SEC’Y: CAPT Dave Carruth, USN (Ret.)
CLASS OF 1948 SHIPMATE COLUMN
I’m starting the column on 30 July.
The last column was submitted on 7 July and shortly thereafter Guy Buck 18th Co. came in with a request for help in identifying the ships in which we made our mid’n cruises. Hal Deeley 9 th Co. came forward with a list of the ships and ports of call which triggered a very active exchange of memories by many people. I sent most of the emails along to all who have email addresses and from the responses I have received the whole thing was very much enjoyed by everyone. The following will make interesting reading even if you participated in the original exchange. All are direct quotes from their emails.
From Bob Slater 12 th Co.- I was aboard WASHINGTON, and the only watch station I remember was OOD. I did enjoy that although I remember once being summoned to the after starboard corner of the bridge (that was a BIG bridge!), where CAPT F.X. McInerny (CO WASHINGTON) and RADM T.R. Cooley (COMBATDIV2) informed me that they were, shortly, going to execute a flag hoist signal “invert order”, and they wanted to know if I knew what I had to do. I told them no, but I knew how to find out – the FTP was ready to hand, and I had been instructed on that. So they told me to find out, and then come back and tell them what I was going to do. I read the book VERY carefully, and then reported back that, upon execution, I was going to slow to five knots and shear out some specified distance (I think 100 yards) to starboard: when NORTH CAROLINA had passed me, I was going to pull in behind and resume speed. WRONG!! GO LOOK IT UP AGAIN! So I looked it up again, this time getting the JOOD (a classmate) to assist. But the same answer, unfortunately. At this point, I decided that this was some kind of test; my experience with captains and admirals actually being quite limited, at that point. So, back I went, confidently. STILL WRONG!! BRING THE BOOK HERE, AND WE’LL HELP YOU READ IT! I knew their thinking: “If the top half of the class can’t read, what can the bottom half be like?”
So I brought the FTP, and we read it together. It turned out that they (relying on memory) were thinking of a different signal, “exchange positions”. The two were entirely equivalent in the case of a two-ship column, but they were executed differently. We finally executed one or the other, and they no doubt promptly forgot the whole episode.
Memories of liberty on these cruises paralleled fairly well, Cab Davis 17 th Co. wrote- our next liberty port was Ponce, Puerto Rico, on the south side of the island. They treated us well, free taxis during the day and sightseeing, and a great dinner dance with entertainment and girls at a beautiful country club. I remember a small bottle of Don “Q” rum about every two feet along the table! I reported to Libby that I had only two rum and cokes because I had been forewarned about Don “Q” by the Puerto Rican family who took some of us sightseeing. After firing our guns at Culebra (a small island off the Puerto Rican northeast coast, where Navy had a firing range), we again visited Gitmo before continuing our cruise north for 5 days in New York City.
From Don Dick 17th Co.– I was in SAVANNAH and only vaguely remember the Ponce visit except for one event; some of us went to a formal luncheon or cocktail party at a very nice club of some sort. What I remember most was that they must have rounded up every pretty young girl in the town, all dressed up and acting like southern belles. We had to be on our best behavior.
This led to a request from Don Dick which kicked off another long exchange of emails. -- Is there a chance that you might query classmates to see what is known about a small group of midshipmen marching in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Washington, D.C. funeral procession on April 14 1945? I was one of the marchers and my dominant impression is that it was long and tiring, and that my Springfield rifle was at right shoulder arms for that entire march – which left my right arm so paralyzed and rigid that I literally had to lift the weapon out of my bent right arm with my left hand, set the Springfield on the ground, and then try to free up my right arm.
Several people wrote that they remembered being very cold which seemed strange for April so Don Dick contacted the weather service and his contact responded—I checked into our records regarding the weather on April 14, 1945 in Washington, DC. There were three weather stations in operation at that time- a Weather Bureau office in the city (24 th and M St. NW), another at National Airport, and a third at Bolling Field Air Force base. The high and low temperatures for the day at the city office were 85 and 61 degrees. At the airport, they were 84 and 62 degrees. At Bolling field, they were 88 and 64 degrees.
Perhaps the marcher’s memories were that the muscles in their right arms were frozen.
We have three write-ups done at the time, that compare well. A lengthy one by Jim Ruehrmund 13 th Co. is in the process of being posted on our web site by John Tsiknas 7 th Co.. This one by Cab Davis—On Saturday April 14, 1945, as a member of the 3 rd battalion which was selected to represent the Academy, I had reveille at 5:40 AM, boarded a bus (there were 20 buses), and at 8:30 arrived in Washington, DC. We marched to the staging area for the cortege at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues. At 10 AM we started slow march to the white House, every few feet on both sides of the street a member of the armed services was standing at parade-rest. Behind them were hundreds of thousands of people, even on top of buildings-but you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet-broken only by sobbing of some along the street. It was the most impressive and touching experience I had ever had. Our nine-pound rifles were on our right shoulder for the entire time, well over an hour! We had a Sunday memorial service in the Academy Chapel and it was beautiful. I was really saddened by his death!
Paul Riley 13 th Co. wrote, on the FDR march, I was at the rear of my platoon in Dalgren Hall when the order came to square-off the end. Some short first classman about to be removed took my place and sent me back to Bancroft where I enjoyed a carry-on day and no sore arm.
Guy Buck’s wife Bebe found a huge newspaper front-page picture of a part of the parade as it neared the White House. On it Guy had written—On Friday night at chow formation, we got word that the 3 rd Battalion, due to excellent marching ability, would proceed to D.C. to be in the funeral procession. We rode in busses and left about 7, arrived about 9 a.m. We marched at the head of the thing with leggings and blue service and Springfield rifles. The Marine band was right in front of us. All in all a very beautiful parade all in slow step.
All of the above started a discussion of the rifles. Here is a sample. From Fred Jackson 18 th Co., About the rifles, which I really know nothing about and remember little, but my memory is that all the “real” rifles the Academy had before we arrived there in 1944 had gone to war and we really had “artificial” rifles which were not quite as heavy as the real thing. Does anyone else remember this? That does not change the fact that we all had to lift them off our right arm after the FDR funeral march, our right hand being immobile.
Bill Pierson 10 th Co. wrote-I was well aware that we used the “U.S. Rifle, model 1903 (Springfield Armory)” and that we changed over to the M1 (Garand) at some point in my sojourn @ Navy Tech. I was used to the U.S. Rifle, 1903 Springfield (having been brought up as an “army brat” on army posts before WWII, having used it in high school ROTC, in Navy boot camp & finally @ USNA). I did not appreciate it to the fullest until we switched over to the M1. The reason: “inspection arms” was a piece of cake with “The ‘03” all you had to do was come to “port arms” & open the bolt (the return to “port arms” was just as easy—all you had to do was reverse the procedure by slamming the bolt shut). In addition, it was so simple for everyone to synchronize the motions perfectly in order that anyone within 50-100 yards heard only one very loud metallic click when the bolts opened and later slammed shut. So what was different (more difficult and, frequently, “dicey” with the M1/Garand? Let me count the ways: (1) when the “inspection arms” order was given, you had to hold & balance the piece with your left hand and (2) simultaneously reach over the top of the piece with the outside of you right palm from the base of your little finger to the bony knob of your wrist bone, (3) engage a “C-clip) attached to the outboard side of the chamber to hold its powerful bolt spring in place as you inserted you right thumb into the chamber to press down & unlock the bolt & (4) rapidly extract your thumb before the bolt slammed shut with enough force to smash your thumb to smithereens. Synchronization by an entire company/battalion/regiment is an impossible task, and the return to “port arms” from “inspection arms” sounds like rapid machine gun fire with metallic “clicks” in lieu of the sounds of gunpowder explosions!
Other correspondents were convinced that we had British Enfields.
I contacted Jim Cheevers at the museum and he provide the following:
A listing in the USNA Museum files of USNA parade rifles beginning with the 20 th century reads as follows:
1900 U.S. Magazine Rifle Model 1898 (Krag Jorgenson Rifle)
1910 US. Rifle caliber 30 Model 1903 (Springfield Rifle)
1950 U.S. Rifle caliber 30 M1 (Garand Rifle)
1975 Springfield Armory 7.62 NATO caliber M14 Rifle
Jim Cheevers continues –no source is given, but I think it was CDR Webb Wright, who once coached the rifle and pistol teams and who was a former cannoneer who provided us the list. Please let us know if you have documentation to correct or to improve the list.
With regard to the Museum list Jim Ruehrmund wrote – I don’t want to rock the boat, but I question use of the Army’s 1898 Krag rifle at USNA. At that time the Navy had its own rifle, the model 1895 6mm Lee, used by both Navy and Marines. The M1 Garand replaced the Springfield at USNA sometime in the summer of 1945; we carried M1s in the parades that fall. Many will remember that infamous parade during centennial week in Oct ’45 when we stood at present arms for 45 minutes while our colors were decorated with the Brazilian Order of Naval Merit. The 1/c all “hooked up” by raising the rear sight and resting it on their belts. As an aside, Bill Bass 20 th Co. says none of our M1s had firing pins. Bob Kenyon 23 rd Co. adds that our bayonets were chrome plated, definitely not GI.
There is no way to avoid the sad duty of reporting that we have lost three more Classmate/wives. Jim Mellencamp 14 th Co. passed away on 7/21/10; Bill Reavis 2 nd Co. crossed the bar 7/8/10 and Peg Patterson, wife of Randy Patterson 13 th Co. died on 7/13/10. They will be missed and we send our prayers to their families.
Carol Manganaro has sent me a picture of the Classmates currently living at Ginger Cove, back row John Fry 21 st Co., Don Buhrer 5 th Co., Bill Bass 20 th Co.; seated Toni Fry, Marion Buhrer, Carol Managanaro. I hope Carol will now help me with occasional inputs on the activities of the Ginger Cove group.