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

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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.

WW2 Liberty Ship Salvage

January 19, 2012

During May 2011 my business DC Graphics was hired by Ballard Diving and Salvage to create animated sequences of some of the operations involved in removing this derelict vessel from the banks of the Columbia River just east of Vancouver, WA.  The owner of the Davy Crockett had tried to salvage the vessel when it buckled and spilled contaminants into the Columbia River.  The U.S. Coast Guard stepped in and removed the owners from the vessel.  They then hired Ballard to remove the hulk on site when it was decided that it was to hazardous to move it to a local drydock facility.  All 3D modeling, animation and rendering took place in 3DS Max 2011.  After rendering using Mental Ray, all HD-1080p frames (4,000+) were assembled in After Effects CS5 and each scene delivered to the client as un-compressed AVI’s to be edited in with video and still footage.

Relieving the stress

January 15, 2012

This wasn’t your fathers WWII Navy.  This was a new Navy where you could grow your hair and beard out, didn’t worry about polishing shoes, wore your peace sign with your dog tags, head bands but yet still followed the orders given to you.  Of course it wasn’t this lax stateside, I’m talking about being in a war zone and under combat conditions.  I think our superiors just wanted us to be focused on the job at hand.  You kept your moral beliefs about being here and what your mission is, to yourself and just did your job, knowing that it wouldn’t last forever.  There was an attitude of “Not sweatin’ the small shit.”  Actually, a lot of this freedom and morale boosting came from way up the chain of command; from Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr.  He Read more…

USO show on the USS Coral Sea

January 9, 2012
USS Francis Hammond (DE-1067) on Yankee Station

Franny H. on Yankee Station. Why all the rust under the captains gig? Photo by Jim Marino.

 One day during the 1972 Westpac we had a day out on Yankee Station with no flight ops because the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) was having a USO show onboard. All ships in the Task Force were allowed to send 4 crew members to the Coral Sea to attend the show. On the USS Francis Hammond we had a lottery or raffle drawing type of contest. RD3 Jim Marino won and was allowed to pick 3 other guys to go with him. He selected RD3 Jake Holman, RD3 Marv Martin and RD3 Phil “Beetle” Bailey.

Beetle, Marv & Jake on USS Coral Sea flight deck

On the flight deck of the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43). Phil "Beetle" Bailey, Marv Martin and Jake Holman. Photo by Jim Marino.

Bob Hope was scheduled to headline the show, but cancelled due to the dangerous conditions. He had done shows onboard the USS Coral Sea earlier in the war. Jim said the show was put on by some “B” list celebrities. And I thought Bob Hope was the “Ironman” of show biz! Actually, he did a Christmas show in Vietnam later this year of 1972. I think I read somewhere that he did 13 consecutive Christmas shows for the troops there. God bless Bob Hope for all he did for the airmen, troops and sailors providing a short period of calm in an otherwise tense environment.

A chopper from the Coral Sea arrived over our helo deck to pick up Jim, Jake, Beetle and Marv to take them to the show. Jim got some great photos as you can see with this article. He says the helo ride over was “kick-ass”!

Coral Sea fly-by

Our usual view of the USS Coral Sea while on planeguard duty. Photo by Jim Marino.

“Beetle” Bailey on the mess decks

January 2, 2012

I recently received this from GMG3 Rod Ries.


I was looking at the big photo of your CIC posse and noticed that Beetle Bailey was missing.  It reminded me of an anecdote about him that I wanted to share with you.  Feel free to add it to your page if ya wanna…


Phil "Beetle" Bailey


Phil “Beetle” Bailey was an incorrigible cut-up and with his thick glasses that made his eyes big and buggy which just added to his troublemaker charm.  Along with his penchant for playing with his food down on the mess decks, he made quite an impression on two Vietnamese prisoners/peasant fishermen we captured/rescued somewhere off the coast one day.

I (GMG3 Ries) had the duty of guarding the terrified Vietnamese down in the mess hall with a big ol’ rifle which didn’t help them from being scared shitless while we waited for the ARVNs to come pick them up.

They seriously looked like they were afraid one of us white devils was gonna eat them.  It didn’t help that that was exactly the time for Beetle to come down to the mess decks and grab him a tray and seat himself down near my makeshift POW camp.  He looked directly at the two Vietnamese and they looked back.  They looked like they were gonna piss themselves and started holding each other’s hand and moaning.  I don’t think they’d ever seen anything like our Beetle before.  Of course, it didn’t help when Beetle took two olive pits off his tray and inserted one into each nostril.  The Vietnamese watched, trembling while those of us who knew what to expect from the Beetle sniggered at his antics.

GMG3 Ries

With the force of a 5″ 54 gun mount and with his huge eyes bugging out, Beetle shot them olive pits outta his nose towards the Vietnamese.  We all cracked up but the detainees just went wide eyed in terror and hugged each other.  No one was injured during this episode and we had the Vietnamese giggling before the ARVNs came to fetch `em.


Editors note:

It may have been easy to just take these guys to the beach in the Captains gig or the motor whale boat and drop them off, but there was a reason to let the ARVN guys take them.  They would want to interrogate them them to make sure they were really fishermen and not working for “Charlie”.  It was a known issue over there for fishermen to be “influenced” by the NVN to radio in naval positions and activity to shore based artillery units.  I had heard stories about in the earlier years of the war that some of these IBGB’s (Itty Bitty Gook Boats) were “accidentally” run over in the darkness just to avoid dealing with them.  Why else would a leaky, piece of shit, weather-beaten boat have a nice shiny whip antenna mounted on it?  If I recall, the guys we detained simply were in distress with a disabled fishing boat.  dc

Remember this plankowner?

December 28, 2011

On Jan. 22, 1985, James Everett decided not to report for work on the Navy tank landing ship Fresno, where he served as a chief petty officer. He was an RD2 on the USS Francis Hammond at the time of commissioning. The primary reasion for me to believe that it’s the same Jim Everett is his rating and the details of his service before 1970, which he had told me about back then. Read the full article here.

Combat Information Center

December 22, 2011

Where I worked was called CIC.  This area was manned by those with a rating of Radarman (RD).  This rating was changed to OS (Operations Specialist) in October of 1972.  We were part of the OI (Operations Intelligence) Division which also included Radiomen, Electronic Technicians, Quartermasters and Signalmen.  The job in CIC was multifaceted and included operation of radar (both air and surface), aid in navigation, detect, plot and track friendly as well as hostile targets, communicate with other vessels and basically provide information.  Collection, analyzing, processing, display and dissemination of tactical information and intelligence is essentially what we did.  There was a reason that we were located just a few steps from the Captains stateroom and had a direct stairway to the bridge.  The skipper, the XO or the OOD (Officer of the Deck) could step in CIC anytime and see the big picture of what is going on around us through the use of status boards.  These were steel-framed sheets of acrylic or plexiglass that were edge-lit and displayed information.  The room was always dark when underway, with nothing but red lights overhead to protect night vision.  The status boards stood out brightly in that environment.  They would be written on from the back with yellow grease pencils then when viewed from the front, with the edge-lighting, lit up like neon.  We had terry rags with which to erase the marks off the panel.  Sometimes when at GQ and manning our battle stations I would be assigned to the large status board that displayed the Viet Nam coastline and we would plot various positions of other vessels in the fleet on it.  Of course, for the writing or plots to be correctly visible in the room you had to write backwards from the back of this board.  You worked from the back of the board so that the information was never obscured from the front.  I can still quickly write backwards to this day!  Some things just don’t go away.  Working with legible logs and sometimes having to jot down codes, I got into a habit of modifying how I print zeros, 1’s, and Z’s to save any confusion.  I still sometimes do this to this day, though I’ve never run the slash through a 7.

On any Navy ship the CIC is often referred to as the nerve center of the ship.  For all the information flowing in and out of here, you would think we knew all of what is going on, but it wasn’t always so.  We would be in the dark figuratively as well as literally.  After having
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Combat Action in 1972

December 15, 2011

We left Subic Bay, PI and crossed the South China Sea to arrive in the Gulf of Tonkin on Yankee Station March 1, 1972.  For the next 2 weeks we were on plane guard duty for the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) as part of Task Force 77.  We then went back to Subic Bay for maintenance as well as a change of command ceremony for our Commanding Officer.  March 21st we were on our way back to Yankee Station with the USS Coral Sea.  April 2nd and 3rd we were relieved of planeguard duty to go on an anti-submarine exercise with a sub and a couple other surface vessels.  April 4th-7th saw us back to chasing the USS Coral Sea during flight ops.  We then spent from the 8th-20th of April offshore of Military Region One on Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) missions.  At this time we were in support of the troops of the ill-prepared 3rd Division of the ARVN.  We were firing in at targets that were radioed to us by a forward observer or spotter.  These targets consisted of troop concentrations, artillery sites and some road segments.  The Vietnamization or demilitarization plan was happening by this time so these attacks were in direct support of South Viet Nam’s Army since US troops had been significantly pulled out.  At this time there are about 130,000 Americans still here.

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Radarman “A” School

December 12, 2011

I flew out of sunny San Diego in January 1970 for 16 weeks of radar school at the Naval Training Center north of Chicago.  The plane flew into O’hare Airport late at night and boy was I surprised at the climate change!  The wind was howling and snow was piled up along the roads about 6 feet deep.  I arrived at the base sometime around midnight and was led to a barracks.  I was directed to a bunk in a room that in the darkness seemed way crappier than boot camp.  The following morning I was sent a couple of blocks away to a much nicer barracks space.  In fact, it’s hard to even refer to it as a barracks since it was more like a modern college dorm.  Two guys to a room and you each had a huge locker and storage area as well as your own desk.  The bunks had nice thick mattresses and plenty of blankets.  Good thing too, since one day that winter the temperature was 55 below zero with the wind chill.  The wind here mostly blew right off of Lake Michigan and across the base.  Most all travel for me on base was by foot, going to the mess hall, PX, school, sick bay and the club, which was sometimes challenging with the snow, ice cold and wind.  Speaking of weather, springtime brought me my first experience with midwest thunderstorms.  We get an occasional thunderstorm here in the northwest, but nothing like those back there!
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Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor

December 6, 2011

Anyone else noticed the Knox-Class Destroyer Escort in the movie Pearl Harbor?  This is the 2001 version with Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and the smokin’ hot Kate Beckinsale.  This isn’t the best war movie ever made, but I think they did good overall by mixing in CG with the live action and practicals.  Maybe we’re supposed to focus more on the “love story” thread running through the movie.  I noticed it years ago after the DVD first came out, but now have a blog to mention my finding.  Maybe I’m a bit too picky, but I don’t know what their props department was thinking to be that flagrant.  I suppose the credits at the end of the movie would show if they had naval consultants and they are to blame.  It would have maybe made the illusion a little more believable if they had at least painted over the hull numbers, since there were no 4-digit hull numbers back then.  Or maybe I’m a bit too familiar with that profile and the hull number sequence, 106x.  The unique-to-class “mack” structure is what made me pause and rewind the very first time I saw the attack sequence.

It turns out the ship was the USS Whipple (DE/FF-1062) and at the time of the movie filming, was decommissioned.  I think back in 1972 they were homeported in Pearl Harbor.  When I went on my first Westpac on the USS Francis Hammond (DE/FF-1067) in 1972, we hooked up with the Whipple and Destroyer Squadron 33 for transit to Manila or Subic Bay in the Philippines.  They participated with us in the SEATO exercise “Seahawk” in the South China Sea with naval forces from the Philippines, United Kingdom, Australia,  New Zealand and Thailand in February 1972.  Our paths also crossed a few times in the Gulf of Tonkin as both of us were involved in NGFS and plane guard duties.  They mostly chased around the USS Hancock (CVA-19) when on Yankee and Dixie stations.

The USS Whipple was constructed started in 1967, commissioned in 1970 and decommissioned in 1992 exactly the same age as the USS Francis Hammond.  The Whipple was eventually sold to the Mexico.  I’ve included a few frames from the movie here.

Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor battle scene with knox class DE/FF visible.

Notice ship below the lowest plane. Located on DVD #1 at 1:27:53

Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor battle scene with knox class DE/FF visible.

No mistaking that "mack" (mast/stack). Located on DVD #1 at 1:30:33

Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor battle scene with knox class DE/FF visible.

Familiar 5" 54 caliber gun mount on bow. Located on DVD #1 at 1:32:47

Boot Camp Memories

December 2, 2011

The first airplane ride of my life was leaving Portland International Airport bound for San Diego early in the morning on October 27, 1969.  I don’t

Ironic that this shows the date October 27, the date I entered boot camp in 1969

remember much of that first day since it was all new surroundings and situations plus I was probably severely hungover.  I think we were mostly just shuffled around prior to any official orientation.  What I do remember though, was waking up the next morning in a strange place in the top bunk in a barracks for in-processing new recruits.  We didn’t wake up to a gentle voice or pleasant clock alarm.  A couple of Petty Officers were stomping around the barracks beating on garbage can lids with night sticks and yelling at the top of their lungs for us “fucking maggots” to get up, get dressed and be out on the grinder in 5 minutes.  Yikes!  I knew this was going to be a change, but you have no clue until you go through it.

Dennis Clevenger and Dewey DeLawder

Me and Dewey DeLawder, with whom I enlisted on the buddy system.

The first few days are a blur as you’re assigned to a company, get the haircut, get your clothes fitted and issued as well as a bunch of other things with 40 other guys.  Everyone was issued a stencil that had their last name and initials and service number.  At each clothing station you were given instructions on exactly where to use your “stencil pencil” to apply your name on every single piece of clothing.  You had one with white ink for dark clothing and one with black ink for lighter items.  I can still smell the fumes from that ink.  Even though a couple of years later the Navy switched to Social Security numbers for ID, my original service number is one of those numbers forever burned into my memory.
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Additional Thanks!

November 22, 2011

Here are 3 letters of thanks that my shipmates and I received on return from our first deployment in 1972.  These are from commanders way up the chain of command, but still affirmation that we did our job well.  You’re welcome!

Click to enlarge

From the Commander of the Seventh Fleet

From the Commander of the Seventh Fleet

From the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet

From the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet

From the Commander of Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla Three

From the Commander of Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla Three

As I mentioned in the Veterans Day 2011 article, the thanks for us were few and far between.  For me, I just considered the benefits of being a vet as enough, nothing more.  The state of Washington gave vets a check for $250 as a thanks for service.  I went to 2 years of college on the GI Bill.  That was a “thanks”.  I had a brand new house built with help from the VA $0 down Home Loan Program.  Thanks!  I had a job where I went through an apprentice program and was eligible to receive a small check monthly for being a vet.  Thanks!   And now that my wife has retired and we dropped my insurance, I’m getting medical care from a VA Hospital.  Another thank you!

Veterans Day 2011

November 22, 2011

Big thanks to all the businesses that offered deals to veterans as well as active duty military on November 11, 2011.  My wife and I decided to go to Applebees that day for lunch.  We got there at just about 15 minutes before noon.  The parking lot is full but we go in anyway and there are people waiting in the entryway.  We go up to the hostess and she asks how many in our party and if one of us is a vet, then hands menus to a young kid of maybe 19 or 20.  He seats us at our booth, lays out the menus as well as the vets menu in front of me with the free entrees for veterans listed.  He gives me a thank-you pin for my shirt and takes my hand and says “Thank you for your service, sir.”  I was touched.

The manager came by our table after we had eaten and was telling us this is their busiest day of the year.  Applebees has 2500 restaurants across the country and that last year the company lost $13 million on Veterans Day.  But here they are, doing it again for the third year, saying thanks to our vets and active duty service men and women.  Good for them!

Some of the others participating were Krispy Kreme, Chiles and TGIF to name a few.  Thank you all for the recognition!  I’m from a period of time when the thanks to servicemen was few and far between, if at all.  I’m not saying I was all that deserving for my 4 years of service because there were those who gave a hell of a lot more in a shorter amount of time and thus deserved a lot more than what they got.  At the time we were taught that communism was bad and that we should go save a meaningless piece of third-world real estate on the other side of the planet from being overrun by a cruel Chinese and Soviet backed army.  As it turned out I don’t think these people gave a shit what sort of rule they were under.  They just wanted to live in peace, raise their families, animals and rice.  We go in, make a big mess, then haul ass and now they live happily under communist rule anyway.

Today we have servicemen and women returning from the mideast who are defending us from people that will find ways to come on our turf and do harm.  They’ve tried and obviously have succeeded in a few instances.  They probably will never stop, so we have to change our way of life to one of vigilance and suspicion.  Gone are the post-WWII days of the peaceful, care-free 50’s with the Nazi’s put out of business.  It’s a whole different world!  Those coming home now really deserve the thanks for their effort in protecting us and our way of life.  They are the heroes!

We should never forget that in any conflict all will give some, but there are those who will give all.  God bless those who have!