U.S.S. Little Rock Association
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interview comments by Andrew F. “Andy” Pecora S2/C who served on CL 92.
We are at the 13th Annual Reunion of the USS Little Rock Association at the Drawbridge Inn in Ft. Mitchell, KY. The date is 14 July 2004. The purpose of this interview is to learn about life and duty aboard USS LITTLE ROCK CL 92 during its short period of service 1945-49, through the recollections of Andy Pecora
Q: When, where and why did you join the Navy?
Andy: I joined the Navy two weeks after graduating from High School June 1946. My main reason for joining was to be able to get a college education under the GI bill after completing my enlisted commitment.
Q: When and where did you report to USS Little Rock?
Andy: I reported aboard the USS Little Rock CL 92 in October 1946 and departed the ship in June 1948; it was the only ship I served on. It took 11 hours to travel on a troop train from Bainbridge Maryland to Norfolk Virginia where the ship was.
Q: What was your initial impression of the ship?
Andy: It was huge a ship when I first saw it, arrived early in the evening between 2100 and 2200 took any bunk that was available and was assigned to a division in the morning.
Q: What was your division assignment, job, and watch station, battle station?
Andy: I was assigned to the “I: Division, the ship had two radars, a ground and air search (I Division is the same as OI Div on CLG 4.) For GQ I was on the 5” gun mount director. Ship’s complement was about 900 men while I was onboard. Full complement was 1100 men.
Q: Describe the ship's employment and operations while you were aboard?
Andy: We stood “4 on and 8 off” watches at general surface or air radar watch while operating in US waters from Maine to South Carolina and in the Mediterranean from November 1947 to March 1948 and then entered the Brooklyn Navy Yard, dry dock.
Q: How about interesting ports of call?
Andy: The ship visited many interesting ports. I enjoyed them all. Since my background is second-generation Italian American, enjoyed visits to Italy. Had relatives in a town called Nola about 18 kilometers outside of Naples Italy but was not allowed to visit with them because I did not know their street address.
Q: Describe living conditions on the ship and the quality of ship's chow.
Andy: Conditions were good, always had a clean bed to sleep in and always had a good meal aboard ship. I did keep whole Genoa Salami in my locker in the event I didn't like the chow or wanted something different.
Q: Tell about some of your close buddies colorful shipmates.
Andy: Had a few of them, one from McKeesport, Pennsylvania and one from Boston Massachusetts. The fellows in my own division, in the "I" division, were friendly, but I spent most of my liberties with men from other divisions. There was one fellow George Miller from New York who wanted to be a gambler and or a bookie. He would bet on cockroaches if he could get you to bet with him. He would enjoy trying to get you to bet your money on something he would propose. There was a second-class petty officer in my division who was a fabulous card player. He could beat everybody and won all kinds of money playing cards.
Q: Can you recall any moments of great shock, fear, and excitement?
During our Mediterranean Cruise, we went to an international port in Italy called Trieste, we stayed there only two days because the Russians complained that with our crew we exceeded that number of troops allowed in the area, we had to leave. The international agreement allowed only five thousand troops from each country in that area so we had to leave.
Q: Do you remember your skipper, executive officer or other leaders in your chain of command?
Andy: I remember two commanding Officers, Captain Smith-Hutton and Captain Mee, don’t recall who the executive officer was.
During my tour we went above the Arctic Circle and were issued foul-weather gear and somehow or other I lost two dollars and forty cents worth of foul-weather gear. When I lost the foul weather gear, I was NOT allowed to pay for them. I had to do the 10 hours extra duty. At Captain's mast, I said to the captain " I will gladly pay. The captain replied the way I knock out all the guys on the fantail, I should do it in NO time! I never knew he ever saw me fight. I became the coach of the ship's boxing team and even played on the baseball team.
Q: When and where did you detach from the ROCK?
Andy: June 1948 discharged from the Navy at the Receiving Station in the Fargo Building, Boston Massachusetts.
Additional Comments by Andy:
At 16 years old 1945, I won the golden Gloves in the 112 lb. division as well as the New Jersey State Champion. While aboard, I fought a number of times and was never defeated. About March of 1948, I received Orders to report to Annapolis to try out for the Naval boxing team for the 1948 Olympics. Since my enlisted was up in July of 1948, I went to the Executive Officer explaining my situation. He told me if I wished to go to Annapolis, I must re-up. Having already being accepted in college, I gave him my orders and never went to try out. BIG MISTAKE on my part. I should have reported as my orders indicated and who knows what may have resulted.
Q: What was your overall impression of your tour on the ship?
Andy: I enjoyed my time on board the Little Rock. Learned a lot, saw, was a good ship, good people, good Officers
Q: How long have you been a member of the USS LITTLE ROCK Association; how many reunions have you attended?
Andy: All but two
Q: Tell me what these reunions mean to you.
Andy: Really enjoy the reunions, made all but the first two.
Q: What civilian job did you return to after the Navy? What career did you pursue?
Andy: After being discharged on July 1948, I entered Seton Hall University in September 1948. Received my B.S. in Health, Physical Education and Recreation in 1952. Received my M.A. in administration and supervision of elementary education in 1956. I taught in Newark, N.J. from 1952 until 1990. I received an elementary endorsement to teach the elementary grades and was a fifth grade teacher until 1957. I passed the requirement to teach Physical Education and was a P.E. teacher until 1975, when I became an administrator of elementary education serving as a vice principal and principal from which I retired in 1990.
I was a president of the Advisory Board of the Boys Clubs' of Newark (Broadway Unit).
I was an active official in baseball, softball, basketball, football and volleyball. Serving as president in all but basketball and volleyball. In 1963 I was invited by the Far East Command to teach servicemen in Hawaii, Okinawa, Japan, and Korea on rules and umpiring techniques.
I was inducted in several Halls of Fame during my officiating career.
1. The Amateur Softball Association (Metro-Newark) Chapter
2. The National Federation Association of Football Officials (Essex County Chapter)
3. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has awarded me as well for my services as an official in New Jersey.
- - - - - End - - - - -