Lisco Locker Reunion 2019

August 7, 2019

USS Francis Hammond (DE-1067)
Radarmen/Operation Specialists
July 19-21, 2019

Lisco Locker Reunion 2019

L-R, Scott Gillespie, Patrick “Archie” Ellis, John “Bloomers” Blumthal, Dennis “DC” Clevenger, Bobby “Stubby” Daniel (lower), Herb Helpingstine, Bebie Lisco, Ray “Marvelous Marv” Martin, Jeff “Z” Zavada, Ken Lisco (lower), Boyd “Stanley” Thomas and Paul Haldaman.

It had been 49 years since most of us first met on board the USS Francis Hammond (DE-1067) as plank-owners and commissioning crew in 1970. The reunion idea started with a conversation between John Blumthal and Scott Gillespie after the Hammond Reunion in Branson during  the summer of 2018. That’s when John “Bloomers” Blumthal created the Lisco Locker Gang FaceBook page as a seed to start some reunion conversation. A big shout out to John for tracking us all down using a background checker called SPOKEO and setting up the event at the DTC Hilton Garden Inn in Denver, CO. John was also the designated driver with a rented van to make airport runs as well as hauling us to local drinking/dining spots.

Ken Lisco and wife Bebie

Ken & Bebie Lisco

The DTC Hilton Garden Inn treated us well with a breakfast buffet every morning. They also had a bar that we closed down every night as you would guess old sailors will do. We also had a meeting room available for 8 hours per day supplied with bottled water, soft drinks and ice. Darcy’s Irish Pub was the local designated watering hole. On Saturday we did a group excursion to the Denver Lodo district via RTD (light rail). Watering holes visited were Thirsty Lion Pub and Wynkoop Brewing Company. On the last day (after most of us had flown home) Bloomers, Stubby and Herb did a road trip to Evergreen,  Idaho Springs and Winter Park to explore some of Colorado’s beauty.

Scott Gillespie & Paul Haldaman

Scott & Paul

Many of us in this crew were on the Hammond’s first two WestPac’s. The 1972 cruise was a first for most of us but we had some good guidance from the “salts” that had come from the fleet to join this crew. We went through good times and bad times together. Through it all, as the radar gang bound together, we always had each others backs. We worked hard and we played hard as a tight-knit team.

Boyd & Patrick

Boyd & Patrick

As we settled into the reunion gathering, it became evident that the comradery and closeness of this brotherhood was still there. We re-lived many of the experiences, both good and bad, and filled in those gaps in our memories that helped shape us for our futures. All in all I cannot think of a better bunch of men to have served with!

 

 

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Dennis, Herb, Boyd & Patrick

Stubby-Ray-Jeff

Bobby, Ray & Jeff

 

 

 

 

Lisco Locker Reunion 2019 - Partial Group

Partial group – L-R, Ken, Bebie, Dennis, Patrick, Jeff, Scott, Paul, John, Aileen (Kens daughter).

Group photo at hotel

L-R, Ray, John, Dennis, Scott, Bobby & Paul. Sitting is Boyd, Jeff & Herb.

The cherry on top of this reunion is that John had designed a commemorative coin to have minted for us to mark the occasion. The coin idea came to him while browsing Navy souvenir sites. He wanted something that you could hold in your hand and had volunteered to take this on himself.  You can read more about this HERE.


The Coin Story

August 7, 2019

USS Francis Hammond (DE-1067)
Radarmen/Operation Specialists
July 19-21, 2019

By John Blumthal

Lisco Locker Gang Tribute Coin

Lisco Locker Gang Tribute Coin.

The Coin Content Identified
On the front of the coin, the ship is a 3D image of the Knox Class Destroyer Escort. The ship is positioned over a map of Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands. Subic Bay had a large Naval Station that was home port to most of the US Navy ships while assigned duties in the South China Sea. Olongapo City was located in the Northeast part of Subic Bay. This port was a sailor’s paradise, with bars, hotels and nightclubs galore. All of us in the Lisco Locker Gang will warmly remember our times in Olongapo City.

On the back of the coin, a radarman/operations specialist (RD/OS) symbol is set on top of a map of the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin where the Navy fought a large part of its war effort during the Vietnam War in an area known as “Yankee Station” off shore of the South Vietnam coastal city Da Nang. The RD symbol was placed on top of Yankee Station and enlarged. The RD symbol is a circle with an arrow through and behind it. In the middle of the circle is a sine wave with two peaks. These peaks represent radar contacts from the original radar equipment developed during WWII and the arrow represents the ability to detect the azimuth or direction of the target. The map comprises a part of South East Asia where the Vietnam War was fought.

Please note that all of the Lisco Locker Gang started out as a Radarman and left the Navy as an Operations Specialist. Basically the Navy changed the name because we did a lot more than just use radar when we were out at sea.

Why a coin
The coin idea came to John while he was browsing Navy souvenir sites. He wanted something that you could hold in your hand.

The Rough Design
The design started as a circle on a piece of printer paper. An inner circle was added to define one edge of a curved text area along the edge of the coin. The inner circle would contain map of the Gulf of Tonkin & the South China Sea. The radarman rating symbol was added to this side and it was named RD side. The RD side was an attempt to define the Vietnam War part of our WestPac cruises.

The other side was identified as the Ship side. Like the RD side, this side of the coin represents the liberty port we visited most often. Olongapo City in the Philippines will remain in our memories forever.

John found an Android App that would take a JPG or a PRN image and produce a 2D coin image proof. This app was very useful to get an idea of how much detail will be recognizable when the coin was rendered. The ship needed more detail and at a high resolution to be scaled down to the coin size of 2”.

Carol, Chloe and Dennis Design Team
Once John had the rough design drawn out on paper he contacted his niece Carol Blumthal, an artist of many talents. Carol and John discussed the idea of the coin and also the division of duties. At that time it was decided to invite Chloe Kendall, also one of John’s nieces, to the team to do the graphic design work for the coin.

About half way through the design process, Carol was excused from her involvement with the coin and Dennis Clevenger was approached to review the existing design and assist with the production end of the project.

The Search for the Ship Image
The initial design for the ship was built from scratch by Chloe. Her ship was actually pretty good for someone who had never draw a navy ship before. As good as Chloe’s ship image was, we still needed more detail and building the ship image from scratch would be to labor intensive. John recalled a Frannie Maru (our nickname for the Hammond) Christmas card with a reasonably good image of the ship.

Chloe worked with the image long enough to determine that it was too low res for our needs with the coin design. She decided to finish the coin maps and edge lettering while John looked for an alternative hi-res ship image.

Dennis stepped up to help with the ship image. The Francis Hammond Christmas card which was re-posted to the Francis Hammond group on FB, was the image we wanted, but it was too low-res. The image was a silhouette of DE-1067 done in green for the holidays. Dennis had 3D geometry for a Knox class DE (USS Jesse L. Brown DE-1089) that he received from someone on the web and modified it to become the Hammond and then rendered the 3D data out in the perspective view that the coin needed. Now all the coin pieces (layers) were in place and ready for the challenge coin companies that would produce the coins.

The Coin Attributes
The 2” coin with antique gold finish was picked for look and feel. The diamond cut along the edge was something approaching a roped edge. No color was used to simplify the design. We considered using one of the Vietnam Veteran ribbons but without color, it was determined that the ribbon would not be recognizable. So this idea was discarded.

The Coin Manufacture
The final drawings were vector images using Adobe Illustrator. These images were sent to 4 different vendors and Noble Medals produced the best proof images using our AI file. The coin design was sent to China to produce the 30 coins requested. It took about 4 weeks for the production side of the project. On July 3rd, John received 30 coins in plastic cases.

The Coin Project Duration
The design started mid January 2019 and the project was completed when the coins were delivered in early July or about 6 months.


Deck Logs

September 9, 2016

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.

NOTE:  I recently removed the few entries for April 1972 that I had and replaced it with a transcribed version for all of April that I received from Stubby (CPO Daniels).  This version is much easier to read than the original handwritten deck logs.  The only omission in this is the name and signature of the OOD at the end of each watch.  Reading this sure shows me how the memory fades with time.  I cannot believe how many vertreps, unreps, refueling and re-arming we did!  That spring and summer of ’72 had us quite busy!  In reading this, I was also surprised how many times we shut down for a gun malfunction in Mount 51.

deck-log-icon deck-log-icon deck-log-icon
April 1972 NEW May 1, 1972  June 21, 1972

USS Francis Hammond DE/FF 1067 Reunion in 2017

November 14, 2015

USS Francis Hammond DE/FF 1067 Reunion planned for 2017.  Mark your calendars for June 15-18 2017.  The reunion is to be held in Branson, MO at the Radisson Hotel.  You can find more info HERE or contact Jeff Holt HERE.

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Gunline records

June 20, 2012

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.

DE-1067 gunline records

Click for detailed view.

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 »


LIBERTY CALL: Olongapo City

February 21, 2012
Olongapo - Looking up Magsaysay Blvd.

Looking up Magsaysay Blvd from near the bridge.

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

Read the rest of this entry »


The Lisco Locker

January 29, 2012

When you left CIC via the aft hatch, you went down a passageway that ended up at a hatch that led to the port side weather deck on the O1 level.  On the way there you passed the Sonar room, a head, an office space used by the Quartermasters and a compartment we called the “Lisco Locker”.  I think it got the name because RD3 Ken Lisco was assigned a collateral duty to take care of in there.  The space had several file cabinets in there as well as a tall metal cabinet with supplies stored in it.  On that same wall as that cabinet there was a metal wall cubby hole system.  People kept personal gear in there like books, magazines, toys, food etc.  I’m guessing this room was approximately 10×16 feet.

Secret Control Safe

I painted the Cobalt 60 character on the "Secret Control" safe. Art originally by famous underground comic artist, Vaughn Bode.

Sometime before our first Westpac I was assigned the collateral duty of the ships Secret Control Librarian.  In the Lisco Locker was a refrigerator sized steel safe with a combination lock where I was to keep all secret documents and publications for the ship.  When someone (usually an officer) needed something from there they would have to check it out, so it’s location could be tracked.  I kept a card file in the safe for my check-in/check-out system.  Often I would receive errata and addendum’s to documents that needed to be made from various government and military agencies.  I had to effect these changes usually by just cutting out the new information with scissors and taping or pasting at the proper place in the original document.  Sometimes it was as simple as an updated frequency range for a Chinese radar system or it may be a series of fuzzy black and white Soviet submarine photos furnished by CIA or other international or NATO organizations.  There was a lot of interesting reading on a mid-watch or sleepless night.  This safe is where I also stowed my cache of crackers, canned meat, cheeses, candy, etc.  Just about the safest place on board!

This room also had a workbench along one end of it where we had a stereo system and speakers mounted above it.  I remember taking a couple of naps on that workbench.  Between the first and second Westpac cruise, the radar gang pitched in and bought a small refrigerator that just fit at the end of the workbench.  We kept it crammed with soft drinks.  Sometimes when on watch, you would leave CIC to go get something from the Lisco Locker, walk in, flip on the lights and there would be someone napping with the stereo blasting Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin or something.  Other times it was a place to write letters, read or just to “shoot the shit” with someone.  Sort of a radarman’s private lounge, nice.