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.
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 »
February 21, 2012
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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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.
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.
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.
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…
January 9, 2012
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.
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”!
Our usual view of the USS Coral Sea while on planeguard duty. Photo by Jim Marino.
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 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.
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.
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