U.S.S. LITTLE ROCK Crew Member's
Oral History given by

Walter A. Nebiker - SN

Page last updated: 15 March, 2020

Old Salts

U.S.S. Little Rock Association

Interviewee:  Walter A. Nebiker

Interviewer:  Nicholas Perillo

Date: July 14, 2006

Interview Transcript:

PERILLO:    I'm Nicholas Perillo. I will be interviewing Walter A. Nebiker who served on the CL 92. We are at the 15th annual reunion of the USS Little Rock Association at the Sheraton Braintree Hotel in Braintree, Massachusetts. The date is July 14th, 2006.

The purpose of this interview is to get to know Walter and from his recollection learn more about life and duty as an enlisted man aboard the USS Little Rock CL 92 during his tenure of service from 1946 to 1947.

For background, Walter, please summarize your early life, your education, your work experiences, if any, before the Navy.

NEBIKER:     Okay. I was born in Passaic, New Jersey. I lived across the Passaic River in Garfield, New Jersey. I attended public schools and graduated from Garfield High School in June, 1946.  My father owned a small store; a place that sold a variety of things from newspapers and magazines to tobacco, ice cream, soda, candy and so forth, and he ran a post office substation. I worked on Saturday and Sunday mornings and delivered about 30 newspapers from his store daily. I also worked part time for much of my senior year as a janitor in a nearby ice cream factory.  We lived on a short street with relatives; my grandparents upstairs, uncles, aunts and cousins next door and across the street and other relatives across the street, my other relatives in town a few blocks away. We were essentially a blue collar family; one uncle a policeman and another worked in textile mills.

War was being waged during my formative years; the three years while I was in high school. While I attended high school I caught the school bus at my father's store, with the New York newspapers; the Daily News and Daily Mirror, always having headlines and the leading story about the war, so really the war was my major preoccupation during this time. Also I had first cousins in the service; two in the Navy, one on a destroyer in the Pacific; one cousin in the Army in the infantry and one who became a captain in the combat engineers in Europe. I also listened to the radio program about the Navy. My father and his brother served in World War I; my dad in the field artillery traveling through France in 1918.

PERILLO:    Walter, when and where did you join the Navy and briefly give us a description of your boot camp and any schools or assignments you had before reporting to the Rock.

NEBIKER:     Okay. I was 16 when the war ended but I joined the Navy at 17 immediately after graduating from high school in June, 1946. I believe that I took my physical and I was inducted in lower Manhattan, New York City, on July 10th. I went home for five days, then boarded the train at Newark, New Jersey and got off at Perryville, Maryland, then to Bainbridge for boot camp.

We were given our Navy uniforms, had our hair cut, and shuffled off to our barracks with my company, 4638; about 120 men on the second floor of the barracks at the edge of the camp overlooking a chain link fence and a field beyond. We wore Whites and cleaned our clothes in a washroom behind the barracks. We drilled outside and went to classes. I did mess cook duty for a week and stood guard. We marched to the boat landing along the Susquehanna River one day to row a whale boat. We stood in line for chow and to get shots in a large field that was hot and dusty. There was a canteen with ice cream not far away and we had other amusements such as boxing. One sailor from our company; Kelly, from Montclair, New Jersey, was one of the boxers. Also we had movies on occasion. We had two Company Commanders; Goldberg, a First Class Signalman, and Ford, a CPO, who to my understanding resembled Harrison Ford, a very nice and handsome man. We also attended classes. There was no leave or liberty; we had boot camp leave in late September.

PERILLO:    When and where did you report to the Little Rock?

NEBIKER:     This is the Wilkes-Barre.

PERILLO:    Oh, okay. Say it, "I went to the Wilkes-Barre".

NEBIKER:     Okay.

When we completed Bainbridge, I asked to serve on a cruiser and I was granted my request. So a number of us were put on a train and we made what seemed like a very long trip north to Newport, Rhode Island where we boarded the USS Wilkes-Barre (CL-103). After a short time in Newport we steamed to New Orleans for Navy Day, going up the Mississippi River. We spent a few enjoyable days there, had plenty of liberty and went to a football game.

Next we spent several weeks training in Cuba, based at Guantanamo Bay. A pleasant place; swimming, drinking Hotuey beer, and took a short walk into the hills.
But there was an unpleasant experience. I was then in the Radar Division and in charge of the mid-watch on the upper bridge. We had bologna sandwiches and evidently the men left the rinds on the decks so I was put on report by the Captain Rutledge Tompkins, himself, I believe. I faced a Captain's Mast where he gave me 50 hours extra duty while we were in Cuba.

We were back to the States at a shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia for some upkeep, then we steamed across the Atlantic to Plymouth, England, our homeport, and I visited a number of ports for about a week each; a goodwill cruise with little training.

I was transferred from the Radar Division to a deck division, the 4th. In a way I appreciated this more as the Radarmen were in an interior confined space while a deck seaman, or deck ape, had the experience of enjoying a variety of activities and being topside while we were entering and leaving ports, enjoying the scenery, especially the Scheldt River to Antwerp, the Clyde River to Glasgow and the fjord to Bergen, Norway. We also enjoyed trips to London and Paris. This was an interesting experience for me and I had to find my own way. I had taken an old box camera and took pictures of all these places, and then years later I put them into a three-ring binder which I enjoy to this day.

My duties were rather mundane; chipping paint and occasionally holy-stoning. My battle station was in a twin 5"-38 gun. I was a hot caseman, a hairy job. When the guns elevated enough I was supposed to catch the hot case and manually eject it to an opening onto the deck but I don't think that ever happened. We did not fire very much. I also stood watch in port serving on the quarterdeck as a messenger or whatever and at sea as the JV4 phone talker where the engine room would ask if they could blow tubes every so often. Both watches required standing for four hours or more and required wearing headphones while on the bridge. Not a very pleasant experience.

I was on bridge watch while we crossed the English Channel, while Admiral Connolly was there, and we passed a number of sunken ships, all of their masts protruding above the water on the Continental side. The captain got angry whenever another ship approached us and muttered words.

PERILLO:    Okay. Well, thank you for bringing that in for the Wilkes-Barre. Now get to the Little Rock. When and where did you report to the Little Rock?

NEBIKER:     At this time Newport was the place for cruisers and I and a large number of my fellow crewmen were transferred to the Little Rock moored near the Jamestown, Rhode Island shore. I believe it was July 3rd, 1947, including Joe Molinaro who is also being interviewed. It was in Newport on one of the ships that a boatswain's mate first class was killed while we were mooring; his head caught between our mooring chain and the ship and crushed. A real tragedy while I was aboard.

PERILLO:    What was your initial impression of the Little Rock, especially after serving on the Wilkes-Barre and you went over and transferred onto the Little Rock? What was your first impression of the Rock?

NEBIKER:     Well, being in the 4th Division on my new ship, our quarters were in the same place on the port side, accessible through a hatch near one of the rear 6" guns. I may have had the same locker, next to the hatch leading to the CPO mess hall, so I felt right at home. We fit in quite well.

PERILLO:    Well what were the division and department assignments; watch stations and battle stations that you were assigned?

NEBIKER:     My jobs here were typical of those of a deck seaman as I had done on the Wilkes-Barre, as were my watches. We were part of the mooring crews; handling lines and tying up at various wharfs. I distinctly remember doing this in Venice.

We were also involved in refueling, on one occasion transferring oil from a Navy tanker on my 19th birthday. I was also part of the boat crew for Motor Whaleboat Number 2, serving as the bow hook. And I served on liberty boats; 40 and 50 footers, when we were moored out of Newport, mostly.

On several occasions while we were anchored off Newport I remember being on the motor launches during rough weather in winter, and spray came over and we had icicles hanging down from our flat hats.

When the Marines went off the ship for a week to do some training on land, some sailors were chosen to replace them. I was a replacement and several times served as the Executive Officer's and Captain's orderly, packing a 45 pistol and following these officers all around the ship. I also stood guard while we were manning the brig, a task I did not enjoy.

My work stations were the same on both ships but on the Little Rock I was assigned to the upper handling room of Turret Number 5 below the main deck. My job was to take powder cases stored here and put them on the machine that conveyed them up to the turret.  I don't remember doing much of that.

PERILLO:    Well can you describe some of the ship's cruises and operations while you were aboard?

NEBIKER:     A few days ago a man named Gayland Patterson who served aboard the Wilkes-Barre and the Little Rock, published a short account of all the Little Rock's doings on an almost daily basis, covering the ships activities from 1945 until 1949. My information is from this manuscript which lists our operations.

Beginning on 22 July, 1947, we were underway for Guantanamo Bay arriving there in August.  Among the various drills were shore bombardment, mustard gas attack and other drills, simulated bomb attack, refueling, transferring stretchers and an anti-submarine course. We were alternately underway and anchored. We bombed Culebra  Island, including a night shore bombardment with 5" guns.

We went back to Narragansett Bay, then south to Norfolk where we were underway on and off, doing short-range battle practice. En route to Europe we did general quarters and surface exercises and refueled two destroyers.

Another source of information was the Plan of The Day I saved for 13 January 1948, my 19th birthday. It includes an outline of refueling with AO-109, anti-aircraft practice with drones, and a note on launching one of our Sea Hawk aircraft. In March we did a highline transfer with the Providence. Pictures that Bill Grant and I have show some of the operations.

PERILLO:    Walter, can you describe some of your interesting ports of call?

NEBIKER:     Our most interesting ports of call were seen on the Mediterranean cruise in 1947 and '48. All the ports visited were interesting and different and almost all enjoyable.

We were underway for Europe on November 10th, 1947.  We arrived in  Gibraltar on the 20th and were moored in the harbor along with many other warships. We stayed in the town, walking around, which would be my main enjoyment in all the ports. I remember going to a nightclub, drank a lot and particularly enjoyed the Spanish dancers with castenets. I recall returning to the ship dead drunk and never more did I drink as much.

I bought a new camera; a folding camera, an upgrade from my old box camera. This camera folded and was much easier to carry and took better pictures. I used it to photograph activities, events, places and my fellow crewmen. Today they provide wonderful recollections of the trip. I don't remember much of what I didn't photograph.

Cruising along the northern coast of Africa we made a short stop at Bone, Algeria. I did not go ashore here. Our fleet companions were the aircraft carrier Midway (CVE-41), the light cruisers Providence and Portsmouth, and several destroyers. We were the nucleus of the 6th Fleet, the second unit of this fleet to cruise the Mediterranean.

On December 3rd we moored in Naples to be our homeport. As I recall it was not a pleasant city. I have a Plan of The Day that included regulations for the Naples area informing us of all the do's and don'ts, the currency, black market, local authorities, out of bounds areas, food, water and liquor, old hags wagging their tongues and men offering switchblade knifes. We went into the off-limits area I believe and I went to a house and saw their toilet; simply a hole in the floor over which one squatted. We sold cigarettes purchased on the ship for seven cents a pack but we were ripped off by the shysters who gave us our money from a large wad of bills and we were always shortchanged.

We had several bad experiences with bum boats that came up alongside the ship bartering goods. I remember one of those men had a pistol and there was an altercation between one of the men on the boat and one of the men on deck who threw something, injuring the Italian. I believe it was a marlin spike or some other nasty object.

From Naples we took two trips, both highly interesting. Across the bay is Pompeii under Mount Vesuvius; Pompeii at the ruins of the city. I remember being on a tour where the guide had opened up some boxes on the walls containing erotic paintings; men with enormous penises. We also went to the beautiful isle of Capri perhaps on the same trip. We toured the island in an old open car and also took a boat ride into the Blue Grotto.

On 10 December we were at berth in Malta with the Providence and Portsmouth, then back to Naples for a week, then left for Piraeus, Greece where we moored stern to; the Mediterranean style of mooring.

We had a tour of the Acropolis in Athens and I remember walking the perimeter of the Piraeus peninsula. While we were there the waterfront street was lined by two rows of sailors. Ambulances drove by transporting fighters from the area to the north where the Greek government was fighting a Communist takeover by force. Because of the conflict and threat of Communist gain, the Midway and the three cruisers carried a number of land-based Marines ready to land them if necessary. They also had live ammunition stored for use such as in the gun tubs of the 40-millimeter guns. We were here for about two weeks and anchored in Augusta Bay under Mount Etna and conducted operations.

Valletta, Malta was our next port of call. We were here with the Midway and Providence and the two destroyers. A newspaper article in the Sunday Times of Malta wrote up our visit - nice publicity. I remember touring the island, one of the most heavily bombed places in World War II.

We next visited Taranto, Italy for several days. No recollection here but a paper from my souvenir shop and a nice photo from a picture studio.

Into the Adriatic Sea where we spotted a mine on the surface and the Marines shot at it with rifles and it sank but did not explode.

We moored at the waterfront in Venice.  I took several pictures of the area where we were in Saint Mark's Square where a number of friends and I walked about.

Next we stopped at Trieste, a turbulent place at the beginning of the Cold War. It was occupied by 5,000 troops in the Allied powers and 5,000 Russians. Jeeps out on the streets had bars erected in front to break any wire that might have been stretched in their path. We had armed sentries on the ship. I was one, stationed on the fantail with a carbine, a clip in my belt, and orders not to shoot without the OOD's permission. Andy Pecora, who was in the interview before me, said that we were there only two days because the Russians complained that we exceeded the number of troops there; only 5,000 allowed. This incident on our visit was in an editorial in the New York Daily News I believe; a picture of my friends and me drinking beer in the Sugar Bowl.

From here, or Venice, we had a short vacation in Cortina. The weather was lovely, the scenery beautiful; red limestone formations sitting behind the town were stunning, with blue  skies, and bright white snow. We skied and ice-skated and enjoyed just walking around. I took pictures and two of my best friends; Joe Boyle and Bill Grant and I were photographed. The three of us were photographed together in Buffalo in 1995. The food was very good in a pleasant dining room. There were real plates and dishes and a room to ourselves with a bed; the lap of luxury after our crowded quarters aboard ship.

Then we headed home. Bizerte,Tunisia, in late February,. another Plan of The Day contained information concerning the native customs of the Muslims.  It had a long list of don'ts from A to Z . This order was written by Executive Officer, Commander C.S. Hutchings.  I took a number of pictures of this place which I described as a dusty or dirty place. I had supper ashore; a steak as tough as leather.

At Tangiers, perhaps the most exotic place visited. I was really getting into the hang of taking pictures by now. From my original notes; narrow winding streets, real women walking about, a large number of prostitutes standing or sitting in bar-ways and on window sills, and an erotic show featuring two women. I think that I was embarrassed.

We made the short run across the StraitS of Gibraltar to Gibraltar, refueled and headed for home arriving in Newport on 11 March 1948.

This trip, plus the one to Northern Europe aboard the Wilkes-Barre, made me very aware of geography - seeing places. And I took pictures and sent postcards to my sister from many places; Gibraltar, Naples, Athens, Cortina, Bizerte and Tangiers. These pictures and other postcards that I found were put into my three-ring binder.

Back in the United States we made three shorter cruises, two of them carrying Reservists. In April we went to Port-a-Prince Haiti. A picture of bum boats and a post card sent. I said that it was easily the filthiest and poorest place I saw in all my travels. We had liberty in a place that had a pool. We went swimming off the ship anchored out, jumping off the foc'sle with Marines standing by with rifles to fend off or kill any sharks that might show up.

In May another Reserve cruise went to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I took a picture, bought a postcard, visited El Morro Castle, walked about the city and visited the PX at a naval air station where I bought a Parker pen.

My last trip was to Marblehead, Massachusetts in the spring. I remember only a very crowded harbor. We returned to Newport via the Cape Cod Canal. Many years later I found and bought a postcard of us in the canal; a picture commonly seen today. I was on the ship then. I got off the ship just before the ship's trip to Quebec City.

PERILLO:    Walt, could you describe the living conditions on the Little Rock; quality of the food, some of the ship's services like a barber shop or an ice cream parlor or something?

NEBIKER:     The quality of food was good. I ate everything, even SOS, although the mess tables were a little precarious and fell occasionally. We went to the mess hall for a hot chocolate taken from a large metal container before going topside to strip down the decks before breakfast.

There were times when I visited the ice cream store. It was enjoyable but a different kind of ice cream than I was used to.

For recreation, we went ashore at times to play ball, and there were movies every night and I was always there.

PERILLO:    Walter, tell me something about some of your close buddies. I know you've mentioned some of the names in here. Can you tell us who your close buddies were and some of the colorful characters that were among your shipmates?

NEBIKER:     A number of 4th Division men were my closest friends. We enjoyed each other's company while working, serving on boats together, at battle stations and then on liberty. I have pictures of a lot of these things. A small group of us used to shoot the bull at a 5" mount, a picture of some of us doing this; William Miller, Don Garret, J.P. Gay, Norman Michaud, Don McGrail, and my closest friend Bob Brush. In 2005 or 2006 I contacted Norman and Don. Both had no recollection of the Navy days but I sent them pictures and only Don responded. The most interesting character was Wahoo, or Leuwellen Waubunsee, an Indian and a BM1, I believe. He is in one of my pictures. I know nothing about him. I was also very friendly with Joe Boyle who was on both ships with me and attended reunions of the Wilkes-Barre and Little Rock with me.

PERILLO:    Walt, can you recall any moments of great shock, fear, or excitement, or special incidents that occurred on the Rock?

NEBIKER:     Well I can't think of any moments of fear, shock or excitement but there were special incidents. We encountered a storm at sea going to Europe in November 1947. I have pictures of large waves, some of them crashing over the bow. I remember rolling quite a bit, at least 32 degrees, and, I think I remember the inclinometer going to 40 degrees. I believe that we sustained some damage to a motorboat on the fantail.

On 31 October while mooring to a buoy in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, Boatswain's Mate First D. H. Butler's head was caught between the anchor chain and the ship and crushed. We were all saddened by this event.

We launched one of our Sea Hawk aircraft in March 1948. It crashed and we went to retrieve it.  The pilot, Ensign Logan, was standing on the pontoon and we retrieved him but we couldn't retrieve the plane, which Marines shot with rifles and it sank.
The State of Maine was afire in October 1947. We went to Boston for Navy Day but left soon after and moored in Portland, Maine where some men were sent inland as a fire party to Hollis Center and Kezar Falls. We drove around and saw some areas with the woods ablaze. We were given Indian pumps which we strapped to our backs and walked around some smoldering woods but did not actually fight fires. I slept in a barn on a large piece of cardboard. Our ship was mentioned in a book on this fire.

At Guantanamo Bay, August 7th, 1948, we felt a small tremor as an earthquake struck the bay.

PERILLO:    Well when and where did you detach from the Little Rock?

NEBIKER:     I left the ship in Newport, Rhode Island in early July and I was discharged in 1948 on July 23.

PERILLO:    Well what was your overall impression of the Little Rock?

NEBIKER:     A good, worthwhile experience but somehow not totally or completely satisfactory as I did not reenlist. With no prospects for employment in civilian life, I joined the V-6 Inactive Reserves. Nothing involved but if anything happened I was ensured of returning to the Navy.

PERILLO:    What civilian jobs did you return to after the Navy and briefly describe your career that you pursued.

NEBIKER:     A few months after my discharge I attended Merchant Marine School at Sheepshead Bay for four weeks. I enjoyed the school very much, got 100's on my exams for all four weeks, and this of course having a very positive influence on my life.

I received an Able Bodied Seaman's ticket and I hoped to sign up aboard a merchant ship but the country was not in a productive state so I couldn't find an assignment. But a stroke of luck; I received an application from ACUNY; the Associated Colleges of Upper New York. And with the blessings of our high school guidance counselor I was accepted on trial. I chose Champlain College in Plattsburg, New York.

I had finished high school in the bottom ten percent of my class. I had a poor image of what college would be like; highly intellectual in reading, highly intellectual difficult books, people all dressed in fancy clothes, suits, etc., books hard to read. But the men attending - and it was about 99 percent male students - who were mostly veterans and we all had something in common and took school seriously with no frivolity.

I studied, got a "B" average in my freshman year and read in the New York Times that Rutgers University was starting a major in geography. So I applied there and was accepted. I started in 1950 and graduated with a BS degree in 1953.

I married while in school. The Korean War was on and the Navy recalled a lot of Reservists, including myself. But a man came offering a Naval Reserve Officer Training program so I joined as this would take precedence over my going back on active duty. As it turned out my orders to report were cancelled. Apparently the Navy had recalled too many men but I was committed to going to ROC school, which I did, both times in California; six weeks at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay in 1951 and six weeks at Terminal Island in Long Beach. I was commissioned as an ensign in mid-August 1953 about three weeks after the shooting war ended.

Like World War II, I went into the Navy after the shooting stopped but a peace treaty had not been signed so I became a veteran of both wars and got a Victory Medal for each.

I was assigned to AGS-17 Pursuit, a survey ship which had served in World War II as a minesweeper (AM-109) with a war record at Tarawa and other actions in the Pacific. I was the Hydrographic Officer initially, and then became the Stores Officer. We spent about four months in the Bahamas and about four months in the Mediterranean based in Iskenderun, Turkey at the very eastern end of that sea.

There was a big difference between being an enlisted man and being an officer. The cruises were disciplined and efficiently run, the survey ship loosely structured - a casual existence. Being an officer was radically different. We had a wardroom and meals on plates. I stood watch as Officer of the Deck on the ship while we were in port and on the bridge while underway; usually four on and eight off. I had my own stateroom with a bed, sink, large closet and desk. Ashore we enjoyed visiting officers' clubs; one very nice one overlooking Guantanamo Bay, and a nice one in Norfolk, VA.

I was very friendly with some of my fellow officers and I still correspond with Richard Phelps more than 50 years since I first met him. But I intensely disliked my Executive Officer, later the Captain, who was a bit feminine, an ex-Arthur Murray dancing instructor. He and I never got along. He denied me permission to go home from Newport to visit my wife and child in New Jersey just before we went overseas, so I went AWOL. Actually I made a request to extend my liberty but he refused me. This experience exacerbated my unpleasant relationship with the Captain.

We experienced two storms; one upon leaving Norfolk for Europe in 1954. I was so sick I was eventually just throwing up the bile; everything solid gone, yet I stood my watches on the bridge.

I was friendly with the enlisted men including two radiomen whom I once took with me into the Officer's Club in Norfolk.

During a prolonged storm returning from Europe I played pinochle with enlisted men amidships, the best place on the ship during a storm; the least pitching and rolling.
I was not a good officer. I did not have the technical knowledge to do survey work and little knowledge of stores. My petty officer; Baker, did everything for me. In the Bahamas I was in two motor whaleboats that struck coral heads that put holes in the boats almost sinking them. I put a Chief Boatswain's Mate on report for trying to bring alcohol aboard the ship but the Captain dismissed this. I didn't enjoy my service at this time because I had a family; a wife and a child, and was away from them too much. But I did enjoy my travels and visits to different places in the Bahamas and in the Mediterranean, and have fond memories of both these two cruises.

PERILLO:    Well what civilian jobs did you return to after the Navy?

NEBIKER:     After my second tour of duty I returned to college on a different GI Bill than I experienced on the first one; McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I took classes for a year, did a Master's thesis, then got my MSc in geography in 1957.

I taught school for a semester in Garfield, New Jersey; 6th, 7th and 8th grade science and health, and then worked for two and a half years as a map editor for C.S. Hammond Company in Maplewood, New Jersey.

We lived in Warwick, New York; my wife and three children, where I taught 6th grade and 9th grade social studies for six years and served on the town planning board.

I then accepted a teaching position at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island, teaching geography and secondary social studies education.

My family; wife and three children, bought an old house in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. I attended Boston University almost attaining a PhD but I dropped out.

Living in North Smithfield for about ten years I founded and was first president of the North Smithfield Heritage Association. I bicycled across the USA in 1975 to help fund the book I wrote: "The History of North Smithfield", published in 1976. I was also on the zoning board of review for five years.

While in North Smithfield I left Rhode Island College and started working for the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission.

I was active in the Woonsocket Fine Arts Association where I met a young woman, left my wife, and we lived together; first in Woonsocket and then we bought a house in Warren, Rhode Island. We married and adopted two boys from Brazil. In Warren I helped found and was the first President of the Warren Preservation Society. Several years ago I served on the Executive Board and am now Vice President. I also served on a committee to establish an historic district but we did not succeed. I have written a maritime history of Warren and the whaling history of Warren. Warren was the leading whaling port of Rhode Island for about 40 years. In 1997 the town published the 250th anniversary book of Warren. I was the major contributor.

I divorced my second wife in 1991 and retired from my job in 1994. Soon after I met another woman, Dorothy O'Neil. I moved in with her and now live in her house in rural Warren. We are involved with the local senior center; playing cards, taking trips and doing other things with her.

PERILLO:    Walt, how long have you been a member of the Little Rock Association and how many reunions have you attended and what have they meant to you?

NEBIKER:     Since the early 1990s I have attended reunions of the three ships I served on. The first perhaps was the USS Wilkes-Barre and I may have done about a half dozen of these. Most of these ex-sailors served on the ship during World War II when the ship had a distinguished record. My companion and I are friendly with the former shipmate, Stanley Dzadiowicz and his companion. I went to only two Little Rock reunions, including the 50th anniversary reunion held at Buffalo in 1995 where I met and spent time with two of my buddies; Joe Boyle and Ralph Grant. I visited Ralph several times at his home in Minnesota but he died a few years ago. Joe and I served together on both the Little Rock and the Wilkes-Barre for about two years. I attended two of USS Pursuit's reunions where I met Ralph Baker with whom I have lost contact but I still correspond annually at Christmas with fellow Pursuit officer Richard Phelps.

PERILLO:    And finally, can you give us some thought and observations of your life on the Little Rock and anything you would like to add to this interview?

NEBIKER:     My time in service was an important part of my life; a time when I was transformed from an adolescent into a young man.

I enjoyed the travel experiences and in meeting all the young men, mostly of my age and recent high school graduates. And I was accepted as a competent seaman. I scored well on the First Class Seaman's test and was promoted to that rank, so I left the Navy with pride and confidence, which I am sure influenced me the rest of my life.

Today I can respect and appreciate my service time with legacies of the Navy; men and ships, and my binders with pictures and text help make it come alive again.

Old age has caught up with me and has put limits on what I can do but I still proudly remember my Navy days when I was alive, alert and vital, and looking at my past service days, keep my mind in a nostalgic, very pleasant sort of mind.

PERILLO:    Thank you so much Walt

This ends the interview with Walter A. Nebiker and I personally want to thank you Walt for bringing back these memories to me for your tour on the Little Rock. I was there at the same time and I had forgotten so many of these and you've brought them to my mind again; very pleasant memories. And I feel the way you do.

The years that I served on the Little Rock and in the Navy has, without a doubt, made me a better man for the rest of my life and my family, and my children and my grandchildren, and now I have my great grandchildren. And I thank you because they're going to be reading this someday and they're going to say, "Ah hah, that was my grandpa. He was the interviewer", and I thank you so much and thank you for coming, and I know the Little Rock thanks you.

NEBIKER:     You're welcome. I enjoyed putting it together and it brought back many, many happy memories. Thank you.

PERILLO:    Thank you Walt.

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