Sea Stories Speak for Themselves
USS Perry 7th Reunion
Newport, RI - July 2008
Captain Spencer Johnson, USN Ret.
I have become deeply impressed during the course of this reunion that we all share a deep and enduring bond as a result of our service aboard the Perry. We served aboard the Perry at differing times and places, in the formative years of our lives. We all, individually and collectively, made the ship what she was. The Perry, in turn, made us who we are. The Perry is gone now but sails on. We are the ship. I have no greater honor in life than to know and have each of you as a shipmate.
Capt Spencer Johnson
Felix Kreskey, MM1 68-69
Commander Watson was Captain and LCDR Simpson was Executive Officer when we sailed the USS Perry to Vietnam and back in 69.
I was, at that time, an MM1 in "R" Division standing the Acting Engineering Officer of the Watch Underway position in Vietnam. One night I was called to the bridge by a senior watch officer who failed to follow Standard Navy Operating Proceedures and I had refused to follow his direct orders which would have placed my fellow crew members and the entrie engineering plant in jeapordy during refueling operations. I had been called to the bridge at around midnight and was being verbally assaulted by this officer when Captain Watson appeared from his quarters in his night cloths. He told the officer to stop immediately, he then proceeded to read the logs as we stood in silence. If it were possible up there the term "You could have hear a pin drop" would have fit perfectly! Upon completion he turned to me, thanked me, said job well done and I was dismissed. I saluted and immediately left and the crew on duty in the Conn later told me they could hear Captain Watson, who was always the coolest person you ever met, just reading this officer the riot act. Needless to say, from that time on, he always treated me great, even coming down to main control from time to time just to say hello.
I always had and will have tremendous respect for this great officer and captain of our great ship.
The USS Perry and its crew were honored guest in attendance at the Black Ship Festival in Japan on this cruise taking a group of dignitary's (SP?) up the coast to attend the festival. We anchored out in the harbor and several of us had to wear traditional uniforms of the time and attend some of the festival events. It was a great time for all of us and it will be remembered for the rest of my life.
Will look forward to future updates on the next reunion.
Hope all your family is safe and god bless.
One thing we weren't aware of at the time but became evident as life wore on was that we learned true leadership from the finest examples any lad was ever given, Chief Petty Officers.
They were crusty bastards who had done it all and had been forged into men who had been time tested over more years than a lot of us had time on the planet.
The ones I remember wore hydraulic oil stained hats with scratched and dinged-up insignia, faded shirts, some with a Bull Durham tag dangling out of their right-hand pocket or a pipe and tobacco reloads in a worn leather pouch in their hip pockets, and a Zippo that had been everywhere.
Some of them came with tattoos on their forearms that would force them to keep their cuffs buttoned at a Methodist picnic. Most of them were as tough as a boarding house steak. A quality required surviving the life they lived. They were and always will be, a breed apart from all other residents of Mother Earth.
They took eighteen year-old idiots and hammered the stupid bastards into sailors. You knew instinctively it had to be hell on earth to have been born a Chief's kid. God should have given all sons born to Chiefs a return option.
A Chief didn't have to command respect. He got it because there was nothing else you could give them. They were God's designated hitters on earth.
We had Chiefs with fully loaded Submarine Combat Patrol Pins in my day... Hard-core bastards, who found nothing out of place with the use of the word 'Japs' to refer to the little sons of Nippon they had littered the floor of the Pacific with, as payback for a little December 7th tea party they gave us in 1941. As late as 1970 you could still hear a Chief Petty Officer screaming at you in boot camp to listen to him, because if you didn't, the damn gooks would kill us. They taught me in those days, 'insensitivity' was not a word in a sailor's lexicon. They remembered lost mates and still cursed the cause of their loss... And they were expert at choosing descriptive adjectives and nouns, none of which their mothers would have endorsed.
At the rare times you saw Chief topside in dress canvas, you saw rows of hard-earned worn and faded ribbons over his pocket. "Hey Chief, what's that one and that one?" "Oh Hell kid, I think it was the time I fell out of a hookers bed, I can't remember. There was a war on. They gave them to us to keep track of the campaigns we had in country. We got our news from AFVN and Stars and Strips. To be honest, we just took their word for it. Hell son, you couldn't pronounce most of the names of the villages we went. They're all gee-dunk. Listen kid, ribbons don't make you a sailor. The Purple one on top? Ok, I do remember earning that one. We knew who the heroes were and in the final analysis that's all that matters."
Many nights we sat in the after mess deck wrapping ourselves around cups of coffee and listening to their stories. They were lighthearted stories about warm beer shared with their running mates in corrugated metal hooches at rear base landing zones, where the only furniture was a few packing crates and a couple of Coleman lamps. Standing in line at a Philippine cathouse or spending three hours soaking in a tub in Bangkok, smoking cigars and getting loaded. It was our history. And we dreamed of being just like them because they were our heroes.
When they accepted you as their shipmate, it was the highest honor you would ever receive in your life. At least it was clearly that for me. They were not men given to the prerogatives of their position. You would find them with their sleeves rolled up, shoulder-to-shoulder with you in a stores loading party.
"Hey Chief, no need for you to be out here tossin' crates in the rain, we can get all this crap aboard." "Son, the term 'All hands' means all hands." "Yeah Chief, but you're no damn kid anymore, you old fart." "Shipmate, when I'm eighty-five, parked in the old Sailors' home in Gulfport, I'll still be able to kick your worthless butt from here to fifty feet past the screw guards along with six of your closest friends." And he probably wasn't bullshitting. They trained us. Not only us, but hundreds more just like us. If it wasn't for Chief Petty Officers, there wouldn't be any U.S. Naval Force.
There wasn't any fairy godmother who lived in a hollow tree in the enchanted forest who could wave her magic wand and create a Chief Petty Officer. They were born as hotsacking seamen and matured like good whiskey in steel hulls and steaming jungles over many years. Nothing a nineteen year-old jaybird could cook up was original to these old saltwater owls. They had seen E-3 jerks come and go for so many years, they could read you like a book.
"Son, I know what you are thinking. Just one word of advice. DON'T. It won't be worth it." "Aye, Chief." Chiefs aren't the kind of guys you thank. Monkeys at the zoo don't spend a lot of time thanking the guy who makes them do tricks for peanuts. Appreciation of what they did and who they were comes with long distance retrospect. No young lad takes time to recognize the worth of his leadership. That comes later when you have experienced poor leadership or lets say, when you have the maturity to recognize what leaders should be, you find that Chiefs are the standard by which you measure all others. They had no Academy rings to get scratched up. They butchered the King's English. They had become educated at the other end of an anchor chain from Copenhagen to Singapore. They had given their entire lives to the United States Navy. In the progression of the nobility of employment, CPO heads the list.
So, when we ultimately get our final duty station assignments and we get to wherever the big CNO in the sky assigns us. If we are lucky, Marines will be guarding the streets. I don't know about that Marine propaganda bullshit, but there will be an old Chief in an oil-stained hat, a cigar stub clenched in his teeth and a coffee cup that looks like it contains oil, standing at the brow to assign us our bunks and tell us where to stow our gear... And we will all be young again and the damn coffee will float a rock.
Life fixes it so that by the time a stupid kid grows old enough and smart enough to recognize who he should have thanked along the way, he no longer can. If I could, I would thank my old Chief. If you only knew what you succeeded in pounding in this thick skull, you would be amazed. So thanks you old case-hardened unsalvageable son-of-a-bitches. Save me a rack in the berthing compartment.
The first ship I was assigned to, the USS Perry (DD-844), was a fast ship. It had oversize screws (propellers) on it which helped in the speed it was able to reach. The nautical measurement for speed is the "knot". A knot is 1.151 miles per hour so, for example, 35 knots is 40.285 miles per hour. The captain of this ship (Commander Clarke) liked to race when the opportunity availed itself. Once on our way back across the Atlantic Ocean to the U.S. from a 7 month long Meditterranean Sea cruise we were operating with several other ships "steaming" along in formation. We received notification of a rain storm up ahead of us and so the challenge came to any ships interested to have a race to get to the storm where we would receive a free fresh water washdown ... compliments of nature. When a ship has been "at sea" for any length of time is gets lots of buildup of salt crystals all over it from the sea water. Salt is corrosive and nasty to have on the surface of everything so the ship has to be washed down with fresh water which requires a lot of manpower with brooms and swabs (mops) and elbow grease ... not to mention valuable fresh water which all too often was in short supply when out to sea. So a free fresh water washdown was most welcome and needed. And so off we went racing several other ships. We had one diesel engine powered destroyer escort (DE) type ship with us which was one of the participants. Now diesel powered propulsion systems are known to be fast in acceleration compared to a steam powered system like the rest of us had. Talk was flying around our ship about this DE being able to out accelerate us but then questioning if she could stay ahead of us. It did not take long to find out as she did take off slightly faster than us but we very quickly overtook her and left her behind and out of sight. And she was far ahead of all the others at that time. Anyway, we arrived at the rain storm and went thru it and turned around to come back thru it again the opposite direction. We then turned back around and went thru it again and upon arriving on the other side of it we waited for about 30 minutes for the 2nd place ship to arrive and it was not the DE. We were most certainly way ahead of them to have had all this time to accomplish this. That was a lot of fun!
The Ice Cream Caper
This same skipper was a pretty decent joe as officers go. One time while inport we were taking stores (supplies) aboard from the pier. It was a hot summer day and we were quite hot from this activity. Someone snatched one of the large (6 gallon I think they were) containers of ice cream and snuck it down into the after steering gear room. The word was passed around to several of us in engineering to "come and get it". Several of us were doing just that ... digging into the container with our hands as that's all we had available and we were trying to "scoff it down quickly before we were missed from the working party. About that time our captain walked out onto the fantail and was standing right above the manhole leading down into after steering. Someone among us looked up and saw him looking down at us. The word was passed around that we were had ... the skipper was watching us. We all looked up at him and he said to us something like ... "Is it good?" We all answered "yes sir". He just said something like "enjoy it and carry on". That was the end of it. He didn't do anything to us. We quickly finished and rejoined the work party ... thankful, of course, that we didn't get into trouble for it.
I will give you a few quick memories of my days aboard the Perry. I came aboard as a 3rd Class Boilerman and was promoted to 2nd and took over the duties of the "OIL KING" and Log Room Yeoman.
I remember an incident caused by me while we were at sea when I switched fuel tanks and wound up pumping sea water into the boilers burners and of course put out all the fires. Capt. Archer was quite irritated with me as well he should have been but was very lenient and took it easy on me. It is enough to say it never happened again.
I was one of the sailors aboard the 50 foot liberty launch that swamped in Narragansett Bay on May 24th 1951. My recollection is that we lost 23 men in that boat accident that morning.
I would be interested in any contact I might be able to have with any of our other shipmates that were also on that launch that morning. The PERRY, GLENNON, POWER and BAILEY were nested next to the YELLOWSTONE out in the bay at that time. The BAILEY had boat duty that morning and their launch was bringing us back from liberty. In particular I would really like to find the sailor who I strongly feel saved my life that morning. After being in the water for nearly an hour without a life jacket I managed to join this sailor who had a life jacket on and floated along with him on his life jacket until we were picked up. I believe we were in the water for about an hour and forty minutes from the time the boat swamped. After being picked up by a small boat we were taken to a tug boat that was in the area and then taken to the Naval Hospital landing. I spent the next three days in the Naval Hospital.
From: Bob Willig
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17-55 ... Sent: 22:32 - 15/1
During WW2 I was a Flight Engineer and Gunner in VPB 22 we were flying a PBM Martin Mariner.
Sat. Feb. 24, 1945 we went down off the Island of Yap, still a Jap held Island, in fact our squadron had been bombing Yap and Nagulu. It was 2:30 PM and were concerned we would drift on to the Island. At 12:01 AM (Midnight) being pitch dark we noticed a large blacker image several feet ahead, there were no lights as we were in enemy territory. It was the Alvin C Cockrel (DE366) and at day light we also saw the Manlove (DE36) taking part. We were taken on board the Cockrel by climbing large nets. During the operation a Shipmate fell overboard but fortunately was rescued.
I keep thinking some day I will hear from one of the crew but time is getting short.
Any one out there????
Mechanicsburg Pa. 17055
It was a clear blue-sky day with little wind on a day in summer of 1949, in the Virginia Capes Operating area (about 150 miles or so eastward of Cape Henry). The PERRY was then in the eighth squadron (Hunter-Killer), and the entire squadron was operating with the carrier USS PALAU CV 120. The exercise called was a secondary battery (40 mm) anti-aircraft drill using a radio-controlled drone operating from the carrier as the target. The squadron took formation off the carrier's port quarter in line ahead (column) with interval was 500 yards (or so). The PERRY was seventh ship in a column of eight. The drill was simple, the drone was to make two passes at each ship, one to starboard and one to port, and if it were still flying, was to pass on to the next ship in column. I hope you have the picture. So off to battle stations we went. I was in the main battery director, and got a a clear picture of the debacle. That little red drone came at the squadron flagship from starboard - lots of shooting, but no hits, then it returned from the port side. Again the flagship ( I think it was the USS NEW, but I'm not sure) let go with her forties - same result. So the drone passed on to the next ship in line, and guess what. Same thing. Third ship - same again. Well, we had a FC1 down in Plot, who called up to main battery director and asked me to describe exactly what I observed, including the direction in which the other ships were missing. I described it as well as I could, and he said in those famous words, "Aha ! - I'll bet I can hit it! So we got permission to break condition Able, and he went aft to the Mk 51 director, and got into the tub along with the director operator. Each ship in turn produced zero results, the drone passed over the ship ahead of us, and turned to make her approach on the PERRY. On she came, but not for long! The drone started her pass at us, but never finished it. In the very first few rounds, it burst into a ball of orange flame, and the crew burst into a spontaneous cheer! (If we had been a British ship, the captain would surely "splice the main brace"). It was a wonderful sight, worthy of that wonderful ship. Well, after all the self-congaratulations (and GQ) were over, I asked the FC1 (Ski was his name), how he did it. (Any gunnery or fire-control types would appreciate this.) He said that all the other ships were missing to the "outside" of the drone's turn, and that the director was set to compute a turn radius of about 800 yards, the drone was turning in about 200 yards. All he did was to tell the director operator NOT to track the drone (keep the director "caged") until it had completed its turn, then "uncage" the director, and commence firing. Voila! So ends a sea story intended only for that small gang of gunners and fire controllers intimately involved with the intricacies of naval gunnery.
I hope that it hasn't been too long, and I hope you enjoyed it.
This is so cool!!! I scanned the log and recognized some names of those I served aboard PERRY with. I served from June 1963 to August 1965. A sea story I like to tell is about a check sight observor who could not tell a clear check-sight from a foul one.
It was in January 1964 while we were on "refresher" training off the coast of CUBA. We were on a gunfire support exercise. For realism, they had targets set up on the shore line. We went to GQ and got set up to fire. The check sight observer reported a foul check sight when we had the mounts on stand-by. The gun control officer requested details and the check ight observer reported a white truck (the targets were painted white). "You idiot, that is the target! I was pointer in the gun director and the gun control officer slapped my shoulder like it was my fault or something. Anyway, we commenced firing and completed the exercise.
The next day, we had aanti-aircraft exercise (a plane towing a sleeve). Again we order the mounts to standby. Mount 51 check-sight observer reported a clear check-sight. Mount 52 reported a foul-check sight (same guy who reported the foul check sight). The gun-control officer and I looked at each other. "What again??" he asked. Never mind, commence firing. After the first round was fired, I geard a voice on the radio yell "YOU GUYS ARE NUTS!!" I looked through my scope and, sure enough, we were locked on the plane instead of the sleeve, OOPS!!
Well, needless to say, our captain held an impromptu de-briefing after the exercise. De-briefing, hell, he just had us together so he could yell at us for an hour.
Hope to see some of you guys at the Tinton Falls Bull session next month!
Bill Janulin, FTG3
Wasn't my fault honest, I was asleep in my rack when it happened. :-)
We were playing war games. As the "Blue forces" we were escorting some other ships. We were in black out conditions at night, meaning no lights and no radar. We were allowed to operate the radar two or three sweeps every 15 or 20 minutes.
"Orange forces" submarine fired a flare that indicated they simulated firing a torpedo at the convoy. We, as a combatant with anti sub capability turned toward the sub. The York County, I was told, turned away to present the smallest target. We met in the middle. We did little damage to the York County as she was carrying a pontoon bridge on her side. We knocked it off the ship and crushed a couple of pontoons but did very little damage to the ship it's self. The Perry had about ten feet of the bow pushed in. In the picture I attached you can see where the pontoon bridge stopped above the water line. There was some underwater damage too. One of the Chiefs awoke to cold salt water running over his feet. The damage was in the Chief's Berthing space.
I heard that the Captain was ether called just before the impact or felt the ship backing down, when he came on to the bridge he could see the York County's bow light to starboard and her starboard running light to port. Standing there in his underware he had enough time to say "Oh sh**" before the impact. The York County had turned on their running lights moments
before the impact.
First I knew of it was when the collision alarm and GQ alarm went off. I went to my GQ station on the MK 5 TDT in CIC. Later we all went back aft to the fantail to help raise the bow, we were then drafted to remove all the stuff from the bosun's locker to lighten the bow some more.
Another incident we had, We were doing shore bombardment at Calibra Island in the Caribbean. We were anchored off shore during the exercise. Someone left the hatch to the anchor windlass room open. Some of the cork from the powder cases fell in the anchor windlass room and started a fire. We got it out in short order but the power to the anchor windlass was out. We
were anchored with no way to weigh anchor. A salvage tug soon came to cut our chain and hoist the anchor to their deck. I think we pulled into Roosevelt Roads for repairs that time.
We were witness to another collision. I belive it was the Noa, but it could be the Power too. The Perry was in lifeguard position ready to go along side to refuel from the oiler. I was on the flight deck (for the DASH helo) when the Weapons Officer called us over to look at the ships refueling. The Noa was along side starboard side to when she lost steering control with a small amount of right rudder on. I belive the bridge tried to steer with the screws until they could break away, but that only caused
them to slow down. The ship hit the oiler and slid down the length of the ship tearing the oil hoses out. The hoses were whipping around spraying oil every where. The side of the Noa was black with oil. I heard later they were using the port steering gear which had a shear pin in it and the pin sheared off. The starboard steering gear had no shear pin and was the required steering gear while alongside. The Perry learned from that mistake, we always used the steering gear without the shear pin after that.
About a year after these incidents Esquire magazine had an expos'e of all the unreported collisions the Navy had. Nether of these collisions were on Esquire's list. So I guess they missed a few.
I really appreciate the email you sent me on the Perry. My husband served from approx. 1962 to 1965 when he went to Bainbridge, Md for teletype school. I went on two dependent cruises and I must say they were something else. The first one almost got canceled because of choppy seas, but we went anyway. I did fine with no seasickness until I saw a sailor looking like he was walking on the side of a building. That ship suddenly became so small. The guys were great putting up with all of us dependents invading what space they did have. The second cruise was great. The sea was smooth and the whales that were between the Perry and Power gave us a good show. Only regret I had was that I couldn't go into the radio shack, but that was OK. Couldn't even peek in. I even did a navy seaman trick of grabbing the rail of the ladder and sliding down to the deck without touching the steps. I did it entirely by mistake and after i took my feet out of my armpits, the guys all heered me. Hurt my feet like the devil, but I grinned anyway. Anyway, thanks for a wonderful site. Bill and I have a lot of photos we will send you and newspaper articles, if you would like copies of. As a new Navy wife, I cut every article out of the paper that had Perry in it. Again, thanks for sending me the Email.
I remember a time, I believe in the summer of 1961 The ship received an emergency radio message that our help was needed getting a badly injured sailor off from a Submarine, I can't remember the Sub's name, but I was called upon to launch and man the motor whale boat to go to the sub and get the injured sailor and bring him back to the Perry so that we could highline him to a waiting Air Craft Carrier, another name I can't remember.
I went to the motor whale boat as fast as I could. As others were getting ready for the transport I tried to start the engine in the whale boat, but it wouldn't start. I tried every trick I knew of to start it. Everyone was on the Port side watching and waiting and the Captain was on the bridge watching and wondering. I looked down to the main deck and saw the Chief Corpman who we all called Doc. I yelled down to him and asked for a can of either. He went and got me a can. I took the top off the air intake and tied a rag over it and put a few drops on it and tried the engine. It started, but quit. I tried many times, but the engine wouldn't stay running. I yelled back down to Doc if he could get me a case of either and without waiting got it. We were going to get this sailor one way or another. Doc got back with the case of either and I started the engine and kept it running with either and had them lower the whale boat to the main deck for all hands going to get aboard. I noticed that a bosuns mate that I did not know that well, was going to go. I asked for one that I knew was a damned good coxswain, I don't remember his name , but he was black and well known. He was sent for and I explained the situation to him and that we could not use the bell's for navigation and to bear with me and the engine. The officer that went with us was A-Gangs Division Officer, Lt. JG. Smith. A fine Officer. I told him the situation and then had the boat lowered into the water and we proceeded toward the Submarine off our port side. The seas were very choppy and the engine ran just as long as I kept pouring the either to it. We arrived at the Sub and I jockyed the whale boat back and forth waiting. The whale boat took a lurch forward under a water discharge from the sub at the right moment. It poured all over Lt. JG. Smith who was sitting on the port side. He swears I did it on purpose and we joked about it later. We finially got the injured sailor on board and proceeded back to the Perry as she gracefully waited. I had allready used several cans of either and on the way back to the ship the motor whale boat engine started hammering and making all kinds of loud noises. It was starting to burn up and fall apart from using the straight either. You can't feed an engine long with either and expect it to hold together. We arrived at the ship and the motor whale boat was hauled back aboard. I quit pouring the either and the engine froze solid. We then highlined the injured sailor to the waiting Air Craft Carrier. Later back in port I had to completely rebuild the engine. It was completley shot after that rescue mission.That's also when I found out that the fuel injection pump was the reason for the engine not starting.
I have told my kids and Grandkids, that in my book, that there is no such word as can't. Some might say that what we did to get the injured sailor off the Sub couldn't be done the way we did it, But we did it. I remember this story as if were just yesterday.
Again the Mighty Honorable Ship, The USS PERRY DD-844 came through and got the job done.
She Will Be Greatly Missed By All that Served Aboard Her.
By Robert J. Schneider EN3 (Granny)
When we made the med cruise in 1964, we did not leave with the rest of the ships being deployed. Our evaporators were having trouble if I remember correctly, so we left a few days later. Because of our large fuel capacity , it was decided that we would make a speed run. The weather was unusually calm almost all the way. We had very little vibration and sailed smoothly day and night. I remember the nights as thephosporous burned in the wake and it seemed as though we were leaving a trail of fire. I sat on the fantail on those nights looking at the wake and the stars and pondered God and my place in the universe. By the time we reached the Straits of Gibraltar we were in bad need of a gas station and sure enough one was there to meet us. We were close to having to flood some fuel tanks if we hadn't refueled. The Capt. said we had set a speed record for the Gearing class with our crossing. I can close my eyes and still feel that magnificant trip.
I was the "Oil King" aboard the Perry as we were preparing for the Vietnam cruise of 1972 - 1973. I was called to the bridge on morning to talk to the Captain. The Captain requested that I pump or sluice all of the oil onboard to to the one side of the ship, the crane barge was alongside and we were getting ready to remove the gun mount barrels and replace them with new ones for the cruise. I went about my business and sluiced all of the oil from the tanks to the one side and lo and behold the ship starting listing as was desired to get the proper angle for removal and replacement of the gun mount barrels.
I remember many things about the trip to get the ship to VietNam, us snipes had most of the fun, with the generator breakdowns and all. I think we spent more time in the yards than anywhere else for our "cruise". One more memorable thing was the night on the way back when we were riding out a storm. I was in the engineering log room and the ship rolled taking a 38 degree roll by the old ship's inclinometer. Does anybody remember that on?
I served aboard the U.S.S. Perry as a Sonar Technician 3rd Class, or STG3. Chief Ed Marchand was the Chief Sonarman, ST1 Marvin L.. Hollis was the leading sonarman. Some of my fellow sonarman were Peter Martino, Michael Sass, Thomas Bessa, Jim Phillips. I boarded the Perry shortly after she returned from a Mediterranean Cruise in October of 1966. The Perry participated in LandFlex 66. She went into the at Charleston, South Caroline during the summer of 1967 for class bravo 'tram' where among other things her sonar was modified. After being in drydock for the summer, she spent December of 1967 in Guantanamo Bay Cuba, for extensive ORI[operational readiness inspeciton] trial. When I joined the crew of the Perry in Oct 1966 she was homeported in Mayport, Florida. I left the Perry June 11 1968 in Norfolk, Virginia. I found out about 12 years ago that on January 11, 1969 she received orders for WestPact. She was Vietnam bound.
Yours truly James B. Garrett
more Garrett stories
While the Perry was in GITMO, undergoing her ORI's, one of the exercises involved stimulated strafing attacks up our fantail. One big problem was, that due an early class bravo fram, the Perry's after dual five inch 38 gun mount had been removed. In it's place a practice ammo loader had been installed. In a desperate attempt to compensate for this, several 30 caliber machine guns and several people armed with BAR's and Thompson submachine guns, went up to the DASH deck [the 01 level} and stimulated returning fire]
Another problem involved our ASROC computer, despite the best efforts of our Chief Sonarman Ed Marachand, and a retired navy sonorman, who came aboard the Perry while she was in GITMO, the computer was never fixed.
another Garrett story
Right after leaving the yards in Charleston, we said for Gitmo, a round of ORI's. The Perry pulled into Gitmo in early December of 1967. Our commanding officer at the time was CMDR William Widman [not positive how he spelled his last name]. By the way when I looked at the list of the Perry's CO's his name was conspicuous by its absence.
Rumor had it, that he put in for retirement, after he had been passed over for Captain for the third time. While down in Gitmo, to interesting things happened: An ammo ship ran aground close to midnight on either a Friday or Saturday night. Two oceans going tugs had no luck help her. Most of the tincans in port only were manned by skeleton crew, every else was ashore for liberty. What happened next was like a scene right out of the movies, with only the crew aboard and without the help of tugs, the crews used fire axes and severed all lines, and with the officers present got under way and with their added presence, the ammo ship was rescued.
Another episode that comes to mind, the marines stationed at Gitmo, were having target practice, using howitzers to try and sink empty 55 gallon drums,floating in the bay. The Marines were having no luck hitting the empty drums, and there was concern of an international incident if the drums drifted into Cuban waters. The Perry boarding party, saved the day, with M1's, BAR's, and Thompson Submachine guns, the empty drums were sunk.
I was a member of the Sonar gang, from October 1966 to June of 1968, I held the rank of STG3. It was the summer of 1967 and the Perry went in the Charleston, South Carolina ship yards, for Class Bravo Tram, which included upgrading the SQS-23 Sonar onboard at the time.
I remember that because we were going into dry-dock, there was an all hands, [E-6 and below] working party. We off loaded all 1500 rounds of five inch ammo. Only to learn after this was done, that is was not necessary.
We lived off ship, and enjoyed going to the Naval Base Hospital Theater, to see flicks as the Navy calls movies. While there I had the opportunity to meat many convalescing young marines, fresh back from combat in Vietnam.
Two in particular have always stood out in my mind, one young marine had scares on his forearms, and when asked about them, he said they were the result of bayonet wounds, received in hand to hand combat with the Viet Cong.
other was in a wheel chair, he was 19 at the time I meet him. Only a few years previous, he had been the captain of his high school football team. A snipers round had logged in his back, to close to his spinal cord to operate. So for the rest of his natural life he would be paralyzed from waist down.
I left the Perry June 11, 1968 while she was in Norfolk, Virginia. Shortly after I came back from Desert Storm, I found out from a friend, that on January 11, 1969 the Perry got orders to WESTPAC Vietnam in short.
I transferred from the Submarine service to the Perry in the Oct.1947, and was discharged from the Perry in Oct.1949. I came aboard the Perry as head radioman when most of the Plank owner's were getting discharged. At the time there was a big Eight Ball painted on the smokestack. Memories fade, mostly dates, but between when I came aboard and until I left the Perry, I was there during these exciting moments.
I was on the bridge watching the 5'' guns firing on a target, when the forward gun mount blew up, the hatch flew open and smoke came out and then some of the men fell out. They were injured. I don't know anything about the guns but I heard that the recoil spring broke into pieces.
I was on the fantail with some of the guys, when the Battleship Missouri ran aground. They were in our channel for smaller ships.
I was there when the Perry and the USS Warrington were on patrol off Long Island, NY and we found a foreign submarine within the 12-mile area limit. We requested them to identify themselves via radio and voice (underwater) and they would not respond. This went on for 3 days. We requested permission from Atlantic Fleet Command, to drop depth charges. Intern they contacted President Truman, and the message back was "do not fire until fired upon !". We didn't like that answer, because when the submarine ran out of air, they would come up firing torpedoes and blow both our ships out of the water. We decided to lose that submarine before that could happen. We lost them and I won't say how.
In my mind the Perry is still on patrol out there somewhere!!!!!
Ed Crocker RM3
This is a sea story, told from the perspective of a SN, on bridge watch aboard USS YORK COUNTY-LST 1175 on the morning of Dec 6, 1966. (A very dark, moonless night!) The York was steaming off FL on a northerly course, in a convoy of approximately 30 ships. The convoy was at ENCOM conditions. (No running lights, radio or, radar.) We were steaming in a position on the starboard, outboard line of ships in convoy. At approximately 03:00 hrs, our aft lookout reported running lights crossing from starboard to port aft of the convoy. The running lights then turned and, steamed thru the convoy from the rear to a position, about Two miles ahead of the York. These lights then turned to starboard and, steamed out of the convoy. Then disappeared. I was manning the 1-J.V. as bridge phone talker on the midwatch. The JOOD had the conn and, the OOD had stepped into CIC. A few minutes later, the starboard lookout reported that he had a contact: Bearing 010, Range 100yards! As I relayed the message to the JOOD, the OOD stepped onto the bridge. The JOOD, ordered "left full rudder, all back emergency". The OOD (Lt. Biedenbach) assumed the conn and ordered "belay that! Left full rudder, all ahead flank". Then all hell broke loose! The POW (Anougher SN.), sounded G.Q. Collision N.B.C. alarms all at once. Sleepy sailors wondered if we were under attack or, had been nuked as they stumbled out of their racks. A "T" turns quick, especially under those conditions, but not quick enough. I remember hearing a loud "crunch" and, seeing very large sparks floating up from our starboard side forward. I also, remember thinking, what would I taste like (Roasted.) to a shark? The York carried approximately 250,000 gals of various fuels for the embarked Marines. The fuel risers were located very close to where we were hit! As I ran down from the bridge and forward along the main deck, something was askew that I could not identify. When I reached my G.Q. station on gun mount 31 and, placed the phones on. I realized what was askew. The York was missing two causeways, our gangway and garbage chute off our starboard side. As we sat DIW at a relaxed G.Q., we wondered who had hit us? We thought it was a destroyer from her actions prior to the collision. Reports came in that the damage to our York was minimal. A small hole, above the waterline and, no injuries. Then after sunrise, we beheld the USS PERRY-DD844, laying a few hundred yards off our starboard side, with her "new accordion bow". She did not look good! Had we not heard earlier, we would have thought she now carried causalities. Luckily, the Perry had seen us in time to start turning to port and we had started turning to port. Also, that we were carrying the causeways. We later learned, she was steaming at 12 knot's when she struck. Had she struck us straight on (Bow to side) without our causeways in place, her bow would have probably stopped in our tank deck. Our fuel tanks would have ruptured and, both ships could have been involved in a massive fire.
The last time I saw the Perry. She was attempting to make steerage in reverse. I understand a fleet tug towed her into Roosevelt Roads for repairs? We spent the rest of the day sinking the damaged causeways. We then proceeded to Key West for reasons unbeknownst to a lowly SN and then on to Little Creek for Christmas leaves.
To the crew of the Perry: I am forever glad you were luckily sustained no causalities from our unintentional meeting.
Thank you Poseidon!
Wayne E. Smith-SN, USN 2/64-1/68
USS York County-LST 1175, 5/65-1/68
Greetings shipmate. A while ago I came across these prayers and they had a nautical theme to them. I thought I would share them with you, and maybe you could use them at the next reunion for any one of the invocations.
They really reflect many times we have been out to sea, and the wonders of the vast oceans we have sailed and experienced. The morning watches, and evening watches out at sea were especially note worthy of these times. I think many a shipmate can relate to the moments in their daily shipboard life, the prayers of encouragement, and how these words bring home that thought.
Take care, and as always to a fellow shipmate, may your journeys, and quest be enjoyable. May you have "fair winds and following seas".
sweep me clean as the rolling sands,
give me grace of waves, white capped, mold my being in Thy hands.
humble as the storm-bent tree.
Let me listen and hear Thee speak in the rage and hush of the sea.
who make the stars,
O Dawn, by whom
we see the day
Christ Redeemer of us all
make haste to listen
as we pray.
discouragement, or pain,
hail not fear the lashing wind nor fury of the rain.
I tested them with care;
there's one of faith and one of hope
and one of daily prayer.
what danger can betide,
a harbor safe and wide.
One of my many duties was to stand helmsman watch on the bridge and when at sea, we normally rotated 4hrs on and 8 hours off.
We were in the Med. In either 1964 or 1965, can't remember the exact year. What I do remember was this one night I had the mid-watch on the helm. We were in one of the worst windstorms I have ever seen. We were doing 35-degree rolls as the norm. One time we did a 44-degree roll and I was not sure if we were going to capsize or what.
Now, for those of you that have tried to steer a destroyer and keep it on course in this situation will appreciate this story. When steering during a storm like this, what one tries to do is to take an average of the gyrocompass readings. In this case, I was ordered to steer course 150 so I tries to control the oscillation of the gyro compass readings to read between, say 100 and 200 so they would average out to the course I was supposed to steer.
Now, during this watch, we had the LT(JG) on the con and every time he looked at the gyro compass, we were off course. He just did not understand what it took to keep us on course. He just kept on me about staying on course with remarks like "Hey, Helm, where are you going home!!?, Get this ship back on course!! What's the matter with you?. Now this guy kept it up for the better part of two hours. Naturally, I could not say anything without sounding insubordinate. The OOD on this watch was a full LT who was also our signal officer. He was one of the better officers I served under during my time aboard PERRY. Periodically, I glanced at him with a visual plea for help and all we could do was chuckle at the whole situation. At one point I turned to the lee-helmsman and whispered "Somehow, I am going to get this guy!". Well, about 20 minutes later, this JG decides to go out on the starboard wing of the bridge to get a breath of air. The sky was clear that night, we were just in one hell of a windstorm. At that moment, a giant wave was approaching us. The lee-helmsman nudged my shoulder. I nodded to him and gave the ship little bit of right rudder so that the bow would hit the wave head on. The bow then completely submerged under that wave, the water came over Mount 52 and hit the bridge. At that point, the JG disappeared from the wing. I thought that maybe we washed him over the side but he soon re-appeared, soaked to the skin, laughing to beat the band. The OOD looked at me, with a twinkle in his eye, and asked, "Did you do that on purpose?" At that precise moment, we were right on course. I looked at him and stated "STEADY ON COURSE 150 SIR!"
I had the pleasure of serving under Cdr. Pond shortly before he was relieved by Cdr. Sheppard. We had a seaman aboard whose name was also Pond. Seaman Pond was an accident looking for a place to happen. We were at GQ for a NBC exercise off the Fla, coast and had sealed off the ship for nuclear wash-down after all hands had been ordered to clear the weather decks and seal all doors and hatches. I was the skipper's poverboardhone talker. After the wash-down commenced, a lookout reported a sailor running around in circles behind mount 51. Cdr. Pond wanted to know if anyone could identify the man. Someone responded that they believed it was seaman Pond. Cdr. Pond wasn't pleased, to say the least, and wondered why they had to have the same last name. If i'm ly'in I'm dy'in. Vic Harper.
Many thanks to the the 2 brave Perry Sailors that fished me out of the drink, the OOD and Skipper of the USS Perry.
After the Perry and Saratoga were refueled the Caloosahatchee began bouncing around the choppy seas like a cork. While securing some lines, something I had done a 1000 times before, I suddenly found myself overboard. At first I thought it was a bad dream but soon realized it was no dream and I would be meeting my maker sooner than planned. Being sucked into the ship's screws was certainly not how I had planned to leave this planet. For a moment it was a great relief when I surfaced and realized this tragic ending would not be my faith. However, when I saw the Caloosahatchee steaming away I realized they didn't know I was missing. Here I was in the middle of the sea with only the white caps for companions. It doesn't take long to get religion in this situation and to start praying rather quickly. My prayers were answered when I saw the Perry coming toward me and realized the Perry had come to a stop and would not steam roll over me. What seamed like an eternity had probably taken only a few minutes until I saw the Perry lifeguards swimming towards me.
This lucky sailor is looking to say thanks again for my long lease on life.
I was the OOD when the Caloosahatchee sailor fell overboard. I saw him fall and kept my eye on him while our team on the bridge went into action. Our lifeguard watch was posted and ready. CIC shut down the sonar, Main Control took the initiative to drop superheat for maneuvering. I took the con to get close to the sailor. Because I couldn't get Perry closer, (I didn't want him sucked into our intakes) our sailors had to jump in to the sea to complete the rescue. I will look up the names of the two on our lifeguard detail who jumped in. It was a great team effort.
Message from Thomas Kalbacher
USS Caloosahatchee AO98
Petty Officer 2nd Class
I remember the incident but not the sailores involved I will go thru my records and see what I can find. There may be something in my cruise book from that deployment
JOE RESS, LTJG ('48-'50)
In November, 1949, the PERRY, together with the eighth destroyer squadron, was joined by the USS Mindoro as flagship, to make up task group 81.1. You will recall that this was the beginning of the "Cold War" and the navy wanted us to get a little cold water experience, if we were going to have to deal with the Soviet Union.
Accordingly, the Atlantic Fleet was sent to the Arctic for exercises. Our task group was a hunter-killer group, and we spent 12 hours each day at GQ, hunting submarines.
As I recall, it was just after daybreak on another cold, bleak, dreary, rough day) when we formed up for refueling at sea. Each ship in the squadron in turn, took station on the oiler, which was either the USS ELEKOMIN or the CALOOSAHATCHIE (memory is unclear on this point).
We went to fueling-at-sea stations, and passed the forward and after hoses to starboard, and a replenishment line amidships, and started the operation. My station was on the main deck, supervising the receiving stations. We had just started taking fuel, when I happened to look up and saw a monster wave coming from ahead of the ship. To me, it looked like it was 60 feet high, but at the moment, I surmised that wave heights looked different when viewed from the main deck - I was accustomed to seeing them from the bridge. In any event, it turned out to be a rogue wave. When it hit us, it parted both hoses and the replenishment line, and it knocked the fireman at the forward fueling station overboard. It slammed both Chief Boatswain's Mate Sanchez and Boatswain's Mate Second Class Cooksey into the bulkhead. Fortunately for the fireman who was washed overboard, the LLOYD THOMAS, which was astern and waiting to go alongside, picked him up before hypothermia set in. Unfortunately, both Chief Sanchez and Cooksey were not so lucky. Chief Sanchez broke his back and was later medically discharged from the navy, and Cooksey got sewn up on the wardroom table, after he had lost many many teeth. I was the luckiest of all - I got washed through the open bulkhead door and ended up on my rear end way down the main deck, past the midships passageway.
The wave did some superficial damage to the superstructure, but it was powerful enough to actually twist the ship's hull a bit. We discovered later that roller paths for the forward 5" 38 mounts had been distorted a degree or so.
It was hardly the best cruise we ever made in the PERRY, but later that winter we went on Operation Portrex (I believe that was what it was called), and spent few weeks in the Caribbean, chasing submarines and landing marines on Vieques Island. What a life !
Joseph Ress, LTJG ('48-'50)
Keep up the good work Steve. One of these days . . . . . . .
"Once upon a time"
and a Sea story starts with
"This aint no shit"
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/\
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¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning
that sometimes there isn't any more. No more hugs, no more special moments to
celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more "just one
minute." Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and
goes away . never to return before we can say good-bye, say "I love you."
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/\
```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,..-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
and fix it when it's broken . . and heal it when it's sick. This is true for
marriage . . and old cars . . and children with bad report cards and
dogs with bad hips and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because
they are worth it, because we are worth it.
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/\
```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
we grew up with. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/\
```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
keep them close!
,·´º o`·,/__/ _/\_ //____/\
```)¨(´´´ | |  | | | | | || |l±±±±
¸,.-·²°´ ¸,.-·~·~·-.,¸ `°²·-. :º°
This was written by an 83 year old..
Put In Bay, OH
on South Bass Island in Lake Erie
The island may be reached by boat or small aircraft.
A book by Jeff Kissell
THE CONSTRUCTION OF PERRY'S MONUMENT
Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry and the American Navy fought the British in Lake Erie 188 years ago and won. A century later, workman constructed a monument to his victory on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, which is located west of Toledo and southeast of Detroit.
Perry commanded the Lake Erie naval force during the War of 1812. He was headquartered in the islands village of Put-in-Bay and sailed from there on Sept. 19, 1813, to battle the British. After his victory, Perry sent the famous message, We have met the enemy and they are ours to Gen. William Henry Harrison, the commander of the war. Work on the Perry memorial began on the island in 1912. It took three years to complete the 352-foot memorial, the worlds largest Doric column.
During the three years of its construction, G. Otto Herbster took photographs of the building process. While Kissell was working on the island, he discovered these photographic records along with the technical explanations of the construction of the column. I came up with the idea, with their permission, to compile the book utilizing the pictures they had, said Kissell. He has worked for the Park Service as a seasonal ranger on South Bass Island, from April through October, each year since. Id put in my eight hours with the park and then work on the book on my own time, he said. The result is a 128 page book with 240 photographs and a brief text about the construction of the monument. The monument is the third tallest such monument in our national parks, according to Kissell. It is taller than the Statue of Liberty, he said. The tallest is the arch at St. Louis. Washingtons Monument is second, then Perry Victory and International Peace Memorial. Perrys monument is 45 feet in diameter at the base and has an elevator to take visitors to the top. When Perry battled the British, the sailors who were killed were buried at sea. Three American and three British officers are buried under the rotunda of the memorial.
Arcadia Publishing, published a book by Jeff Kissell chronicling the construction of the Perry memorial. Kissell grew up in Benton Harbor, where his parents, Fred and Jessie Kissell live, and graduated from Lake Michigan Catholic High School in 1981. Although Jeff always loved history, he earned a degree in automotive management from Ferry& State University in 1985. After working for a few years, he decided to go back to school and earned a masters degree in early American history in 1994 from Western Michigan University. After a short stint as a park ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky in 1997, Kissell took a position as a seasonal park ranger on South Bass Island, where he found Perrys Victory & International Peace Memorial.
is a firm known for local and regional history books. The book
costs $19.99 and is available from Arcadia by calling (888) 313-2665
or on its Web site at http://www.arcadiapublishing.com/p07.htm
If youd like to meet Kissell, he will be at Majereks
Readers World at the Orchards Mall in Beriton Township for a
book signing from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. firstname.lastname@example.org
San Dee Wallace is the Assistant Focus Editor of The Herald Palladium. Arts Notes is published each Thursday. You can e-mail her at email@example.com
Perry's Cave, registered as on Ohio Natural Landmark, is a NATURAL limestone cave steeped in historical tradition. The cave lies 52 feet below the surface of South Bass Island in Lake Erie. The discovery of the cave, in 1813, is credited to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the battle of Lake Erie. The cave is 208 feet long by 165 feet wide; the walls, ceiling and floor are heavily encrusted with calcium carbonate deposited by centuries of water dripping from the ceiling. The temperature remains in the vicinity of 50°