SEC’Y: CAPT Dave Carruth, USN (Ret.)
CLASS OF 1948 SHIPMATE COLUMN
I am starting this column on Nov. 5 th of 09. Our recent discussions regarding the youngest member of our Class elicited letters from two wives who were convinced that their husband was the youngest. Let’s start with Isabelle Gammon. Just to help keep the records straight I believe my husband Jim was the youngest. His birth date was Aug 28, 1926. In July 1947 he was at the top of the Mark in San Francisco and was refused a drink much to his chagrin.
Betty and I had a similar incident at the Brown Derby. As I recall one of the big bands was playing there so I took her to dinner and dance. I was in uniform, that’s all I had, and she was dolled up with a small purse and no ID. The management said she was a minor and wouldn’t serve us despite our wedding rings and my ID card. We had a good evening anyway. We were both 22.
The second letter is from Peggy Rawlins –I am writing because my Shipmate just arrived and mentioned the classmates ages on entering USNA. Well, Bob Rawlins 4 th Co. certainly is the youngest as he was born Aug 15, l926. His wives were Johnny Bell 4 th Co (deceased) who called him Chick because he was so young (he hated that!) and Jim Gildard 4 th Co (deceased).
For the record Augie is still the youngest.
Peggy also provided an update on her doings. She now lives at 519 Liberty Cap Ct., Grand Junction, CO 81507 so she starts with- you can see I moved from Parachute 5 years ago due to the horrible gas and oil drilling all around my once beautiful area. I fought it daily, lobbied in D.C. and Denver and won new regulations for gas drilling, but they need to be stricter. A new company came in and will be drilling 200 wells inside Battlement mesa the town, 5,500 feet high where I lived overlooking the CO River and 3 mountain ranges-now filled with flaring, stinking, polluting rigs. The first well will be on the 6 th hole of the gold course, the second behind the elementary school, 3 rd just a few feet from the cemetery and the 4 th just below my old house, the 5 th behind the brand new Jr. High and so on.
I can understand why she moved. I told her it reminds me of the oil wells on the capitol grounds in OK.
The follow up from last Shipmate—Betty and I attended the award presentation to Bob Baughman of the VADM JAMES BOND STOCKDALE LEADERSHIP AWARD at the Pentagon on Nov. 3 rd. I had not been in the Pentagon for over 20 years so must alert any of you planning to come back here to visit said bldg. the interior has changed a lot, almost all for security reasons. The ceremony was impressive and the Hall of Heroes was filled, notably with a large number of Admirals including the CNO. The other officer receiving the award graduated from the Air Force Academy and was commissioned an Ensign. Both are currently stationed in Iraq.
For Homecoming this year ’48 had nothing planned beyond the game and tailgating. Our attendance at the home games has dwindled to about 12 regulars due, I think, not only to our advancing age but also because the games start at 3:30 pm which means that people from the Washington area must drive home, on the beltway, in the dark. Speaking for myself, I don’t drive after dark anymore. Anyway, Bill Bass 20 th Co. tells me that Ed Robie ’43 was responsible for arranging the joint 42-43-44-45 homecoming dinner, held at Ginger Cove but had space left over and asked Bill if he could ask about 18 of the Class of ’48 to join in. Bill says it was a good party, but the classes pretty much stayed to themselves. The entertainment was by nine members of the Women’s Glee Club from USNA; delightful young women, beautiful singers, and great representatives for the Academy women.
Those in attendance from ’48 were, Toni and John Fry 21 st Co, Courtenay and Bill Bass, Marion and Don Buhrer 5 th Co., Amante and Roger Carlquist 19 th Co., Elizabeth and Bill Reed 18 th Co., Patty and Tony Duncan 4 th Co., Carol Manganaro, Carolyn Rardin, Joan Abel, Marguerite and Charlie Heid 17 th Co..
Bill’s comment about the classes staying to themselves reminds me of the Christmas dances we had at Bethesda until that club closed. We always had a really good turnout, many classes, formal, dancing to a band playing our favorite music. The club always presented an excellent meal, and a good time was had by all, but there also the classes pretty much hung together. I recall more than one trip to and from that dinner dance in some really, really rotten weather and accompanying really, really bad beltway traffic.
Our discussion of birthdays wasn’t the only thing which stirred up a response. The discussion of Gator Navy prompted the following from Jack LeDoux 11 th Co. —
I read with interest our last Class notes and the stories we had as young officers. My first ship was the Astoria (CL- 90) and the skipper was none other than Beany Jarrett. But the story I wanted to tell was my second ship, a cargo ship, Grainger (AK-184). The orders I received were to report as Head of the Deck Dept. How could a young ensign be head of anything, I thought. I had to report ASAP so they put me on a PBY from SF to Hawaii. I soon found out that I was the “Mr. Roberts” of this ship with the exec, a mustang LCDR, as the bad guy. The following is my first day on the Grainger.
It was about 11 p.m. when I arrived at the pier where the Grainger was moored. The jeep driver took my gear aboard and I was escorted to the Captain’s cabin. The Captain was sitting at his desk in his skivvies (it was rather warm). I think he had a glass of whiskey on the desk but he seemed sober enough. He greeted me with a smile and a slightly puzzled look. I think he expected an older looking officer. I think he thought I had just graduated and not someone with shipboard experience.
When he realized that I had some 12 months on a Cruiser he seemed a little relieved. Then he asked me if I was qualified OOD. “I was on the Astoria, sir” I replied. “That’s good enough for me” he rejoined. “We leave port tomorrow morning, Mr. LeDoux. I want you to take her out of the harbor” he commanded. With that he bade me good night and the seaman took me to my cabin.
There I was on a ship I knew nothing about in a harbor that I was unfamiliar with and I was supposed to somehow pilot her out to the open sea. I managed to find a petty officer to talk to about the ship and to my chagrin I found out that the Grainger was a single screw vessel. Even the YPs at USNA had a port and starboard engine. The only single screw boat I had ever handled was the 30 ft. motor launch we had at the Academy. I was able to find a copy of Knight’s Seamanship and review what happens when you back down such a vessel with the rudder to port or starboard. I tried to study the harbor at night and I reviewed the charts and so forth but I was very nervous. I assumed that the Captain would bail me out if I got into trouble.
The next morning I was on the bridge with a crew I did not know with a Captain that drank too much. The Astoria had four screws and about 100,000 horsepower. The Grainger had a single diesel engine of about 2500 horsepower with a single screw and later I found out she had a very small rudder.
After morning colors and some introductions to the crew members on the bridge, the Captain said “Take her out”. “Aye, Aye sir” I replied trying to not look nervous. So following what I had read the night before, I ordered the stern lines to be let go, put the rudder hard to starboard, and all back on our little engine. When we had moved about 30 degrees from the pier, I ordered the bow lines to be cast off, put the rudder amidships and backed away from the pier. When I thought we were far enough out, I ordered the engine to all ahead one-third. I noticed that it took quite a while before I could sense that we had stopped going back and had started to move forward and turning to the right.
I turned to the quartermaster and remarked “She doesn’t respond very quickly does she? He said “No, Sir, she doesn’t”. So with that assurance, I ordered the helm to amidships realizing that she would continue to go right until we got some headway. Somehow we managed to follow the buoys out of Pearl Harbor and into the open sea. The Captain had not uttered a word, just a nod of the head. As we cleared land, he went below to his cabin. I had the deck for about an hour and was finally relieved by the next OOD. Later I found out we only had 5 officers on the ship including the Captain and the Exec. That left the 3 of us to do the 24 hours of OOD duty, 8 hours per day, plus whatever other work we had to do in running our divisions.
Now I realized why NavPers had ordered me as “Deck Dept Head”. I was the only officer in the Deck Department. Actually I was the 1 st Lt, cargo officer, and gunnery officer. Our weapons were two 20mm machine guns, one on each side of the bridge. On most ships the 2mm were the smallest and least effective type of weapon. From time to time, we were able to blow up a few drifting mines.
Well done Jack and I’m certain you have relived those moments more than once. Writing it down in your biography for your progeny probably allowed you to really get everything into context. I too spent some time banging away at floating mines with 20mm, 40mm but found that the greatest success was achieved with a shoulder weapon.
Speaking of writing it down in your bio., this is something each of you reading this should either be working on or have finished. If you have a computer and the motivation you should be able to give your children and grandchildren a wonderful gift. You notice I used the progressive tense above. That is because I have been working on mine for years and am not finished. I find that each time I try to work on it I start reading what I have already written and begin adding to it. A professional writer friend tells me it is a form of writer’s block and you must intentionally write to the end then go back and add as you see fit. Otherwise it will never be finished.
As is now always the case I am sad to report the loss of the following friends, Classmates and wives—
Phillips, K.E. 15 th Co. 8/9/25-10/01/09
Yates, A.J. 3 rd Co. 9/24/25-11/01/09
Bowers, E.S. 14 th Co. 6/27/25-11/27/09
Anne, Castruccio 11/18/09 Wife of Nick Castruccio 4 th Co.
Mavis McDonald 10/24/09 Wife of C.A.K. McDonald 7 th Co
Our condolences to the families and our prayers are with them.
Many of you out there are volunteering and doing good things for society. On Oct. 11 the Annual Bruce Gorder 5K Walk for Melanoma was held and brought supporters of all ages together to raise money and awareness of melanoma research. The event, established by Cancer Center board member Charles “Chuck” Gorder, Sr. 12 th Co. has raised more than $1 million dollars since 1992. It honors Chuck’s son, Bruce, who lost his fight against melanoma at age 37.
As you read this we are into a new year. May this one prove to be the one in which we find a peaceful solution to the world situation and bring our fellow servicemen and women home with great honor.