Monday, September 11, 2017

Sailing

Ok, so Sarge had a week of posts with sailboats and schooners and Rhode Island and such, which I appreciated.  And......

As happens so often on this blog,   this reminded me of a story.

You see,  the last vehicle I was at the controls of was not an F-15, or an OH-1.  

No, it was a Rhodes 19.
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Whilst stationed at USCINCPAC, headquartered at Camp H. M. Smith in the mountains above Pearl Harbor, I lived on Hickam AFB.  Of course this was back in the Halcyon days when the Air Force owned Air Force Bases and the Navy had Harbors and the Army had Forts.  The Marines, they had Camps.  (Pretty sure they, then and now, contained Tents, just kidding! Or.....)

Stay on Target, juvat!

En el blanco, sí, mi muy viejo Sargento de la Fuerza Aérea!

My house was a two story duplex a couple of blocks from the Pearl Harbor Channel and a few blocks from the PACAF Headquarters building.  It was build in the '20s, so was "there" that day.  No Air Conditioning, but it did have a maid's quarters.  AC wasn't really required except when the Kona winds blew typically in August.  We had a window AC in our bedroom for when that happened.  Didn't need it very much.

The job there was an interesting one.  I was in charge of putting together and training a team from all four Pacific Command Force HQs that could deploy on 3 hours notice to 7th Flt, 3 MEF or I Corps, augment their indigenous capabilities with Joint expertise and help them perform the mission as assigned by USCINCPAC.  

As I said it was fun, and we got to travel a lot and do some fun thing.  Some not so fun.

But, best of all, we were stationed in Hawaii.  Which meant time off was a blast.  The kids were old enough to do "fun" things (No, riding "It's a small world" is NOT fun).  Going down to the Hale Koa, sitting by the pool, swimming with the kids and maybe having a Mai Tai ("Only One!", "Okay, Two", "OMG, Three!) was fun.  Bellows Beach was Fun.  

When we didn't feel like braving Honolulu traffic, we'd go down to Hickam Harbor. 


 It was a little Harbor with a couple of boat docks, a beach, and, most importantly, a MWR facility (for those that aren't familiar with the term, that would be a Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility AKA, restaurant and Bar).  

While other services may have had similar facilities, none of them looked like this.

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Come to think of it, no other AIR FORCE facilities looked like that!  It was nice!

Back in my running days (long, long ago), I would run from my quarters to Hickam Harbor and back.  Typically the sea breeze would keep me mostly cool.  The run along the channel was always interesting.  I'd run by the HANG F-15 Squadron and wonder....

Then I'd get to the Harbor, turn around and come back.  

One morning I'm on the run, and approaching the Harbor, I see an acquaintance.  He and another guy are on a sailboat, maneuvering around in the Harbor.  Later on I run into him at Camp Smith and I asked him what he'd been doing.

He'd been getting checked out in a sailboat that the MWR department had available to rent at the Harbor.

Something I'd always wanted to do.

Shortly thereafter I'm enrolled in class, and we get a little ground school.  How to tie a truckers hitch (and quite a few others, Truckers Hitch is the only one I remember, because I still use it.) and right of way rules ("Mass has the right of way, Carrier beats sailboat every time" was the way it was explained to me) and such.

Finally, we're cleared to go sailing.  

It was a blast!  However, pretty soon as I gained proficiency, the 30 acre or so sized harbor got transversed fairly quickly and after a dozen or so passes, it started to get boring.  Even after I got cleared solo.

My instructor apparently was a bit bored with it also.

So....Duh! Duh! DDDUUUUUUHHHHH!  On my last ride he asks me if I want to take a little trip.  I said "Sure, Where?"

"Sail out of Hickam Harbor, up the Channel around Ford Island and back out the Channel and Home."

Cool!

He took care of whatever arrangements were required. (It probably required Papal Dispensation as well as Written Permission, in triplicate, from every O-6 or higher with in a 20NM radius of Hickam Harbor (A LOT of those hanging round), but we were cleared.

It took us a couple of hours, and I think the real reason for the trip was he wanted to get pictures, as I was at the tiller the whole time whilst he was clicking away on his camera.  (Meaning I have no actual pictures of the trip.)

Fortunately, there was no significant shippage coming or going in the harbor that day, so I didn't have to demonstrate my nautical BFM skills against anything Naval.

We did sail by the Arizona and I wondered if I should have ordered him to "Man the Rails!"  but he was Air Force also, so he might just have looked at me.  We both did quit talking and just sit there looking as we went past.
Attended quite a few retirement ceremonies and one funeral aboard.  I don't think I ever left with dry eyes.
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I like this view a little better. Your sacrifice was not in vain.
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The bridge to Ford Island had not been constructed, so rounding the north side of the Island was no big deal.

Coming around the west side, I noticed something rising from the harbor and inquired.
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He informed me that it was the USS Utah.  I knew that she had been sunk, but I didn't know that she wasn't completely underwater nor that she was still there.  Very Interesting!

OT, but as I was looking for pictures for this post, I came across an article with a couple of unique stories of the Ship.  

After she turned turtle, and while the attack was still going on, rescue operations were underway to cut holes in the bottom to rescue trapped crewmen.  The rescue crews were getting strafed, so the Captain of the West Virginia, ordered a machine gun to be set up on the Utah to protect them.  There is an unconfirmed kill reported, which if true would make the Utah the only ship ever to shoot down an aircraft while upside down.

The second story is that there is an infant girl entombed aboard.  Apparently, one of the crewman had had twin daughters, one of whom had died shortly after birth.  In true Naval tradition, the crewman had wished for her to be buried at see.  Her ashes were in his locker awaiting their next sailing when the attack happened.  

"Interesting, juvat, back on the story!"

"De vuelta a la historia, sí, mi muy, muy viejo Sargento de la Fuerza Aérea!"

We couldn't stop or get very close, so again sat quietly as we went past.

Sailed past Ford Island's airport, which we (the family, not me and the instructor, sailboats don't go on land!) never got to visit, partly because the bridge hadn't been built and partly because the Missouri wasn't there, and the combination of the two meant that there really wasn't anything to see there. at the time.  I understand they have a very nice  Aviation Museum there now.

Back down the channel and back into Hickam Harbor.  As Aaron, might say "2.0 on the sails, and 1 docking."  

Unfortunately, taking the boats out of the Harbor, required an instructor on board so I was limited to Hickam Harbor, but Little Juvat and I had a blast on quite a few days the rest of the tour.





18 comments:

  1. Wow, I had no idea Utah was still there.

    Great post Juvat.

    (No, we're not a sailing blog, yet.)

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  2. A very interesting post and pics really enhance it. As an aside, it's been 16 years already.....Never Forget....Never Forgive.......

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  3. Back in the day when each branch had its own playground the Navy ran the tours at PH.
    The first time I went they actually visited the Utah.
    Of course, that was so long ago that the Arizona Memorial was still a dream.
    Heck, it was still on the dream sheet when I was stationed at Pearl.

    My thought, when you mentioned your voyage, was that there was no way you were doing it on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon.

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    1. No, you're right about the Monday, Friday thing. Most likely Saturday.

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  4. Nice post indeed about a very special place. It's a good thing they haven't put Hobbs meters on sailboats.

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, I think they rounded to the next quarter hour.

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  5. Interesting coincidence of posts today- both of which commemorate when our country was attacked. Next visit to Hawaii I need to see that museum and have lunch at that MWR spot. Hope it's still there.

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    1. Just checked. It's still there, and I'm a sucker for waterfront dining. https://www.thelanaiatmamalabay.com/

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    2. Yeah, I didn't put two and two together on the publication date of the post when writing it, I guess the subconcious took over as I pondered subjects. Sarge would call it his "Muse". I call mine "A-muse-ing"

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    3. Instapundit had a post a week or so ago that properly described the restaurant "Premium Mediocre". I called it "OK, not great", the view was magnificant, Drinks were very good and the food was good enough to go back. But, that source says they've upgraded it significantly so I'm hoping to find out soon.

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  6. Yep, it's still there, the hangars are the original WWII hangars, and there are still holes in the ramp from the Japanese machine guns on the west end of the ramp. And no, Never Forget!

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  7. I was fortunate as a young lad in that my grandmother treated the whole family to a Hawaiian vacation. Grandma, My mother and I, her brother (my uncle) and his wife, and their three kids. We arrived just after the 1964 the 1964 Alaska earthquake. There were still wet towels from clean up on the floors of some of the seaside shops.

    At one point we boarded a tour boat, which then sailed up the coast and then up the harbor channel and we got to go on board the Arizona memorial. I was 11 then, so didn't quite grasp it all. Still, I'm glad that I can say I stood there, and it has added weight to everything I have seen or read since about that day.

    I don't recall my uncle's reaction at the time, but I'm sure it meant something to him. He was too young for WWII and entered active service just after the war was over. He served as a cook aboard the cruiser USS Chicago (CA-136) and was aboard when she sailed for Shanghai in January of 1946.

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  8. We pitched our tent on Ford Island back along time ago. As you say, before the bridge was built. We started on the SeaPlane ramp and then we were ordered to the baseball field. Nixon died that day. We had some brews at the club there on Ford Island and then we turned in. I used to run and so I ran around Ford Island for 2 weeks and saw the little housing area (olden times, not like now at all) there were just a half dozen cottages of families who lived on an island without a bridge and who caught the boat at the Fleet Landing in Pearl.
    It is way different now with the BB and the radar in the bay. OTOH, haven't been back since the lockdown in 1NCD HQ a decade ago.

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  9. Hey Juvat;

    Very good post, and a trip down memory lane. It is on my bucket list to go to Pearl Harbor and check it out.

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  10. A couple of times after work, three of us took the gig ("PMS check") to the Arizona Memorial. When there are only three sailors there reading the names in the evening quiet, it really hits you.
    We also took the gig to the Utah once, nosed up and put our hands on.

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  11. Usta go to Ford Island for touch and goes from Barbers Pt. Is that runway still open?

    The trip to the USS Arizona was somewhat overwhelming, trying to imagine what those sailors went through on that day. The A-holes setting for the National Anthem today should be made to visit. Nah, never mind. That would mean a Hawaiian vacation for them.

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