LITTLE ROCK CREW RECOLLECTIONS
|The following commentaries are provided by shipmates and are intended to help friends and family members understand what we did, how we lived, and what things now seem important after so many years. In a few cases some slight editing has been done to correct spelling and to smooth out the reading... otherwise all of the commentaries remain as originally written.
|This page is a collection of memories contributed by individual crew members from the USS Little Rock CL 92 and CLG 4/CG 4.
The contributions on this page are reserved for memories about the ship, shipboard life, shipmates and work aboard the "Rock".
Any memories pertaining to specific "world events" are linked from the "20th Century Historic Events"page and the
associated specific world event pages listed there.
|Contributors as of 30 Nov 2018
(Click on the Name to go to their entry)
Indicates latest contributor(s)
|Paul Marrs - OI
HOW TO SIMULATE THE LIFE OF A SAILOR
(In case you have forgotten!)
• Buy a steel dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.
• Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls.
• Repaint your entire house every month.
• Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of the bathtub and move the shower to chest level.
When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.
• Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors so that you either trip or bang your head every time you
pass through them.
• Disassemble and inspect your lawnmower every week.
• On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn your water heater temperature up to 200 degrees.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off.
On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they use too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed.
• Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can't turn over without getting out and then getting back in.
• Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain.
Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 3 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry, wrong rack."
• Make your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.
• Have your neighbor come over each day at 5 am, blow a whistle loudly and shout "Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and trice up."
• Have your mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in your backyard
at 6 am while she reads it to you.
• Submit a request chit to your father-in-law requesting permission to leave your house before 3 p.m..
• Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day, whether it needs it or not.
• Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering it to you.
• Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a
• Make your family menu a week ahead of time without consulting the pantry or refrigerator.
• Post a menu on the kitchen door informing your family that they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour.
When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs.
Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.
• Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.
• Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread. (mid-rats)
• Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to
button your top shirt button and tuck your pants into your socks. Run out into the backyard and uncoil the garden hose.
• Every week or so, throw your dog in the pool and shout, "Man overboard port side!" Rate your family members on how fast they respond.
• Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don't plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string.
Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup "Stove manned and ready." After an hour or so, speak into the cup
again "Stove secured." Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoebox.
• Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4 hour intervals.
This is best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.
• When there is a thunderstorm in your area, get a wobbly rocking chair, sit in it and rock as hard as you can until you become nauseous.
Make sure to have a supply of stale crackers in your shirt pocket.
• Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking.
• Have someone under the age of ten give you a haircut with sheep shears.
• Sew the back pockets of your jeans on the front.
• Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to
Disney World for "liberty." At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need
to get ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house.
Enjoy the memories,
|Larry Wallace - SN
SN S-3 Div, Barber, year in the crews shop, last year in the Officers Barber Shop Oct 59 To Nov 1962. Div Officer: R.L. Bates, Div Chief: R.J. Tedesco, Dept Head: LCDR R.O. Holt.
Have to say I enjoyed the travel that was free for 3 years 10 month and 23 days. Would I do it again? NO. Best friend was a Marine Paul Lusa. He was Capt Chenault's Driver.
|John F. Sterk MM3
I worked as an a/c mechanic in "A" div. from 68-72. Worked and stood watch in Evaporator. room. I had several friends, Don Wilson, Mike Schmidt, Don Rodgers, Jose Costa, Paul Liuipe (sp?) and several others who's names I forget.
Now that I look back on it, I think it was some of my best times. I saw places I never would have seen if not for my years on board the Rock, that's not to say I would do it again. I never cared for the way enlisted men were treated compared to Officers, that is the main reason I would not re-enlist.
I have been in contact with two of my shipmates in the past year thanks to this site. I would like to hear from others I served with in "A" Div. or anyone else who may remember me. "E", "R" and "M" Div. sailors. Thanks for this site.
I can't remember the name of the Div. Officers we had, but I will never forget one of them had a degree in business management, and he was in A Div. Go figure!
MM1 Miller was one of the several LPO's I had. There was a Chief by the name of Tippadue (sp?) We called him “Froggy” because he had a real deep raspy voice. I wish I had never lost my ships book, I would love to be able to look back and put a name to the many faces I can recall.
|Tim Hartley - BT3
I worked in both firerooms, and our oil-lab. Was on the Rock June .
Made friends all over the ship and saw places and people I'll never will get a chance to see again. Would do it again. And take a lot more pictures.
If any snipe from that time don't know the name, do they remember “Boom Boom” from fwd fireroom?
Hope to hear from fellow snipes.
From a later posting:
I can recall our Chief Engineer was J. Myrick, and Ens Largent was one of our Div. officers. I worked under a few 1st PO... McKay, Wells, Starkey, Bush. All I can remember for now. Hope to see the Rock again before I get too old
|Dan Murphy - MM2
Main engine room, operation & maintenance of engine room equipment. I manned the #1 throttle during refueling at sea. That was exciting!!
My closest Friend was Roy Tenney. We had a great time. I was aboard for 17 months, from 8/61 till the end of 62, then transferred to the U.S.S. Manley DD940. I loved it and wished I had spent more time aboard. Will they let me re-up @ 64?
|Michael Holloran - LI3
X Division 1964 to 1967 Print shop duties included printing the Plan of the Day and many forms used by the different departments on the ship. The print shop was located on the main deck portside at about midship.
I worked for LTJG Ralph Latham and CWO Bailey. Ralph and I spent time together at a reunion in Buffalo a few years ago.
I enjoyed my time the Rock and was happiest when we were underway.
|Rodger D. Shilling - YN3
X Division 1962 to 1965.
Worked in Captain’s Office for J.R. Payne, C. Edwin Bell, Jr., R.O. Middleton.
(Also) Officers’ Records and general office work.
Worked with CWO J. Malik, Chief T. Wright, LTJG Ralph Latham, Chief C.L. Wingfield. Allen (Tomenendal) Himsworth was my good friend.
It was a good experience, except for the Trieste Trots.
Would do it again.
|Frank Berglas - YN3
Aboard from pre-commissioning in 1959 through November, 1961. (From age 19 through 21.)
I was a YN3 and part of X Division. My job was ship's legal yeoman. This entailed keeping records of Captain's Masts, Courts-Martial and other, statutory duties.
In addition I was responsible for publishing the Plan of the Day. Each evening I would prepare it and have it OK'd and signed by Commander Berry, the XO, Then I, and one or two willing division-mates, would distribute the PoD all over the ship.
The X Division Officers to whom I reported were Hobart K. Robinson and Gerard A. Dupuis. They, in turn, reported to the XO.
I attended Naval Justice School in Newport, RI for a couple of months to learn the details of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
And I always was a GOOD boy!!!!
One benefit of the job was that I never, in the two years aboard, stood a single watch!!! Thanks for that to Messrs. Robinson and Dupuis!
In reply to Kyle Fitzwater’s note about the hurricane, Frank wrote:
Thanks for that vivid description of the hurricane adventure.
That wasn't the only time Little Rock encountered some rough going. In 1961, when she had left Bordeaux, France, and was in the Bay of Biscay, heading back into the Mediterranean, a storm (wasn't officially called a hurricane as far as I recall - but sure felt like one) overtook us. I. too, recall some pretty hairy port and starboard rolls which scared the daylights out of us. Most of the crew were sick - and it wasn't a pretty sight. We learned that such a storm was more or less "routine" in the area at that time of year - it was wonderful to return to the calm waters of the Med.
- - - - -
The following entry was received from Frank Berglas on 03 June 2008
Forty-eight years ago today I stood on the deck of Little Rock in dry-dock in Philadelphia's Naval Yard. The pier alongside the ship was crowded with visitors sitting in folding chairs - among them my mom and dad and sister. I was 19.
The ship was festooned with flags and buntings. Two missiles were hung on the aft launcher - they looked formidable and, in themselves, represented the might of the US Navy. The crew was, of course, at quarters more or less (but with everyone on the pier-side of the ship), arrayed around the decks - in whites. On the fantail was a podium and a small seating section. I recall a band playing somewhere nearby.
A few dignitaries spoke - I forget who exactly - although I do remember Senator Fulbright, who was a leading legislator in those days. He hailed from Arkansas, and therefore was a good choice to give the "commissioning speech." Captain Phillips said a few words, but generally was quite terse and direct (no surprise!).
It was a beautiful sunny day - and I'd never seen anything like it before. The ship, having essentially completed its conversion, was shining and bright. The uniforms were white as snow and every shoe was like a mirror. Our hair was combed and our hats on straight. The officers looked like knights ready to join Henry V at Agincourt.
We all had trained for our jobs on the ship - many of us in Newport, others at different specialty schools. Now we were ready, at such young age, to take on the responsibilities we learned and which were more important and vital than any we'd undertaken so far in our lives. We soon were to elect a President in our own image - youthful, vigorous, athletic and charismatic. It was an exciting time.
Hard to believe so many calendar pages have turned and how far I've come since that innocent day in 1960. I would think it all was a dream if I didn't remember it so vividly.
|Paul Jett - FTG
I was a "kiddie cruiser" FTG in Fox Div and G Div from Dec 1962 to Aug 1965. In charge of the 6" gun director and then later 5" plot, while we were underway.
I was also one of the ship's drivers, with the 1962 (or was it a 1963?) crew cab Dodge pickup as my main ride. I also drove the Dodge van, at least in Naples, to take the officers to the officer's club. I managed to run over a police car on the big "grinder" parking lot where we tied up in Naples. That may have shortened my career as a driver!
Ernie Green and "Pete" Popke were at the 5" MK 37 gun director. Larry Austin worked with me in 5" plot. Rick Cooper was in 6" plot with Cecil Hays.
When I joined the Army, in 1984, I got all the ribbons and medals I didn't get during that tour, like the Overseas Ribbon and NDSM!
I said I joined the Army, but it was actually the Texas Army National Guard. After two months of being a "weekend warrior", I went AGR and carried a green ID. Pushing 40 at the time, I was one of the older E4’s and I really had fun at the active duty PLDC, which was like boot camp all over! I managed to make SGT before I got out that time, but I only had about 8 "hero badges" (hash marks were based on 3 year tours and total prior enlistments counted for pay and hash marks)!
Oh, I was the Assistant Operations Sergeant at Battalion level with a 19E20 MOS. We shot the little guns, like 105mm (that's only 4"!) on the M60A1 tank!
|Obert Blaisdell - BM3
On board Sept. 1966 thru June 1968.
In charge of 1st Lt. Division. I remember of all the special details including mooring to buoy.
Center projectile loader 6" gun mount (General Quarters)
Division Officer: Lt. Hallinan. He was one of the best I worked for. He was not afraid to turn-to whenever it was needed. He backed his men when they were right. I will always be grateful for his insight and friendship. If I was not planning to get married when my tour was up, I would have made the Navy my life. All though there were some bad times, the good times out weigh the bad by far.
|Tom Hallinan - LT
I noticed the posting from Obert Blaisdell. When he was on the Rock, he went by the name "Bull". I was his division officer and he was a member of the "buoy patrol" that moored the ship to the buoy in Gaeta and other ports where we couldn't tie up at a pier. Bull was a great shipmate and we had some great times together trying to stay on some of those buoys. The traction wasn't that great and the white "paint" was provided by seagulls. The first thing we did after getting back on the ship was take a shower. I've been trying to get Bull to come to one of our reunions in Buffalo but so far without sucess. Maybe next year? How about it Bull?
|Pat Cavanaugh - CYN3
I worked in the radio shack cutting tapes for the TTY machines, taking messages off the machines and then became the Main Comm. Supervisor for duplication of TTY messages as may be needed to Staff and Flag.
Served 09/68 thru 05/70.
I enjoyed the midnight food provided when the mess was closed and the baker was working.
I was known for not allowing the Admiral into the radio shack.
I was amazed at the great ports that we visited even when we had people yelling go home Yankee to us. Good friends.
I was assigned to the Little Rock right out of battalion school. I dropped my A school in boot camp and was told I would become the convenience of the Navy. I caught up w/ the Rock in Gaeta in February of 1973. I remember being assigned to the forward division (1st?) - up close to the rope lockers.
Talk about being young and dumb.... my little hippie ass didn't know much about structure, let alone the idea of chain of command. It didn't take long to get restricted to the ship with a little extra duty.
I remember once we were in port and were side-swiped by a personnel boat and tore the gangway ladder right off. Another time, in some pretty heavy seas, we were told to stay below and of course we found our way up to the fantail! The swells were well above the ship, we were way too lucky not to have been swooped over.
Another time while in port, a fellow sailor said “20 bucks to jump”, as we were admiring the crystal clear beauty of the water. Without hesitation I jumped from the second, maybe the third deck, without considering it was March in the Med and the water was probably only 36 degrees. As I hit the frigid water I had visions of death- then swam 20-30 feet to the garbage barge. Climbed up the ladder and was sent to the showers and written up for Captains Mast.
A few more stories: Like getting to watch Clint's new movie "The High Plains Drifter". Wishing I had taken more pictures of some of the coolest places I've had ever seen. Tripping though Tangiers, Morocco, visiting Rome on mopeds, Madrid Spain - Disco. Maybe should have made a few more friends (at least recorded their names) - Fighting just because someone said something about the Little Rock...
|Dave Sciarretta - RM2
COMSIXTHFLT 1973 - 1976, Maincom...
I was an inrouter for the messages on my watch.
We were berthed with the Signalmen and some of the ET’s, 2 decks below the Talos launcher. The hatch to go down there was right by the Post Office. Emergency steering was in our Head. I believe we were right above the port screw as it was so noisy underway that we had the TV turned up all of the way.
I was also a DJ for WLRK radio during the lunch hour. Then I got the coveted Supply PO, DCPO, and MainCom scrounge. My Radio Officer called me the SGT Bilko of the Navy. My office was in Radio 6 way aft. There was only one way in, or out. Down the stairway to the boat deck. That office was host to countless all night poker and spade games.
Then I screwed up and made E5 and ended up in teletype repair. We had a RM1 Fred Hager, he was the original Frank Burns (from MASH). He had a fit if you spit in a burn bag. Of course we all did. He married an Italian national, and I assume he is still in Gaeta. He bunked right by the TV area and was always complaining.
One night he was asleep and his feet always stuck out. We put shaving cream on his toes and stuck birthday candles in the cream and lit them. One of the guys took a picture and we then blew out the candles and left them on his feet. We would rub a phone in an ink pad and dial his desk. We glued his coffee cup to the desk.
Someone was telling about all the layers of linoleum they took up (for the Museum space). In out berthing space we had to chip up all of the flooring to bare metal, red lead and re-tile. All while we were living in that space. I took up residence in Radio 6. There was dust and fumes all day and night and we were all shift workers at the time.
While I was in charge of the compartment cleaners one of my guys chipped a hole through the hull to the outside. I got one of the Engineering officers to check it out. He put a big wad of chewing gum in it and said that would work until they got back to the yards. Well we go out on an operation and refuel. I guess you can figure out what happened. When we went lower in the water that gum popped out and water was shooting all over the place. Needless to say, it got a proper patch.
Well that is all I have for now. I am looking forward to the work party as my wife got sick and was hospitalized so I could not go. As soon as it is announced I will get the time off and get me some tickets to Buffalo.
Subsequent posting from Dave:
Since it is the holiday season, I'd thought I might say a few things about Christmas and New Years in Gaeta. The first thing that comes to mind is the loneliness of not being with the family for the holiday. One of the things I enjoyed the most was going out with the ComSixthFlt band and singing carols. All of the neighbors would invite us in and would imbibe us with homemade wine or brandy. Needless to say by the time the evening ended, we were all quite smashed.
One year my roommates and I decided to have a Christmas Tree. We hiked up and got a small pine off Split Mountain, and brought it home. We made decorations, and the garland was made off of old pop tops off of beer cans. A couple of nights later I come home and the tree was in the parking lot where it was thrown from the second floor of our apartment. When I went up I found out that one of the Maincom shift leaders RM1 Bowen thought it would be funny to urinate all over our tree.
Does anyone remember the Italian fireworks? They had the firepower of a stick of dynamite with a 1/4 inch fuse. We bought some that were about a foot long.... they zig zagged down to a large knob at the end. It was like lighting a pack of firecrackers with 5 M80's on the end. We blew a piece of our marble stairway off.
Then nothing compares to an Italian New Year. The tradition of throwing something out of the window from the old year. The streets are covered with trash, but the next morning the streets were immaculate. Of course in Naples we got messages to the Admiral, where sailors were throwing wardrobes, chairs, and other furniture from hotel windows.
Well I'm going to close this up. Everyone have a great holiday season.
|Terry Mahoney - BM3
I joined the Little Rock pre-comm crew at the Phila. Shipyard in Nov 1959 fresh out of boot camp. We sat around until Feb. 1960 playing cards at the Receiving Center and doing odd jobs for everyone. We were then sent to Newport R.I. and froze our butts off in those WW1 barracks. They sent us to all kinds of schools; Damage control; Winter survival (which came in handy up there), and 2 or 3 others that I can't remember now.
I think it was in Newport that they grabbed a bunch of us for OI Div and were determined to make Radarmen out of us. The ones that could write backwards made it and we went on to other training. In the spring some of us were flown to Willow Grove NAS and thence to Camden NJ where we went aboard the Little Rock.
We were working for BM1 Howard Dickey and work us he did. We spent about 4 weeks there and then went back to Newport via train because the flight down was so bad that no one wanted to fly back. Dickey pulled some strings and got us on the train. For that I have been eternally grateful.
After the commissioning, when we finally got underway, I found out what CIC was all about and didn't want to spend my life below decks writing backwards and staring at a repeater. I finally ticked off an RD2 (whose name I've forgotten) and they sent my sorry butt to OL Div. to be a lookout. Lt. Elliot was the Div Officer and Howard Dickey BM1, Jack Lamb BM2, and John Cournoyer BM2 were the division PO's. I enjoyed working topside with those guys and learned a lot from them.
I stayed in OL and made BM3 in Oct of 62 and left the Rock in Nov 62. I live in Pa and am only about 120 mi from Buffalo and visit her occasionally to relive the best time of my young life. Sorry this is so long but it brought back a lot of good memories. See you all in Buffalo next year.
|Phillip Gilbert - EN2
I was also sent to Newport, RI to join the Little Rock crew from a year of shore duty in Norfolk. Aboard ship, I was assigned to A Division.
My Division officers were LTJG Dewey Babb and CWO Jim Fagan. My duties were with the boat gang.
After our shakedown cruise I was assigned as the Gig engineer when in port . Our Gig was the Navy's first gas turbine powered boat, and what a witch she was. We finally got her straightened out by the time we arrived back from our 6th Fleet tour. I have nothing but fond memories of my time aboard the Rock, my shipmates, liberty in the Med. and Caribbean ports
Pictures (found elsewhere on this web site) were furnished by Phil. Here's what he said:
“I thought I would be able to caption and arrange the photos once uploaded. The picture in the Gig was taken by Rich Lammersfield, very early into our Med cruise. Location unsure.
The three Sailors drinking beer at a table are Fred Beardsly EN2, Phil Gilbert EN2 and MR3 Ribar. The occasion was a Little Rock banquet, ashore in Norfolk, VA early 62 or late 61.
|Ron Bernardino - QM2
CPO Mess to the Bridge...
Came onboard as SA. Mess cooked in the CPO Mess until I convinced Chief Olsen I wanted to be a Quartermaster. Left the Little Rock as QM2.
It was the best time, but (you) never know it until it's past. The guys, the places we went! I've been back to the Rock 3 times. Might try this JULY 2007.
|Kyle Fitzwater - FTM3
I thought I would add the ports of call of the Little Rock when she went on a North Atlantic cruise as flagship Second Fleet in the fall of 1972.
It was during this cruise the ship went north of the Arctic Circle into the fjords of Norway and all crewmembers became official Bluenoses. We were conducting NATO exercises.
Coming back across the Atlantic we went through a hurricane with sustained 40 foot seas and occasional 60 footers.
Tore all the lifelines from the bow and took so much green water over the 6 inch gun mount that the rubber grommet around the 6 inch barrels was torn away. At times the 6 inch gun mount was completely underwater and the 5 inch was partially submerged. Rock & Roll!!!!
The seas were so high and the ship rolled so far over that when I was standing just forward of the highest 49 radar mount (the missile radars) I had to look up to see the tops of the swells.
Kyle added in a later posting:
I was outside radar 7. The ship was rolling so much and the swells were so high that I had to look up to see the tops of them. I can remember having to hold onto my glasses to keep them from flying off. That was also when Jim Whelen lost the rope going across the missile house one night and slid across the deck until the lifeline caught him around the chest. His legs were hanging over the side.
|Jerry Dupuis - LTJG
In January 1961 (when I came aboard), one of the Junior Officers in the Missile Division was one Ens. Peter Sala. If you were there when he was, you surely will not have forgotten him!!! Quite an act.
While in Istanbul in late '61 Peter bribed a Flag Staff Steward and "appropriated" the Admiral's Quarters to entertain a certain young lady at dinner & what not. Caused quite a stir in the Wardroom. That was only one of his escapades. He also fell off one of the steel beams in the missile house, and broke his leg, all while giving a "lecture" on Missile House "safety procedures".
Peter was eventually transferred to a Naval Facility in South Florida. However, we were to hear of him again some months later when someone sent us the Miami Herald with a photo of a turned over yacht in a busy intersection in Miami. Peter had been towing it. There was his picture with the story. I could write a book on this guy but, I won't.
An addition to this story was posted by Larry Wallace one of the ship’s barbers:
Mr Sala was a great officer when I was the Officers’ Barber. He would, after entering the Officers Barber Shop, place a fifty cent piece under the cloth on the shelf. Then after sitting in the chair would ask for a light trim around the ears!!
A couple months went by and Commander Berry walked in and pulled the appointment board off the bulkhead. After looking at the number of appointments at that time, he looked at me and said: "Mr Sala has an appointment at 1320 today... CUT HIS HAIR OFF, AND I MEAN OFF". Shortly before 1320 Mr Sala walked in the shop, placed the 50 cents under the towel, and sat down in the chair. I informed him of the XO's orders to me? His reply was "I am an officer and a gentleman so I won't repeat what I am thinking". Another Story on Mr Sala later!
Your right he was something! :-)
But one of the better officers I ever had the pleasure of dealing with on the Rock or any other duty !
And Larry Williamson GS2 adds:
Speaking of Ensign Sala...
On our first shakedown cruise in the fall of 1960, we had this Jar Head captain that was so tough you could have stood him on his head and drove him through the teak wood deck.
Anyhow, this Marine Capt. and Ens. Sala had a difference of opinion at the Officers’ Club in Gitmo, and nobody had told the Capt. that Ens. Sala was a heavyweight boxing champ in college.
The (Marine) Capt. was walking around the ship for the next week-to-10 days sporting the biggest shiner you ever saw. Sailors didn't dare laugh at him to his face, but had to wait till he had left the area.
When I was climbing the up to the 05 level to get a picture of Bobby Kennedy, MAA McCoy told me to “Get the *%&#@ down off of there”. Ens. Sala told Mac that it was all right for me to do it. I made a copy (of Kennedy's picture) for Ens. Sala!
|Marty Hansen - YN3
X Division 12/68 to 12/72
Chaplain's Office, Captain's Office
Security Control Petty Officer, Security Clearance Administration, POD when on duty, type, print and distribute. Church service set up / tear down. Print and sell tour tickets from Chaplain's Office dutch door.
Worked for CWO Stepp and CWO Laucella (Queens, NY). CDR Feagins (Chaplain).
GQ was Captain's 1JV talker and sometimes in CIC because I could write backwards on the glass for radar contact locations.
Friends were (and still) Joe Mowery, Tony Maeurer, Ron Andriello, Dave Lewis, Rich Heepe, Phil Baratta, Bob Fink and Smitty (Disbursing).
Sailor of the month in 1972. (Got) head of Chow Line privileges and no duty for a month!
Great times in Gaeta in our apartment.
Attended all reunions in Buffalo. And will in 2007.
Sklarz - BT
It wasn't my intention to become a sea-going "ingineer". In fact, based on my education, my placement scores and my volunteer status, my recruiter promised me an "A" school of my choosing within the engineering rates. He assured me that this included the opportunity to become a SeaBee, as was my sincere desire. Upon completion of boot camp I found myself on the way to BT "A" school. A fleet sailor I was acquainted with said, "So much for promises, sucker!"
I complained most vigorously and was determined to work my way up the chain-of-command until I got what I wanted. The chief I met within the Service School admin office, a salty old dog with "green" chief insignia on his collar made it pretty clear to me that I could moan and groan all I wanted to. Doing so wouldn't change the fact that I was designated to fill one of the many engineering personnel vacancies that existed in the fleet at that time. At that point in the Viet Nam conflict, the Navy just didn't need SeaBees who weren't already skilled tradesmen. "So, get yer tail back in the classroom and turn to, ya raisin-headed swabbie, or y'all will end up in the fire room just the same!"
Although this was not to my liking, what choice does one have at that point? The Navy's got you and you had better make the most of it! BT's were in short supply and the Navy was doing everything possible to fill those billets as quickly as possible. I busted my hump in an accelerated class and surprisingly, graduated in the top five of my class! The chief who had read to me from the good book was pretty pleased, too, and as it turned out, I was allowed to choose my home port. Since my family was mostly all settled in central MA, I asked for Newport and was assigned accordingly. The Navy was even so accommodating as to offer me a choice of ship type. I wanted to be on something bigger than a DD or a DE but I didn't want to be on an auxiliary craft, preferring assignment to a bona fide man-o-war. When I heard that I was going to be a part of the crew of the Little Rock, I was excited!
It was 72 or 73, I'm not sure now of the year, when I first saw her tied up at the pier. She looked pretty awesome to me, all business for sure: Two gun mounts forward and the missile launcher on the fantail spoke of just how serious a threat she could be. My Dad, a retired USMC Gunnery Sergeant seemed pretty impressed, too. It must have brought some memories back to the “Gunner” the day that he walked me down that long pier. He had been a sea-going Marine back in the late forties, assigned first to the Marine detachment aboard the battleship Mississippi and later to the detachment aboard the USS Worcester CL-144, the light cruiser named for his hometown. With a total of eight years of sea duty, my Dad became a Shellback, something that I never had the dubious distinction of becoming, and served two combat tours in Korea. He also did one tour in Nam, retiring in 1971 with twenty-four years total service.
Assigned to B Division, the Division Officer at that time was LTJG Bill Largent. He was pretty cool and encouraged me to advance myself, even suggesting OCS, for which he said I seemed very well suited. But I had it in my head that I was more suited to being one of the Indians versus one of the chiefs! His boss, the Engineering Officer, was Mr. Myrick, a LCDR at the time, I think. We had two first class PO's, as I recall, BT1 Nemeth from NH, and BT1 Wells from ME.
I remember that a chief from the cruiser Springfield and/or Albany, BTC McMurtry, joined our crew while I was aboard the Rock. He had previously served aboard the Dealey DE-1006. This vessel was gifted to the republic of Uruguay and became their flagship, el Siete de Julio (the 7th of July, the date signifies their independence day from Spain). While the Rock was in the yard in Boston in 73 or 74, this South American vessel was also in port and could be boarded by the public for inspection. In comparison to the typical USN bunker fuel burning ships of the time, el Siete de Julio was as clean as an operating room! The fire room had highly polished deck plates, fancy knot work on all of the ladder handholds and all the valve wheels had been chrome plated. The sailors from Uruguay had her gussied up nine ways to Sunday and not long before she had been destined for the scrap yard. What a transition for the old girl! One other sailor assigned to our division, BT2 Clark (not BT3 Theo Clark), was also a prior Dealey crew member and could tell you how nicely she had been tricked out. Years later, I found out that one of my very best friends from the small central MA town that I was living in was also a prior Dealey crew member and actually remembered McMurtry and Clark! What a small world!
I have a pretty good memory for details overall and have a lot of other memories that I can add to this monologue at some point later on. I also recently acquired a Little Rock cruise book from that era that is loaded with photos that many of you here may find interesting. At some point I'll make it a point to spin a yarn or two more and will also scan and download some of the better photos from the cruise book here.
Would I do it again? I had some great times associated with my time aboard the Rock and with my buds from B Division. You bet I'd do it again!
M. Hall Jr. - RD2
I am not a Brown Nose but proud to say I am a Blue Nose!
My name is James M. Hall, Jr. and I served on the Little Rock CL 92 from May 15, 1946 to June 18, 1947. I was a watch PO in the CIC and a Radar operator achieving the rank of RD2 during my three years nine months of naval service. I was discharged March 23, 1949. I served on the USS Fitch DMS 25, Little Rock, Dayton and Huntington. I was looking through the Little Rock web site yesterday and thought you might be interested in this. The Little Rock, Battleship Missouri and a Fargo Class Destroyer departed Norfolk on November 21, 1946 for a training cruise up to the Arctic between Greenland and Canada. We crossed the Arctic circle November 30, 1946 and became members of the Royal Order of the Blue Nose. Here is a picture of my card.
I will always remember the roughness of the sea. The Little Rock rolled to the extent that at times I thought it was going to roll over. During a nighttime illumination exercise, the Little Rock hit the Missouri with a five-inch star shell. On the way home on December 7, 1946 we stopped at Argentia, Newfoundland and departed for New York on December 9, 1946 arriving New York on December 13, 1946. I would rather not do this again. I was a nervous wreck the whole time during the cruise.
I really enjoyed my time on the Little Rock. I was sent to a radar repair school in Boston and by the time I finished this school unfortunately the Little Rock was in Europe so they sent me back to the USS Dayton CL 105 when I finished the school but after one month I was transferred to the USS Huntington CL 107 thank god. Huntington service was great and at a time when Arleigh “30 knot” Burke was the Captain.
I would be interested in knowing what happen to Lt. Helton after he left the service
From another post Jim shared the following:
“......as I cruised around the Web Site for the Little Rock Organization today, I started to think about my division officer, Lieutenant Helton, who was in charge of the CIC or Radar Division. He taught me..... in one lesson the meaning of taking responsibility. Here is what I write about him in my “Lessons Learned” document....
When I was in the US Navy I was up for promotion to petty officer rank. The Division Officer called me up to his stateroom one day and said, “I'm going to go ahead with your appointment to petty officer but I want you to understand the meaning of this. It simply means that I can't imagine any excuse that would be acceptable to me for you not getting done what I assign you to do!. I said “Yes Sir!” but after leaving, I started to think that maybe I didn't want to be a petty officer. Then I reached the conclusion that it could not be any other way. When you take on a responsibility, you must carry it out regardless of what it takes.
I conclude this lessons learned documents with this summary statement.
Always doing the right thing, presenting yourself well, working well with people, and maintaining your technical competence while taking total responsibility for your job will absolutely guarantee success.”
|Rhys B. Blair - USMC
My name is Rhys B. Blair and I reported aboard the USS Springfield in July 1973 as part of the Flag Allowance and the Marine Detachment.
I reported aboard as a Corporal and was promoted to Sergeant on October 1, 1973. I worked in the Fleet Marine Office (FMO) on the 2nd level at the top of the double ladderway in Flag Country. I reported directly to Colonel Frank McLendon and Lt Col. Pat Cacace. There were 3 other Marines attached to the Flag also, Corporals Jeff Palmer, Robert Miner and Jim Crawford. They were all orderlies who stood their post outside the Chief of Staff's office on the first deck. We lived in the MarDet which was commanded by Capt. Carridise and our 1st Sgt was Morris Larson. My main responsibility was admin in the FMO, organizing message traffic, writing memos and anything else either colonels required.
In the evening I lived at the admiral's quarters providing personal security to the first family. I traveled with the admiral's wife as necessary to meet the Admiral in different ports of call.
VAdm Daniel J. Murphy was the Commander of the 6th Fleet when I reported aboard in Gaeta. In late August or early September we cross-decked from the Springfield (CLG-7) to the USS Little Rock CLG 4. Our first cruise was to Monaco, and then to Istanbul in early October where our port of call was interrupted by the "Yom Kipper War." During my 2 year tour Adm. Murphy was replaced by Fredrick Turner, Colonel McLendon by Stephen G. Olmstead and I eventually was transferred, in July 1975, to the Marine Corps Public Affairs Office in Los Angeles. Lt Col. Cacace stayed on as the Operation officer and as the Fleet Marine Officer in the early 80’s.
I left active duty in 1979. I truly enjoyed my shipboard experience with the Flag and the U. S. Navy.
|Don Pleu - BT3
I was in the Oil Shack from 1970 to 1972 and I remember when Jimbo Sklarz came aboard. BT1 Wells was in charge of the Oil Shack and I was a BT3. Oil King duty was the best job in B Division.
As Jim stated we were in charge of the potable water as well as boiler feedwater, NSFO and JP5. I recall a voyage from the states to Liverpool England and 2 days from Liverpool we lost all of the fresh water pumps aboard. On more than one occasion we caught the Captain in the shower and suddenly no water. We jury rigged the Forward Fireroom's Bilge Pump to provide the pumping force.
Also Jim pointed out that the tank sounding tubes were located throughout the ship and we had keys to every space that had a sounding tube. Two such spaces were the Captain's and Officer's Galley. Every man in B Division new we had access. I recall one night while we were in port, a couple of Snipes came back from being ashore after sampling the local talent and libations.
Well I was on duty and had to got to the head and when I came back the key to the Captain's Galley was missing. It seems one of my Bud's went to the Captain's Galley and found a fresh from the oven turkey. In his drunken state he decided to take the bird down to the Forward Fireroom to share with the crew on duty. In his unsteady state he spilled the juice from the pan on the steps of the ladders from the Galley to the Fireroom. Well the Galley Cook followed the trail to the Fireroom and caught him red-handed. A certain BT who shall remain anonymous, and a member of this Forum, was found guilty at a Courts Marshall and was fined the cost of the bird. It seems that the Captain was to entertain local guests aboard and personally bought this Turkey Breast in lieu of serving them standard USN chow.
Our B Division group was quite eclectic at that time with a mixture of Yankees and Rebels. See if these names ring a bell: Cisco, Cocuzo, Baumwall, Harrellson, Powell, Starkey, DaVilla, Wallace, et al.
|Steven Rinfret - SN
I was a Div 2 deck ape from Nov 68 to Jan 71. Also was a lookout, sidecleaner and a helmsman
Used to play guitar with a buddy I went to Great Lakes with Bruce Mann. If anybody knows Bruce Mann, he was a bilge rat from Idaho and died in a 1980 snowmobile accident there.
Would I do it again? NO!
|Robert Martin - BTFN
(Reply to John Sterk) I worked in "A" div. also. Stood a/c and evaporator watches with you, Donny Wilson, Paul Liauppa, Tommy Lasky, Wayne Brown, Bob Giani, Bobby Hayes. Chief's name was MMC J. Thibodeau. Remember the MPA also ENS P. Armenia.
Found the site and it brought back some memories - some good and some not so good. Could not even count the number of times I've said the same thing "Had a lot of fun, went places, saw things, did things I would never had the chance to do otherwise, but do it again? I don't think so. Too much politics between enlisted and officers.
Sure hate to hear about Bruce.
Still have my cruise book and it has some pictures of him in it.
There's a real good one of you and Tom Lasky in a bar somewhere - imagine that!
The following are from postings made to the Message Board by John Meyers. Each has its own message. (Enjoy them all! Ed.)
“Only the beginning!”
By John Meyers Feb 11, 2008
I was assigned to the Sixth Fleet flagship from September 1971 to December 1975. USS Springfield served as flagship until USS Little Rock took over in August 1973. The Italian city of Gaeta became the flagship's Mediterranean homeport in 1967 after France kicked the flagship out of Villefranche. During my time in Gaeta, the officers and enlisted men of the flagship were permitted to live ashore within a few miles of the local Nato fuel pier -- subject to good behavior. A married crewman had the option of moving his family overseas to live in Gaeta.
“Only the beginning!”
In the fall of 1971, a group of Gaeta Navy wives and a few men from Springfield formed a choir with the encouragement and full support of Vice Admiral Gerald Miller, Commander Sixth Fleet. By the end of December, the choir and Sixth Fleet band had performed a series of Christmas shows at local Italian theaters and military venues in the Naples and Gaeta areas.
“Only just the start!”
The choir became known as “The Sixth Fleet Singers” and the combined choir and band performed as “The Sixth Fleet Music Show.” The show’s highlight trip of 1972 was the Munich Olympics.
The quoted lines are taken from the lyrics of “Beginnings,” a song the Sixth Fleet band played and a favorite of mine from Chicago’s first album.
The band and a core group of choir members remained in Gaeta when Little Rock arrived, which allowed the show to continue without missing a beat. The choir was still practicing new arrangements and planning future performances with the band when I walked off Little Rock for the final time in December 1975 to process out of the Navy and signup for college.
Are there any former show members around?
I recall that a number of choir members were pregnant and close to their due dates when they performed in a series of shows near Maastricht, Netherlands in September 1975. It would be interesting to hear from those thirty-something kids.
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“A Fish Out of Water”
By John Meyers Jan. 25, 2008
The Little Rock was dry docked to have her rudder repaired at the S.E.B.N shipyard in Naples a few weeks after the Miss America Show. The work took longer than planned and the ship’s departure was delayed to the second week of October 1975. Prior to parking at the shipyard, the Little Rock made a trip to Rota to offload all her missiles and shells. I was not invited to the working party, but I believe the shells for the five and six-inch guns had to be hand carried off the ship in ant-like fashion. After being released from captivity, the Little Rock put in a few days of sea trials and then returned to Rota to retrieve her bullets. It seems to me that all the five and six-inch gun ammo was vintage 1945. I believe it took 3 days to put all the missiles and shells back in place.
Does anyone remember straining their back, or accidentally dropping a bomb or two?
Who remembers how and when the rudder was damaged? It seems to me that the ship hit something???
Added on Jan. 26, 2008
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“1974 Tigers Win 38 to 8.”
By John Meyers Jan. 09, 2008
Little Rock had a football team in 1974 -- named the Little Rock Tigers. I went to a game the team played in Naples on Sunday, October 27, 1974. The Tigers won easily, scoring five touchdowns. The final score was Little Rock 38 and the Capo Flyers 8. Are there any former players out there?
Prior to the big football weekend, the Little Rock went out to fire a couple of missiles into the sky. The ship pulled out from Gaeta on Tuesday, October 22 and returned that Friday. It was a wasted effort as a little bit of everything went wrong.
I was disappointed that the missile launch was canceled, as it was always a rush to watch a missile zigzag through the sky.
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By John Meyers Dec. 17, 2007
I had a great time while stationed on board the Little Rock and was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime to visit more than 40 countries throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I met shirttail relatives in Finland, traveled to a country between Spain and France that I’d never heard of, climbed the Rock of Gibraltar and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, rode in the back of an “express” truck to Marrakesh, waved hello to Princess Ann and the Pope -- and so it went.
I will always be grateful to the people in my life that took an interest in me and helped get me to the point where I could take advantage of life’s opportunities.
In the spirit of giving back, my wife and I have been involved with the C5 Youth Foundation, formerly known as Camp Coca-Cola. The goal of the program is to help young people from disadvantaged circumstances reach their potential and take advantage of the opportunities in their lives. To learn more about the program visit the web page at: http://www.c5yf.org
If you know of someone seeking a summer job in youth development, check the web site for employment opportunities in Georgia, Texas, Massachusetts and Wyoming – start the application process now for jobs this summer. And if you’re looking for a great place to make a year-end charitable contribution, please consider C5. The work they do really does change the lives of young people.
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By John Meyers Dec. 03, 2007
Ship’s scuttlebutt had it that the prison in Old Gaeta held a single prisoner, a Nazi SS officer convicted of war crimes. By 1972, after more than 23 years behind bars, the man had outlived the other prisoners and by default spent his days alone, with only the prison guards for human contact. The Italians reviled the man and vowed to keep the prison operating, no matter the expense, until he died there. I left Gaeta in 1975 and from time to time have wondered if the story was truth or fiction. Recently, I went on a web search for information about Old Gaeta’s prison.
It appears the man I’m looking for is Herbert (Hubert) Kappler. He was an SS colonel in March 1944, when a partisan bomb killed a 33-man German patrol near the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. He was the officer in charge of the reprisal killing of 335 Italian civilians, for which he was convicted by a military court in 1948 and sentenced to life imprisonment. A movie based upon the story of Kappler and the massacre in Rome was released in 1973 and starred Richard Burton.
As Kappler’s health declined, the German government began making requests for his release on humanitarian grounds, but the Italians declined. Kappler did manage a prison wedding in 1972 to a German woman named Anneliese, a nurse. I don’t know about the timing, but it seems a little too convenient that Kappler’s new wife was a nurse and a full 18 years younger than he was. It might be that the marriage was arranged as a compromise between the Italian and German diplomats as they argued over his release, with the woman more of a nurse and paid companion than wife, or possibly a secret operative for the Germans.
Sometime in 1976, Kappler was transferred from the Gaeta prison to a Rome hospital for cancer treatments. Kappler’s wife was allowed almost constant access to his hospital room. One night in August 1977, around 1 a.m., Kappler’s wife went to his room, stuffed him into a large suitcase and wheeled him out. (Can you hear the music playing à la Mission Impossible?) The carabinieri guard on duty even helped her roll the suitcase onto the elevator. She had a car waiting and drove him to a town in West Germany to hide out. In order to provide more time for their escape, she put a “do not disturb until 10 a.m.” note on Kappler’s hospital room door. As a result, the hospital nurses did not find he was gone until late the next morning when they discovered an old wig and pillow in his bed. Kappler died within six months of his escape.
There are other interesting elements to this story, but this writing is too long the way it is. You can find additional information by searching for Msgr. Hugh O’Flaherty of the Vatican and CIA notes. For a Time magazine story visit the web site: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,915344,00.html.
I never went to see to the prison while living in Gaeta and suspect that tourists were not allowed very close in any case. Since Kappler’s escape, I would guess relatives are no longer allowed to bring Samsonite luggage filled with goodies when they visit an inmate in Italy.
Do you remember hearing this story? Does anyone have some additional “inside” knowledge, or a picture or two of Gaeta’s prison?
I disavow any information you have read here that might be attributed to me.
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“A View From the Top”
By John Meyers Nov. 09, 2007
One of the highlights of my time on the Little Rock was our 1975 stop in Alexandria and a tour of the pyramids just outside the city of Cairo. I had the opportunity to return to Egypt a number of years later to see the pyramids from a unique perspective.
In 1986, I worked for Pako and volunteered for a project at the national newspaper in Cairo, Egypt. I arranged for two days time off while in Egypt, to tour the pyramid area of Giza, just outside the city of Cairo. Near the end of my second day at Giza, after most of the other tourists were gone, a security guard asked if I would like to climb to the top of Menkaure (men-cow-reh), the smallest of the three big pyramids. The guard requested a fifty-dollar donation, with half the money going to his buddy, a local Egyptian climbing guide, dressed in a traditional hooded robe. Even though Menkaure is much smaller than the other two large pyramids at Giza, it still looked extremely high to me – exactly 218 feet (66.5 meters) to the top. I hesitated for a moment, but then decided to trust these “independent” operators and agreed to make the climb. I don’t remember how many levels there were, but at each pyramid tier I would put my hands on top of the next higher stone, push myself up, and then swing my legs up and forward to get on top. My guide was about sixty years old and he moved and climbed around like a cat with nine lives, while I was not nearly as nimble and took a more cautious approach, asking to stop and rest every four or five tiers. To add to my stress level, it seemed the sun was setting faster than I thought I could make it to the top and still get down before dark. I might have called it quits at about 100 feet, but my guide kept telling me not to give up, claiming that it was a religious (pass the collection basket) experience to climb to the top of a pyramid. As we finally neared the top, the swirling winds created another challenge just as we were passing an area where the huge pyramid blocks were missing, making it a disastrous, thirty-foot “oops” if one was to slip or be blown over the edge. Despite the potential pitfalls, we made it to the top, injury free, and I had a spectacular view of the Giza area, made more so by the physical and mental effort I made to get there. I guess it was even religious in nature, as I thanked God that I made it!
I did find that climbing down was much faster and easier than going up had been, and the proof that my camera and I made it down safely is this sunset picture that I took from the top of Menkaure, looking toward Khafre. Cheops, the oldest and largest of the three main pyramids at Giza, is behind Khafre in this picture.
I’ll send my picture to Art Tilley and ask him to post it to this message in a viable format.
Anyone have an Egyptian story to share?
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“Be Good or Be Gone”
By John Meyers Oct 19, 2007
As flagship, the Little Rock tended to operate independently from other ships in the Mediterranean. Except for fleet training exercises and replenishments, it was rare to even spot another navy ship while the Little Rock was underway. The ship’s independent schedule included most port calls, which was great because the crew did not have to share attractions with 10,000 other fleet sailors on liberty. One downside to our exclusive port status was that the locals knew which ship and crew to blame if someone misbehaved.
The Rock’s crew was far from a bunch of angels and it seemed the incident report after a port visit was never blank. On one occasion, Little Rock’s Captain Cullins shared a note from Admiral Murphy just before our visit to Alexandria to emphasize the importance of the crew’s behavior – reminding us in a formal manner not to screw up.
Excerpts from the admiral’s 1974 note:
Dear Captain Cullins,
The flagship’s visit to Alexandria scheduled for July 29 through August 1, is, next to Gaeta, the most important port call we will have made to date.
Each man on the flagship must understand the very important role he will play during our visit. The people of Alexandria will draw their conclusions about Americans largely from the impressions that we make on them. Each man on board can help to leave the impression that we are a proud, professional and friendly group of Americans.
At the same time, each man should also know that any incident ashore will seriously detract from this important visit.
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy
Anyone caught messing up in public view could count on a trip to Captain’s Mast to receive appropriate official judgment and a possible set of bye-bye orders for embarrassing behavior. It was easy to guess when a crew member or dependent crossed the line and hit the “embarrassing” threshold, as they seemed to vanish into thin air, shipped out to a less demanding duty station.
As a younger-than-he-looked chief petty officer once advised, “Be Good or Be Gone!”
Does anyone have a story of reprieve?
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“Being Sheepish Is Good”
By John Meyers Sep. 07, 2007
They saved how many sheep?
A humanitarian relief operation in 1973 made port visits to Tunis a great experience for sailors of the Sixth Fleet. This operation occurred several months before the Little Rock took over as flagship in 1973, but it helps explain why Tunis became a great port stop.
I was assigned to the Springfield at the time.
From the web ----
Tunisia, March 1973
In response to an urgent request for flood relief from the American Embassy in Tunisia on 28 March, one aircraft carrier (Forrestal) was in position to provide helicopter assistance by first light 29 March (about 13 hours after the request). The helicopter operations were also supported by one destroyer (DDG) and two LPDs. U.S. helicopters flew about 40 sorties, rescuing or relocating 729 persons, moving 27 tons of cargo, lifting 17 doctors to evacuation centers, lifting an emergency appendectomy to the CVA, and evacuating the entire sheep herd (227 sheep) from one flooded village. In addition, the carrier's bakery provided 1,200 loaves of bread for distribution, and crewmembers contributed money to buy supplies for homeless children. During the relief mission, U.S. personnel temporarily based at Tunis airport coordinated the rescue efforts flown by helicopters, not only of U.S. forces, but from Tunisia, Italy, France, and Libya as well.
From my archives:
Vice Admiral Miller was COMSIXTHFLEET at the time. Vice Admiral Murphy took over on June 11, 1973. During the change of command ceremony, Vice Admiral Miller was presented with a Medal of the Order of the Republic of Tunisia from Captain Ben Mohammed Djedidi, Tunisian Chief of Naval Operations, on behalf of Tunisian President Bourguiba. Captian Djedidi said, “This is in recognition of the services rendered to the Tunisian people by the Sixth Fleet during our recent national disaster. The Tunisian people are not only appreciative of the humanitarian service rendered, but also for the alacrity, and your personal concern as expressed the expeditious reaction to our initial request.”
Anyone remember shopping in Tunis?
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“1974 Cyprus Emergency Recall”
By John Meyers Sep. 23, 2007
Anyone remember the emergency recall for the Cyprus Crisis while the Little Rock was in Gaeta. I believe it was issued on Saturday, July 20, 1974. The Little Rock got underway two hours after the all hands recall was issued with about 95 percent of the crew making it back onboard. Anyone remember not making it back in time? I wonder what the missing crew members did to make it back onboard.
(The following was added by Jimmy Reeves, also on Sep. 23, 2007”
“John, I think all the Missile House gang made it back. I remember hearing the ships horn blasting from my apartment. I think we had all been warned ahead of time that we might have to go so most of us stayed close.
As for the cruise I think some of our Marines were transferred off the Rock to another ship, maybe to help with the actual evacuation I never knew. I seem to remember staying out about 3 weeks and on the return to Gaeta the Captain stopped everything and had swim call. A Marine in a boat with a M14 on shark patrol while some of us jumped in from the fantail. Not me though, after all what’s worse; getting eaten by a shark or shot by a Marine? I decided to watch. OK some of you guys help me out here the memory slips sometimes.
I remember making two trips to Alexandria Egypt while I was on the Rock in 74 & 75 Did we make one of these trips while on the Cyprus Recall?”
(Follow-up by John Meyers on 24 Sep 07....)
I suspect the marines were transferred to the USS Inchon (LPH 12) to assist with evacuation of civilians from Cyprus. Any comment from the marine contingent?
The U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Roger Davies urgently requested the evacuation of U.S. citizens from the island. On July 22, with the USS Forrestal providing air cover, marine helicopter squadron HMM-162 from the USS Inchon evacuated 466 people, 384 of them U.S. citizens, over a period of five hours. The Little Rock and other units of the Sixth Fleet provided operational support during the evacuation and remained on station until July 28, 1974.
Someone from the Inchon might be able to fill in some details. The Inchon at the time was assigned to Sixth Fleet Task Force 65, which was established to help the Egyptians get the Suez Canal operational.
The Sixth Fleet assist with the Suez Canal opened the door for our visit to Alexandria, Egypt. The Little Rock was there from July 29 to August 1.
A Greek Cypriot assassinated Ambassador Davies inside the American Embassy on August 19, 1974.
|How Many "Bakers"
the U.S.S. Little Rock have?
Received from Warren H. Baker on 29 Nov 07....
Subject: Prior removal of my name and email address
Several months ago I emailed you complaining that you had removed my name and email address in error and explained why there was this mix up. I guess you never received by email since I see that my name has not been re entered.
Again here is the story and it is somewhat amusing....
I was aboard the Rock as a Ltjg and Lt. from Feb 65 until Dec 66 and was both Radio Officer and 1st. Division Officer. In my latter position I was assigned an assistant. In the XO's "distorted sense of humor" he assigned me Ens. Warren Baker. You can imagine the confusion that was created when two officers with same name were on the same ship much less the same department / division.
The confusion I am afraid is still with us. Your roster should show two Warren Bakers.
I am Warren H. Baker, Member # 253 in long standing; email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe the other which you now have listed is Warren P. Baker Jr. (If memory serves me).
Please reinstate my name, for I have received several interesting emails, one from Holland as a result of our North Atlantic cruise.
Thank you and hopefully you will receive this email.
Warren H. Baker
Ed: Lt. Warren H. Baker is correct, the second Baker is indeed Ens. Warren P. Baker, who is a member in good standing (#1000).
|Lewis O. Wood - SK2
I'm Lewis O. Wood. I was a SK2 that reported aboard, for precommissioning, in October 1959. Worked in the supply office, with E8 Chief "Mac", at the Camden shipyard. When we went aboard, I started out in the main storerooms, but it did not take long to be transferred to the S3 division, working in the office, with LT Bates and Chief Tedesco. I had the first desk as you came in the door. Most of my duties were setting the watch schedules, for the entire Supply division, ordering items for the ship's store and the clothing and small store. Then there was the delight of taking inventory lists and then holding another inventory, to make the reports balance, since there were several that could not seem to learn how to count. It was also a pleasure to serve as Enlisted Recreation Chairman, even though the first item that the crew seemed intent on getting was "A few subscriptions to Playboy". Sorry to say, the Chaplain squelched that request.
I have many good memories of the Little Rock. (One of the Ensigns learned the hard way that, during drill, or emergencies, you run 'forward and down on the starboard, aft and up on the port'. My GQ station was in DC Central, which was forward of the gun turret, on deck 3. He came aft into the mess deck serving area, just as I was heading forward through the same hatch. He still had not reached his battle station, by the time I called for DC teams to report. (Later, I found out he had the breath knocked out of him, for a few minutes.) He was a great proponent in trying to teach others as to why there was a direction for traffic flow, especially during drills.
One of my buddies was Howard Gauthier, SK2, who played Santa Clause. I have memories of several others, like Jim Curtain, "Frenchie" St. Jaques, Lylse Devinie, CDR Holt, CDR Hepfinger, Chaplain McGrath and most of all I remember Joe Banks, ET2.
Would I do it again? If I had even half the strength and endurance I had then, I'd jump at the chance, even though I am now in my 80's. Still trying to get some of the young people to go down and enlist, when I am not helping the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans being medically boarded out, or giving time and efforts in keeping out National Cemetery beautiful.
MARDET-CONTROLLED ARMAMENT ABOARD USS Little Rock CG 4 - 1975-1976
Dennis.E. Dawkins - CPL. U.S.M.C.
Marines on the Little Rock were trained for various missions:
• Security of the ship (and fleet landing responsibilities)
• Security of the crew (Admiral and Captain’s orderlies and brig, too and break up fights on ship)
• Security of weapons systems (especially “Special Weapons”, the nukes)
• Security of classified information
• We escorted ship’s payroll officer from banks with cash in foreign ports
• We all had clearances and were on the “Personnel Reliability Program” (PRP) for access to classified data. If “Security Alert” was called out by OOD or POD on the 1MC, or if “FZ” alarm system went off, we SCRAMBLED with various weapons…
2. BOARDING PARTY
Never had to use it, but we had the tools and know-how if called to take another ship by force or assist a sinking ship from any country, friend or foe.
3. LANDING PARTY
Most of us were Combat Arms backgrounds (Infantry, Artillery or a few Tankers.) We were prepared to support Marine landing operations anywhere, by sea or by air. (This almost came into play in Lebanon. We had a possible “scenario” where MarDet Marines might work their way to the American Embassy in Beirut and assist Marine Security Guards at the Embassy. This didn’t happen. But we were ready!)
In-Port, we had color details on the fantail (I learned to hate some other countries anthems…TOO LONG!). We had flag ceremonies with locals, dignitary escort duties, parade appearances and more. Usually full Dress Blues and might have sword, too? (For ceremonial purposes only.) I was trained in Manual of Arms with sword…had to use it many times! When Sailors got “liberty call”, Marines off duty rosters were frequently working in ports.
That said, here is what I know about Marine armaments aboard “The Rock” in 1975-1976:
1. 1911A1 .45 CALIBER PISTOL
This was most common weapon. Used by guards on post,orderlies, Corporal of the Guard (COG), and Sergeant of the Guard. (SOG). Easy to maintain, easy to carry. Worked well in tight passageways. Good for short distance if required to shoot on the ship. When we qualified with it we were told, “The maximum effective range is the distance you can throw it but it will stop an elephant.” These were kept in the “Guard Shack” next to Marine Quarters. (Adjacent to a head.)
2. M-14 RIFLE.
I went to boot camp in 1975 (just after Vietnam). Trained with the M-16A1. I went to Infantry Training School. M-16A1. Got to MarDet Little Rock and found out rifle of choice was M-14. Heard two stories. “It is more accurate as a sniper rifle and for ship duties than the M-16 and satisfies shipboard duties better.” I believe that one, coming from a Marine GYSGT who was Recon in VietNam several times. The other story I got was “Cheap-ass Navy gives us WW2 or Korean war surplus”. Believe what you want. In 1976 the USS Little Rock MarDet had M-14s.
3. SHOTGUN, REMINGTON, 12 GAUGE.
Used by Security Alert Teams manning the missile house. “If you fire a shot with a .45 or rifle you could set off a nuke”. Shotguns were used in missile house for anti-personnel. Also carried on some fleet landings by guards where petroleum lines were a factor.(Anti-personnel. NOT penetrating. We knew the difference.) Marine shotgun Marksmanship trained for “ricochet effect” with a shotgun. (Shoot at the floor or concrete in front of your target if over 20 yards away. Instead of “pellets everywhere” they will be hit with a “flat pattern” to bring them down.)
4. M-60 MACHINE GUN WITH TRIPOD.
We had two. Never fired as far as I know until we were steaming to Yorktown. Fired a BUNCH of rounds. Hard to clean this weapon. But M-60’s were there in support of Marine missions. Our targets were trash bags “launched” off the ship’s bow. Allah help any trash bag shot at by MarDet in 1976? (They were cleaned, lubricated and ready for possible use in Lebanon.)
5. M-79 GRENADE LAUNCHER.
This was the shotgun-looking thing, single-shot, replaced by the M-203 under the M-16. I saw BOTH, trained with both in Infantry Training School. “The Rock” had some M-79’s. I got to “bloop” (Marine slang for “shoot a grenade launcher”) at a buoy in Sicily and again in transit to Yorktown. (Couldn’t hit it. “But if on land, is this a point or area target”?) I didn’t hit point (the buoy) but understood area of grenade impact if it was on land. on land. Good practice!
We had explosive AP (anti-personnel), smoke and incendiary WP (white phosphorous) grenades. None was worth a crap if you pull the pin and throw it in the ocean before ammo turn-in. Everything sounded like a “dud”. For historical purposes, please note Marines were careful no sea-life including dolphins, sharks whales or soft-shelled turtles were injured. Grenades just go, “PLOP” under water They are a lot more fun on land!.
7. THE M1859 NCO SWORD
The M1859 NCO Sword continues service today as the Marine Corps drill and ceremonial sword. To the best of my knowledge, The US Marine Corps is the only US Armed Force that authorizes its enlisted members to carry a sword. In the Marine Corps the sword's use is restricted by regulation to ceremonial occasions by an NCO (E-4 or E-5) or Staff NCO (E6 - E9) or in command of troops.
In ceremonies with foreign countries, we had to know “Sword Drill”. The sword was ONLY ceremonial (no cutting edge). But an important part of our armory for ceremonies! We had to break “protocol” and regulations for special events or international ceremonies. Yes, a LCPL (E-3) could help with a “sword arch” in a special ceremony like a wedding. Yes, ten Marines of “unauthorized” ranks in Italy marched with swords (no pistols. Political…) behind ten Italians with swords and pistols. POLITICS? I won’t go there…Captain of the boat and Sixth Fleet Commander made their own rules. Sword was important in France, too. Marines had to give one away, impromptu by a Navy O-6 or above. Messed up our inventory! (US Dignitary was presented with a sword when he didn’t t know it was coming in ceremony. You know the “drill”? Didn’t get that memo or somebody on staff fell off the boat?! AW CRAP LOOK. But Marines SUPPORT NAVY. HIS REPLY, “Sergeant XXX (possibly Savino) will now present his sword to you in reply to your generous… ” MarDet OIC/XO stewed about that for WEEKS! (“How do I write this off?) Marines were short a sword in Yorktown. I had to sign a statement about “missing property”. I was a witness, where it went, who ordered it, to whom it went. Nobody at Yorktown cared about OLD AMMO “expended at sea.” Where is the sword?” “Chain of custody…” Our armory had a LOT of weapons! A sword got us in trouble at Yorktown!
8. RIOT STICKS, NIGHT STICKS (AKA “BATONS”)
Marines also served as brig guards. If a Sailor (or Marine…never happened I know of) was in the brig, brig guards didn’t carry weapons. We had instructions “on paper”. CAPTAINS ORDERS. (NOBODY ever got “bread and water” I know of in brig?) After “Captains Mast” we had assignments….like “actors”. Captain gave a day or three in the brig? “ORDERS”. But after orders we knew to talk to Chief and/or senior PO. (Go light or go HEAVY?) Nobody was hit or hurt. Many were SCARED. Some are probably retired now because a Chief used Marines as a resource, as a threat or as a “correction tool.” I’m not politically correct mentioning this… but HISTORY! Chiefs and Petty Officers got better Sailors back after Marine brig with a few exceptions.) “GO LIGHT learned, “RESPECT YOUR OFFICERS, YOUR CHIEF AND PETTY OFFICERS. They back you up, support you”. “GO HEAVY” was discharged after he punched (assaulted) a Chief and a LCDR after he was released from Marine brig. He didn’t learn? We banged on bulkheads not Sailors…
9. THE 5 INCH GUN
Marines manned the 5” gun. Captain John S. Evans was our MarDet “CO”, an artillery officer who took pride in the 5”. During GQ he was the “Spotter” in the tower. Our MarDet Gunny was NCOIC of the gunmount. I was the “SecPlot” contact…Mark IV firing computer in “the basement”. 5” were manually fired with directions from spotter or “computer fired” by me in SecPlot. Mark IV was before “digital computer” age. It had black dials with white print spinning under a glass “desktop” about 3’ x 3’ to track sea, air or land targets. I had to pull a salvo key trigger (brass, had bumps on it) three times when target was acquired and I was ready to shoot. “”BEEP BEEP” then pull the firing key (right hand, no bumps on it) simultaneous with the salvo key. Chief trained me for “Beep, Beep, BANG”. Marine Five-inch guns did well in 1974-1976 (and helped the Little Rock get the “E”). I was told by a Gunnersmate Chief I was the first Marine to understand the Mark IV, made “good calls” to “wait” and “feel the target”. We “hit” the sled on surface-to-surface second shot. Missed first. “Wait…it’s changing course again.…” beep beep BOOM. We hit the drone on surface-to-air first shot. I felt the dials spinning, could “see” my target based on dials. Chief held a special ceremony after “sea trials” in my honor. Navy gunners and Marines were there. I was presented with a firing key to the Mark IV. The firing key has now been added to the collection of the USS Little Rock Museum.
These are memories compiled by a Marine Detachment member of ships’ crew in 1975-1976.
Ed. Note: This article was submitted by crew member CPL D. E. Dawkins (later SSGT USMC and SSG Army Reserve [mobilized] ) for use in the Armaments & Weapons Systems section of the USS Little Rock Association web site.
| John Breslin S1/C 1945-1046
The following is an edited version of a series of e-mails received from John Breslin. The information provided has be invaluable in filling in gaps in the ship’s chronology for the years covered. Our “Thanks” to John for his great record keeping and his willingness to pass on this information. Ed.
”..... After brief training duty in the Atlantic aboard 2 older ships, ( a WW1 wooden sub-chaser, and then an Auxiliary Yacht - Teddy Roosevelt's “Presidential Yacht", a hugh former sailing vessel built in Europe in the 1890's, and later converted to steam - I boarded the U.S.S. Little Rock on June 15, 1945, (two days before her first commissioning), and served aboard her until May 18, 1946.
The only semiofficial full list of crew members in my possession is our "Crossing the Equator" booklet, dated Nov. 5, 1945, printed for us later at the Naval School of Peru. I've checked these names, and I'm sure I've seen similar books on display at past ship's reunions. (In response to your request) there is no crew member or officer by the name "Fitzpatrick" listed in this book. The only close name is a Capt. Kirkpatrick, whom I don't recall at all. I'm not sure if he wasn’t a Fleet Marine, but I believe our small detachment of Marines was under a LT.
But from my "Air, Aft" lookout post behind the highest aft director, I witnessed and described, (on SP phone), our only complete aircraft loss during my time aboard. Ensign W. R. Merryman was landing one of our scout planes south of Cuba, on the smoothed-over water surface our ship always created for landings, by making a slowed-down sliding turn. As Ens. Merryman was taxiing up towards our towed recovery netted sled, his plane suddenly nosed over, engine still turning and tail straight up in the air. The pilot was pitched forward out of his cockpit, into a bright, clear sea, teeming with hundreds of visible sharks. I reported the sharks immediately on my SP phone, but they were also clearly visible from all parts of our ship. The OD immediately ordered the rescue whaleboat's crew not to enter the water, but when the swimming pilot was not able to grasp the boathook, my buddy and bunk-neighbor, (whose rack was directly across the aisle), immediately dove over his bow and swam to the pilot who was losing consciousness. Grasping the pilot's life vest collar, "Sully", or Cox. W. M. Sullivan, swam closer to the whaleboat and then helped push the limp pilot aboard, as others pulled him in. "Sully" did get a Life Saving Medal for risking a plunge into shark-infested waters against orders.
(Ed. Note: A U.S. Navy aircraft accident report provides the following information:
Accident Date: 8/4/1945
Aircraft Type: SC-1
Aircraft Number: 35555
Ship Number: CL 92
Ship Name: USS Little Rock
Location: OFF CUBA
Pilot: Name not shown
This is most likely the incident referred to be John Breslin. See also SC-1 Aircraft page.)
I know this might sound like bull, but the yarn gets even more unbelievable.....
As the MWB returned the pilot aboard, the crew astern got a wire loop around the half submerged plane's tail and the crane prepared to hoist the wreck aboard. But the fuselage near the tail started to crumble inward, and they were trying to place softeners under the wire loop, I had to immediately report heavy, dark clouds near the Cuban coast, and twin waterspouts approaching our ship. So the order was passed to abandon the plane, hoist the whaleboat, and move out of the area. I know we carried two complete float planes on our catapults at all times, and the parts for assembling a third float plane were stored in our hanger. Ens. W. R. Merryman did recover and continued to fly, but I never learned if we had any other pilots aboard, or knew of any other(s) by name.
The only other plane mishap I witnessed on our ship occurred in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, between Dec. 6th and 15th, 1945. I didn't recall the pilot's name at that time. As our floatplane landed on the river aft of our riverside berth, it started to taxi towards our ship, but ran aground on a sandbar. Evidently there was no damage, and after the tide rose again, our whale boat towed it over to us to be hoisted by the stern crane.
The only death I knew about aboard the Little Rock during my time aboard occurred in Rio de Janeiro. When we returned there for our third time, for a short refueling stop on Jan. 17th, 1946, we sent a burial party ashore for the funeral of a crew member, who had been left earlier at a military hospital. S1/C G.G. Bee, who is seen in our booklet as the Royal Judge at our Equator Crossing ceremony photos, had died in the hospital there, and I have no idea of the cause, or date of his actual death. But a formal burial detachment of officers, Marines, and sailors went ashore for the event, as our ship was refueled in the harbor, just before we started our long cruise down around Cape Horn, to Chile.
Many of our "I" division members, (Radar), went aboard on June 15th., 1945, after completing training on radar on 2 smaller vessels, as well as various East Coast shore stations. Patterson's log entries coincide with mine, basically on dates and ports of call, up until where he ends it on Feb. 28, 1946.....
7/12/1945 Moved down river about 1 mile, to Fort Mifflin, to load Ammo. 5 and 6" shells, powder cans, aerial depth charges for our seaplanes, and catapult charges. Didn't see any 20 and 40 mm yet.
7/18/45: This stop was for the degaussing station.
8 (7?) /27/1945 Practice shore bombardment on Culebra Island. As Mount 3 fired a pair of 5" HE at tree tops ashore, one shell burst about 20 feet out of the barrel, and fragments struck several bulkheads and my door, (Secondary Radar range finder for Mount 3). As all 6 mounts were using the primary director, I was only on standby, so I was able to jump out of my door, on the mid-ship passageway, with my fire extinguisher and help put out the little fires around the fragments on the teak deck. The exercise was stalled for about a half hour, for a safety check, and then resumed. My ears rang for days!.....
8/28/1945 Speed run on trip back to Philadelphia, and started leave at home, just across the river from Phila. Navy Yard on Aug. 30.
10/2/1945 First of 3 five-day trips between Goat Island and Block Island, with Middies from Annapolis: All types of drills for them. 1 Day liberty, in Newport, RI, each week......
11/5/1945 Crossed Equator first time. Wild Hi-jinks aboard!
12/18/1945 While moored in Santos, Brazil, wild riot breaks out between Japanese, Brazilian civilians and our liberty party while on tour of automobile factory in Sao Paulo. 36 Americans and many more civilians injured by their own police force, as well as Brazilian troops called in to rescue American liberty party. One of my buddies was severely injured when crowds overturned Brazilian Army truck that was hauling our sailors back to the ship. (About a 50 mile drive.) And in the meantime, severe food poisoning had broken out that same day, among very many of the duty sections still aboard our ship! I was very lucky to be one of the few unaffected men aboard. We were ordered to single-up our mooring lines, in case we had to move off shore, as Brazilian troops returned our men to the ship while other troops held off the angry crowd at the inner end of our pier, with Reising guns and rubber bullets. The newspapers in Brazil and the USA all carried the story, and many of our families and friends in the States read all about it! Even Arthur Godfrey mentioned it on his radio show, and my future wife's mother heard it on the radio! As you may already have heard, the Brazilian press soon published the whole story! It was shown that the huge Japanese colony living in Sao Paulo, (still bitter about losing the recent war), had published thousands of anti-American pamphlets and several newspaper articles, warning the whole town that the American "Pirates and Barbarians" were coming to town, and "To get all of the woman and children off the streets".
12/22/45 Fabulous Time! 13 days in Rio de Janeiro over the Christmas and New Year's festivities. Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches, bikinis, home cooked meals with beautiful girl friend and her family, dances, etc. Her brother was a midshipman on sail-training vessel moored in the harbor, and the family had a 5th floor condo overlooking Copacabana Beach. (Even her little 9 year old brother was learning English, French, and Algebra in his grade school.) I helped with some of his homework!
1/22/46 From lookout perch, spotted Falkland Islands in the distance, enroute to Cape Horn.
1/23/46 Rounded Cape Horn, (and became "Mossback" as well as "Shellback"). Later we turned back to cruise the Magellan Strait, back towards the east for awhile, before reversing course in the Strait to continue course to Talcahuano, the naval base just outside of Concepcion, Chile.
01/29/46 Anchored offshore at Naval Base, Concepcion. No liberty for crew. Reports of a major worker's strike ashore?
2/1/46 Moored stern to mole at Valparaiso. Great fishing by hand lines right here in harbor. Guys all catching dozens of good size fish, sometimes hauling in 3 fish at once. (3 hooks on each line, no bait needed. But with no one to cook them for us, we just tossed them down to the commercial fishermen in the dories, right there in the main harbor!) Very interesting, good liberty town , too. By the way, about our 4th day in that harbor, Capt. Miller went ashore in the gig, and when he caught sight of our hull, that was the immediate end of all fishing from our main deck. Our hull, both sides, was covered with scales, blood, slime, and guts from the thousands of good size bass that had been hauled aboard already! A large group of seamen, from the deck divisions, were ordered to scrub clean the entire hull, from Bosun chairs. I was carousing in a local pub that afternoon, and missed that detail!
Patterson's last 8 dates and items on this page, about Antofagasa and Iquique, Chile, and Lima, Peru, seem correct. And I could write pages on each of those most interesting, and unusual ports, but this could turn into an Steamship or Travel Agent commercial.
3/3/46. We got underway from Callao, passing live penguins standing on the jetty! (This was warm weather, and only about 12 degrees South Latitude!) Callao/Lima had been a very interesting port of call.
3/7/46 Anchored off Santa Elena, Equador. No liberty for crew ???
3/9/46 Underway from Santa Elena. Crossed Equator again. Cox'n Wm. Sullivan disciplined for trying to prevent an officer from shaving head of newly arrived Ensign who hadn't undergone usual initiation, because he'd be returning home soon. He tried to restrain the officer's arm. (Mortal Sin in Navy.)
3/11/46 Arrived in Balboa, Canal Zone. Great liberty. My petty officer's girlfriend, a stewardess, flew in with girlfriend, to visit him, and I was available, as copilot.
3'13/46 Transited Canal in same lock as small American LCI. Their dungaree-clad crew taunted our crew for having to wear whites and fall in, to salute each military post we passed.
3/15/46 More wild liberty in Cristobal/Colon, CZ. We were berthed 2 piers away from German cruiser Printz Eugene. I couldn't get permission to visit my cousin, who was a German sailor who had been in their crew. Later I learned that he had already been returned to Germany, from Phila. Navy Yard. My Uncle and Aunt, in N.J., as well as hundreds of blood relatives from the Philadelphia area, had all been invited aboard for visits to kinfolk. The Printz Eugene was en route to the Bikini A-Bomb Tests. (It is now an upside down wreck in shallow water, a scuba-divers hangout. I've seen their pictures.)
3/15/46 Underway for Cartagena, Colombia.
3/16/46 Docked at small pier in Cartagena. Colombian Navy treated a large group of us to an elaborate picnic, at old castle-like fortress, 10 miles offshore on swampy island. Some officers and enlisted men rode out with Colombian officers, on Patrol Boat and motor launch. Last 10 of us seamen rode out in a Motor whaleboat. About 1/2 way across, we started leaking and shipping water, and we all started bailing. When the crew of the Patrol Craft saw our plight, they returned and took 8 of the American sailors aboard. Me and another seaman were ordered to stay aboard and help the 2 Colombian crewmen bail and navigate towards the castle, still about 5 miles off. We got in about an hour late, but then had a great time at the party. We even saw large wild boars in the moat around the castle walls. (I still have some photos of the boats and the castle.) And years later, at home, we saw a Bob Hope comedy movie, about pirates, filmed in that same castle.
3/22/46 Left Cartagena for the States. Scheduled stop at "Gitmo" was probably canceled.
3/23/46 Our speed run to the states was interrupted by distress call. American LCI badly damaged by storm. Lost rudder, power, and both bow landing ramps, plus several injured crewmen. American tanker was standing by LCI. Our Captain took charge, ordering tanker to stand by until we arrived to take disabled LCI in tow.
3/22/46 You guessed it! As we approached the disabled LCI, it was the same guys who had taunted us during our canal transit. They had been under way towards Hampton Roads, from Panama, ever since they exited the canal on 3/13/46. A severe storm off Hatteras had really disabled them! Only 1 bosun was visible on there bow as we approached, to prepare to tow them. Fortunately for me, I happened to be on "Surface Aft, Lookout Duty" at the time, so I had a ringside view of the whole operation, and SP phones to broadcast the details, to my watch. The tanker had left as we took over, and the deck force readied the towline. The LCI was bobbing violently near us, and the single bosun was unable to retrieve any of the first 6 brass spikes we fired over his craft with line guns. The LCI was drifting very close to our port side, and suddenly a big wave toss the craft's bow into our port side with a loud crash. The man on the bow quickly reached up and grabbed a bight of our towline, which had already been flemished, (outboard of everything), all along our port side. He quickly looped 2 turns around his bow chocks, and the towline was secured! He should get a medal for heroism! Our deck crew quickly kicked overboard the rest of the long towline, as our ship increased revolutions, and turned towards Hampton Roads. We released the towline next day to a tugboat, inside of Hampton Roads, and then docked at NOB, Norfolk, on 3/24/46.
3/30/46 Anchored offshore near Norfolk, alongside the repair ship, "Briareus", AR 12.
3/31/46 Started 9 day leave at home, in Gloucester, NJ. (10 day leaves were scheduled, but LCI delay canceled that.) We are glad the whole crew of injured LCI men got "Survivor's Leave", (30 days), but the newspaper accounts of the whole incident gave the tugboat, that towed them in for the final 3 miles, credit for the whole rescue!
4/8/46 Returned from leave to find our ship "missing"?? The SP's finally located it for us by telephone. It had moved into Drydock at Portsmouth, Va. They gave each retuning crewman a nickel, a trolly transfer pass, and a local ferryboat pass, and wished us luck! We all found our own way back to the ship, through some rough, red-light district areas. Left drydock on 4/18/46
4/19/46 Underway for Trinidad!
4/30/46 After maneuvers with carriers Midway and FDR, plus other cruisers, and 1 afternoon beach party ashore at Scotland Bay, which included 4 cans of beer, swimming, eating coconuts picked by barefoot native tree climbers, but no girls, we returned to our ship. They told us that only the carriers were permitted to stop in at Port of Spain, as there weren't near enough SP's, local police, girls, or bars in the whole island to handle 10 more smaller ships at the same time!
5/4/46 Underway for "Gitmo" for 1 night layover. Left there 5/10/46.
5/12/46 Arrived back at PNY, Philadelphia
5/18/46 Left Ship for Receiving Station, PNY, and immediately was assigned as possible Strikebreaker on Railroad Co. Tugboat, for expected strike. When strike was canceled, I was immediately sent to Naval Aviation Supply Depot in North Philadelphia, to work there until there was room for me at the overcrowded discharge center in Bainbridge, MD. Talk about dream duty! Living at home on 100 bucks/mo extra "Quarters + Subsistence Pay", but paying carfare 5 days a week to job about 20 miles away. But get this workforce.....
Even though I'd already left the Little Rock, I want to tell you about my most unusual final Navy posting. As the discharge centers were all overcrowded, I had to serve about 7 more weeks until I could be processed for discharge. But after a year at sea, this was really different. The Naval Aviation Supply Depot was a huge complex of office workers, plus normal, and refrigerated warehouses, in North Philadelphia. It was about 20 miles from my home, by bus, subway and elevated rail lines, and finally 2 trolley car rides. (About an hour and a half each way, twice a day.) But I was home every night, and had Saturdays and Sundays off.) But check out my new crew!
An Admiral was in charge, with daily morning inspection, in whites, plus about 400 commissioned officers. Then there were about 50 of us enlisted sailors and about 50 enlisted, young Waves. We were out- numbered by civilian employees.
To handle the fork trucks and heavy lifting, there were about 50 black laborers, supervised by about 10 foremen. Finally, for typing and dictation, there were over 2000 girls, (95% under 30). Whistle while you work! After the girls typed up all the orders from bases and ships, all over the world, the enlisted sailors and Waves led forklift drivers up and down the warehouse aisles, just pointing out which boxes, bales, or parts, should be put on the pallet, as the particular order was collected, packed and shipped out. As I could type a little, I was put with the office girls, along with 2 or 3 yeoman strikers, also awaiting discharge. The office employees had a huge dining room, serving good full course meals every day, for lunch, at most reasonable prices. It was cheaper for me to buy a full hot meal every noontime, than even pack a sandwich.
There was open seating at the many 6 person tables, so we had our pick of lunch companions, almost a guaranteed date every night after work.
It was quite a hassle getting those 20 miles every morning, to arrive in time for captain's inspection, in clean whites, (plus Admiral's inspection every Friday), factoring in the crowded public transportation. I had more invitations and dates during that short period, than in any other year in my life. And I always thought that Rio de Janeiro was the hot spot of the world.
More Waves arrived during my 5th. week, and I had to surrender my desk to a real stenographer, and transfer to a refrigerated warehouse, where there were only about 4 girls to each man. We issued the soft Brown leather, fleece-lined flight suits, aerial and machine-gun camera film, and any other refrigerating-required supplies that the Navy needed. (Except food or medicine) I was finally sent to be Bainbridge, and discharged on 7/24/46. Then I hitchhiked home. As you must gather, I really enjoyed my brief Navy service!
- - - - - - - - - -
In a small collection of additional emails John Breslin amplified on his time back in the States after the South America cruise. Here is what he told us:
From John Breslin: 30 Jan 2011
I don't know if my old E-Mail typing machine still works correctly but I'll try to get off a reply to your recent E-Mail. (The screen is very dim and hazy, and it's hard to read what I'm typing.)
I had never heard anything about your experiences with a stage show, especially aboard the Little Rock! In what year was this? And were there ever Waves, or other female sailors aboard our ship while at sea?
As I probably told you already, I really enjoyed my time in the Navy and certainly (would have) reenlisted for a 4 year hitch or two, as they were offering me after the war, except it was financially impossible. As my very old father was laid off at the Camden shipyard where he worked throughout the war, and my mother was also in her late sixties, and my only 16 year old brother was still in high school, it was obvious that I had to accept a discharge and get a decent paying job.
As they knew I was awaiting my discharge, as the ship got ready to make it's next deployment, I was transferred to a shore job in North Philadelphia, at the Naval Aviation Center, until there was an opening at one of the Discharge Centers, to process me out of the Navy.
It was an office job, where I did paperwork alongside many men and women, as well as a few Navy Waves, which seemed to be brand new in the Navy about that time. It was a pleasant, easy job, with an hour and a half daily commute from my parent’s home in Gloucester, N.J.
The idea of working alongside lady sailors was most pleasant, and the formal dress inspection every morning at 0800, by a full captain, and an admiral on Friday mornings, (Tough Duty!), was most pleasant. Nearly all of these Waves boarded with private citizens in North Philadelphia, so there were many invitations for home cooked suppers.
But I digress.
As I said, I've never heard of Waves serving on the Little Rock, so I'm wondering if you were referring to all male groups of singers and dancers in the entertainment group you mentioned?
Speaking of strange, or intriguing meetings; Did I ever tell you about being stopped by a German Prisoner of war, in the Phila. Navy Yard? He noticed my name tag on my employee badge. (This was before I even joined the Navy.) I worked at the Navy Yard as a Rigger's helper from the day after I graduated high school, until the day I enlisted in the Navy, about 6 months later.
The German prisoners captured in Normandy were sent to various Navy yards in the States, (Plenty of security and available armed guards.)
Anyway, this guy stopped me as I was working on a crane there, and asked me, in guttural German, if my mother's maiden name might be Helen Henkel?
Turns out he was from her home town, and his mother had written to him when she heard he was held as a POW in Philadelphia. His mother and my mother were both from the same little town in Germany, and his mother had known that my mother had moved to Philly and married an Irishman named Breslin! Small world Indeed! In fact, less than a year after that, before we boarded the Little Rock for the first time, we were sleeping in the same bunks that these ex-German POWs had used while they were held there at the Navy Yard. They all had their German names still neatly painted on each headboard.
Well, Art, write again any time you have time. I sure do hope I'll be able to make at least one more reunion, but money is getting tighter all the time. I always enjoyed the reunions, and the visits aboard the ship at Buffalo. I'm not on the internet, so I don't understand those coded references you forwarded.
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From John Breslin: Jan 30 (#2)
My old "Mivo 100" model E-Mail typing machine must be wearing out, as the light seems to be much dimmer as I try to read what I'm typing.
Your most recent e-mail about the old "Little Rock" Singers and Dancers group really peaked my interest. I'd never heard anything about that before.
As you may know, I served for a short time on two smaller vessels before being assigned to the as yet un-commissioned "Little Rock". We boarded the "Rock" about a week before her commissioning. And I enjoyed every day of my career aboard her.
After our shakedown to "Gitmo", and blasting the tops off some mountains on Culebra Island, in the Caribbean Sea, we returned to Philly. The war ended in September as we were preparing to return to sea, so we lucked out and started our memorable South American Cruise! (I'm sure you've heard a lot of guy telling you about fun time!)
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From John Breslin: Jan 30, 2011 (#3)
Your E-Mail really caught my eye! I had never heard a word about anything concerning the 6th Fleet Band, or anything about group of entertainers that was formed on our old ship!
As you know, I was a "Plank Owner", in the original crew of the ship, boarding her about a week before her commissioning at the Phila. Navy Yard, where I had been working, as a Rigger's Helper, (age 17).
I left for Boot Camp on Jan. 2, 1945.
While awaiting the Little Rock's completion at Cramp's Shipyard in Philadelphia, I served on 2 smaller vessels, out of Norfolk and Newport News, VA. One was a small PC, about the size of a PT Boat, and the other was actually an old converted ex-Presidential Yacht! That was President "Teddy" Roosevelt's old 3 masted sailing Vessel, the "Mayflower"! That ship was converted to a steam ship, equipped with guns and radar, and fitted with a steel hull, but everything inside was still mostly real old-style wooden construction! We did receive a few guns and radar sets, and patrolled along the Atlantic Coast, until the Little Rock was completed and moved down the Delaware River to the Navy Yard.
Somewhere in my desks I still have an old photo of "Teddy Roosevelt" waving his hat to American warships as they pass before him in line at some old-time revue.
Anyway, after our Shakedown Cruise to "Gitmo", after the Little Rock's commissioning, we prepared for our great adventure. That was our memorable cruise, to sail completely around South America, visiting so many exciting cities and countries!
After returning to the states, the question of reenlisting for a full 4 year hitch came up. I was now 18 years old, and would have loved to reenlist. Both my mother and father were in their late sixties, and my younger 16 year old brother was still in high school.
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From John Breslin: Feb 06, 2011
Just got your e-mail this morning, after returning from our area mail box, where I deposited 3 checks to utility companies and a packet to you.
I just heard our first snowplow rumble past. We have about 2" on the ground already.
Aside from our original Shakedown Cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I have only 1 additional cruise to add to my tour of duty on the Little Rock. A short time after returning to Philly from South America, we set sail for an exercise with carriers and other warships down to Trinidad.
The packet I just mailed to you contains rather dark copies of a few photos I snapped in the harbor of Port of Spain, Trinidad, on April 30, 1946, of the USS Midway and the USS Portsmouth, in the harbor of Port of Spain. The original photos are 64 years old, and fairly clear, but don't copy very well. Plus I've lost several already at photo shops, who evidently sometimes contract their copy work out.
The third photo was taken on 3/21/46, off Cape Hatteras, NC' on our return from the Latin American cruise, from my forward lookout post. I still have almost 200 photos in my album of my Navy days, but they are rather fragile. Naturally they were nearly all developed 64 years ago, and in Latin American shops, too.
The workers who built the USS Little Rock used to pass the hat among themselves to make up a "Farewell Purse", which was presented to the original crewmen of new ships, to divide between the entire crew. I forget what the total amassed was, but my share alone was used to purchase 33 rolls of film that I used up on our Latin American cruise! (Our cameras were impounded during the wartime and only issued to us in port).
I also sent you a copy of the original map they gave us before our Latin
American cruise. I believe I did make a notation on that map, at #18, Cartagena: the word "Rescue". While berthed in port there, the Colombian Navy offered to transport a group of our crew to a picnic, at an old castle style fortress, on an offshore island, about 5 miles off their coast. A Colombian PT type boat was provided to take a few of our officers and some invited lady friends out to the fortress. And 3 or 4 smaller motor launches, manned by Colombian enlisted men, were to transport some of the American enlisted men and their girl friends, out to the fort.
Naturally, the PT type craft outdistanced us in a few minutes, and we continued at a slower pace. On our launch were the 2 Colombian sailors who spoke no English, 3 Americans who spoke no Spanish, and 3 young ladies who spoke only romantic words, in Spanish (!)
Just about halfway across, we sprung a serious leak, and all but the man at the tiller start started bailing, with our white hats, and 2 old tin cans. That's all we had. Then with still about 2 miles to go, the engine quit, and already about 4 inches of water in the bottom of the boat!
I noticed that the current was carrying us, sideways, out towards the open ocean instead of towards the fortress. Of course we had no phones or radios in those days. Fortunately, someone at the fortress noticed our our predicament and alerted the PT type craft which sped out to tow us in, while we continued to bail. I was a fair swimmer, but I had no idea if all the others could swim at all or not. It would be tough to swim even a short distance, with a girl hanging onto your neck the whole time.
Anyway, we all got to the picnic in good time, and had a great party. Then we got to ride back to the mainland, that evening, with our girls, on the PT type boat. The damaged launch was left at the fort, for their repairmen to fix. I'll close for now.
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Crafchun MM2 1962-1966
I went to Machinist Mate A school in Great Lakes after boot camp there. Would loved to have stayed there. Milwaukee was the best liberty ever.
I got orders for the Rock and went onboard in Sept. 62. She was in drydock in Norfolk, just after her Bay of Pigs picket duty. It seemed like most of the crew was either being discharged or transferred after Cuba, like a special experienced crew was thrown together just for that duty. The ship was like a ghost town.
The chief of the generator flats grabbed me as soon as I got past the OD. It seemed he was waiting for the first MM to come aboard. His name was Chief Pingrin and it was him and me, the crew for both generator flats. He made me draw both generator systems until I memorized them completely. I really felt like hot stuff though, because every new guy that came aboard, FN's MM3's and 2's, came to me an FA, to be taught the system. I was in B division because the generators are in the boiler rooms, so I got to know more guys in B and E division than M Division. I have to get my book out because I'm bad on names, but some that I remember the most are Bob Sansone, Ben Shulhan, Keith Felder, Ray Brown from generators, Monroe, Guthrie, Bianchini, McClasky, Bob Demers from B Div, and Bill Carpenter from E Div. We did 2 Med cruises about a year apiece, North Atlantic and several Caribbean cruises.
Memorable times were during a Med cruise. An electrician, can't remember his name although I knew him well, stood GQ duty on the fantail. He always complained that he wanted to get out of the Navy. He had a brainstorm during plane guard duty... he jumped overboard, knowing that the can behind us would pick him up. However, before anyone knew he went overboard, the plane guard line made an oblique turn and he wasn't picked up until a can that was about thirteen miles behind held a steady course and was contacted and picked him up.
On a Caribbean cruise a Chief, I think he was from E Div., jumped off of the 02 level going back to his girl friend, (who he had just met). I'm not sure but I think that was Jamaica
And the biggest fiasco was when we were coming back from a Med cruise in December, The story I got was there was a huge storm and the fleet took the Northern route to go around the storm but the Captain wanted to get back by Xmas and he went straight across through the storm. I think 80% of the crew lost their guts and did not eat for 5 days. I slept, went down to my watch, laid on the deck, was relieved by the next watch and went right to my rack until my next watch. There was a lot of damage to the ship. When we finally got back to Norfolk, friends from Granby St. said they were told the Rock had sunk.
I have a lot of pictures, once I dig them out. I try to send them in when I find out how to do. I'd like to hear from some of the guys if you are online.
Burnhan, OI Div, 1965-1967:
"Wow! After all these years, I find that someone took a picture of the near miss where the USS America (at least I remember it as the America) actually tapped the stern of the Little Rock. We had a BT (bathythermograph) boom which extended out from the stern. It can be seen in the photo. The carrier actually hit it and broke it. It was that close! As the officer in charge of that piece of equipment, I had to turn in a PMS report on the incident - "Boom bent and stanchions broken by the sudden application of a force beyond the rated carrying capacity of the equipment." I didn't mention what that force actually was."
Ed. Note: The near collision was with the USS Saratoga. See "Accidents and Collisions & Other Underway Hazards" page.
I was a crew member 1973 to 1975. I was on there when we relieved the Springfield. We left Newport RI, stopped in Spain, then to Gaeta. I served in the motor pool by the EM club.
My GQ station was the 6 inch.
Anyone who rode the old VW buses to and from the club at that time, I was probably driving it. I spent a lot of watches on the bridge helm and lee helm, also after steering. Also worked on liberty boat crews when we were anchored out. Walked out the side arm and climbed down the ladder to get in boat.
Lots of fun.
Add YOUR input to this page!! Here's how:A. Go to the Message Board at: http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/mb/kksears
B. Select the "So what did YOU do on the Little Rock" folder, and give us your memories...
1. Your name, rank and years aboard...
2. WHERE you worked... (area/space)
3. WHAT you did... (your specialty)
4. Your MEMORIES... (good, bad, or otherwise)
5. You SHIPMATES (Such as: who was your Div Officer, your LPO, your best buddy)
6. Would you DO IT AGAIN?
7. Etc. etc.