who had been previously listed as Missing in Action. He had a super memory and would recite the names in alphabetical order with the speed of an auctioneer. During his debriefing sessions after his return to the States he’d be asked to slow down so the names could be written down, but he couldn’t do it. It had to be super fast or not at all!
There were considerable hours spent trying to figure out how I could get out of the room and escaping. I could see a small courtyard through a crack in the door with a wall topped by electrified fence and broken glass on top. Maybe I could get out, over the wall and away with one useable arm. Maybe I could find an Embassy that would take me in. BUT, where the hell was I? How would I make my way when I would stick out like a sore thumb amongst thousands of people that were shorter than me and looked completely different? My wounds were becoming more and more infected and I had to admit that I was in dire straits.
I wasn’t writing enough so was dragged in for another “You have bad attitude and must be punish” session. I said I had to go to hospital because of my shoulder and arm. The goon said, “Maybe we cut off.” I took my left arm out of my lap and put it on the table with my right arm and said, “Cut it off. I can’t use it anyway.” He glared at me for several minutes, picked up his papers and left. I never saw him again. I was immediately blindfolded and led off to another part of the prison to be placed in a filthy 8x5 foot cell. A set of camp regulations was handed to me and I was instructed to get under the wooden platform that served as a bed during air raid warnings. A day or so later one occurred just as the mid-morning bowl of soup, a plate of rice and a bowl with a large carp’s head in it arrived. I crawled under the bed with the fish head in tow. Not much light, so I proceeded to work on it as I was starved. It was a particularly long air raid and when the all clear sounded and I crawled out the whole thing was gone! I said to myself with a wry grin, “You really are in deep crap--eating fish heads and rice!”
One day there was a commotion in the court yard. I was able to stand on tip toes atop the slop bucket and just barely able to see out the barred window set high up on the wall. Several guards were herding a group of women and young boys, all blindfolded and arms tied behind their backs. A short time later, there
were cries of pain and a lot of yelling coming from one of the interrogation rooms and it was obvious that American airmen were not the only ones being tortured. It never ceases to amaze me that some women and children could be labeled enemies of the state and treated thusly. What could they have possibly done to deserve such harsh treatment? A group of off-duty types had gathered to watch the proceedings as was the case when anyone was being worked over. It seems that this was a popular entertainment activity. The whole lot of them seemed to be sadistically inclined, in that during the course of time we would observe them force feed a dog with rice and then turn it loose to run around the camp while it was being followed and beaten with bamboo sticks until it died. This usually occurred around the time of Chinese New Year. On occasion we saw them catch a rat, dip it in kerosene, light it on fire and let it race around the yard until it burned to death.
The prison was multi-purpose and as we found out some time later, housed many ARVN (South Vietnamese Army and Air Force) prisoners as well as a few Thai airmen who had been shot down over the North. They were jammed into large rooms and treated more harshly, if that’s possible, than we were and they got even less food to eat than we did.
The right elbow was severely infected, swelling to the size of a grapefruit, the right ankle was the same, the neck, shoulder and ribs hurt like hell and I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t get off the bed boards. So, I laid there in my own filth until one day the right elbow tore open about three inches and the puss drained out. I smelled so bad the guards would retch in the hall after peering in on me through the security window in the door. I honestly felt l had only a few days left and then I’d permanently check out of this hell hole and no one would be the wiser. Then the cell door crashed open and in walked another POW with his little bundle of gear and the guard yelling, “Quick”. One hand hung uselessly at his side and he was walking on the outsides of each foot.
There were no soles on his feet as they had been walked off going through rice stubble fields. He said, “Hi”, gave me his name and rank in the Air Force and immediately started to help me. Over the next several weeks, he fed me, put me on and got me off the pot, cleaned me up and for all intents and purposes saved my life. I nominated Ed for, and he received the Air Force Cross, posthumously, for his actions. The posthumously is part of a later story.
Trying to help someone who was nearly incapacitated in that environment was no small task. Each POW was given a mosquito net which had to be put up at night when the go-to-bed gong sounded and taken down when it went off in the morning. Doing this with one hand for the both of us was difficult. A rice straw mat to lie on was soaked with sweat and other fluids and had to be cleaned. A pint size tin cup and a liter sized tea pot held all of a person’s liquid for the day, so he had to use our two hand towels to lug water back to the cell when they let him out each morning for a bath. We each had a bar of “Grandma’s” lye soap which really felt good on open sores! He even had to brush my teeth because I couldn’t even do that with my arms in the condition they were in. We had been given a toothbrush which was of such poor quality that the handles broke after about three uses and the guards were always trying to weld the plastic back together with their matches. A small tube of toothpaste, tasting
like soap was also provided. Toilet paper was very coarse sheets of approximately 18 inches x 12, made from rice husks and straw which had to be torn into very small pieces so it would last a week or so. It was no small chore to perform this function, in that there was no way to wash one’s hands. I figured that this must have been the underlying reason why in so many parts of the world, one hand is used for eating and the other to perform needed hygienic duties. It was a constant battle to get more. In fact, many months later, some of the guys decided to make a point of this by taking a small amount of tobacco from the precious three cigarettes we were given each day, mix it with a little water and smear it on the ends of our pajama tops which we had to wear when going to see an interrogator. It looked very much like we were using our shirt tails for toilet paper and it grossed out the gook asking questions enough to get the quantity of paper increased. It was never enough though, because we all suffered from frequent bouts of diarrhea. We found out from a couple of Air Force medics, who had served aboard helicopters and were shot down during rescue attempts, that the difference between diarrhea and dysentery was primarily in frequency.
Anything over 8-10 trips to the slop bucket in a day was the latter! That got to be pretty tough when there were three or four guys in the room with the same condition and only one bucket.
The food was certainly not of the most hygienically prepared, and the dishes washed in cold water with a bit of lye soap. One cell/room in each building was designated as the duty dish washers. The dishes and spoons then sat out on a table for the rats to crawl over at night and the flies to do whatever they felt like doing during the day. The food was prepared in a kitchen area where one room/cell occupants went nearly every day to make coal balls out of a big pile of coal dust. It was dirty work, but at least got the guys out of their cells and provided us with a bit of different news and what might be going to appear on the menu in coming days. The quantity and quality of meals were both way down on a scale of ten. The twice-a-day meals were served with each man getting a spoon much like you see in an Oriental restaurant, only to add insult to injury these were made from metal collected from U.S. aircraft that had been shot down -- so we were told. Just to be hateful, most guards would let the soup sit out to get cold during the winter when it would have been so nice to get it while hot. The rice and soup were delivered to each building by females who worked in the kitchen prep area. Occasionally, one of them would rinse out a pair of bikini panties and hang it on the wire clothes lines outside our building, where we also would hang our stuff when we went to wash. One day we were at our customary position peering through a crack in the door to see what was going on as one of the rooms down the row was returning from their trip to the wash house. One of the guys was attempting to hang up a pair of shorts and his towel next to a pair of light green bikini panties which had totally captured his attention. After two or three attempts to hang up his shorts, he took one step smartly to the right and took a big bite out of the bikini crotch. The entire camp erupted in one huge somewhat muffled laugh, since everyone at any room door in eye sight had seen what had happened. Of course, the guard went ballistic and they were quickly pushed into their room.
Baskets and buckets carried by a bamboo pole over the shoulder and a shuffling walk to prevent spilling. Five months or so of pumpkin soup (not a heck of a lot of the pumpkin, either!) and you felt extremely lucky if you found a piece of hairy pig skin in your bowl. Five or so months of cabbage soup, pretty much the same way, and a couple of months of what we called sewer weeds. A tubular green thing that none of us had ever seen before. Sometimes we got some 6-8 inch long loaves of bread which was full of weevils and sometimes starting to go rotten on the inside. We pulled out the gooey part and ate the crust Most of the time it was rice. Don’t look too closely--some of the kernels of rice had black tips to them. The rice worms were overlooked as were the weevils -
- after all, we weren’t getting a heck of a lot of protein! One thing you learned very quickly with regard to eating the rice -- don’t chew it. It had a lot of small pieces of rock in it as I guess it was winnowed or dried on the ground and the rocks were swept up with the kernels. A lot of guys lost fillings and pieces of tooth before that lesson was learned. Once a week or so we’d get a spoonful or two of dried, rotten fish full of sharp bones and scales. Try as we may, very few guys were able to get this stuff down. About once a week, we’d get a small plate of raw, brown sugar to go with the bread when we got it instead of rice. Once in a great while we’d get some small fat bananas with very large seeds in them and a few times got litchi nuts. This was sort of a soft bark-covered fruit about the size of a marble with a large seed inside, with a soft pulp about the consistency of a grape. A few times we got raw peanuts, but this was a killer because they caused cramps and more diarrhea. Needless to say we lost weight like crazy and were hungry all the time. Once my wounds started to heal to a point where I could get around, we’d both go out to wash. On occasion, we’d be put on the cubicle where one of the rooms of POWs washed the dishes. There was a 55 gallon rusted drum in there where the slops were thrown. You could always tell when some new guys had been captured and brought to camp because the amount of garbage increased in that they hadn’t gotten to the point of eating whatever they were given. Ed and I would forage through for pieces of fat back or soggy bread . We got caught one day and get beat up for stealing from the People’s pigs.
We had names for all the guards, officers, and camp personnel, some of which were not too flattering. One day Dr Zorba came by the cell, looked me over and left. That night right after sundown, I was told to suit up, got tied up and blindfolded and led out of camp to a jeep. We ended up in a hospital. Wooden floors with fine sand on them was the first thing I noticed with the walls lined by people sitting on benches. I was taken to a room which had an X-Ray machine, made in East Germany. It looked to be circa 1929. A picture of my left shoulder was taken which Dr Zorba viewed by holding it up to a 50 watt light bulb. After much squinting and turning of the X-Ray, he announced to me, “Broken!”. I responded, “No shit”, got slapped by the guard and was led off to another room. Someone was soaking some plaster of Paris bandages in some dirty brown water and these were applied to my shoulder from neck down to about mid-chest. No washing, cleaning, attempts to set, talcum powder, anything. The plaster became hard and we made the trip back to Ed and home.
I was most fortunate that they didn’t operate on my shoulder. One of our fellow prisoners had incurred nearly the identical shoulder injury during ejection from an F-105. They operated on him, put him in a cast and sent him back to the filthy cell. Of course, it became infected and started oozing through the cast. One night he could be heard moaning and crying out, “They’re eating me, they’re eating me.” Several other POWs in other cells kept trying to wake him or quiet him to no avail. As it turned out the rats had descended on him and had gnawed through the cast to get at the gangrenous flesh in the shoulder!! Somehow he survived. Doctors said, upon our return home, that he surely would have died from the infection and gangrene had this event not taken place. I guess the good Lord had sent the rats to take care of him! There were many other stories of similar miraculous survivals from massive, horrendous injuries. One in particular involved and A-4 pilot who had taken a shell in the cockpit which blew off most of one calf and a huge part of the back of one thigh. One arm was shattered in the fore arm area and a piece of shrapnel went through his jaw. He was transported to Hanoi in the back of a truck. Why he didn’t bleed to death is a mystery. Three times he regained consciousness, with the guards throwing dirt on him in a ditch -- they thought he had died. He made a quick trip to a hospital where a lot of shrapnel and pieces of bone were removed from the forearm, he was sewn up and sent back to a filthy cell with the arm 3-4 inches shorter than originally designed. Believe it or not, he did regain some use of the arm. He survived and came home with the rest of us! One thing we never saw, and it still remains unanswered, is that there were no amputees or blind POWs. Surely there had to have been some in the combat environment we were shot down in, but we saw none.
Time slowly passed until about October in 1967 when Ed and I were split up. I went to the Zoo Annex to a room with five other guys. One had been there for enough time to learn the ropes and how to communicate cell to cell through the walls by using tap code based on a 5 x 5 tap code or flashing pot lids between buildings or by setting up drops in the bath areas. What a blessing that was as we were now in the comm link and could find out what was going on.
The main technique for communicating was the five-by-five system so we could tap code through the walls. It was based on an old prisoner code and made up as follows:


The letter K was eliminated and C used for it. The rows were numbered 1 through 5 as were the columns; hence, “Any news” was tapped out with 1 tap,1 tap, pause, 3 taps, 3 taps, pause, 5 taps, 4 taps, pause , 3,3, pause,1,5, pause, 5,2, pause, 4,3. This was a sort of short hand Morse code, since there was no way to distinguish dots from dashes. It sounds complex and very time consuming, but the speed one was able to achieve in a short time was absolutely amazing. The first trick to master was to associate the sounds of taps immediately to a particular letter of the alphabet rather than count the taps. And
a lot of abbreviations were thrown in such as “n” for “and”, and so forth. Call up to the room next door was a “shave and a hair cut” sound - tap, tap, tap, pause, tap, tap. And, “I’m ready to copy - all clear” was “two bits” or tap, tap. If you were living with someone, one tapped and listened through the wall, usually using a cup to help amplify the sound and the other looked through a crack in the door or for shadows under it to alert the other that a guard was trying to sneak up on them. A warning thump with a fist or elbow meant to stop tapping. Attempts at communication were heavily frowned on by the “camp authority” and subject to severe punishment. Many hours a day were spent tapping on the wall to the guys next door and the calluses on the knuckles of the index and middle fingers grew -- they are still there to this day!.
Another technique I helped to put in with the help of a couple of other guys was something I had picked up in Boy Scouts. It was a modified sign language using one hand to make letters of the alphabet, which was most useful in “talking” to the other buildings. Communication was our life’s blood and absolutely essential to keep each other informed as to what was going on in other parts of the camp, what were the “V” asking about at interrogations, and most importantly what words of advice or camp rules were being formulated and passed on from our senior officers. Code could be transmitted by a series of coughs and hacks when one was outside, which ended up sounding like one was in a TB sanatorium.
There was an unbelievable amount of time to spend during the day since there was nothing to read or games to play - we were supposed to contemplate our crimes against the Vietnamese people! So there was time to do a bit of exercising. We walked and walked and then walked some more. As it turned out I walked the equivalent of all the way home! We would count the steps we’d do each day with the paces measured and when it got to 13,000 miles after several years, I quit. I wasn’t going to walk all the way back to Hanoi! Upon release, after the war was over, I the soles of my feet were one big callous. On occasion, we’d do curls with a slop bucket, but this could be especially dangerous if the bucket was nearing max capacity. Some did pushups or sit-ups, but you didn’t have a heck of a lot of spare energy with the diet being what it was.
As it got colder and colder that winter, and you can’t believe how cold it gets in Hanoi (on occasion we’d see a skim on ice on the cistern), we started to get an extra ration of bread in the early morning. This turned out to be one of the highlights of our stay in that camp. The bread was delivered by a young girl who happened to be one of the only really pretty women I saw my whole time there.
We immediately named her “Pussy Galore.”
Once the rooms got cold soaked, it was impossible to generate or retain any body heat, especially on the diet we were on. In an effort to try and stay warm, we devised a sort of hood by putting one’s head through the waist band of a pair of shorts, sticking your head out one leg and wrapping the rest around the neck. Wrap up in the thin cotton blanket we’d been given and go walking. Round and round like a caged animal. It hurts me to go to a zoo and see the big cats pace thusly.
Summer would bring a whole new set of unbearable conditions as the rooms must have easily passed 100 degrees. They all had a barred window 8-10 feet off
the floor which didn’t help much in summer and let the outside elements in during winter. Winter time was shiver and goose bumps; summer was heat rash, sweat and occasional boils.
Approximately 8-9 weeks after my trip to the hospital, it was time to take the cast off. A medic came by with his little bag and the ever present half of a set of surgical scissors, took me outside and commenced cutting through the cast.
My biggest concern was that he was going to slip and cut me from one end to the other. Attention spans were not huge among the average camp employee and he soon tired of his task. With the cast basically torn into several pieces, he proceeded to rip it off. Since no powder or anything had been applied to the skin at the time of application, huge patches of my hide were removed along with the cast. One of my roomies was fetched to come outside with a hand towel, a bar of lye soap and told to “Waht” (wash) my arm and upper torso. The only water available was the dirty stuff in the cistern, but that had to do and believe me, there were a lot of tears involved -- me because the soap hurt like hell on the skinless areas and my roomie because he knew he was hurting me! My bicep looked like a walnut down near my elbow and it was a sorry mess to say the least.
That cistern also came in handy for another exercise in math and physics we put ourselves through. We would fill it to overflowing and one at a time climb in. Once we got out we used a cylindrical bucket we had, to refill the water that overflowed. Getting the measurements of the bucket and calculating the amount of water that had to be replaced gave us a pretty good idea of what we weighed. I was down to about 123 - 125 pounds from my shoot down weight of 158. To say we sere starting to look like refugees from a concentration camp of WWII was to put it mildly. It did no good to bitch about the food -- we got no additional rations. A few years later, three guys really raised hell about “Hungry, hungry, hungry” and the V decided to have some fun and make a point. At morning meal time one day, they were given a whole woven basket of rice normally used to serve 18-20 guys in a building and told to “Eat - hungry“. They decided to best try and eat as much as they could. So, they gorged themselves and swallowed as much as they could, nearly finishing the whole basket. When the V came back in about 45 minutes later, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They were pulled outside the room, body searched and the room torn apart to see where they had hidden the rice. Nearly half the camp went by their room to jabber and try and figure out what they had done. One look at their distended bellies would have been the best clue! It absolutely astounded the V that they eaten that much. It didn’t do any good as far as the increase in rations was concerned, but it helped make a point that we required a lot more food than the average Vietnamese in that we were so much bigger than they were.

Christmas came and went. That had to be the saddest time of the year for all of us. We tried to observe that best-of-all holidays the best we could and in later years when we were living in larger rooms with 15 or more guys, we sang carols and had a short service. Any grouping by us or the singing of carols was frowned upon by the V, and they didn’t like it at all. A few guys were allowed to attend a Christmas service in town on a couple of those Christmases, mostly to sing a few carols and take communion. There was a small Roman Catholic

following in Hanoi, so there was a priest available to administer the holy sacrament. The group was heavily guarded, but it was an excellent opportunity to get some news from guys living in other camps besides the main prison so attendance was encouraged by our seniors if the opportunity was offered.
Christmas was also an opportunity for the V to make a lot of propaganda about the “humane and lenient treatment” they were giving us. Foreign press was often present and lots of pictures/movie film were taken. But we did find out that there were several other camps in and around Hanoi such as the Power House (these troops were housed there in hopes that it would prevent bombing raids on that facility), the Plantation, Alcatraz, Briar Patch, Son Tay, and one fairly close to the Chinese border. Treatment in some was more harsh and at others somewhat more lenient. We learned that some of the camps kept their prisoners in handcuffs behind the back with their ankles in metal stocks while they were on the bed boards. This was extremely uncomfortable, but some of the more ingenious of the group found that they could pick the locks with relative ease once they could find a nail or some other piece of metal while outside to get a bath. The technique was quickly passed to all and things became a bit more bearable.
The third Christmas I was there I was told to suit up for a trip to the “Head Shed”. I didn’t want to go but was told to do so. We had noticed a lot of cleaning up and traffic around the camp grounds and some people we had never seen before. Word also came through the walls that guys being called up to the interrogation rooms were being given packages sent by our families. So, the word was, go get the goodies and do your very best to not make propaganda for the V. In other words, don’t smile for the cameras! Another motive was to get my face out to the world as I had never received nor allowed to write a letter and it was important to let everyone know I was alive. It was sort of an insurance policy in that, hopefully, if this damn war was ever going to be over, they’d have to produce me or answer a lot of questions as to why I wasn’t among the repatriated troops. So, off I went, spruced up in a set of striped PJ’s, having just been made to shave, and gotten a haircut from the guard. (More on this a bit later.) Sure enough, lot’s of photographers present with lots of lights. I sat on the customary stool and a package was placed in front of me. “We show you humane and lenient treatment to have Christmas package from home” I had been sitting with my arms folded, having slowly and with a show of pain lifted my left arm into place, all the while extending the middle finger of each hand in the classic “bird” position. I was told to inspect the contents of the package and sign for it. I did so with slow motions, always moving the left arm with my right. I was told to look happy and smile, which of course I didn’t, with the cameras flashing the whole time. They didn‘t particularly like what was going on, so I was told to get my stuff and go to my room. The photo in Life magazine a short time later was the first that my family knew that I was a POW and removed my name from the MIA list. Intelligence people called my wife to ask if she had seen the photo and did she see anything in particular. She said it was obvious that I was totally pissed off and I was shooting the bird at the whole world. The intelligence folks had not noticed!
In any case, the hard candies, instant coffee and a bit of pipe tobacco were like manna from heaven. Have you ever seen three grown men with tears in their eyes while eating a piece of candy? The coffee was like nectar from the gods when we could talk the guard into bringing us some hot water. Of course the package contents had been rifled through and a lot of stuff taken, but so what.
We got a taste of home and it was magnificent!
Back to the shave and haircut. About once a month or so, we were made to shave. The razors were the old screw on the handle type and the blades were absolutely the worst you can ever imagine. Of course about twenty guys had to use the same blade and there was no hot water and Grandma’s lye soap didn’t make much lather. The whole process was sort of like an addendum to a torture session! Haircuts were a thing of beauty. The guards used the old fashioned hand powered clippers, also very dull, and about as much hair was pulled out as was clipped off. Try as we might, we were not allowed to give each other haircuts. Must have had something to do with the “humane and lenient” treatment.
In the spring of 1968, we were split up and on the move again, going to the Zoo which was next door to the Annex. I moved in with two Air Force pilots and we were immediately on the walls to find out who was where and what was going on.
Majors “Vee” and “Bah” (according to the camp authority) offered a whole new set of things to talk about. When you have nothing to do, you share all of life’s experiences from child hood to present. As days, weeks, months and years go by, you get to know your roommates better than siblings and become closer to them than any other persons in the world. God knows you needed to have a laugh now and then and “Vee” had some great stories about his duck dogs that he raised. One in particular would fetch a downed duck but was allergic to them and would promptly throw up upon depositing said duck at his master’s feet.
The mind’s eye picture of that still brings a smile to my face whenever I recall that tale.
One afternoon during our normal mandatory siesta time, I was awakened by the moans of “Bah”. He groaned that he had something bad wrong with him.
One testicle was swollen to the size of a large orange and he was in severe pain. “Vee” and I commenced to yell “Bao Cao” which we had to do to get a guard for whatever reason. One showed up in a few minutes, raising hell with us for talking loud and demanding that we get on our knees which was one of the standard minor punishments. We asked for the “ Bak See” (Vietnamese for doctor) and tried to show him the afflicted area. He didn’t want to look, as viewing private parts was a big no-no in their society, or so it seemed. Off he went to get some help. Except for a lot of looking, not a heck of a lot was done, but Major “Bah” got a lot of attention by nearly every Vietnamese in camp as they came by the room in a steady stream to glance in and jabber amongst themselves. When we could sneak a few minutes to get on the wall we were able to get thought many rooms in many different buildings to one of the two Medics in the camp. They came back with a diagnosis of a testicular infection caused by who knows what which was not fatal but very painful as one could imagine. Not even aspirin was available and we did our best to keep “Bah” comfortable, cool
and consoled. He was ready to kill us when we suggested that he had no use for it in camp anyway and what the hell, he had another one! He lost a lot of weight over the next two and a half weeks but slowly the swelling came down and he recovered. It never ceased to amaze us what recovery powers the human body has and it’s ability to fix itself with little to no outside assistance or medicines.
Mother’s Day Sunday we were awakened early with loads of activity in camp. Guards were running everywhere and the wall was buzzing with “shave and a haircut” calls. It seems that what became known as the Mother’s Day Caper had occurred. My previous roommate Ed and another POW had escaped! They had gotten out of their cell through the roof and gotten over the wall in the middle of the night. They holed up as dawn was breaking, but were spotted by an old man and turned in. Back to camp they came and Hell Week commenced. The camp authority was furious. They started a systematic torture campaign room by room to find out who had authorized the escape, how it had been pulled off, and anything else they could get. What then happened was absolutely brutal even by their techniques of torture. Screams resonated throughout the camp as many went through the ropes or were beaten unmercifully with straps cut from rubber tires. In many cases, backs ended up looking like hamburger. Guards became more and more nasty and when not up at the head shed, lots of hours were spent on knees or holding up a wall (arms stretched over one’s head and up against the wall. Gradually they backed off after several weeks when they figured there was nothing more to learn as to the why’s and how’s of the escape.
Unfortunately Major Ed was never seen or heard from again and it is with certainty that he must have been killed during one of the severe torture sessions.
Each room/cell was fitted with a light bulb that was on day and night except for night time air raids and when the electricity was cut off by bombing of the local power station. There was also a radio speaker from which we heard Hanoi Hanna broadcast the daily stream of propaganda to our unbelieving ears twice daily. The garbage was totally preposterous and on occasion we brought it to the attention of an interrogator that the claims were impossible. They claimed more F-105 shootdowns than we had ever manufactured! It seemed that if an aircraft was shot down and seven people saw it, they claimed seven destroyed.
That brought another, “You have bad attitude and must be punish.”
We began to notice some out of the ordinary activity and then came an announcement that three POW’s were being released for having seen the error of their ways and were given amnesty to return to their families. What a blow to morale -- three of our very own had turned tail and cooperated with the V to save their own asses and decided to become turncoats. We were also reminded that we too could return to our families even though we were guilty of crimes against the people and were the blackest of criminals who had killed innocent women and children in an unjust war, and on and on and on. As it turned out there were two other releases over the years when an additional six guys, one of whom was ordered to return if given the opportunity as I previously noted. There were two or three others that were working for their own interests and enjoyed staying out of their cell most of the day, ate a helluva lot better than we did, played a little volley ball, and had Cuban cigars once in a while. Every effort to contact them and order them to knock off the crap fell on deaf ears. In fact, one of them
reported the communication to the V and it resulted in some more severe torture and isolation for the guys trying to get them to quit it. I felt especially betrayed because one of them had been a squadron mate of mine in the first outfit I had be ordered to upon completion of flight training and back then I thought he was a great guy and a very good officer. We heard somewhere along the way that this last group wasn’t let go because they had gone so far over the edge, that they would have embarrassed the V!
As a side light on the type of individual: My wife was at a restaurant one evening when one of these guys came in. The restaurant made a big show of this and announced his presence and welcome home, etc. My wife, who had not heard a word from me in nearly three years went to his table to ask if he had ever heard of me and might he know if I was a POW. He looked up at her and said (to paraphrase it), get away from me lady, I don’t have time for you.
Once the purge period had slowly ground to a halt, a massive shuffle of guys and rooms took place. It seems the V were bent on breaking up any communication circuits. It was really great for all of us because it gave you a whole new set of guys to be with, share stories and experiences and be able to escape for many hours a day from the ho-hum, boring, mundane routine and existence of being locked up with nothing to do.
Probably the biggest blow to our morale was when the bombing of North Vietnam ceased. It was tantamount to being forgotten, abandoned and rejected by the whole country. At least when the air raids were going on we felt that America was doing something to help get us out. When the raids stopped, it was like: where the hell are you guys, we’re slowly rotting away up here. Come get us, damn it. Maybe all didn’t feel that way, but I sure did. I was so sick and tired of hurting every day in the shoulder and neck I was in a foul mood most of the time. I know I was not a particularly fun guy to be around and more than likely earned the nickname, “Sunny Lee”.
Word reached us that a small group of our guys had been singled out and placed in a separate area of the compound. They were being interrogated and worked over by three Cubans. The leader we called Amos and it was rumored that he was a major in the Cuban army. He was going to show the N. Vietnamese how to do it! The regimen was sadistic and brutal to say the least and one of the group broke under the strain and retreated into his own mind. He stopped eating altogether and wouldn’t bow or talk. His glassy stares and unresponsiveness infuriated Amos who used to beat him across the face with a rubber sandal until the blood and spit flew. No amount of pleading on the part of his roommates did any good and they had to force feed him and push his head down in a sort of bow whenever Amos came into their room. Finally, he was taken away, put in solitary and never heard from again. His body was returned after the rest of us came home.
The constant threat of torture and pressure to write confessions, make anti- war statements, meet peacenik delegations, etc., was a drain on the psyche of everyone. The guard making a chopping motion with hand on the back of his other, meaning put on your pajama top, you’re going to the head shed for a “quiz”, in many cases brought on a case of diarrhea and anxiety sort of like looking down the business end of a weapon. To some extent, and even worse in
many cases, was being placed in solitary confinement. Week and even months on end with only a guard peering in on you every so often were horrible. Man is a social animal and contact with other humans with whom you can communicate with and pass the time is very nearly a necessity except for a few that prefer the hermit life style. In the solitary environment, you soon found that your closest friends were ants and the green lizards that used to eat them.
A routine, daily trip to the bath area had just been completed, the shorts and towel hung out to dry and we were proceeding back to our cell. A large, brown, who-knows-what-kind of snake saw us coming and slithered under the door of an adjacent cell. We commenced to yell to them about the snake, the guard got totally bent out of shape and kept yelling “Keep silent”. There was one helluva lot of banging, yelling, etc coming from the room and a rice straw broom, which we had in each room, soon appeared out the window with one completely beat up, dead snake draped over the end. It looked just like the snake that used to appear in the comic strip BC. That brought us many hours of giggling even though we were accused of chasing the snake into the other cell.
My right hip began to give me a lot of trouble and hurt, to the point where one day I couldn’t get out of bed. Again the call went out for “Bao Coa” and “Bak See”. Much jabbering and poking and prodding by Dr Zorba and his sidekick medic. Soon they returned with two vials of two year out of date East German made white powder into which they injected some of the boiled water and my two roommates were told to shake it up. A syringe which I swear was a hollowed out knitting needle was jabbed into the hip joint and the stuff forced in with some of the most horrible pain yet. I was told over and over to “Keep silent” as I screamed and thrashed on the wooden pallet. I know I damn near broke the hands of one of my roommates, who was trying to help me get through it. In any case, the treatment was over and the humane and lenient treatment team departed the room. Our medics said it had probably been a cortisone shot and after about three or four days I was able to get up and get moving.
Days stretched to weeks which went to months and years. I have been asked hundreds of time what it was like. The closest I have ever been able to describe it was to tell someone to clean out their master bedroom closet, take out the carpet and stay in there for five years before coming out. Then and only then could they have some appreciation of what it was like. Of course you have to throw in an occasional torture session, food as I have described and all the other stuff.
We happened upon a tremendous source of information. It came from a South Vietnamese Air Force officer who lived with two Thai Rangers. The Vietnamese spoke good English and passed us all sorts of info on a regular basis. The three lived together and spent most of every day doing odd jobs and some clean up chores around the camp. They had to be very careful because they were subject to the same rules and punishments that the rest of us were, if not more so. We never forgot them, even though they were not released when we were at war’s end. We fought like hell and finally our State Department arranged for their release. The South Vietnamese ended up emigrating to the States and one of the Thais has been to one of our reunions of what we call the Fourth Allied POW Wing.
Twice a year, Christmas and Tet, (the Chinese New Year) we were treated to special meals. Can you believe a bit of turkey! And potato soup and wonder of wonders, a half cup of beer and maybe a dollop of a wine. The beer had a lot of some chemical in it as a preservative -- it made me think of biology lab in high school -- that made it smell and taste pretty bad, but was enjoyed none the less. The wine was sort of like antifreeze but had quite a kick to it especially for men not having had any alcohol over a long period of time. On a couple of occasions were even treated to a special meal for the Fourth of July in that the camp authority wanted to show their “solidarity with the American people who were against the war!”
This was also made evident by the many trips to Hanoi by a rather large number of anti-war activists who came to make propaganda for the North Vietnamese. The most prominent of these was Jane Fonda. We lived in constant fear of being pressured/tortured to go meet one of these delegations or to write letters to various Congressmen supporting their views on the immorality of the war and how we agreed with them. Quite a few of the POW’s had to endure severe torture until they agreed to meet with these Americans that all of us felt were traitors. Several of the men tried to slip small pieces of paper with their names on them to these people. In at least one case, that individual promptly handed over the papers to the English speaker with the delegation and the guys were, of course, punished when they returned to their cells. In many cases the guys were severely tortured to make them agree to go meet the delegation member or members. Upon our release in 1973, we tried to bring charges against several of these propaganda making, anti-American peacenik types, for traitorous acts--all to no avail. We were basically told to let it lie since the war was over, it had been very unpopular, and the country was tired of the whole thing. I believe that to a man, we all agreed that people had the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions about the war (or any other subject they chose), but, and it is a mighty big BUT, when it is done in a manner that (a) aids and abets the enemy, (b) prolongs the war by giving him hope that they will soon win because the U.S.A. will be forced by the movement to quit the scene, and (c) it puts American fighting men who are held captive in grievous harm’s way --IT IS ABSOLUTELY wrong and traitorous. Most of us would agree that we feel that it prolonged the war by several years.
A large portion of responsibility for this anti-war movement lies at the doorstep of a very liberal media. The American people were not educated as to why we had to be involved and hated to hear the large numbers of dead and wounded being pushed by TV into their living rooms an a nightly basis. First of all--we had to! It matters not what kind of people, or government, comes to us and asks for help, as was done in the early “60’s, basically saying, “we don’t want to be taken over by the Communists, help us“. It matters not that they were not fashioned in the American way. Most countries have leadership that is full of power grabbing, corrupt leadership. I am not being cynical when I say that even in America there are a few who are not entirely ethical in some of their doings and use power positions to enrich themselves. However, we have in place a system of checks and balances backed by laws to make such dealings illegal with severe penalties for those caught and convicted. If we were to have turned
our backs on such peoples/countries with the idea that freedom and democracy are fine for us but you aren’t good enough to try and have it for yourselves, then we would be the biggest hypocrites on the face of the earth. It is simply a matter of helping and then trying to change them to become more free and democratic. The first order of business was to keep them from falling under the Communist umbrella.
Another prominent reason the war became so distasteful to American citizenry was its length. This was mostly due to the fact that our military was hamstrung for years with political leadership calling all the shots. The tactics were dictated by civilians with no military knowledge to the point of picking targets, number of aircraft to be sent on an attack and on down to the number of bombs and size to be delivered. Many targets were placed off limits, such as the dams and dykes. It is imperative that our government, headed by civilian leadership, keep a tight rein on the military, but when diplomacy, sanctions, etc., cease to have the desired effect on a nation that is overstepping its bounds and threatening a neighbor, then the military has to be given the power to do what is necessary to bring the situation to its fastest, acceptable conclusion.
Using military strength to conduct a war is a drastic last resort and should never be done with one hand tied behind one’s back. The unloading docks in Haiphong, where ships from all over the Communist bloc were unloading supplies, were not hit until late in the conflict. The mining of the waters off the port city, etc., was not carried out. We’d start to bomb and then stop. On and on. There were some very valuable lessons learned by all of this, and thank God, when it came time to do it to help Kuwait, the leadership told the military, “Do It!” Had it been so in Vietnam, that war could have been over in a matter of several month in any year starting in the mid 1960’s and there wouldn’t have been 50,000 names to put on the black marble wall called the Vietnam memorial.
One example of stupidity occurred one night before I was shot down. We got tasking from on high that it was desired to be known if the North Vietnamese were unloading military supplies at night in the port of Haiphong! DUH!!! There were 20-30 Communist flag ships at anchor in the harbor waiting to unload their war making materials and it would be idiotic to think they’d not unload at night. That was another of my missions with another Viggie - one making the run over the dock area and the other decoying the gunners to draw fire away from the plane doing the actual photo taking. It was like flying through the most fantastic fireworks display you can imagine and why neither of us got shot down is still a source of amazement to me. What made it more than idiotic is that it put the Vigilante in an extremely vulnerable position, because you had to slow down to allow the flasher pods under the wings to recharge and blink like flash bulbs for the cameras to get the pictures and everyone on the ground could look up and see you coming at a low, slow path over the target area. Guess what?
They were unloading supplies!
Many of us, who were hounded for months and years to try and make us write our confessions regarding crimes upon the Vietnamese people still have a lot of resentment towards these people. Sure, our way of life says we can say what we wish, but it certainly doesn’t give us the right to make propaganda for
the enemy, declared war or not. Sorry ’bout that! I have the scars to harbor my hatred for these people and I suppose I will take it the grave with me. I am proud to have been an Air Pirate and the Blackest of Criminals because I am honored to have lived so long with some of the bravest and finest men this country has ever produced. My only regret is that I was taking photos to find new targets and for bomb damage assessment instead of dropping bombs or rockets to help shorten the war in a meaningful way.
Although we got our twice a day dose of absurd propaganda from Hanoi Hanna extolling the virtues of the Peoples Army, crowing about the anti-war movement in the U.S. and the preposterous losses of planes and personnel we never heard a word about the greatest achievement by civilized man -- landing a man on the moon and getting them back home. Several months after the event we got word somehow, either from an over zealous interrogator, a new POW or some other way that it had occurred. We took great delight whenever we were outside with the moon in view to point at it and say “U.S.” One English speaker countered by saying, “You can put a man on the moon, but you can’t win the war in Vietnam.”
One day we noticed a complete change in the atmosphere in camp.
Everything was very quiet - no activity, and the morning meal was way late arriving. Then we could hear some somber music from outside the walls. The walls were abuzz with tapping and the surmise was that Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) had left this world. We were right! And the mourning had started. We were pretty much left alone for several weeks and then a new set of rules came out from the camp authority. We were to still show proper respect to the guards and interrogators by giving the required bow when they entered the cell, but if we behaved, we basically would not be harassed and punished for every little thing. The guards pretty much left us alone and all the petty, harassing tactics they constantly bugged us with went by the way side. We could get a light for a cigarette when we wanted one for the three we got per man each day. (It was especially great to live with a non-smoker! You got to share his ration with the other roommate if you had three in a cell.)They even let you outside on a nice day for a few minutes after bath time and we got a bit more food. Some was even a treat in that we got some occasional canned fish or pork made in one of the Communist countries. Once in a while you got a few potatoes in the soup. The eternal optimists went wild--we’re going home soon!! Never could figure out what “soon” was because years went by before it came to pass.
As is the case in any organization, there’s always someone who doesn’t get the word. We happened to have a guard who was a real honest-to-goodness pain in the ass. He was always the one who would blow out the match before you could get a light for the cigarette, leave the soup out to get cold, put you on your knees, slap you around, etc. My shoulder and neck had been giving me fits for several weeks and the pain was nearly unbearable with not so much as an aspirin to help dull it. Guess I was in a particular nasty mood one day when he popped open the cell door and got all upset when I gave him a head nod instead of a bow. He picked up one of my rubber sandals and whacked me across the face with it. Some thing in me snapped and I grabbed the front of his shirt with my good arm and slammed him into the wall. He didn’t understand a word I
said, which was, “If you ever touch me again, you bastard, I’ll kill you.” The look on my face and the growl the words were spoken in must have made it understandable. I let him go and he took off. I don’t know if he shit his pants or not, but my two roommates almost did as they headed for the slop bucket. I heard a lot of, “You crazy son-of-a-bitch” and “You’ve done it now, they’re going to kill all of us”. And, I guess they would have had the right to at least really put us through the ringer, but amazingly enough, we did not hear anything more about it.
The better-than-usual treatment continued for some time, and joy of joys, I was taken to an interrogation room where there were cookies and cigarettes on the table. I was told to enjoy which I did not accept and then was given a short six-line letter from my wife. Something about the leaves have turned from gold to silver (guess I’d been promoted to commander in absentia) and we’re all fine and hope this finds you alive and well. There were also three photos--one of my daughter in a bikini (she was now a young lady and not 8 ½ as she was when I left home), another was of my son with my German shepherd, and the third a picture of the house and pool. Then in one of the very few compassionate moves I saw during the whole time in camp, the English speaker left the room for a few minutes so I could be alone with my thoughts and tears. Upon his return, I was given a small pack of Brach candies and a bit of pipe tobacco from a package which had been sent to me from home. I guess the guards got the rest of the six pounds of stuff supposedly allowed each month, but so what--a little was better than nothing at all. I was also allowed to write a six line letter to my family and then returned to my cell, walking all the way on cloud nine.
The cell we were living in at this time had windows at a normal height so we could see outside. There were roving patrols around the buildings during the evening hours and there was one guard in particular who was somewhat friendly. He loved to come by the room, being very careful to keep checking all around him continuously so he wouldn’t get caught so he could look at the three photos. He couldn’t believe that that house was mine. He kept saying “U.S. no Hy”. One evening I offered him a piece of the very precious hard candy. My roommates were ready to kill me. With great reluctance and lots of looking around he took it and beat the scene. I had heard or read somewhere that in most Oriental cultures it was considered very rude to not accept something offered as a gift and that it was also considered only proper to return something. Two nights later he returned and with the same careful scanning of the area pulled from his pocket two chili peppers and two cloves of garlic. You have no idea what an improvement that made to the next several bowls of soup!!!

Early evenings, just before dark, we would be entertained by watching some of biggest rats on planet Earth wander around the courtyard. No cat would have dared bother these critters because they were huge!

Because we were being allowed to receive the humane and lenient treatment of the Vietnamese people, some of the guys who complained the most about tooth aches were escorted to a room in camp in which was set up a dentist office. Upon entering, the POW was told to sit in the chair and “Prepare for great pain”. The drill was treadle powered, much like a sewing machine and finally a filling placed in the tooth. Needless to say everyone that got such dental care ended up
having to have the tooth pulled after we got home. One of the guys had such severe pain from a badly infected tooth that he performed his own oral surgery with an old rusty nail to get it out of his jaw. Good thing his tetanus shots were up to date! How he was able to do it was, and is, beyond my ability to comprehend.
One thing we did a lot of, was sleep. To be able to give one‘s self up to the Sand Man was a manner of escape even though we were on hard surfaces with only a rice straw mat between us and the wooden pallets or concrete. Many of us had the same recurring dreams. I did not dream of my wife and kids. I dreamt of high school classmates, guys and gals alike. A shrink explained to me many years later that this was a way of me returning to the best years of one’s life - high school. I guess so. Another was flying through the air like a bird only having to move my arms to swoop this way and that. The explanation for this was the freedom it represented. O.K., I’ll buy that.
For whatever reason, one night , several rooms of POWs were told to suit up, were blind folded and placed in the backs of several trucks to be taken somewhere. We felt it was not going to be a permanent move because we left all of our meager belongings in the rooms. We were taken somewhere in town to a museum to witness the culture of the glorious Vietnamese people. We were shown all sorts of statues, paintings, art work, etc and then loaded back in the trucks for the return ride to the Hanoi Hilton. The next day I was taken to “quiz” and asked “how you think.” I must have been acting very stupid that day, because I said I could see any of that stuff in a five and ten cent store back home. Here comes the “you have very bad attitude’ line and “you must be punish” tirade again. Would I ever learn?
On another occasion, we were taken one room at a time to the headquarters building where a room had been set up to show the My Lai massacre info. Most of the articles were from French news sources like Le Monde. I could still remember some my four years of French in High School and the Naval Academy and read some things that were never published in American papers that I checked upon my return home. The village had ambushed an American patrol and a lot of GI’s had been killed. This had been done by a bunch of old folks, women and kids. The U.S. Army parent unit was sent in a day or so later and they avenged the deaths of their buddies big time. One of the main problems in this so called war was that the enemy didn’t always wear a uniform -- a kid handing out bananas or fruit of some other kind could just as easily set off a grenade and take out a group of GI’s. This type of thing was always crowed about by Hanoi Hanna in her broadcasts where such actions were touted as being valiant and heroic by the People.
Once or twice a week, we would hear a roar of a low flying drone go over the camp. At first the gunners would shoot at them and air raid sirens would go off prior to their arrival, but later on they just flew over with no response. Someone was at least checking on us and it made us feel a bit better even though there were no bombers. This fact, in itself, caused many hours of discussion and argument for many years thereafter and to my knowledge has never been resolved because of what happened at the prison camp called Son Tay.
One night we awoke to a tremendous hullabaloo, and it was obvious something big was going down. As we found out later, a rescue attempt had been made on the camp to get out the POWs housed there by a group of U.S. Special Forces guys in helos. Unfortunately, the guys who had been there had been moved out a few weeks earlier. It would seem logical that the drones would have spotted no activity at the camp, no clothes hung out to dry, etc. Was this a legitimate raid to get some guys out or just a raid to prove to the Vee that U.S. troops could go anywhere they wanted to -- even to nearly downtown Hanoi. In any case it did accomplish one major thing. All POWs were within a few days moved into the main section of the Hanoi Hilton prison and we were put into large rooms housing 12 to 25 men. It was wonderful to once again see guys you hadn’t seen in years and to have new stories to listen to. Almost immediately guys with special areas of expertise began to pass it on to anyone interested and we had classes in everything from public speaking, languages, philosophy, etc.
The biggest hit of every evening was the nightly movie narrated by someone with all the details and scene painting. Some were especially adroit at this and it was a great way to pass an hour or so. Some of classes were so good that many of the guys were able to validate college level courses when they returned home!
These large rooms did not have slop buckets. Each had a small enclosed area within the room with two holes about four to five inches across and footprints carved into the concrete. The whole idea was to plant your feet and try to score a bull’s eye on the target. Large barrels or an open pit collected the waste. There’s no need to try and describe the stench. One of our young pilots spent a lot of time in this crude toilet one day. We knew we all had parasites of one kind or another. We had on one occasion see a guard grab a little boy about four or five years old , and with much yelling and thrashing about, pull a white colored night crawler looking worm out of this kid’s rear end . We had been told in survival school that parasites had to have a steady, controlled environment in which to survive, so any drastic change would cause them to relinquish their hold on the intestines and leave. Kerosene was a good medicine for this, but we didn’t have access to any. So, our non-smoking pilot decided one day to take his cigarette ration and swallow the tobacco. We tried to tell him to chew some and swallow the juice, but he chose to wash down the whole mess with some water. It wasn’t long before the worms were safe. The tobacco never got to them because he spent the better part of a few hours in the toilet throwing up everything except the worms.
The camp authority also relented and gave each room several decks of cards. Immediately, bridge games and tournaments flourished and it was a wonderful way to spend the good part of every day. Bidding systems were invented and some would have put Charles Goren to challenge!
We were also afforded the opportunity to read Bibles which were placed in nearly every room. Many used the chance to become quite knowledgeable in The Word. I clearly remember a classic conversation between two of my roomies which centered around, “Do you believe in religion?” “Yes.” “Which one?” “All of them.”
One of my new roommates was not looking very well. For whatever reason, whether he wanted to look bad so as not to be pressured into going to see an
anti-war delegation, or some other mentally fabricated ploy, he had stopped eating most of his ration and had taken on the look of a long time concentration camp survivor from World War II. He was totally emaciated and had virtually no buttocks, his thighs were such that they could almost be encircled by one hand and his rib cage was such that he looked like a walking skeleton. The camp authority decided that he needed some special food to try and get him to a more acceptable appearance and started to bring him a porcelain cup (about a pint) of heavily sweetened warm milk each day. At first, whether it was because it was so rich and sweet, or whatever other reason, he couldn’t keep it in his stomach and after a few minutes would vomit up what he had swallowed. Then began one of the most disgusting rituals any of us had ever seen. He got to a point where he could regurgitate at will, back into the cup it went and he would drink it again.
This would be repeated four or five times, much to the dismay of us all. We tried everything we could think of to get him to stop, up to and including a direct order from the senior ranking officer in the room. He finally went to the Vietnamese and asked to be put in a room by himself so he could do what he wanted to after telling us to “Mind your own damn business and don’t tell me what to do.” A few months went by and he returned to us, having put on some weight and once again acting in a normal, sane manner.
One of the POWs in another close-by room had meticulously made an American flag. He had scavenged thread from various sources in the required red, white and blue colors, and had fashioned himself a needle from bamboo and used his towel as the base. He worked on it meticulously and when done, it was a thing of beauty. It was very carefully secreted away and taken out with much care to keep an eye peeled for guards and used while the rest of the room saluted and recited the pledge of allegiance. It‘s no small wonder that he got caught and since the camp authority had a limit to how much crap they‘d take from us, he was given a ferocious beating and thrown back into the room. Through swollen eyes, he immediately went to work to make a replacement flag.
Another Christmas came and still we were there. We had a small program where someone “told” a famous Christmas movie and were singing a few carols, quietly. For whatever reason, the camp authority was absolutely paranoid about groups of us sitting or gathered together for any reason. A group of guards showed up at the door to the room and demanded that we stop. Someone started singing the Star Spangled Banner and everyone joined in. Soon every room in the whole of the Hoa Lo prison area we were in was doing the same and more and more guards and all the officers came on a rush--a lot of them now armed with weapons of various type and caliber. The singing now became a roar getting louder and louder. The Vietnamese started to freak out, fearing a camp wide riot and started entering each room to drag out the senior ranking officer among the POWs and demanding they make us stop. None would and they would be taken out of the room to be pounced upon by several guards and beaten. The next in charge would step forward and we continued. Many were dragged out and beaten as this scene went on for nearly an hour until the Vietnamese left in a rush. Maybe it was to call reinforcements or some other reason, but as soon as they left we quit the yelling and singing and everything returned to normal. Lots of guys were taken to “quiz” over the next several days and admonished for being
very bad and having bad attitudes which would be severely dealt with in the future and we would be “punish” if it happened again.
Time to move again to another room. I guess the idea behind this was to prevent any plans being put together for escape or riot. In any case, it was great to get new roommates.
Man! How time flies. Another year goes by and still nothing much is happening that would indicate that anyone back home gives a damn about doing something to get this war over with and get us out of this rotten existence. No bombing, no nothing. We live in limbo until the 18th of December 1972 when we noticed something out of the ordinary just before go to bed time. A noise such as we’d never heard before. It was as if a long way off, muted and definitely lots of jet aircraft. Air raid sirens went off and the lights went out and someone yelled, “Holy Shit! That’s high flying B-52s!” Someone else said, “We’re getting out of this fucking place now!” And then it started.
President Nixon had taken the bull by the horns and decided that this Vietnam thing had dragged on long enough and ordered the bombing of North Vietnam by B-52s.
The scream and roar of attack and fighter aircraft diving in at very high speeds and the shriek of various anti radar missiles seemed to be all around the Hanoi Hilton and, of course, throughout the city of Hanoi. The thump and bang of anti-aircraft guns joined in with the blasting off of surface-to-air (SAM) missiles. The drone of the B-52’s became louder and louder and then the bombs began to hit. This is the most unbelievable sound you can imagine in that each bomber carries 104 bombs -- a combination of 500 and 750 pound high explosive weapons and the devastation is unbelievable. The pattern must easily cover over a half mile in length and several hundred yards wide and nothing within that area that is supposed to be stuck together remains so. It is called carpet bombing and there isn’t much left of the carpet after they go off! We learned later that hundreds of B-52‘s were on that raid and they kept coming in wave after wave. The N Vietnamese shot off about 200 SAMs that night and managed to shoot down 2-3 of the big bombers. We were able to see from our windows two of them burn as they spiraled back to earth. It was heart wrenching to watch them come down in a ball of fire, many of the guys pleading our loud for crew to “eject, bail out, get out of there.“
The targets they hit were ammunition dumps, POL (petroleum, oil, lubrication) storage areas, warehouses, power plants, rail yards, etc. and the whole world seemed to be on fire. The night became day. It was bright enough to be able to read a newspaper, assuming we had one. The best way to describe the scene is to say to try and imagine being in the middle of the most violent thunderstorm, earthquake and fireworks demonstration you can imagine, simultaneously. The ground shook, you could feel concussions from the bomb blasts and it was a most awesome sight and sound display. The expression, Rolling Thunder, best describes the sound. One of our fighters or Wild Weasel aircraft which were used to suppress AAA fire or SAM sites roared right over the camp and we saw something come off the plane and that’s the only time we dove for cover. The bomb landed just outside the walls of the prison where several large caliber guns were firing and the roof was sprinkled with shrapnel pieces.
The guns never fired after that. AND, all of this was the most wonderful, exhilarating thing any of us had ever seen! WE WERE GOING TO GET OUT OF HERE AND WE WERE GOING HOME!!! The good ole U.S.A. had come to get us out. No city or nation could withstand the onslaught of hundreds of B-52 aircraft in an unending stream for very long. And, as we learned from some of the newly shot down airmen, this was occurring in the port city of Haiphong and other major areas all over N. Vietnam.
Guards were seen racing hither and yon about the court yard. Some firing weapons into the air (as if they were going to do any damage to a B-52 flying at 35,000 feet or higher!) It sort of looked like a hill of fire ants that someone had just kicked. One guard tripped and fell, his helmet and rifle flying in different directions. He rolled over, sat up, held his head in his hands and said over and over again, “Nixon, Nixon, Nixon.” It sort of summed up what the leadership of North Vietnam must also have been feeling at that particular moment. You see, it is one thing to bomb supply trails, suspected truck parks, etc. in the jungles of South Vietnam and quite something else to send those same B-52 bombers with their tremendous loads of high explosives to blow up the back, front and side yards of the leadership calling the shots in downtown Hanoi. Killing monkeys in the jungle is quite different than killing Uncle Ho’s buddies!
One guard came racing up to the door yelling for us to take cover and get away from the windows, saying “They bomb you, they bomb you.’ Our reply was that, “They are not bombing us. They know where we are. They are bombing you.” He raced off jabbering something none of us understood.
Dawn was approaching and the planes stopped coming and the air raid sirens sounded all clear. As soon as we could see, we noticed that the entire court yard was covered in various types and sizes of aluminum strips, called chaff and window. Tons and tons had been dropped to confuse the various types of radar equipment the N. Vietnamese used in an effort to find, track and guide their guns and SAMs against our planes. The few trees in the yard, the roofs, the clothes lines, the cisterns, everything was covered in the stuff! Sort of like Christmas decorations and in fact it was better than any Christmas any of us had ever experienced.
Very soon several trucks arrived in camp carrying captured B-52 crewmen. They were all put into one room and we soon noticed a scurry of activity in and out of said room. Dr Zorba and several of his medics were in and out with quite a few baskets of bloodied bandages, etc being brought outside. Our leaders begged the Vee to let us send our two medics and a few men to help out with the wounded. We were not allowed to do so, but almost immediately established a communication link with them to get the latest in news, how their injuries were, and what the hell was going on. A few of the uninjured amongst them were sent out to get food and water and they saw some of us and the main comment from them was, “Christ, you guys really look old! How the hell long have you been here?”
That night and the next and the next the bombers returned again and again. By the third night there were no SAMs and nearly no anti aircraft fire. There were no MIG aircraft airborne to try and counter our forces and we found out there were no missiles, no fuel, no nothing left!! Food rations became less
than half what they had previously been and we were told by our S. Vietnamese and Thai POW friends that there was no need to complain and ask for more, as there simply wasn’t any more. The guards were getting half what we were getting and the civilians were getting half of that! This continued until just before Christmas and then stopped. The optimists offered educated guesses as to the reason why which went from a) holiday cease fire, b) they’re talking about what the progress of the war was going to be, to c) we’ll be going home in a few days.
Those few guys who had been allowed to keep some letters or pictures or a few items of clothing in packages from home spent hours going over them and arranging neat little piles of things they would take home with them. Talk, optimism, discussion of news tidbits received from the B-52 crewmen regarding who had won World Series, or Super Bowls, etc., from years past turned each room into a bee hive of sound.
This lasted a few days and then a major move was under way again. Our most senior officers were called to the headquarters building. This was the first and only time during the entire captivity time that they had been so acknowledged. They were basically told to control their POW personnel, make everyone behave and the treatment would be relaxed. Word was put out that there were talks going on in Paris regarding what was to happen in the coming days and that we would be going home soon. Our SRO (Senior Ranking Officer) asked for only one thing and that was for the sick and wounded go home first, to be followed in order of shoot down, longest tenure first, in that order or none of us would agree to go.
A group of us was moved to The Plantation, a camp in another part of Hanoi. Conditions were pretty much relaxed with the guards leaving us alone for most of the day. Books, playing cards, chess games, some letters and quite a few packages from home were distributed. After all these years I got to see and talk to Wayne, my former RAN. We had not lived with each other or even in a nearby building. Prior to our shoot- down, I had worked and talked long and hard to get him to commit to staying in the Navy and making it a career, in that he was an outstanding officer and RAN. No, he was going to get out after we got home from that cruise and work with family in a construction business they had. Our mishap had gotten him to nearly half way in his time to a twenty year retirement and as he told me, “This was a helluva way to get him to stay in the Navy!” He did, however, decide to not fly anymore, changed career fields by switching to the Civil Engineering Corps and went rapidly up the ranks to retire as a captain.
It was almost impossible to sleep as excitement and adrenalin made us all hyper. In a few days, we were all called together in one large formation in the main courtyard. It was quickly noted that there were a lot of cameras, still and video, present on the balcony of the headquarters building and what appeared to be a lot of brass in attendance. Word was quickly passed down from our SRO that no matter what took place we were not to show emotion or make propaganda for the N. Vietnamese.
An English speaker took the microphone and read a bunch of stuff about the Paris Peace Accords that had just been signed and said , “The humane and lenient people of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam now allow you to go home to your families,” or words to that effect. To a man all of us stood there stone
faced and showing no emotions whatsoever. Silence engulfed the courtyard for several minutes and the English speaker waved his arms up and down, like he wanted us to jump around and said over and over, “It OK, be happy, you go home.“ We gave him nothing and the cameras didn’t have anything to take photos or images of at all. After several minutes we were told to return to our room. Then, I can tell you, all hell broke loose!!!
Over the course of the next few days, rumors were rampant, but it was all conjecture since none of us had any knowledge of anything that you could hang your hat on. When would the first group leave for home, how many would that be, when would the second group go, at what interval. There was no way to confirm anything; the gooks weren’t talking and we had no contact with the outside world or the main prison. One day a small group of European-looking people strolled through the camp, peering into rooms that were now left open all day long, and sort of looking us over. They didn’t talk to us and we didn’t talk to them.
Over the next several weeks, most everyone in the Plantation received several letters and a package from home. The food became more plentiful and palatable and we were able to get hot water for our freeze dried coffee almost any time we asked for it. One day we caught a glimpse of a very large airplane that appeared to be landing in the direction of Gia Lam airport and a lot of guys swore it was a U.S. transport. No way to know for sure, though. When would it be our turn?
We knew there were a few other POWs in a separate building but it was most difficult trying to make contact with them. All we got to find out was that they were some of our Australian buddies that had be taken prisoner in the South and transported to the North.
The day finally came when we were taken to a room full of clothing and were issued a small overnight bag, a pair of pants, a shirt, a blue/gray windbreaker type jacket, a pair of socks and a pair of black shoes. Within a day or so, about two weeks after the supposed sighting of a large American transport plane, we were told to get dressed in our new duds and load some buses that had pulled into the courtyard. Most of the guys grabbed their letters and photos, if they had any, and headed for the buses. I stopped long enough to grab a set of the striped PJs, my enamel coated pint size cup, some cigarettes we had been given (we were now getting nearly a pack a day instead of the normal three cigs), my broken toothbrush, a half used tube of toothpaste and stuffed it all into the little overnight bag we had been given. Of note is that one of the junior POWs, who was among the first group to go out some two weeks earlier, had stuffed a puppy he had befriended into his bag and brought it back to the States with him! That dog had instant notoriety and became famous! It was a helluva lot better than leaving him behind to be eaten the next Tet celebration, to say the least.
The streets outside the entrance to this prison were lined with people to watch us leave. We moved slowly through the city and it was a sight to behold. The area was devastated and reminded one of views of bombed out German cities after WW II. Nothing that was supposed to be stuck together was still stuck together!! Piles of rubble from the bombing were everywhere you could see. We arrived at the airport, stopped for a short lunch of bananas and tea, and
pulled up to the ramp area to get out of the buses. A rather large group of N. Vietnamese were on hand, being held back by guards and a long table had been set up, behind which sat some of the English speakers who previously had conducted the interrogations and torture sessions. It wasn’t hard to glare a hate- filled “Adios” to these bastards. We weren’t paying much attention to all of that, because the most beautiful sight in all the world was parked out there on the apron area with its back ramp lowered to the concrete and a large American flag painted on its tail. There never has been nor will there ever be a more wonderful, beautiful sight than that C-141 airplane and Old Glory on its tail. Enough to make grown men cry from sheer joy and most of us had tears rolling down our faces. Time to suck it up and get the hell out of there, though.
We passed down the table one at a time while one of the head torture guys read off our names, handed the name to an American Air Force officer next to him who asked us our name and service number and we were handed over to another U.S. officer who led us to the plane and up the ramp. We were met on the ramp by four of the most beautiful, best smelling, gorgeous U.S. Air Force uniformed women God had ever created who took us to a seat and gave us some fruit juice. We felt that we had died and gone to Heaven!!
The plane‘s engines started, the ramp came up and we started to taxi to the runway. The cabin was strangely quiet. No hullabaloo, no cheers, not even much looking around. We heard the roar of engines, started to roll and got airborne. Still no noise, no celebration. I guess it had been so long, we’d been lied to for so long, nothing really good had befallen any of us in an eternity that we just knew it was all a joke, we would have to go back and land or they would shoot us out of the sky as we climbed out toward the Gulf of Tonkin. Some short time later, the pilot came on the intercom and made the announcement that we were feet wet, meaning we were out over the sea! Now the cabin erupted with all sorts of yells, hoots, hollers, hugging, etc. We were finally out of Hell and on our way home!! The best part of it all was knowing that those rotten bastards had to stay back there and rot in their Communist Hell.
We drank our fruit juice and smoked American cigarettes during the trip.
Both were terrific after all those years without the former and the latter was a far cry from the harsh, strong Vietnamese cigarettes. We weren’t allowed to have anything else to eat or drink because the docs at the Air Force hospital at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines wanted to get a bunch of blood samples to see what ailed us upon arrival.
In a few hours, the power was pulled back and we started our descent for landing, the gear came down with a satisfying thump, the flaps were lowered to landing configuration and we touched down for the taxi in to the apron area near the terminal building. The entire base -- military, civilian and dependants -- seemed to be out there as far as the eye could see. The cheers were thunderous and continuous as we boarded buses for the ride to the hospital and the corpsmen with their needles and vials to draw blood. They took enough to feed a whole squadron of vampires for a week and off we went with our personal escort officer who, by the way was assigned to us for anything we needed, wanted or whatever, all the way to the military hospital closest to where our families were currently located.
First stop was the mess hall where we could order whatever we craved. I think the over whelming choice was steak, then eggs, to be followed by ice cream--at least that was my choice. A big, rare T-bone was served up in short order and it was a classic case of the eyes bigger than the stomach! Four juicy bites and I was done. I passed on the eggs but the chocolate ice cream brought tears to my eyes. Firstly, it was such a wonderful taste and secondly, my teeth hurt like hell because of not having had anything cold in so many years plus having a mouthful of chipped and cavity riddled teeth.
Next stop was a room full of Filipino tailors who measured us and started making each of us a go home uniform which was delivered to our hospital room later that night. We then were taken to see a chaplain, who in many cases had a bit of bad news to pass on to us. In my case, it was that my grandmother had passed on. She had tried valiantly to hang on, because somehow she knew all along that I would come home. Banks of phones were then made available to us so that we could call our families. It was so, so hard to say anything at all and there was a lot of dead time during the conversation.
A short debriefing session with an intelligence officer for pertinent info on names we might have stored in our memory circuits to make sure no one was left behind. I personally had over five hundred names in alphabetical order with service and aircraft shot down in for most of them.
Off to nearly an hour in a hot shower --can there be any explanation for how good that felt after years of cold baths and lye soap. (I still cannot stand a cold shower, even on the hottest of summer days.) Off to an honest-to-God bed with nurses and corpsmen coming in and out to see if there was anything they could do for us. Little to no sleep all night with lots of walking the halls, yakking at the nurses’ station and with other sleepless ex-POWs. The corridors were lined with tables piled high with every manner of goodies made for us by personnel stationed at the base and the walls were covered with posters made by the children.
Dawn got us into our new uniforms, a great breakfast, a manicure (most of us had never had one before), a haircut and a shave from a Filipino wielding a straight edge razor. I’d never had one of those before and prayed silently that he would not cut my throat. We loaded up for a ride back to the plane for the leg to Hawaii. Finally, some sleep as the adrenalin wore off. The landing on U.S. soil and the reception at the terminal building was even more tumultuous and heart- wrenching than the previous touchdown at Clark. We had a short turn around and then boarded the C-141 to get us to the West Coast, where we transferred to other aircraft to take us to the military hospital closest to our families. Again, unbelievable welcoming crowds, TV, photographers and families running out on the ramp to greet us. Seeing kids who were now grown and changed so very much was a shock. My daughter was fourteen and a young woman -- my son was twelve and a young man, wondering who I was and what was I going to be like! Then came a bitter- sweet moment when I was able to hold the woman who had said “You owe it to me and the kids to come home“. Little did I know that within an hour and a half I would be told that she didn’t want me any more as she had found someone else during my six year absence, but that’s another chapter.
I have been asked at least a thousand times what it was that made it possible for me to survive. There are several reasons. First of all, I had a tremendous hatred for my captors, their inhumanity, brutality, the whole Communistic crock of lies, etc. Secondly, although I felt that my God had forsaken me (part of my feeling sorry for myself and the predicament I was in), I never knew that there was a large group of people praying for me every day and, in fact, at the church I had grown up in, a tree had been planted in my behalf to remind parishioners to keep it up. It had to have done a lot of good, because I was given the strength to survive -- I didn’t do all by myself! Thirdly, I have to go back to my high school football and basketball coach who had instilled in me an unshakeable ethic of get up when you get knocked down and have the guts to face the bigger, faster, stronger guy across from you. Lastly, but not least important were the principles of leadership, love of country, honor, and duty that had been drilled into me while I was at the U.S. Naval Academy. You simply didn’t quit and it was imperative that one kept faith with your fellow officers and the men with whom you served.
Got checked into the Naval Hospital, had a bit of champagne, and headed for a home which I had never seen as my family had moved when the base from which I had departed the States, NAS Sanford, FL had been closed. I was to be attached to NAVHOSP for several months to get thoroughly checked out, get therapy, enjoy some leave and go through scores of hours in intelligence debriefings.
We each went through a press conference and an awards ceremony, over the next several weeks, at which I was awarded a large number of decorations/medals, the two of which I am the most proud are the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with V for valor.

Larry Ingels – 18th Company
Adventures in Indiana

Between 1962 and 1965, I was on Recruiting duty with the Marine Corps in Indianapolis. Following are some of the memorable events during those years.

  1. 1. We had an admin Sgt. who was a pretty tough cookie-someone you didn’t want to mess around with. Once in the Philippines on courier duty he shot a man who he thought was threatening his classified courier mail. From time to time this Sgt would escort an AWOL marine, delivered by the MPs from nearby Ft. Benjamin Harrison, over to the local Armed Forces Examining Station (AFES) for a physical exam before he was locked up in the local county jail. There the AWOL marine would await orders and an escort back to his unit.

This one day our Sgt escorted an AWOL over to AFES for his physical. The medical facility was located on the second floor of the building. He took the man’s handcuffs off for the physical, and the AWOL decided to make a run for it over to the stairs and down. The Sgt reacted immediately, took out his pistol
and fired a warning shot at the stairway over the man’s head. You can imagine the sound of a .45 caliber pistol shot echoing through the building. The Sgt ran over to the stairs and down after the man. There was a head/(toilet) at the bottom of the stairs. At the entrance to the head, the Sgt yelled “Alright, come out of there you Son of a B….” Well, the first person to respond was this poor draftee. He came out of the toilet stall with his hands in the air and his pants around his ankles. He heard the shot and the commanding voice and wasn’t taking any chances. Of course the AWOL came out later, as well and things went almost back to normal.
That was one very memorable day in recruiting and in the AFES. I’m sure that poor draftee had a good story to tell the rest of his life, as well.

  1. 2. As the Assistant Recruiting Officer, I had the job of writing up any vehicle accidents involving our official vehicles and submitting them to our District Headquarters in Kansas City. During this time I recall only two accidents- both pretty unusual. The first accident involved our OIC, who was driving out of town to visit one of our sub-stations in a nearby city. It seems that at a traffic light there was a truck load of scrap metal next to him. As they both started up, hot water tank from the top of the truck fell off and hit the top of our recruiting sedan. I wrote up the report about our vehicle involved with a hot water tank and submitted it to District HQ. I didn’t hear back from them.

A short time later one of our recruiters - Sgt “Birdie Deadwiler”, a 6 ft 180 lb male marine, was involved in a multi car accident, The other two drivers—I kid you not—were Casey Jones and Mr. Wrech (pronounced “wreck”). I always felt that our District legal office thought that I made up these two investigations.
Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

  1. 3. In 1964 the Army selected General Harold Johnson to be the next Army Chief of Staff. Now it was newsworthy that General Johnson, as a younger officer, had been in the Philippines at the start of WWII and was captured by the Japanese and spent the war years as a POW. Apparently the writer or editor of the Indianapolis Star newspaper didn’t know a whole lot about history. The news article, which I still have, read “General Johnson, who was a supervisor of the Bataan Death March,….” Of course they meant “survivor” and not “supervisor: of the Bataan Death March. I can’t imagine a bigger mistake in a news story!!

  1. 4. As a recruiting officer, I interviewed most of the recruiting applicants and would later swear them in. If someone was considered “marginal” as an applicant, then two of us would interview the applicant and compare our observations On one occasion the Sgt. Major interviewed someone and then sent him to me for a second interview. After talking to the applicant, I decided that he wasn’t exactly a “ball of fire”, but that maybe we should take a chance on him. I then proceeded to swear him in. I said, “Raise your right hand and repeat after me.” He raised his right hand. Then I said “I, state your name.” The applicant repeated “I, state your name” I then said “Put your hand down.”
At that point I decided that he didn’t quite meet our standard, so I decided not to swear him in. However, he did follow my instructions exactly.

Support of a Failed Rescue

In mid 1980 I was Assistant Facilities Engineer at Quantico, VA. It was during this time that President Carter approved an attempt to rescue the hostages held from our Embassy in Tehran. Apparently during the staging for the rescue, two planes collided on the ground and caused the decision to scrub the attempt and return the rescue teams to the US.

The Marine Corps element of the mission quietly returned to Quantico, VA, and were housed at old Camp Upshur- a remote area of the base west of I-95. Fred Mount, another Assistant Facilities Engineer and I got involved in the support operations at Quantico.

One of the things we had to coordinate was to get some of the element leaders into the PX at Quantico, when it was closed, to get them some “free” civilian clothes, so they could go up to DC and debrief at HQMC and the Pentagon. We organized the late night shopping spree. I understand they picked out some pretty nice clothes- since the price was right.

We also had to collect the team’s automatic weapons, which had the serial numbers removed, and get the weapons turned in to our base armory for further disposition. This we did.

I got a call from HQMC and had one other specific mission given to me. One of the Iranian guides assigned to the rescue team was temporarily staying in the BOQ at Quantico. I was told that his name was “Ali” and that I was to pick him up at a certain time and take him to National Airport so he could fly back to his home in Texas. I was told one other thing. Be sure to collect the .38 cal pistol from him. We didn’t want him trying to get on a plane with a pistol. I did as was instructed, picked Ali up, took him to DC, got the pistol from him and dropped him at the terminal. Later I turned the pistol into our armory. As far as I know “Ali” got home safely.

I don’t think the public or the press ever knew that these men were at Quantico for a few days until they could get “Demobilized”. It was interesting to me to have that small part in ending the mission.

Virginia in Vietnam

About every other tour in the Marine Corps was in Virginia, so I kept Virginia as my home state. Before I left for Vietnam in March 1966, I ordered new Virginia plates for our family car. My wife wrote to me early in Vietnam saying that she never got the plates, so I sent her a power of attorney to get new plates. Finally the original Virginia license plates showed up in my mail in
Danang, Vietnam. It was too late for my car back home, so I put them on my jeep. I left them there except on one occasion when we had a visiting congressman from Virginia. I loaned them to our battalion Motor Transport Officer to put on his jeep as he toured the congressman around. I am sure the congressman was a bit surprised to find such a current Virginia connection in Vietnam!

Bob Johnson – 9th Company
Career Opportunities!!!!!!!!!!

It was the late spring of '52. I was home on leave/pass from NAPS and one evening I decided to check on my old high school buddy and neighbor (2 blocks away), Ned Dixon. At that time Ned was attending Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia on a work/study program. This was his work phase and it consisted of shoveling coal onto a huge furnace up in the Scranton area. I pulled up to his house and his father was mowing the lawn.
He said Ned wasn't there but was expected to arrive home by bus about midnight. Mr. Dixon then asked me what I was up to. I explained NAPS and that while I didn't expect to get into USNA that year (3rd alternate congressional appointment), I did expect to get a fleet appointment the next year and enter in '53. Mr. Dixon then asked, with a bit of a grimace, "Why in the world would anyone want to go to the Naval Academy?" I gave him the whole pitch: patriotism, good education, great training, tuition free w/pay, room, board, etc., etc. He just shook his head. I said good-bye and drove off.

Now, the rest of the story, as Ned liked to tell it. When Ned's bus arrived about midnight he spotted his father's car waiting and got right in. He had no sooner settled in his seat when his dad asked, "Have you ever thought about joining the navy?" Ned replied that no, he had never really thought about it. The next morning his mother woke him early saying that his father wanted to see him at breakfast. When Ned came down his father asked, "Well, have you thought about it?" Same routine that night at dinner. The die was cast and it wasn't long before Ned was a whitehat taking boot at Bainbridge. Sometime in the fall or winter of '52 Ned showed up at NAPS from ET school at Great Lakes with a principle congressional appointment. You all know the rest.

RIP, Ned.

Joe Koch – 11th Company
While we are on stories about liberty port events, thought I would add another one.
On the way into the Med in June 1960, TUSK made a liberty port call at Oporto, Portugal. We were the only American warship in port at that time and there had not been an American ship there for a couple of years before us. At that time, Oporto had a rather large expat Brit colony as most of the port wineries were managed by Brits. Since there was not an expat American group in Oporto, we were adopted by the Brits for our stay in port. One of the events that the Brits arranged was a softball game on Sunday afternoon at the Oporto Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club. It was the crew of TUSK against the Brits.
However, they insisted that we play by "British rules" which differed from our rules only by a "tea break" after 41/2 innings. When "tea break" came, TUSK was ahead comfortably by a score of 12 to 4. "Tea break" actually lasted an hour and a half, and only strong British beer was served instead of tea. Luckily the Brits were imbibing as much as the "Yanks'. TUSK managed to squeak out a 36 to 34 victory after 9 innings. That was the wildest second half of a softball game I have ever participated in. However, everyone had a great time no matter who won. I always wondered why we did not have more softball games using "British rules"!

Ted Kramer – 5th Company
Salt II

I’m delighted and somewhat surprised that someone suggested my SALT II experiences for inclusion in the book as that was, indeed, a memorable and unique tour of duty for this Mark I Mod 0 Surface Warfare Officer, but so far in the past, I’m surprised anyone remembered.

The one thing I remember most from SALT II was to expunge any semblance of editorial pride you may have. Going through the murder boards of an “article,” “agreed statement,” “common understanding,” or any other treaty-related substance that you may have drafted for the Delegation was worse than any Skinny P-work I ever encountered. Accordingly, please feel free to use any of the attached, or don’t use any of it, or edit it anyway you please. You will not hurt my feelings in the least.

A great portion of the treaty work was dedicated to nothing more mundane than language conformity. There are no prepositions in the Russian language so we had to be very careful on how our own prepositions would be interpreted, e.g., heavy bombers “equipped for” connotes a bomber that is capable of being equipped with whatever and could be counted in the launcher aggregate if and when it is equipped; as opposed to “equipped with” which connotes a bomber already equipped with whatever and therefore already counts in the current aggregate. Translation differences also played a role, e.g., our “post-boost vehicle” translated to “self-contained dispensing mechanism” in Russian, and some of our words, e.g. “capability” had completely different meanings in the
Russian language. Verb tense played a major role: “The Soviet Union will not equip heavy bombers with ….” is fine except it doesn’t prohibit the Russians from moving their heavy bombers to Poland or any other country to have them equipped with whatever. Hence, we preferred “Heavy bombers of the Soviet Union will not be equipped…” That sort of language play blocked several treaty loopholes.

But so much for the didactics.

Socially, dealing with the Soviets could be engaging. At a cocktail party at our Ambassador’s home in Geneva, my wife accidentally dropped a canapé on the Ambassador’s expensive carpet. Noting her embarrassment, one of the Soviet ministers quickly came over and told her, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Kramer, just tell the Ambassador that the Russians did it.”

Or, they could be boorish. At a garden party at the Soviet Mission celebrating their November Revolution, one of my counterparts, Colonel Grigoriev, who was the stereotypical mirthless, doctrinaire Soviet, came over to make small talk with me. I noticed that his fly was wide open, so I maneuvered him close to the Soviet Ambassador and loudly proclaimed to the Colonel that his fly was open. This didn’t seem to bother him at all. He just unobtrusively zipped himself up in front of the Ambassador and his wife and just as loudly complained that his new “western” suit he had bought in Geneva that week had a zippered fly which was not nearly as practical as the buttons on the fly of a Russian-made suit. Hence, western technology will never replace Soviet traditionalism and will eventually lead to our demise.

But most of their diplomats had a good sense of humor. We were arguing with their Minister Smolin one day trying to get our definition of cruise missile range into the treaty. Our somewhat dubious definition was something called “maximum effective range” which only measured the straight-line distance from the launch point to the target no matter what meandering course the missile would take. The Soviets, of course, desired the definition of “maximum range” of the cruise missile to be entered into the treaty, that is, the actual distance the cruise missile would travel from launch point to the target including the distance it traveled throughout its entire route. Smolin, as an example, questioned us that if he would drive from Geneva to Divonne, a French casino town 15 km over the Swiss border, by way of Paris 300 km away, would we only count the 15 kilometers Geneva to Divonne on his car despite the long distance he traveled? We argued ingenuously that yes, we would only count the 15 km because what was important was getting from Geneva to Divonne, no matter what route you took. Disgusted, an exasperated Smolin shouted, “Never mind! The French wouldn’t give me a visa anyway.”

In line with technology, we were always warned about Soviet spying and their crude attempts to see what we were going to present or what our position was prior to our meetings with them. They rented an apartment in a building a

block away from our building and, indeed, our technicians discovered the tell- tale signs of electronic snooping coming from the building. The Soviets were using long range, high powered cameras to take pictures of the papers on our desks. Accordingly, I had to keep my blinds permanently closed to thwart the Soviet cameras. This negated a marvelous view of the Geneva Botanic gardens across the way from my office and, on a clear day, a spectacular view of Mont Blanc, 70 km away. There were also stories that the Soviets had cameras hidden in the light shelters over the conference table at their Delegation site so that they could see what notes Ambassadors Earle or Warnke had on their papers. The Ambassadors, of course, were aware of this and took precautionary measures to hide what they were reading. The most blatant surveillance attempt, however, came in the Soviet conference room. We always sat on the side of the table facing the entrance with our backs toward the windows that overlooked the grounds of the compound. There was a huge curtain that was always shut to keep the light out of the room. One day, a loud whirring noise came from behind the curtain and a roll of tape from a tape recorder started spewing out from underneath the curtain. The Soviets used old style reel tape recorders and apparently one of the reels got stuck and the tape started spewing out. We all got a laugh out of it, mostly at the expense of the Soviets who made a valiant but futile effort to ignore what was happening.

Urb Lamay – 1st Company
First Ship

In early August of '57, Urb Lamay arrived in Coronado with his bride of several weeks, and upwards of twenty pounds of having-eaten-very-well since 7 June and especially during the immediately preceeding eight day cross-country trip. Former company mates Cleve Loman and Dick Enkeboll and their wives helped the Lamays to find suitable housing and a few days
later the newlyweds were at Lindburgh field. Ens. Lamay was ready to embark on the first leg of what was to be about a three-week comedy of getting to USS Braine (DD-630) then in the Western Pacific. But first, a picture of the young ensign in his khakis - a quick check to make sure the cap was not too rakish, a smile (hardly genuine since he was about to leave a teary bride), then brace up for the photo - the latter action a bit more than the buttons on the now somewhat undersized khaki blouse could withstand. So pop, pop, pop they came. The tears on bride's face were instantly transformed into almost uncontrollable laughter, not exactly a bad thing at that time. (Damn good thing Lamy didn't bend over too quickly to retrieve said buttons and so test the strength of trouser seat seam).

A few days in San Francisco followed, getting necessary shots and just waiting for the call to board a bus to Travis AFB for the flight across the big pond. (Of course Urb used his time wisely; he spent nearly all of it learning to
sew buttons on his blouse; he also purchased a brown leather belt, a little more accommodating to his present circumstances than the 7-June-and-earlier size khaki web belt straining around his middle.).

Seated on sagging canvas seats (does memory serve him correctly that such seats were mounted so that one faced athwartships?) on whatever it was he flew on, the trip to him was uneventful, uninteresting and seemingly unending
- nine hours to Pearl, nine hours on hold at Pearl, nine hours to some mid- Pacific island for refueling, then nine hours to Tokyo where he was stashed in some barracks for several days checking in several times a day with the Fleet Ops Center at Yokosuka as that office first tried to find Braine and then arrange for transportation thereto.

Finally the day and hour arrived and he found himself enroute to Taipei and thence to Kaohsiung to meet the ship. But first a refueling stop at Okinawa. Upon arrival at Naha, the several passengers were informed that they would have an hour to get lunch, either at an enlisted mess or at the O'Club. Leaving all, except what he was wearing, which included his now leather-belted
khakis, Ens. Lamay alone of the several transients chose the O'Club. As he recalls, he had a decent meal there while periodically checking his watch to make sure that he returned to the plane on-time. When one such check divulged the exact same time as when previously checked, he bolted from the table, out the door of the O'Club and before getting very far was treated to the vision of his plane picking up speed on the runway and lifting into the air. He didn't remember having been trained at USNA for such a contingency and so had to draw on other resources which about that time seemed very lean indeed. Finding his way to Flight Ops, he told personnel there of his sad plight and pondered anxiously as to what kind of a holding cell they would consign him. Actually, he was told to check in at the BOQ and to check back with Ops twice a day until they had arranged further passage. With fast depleting cash, no checkbook nor credit card (were there such things then? would it have been accepted at an exchange even if he had one?) he puchased a few necessary toiletries and began the seemingly interminable wait for "further passage".

Two days later, wearing the exact same, and now none-too-presentable clothes as when departing Tokyo, or wherever it was he had flown from, Lamay was again enroute to Taipei. Arriving in the dark, he was directed to a
ground transportation office, if one chose to call it that - actually, a not-too- substantial-looking screened-in hut whose two or three bare unshaded light bulbs attracted every sort of insect imaginable all to the delight of the hundreds of chamelons who, in addition to two Taiwanese, manned this post seemingly in the midst of nowhere. (Here occurs another memory lapse - for how many hours was he at this remote post? how was he reunited with his luggage and khaki blouse which he had left on the plane at Naha?). When memory picks up, Ens. Lamay without blouse to mask his leather belted trousers, sheepishly approaches the brow of the Braine with seemingly a thousand faces of officers and crew turned in his direction. With an as-firm a
"Permission to come aboard, sir" as circumstances permitted so ended the first several weeks of Lamay's naval career.

Larry Magner – 22nd Company
Farewell Ball

Louise Magner and Joan Zimmer were the best of friends. Although Larry and Emory knew of each other at the Academy, it wasn’t until their diesel boat and deep draft days that they and their families became close friends.

Emory Jr. (Zimmie), was about to graduate from USNA when. Joan put in a desperation call to Louise and said, “Can you believe it, Emory has just broken up with his fiancée, and it is only three days until the Farewell Ball? He’s devastated.”

Louise replied, “That’s terrible. What is he going to do for a date?”

“I was hoping Carolyn might consider going with him. He always did have a crush on her.”

“Carolyn’s not in town, but Laura ‘s home from College and might be interested.”

Joan said, “Let me check with Zimmie and I’ll get back to you.”

Joan called back an hour later and said, “He’d be delighted to take Laura, even though he hasn’t seen her since she was in high school.”

After much cajoling Laura finally agreed to go the Ball and said, “OK, but it’s going to cost you a new dress.”

Louise replied, “Laura dear, why don’t you take a look at the dress I wore to the Farewell Ball twenty four years ago?”

Louise went up to the attic and brought down a sealed box, opened it, laid the dress out on the bed and cried out, “Laura, come on up and tell me what you think.”

Laura came into the bedroom took one quick look at the dress and said, “It’s beautiful Mom, but it’s a little out of style these days, besides I’d really enjoy having a new dress.”

The next day Mother and daughter spent many hours looking at formal dresses in several upscale stores, but to no avail. Laura said, “We’ll give it another go
tomorrow Mom, but now I have to go to Joan’s house to meet Zimmie and get more details on the Farewell Ball.,”

Upon arriving at the house she was greeted by Joan who said, “Zimmie will be here in thirty minutes. By the way, have you thought about what to wear to the ball?”

Laura replied, “Funny you should ask. Mom and I spent the whole day looking, but I couldn’t find anything.”

“Look Laura, I just happen to have the dress I wore to the Farewell Ball in 1957. Would you like to see it? If it fits you and you like it your problem is solved.”

They went upstairs and Joan laid the dress out on the bed and Laura took a quick look at it and immediately said, “Thanks for offering it but I’m afraid that dress just won’t work for me.”

Several hours later Laura stormed into the house and yelled, “Mooommm! What are you trying to do to me? I told you I wanted a new dress. Why did you give Joan your dress so she could try to get me to wear it?”

“What are you talking about? My dress is still laid out on the bed upstairs in case you changed your mind.”

Laura, somewhat puzzled said, “Did you know Joan when you went to the Ball? “No. We met many years later.”
Laura laughed, “It’s a good thing you didn’t bump into her at the Ball because you both had the same dress on that night.”

“It’s impossible. I got mine in New York City. She’s from Cleveland!”

Laura gave up on a new dress and went to the ball wearing her Mom’s dress. Zimmie had a great time and so did Laura. Louise and Joan laughed and agreed that it was a darned good thing they didn’t run into each other at the Farewell Ball.

Laura told her Mom afterwards about having dinner at a nice restaurant before the Ball. She said, “You know Mom, when I walked into that restaurant everyone stared at me, so I just pretended I was Scarlet O’Hara.”

N.B. True Story

57 Golf

As more and more 57 graduates entered the retired ranks golf became very attractive to many classmates. During our busy careers most of us were too involved to play more than a few rounds per year, and as a result only a few were very good golfers. The advent of high tech equipment, more leisure time available and medical science improvements allowed many of us to become better golfers. Still remembering the competitive spirit instilled in us at the Academy we banded together and began to play together in “outings” once a month during the April to November timeframe.

Thanks to Commissioner Jim Poole the 57 golf group became organized back in the early nineties. Classmates initially got together on a catch as catch-can basis. As the ranks began to swell organized outings were conducted on a monthly basis. Today the roster consists of some 63 members, most of whom are living near the Washington, Annapolis, Baltimore area, but some came from as far as Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey, Connecticut and California.

In the mid nineties Cleve Loman organized a Myrtle Beach four day marathon outing with wives included. Next came a fall outing to Williamsburg, VA that was organized by Dick Vosseller. In 2006 Cleve Loman organized an outing in southern Pennsylvania in lieu of Myrtle Beach to cut down on driving time.
Annual Army 57 vs. Navy 57 outings were conducted in June. Navy, winning the last two events in close matches, has the lead _ to _.

Each outing was carefully constructed to provide maximum competition for all of the players. This was accomplished by using the handicap system so that the high handicapper could figure into the team effort as an equal partner to the low handicapper.

Bill Hamel, another mover and shaker in the group coordinated numerous events, but his most difficult chore was to figure out how to construct an event that Bob Crouch’s foursome would not win. Bob, having the lowest handicap in the group, always seemed to rally his foursome to winning the first place prize. Bill’s imagination and mathematical skills ultimately managed to create a non-Crouch winner on several occasions.

Perhaps the most significant part of this amazing golf saga was the warm relationships that classmates formed in their later years. While in the fleet or in the Corps or in the Air Force it was an occasional visit with a classmate that enkindled a 57 get- together. Having more available time for such an important game as golf allowed the 57 golf group to develop into a first rate organization. As a result this group holds a very special place in the hearts and souls of our retired classmate participants. Spouses and classmates can identify with a very competitive golf game and then socialize afterwards.
Special friendships developed amongst caring people. Golf tips were exchanged freely. (Bruce Demars told me one that improved my driving accuracy and distance appreciably.)

Memorable golf shots were made:

  • * Ginger Poole made a hole-in-one which precipitated a comment from Jim that said, “I’ve been playing this silly game for 50 years and never made a hole in one and Ginger does it after playing for only two years.”

  • * When challenged, George Philipps used a three wood to carry over the water some 220 yards on the 18th hole. He made it and his team won a prize as a result.
    • * George Lanman shanked a five iron out of the rough, grazed Larry Magner’s eyebrows as he hid behind a tree and the ball crashed into the

golf cart parked behind the tree and shattered the windshield.

  • * Jack O’Donnell ignored the course ruling to not drive the carts into the rough to look for misguided balls. While looking for a brand new ball he drove right over a small tree and stalled the cart. Dave Cooper’s reaction was to get help from the clubhouse. Overruled, seven classmates picked the cart up with Jack in it and pulled it off of the tree.
  • * Bob Crouch’s amazing talent created so many memorable shots it would be impossible to mention them all.
    • * Jerry Smith managed to win the Jerry Smith Open at least three
    The stories go on and on. The laughs, the shouts of joy, the grunts, and
    the expletive deleteds were all there. Afterwards the cold beer combined with good natured ribbing created a warm reception for the participants in a 57 group golf outing.

    Ken Malley – 21st Company

    Back when we were mids struggling with 2/c Skinny and blowing breakers back to the power house, USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571) was starting to make history in the Fleet and in the Submarine Force About the same time, the CNO, Admiral Arleigh Burke, signed a memo directing the establishment of a “Special Projects” office in Washington to develop an underwater launched ballistic missile weapons system for use on submarines. Although we didn’t know it at the time these two events had a huge effect on the careers of the Class of ’57.

    As the majority of the class that went “Navy line-surface” soon found out, the Submarine Force was eagerly accepting volunteers to meet the demand to man the new construction fast attack (SSN) and fleet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) wardrooms. The majority of the Sub School students between 1958 and 1960 were classmates. As the Cold War escalated and the TRIAD was developed by the Department of Defense, the invulnerability of the SSBN fleet was recognized and the introduction of the POLARIS intercontinental ballistic was advanced to 1960. Forty-one SSBNs were built between 1959 and 1967
    and during the last two years of construction, a boat was launched every other month. Similarly the SSN construction program was maintained in order to increase the Fleet’s capabilities to meet the Soviet threat.

    From then on, classmates were found in every submarine home port including Holy Loch Scotland, Rota Spain and Guam where the SSBNs operated with their Blue and Gold crews. Classmates continued to run the diesel boats on deployments and special operations until the SSN construction program replaced the conventional boats. They then served in non nuclear SSBN and staff billets. A cadre of classmates who became Engineering Duty Only (EDOs) specialists in naval architecture and weapons development (“pump kickers” and “cannon cockers”) were found in the shipyards and Washington program offices, designing, supporting, building and overhauling the SSNs and SSBNs.

    As the class progressed up the promotion ladder, ‘57’s presence throughout the submarine community was seen in the Pentagon as part of the CNO’s staff, in the fleet as squadron and group commanders, in shipyards and the various program offices as project managers for the majority of submarine related programs. Consequently we became known as the ’57 Submarine Mafia.
    Rumors flew that if information was desired on the submarine Navy, attend a ’57 Washington Chapter luncheon!

    One of the best examples was the launching of USS TENNESSEE (SSBN 734) in December 1986 at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton CT. TENNESSEE was the first TRIDENT SSBN built to carry the new TRIDENT II missile under final development by the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs Office (formerly “Special Projects”). Attending the ceremony were: VADM Bruce DeMars (8), Vice-CNO for Submarines (commonly called the Submarine Pope): VADM Dan Cooper (15), Commander Submarine Force Atlantic; RADM Ken Malley (21), Director, Strategic Systems Programs; CAPT Pete Boyne (6), Deputy Director, Strategic Systems Programs; and CAPT Bob Fox (23), Navy Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Electric Boat Div.

    The development, production, construction and operational control of the nation’s newest strategic deterrent weapons system were part of ‘57’s contribution to the Navy.

    Andy Massamino – 3rd Company
    Without question, the two-year period from 1968 through 1970 would hold many positive experiences of my naval service, and a medical experience that totally changed my life.

    After completing PCO training in mid 1968, I had some great experiences in USS Haddo (SSN604) as XO, including one northern operation. After qualifying for command in 1969 and having the good fortune to be selected for commander, I received orders to Admiral Rickover’s staff in Washington DC.

    In January 1970, we sold our home in Charleston, South Carolina and bought a new home in the Mount Vernon area in preparation for moving to Washington. It was then that I began to have the symptoms that would cause me to be unexpectedly hospitalized.
    That medical experience lasted seven months during which the neurosurgeons began a multitude of tests to determine the cause of high body temperature, loss of some vision and extreme headaches that ultimately resulted in a coma. Without any specific knowledge of the cause of the dilemma, a slight distortion on an echoencephalogram caused a neurosurgeon to recommend surgery to enter the skull and explore the area.

    A comment at this point to put things into perspective, the coma resulted in a total memory loss. What I’m relating is really a summary of information gathered over the years through discussions with my wife, my physicians, shipmates and friends, and that part of my memory that was restored. Today, it is hard to determine if I remembered an event or remembered what someone described to me later.
    The result of the exploratory surgery was the surgeon’s discovery of an abscess in the right rear quadrant of my brain. Although I was not aware of what was happening, the doctors were more confident at this point that the odds for recovery were improving.

    What followed was six months of recovery from the loss of weight and strenght, of trying to remember the past, getting to know old friends who I didn’t recognize or remember.

    It was genuinely a very difficult time for my wife and four children who I didn’t know at first. Fran often said the twelve years of sea duty was easier on her and the family than the uncertainty of these seven months.

    We have always had the good fortune of superb shipmates, officer and enlisted, and friends, but what this ordeal highlighted for us was the navy and military, brotherhood of men and families.

    It would take a book to record the many acts of kindness from this brotherhood. A few examples:

    • My last skipper (‘ 53) and his family watched our children for this period so Fran could be at the hospital every day

      • Old shipmate (’53) and spouse drove Fran to the hospital every day.

    • Local real estate agent (’51) rebought our Charleston home that we sold so Fran would have a home to live in during my hospital stay. And he sold our Mount Vernon home without financial loss or worry for Fran

  • During the last months of my hospitalization, the Haddo crew brought me submarine food (steak & lobster!) to help me start adding weight to my 130- pound physique.

  • My sister who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years, quit cold turkey as a token of her love and her deal with the Lord for my recovery. And she never smoked the rest of her life (27 years).

  • A young JO who went to mass and communion for me each day of my hospitalization. (I learned this only recently in a discussion with my spouse).

  • Another realization that came to light was the true meaning of the preparation for service and for life that our grand alma mater provides us. Those preparations were a great advantage in my service life, but from the time of my medical discharge, I learned how much that preparation gave me a significant advantage in my life as a civilian.

    With the great good fortune to have the opportunity to meet and work with Ross Perot (’53) for thirty years, I applied the leadership skills, the sound problem solving rationale we developed and established the team atmosphere we experienced in the service.

    And socially, the association with the service and being a USNA graduate placed me in a position of esteem from others.
    My love and admiration of the Naval Academy, the Naval Submarine service, and the superb 1957 classmates, have been the foundation and joy of my life, second only to my wife and children. In addition, these factors have all helped me to have a successful and truly blessed life, following the near tragedy of 1970.

    Submitted by Wayne Fritz – 18th Company
    A press release by Navy Sports

    McElwee [5th Company – Ed.] is Humanitarian of Year
    By Ed Kenney , Sports Editor 01/28/2004

    You may have noticed something missing from your television sets on Sunday afternoons this past fall. One of South Jersey's best-kept secrets. Bob McElwee, deeply involved in football since his days as an All-South Jersey center-linebacker at Haddonfield Memorial High School, retired from officiating this season after a 27-year career with the National Football League.

    On Monday night, in front of almost 1,200 sports fans, McElwee was honored at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association's 100th annual awards banquet at the Cherry Hill Hilton, as the 2003 Humanitarian of the Year.

    "I'd like to thank the Sports Writers for acknowledging what us athletes do off the field as well as on the field," McElwee said. "A lot of people up here (on the dais) take pride in their work for the community and to be honored for doing what I love is something I'll never forget." McElwee, whose number 95 was always a familiar sight on Sundays, was one of the top referees in the league for a long time and was often assigned to the weekend's biggest games. Jerry Markbreit holds the record by working four Super Bowl Games. McElwee joins luminaries Jim Tunney, Norm Schachter and the late Pat Haggerty are the only men to toss the coin in three.

    A humble but firm man, McElwee took control of the games and earned the respect of the players and coaches for his dedication and fair treatment. The 68-year old McElwee was a three-sport star at Haddonfield High School, a marvel in basketball, baseball, and football. But it was on the gridiron where he really excelled. He attracted the interest of colleges up and down the East Coast. Even as he stood at midfield for the start of his first Super Bowl assignment, McElwee never forgot his roots.

    "I remember thinking, 'How in the world did a kid from an inner-city row house get here?'" McElwee said. "I guess anything is possible." When Navy coaching
    legend Eddie Erdelatz went to Haddonfield and saw McElwee play, he asked the young star to come to Annapolis. "As a kid, I was in awe of the Army-Navy game," said McElwee, who quickly accepted the offer from Erdelatz. "It's like some magical thing, and to wear the Blue and Gold was something that was so exciting to me."

    McElwee enjoyed a fine career at Navy from 1953-1957 and recalls two special moments. The first was getting a chance to play in his first Army-Navy game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The second game as a senior, when he and Navy traveled to South Bend, Ind., and beat Heisman trophy winnerPaul "the Golden Boy" Hornung and Notre Dame, 30-7.

    McElwee's career as a referee began in 1961 after four years of service time. He was one of the rare Midshipmen to take a commission in the Air Force and he worked with the Western Air-Defense Forces at Hamilton Air Force Base in California. He returned to the Philadelphia area and began a career in the construction business. While everything seemed fine on the surface, it was clear that something was missing, especially on Saturday afternoons. McElwee had spent his entire life playing football and frankly he just wasn't ready for a football-free weekend. So, he began working area high school games and by 1966 the ECAC hired him to officiate junior varsity games. His first assignment was at Lock Haven University and he was paid $17.50 for the six-hour trip and game. "I spent more on gas," McElwee remembers.

    It quickly became obvious that hard work and dedication was making McElwee a fine official. He began working Ivy League games and spent 10 years at that. His performance garnered attention from NFL personnel and in 1976 McElwee got the call to join the league as a line judge.

    Ironically, with such an impressive résumé, some of McElwee's best work has come off the field. McElwee's love of his native Camden is much more than nostalgia, and it has continued to this day. He co-founded an organization called Renew, which is designed to help low income families become homeowners. Under McElwee's leadership, the Renew committee buys up row houses, renovates them, and gets banks to donate money and low-interest mortgages to families in the community. The goal is to get people away from paying rent in slums and move them toward home ownership, which McElwee hopes will help turn Camden around by fostering the sense of community he felt so strongly in his childhood.

    To date, McElwee's programs have raised 2.25 million dollars and have funded more than 60 homes for Camden residents.

    McElwee spent his childhood reveling in the sweet bliss of inner-city life in downtown Camden. He was a sports nut from the word go, spending his days playing stickball in the street, and basketball and baseball on the grounds of nearby Woodrow Wilson High School. In fact, some of the homes Renew has
    helped turn around have come from the same Mickle Street where McElwee spent his time playing stickball. McElwee is also involved with Ranch Hope, a home for delinquent boys in Camden.
    "It's a long, long pull to try to solve the problem, but I don't accept the fact it can't be done. If I can make it from Mickle Street in Camden all the way to the NFL, I don't accept that it can't be done," McElwee's said. McElwee and his wife of 46 years, Bette, have three children: Scott (41), Tommy (39), and Suzanne (38).

    Bob McElwee – 5th Company

    My twenty-seven years in the wide “wild” world of NFL football was an avocation full of memorable and sometimes comical events. Here goes an attempt to share some of them with you, my classmates. (You were my greatest and most supportive fans!)
    I was in Berlin, Germany to work a game between the Chicago Bears, with coach Mike Ditka and Walter Payton, and the 49ers with Joe Montana. The Berlin wall had just come down, and we played in the huge 100,000 seat Olympic Stadium which was jammed to capacity. Here was where Jesse Owens ran his famous 100 yard dash in the Olympics and gave Hitler a taste of what was going to happen to him when he challenged the USA. You could almost see Hitler and Mussolini reviewing troops there and feel the history emanating from the stadium walls. I truly felt my heart pounding in a sense of awareness of the magnitude of where I was and what it all represented in the ominous Nazi regime.
    Just before the coin toss ceremony they brought to me the beautiful Katerina Witt, the East German Olympic figure skating champion. I was introduced to her and they informed me that she would toss the coin before the game. I replied that would be fine, and just before we went out for the toss she put her hand on my arm and said “Bob, there’s something I think you should know.” I said “What is that?” She said “I am East German, and they don’t like me over here in West Berlin. When you take me out there they are going to whistle. In Europe, that means they are booing.” I laughed and replied to her, “Young lady, don’t worry about that for a second, because I have walked out to the center of just about every major stadium in our country, and they booed me all the way out and all the way back!”
    I was privileged to have a West Pointer, Al Conway, on my officiating crew for eight years. Our Army vs Navy bantering aside, we became the closest of friends. Al was a Colonel Blaik Army football player, and he was the Philadelphia Eagles #1 draft choice in 1954. He was a Vince Lombardi kind of guy; tough, strong, structured, loyal and smart as hell. He would tackle a rattlesnake if it was in his way. And if there was trouble, we always knew the other guy would be there for us ……. No questions asked!
    Al and I were working a game in New England years ago. The Patriots were playing Minnesota and on about the Vikings 10 yard line going in, Steve Grogan, the New England quarterback, rolled out to his right and threw a pass into the end zone. I did not see the ball as my job was to keep my eyes on the quarterback as he was tackled to the ground after releasing the ball. The crowd told me something had happened and I looked up to see a Viking defensive back, who had intercepted the ball in his end zone, coming back up the field toward me. I sprinted along side him the length of the field and signaled a Minnesota touchdown. As I turned back and looked up field I saw a lot of players still up in the other end zone, and Al running toward me with a sheepish grin on his face. “Guess what,” he said. “You’re not the only one who has a touchdown on this play.”The head linesman has a touchdown for the other team up in the other end zone!” “A touchdown in both ends?” I said. “That’s interesting What do you suggest we do now?” Al calmly replied, “Let’s stay here!” “That sounds like a typical hard headed West Point answer,” I said. “Now come with me while I find out what happened in the other end zone.” Our discussion revealed that the head linesman had raised his arms for a touchdown while both the Viking and Patriot players had the ball jointly possessed in the air. The Viking defender had ripped the ball out of the other player’s grasp before they returned to the ground and took off for the other end zone 100 yards away with an interception. And this was before the days of instant replay! I decided to award the Patriots a TD based on the head linesman’s “first” TD signal which ended the play by rule before the interception occurred. So there you have it…… two TD’s on the same play, an NFL first! Needless to say, I had received very little help from my West Point friend and we slipped hurriedly and quietly out of town!
    Probably my favorite player of all time was Walter Payton. Not only was he a great player, but he loved to play the game. Walter also believed in having fun on the field, and because of him I always had to be ready for anything when I worked the Bears. Officiating involves many disciplines. After each play and before the next play the referee must run through a series of checks. Game clock, play clock, downs, distance, substitutes, eligible receivers, etc., etc.
    When I was working the Bears, I always had to add one to the list checking my pocket to make sure my penalty flag was there. Walter
    would bump up against me while I was retrieving the ball from him after the play and my flag would disappear from my pocket. When I checked and found it gone, I would mosey on up to the back of the Bears closed huddle, stand right behind # 34, and tell Walter I wanted my flag back. He would take the flag out of his pants where he had stuffed it and, without disturbing anyone in the huddle, hand it back to me while the Quarterback was calling signals. With my flag in my pocket, I was ready for the next play.
    I was working a Bears game on a rainy, muddy day in Soldier’s Field. My umpire was a grizzled old gladiator from the University of Georgia and the Steelers, Frank Sinkovich. As the game progressed, Frank came to me three or four time and told me his shoe laces kept coming untied and he couldn’t figure out why this would happen just because the field was muddy. We never figured it out until the next Saturday when we were reviewing last week’s game film in
    the hotel room as a part of our weekly preparation for Sunday’s game. They were the old 16mm films which were hard to see in detail on a clear day, much less a rainy, muddy day, But I thought I saw something after Walter was tackled on a play and told the guys to stop the film and re-run it in slow motion. And sure enough, there was the answer. As Frank Sinkovich came over and reached for the ball from Walter as he lay tackled on the ground, out came this little hand, grabbed Frank’s shoelace, and jerked it loose. And this was going on all day!
    One of the lessons I took from Walter Payton that I try to convey to young people today, is to find a vocation or a life’s work that you enjoy. Whatever the job, if you love your work, you will probably be successful. Tragically, we lost Walter too young to a rare disease, but my memories of those Sunday afternoons in Soldiers Field will stay with me forever.
    Early in my career I was assigned to a playoff game at Shea Stadium in New York the day after Christmas between Buffalo and the New York Jets. I was sitting in the locker room dressed and ready to go on the field when three large men dressed in dark suits, ties, and top coats came toward me and introduced themselves. They were FBI agents and they informed me that there had been a death threat on Richard Todd, the Jets quarterback. “We’re not telling any of your other officials,” they said, “but we wanted you to be aware of it.” Nice Christmas present, I thought, but I had work to do and took the field for our pre-game routine. I was no sooner on the field than Richard Todd came running toward me. Looking for another direction to turn, I realized I was trapped and met him at the twenty yard line. “What are you going to do when they start shooting?” he asked. I answered “I don’t have all that padding and body protection that all you QB’s wear, just this striped shirt which won’t stop anything. So I’m going to stand right behind you!”
    As you probably know, in the NFL the referee is responsible for the QB at all times. Wherever he goes, we’d better be right there with him to protect him. But not this day after Christmas! If Todd ran past the line of scrimmage, I watched him carefully, but from my position far behind the line. If the Jets called a time out, I found a way to discuss something with the official who was farthest away from Todd. If Todd wanted to talk to me I was sure to keep him at shouting range! Obviously history tells you that nothing happened, but it certainly was one of my more interesting days!
    People often think that the referee has a relatively easy job. Just show up, make the calls, and get out of town in a hurry. Well, here’s an example that will make you wonder why a guy would be crazy enough to do what I did for twenty seven years.
    I was assigned to a playoff game between the LA Raiders and the Denver Broncos in the Coliseum in Los Angelos. John Elway and Jeff Hostetler, (the Raiders QB), were lighting it up and at halftime it was 20-20 a real barn
    Early in the third quarter Hostetler rolled out toward the Raiders bench (with me on his tail) and was blasted by a Denver DB right at the sideline. The impact knocked Hostetler right into the Raiders bench, and out they all came after the Denver players. The contact had been legal, right at the sideline, but
    the Raider players didn’t want to hear it. There had been bad blood between them in a game a couple of weeks ago, and a full blown melee ensued.
    After we got things settled down, the back judge told me that a guy in civilian clothes came off the Raider’s bench and was in the middle of the field in a fight with the players. Realizing that TV time was probably worth about a million bucks a minute and that the game was being held up, I just wanted to get out of this mess and resume play. “I’m telling you, Bob, I think he’s a Raider player in civilian clothes” he said. “I can’t tell if he is or if he’s the hot- dog vendor” I said, “and don’t have time to find out. So get back to your position on the double because I’m going to blow the whistle and we’re going to play football.”
    After the game we found out he was a Raider player and during the game the LA police had arrested him and taken him downtown in the paddy wagon and locked him up for assault and battery.
    Later in the game,same game believe it or not, I am standing in the end zone waiting for TV to return. There are over 100,000 people in the Coliseum, but we are in a TV time out and the crowd is relatively quiet. All of a sudden I hear this buzzing, like an electric motor. I look up, and here is this guy in an ultra lite kite with a motor on his back, circling like a hawk high above the top of the stadium.
    I immediately go to Art Shell, the Raider coach, and Wade Phillips, the Denver coach, and tell them to get their players off the field. Then I go to security and tell them to call the LA police. In the meantime this guy is hovering around over the stadium and I’m wondering if he’s going to launch a hand grenade or what he’s going to do. Finally after about five minutes a police chopper appears over the top of the stadium, chases him until he disappears behind the stadium wall, and we resume play. We were told later that this was “Kite Man”, the same guy who dropped into the ring before a Sonny Liston heavyweight championship boxing match in Las Vegas. He also had himself dropped into the top of the Parliament building in London naked as a jaybird and the Queen banished him from England! (ESPN has done a story on his life which you may have seen.)
    So there you have it…..two different guys, both involved in some way in my football game, both thrown in the paddy wagon and taken downtown and locked up……and we’re still playing football! How’s that for a Sunday afternoon’s work?
    These are just a few of my stories…..there are so many more! Perhaps we can share them somewhere or sometime down the road. Thanks for listening………

    Bob McMahon – 4th Company
    A Bonzo Story

    A contribution to “interesting stories” that might be integrated into our
    history section follows. If you are unable to use this please consign to the nearest litter patrol or the nearest circular file.
    As you may know, three of us wives roomed together for the whole four years at the Naval Academy. We did not allow any foreigners-Irish to the core- Mahon, Ed; McMahon, Bob; McGinty, Tom.
    You will also note the similarity of last names of myself and Mahon.
    Captain Perrich, USMC had great difficulty keeping the aforementioned names straight. Invariably he would fry me when he really had caught Mahon in an offense. Conversely, he would fry Mahon when the infraction should have fallen on me.
    Bonzo, as you remember, was always the gentleman and when the error was pointed out to him would magnanimously cancel the form 2. Even more generous was his acknowledgement of his mistake and his fairness in allowing both parties to escape punishment.

    (Bob submitted copies of actual Perrich Form 2’s – see below)

    Walt Meukow – 4th Company
    When my mother died in 1982 it suddenly dawned on me just how stupid I had been. I had often promised myself that I would sit her down and ask her about grandmother fleeing Russia with a six-month-old baby (my mother) in 1914, and now it was too late. True, I had some pictures from albums, and a smattering of stories, but there are many, many blanks that I will never be able to fill. I promised that I would not let the same happen to my children. 18 years later I still have not gotten smarter. This chapter, segment, part, or whatever it is, is my first cut at keeping my promise to myself.
    Since my half-joking offer to tell a 9-1/2 year old’s war story, a goodly number of you have suggested that I share some of my WWII experiences (Pete Purvis has been making that suggestion for quite a few years). My latest procrastination has not been because I do not have enough material, nor because my memory is so impaired. As far as the former is concerned, lets see, before I was 13 I had been bombed (close that is ) about 5 times, machine gunned once, almost drowned, kept in a cell for ten days while my parents were interrogated, provided free rent and room at two prison camps, seen many dead as well as hideous wounds (Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and American), spent three plus months on Bataan, seen the Death March, met General Homma and General King, and been part of a movie-like rescue by paratroopers (Los Banos Internment Camp). I do think I could come up with a story or two. Memory? Still clear enough! In some cases almost eerie. I swear I can still bring back many scenes in my Mk1 Mod 0 video processor installed somewhere in my cranium. The trouble is that the pictures are never very crisp and clear, are in slow motion and are fleeting in nature. Sort of like watching one of those lantern shows of our childhood. Grainy, silent, flickering and so fast that you cannot savor any details. I am not claiming to remember every detail, name, place, time, but I assure you that I am not quite out of it yet. So what was my problem? Trying to figure out how I could satisfy my penchant for detail, background, and message, while not boring those among us who are executives and abhor reading more than half a page at a time.

    I decided two things, other than finally starting my story for my kids. First of all, those of you interested are probably interested; therefore, those of you who are not can bail out anytime you want to. Secondly, I’m going to focus on a lesson learned (by me) and the reason that I once responded to Pete’s question regarding Japanese in an emphatic negative.

    This nine-page opus attempts to recall my experiences during the period from late 1940 through July 1942.

    By late 1940 it did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that trouble was brewing. The local scenario in Chefoo, China gave ample hints in the form of increasing numbers of Japanese convoys carrying wounded, and hundreds of Chinese bodies floating down rivers. But to a boy of 8 ½ who at the time could speak fluent Chinese, it was a ball. Across the street from my Grandfather’s restaurant was a huge hotel, which the Japanese used to billet their troops.
    The trucks, tanks, troops were like having your own movie stage, which I could watch from the safety of my Grandfather’s restaurant’s glassed in veranda fronting the street. U.S. Navy fleet visits added to the excitement. Since my stepfather, Coleman, was a retired CPO the fleet visits, and old friends visiting, made it even more interesting. I also learned to shoot from Japanese soldiers bivouacked at the hotel across the street who let me use their BB gun to bag “big game”. I remember having sparrows I shot roasted for the great white hunter. I do not recall how they tasted.

    With Japanese American relations deteriorating we decided it was time to pull up stakes, but it was not that easy. In early 1940 dad moved us to Tientsin to stay with my Grandmother and Great Grandmother while he hopped a ride to the Philippines on the U.S.S. Henderson, got a job in the Supply Department of the Cavite Navy Yard, found a house, and started arrangements to get us out.
    The first step was to get to Shanghai amidst an increasing tempo of war. There we cooled our heels for three or four months and finally managed to book passage on the Marshall Joffre (a French liner). On 4 December 1941 we sailed. Except for a bad storm on the second day it was fun. As an added attraction we had a Japanese Zero (no one else had them) tail us all the way down the Taiwan Straits (then Formosa).

    Some one knew more than we did because we arrived in Manila a bit ahead of schedule on the evening of the 6th of December. There was no one to meet most of the passengers, so my mother, step-brother George, and yours truly, along with the wife of a marine stationed at Cavite, piled into a cab at close to midnight and found our own way. I remember palm trees, small barrios, and the strains of Maria Elena, sung by what struck me as the most beautiful voice I had heard, played on the taxi radio. It really made an impression on me. I still love that tune.

    We finally linked up with dad who had the night shift and he settled us into the rented house, then went back to work. Later in the morning when he came off his shift he told us that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. The talk was straight. “This one will be over in a couple of weeks”; “Those bandy-legged apes will have to be taught a lesson”. I doubt if any civilians had the slightest idea of just how badly hurt we were.

    Our house was very close to an ancient Spanish fort that boasted some heavy- duty walls and we were instructed to repair to that fort if we heard the air raid siren. A couple of bags were packed with clothes and papers and we thought we were ready. On the evening of the 9th we heard the drone of a highflying airplane, then saw a man with a flashlight across the street that he was aiming skyward. Never found out what happened to him after the MPs responded to dad’s call.

    The 10th was a special day. First it was my mother’s first ever attempt at cooking a full meal. A lunch. Most of the work consisted of opening cans. She botched it. An extremely punctual man, and knowing that he was already way past his lunch break, dad stalked out of the house considerably upset with my mother. Almost immediately after his departure the air raid siren sounded. Dad had just reached the Navy Yard gate and was happy to accept the Marine guard’s suggestion to get into the shelter with him. Meanwhile, Mother grabbed the two suitcases and the two of us and we dashed across to the fort. Fifty-four Japanese bombers casually made run after run bombing the hell out of the Navy Yard and