Saturday, June 4, 2011


The Gulf of Tonkin "incident". - click
  I most remember 1964 for the incident involving the USS Maddox (Gulf of Tonkin) even though it happened pretty late in the year.  The First Marine Aircraft Wing was based in Japan and Hawaii, they were "called up" immediately after that incident.  The supply depot where I worked had pre-stocked items they would need, plus one of the units (squadrons) found out the oxygen systems in some of their planes were contaminated, the needed Nitrogen to purge those systems.  We had some nitrogen but still needed more, after calling ships in port we found enough in stock on board the USS Piedmont, a Destroyer Tender repair ship.  I checked out a five-ton flatbed truck, an International with only 400 miles on the odometer, nice.  I was parked on the pier and the storekeepers on the Piedmont were lowering a pallet loaded with 12 bottles of nitrogen to my truck using the ships crane.  Either the cable snapped, or the wood gave way under the weight of the load, anyway as a result the whole pallet dropped the remaining fifty feet right on top of the cab of that new truck! Squashed would be an appropriate term!  I was not in the truck, it's not allowed because something like this could "possibly" happen.  I called for another truck, the Military Police, and went back to my command.  It was an accident and no action was taken for or against anyone.  During the time we were deploying that air wing we had worked 96 hours straight, we were treated to a good meal, a good sleep and a day off, the exercise had involved all military personnel, there were a lot of us.  We had not only storekeepers but hospital corpsmen (2), yeoman (1), journalist (1), seabee equipment operators and steel workers (for heavy lifting or moving), we all worked together and got the job done.
  Other than that it was a pretty routine, for me, year; not a lot of trouble, just worked and played.  There were no arrests!  I had a few months left in Japan at the end of the year.
  One more thing I remember is that a good friend, now aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, a carrier, had arrived in port he said "those Beatles sure are hot right now", I didn't know who the Beatles were, I did soon after.
  Early in the year there was a British carrier in port, HMS Victory and two of us were assigned to help them "overhaul supply" to comply with NATO instructions, which had adopted the US system of part and stock numbers, it's not complicated.  They were quite a crew, very entertaining and they had rum in the afternoon!  We were done in 10 days and they got underway for Southeast Asia.  Another experience that not many people have had; chalk one up for the geezer!
USS Piedmont AD17

Aircraft of the First Marine Air Wing used during the Vietnam War

It was all news to me! The Beatles

Friday, June 3, 2011


A new home
  A new home indeed, in March I arrived, after a really long flight, in Japan.  The country was different, the work familiar.  The flight began at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento California.  I even got a job on the flight, to partner with an un-accompanied 10 year old boy, his mother and 3 other children were on the same flight.  It was what we would call "old technology" at piston engine C118.  We had stops in Hawaii and Wake Island, total flight time almost eighteen hours!  On the way back it only took nine and a half in an airforce KC135 tanker.
  I was assigned to the Naval Supply Depot at the Naval Base in Yokosuka, it's a very large base with a lot of activity.  My job was in the Technical Library, it was our job to find the right numbers so our "customer" could order the right part.  I was an Aviation Storekeeper but that didn't matter, we did all parts, food mixers to torpedo tubes, and Fruit fly Larvae to jet engines.  Most request were fairly mundane and normal, a gear for mangle, or piston rings for diesel engines, we were busy, three military and six Japanese civilians.
  At lunch time we played roof tennis on the buildings roof and got some exercise, and a night every week three of us went to teach English to the good men at Mitsubishi Manufacturing, at that plant they made electrical parts.  The materials were supplied by Readers Digest, and we spent out time just following the lesson plan, then teachers and students went out for beer.  At the end of each year the students would put on a play; it was a lot of fun watching grown Japanese men playing Goldilocks and the Three Bears!
  I got to travel some too, Gene and Dorothy Rice were in Iwakuni, at the Marine Corps Air Station near Hiroshima, it was quite a distance, I took a train but the citizens were helpful, if you found someone with a basic English ability.  Another friend and I stayed in a little town near Mount Fuji for three days, a small hotel, sleep on the floor and shave with cold water place, a "normal inn" in Japan.  And I went to Kamakura to see the "Great Buddha" it's large with inside stairs up to see from his eyes, maybe three stories tall, and the traditional potato salad sandwich!
The great Buddha at Kamakura, those flowers are a long distance from the image.
That's me, on the buildings roof, the USS Ranger in the background.  Wow, no belly! - click
Movie of the year - 1963

Thursday, June 2, 2011


USS Skate and USS Seadragon join up at the North Pole
  I didn't know it at the time but this was to be my last full year at Alameda, for a while it turns out.  My job changed again, slightly, while still working under the expediting chiefs I was assigned to analyze the shortage of critical parts, draw charts and write reports of my findings to the Captain, who was a Supply Corps Officer and Supply Officer for the base, our boss.  So I got a desk, some markers, a typewriter and Sharon Hamilton as a helper.  I didn't really need the help but she could type, but then I'd have to write it all in longhand first, she was a good helper for making phone call though and that was a help, I've never liked telephones.
  Behavior wise, I recall only one incident of "public intoxication" during the year, and (already) with my history that was more than enough.  We all continued to have a good time and do some of what is known today as "party" (I don't know why that term is used).  I bought a car in 1962; a 1959 Hillman Minx, light grey and pastel yellow, nice car but the starter stuck at times and I had to rock the car a bit to get it to engage.  One night I was, I think drunk is the term, the car didn't start, again, and I beat it up, well really I damaged to rubber seal around the door, and dented the hood.  After I beat the damn thing it started.

Remember these?

Athletic shoes (sneakers) have changed a lot in 50 years

Excitement in the Bay Area, the A's were still in Kansas City, so the Giants were "the" team.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


A new Commander-in-Chief
  1961, for the most part, was another quiet year - almost.  The two most significant things that happened were my first re-enlistment in September and my twenty-first birthday in December.  I had both days off, the difference between the two is that on my birthday I was picked up as "drunk in public" for the first, not the last, time.  I celebrated to right to drink legally by drinking Old Crow and water too much.  As I was outside waiting for the bus, I fell flat on my face, the Shore Patrol wasn't far behind.  Taken to the Military Police Headquarters at the Oakland Army Base, I was processed.  They will tell you to have a seat on the green bench (that bench and I became 'friends' over the next two years), taken back to the base and turned over to the command.  I did have a Captains Mast (Non-judicial punishment) and got a suspended reduction in rank for 90 days (keep that in mind), about 94 days later I was picked up again.
  The re-enlistment for the most part was just another walk in the park, it takes about two minutes.  Of course I wore a dress uniform and was in the Base Commander's office.  I swore to defend the Constitution of the United States and it was over, oh I had to sign a few things.  I joined the Navy at age 17 so it was a minority enlistment, it would expire on my twenty-first birthday.  I was allowed to re-enlist 90 days early and still get credit for that time as time served; so for serving 3 years and 1 month I got credit for four years, that repeated (the 90 day early part) each time; as a result I was 35 and a half when I retired from active duty.
Alan Shepherd got higher than I did
Racial tensions got hotter and hotter
A test cartoon for a training film,  I had a "good self" and an "evil self" too. - click

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Head on from the air, a different view of NAS Alameda
  I remember 1960 as another fairly quiet year, I think there was a promotion to Third Class, and a change of jobs.  I left the Documents behind and joined the crew at Expediting, the fast paced world wide search for parts.  Alameda was a major industrial base and the Overhaul and Repair Department reworked dozens of aircraft every year, they must have had 2500 employees, all, or mostly all, civilians.  Sometimes they needed parts and sometimes we needed them to speed up the process on other parts.  We worked pretty hard up there near the front entrance to the third floor.  During the year two of us worked nights, this year Gene Rice and myself had our turn.  Data Processing was still in its' infancy and we would hand type on a key punch machine and use each single card to send information to Philadelphia (Worldwide hub of Aviation Supply for the Navy).  Each card was wrapped around a cylinder, and the cylinder fit into a small chamber of a unit tied to the telephone line, the data was transmitted and we would wrap the next card.  This process now would be very different, a list e-mailed would take seconds, the process we used would take an hour or two.  Times change for a reason.  We also took advantage of a brand new shipping company for parts in a hurry.  Two or three former military pilots had started a civilian company to take care of the Navy and Air Force, Federal Express was the name, it's amazing to see how that company has grown.
  Well let me give you a few photos I have gleaned from the depths of stuff in the cloud (Internet).
The barracks (top), Mess Hall (dining) in the center, and more barracks and Navy Exchange complex on the bottom.
When the Oakland Raiders were brand new they practiced on the field in the middle, we got to know a lot of them.
The large building in the foreground (very bottom) is part of the Overhaul unit.
The Main Gate, and the bus stop for a ride in to Oakland, or going to town.

Rockin' and boppin' and singing his song

Monday, May 30, 2011


  This might have been a pretty quiet year, I think it was.  Getting settled in to my first actual Navy job went very well.  I worked in Document Sorting; before computers documents still need to be sorted.  We had a steel "board" with 36 flaps attached at about one inch intervals, the tabs were marked A thru Z and 0 thru 9.  It was pretty simple, soon I could sort without reading the flaps, depending on how I positioned the "board" I knew by feel where each flap was - it's too bad they didn't have braille dots then it would have been very easy.  My first boss was a woman Chief Petty Officer Norma Suddeth (we called her "Mother Suddeth behind her back).  As long as we didn't play the radio things were okay.  In about the second week I was put in charge (there were only two of us), the other man was named Jimmy, he was black and a third class petty officer, a Steward (those were either black or Filipino and worked in officers mess (dining) or in officers quarters) he was trying to change job description to Storekeeper.  He also thought Japan was in Europe - I don't know how things worked out for him.
  We had security duty, and supply duty every fourth day, getting parts from various warehouses and shipping them, or just security, riding a bicycle, from building to building making sure they were locked and safe inside, it was fairly boring at night when everyone else was sleeping, but it wasn't difficult either.
  Weekends I spent hitchhiking to different places, or sometimes I'd take a bus to maybe Salt Lake City and hitch back, or Pismo Beach was a place I went a few times, sometimes I'd just hang around in Oakland.  A couple of times a group of us would go to different events.  We saw the San Francisco Warriors play, I went with somebody to see Robert Frost in San Francisco - just stuff like that.  Life was good.

The East Gate

The VW Bus - soon very popular
A lot of these at work too.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Moving and moving on
  We'll call 1958 Moving and moving on, that describes it very well.  It was to be my finish of 12 years of school, I graduated May 18, 1958 from Milford High School.  Two days later my family moved back to Maine, being "away" was too much for my parents, they were kind of home sick.  We lived in a house that belonged to my Dad uncle George.
  I tried to get a job at about everyplace I could think of, ended up digging up 'dead men' to make room for a trailed park.  Dead men are weights the railroads used to tie to the ends of those stability cable that help utility poles stay upright.  It was long, hard work - in the dirt and ballast those were buried about 5 or 6 feet deep, so pick and shovel.
  On August 28, 1958, one day after Moms 45th birthday I finally gave her the present she wanted, I joined the United States Navy, she'd let them watch over me - for a good long time.  Actually I had joined in June but had to wait because with the economy down a lot of guys were joining.  There wasn't a war at that time - it came later.
  Boot camp was, for me, a very different experience - probably for most people it was.  We had arrived late at night and went to a barracks and to bed.  At six o'clock the bugle blew reveille and we were off and running.  A small breakfast, some beans and fried mush with sugar water, a cup of coffee and a glass of milk - and out the door.  We got our uniforms, physicals (we'd already had one), dental exams and rifles that didn't shoot, 1903 Springfield's from WWI, to be exact.  Heavy if you carry one and exercise with it from 6 in the morning until 9 at night.  Never answer "yes" when you're in a group and the group is asked "does anyone know how to type?", that's how I got to be Company Clerk, it really wasn't too much extra work anyway.
  I developed appendicitis after about six weeks and was sent to the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Illinois (that's where Boot Camp was), then I got pneumonia, I stayed in hospital until just after Christmas; joined up with another company and finished boot training at near the end of January.
  After a couple of weeks at home, I boarded the train bound for Norman Oklahoma and my first school, Aviation Fundamentals Preparatory; a little physics, some math and lots of catalog and publications training. Oh, and a close up look at a jet plane - we stood in back while the engine ran to feel the blast!  That school lasted 10 weeks then I was off to another school in Jacksonville Florida, Aviation Storekeeper, another 10 weeks.  One very interesting thing happened to me in Jacksonville; I went into the Greyhound Bus Station for a cup of coffee, that's not too interesting.  The counter man told me I had to leave "this side is for colored" he told me, I had to think hard to get the message; "white folks are on the other side" he said.  Holy Cow!!  Segregation struck home, it proved to be a valuable lesson both in history and in human relations.
  After I finished in Florida it was off to my first duty station - Naval Air Station Alameda California, over time the best place I was ever stationed - twice.  I met many people some friends I'm still in contact with after 52 years!
Milford's Main Street in a recent photo, there's a mall now so this is quiet.
High School senior photo
Boot Camp photo