I recently received this photo from William Morgan of the signal gang off the coast of VietNam in 1972. We don’t need no stinking sunscreen! Good times!
A shipmate recently forwarded to me copies of some of our deck logs for some dates during 1972. He had acquired these through either the National Archives or the Naval History and Heritage Command. Deck logs are the Navy’s way of documenting ships movements, weather conditions, musters, gunfire, casualties (both material and personnel), readiness status and any other notable occurrences. The entries during a watch are signed by the OOD at the end of his watch on the bridge. Included here are only for a few select dates. A couple of them are title pages only, but are included to give an idea of where (lat/long) we were at a certain time period. The latitude and longitude logged on any page can be plugged into Google Earth to see our location at a certain time. The only editing I did to them is on 2 occasions where casualties/injuries were logged with the crew members social security number, so I obscured those for their security. The handwriting is hard to read on some of these, but will give some insight to just what we were doing during that memorable summer of ’72.
|April 8, 1972||April 15, 1972||April 16, 1972|
|April 17, 18, 19||May 1, 1972||June 21, 1972|
1. Buy a steel dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.
2. Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls.
3. Repaint your entire house every month.
4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of the bathtub and move the shower head to chest level. When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.
5. Put lube oil in your humidifier and set it on high.
6. Once a week, blow compressed air up your chimney, making sure the wind carries the soot onto your neighbor’s house. Ignore his complaints.
7. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.
8. Once a month, take all major appliances apart and then reassemble them.
9. Disassemble and inspect your lawn mower every week.
10. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, turn your water heater temperature up to 200 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they used too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed.
11. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can’t turn over without getting out and then getting back in.
12. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 3 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say, “Sorry, wrong rack.”
13. Make your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.
14. Have your neighbor come over each day at 5 am, blow a whistle so loud Helen Keller could hear it, and shout, “Reveille!”
15. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she’s going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in your backyard at 6 am while she reads it to you.
16. Submit a request chit to your father-in-law requesting permission to leave your house before 3 pm.
17. Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day, whether it needs it or not.
18. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering it to you.
19. Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a different one.
20. When your children are in bed, run into their room with a megaphone shouting that your home is under attack and ordering them to their battle stations.
21. Make your family menu ahead of time without consulting the pantry or refrigerator.
22. Post a menu on the kitchen door informing your family that they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour. When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.
23. Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.
24. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread.
25. Set your alarm clock to go off at random during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to button your top shirt button and tuck your pants into your socks. Run out into the backyard and uncoil the garden hose.
26. Every week or so, throw your cat or dog in the pool and shout, “Man overboard port side!” Rate your family members on how fast they respond.
27. Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don’t plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup, “Stove manned and ready.” After an hour or so, speak into the cup again, “Stove secured.” Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoebox.
28. Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4 hour intervals. This is best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.
29. When there is a thunderstorm in your area, get a wobbly rocking chair, sit in it and rock as hard as you can until you become nauseous. Make sure to have a supply of stale crackers in your shirt pocket.
30. For former engineers: bring your lawn mower into the living room, and run it all day long.
31. Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking.
32. Have someone under the age of ten give you a haircut with sheep shears.
33. Sew the back pockets of your jeans on the front.
34. Every couple of weeks, dress up in your best clothes and go to the scummiest part of town. Find the most run down, trashiest bar, and drink beer until you are hammered. Then walk all the way home.
35. Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to Disney World for “liberty.” At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need to get ready for inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house.
REPRINTED FROM AN OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE USS GURKE (DD-783)
The vets coming home after serving their country will need all the job search help they can get. Nowadays with all the means of communication available it’s easier than ever to make contact, but landing that job is something else. A lot of useful information can be found HERE at monster.com. This is just one resource as the internet has all sorts of job help information for both the vet and those doing the hiring. Welcome home and good luck!
Above is a link to a site by the VA with some job search and interview tips as well as many other useful resources.
Some of my work history
When I got out of the Navy at the end of October 1973, I had a hard time finding work right away. I came home to a wife and child with another child on the way, so my lifestyle was pretty much shaped for me. Sure, even with a family to care for, you’re still sort of restless after 4 years away from civilian life. I can see why a lot of guys that came home without any immediate responsibility fell into some bad habits and lifestyle choices. It’s easier than you may think to do so! By Christmas of ’73 I had run through all my US Savings Bonds I had collected during the last 4 years. I still hadn’t found a job, so to pay the rent and have a christmas I went out and painted scenes on windows for businesses with water based paints for about $25 a pop. That’s a hard way to make a living!
Shortly after New Years ’74 somebody said “Hey, you should go see Mr. Howell down at the state unemployment office.” Mr. Howell was supposedly the “go to” guy for vets at the time here in Vancouver, WA. He got me a swing-shift position at a saw mill over in North Portland. I wasn’t about to turn anything down, so I went for it. It’s the middle of winter and I’m working outside (under cover) running the saw or palletizing the little pieces of alder to be shipped to a furniture company in California. Not the most pleasant work, but I stuck with it. After about a month the night foreman comes into the lunch room during a break and tell us a bunch of us are going to be laid off.
So, it’s back to downtown Vancouver to see Mr Howell again. This is right around the first of February and my son will be born in a few days, so I really need some work. This time he sends me over to the VA hospital here in town to see about an opening they have in the Building Management Department at Barnes Veterans Hospital. I go to meet with them and land a gig in Read the rest of this entry »
The other day I was looking around the forum at the site “The Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War” ( http://vasvw.org ). I found that the National Archives now has the gunline records for every ship involved in NGFS. The Combat Naval Gunfire Support File (CONGA), 3/1966 – 1/1973 contains a record for every naval gun fire mission during that period of the Vietnam War. Each record contains the date, time, target coordinates, rounds expended, etc.
Some comments about the table. I’m not sure how to read the mission start and end times. At first I thought they were regular military time with hours, mins, secs, but then there were some starting with “29”. I suspect they are some sort of minute counts. With some simple math you can figure out how long some of the missions were. Yeah, I remember some of those 5 hour periods at General Quarters! Note that I color coded the left column so you can easily see the months of April, June and July. These 70 missions are not totally inclusive of all of our time on the gunline. There were many times we were there, but no ordnance was expended, meaning that no report was filed to show in these records. There were the times that we were there acting as a decoy or running interference for the guided missile light cruiser USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5), while they pounded inland targets with their 5″/38 and 6″/47 guns. Note that we fired a total of 4043 rounds. Another concern is the last column that shows range to target in thousands of yards. Those numbers cannot be right. I saw some other ships records displayed this way, too. I suspect the zero on the end needs to be dropped or maybe was intended to have a decimal point preceding the zero. Anyway, drop the zero and the distances will make sense, as I recall. Maybe a weapons guy can confirm this. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, what can you say about the City of Olongapo on the island of Luzon in the Philippines? When I was in high school, I had a couple of friends who were older and had joined the Navy right after they graduated. When home on leave they would tell stories of a place in the West Pacific that you just couldn’t believe. You sort of blew it off as over-excited storytelling and tell yourself that there just can’t be any place on earth like this. Then, you get there and realize they were pretty accurate in their descriptions of this small Philippine city that appeared to pretty much survive on the money spent by soldiers, sailors and airmen looking to cut loose.
Whether you just spent months at sea or crawling through a jungle you need some sort of way to just relax for awhile and have some fun. I’m guessing that in 1972 the average age of enlisted military personnel was probably in their early 20’s. There were those who enlisted after high school and were sent to the fleet immediately after boot camp. So many who had never stepped foot into a bar, tavern or night club were allowed to do so here. This was where many young men could test their endurance and capacity for consuming alcohol among other substances, since many weren’t of legal age stateside. When off-base you were still