SEC’Y: CAPT Dave Carruth, USN (Ret.)
CLASS OF 1948 SHIPMATE COLUMN
SUMMER 2009 (May, June, July & August)
This is being written for submission on 11 May. It will be the Summer issue of Shipmate.
I have found that frequently an article in the magazine will generate letters which everyone would enjoy. The following is one of those:
Bob Ghormley 11 th Co. writes, I had to smile while I read the fine write up Tom O’Connor 19 th Co. sent to you about the Supply Corps. I look back on my own career with thanks for the wonderful assignments I had and the experiences I was involved in. When I reported to a destroyer for duty I was delighted to get a ship just returning from the Med and scheduled to go into the Navy yard for an extensive overhaul, meaning no long family separations. Well the day I reported I was escorted first to CIC and given my watch assignments then to the supply office. It seems that being a Naval Academ graduate I was expected to stand underway line office watches. As to no long separations, a few months after reporting we were surprised to get orders to go from Norfolk to Korea and yes I was operating on the East Coast as I had requested, only it was the East Coast of Korea for a year.
My next assignment at sea was on an AK with a very special secret mission, which kept us tied up in Norfolk most of the time. Except for our skipper and executive most of the officers had been in the merchant marine. Other than myself only the executive officer and the captain knew how to use a maneuvering board so one of the three of us had to be on the bridge whenever we were in fleet exercises. The next thing I knew I was designated as the CIC officer. Not long after that I was also designated as cargo officer to stop the pilferage of our cargo. Underway for refresher training at Newport was next and I was chosen by the training team to anchor the ship since I was the CIC officer and they had their reservations about a supply officer being the CIC officer. This was to be my first and for the safety of the navy ships my last attempt to anchor a ship. I looked at the charts, figured out when to drop the anchor and watched as we began slowing down. Then from the bridge I could see a cloud of brown dust bursting from the bow high into the air followed by the first lieutenants cry to clear the deck as rust unused chain raced down the hawse pipe. By this time I had ordered BACK FULL, and the ship was trembling as we slowly came to a halt and to my relief we had not gotten to the bitter end of the chair. Close but still intact. I remember looking at the observer and saying well we hit the spot as you requested and a relieved captain and observer broke out in laughter.
As cargo officer one of the first things I did was change all of the locks to the holds and whenever we were loading or unloading cargo I had my storekeepers armed with 45s in each open hold. Cargo theft stopped, but little did I realize what was next. We were in Naples, Italy unloading cargo with local longshoremen doing the work. We were on a tight schedule for our next stop was France with the household effects of the Sixth Fleet’s new commanding Admiral. At about midnight suddenly all unloading stopped and a large black sedan came down the peir stopping at our gangway. Out of the car came a group of men, all dressed in dark suits with hats just like the gangster movies of the ‘30s. They came up the gangway and in broken English demanded to see the Captain. I met them and introduced myself. It turns out that they were the bosses of the Naples stevedores. They wanted to know why we had armed men in the holds and asked if we did not trust their men? They added that all work would remain stopped until we removed the armed sailors. After I explained that the ship’s crew were the thieves and the armed were there to stop the pilferage by our own men, not theirs, all was forgiven. A cup of coffee in the wardroom and round of handshakes, and all was well. The stevedores got back to work. The good news was that we were able to get underway in time to meet our next port of call on time.
We all have sea stories to tell and we all have taken on unusual tasks during our careers, often jobs we never trained for or thought about, but tasks we were asked to do.
To many civilians this “can do spirit” is not understood or appreciated but it is a very big part of our life and is personally very rewarding.
Bob I thoroughly enjoyed your story.
In time we each retreat behind a mask
As we become engrossed in our affairs
And move by rote to every re-born task
Oblivious of all the other spheres
Continually turning round our lives
In orbits of their own, yet touching ours.
Much as we cavalierly notice flowers,
Failing to sense the wonder of each one
Until a sudden break in the routine
Shows clearly what we’ve known but haven’t seen;
Without our friends the joy of life is done.
God made man in His image—that is true
And so I have been blessed in knowing you.
Two years ago I arranged to have a book of her 300 plus poems printed for our family. I gave it to her on her 85 th birthday. I’m pleased that she was able to appreciate it. I read from it to her now. She remembers most of the poems and enjoys thinking about them.
Thanks Bob .
This is from Claire Frahler, wife of Andy Frahler 13 th Co.:
If we hadn’t served in the Navy all those years I never would have:
Lived in Key West in the days when the town turned off the water at certain times each day-
Traveled up the Merritt Parkway on orders from N.J. to R.I. while nursing a two week old baby and yelling “Don’t let anyone pass us Andy”
Lived in a metal Quonset hut in Annapolis when the water pan under the ice box overflowed and trailed into the living room.
Crossed the country before motels and fast foods came into existence-ever stayed in a tourist home or rustic country cabin?
Seen a Rose Bowl game with its fabulous parade had we not been stationed in Long Beach.
Survived the Newport hurricane with only a tree limb coming through the living room window. Thank goodness for gas stoves and candles!
Enjoyed the Seattle Worlds Fair if we hadn’t been stationed on the West Coast.
Spent Christmas Day with our three children aboard ship because Andy had the duty in Long Beach.
Interviewed for the wive’s publication, the Warrant Officer in Monterey whose story became a Hollywood movie “Yours, Mine, and Ours”
Resided in Washington, D.C. when John Kennedy became our first Catholic president.
Driven six days across the country with a child on either side of a Portacrib and a nine month old inside holding on for dear life.
Had my picture taken with Eleanor Roosevelt when she came to speak at the Monterey Peninsula Jr. College.
Welcomed the Army being called out to quell the Chicago riots at the Democratic National Convention when we were stationed at Great Lakes, IL
Flown Space A to Saudi Arabia where our oldest son Don, was the senior Naval officer in Dhahran. When we returned I clapped along with the Army guys when our plan landed on US soil.
CHANGE IS A TONIC
Clair, I’m certain you have brought up some memories for most of us.
Bunganich, J. Jr. 2/5/24-02/25/09
Dunn, Syd W., Jr. 3/24/26-3/19/09
Hatmaker, D.B. 7/30/23-2/15/09
Lipschutz, H.B. 10/10/24-3/25/09
Nelson, P.W. 4/15/24-2/16/09
Yates, W.K. 4/30/23-2/15/09
Wives Castle, Jeanie 9/9/08
Chadima, Charlotte 1/22/09
Hatmaker, Barbara 1/30/07
Tardiff, Ruth 5/21/07
Tobin, Millie 2/13/09
Our prayers and condolences are extended to the families.
For the record, from the data I have available we still have 389 graduates on deck.
A letter from Judd Shook 15 th Co. tells me that in the CEC story I missed two Classmates who transferred from CEC to the Air Force namely Judd and D.M. Smith 19 th Co.. Both retired from the Air Force as Lt Col. I have also been told that GeorgeLeighton 21 st Co. was CEC. Thank you for helping me to correct that oversight Judd.
Finally, a letter from Augie Albanese 3 rd Co. which I really enjoyed.
In addition to my being the youngest in the Class there are two other items which others may, or may not, be able to match. They are:
I never graduated from High School.
I have a “CERTIFICATE OF LITERACY” from the State of New York.
All entry exams were given during the first part of my Senior year in High School. USNA was calling up alphabetically so they called me in May. Final exams and graduation in NY was for late JUNE. Thus no diploma because I did not complete the NY Regents requirement.
Why a CERTIFICATE OF LITERACY? While home on leave I went to register to vote. At the time NY required that you be able to read and write in English (later ruled illegal). The only acceptable proof of literacy was a NY High School Diploma or pass a written test. Not having a NY Diploma, and attendance at USNA did not have any impact, resulted in a written test and the issuance of a CERTIFICATE OF LITERACY. When I became a Manager for a GE International business a friend framed the certificate and posted it in my office. His comment was that now could prove I was literate and others couldn’t.
NY must have felt that a NY High School education was superior to a USNA education.
The next Shipmate will be a September-October issue.
You should by now have received a flyer concerning a ten day Class cruise out of San Diego leaving on Jan 22 nd 2010. If you have the flyer please give it thoughtful consideration for it should be a good gathering. If you don’t have the flyer contact me or Chuck and Rhona Gorder.