Saturday, June 11, 2011


Temporary home
  I wasn't in Maryland but about 4 months, had Jeff enrolled to start school and parked the car.  I boarded the advance P3C for Keflavik.  Looking for something to do on a long flight one of the crew taught me how to operate the radar, little track ball, green screen without a lot on it, that's a good thing I guess.
  Iceland is different, in many ways; but, the biggest thing for me was the landscape.  Now, I'm from Maine and I'm used to a rocky place, but these are lava rocks almost bare of vegetation for long stretches and kind of brown/black.  The lava in this place was ancient.  There were few trees, some had been planted on the base, maybe 20 feet high and that was it.
  All of the first class petty officers had the third floor of our barracks building, and our own lounge which we supplied and resupplied weekly, lots of beer and several kinds of booze - it was going to be a long six months.  Transportation was a squadron bus, from the barracks and mess hall to the hanger.  My office was smaller but adequate.  The men that worked for me were quite a mix (not unusual), my second in command was of Puerto Rican heritage, one guy from Michigan, and two Filipinos who called me "Waldo" - that's the first name of "Sarge" in the "Beetle Bailey" comic (and a little know thing).  I don't know if maybe it wasn't after the other "Waldo" of "Where's Waldo" - due to some long lunch hours drinking beer.
  September was the start of winter, but then there are four or five hours of daylight, by the middle of October it's dark until the end of February.  I left with the last crew out on February 23rd, and that day it was daylight for about half an hour.  The weather matched the amount of light, the temperatures aren't bad, the snow is in pellets formed by the wind (hurt on bare skin) and the wind blows every minute of every day.  Our next tour would be in summer - that makes up for the dark.
Our work area (red roofs). The International Terminal is the long white building.
Out in the yard
The whole base (click) the barracks are that group in four lines.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Pax River on the green star
  Moving on.  I said goodbye to Alameda for the last time and we moved on the Maryland for my very first east coast duty, Patrol Squadron Forty-nine, the Woodpeckers.  It was a family move, Betty had recovered enough to be released from the hospital and she and Jeff were in Alaska, her day was dieing.
  After a three week school in Norfolk, Virginia (Aircraft Maintenance and Material Control); don't ask me why I was there, I think it required of everyone?
  I reported down in Lexington Park for duty at VP-49, the Squadron was in Puerto Rico for some practice so there were only two of us, a yeoman second class and me, we just rode around and drank beer in different places; we were asked to leave one place, it was for blacks (we were told by the owner) and they were uncomfortable with us being there, so we left).  Lexington Park is "country", maybe 50 miles south of Washington DC, and the largest town near by is only maybe 8,000 people.  Lexington Park had two restaurants, a few bars, a movie theater and a grocery store and a number of sandwich shops; I'm sure that has all changed a lot since then.  There were beaches nearby, I did cover Lex earlier over in Tehachapi Pete.
  The Squadron returned, and in the fall we all left for Keflavik Iceland, my first of two 6 month deployments, this first one was for the winter and I was curious.  We were also told that when we came home, we were packing up to move.  Now; I had been told by Navy Personnel that the outfit was moving, either to Brunswick, Maine (which I wanted), or to Jacksonville, Florida (which I got).  Before we left for Iceland, Jeff was enrolled in Kindergarten (I think he went to about 10 schools in 12 years, but at least 8).
  I'll cover the deployment tomorrow because that's when the winter came, interesting.
We lived in units like this, it wasn't in base housing.

A P3C Orion (like VP-49 flew) over the coast of Iceland

Our squadron patch, the Woodpecker on the glove is painted on the planes tail(s).
I should say "was painted" no unit I served in is now active.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Prepare for take off
  One of the "thrills" I had in VR-30 was the chance to fly on and off the USS Hornet, it was a routine delivery of something they needed badly.  The Hornet was steaming somewhere off the coast of California.  We left Alameda and followed directions, the Hornet was right where we were told.  Landing aboard a carrier for the first time is a little scary.  Up where we were, about eight thousand feet, it looked like a postage stamp, we did the "D" approach, that the plane losing altitude while flying a pattern the resembles the letter D, and the ship gained size.  We landed, tail hook down, caught the arresting gear and it seemed to run for a mile; then whap, slam, bam you stop.  Before landing we are told to remove eye glasses, or anything lose we don't want to have flying off.  The take off is sort of a reverse of landing, tied to the catapult, engines revved up and you're shot off into the air, hopefully there's enough power in the engines to gain altitude.
  One of the "thrills (that wasn't) also was in 1969.  The Maintenance Officer called me in.  He was a crusty old guy, a "mustang" (enlisted turned officer) who specialized in Aircraft Maintenance, he knew what he was doing.
 "The Admiral needs a study to compare our costs to Southwest Airlines costs, our C131's against Southwests' DC9's, he needs it Thursday"
  " is Monday, it will take longer than that"
  "Just get it done!"
So I worked 48 hours, after a seven hour flight.  Betty was in the hospital again, and Jeff was with Mike and Mary.  Mike was one of my men, his wife Mary had been baby sitting while I wasn't home.  Now, if I'd had a PC with MS Office it would have taken maybe 16 hours, but those thing were ahead in the future.  I had accounting ledgers, paper and a typewriter.  The amounts for dollars for us to do things were based on hours worked on various repair jobs, and payrolls and weren't hard to put together.  Southwests' costs were written up in one of the aviation magazines.  All I had to do was find a repair or task we had done that matched was they had done, hand write the ledger, type a narrative and hand it in. That report got the ball rolling for the Navy to purchase C9B aircraft, a military version of the DC9.  My name was not on the report, but the Admiral said thanks in a short letter.
  And so, that's how it went in 1969.
The C9B Nightingale
An example of a hand written ledger
The way it would have looked (now), oh well.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


The "mouse" or a pointing device was invented, but wasn't in high use.
  Things were busy at the hanger, and on the aircraft too, more flying hours and more demands for parts.  The parts thing never gets better anyway, as explained before, the planes are either too old or too new; it's just a part of the job.
  On the home front things were going downhill.  I've made a choice of not revealing too much, but a diagnoses of a mental health condition for Betty was causing problems, coupled with both of us drinking too much.  'Nuff said. Hospital stays were getting longer, and a very few legal issues meant the Jeff, now almost two, was picked up and taken home by my parents, I was hospitalized for a wound for a little over 40 days.
  On the work side the Navy was starting to "think about" buying new transport aircraft and you'll hear more about that tomorrow.
Four generations, from left my father Stuart, myself, my grandfather Charles Grant
in front Jeff at maybe 18 months
From the left Betty, myself, brother Lysle, his wife Marjorie,
in front Jeff and his cousin Melinda (both in their forties now)
Testing a new printer, one that could print alphabetical characters along with the numbers;
by 1976 they were printing a page at a time, the whole page at once - tune in later.
Notice the computed is in a "conditioned" room, raised floor, A/C, no heat, that will all
chage too, along with the operators no longer dressing up.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The hangers and terminal, VR-30 was in the one next to the terminal, 2nd building from the right.
  When I reported for duty the squadron was known as Fleet Tactical Support Squadron 21, Detachment Alameda.  Shortly after it was de-commissioned and re-commissioned as Fleet Tactical Supply Squadron 30.  Fleet Tactical Support is a military term meaning Transport.  It was a busy place taking people and gear from one place to another.
  They needed Flight Crew members, since I had an adequate security clearance they asked if I would participate, and I did.  While I waited for a higher clearance I trained as a Flight Attendant (yes, that's what it is).  Going through the pressure chamber and being elevated to 20,000 feet without oxygen is interesting, but I stayed awake.  One week in the Anza-Berrigo desert for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School was not nice.  We had some Periwinkles the first night before being trucked to the "camp".  We each had a water bottle, one-half of a parachute (warm at night), and the clothes on our backs, there were about 20 of us.  We wandered around in the desert, but there was no manna from heaven (or any other place), it was hungry time.  On the fourth day we were told to hide in the scrub brush and rocks, "enemy troops" (really Aviation Boatswains Mates on shore duty) would comb through and capture us one by one, I was about fifth.  In the POW camp conditions went from dire to drastic (the is very real training).  We each were given a number, they scribbled it on our hand, took away my glasses, and were each called up, one by one, for Interrogation.  They called "Number 12", no one answered (it was my number, I couldn't read it), they came and got me and announced to everyone there that I was the stupid one, and they called me that the rest of the time as a prisoner.
During the interrogation I did very well, I didn't divulge and information they wanted, so I was put in a box.  Imagine this: stand in the box, it's about 24 by 36 inches, and 30 inches high, cross your legs then kneel down; they close the lid and lock it!  I found two holes in the box, one higher than the other, when I blew air through the top hole, cool air came from the bottom.  The box was in a cave.  I was in that box for three hours, ouch, ouch!  The last night in camp we were told that there would be food in the morning, and that "the stupid one" will cook it, and further, if the food didn't come out right they would pour it one the fire - which was intended to convey to the rest "if he spoils the food, you won't eat", a bad message to guys who haven't eaten for six days.
  Morning came and the guards brought in a wash tub, a grocery bag full of oatmeal, and a bucket of water.  I just emptied the complete contents of oats and water in the tub, and stirred until it was done.  I guess it had all been pre-measured, I felt relief.  Oatmeal and one pint of milk, do you know how good that tasted?  It was just wonderful.  On the way back to Alameda I waited at the North Island Air Station in San Diego, I bought a sandwich and milk, I could only eat half a sandwich, I was stuffed.
  Now I would get my wings, oh happy day, I made it through those experiences, training flights (with real passengers) and it was done.  My security clearance came and I went to flying freight.  We carried a lot of sensitive equipment, thus the clearance.
  Oh yes! The guns!  I was to carry a .45 M1911 pistol on my flights, so off to the firing range (once a year).  I plowed up the ground in front of the target, and both sides - they passed me.
  I flew about 40 hours a month, meaning with pre-flights, post-flight and time on the ground at other places about 65 hours, and I still had my day job, very busy.
U S Navy Enlisted Flight Crew wings.

On approach to Alameda

Alameda as it looks now, warehouses 117 and 118 (Glen will remember) and the fuel farm are gone.
That's San Francisco at the top, and Oakland (part of) to the right.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Alameda house, upstairs
  Since it was understood that my new command was in a hurry, and that it was important that I report there was no leave to go home to Maine (yet).  I reported in, became acquainted with everyone, and got to work, Betty was still in Seattle, she arrived about two weeks later.  I had to find a place to stay, get a car and all, it was all new to me.  Finally we settled into an apartment in Alameda, very nice and had ample room.
  Work involved being in charge of the supply function as well as the responsibility of a large tool room and small parts storeroom (four men just for that), the material control (supply) office was a two room affair kind of off to one side of the maintenance control operation, it was a very busy place.  Technology was at work here too, when we ordered a part from the base supply we wrote with a stylus on a "form" the receiving end had a similar matching with an "automatic" stylus, when we wrote the other end was just copying what we wrote - it didn't work well at all.  With the older aircraft parts were a constant problem always on the lookout was a given, (with newer planes it's a problem because they're still making more and need the parts for that - next command), always in short supply for the airframe, engine parts were plentiful - that model had been around since World War Two.  About sixty or seventy percent of pilots for the larger planes all had WWII experience.  There was an officer "in charge" of material control too, his degree was in forestry - but he dutifully signed to where I was pointing :).
  When Betty got to Alameda she was visibly very pregnant, in May it was time!  We had never been to the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, but we set off to find it (I did have directions and an address), we must have crossed 20 sets of railroad tracks - before she threatened me if we crossed another, an unhappy camper right there.  Finally we got there, got here in to delivery and the wait (for me) started.  Jeffery Eugene Grant was born at 6:00PM, it was a little after nine when they bothered to tell me (times have changed).  I finally got to see both, they were healthy and doing well, I was told to come back the next day, so I did - I took her some flowers, carnations, she was furious - those flowers are only for dead people (according to her), they did come home, minus the flowers, the next day.
  Work was going very well, I had an adequate supply of people, hard workers and very talented, and we all got along, but there was a lot more added on as time will tell - tomorrow.
C131F, there were 7 of these, here are two.
For putting supplies and mail, people too aboard carriers at sea.
We had two CT39E, Grumman Gulf stream, for VIP flights, my office was right around that corner.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Change of scenery
  A year of huge change, in March I was flown back to the states, and after a brief visit at home; off to California again.  This time I reported aboard the USS Hornet CVS-12 homeported in Long Beach.  The ship had just arrived back in Long Beach from an overhaul, we had sea trials and sea trials along with the Air Group that would make the coming deployment with us, they need practice too.  In June we were off the Seattle to take part in Sea Fair, an annual celebration, as a result I met my first wife Betty.  She is an Alaska Native, an Eskimo (not all Alaska Natives are Eskimo, some are from other groups), her hometown is Shaktoolik, a stop or two on the Iditirod Trail, a short distance from Nome.  She was working in Seattle, as many Alaskans do, making baseball caps (they were American made then).  We were married in a brief ceremony in Long Beach in July.  In August this newly wed was off to the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia.  We had two squadrons of anti-submarine plane, one squadron of helicopters, a detachment from a squadron with an aircraft for airborne air control, and a detachment of a Marine Corps attack squadron for protection.  We did a lot of Search and Rescue, at sea and on land, the attack planes went on bombing missions, and we all pitched in and did a lot of work.  We were at sea for periods of up to 48 days, working 14 hours a day (nothing else to do), and had a heck of a good time doing it!  We would start off the coast of Russia (cold!) and following shipping all the way to Hanoi (we stopped just off the coast), where it was hot, very hot, working in shorts and t-shirt hot.
  In late February, as the cruise was winding down, I got orders to be an instructor in Meridian Mississippi (I didn't want to go!), another guy in the helicopter squadron had orders he didn't want, we swapped and the Texas boy went south (Bobby West, RIP) and I went to a squadron in (where else) Alameda! - more about that tomorrow.  The day I left Japan the Hornet left port bound for Sydney Australia, I really would have liked to have gone too.

As an aside: The USS Hornet is now a museum in (where else) Alameda!  I'm a museum now too!
The Cruise (we lost only one aircrew and plane) - click
Going shopping at sea, about once a month. - click
Hornet and escorts at sea, all planes in the air, on the way over - click