The following was sent to Dave Carruth by Nick Castruccio 5 May 2005:
Upon reading of Chuck Sheehan's final flight, I couldn't
help but recall my last meeting with him at Tailhook 2002 in Reno.
We reviewed a lot of old stories and in particular one that occurred aboard
USS Princeton (CV-37) during the Hungnam Evacuation in December 1950.
It goes like this :
Chuck was one of the first COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery)
pilots flying the venerable TBM3R out to the fleet with mail, passengers,
cargo, etc. We (Chuck and I) worked up a deal where we would exchange
our Navy Issued Aviator's Green Bags in Ready One. I would load the outgoing
bag with seastore cigarettes and Chuck would the fill incoming with beer.
As the outside temperature was mighty cold, I fashioned
a net like bag that was hung from the porthole in a three man room to
cool the beer which was consumed by the pilots of VF-191. Beer was a rarity
on board and welcomed, albeit other medicinal spirits were available,
having been stowed aboard under drawers before departing CONUS.
This arrangement worked well during that first winter
with one scary exception. When I returned from a flight one afternoon,
I noted that Chuck had already manned his plane for the return flight.
I climbed up on the starboard wing to learn if he had made the exchange
and to pay him for the beer. After I got off the wing and was walking
back to the island, I observed that our Air Boss, Charlie Irrabino had
climbed up on the wing and was speaking to Chuck.
Well I thought Oh Boy for sure the deal was up and I
was certain to catch it!. About three or four days later Chuck was once
again aboard the "Sweetpea" and I was curious as to whether
our deal was down the tubes or what. I asked Chuck what Charlie had said
to him during the encounter just before his last launch. To which Chuck
replied, that Charlie had requested, if he had enough room would he bring
back a Pinch bottle of Scotch for him. Now it can be told that medicinal
spirits were supplied by those early COD pilots.
BTW Little Joe Wilson was one of the Captain's (Bill
Gallery) favorite underway OOD's aboard CV-37. USS Princeton was the first
carrier to be taken out of mothballs because of the Korean Police Action.
to Chuck (Schlitz) Sheehan, may he rest in peace, Nick