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…
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.
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”!
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
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.
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
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.
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!