Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weigh, Hey and Up She Rises

(Source)
Yesterday's post had a photo of an old warship sliding beneath the waves, expended as a target during a SINKEX. She was the former TOWERS, DDG-9. After thinking about it a while, I didn't want to leave that picture in your minds of that old ship headed for Davy Jones' locker. What did she look like in her halcyon days? Back when she had a crew, a mission, when she stood on the front lines of Freedom's defenses, when she proudly sailed the sea.

USS TOWERS, DDG-9, heading out to sea from San Diego, Point Loma in the background. (Source)
She was a Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer. She was ordered in March of 1957, laid down in April the year after that at the Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, commissioned on the 6th of June, 1961. She served until the 1st of October, 1990, was struck in 1992 and went to the bottom as the result of a live fire exercise ten years later, the 9th of October, 2002. Not that long ago. She was commissioned when I was 8 years old, decommissioned when I was 37. Ths ship and I served concurrently on active duty for 15 years. Just one of those bits of trivia that I find interesting, YMMV.

But seeing that ship's demise, and remembering my son's first active duty assignment, USS BRISCOE (DD-977), also expended as a target in 2005, (she was a ship I actually had the chance to visit) I got to thinking about the vastness of the sea and the many mysteries which lie below those endlessly rolling waves.

I have always loved being near the sea, for as long as I can remember. I can still almost smell the salt air and feel the ocean breeze when we would travel up to Maine for a weekend. My brothers and I were always bouncing with excitement (and clamoring to see who could see the ocean first) as we approached Portsmouth in New Hampshire. We were nearly bouncing off the interior of the car when we crossed into Maine at York. I have many fond memories of those times, looking out at the mighty Atlantic, wondering what was out there. Not over the ocean mind you, in the ocean.

I have flown over the Atlantic, which takes a while. I have flown over the Pacific as well, which takes an awfully long time. I flew over the Pacific a number of times while stationed in Japan and Korea. It always started with wow, the ocean looks interesting from this high up. After an hour or so it was no longer all that interesting, but it was mind boggling just how big it is. Miles and miles and miles of water.

The Atlantic I flew over a couple of times, out to Germany then back (with a sojourn of seven and a half years in between) and then out and back to Italy for vacation. A much shorter stay. While not as big as the Pacific, it's still kind of cool for about the first hour, then not so much. You can see very little detail from the altitude commercial airliners fly. I did see the wake of a ship once. I can't imagine having to search the surface of the sea for anything smaller than, let's say, Guam. Guam, though bigger than a ship, would still be easy to miss, depending on weather and if you were on course. Couple degrees off and you could miss it by miles.

Yes, the oceans are big and have always fascinated me. From time to time I will ask myself why I didn't join the Navy back in the day. Honestly, I really don't know.

I guess I just liked aircraft so much that I latched onto the Air Force and never looked back. Yes, I know that the Navy has aircraft, know it very well. Didn't really think of that back then. The Army recruiter was interested, the Air Force recruiter was interested, even the Marine recruiter said hello. The Navy recruiter never even came out of his office.

So for any Navy recruiters in the audience, I hope you pay better attention than that guy in Claremont, New Hampshire did back in the early 70s. You could have had me for a song. A song about the ocean of course. Probably this one...






28 comments:

  1. Navy. Eight years active duty, seventeen years drilling reservist, and fourteen years of civilian work in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. And all of that spent in the engineering spaces.
    After reading the post I thought whether I had ever considered not joining the Navy. I would have joined straight out of high school, but I gave in to family pressure and spent two years, (and my own savings) to learn that college was not for me. I dropped out of college and joined the Navy.
    I think that in many ways being a reservist and having a civilian job working in the shipyard was the best of all possible worlds.
    I used my Navy experiences and skills in my civilian job, and I used my civilian experiences and skills in my Reserves job. I worked with young enlisted sailors both as a Chief and as a civilian. And as a civilian sailor I found that the relationship between me and officers was subtly changed for the better.
    I had a great career.
    Thank you for bringing back a lot of very good memories.

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    1. Sounds like a fine career all the way around.

      Well done John!

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  2. Joined Naval Reserve on my 17th birthday. A year on surface ships then switched to Seabees. Two tours in Nam with that rowdy bunch. A brief interlude for schooling and such then 24 years as a chaplain, including four assignments with God's Own Marine Corps. Never thought of any career but Navy.

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    1. I'd be willing to bet that there are a lot of sailors and Marines who are glad you made that choice.

      Well done Chaps!

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  3. That moment when you realize that, yep, that's the captain's daughter...

    http://www.psephizo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/surprised-face.jpg

    I thought my recruiter was cool as hell, he was an ABEC (aviation boatswains mate) and a roof rat so was able to help me avoid being predated by the nukes. When I got to boot camp I was really surprised at all the guys bitching about their recruiters. Maybe your navy recruiter in Claremont was one of those.

    I did give the air force a good look as they had helos and pj's but there was just something missing.

    I'd do it all again, warts and all.

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    1. Yeah, Navy recruiter was a no show. The Army guys were more insistent on what THEY thought I should do, I wanted armor, they wanted something else. As I wandered down the hall to talk to the Air Force, the Marine popped out and said "Hello," I nodded and said "Thanks but no thanks Gunny." I think the Navy guy was talking on the phone, didn't even look up. I was the only civilian in the area.

      The two Air Force recruiters were Sierra Hotel. So I signed up. Those were the kind of people I wanted to work with.

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  4. Growing up I never thought about not serving. I did talk to the Marine and Air Force recruiters. Never considered the Navy. The Army recruiter I talked with was a Sergeant Coleman. He didn't talk down to me, unlike the other recruiters, and carefully explained all my options.

    Both sides of my family are split fairly evenly between Navy and Army. No Marines, but a couple of Air Force types that married into the clans. Family gatherings lead to some serious trash talking.

    Fourteen days on the General Maurice Rose was enough to make me glad I went Army. Yeah, I know Navy types call it a "cruise ship". I call it uncomfortable, cramped, and boring. On the other hand I did occasionally operate a 27' Bridge Erection boat. Not comfortable but never boring.

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    1. I was very close to going Army. If they had offered armor that's all it would have taken, but they wanted to play games, the Air Force didn't. And the rest is history...

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    2. I went to Germany in '60 on the USNS Rose. Thanksgiving in a helluva storm, thankfully never got seasick. The Rose is how I became acquainted with Buck as he had travelled with family as a teenager on the Rose. Small world...

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    3. Small world indeed.

      BTW, good to see that avatar again.

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    4. That's my nephew, he wants to be a pilot like me...

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  5. Thanks for the post. Nice to see the whys of those who served.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. I love to learn what motivated folks to serve.

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  6. My dad served in the Army (during Korea), as did his dad (born in 1876; served in the Spanish-American War), and his. My grandfather's tour in the cavalry was under Black Jack Pershing. So I heard a LOT of Army stories growing up, and promptly enlisted in the Navy out of high school. My lottery number was low enough I'd have been infantry had I not beaten them to the punch.

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    1. Great granddad was Army, Civil War. Granddad was Army, World War I. Dad was army, too young for WWII, both of his brothers served in WWII. My great uncle John on my Mom's side was Army, WWII. Two older cousins, both Air Force.

      High lottery number gave me a number of options (not serving was never an option). Came close to being a soldier, not sad to have been an airman. Proud of that I am.

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  7. I never considered anythi g but Navy.
    Had I done some prior research I might have avoided radar school.
    Then I might have made it a career.

    When the recruiter, a Master Chief Gunners Mate, saw my aptitude test scores his eyes lit up and he almost did a happy dance.
    I wasnt wait listed like some others.

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    1. Some folks set their sights on what they want at a young age and never look back.

      I often ponder the choices laid before me when I was young, I think I chose well.

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  8. Set my sights (as the saying goes) on USAF when I was six or seven. My cousin Rufus Wilson (http://davesdailys.blogspot.com/2009/08/memories-of-war-ill-bring-her-in.html ) was always my hero.
    That is until Buzz Corey of the Space Cadets. Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe) and then Chuck Yeager and the Bell X-1 usurped them all in 1947 (aged nine, was I).
    Rufus' picture, though, was burned into my mind. It hung in every relative's house on my dad's side. He was one of only two in my extended family who served, for whatever reason (flat feet, not unlike ping-pong paddles, for my dad). When I told my parents I was following Rufus into the service, they weren't happy. When I told them we were going somewhere in the far east in 1965, they were REALLY unhappy.
    Col. Chuck Yeager brought an F-104 to Randolph AFB to speak at the graduation of Class 62-FZ (experimental test class - T-38). Enough said. Ho Chi Mihn turned out to be my Emperor Ming.

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    1. Aim High.

      You did and hit your mark. Those who "went downtown" will ever have my respect and gratitude.

      Great story Fuzz, which I recommend to all of my readers.

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  9. Losing my 4F status after five years in college and facing "The Draft." Single seaters coming off the pointy end of boats seemed pretty cool despite the end destination. Navy guys were all in for my going Aviation Cadet until I pulled out reading glasses (20/25) for the contract (English Lit major, what did I know about the military and aviation requirements!) As I look back, I often speculate that had I made it through Naval Flight School, I might have ended up in an A-4 over Hanoi, if not in Hanoi. Thank goodness that my recruiter, SSG Meadows, knew about WOFT and waivers. regards, Alemaster

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    1. "The Draft." I was near the tail end of those days. Lottery number of 201 in '71 pretty much meant I wouldn't be a rifleman unless:
      (a) I volunteered or
      (b) the Chinese were rolling up Pennsylvania Ave.

      A-4 over Hanoi, scary. Being a "guest" at the Hanoi Hilton, not good at all.

      Besides, helicopter pilots are pretty critical assets. WOFT and Waivers would make an interesting book title.

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    2. Damn, let's make that IIS (studies deferment). Another screw up Alemaster! regards, Alemaster

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    3. I thought 4F was a bit much.

      ;)

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  10. Signed up in 71 for Aviation Machinists Mate. Went downtown LA for the bus ride to San Diego that fateful morning where the downtown recruiters told me my MOS was closed and that I had to choose between nuclear or electronics (6 year enlistments). They tried to intimidate me into changing and I told him to pound sand. My local recruiter fixed it but I never changed my mind and have regretted it ever since. Worst decision I ever made (except maybe my first wife...)

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    1. Recruiters. Some of them have reserved seats in Hell. Well deserved for some. I had a good one (two actually, they were a team).

      We learn from bad decisions, provided we survive. Still though, it would be nice to get the occasional do-over.

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  11. 91 yr. old father-in-law has some interesting stories from the following past at sea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Birmingham_(CL-62)

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    1. Nine battle stars? Now that's a warship!

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)