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< < < Stories by crew members
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< < < Put on Report because of a dumb Ensign
We had the 4 to 8 pm watch out at sea (could have been 8 to midnight), I was on the helm heading course 160, humming along, when a new ensign give me an order to change our heading to 130 which all on our watch heard me say loud and clear “course 130 I, I Sir” including our comrade on the fantail. Well wouldn’t you know the Captain came out, took a look at the heading and asked what I was doing on heading 130 and I told him the ensign ordered that heading, the ensign of course denied it when asked by the captain, so I was relived of the helm right then and there and was put on Report. Boy was I pissed to say the least. I asked the ensign why he didn’t tell the Captain that he ordered me to change course. He said nothing. Foxy was our BM3 in charge of the watch and he told me as soon as the watch was over we were going to see the First Lieutenant. (can’t remember his name). So after the watch was over the whole crew on our watch went to see the Lieutenant, bad thing was we woke him up, the good thing was after we told him the story he was pissed at the ensign and make some pretty derogatory remarks about him, this ensign must have been at the bottom of his class and at the bottom of the Lieutenants shit list. To make a long story short, I was no longer on report and the ensign all of a sudden was my best buddy. Won one for the average sailor.

-Archie Harmon BM, 2nd Division 1967-1969

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< < < Memories of Naples - 1967
Finally in port, after about 40 days at sea. We had to anchor out about a mile, and so the only way into town was by liberty boat. When we finally got almost two days worth of liberty (we were ship's company, Comservfor6thflt was the flag), we headed for town. Although we had just stood a full night's watch, we were on the boat cruising through the early morning mist in the liquid oil of the Naples harbor..

In a group of 4 or 5, we headed up to a little hole in the wall bar from the pier, on the main square and commenced to ingest vast quanities of good Italian beer. We were well on the way to whatever nirvana we could get to, when someone tossed the "Stars & Stripes" on the table. The headlines were about the USS Forrestal, burning in Vietnam. It sobered us up for a little while, but we charged right back into our party grove, I would feel guilty some years later. After awhile as the beer got warmer, and when the iceman walked through, it became clear that we needed a change of venue and a Chief in Khaki's offered to give us a ride somewhere. At least 6 of us piled in, still in uniform into his 1960 Chevrolet 4 door Sedan. The Chief started into the huge round-a-bout by the police station and almost immediately hit a car. We left the poor Chief to fend for himself, standing by his car with occupants of the other car. Of course, we determined before we headed for another bar, that he was not in any physical danger.

The morning ended with our little swaying group in some American girl's apartment in the better part of Naples. I recall her mother being there, and as things just weren't happening, we left and got a room at the Hotel Meditraenean near the Pizzeria.

A good buddy from Radio School San Diego and Morocco Navcommsta and I went to the Seaman's Club in Naples and stayed there for awhile before heading back to our room. Details become quite hazy about this point, but somewhere I had picked up a fifth of Vat 69 and we filled the sink full of ice to cool things down. Good ol buddy decided to have some fun and tossed my white hat out of the 5th story window. I got up to go get it, but unfortunately, it had landed on top of an electric trolley and it was moving on down the street. This was unfortunate as we decided to sample some night life later that evening.

By this time, we had been up over 24 hours, and with reduced faculties decided to head for the Naples American Bar, but I had no hat, and no civvies, and the SP's were sure to spot something askew and send me back to the ship. Good ol buddy loaned me his white hat, and fastened a white towel from the bathroom around his head to replace it. At least it was white and on his head, was our reasoning.

A half hour later, he was escorted by the SP's to return to the ship. I meandered on, and that's when I burnt the moustache of this lady in another bar and became a fugitive. At least, until I found my way back to the pier.

Anyway, just one of the memories.

-Sam Lovold RMSN

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< < < Personnel Inspection #1-#2-#3
During The Cuban Missal Crises the Truckee re-wrote the Navy record book for UNREPS. ie. Most hrs. spent consolidating, most gallons of fuel transferred... also (this one is unique) most personnel "high-lined." Plus many other records I can't recall.

Our reward? We returned to Norfolk (Craney Island,) just before Christmas. After the holidays we were advised of a special Personnel Inspection. You have to remember, at this time the "T" only needed one more "E" to get the Gold "E". So they moved us over from Craney Island to NOB, for the day. Why? You guessed it... So we could stand 3 Personnel Inspections in one day. It went something like this... "Now all hands stand-by for Personnel Inspection #1, Dress Blues... Now secure from Personnel Inspection #1 and make preparations for Personnel Inspection #2, Dress Whites... Now secure from Personnel Inspection #2 and make preparations for Personnel Inspection #3, dungarees... Now secure from Personnel Inspection #3 and....... Here it comes.... Turn to, commence ships work..." A few weeks later the "T" got her Golden "E"...

I'm sure some Brass got their rewards... However, I made out the best... The "T" got orders to Haiti and I got an EARLY discharge...

-Jerry "Frenchy" Fancher RM2

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< < < Captain "Queeg" Leverton
I remember Captain Leverton (circa 1955-56).

I can distinctly remember Capt. "Queeg" Jr. making the rounds at morning quarters (while at sea), and ordering crew members wearing damaged uniforms to immediately take them off and throw them over the side. Some crew members were left standing with only their skivvies on!

I can also remember (during refueling operations when rough seas were forcing some oil spillage on stretched lines) Capt. Leverton yelling down from the bridge at the involved crew members and addressing them as "you son's of bitches".

I can also remember that during our Caribbean shakedown cruise, Leverton brought his father along (rank has it's privileges), and Leverton sunning himself in his underwear (with Daddy), up topside in view of the crew.

I witnessed these items myself, this is NOT hearsay! This outstanding example of naval leadership went on to become a Rear Admiral.

-Ken Kauffman FP1 (Plank Owner)

EDITORS NOTE: Captain P.F. Queeg was a fictional character played by Humphrey Bogart in the 1954 film "The Caine Mutiny". His mental instability, insecurities, and desire for control leads to a micro-managing command style and angry outburst at even the smallest infractions.

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< < < General Quarters!.. Sub (??) on the port side.. hehehe
No names to protect the innocent...I remember one Med cruise...I think it was in 77 or 78..we had picked up a damaged A6B fighter to bring back to Norfolk with us..along with a small maintenance crew to take care of the A6 while in transit. The A6 on the flight deck presented a problem to a certain group of people who liked to hang out there at night. The flight deck was "party central" at night, enough said. Well, we got tight with the A6 crew and they joined in the group on the flight deck. One night with nothing better to do and little common sense, someone inflated a weather balloon and put several of the chemical lights inside and let it go...actually looked pretty cool... well the watch on the fantail saw the light but didn't know what it was and called the bridge...we had a gung ho Ops officer Lt Steelman...he concluded it was the periscope of a Russian submarine and it was following us as it had now drifted around to the starboard side and was pretty far away but was still pretty visible....GQ of course and being a radioman (sort of involved) we got to fire off the Flash message reporting the sub to 6th fleet...then we started to follow the "sub". Thank the lord we never did catch up as we were ordered to keep our distance.

-Steve Albaugh RM2

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< < < Cruisin' the Mediterranean
There is one story in particular that I've always wanted to tell simply because it is so outrageous and ridiculous. Hey, I was just a kid then. I did stupid things. Thought I was invincible. And it never really dawned on me that there could be adverse consequences for my bad actions. I still wonder if there is a "statute of limitations" on the things that I did in the 1960's era. (Grin)

Anyway, the year was 1967 and the USS Truckee was anchored in Naples, Italy harbor. My gig crew and I had taken Captain Chadwick ashore the night before so he could go play a few rounds of golf with the base Admiral. The Captain was planning to stay on the base for a few days until Truckee hoisted anchor and headed back out to refuel the fleet. I know you’ve heard the saying: While the cat’s away, the mouse will play. So true!

I had overheard another Petty Officer talking about a place called the Blue Grotto located on the Isle of Capri. It sounded like a really neat place to visit and I wanted to go there.

One small problem, Capri is an island. It’s located all the way on the other side of the Gulf of Naples (think Gulf of Mexico) where you start into the Tyrrhenian Sea. But hey, I’m a Boatswain Mate Petty Officer. My job is to solve problems.

FIRST: I need transportation. So I take the Captain’s Gig, top the tanks with diesel fuel, fill the forward Officers Quarters with plenty of beer and whiskey. You know, if you’re going to break the rules might as well go all the way!

SECOND: I need to plot a course. A quick visit to the quartermaster (Stephen Lancelot) provides me with a nautical map and a course that will place me dead center of the Isle of Capri. Of course, he just HAS to tell me that it’s a great big ocean out there with absolutely no land marks and if I happen to miss I will NOT have enough fuel to get back. What a party pooper!

THIRD: I need a crew. My stern & bow hooks are both available and perfectly willing (yeah right!) to be my partners in crime. Convincing the A Division Chief that I had to have one of his mechanics for the day was a little more difficult. But it was not impossible. He bought into whatever lie it was that I dreamed up.

So, there we were. Me, my stern hook (Edward Mahoney), my bow hook (Jerry Evans) and my mechanic excitedly heading out to sea and getting drunk on our butts. Blue Grotto and Isle of Capri, here we come in a stolen Captain’s Gig!

Right about the time that we could no longer see land in any direction, the big waves and swells began their assault on our little Captain’s Gig. My compass, which was the only navigational instrumentation I had, began to spin wildly as Mother Nature tossed us around like a rubber ball. Everybody got scared, except me of course. I was way to drunk to be afraid, I was driving the boat and I’m a Boatswain Mate!

I really don’t know how we did it but we actually hit the Isle of Capri dead center. Not only that, but we came to rest right beside the Blue Grotto! We put the fenders over the side and tied up against a huge cliff. Two little Italian dinghies came along side. Two of us got into one and two got into the other. The Italian’s proceeded to take us into the Grotto, which is a big water cave.

The opening to the Blue Grotto is very small so you have to actually lie down in the dinghy while the guide pulls the boat through the opening by a guide wire. Once inside, you can sit up. You can’t see anything until your eyes become accustomed to the darkness of the cave. Our guides began softly singing some Italian (love???) songs. What the f**k? When our eyes began to focus, the water was glowing. It was the most beautiful shade of iridescent blue that I’ve ever seen. The guide’s paddle in the water would stir up phosphorus and create these beautiful swirls of sparks. Unbelievable! As we slowly maneuvered around the cave I began to make out the silhouettes of the other couples that were in the Grotto. COUPLES! This is the point in time where I began yelling to my shipmates: Man, this is a f**king lovers’ lane... get me the f**k out of here!

Aside from being completely embarrassed and swearing everyone to secrecy, we returned to the ship without further incident. Now here’s some food for thought... can you count the number of charges that would have been brought against me if we had been caught? And another thought. Can they keep you locked up in the brig past your release from active duty date? (I think they would have!) Bottom line: I don’t believe I thought at all back then!

-Steve (Louie) Lewis BM3

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< < < Cuban Missle Crisis 1962
Radioman stood Port & Starboard watches (8 on 8 off) usually the 8 off was spent with the deck force line handling. The Radio Shack was falling apart. We couldn't process all the FLASH and Emergency traffic we were receiving. Most equipment was off line or under repair. It was total confusion at best.

Into this conundrum one afternoon enters ComServRon4. (They were the Flag we had on board) The Commodore comes running into the radio shack waving a message in his hand. Yelling, he states this message must get out immediately...!! Now remember, we were processing traffic about submarine sightings, un-friendly aircraft etc...

So I grab the message and run right over to a CW position to get it out. To this Day I will never forget the text of that message.... From: Comservron4 To: U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis MD. "Unclas. Congratulations on your decisive victory. Comservron4. Sailing in Cuban Waters" As the world hovered on the edge of Nuclear Confrontation, we still found time to congratulate Navy on their football victory over ARMY!!!

-Jerry "Frenchy" Fancher RM2

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< < < The women of Naples!
The pictures McMahon provided sure jogged a lot of memories for me. When I saw Wiseman's picture I remember the time he wanted to marry a girl from the mountains outside of Naples.

Somewhere Wiseman had met this young Italian girl and although he didn't speak any Italian, and she spoke no English, they somehow started corresponding with each other. If I remember correctly ( and this might just be the way I remember it, so sorry if I am wrong) when he would receive a letter from her, he would come to me to interpret it for him as I spoke enough Italian to get by on. Conversely, I would use an English to Italian dictionary to try to write in Italian back to her for him, although most times I was really just writing in English with a few Italian words thrown in here and there.

After a couple of months he comes to me one day and tells me he wants to marry her. I think he had only seen her a couple of times at the most, so it was quite a strange statement. But we were all young then and full of ourselves so looking back, hell, we all did foolish things then (we did, didn't we - or was that just me???).

So I write to the girl that he wants to go to meet her family. Wiseman gets a letter back with instructions on how to get to her home, which as I said was up in the mountains somewhere northeast of Naples. So one Saturday morning around 7 AM we are standing on the train platform in Naples waiting for the train that is to take us to this little town up in the hills.

Remember that this is mid 60's and Italy still hadn't fully recovered from the war. If you all remember, you could walk the back streets of Naples (and I don't want to hear that there weren't any of you that didn't walk those back streets...hmmm! That's where all the good restaurants were, right?) and still see where bullets had struck the sides of the masonry building. It was like having the history channel right there in front of you.

None-the-less, Wiseman and I get on the train and people have goats and are holding chickens, and have packages, etc., and off we go to this little town. The train winds through these mountains and over old bridges (I am sure one of the armies during WWII must have tried to blow up some of them at one time, and I remember feeling not real good about that) and every so often the train would stop at a station and some people would get off. The further up the mountain, the smaller the villages and the train stations got.

About ten o'clock or so, the trains slows and we hear the conductor call out the name of the village we are going to. We walk to the exit door looking for the platform, but there is none. The trains stops and the conductor points to the dirt road which crosses the rail road track and repeats the name of the town for us. We couldn't figure out where the town was, but there was a road so we figured it must lead into town, so we got off.

The train toots its whistle and off it goes, leaving us standing there in our dress whites in this dusty dirt-road clearing, not having a clue in which direction to walk. Finally, we see a little dust cloud coming at us, and as it gets nearer we can make out about twenty people, all walking very slowly toward us. When they get near enough for us to make out faces, Wiseman tells me that girl he has come there to see is one of the people in the group.

Soon, every one is milling around and talking excitedly in Italian, with Wiseman not having a clue what they are saying, and me trying my damnedest to pick out words here and there. They move us off down the road. If any of you have seen the movie "The Godfather", where Michael Corleone is taking a walk in the hill town in Sicily with his soon to be bride, that is exactly what it was like. There was Wiseman and this girl, followed within five feet by the grandmothers, then the mother and father, and then the rest of the family - and then me.

We arrive in this tiny clearing where there is a cafe with some outdoor tables and every sits down and the wine comes out. Some guy comes over to me and tells me someone wants to talk to me inside the cafe. I go in and here's this guy in what I guess was his late fifties, maybe early sixties, sitting at a table with a couple of wine jars in front of him, and a couple guys on either side of him. Thinking back right now, god knows what or who this guy may have been. Anyway, in very clear English he says, "Sit down, Joe. Have some wine. You from New York City." I said I was. "I lived in Brooklyn for ten years...then I have to leave. Your friend, he wants to marry my niece?" I said, seemed like it. He just nodded and said, "He better be good to her", and poured some wine and we drank. Meanwhile, Wiseman was out walking around and somehow conversing with the people even though, if memory serves me right, he was from Kentucky or West Virginia or something and didn't know a word of Italian other that "Italy, Naples, and Biera".

The last train we could get that day was the same one we had come up on and it was leaving somewhere early after noon, so after eating some great salami and cheese, the whole group files back down the dusty road to the place where the train stops. The train came, Wiseman kissed the girl goodbye with a promise that he would be contacting her about getting married, and off we went.

I remember him actually going to the chaplain and trying to get the chaplain to OK the marriage, but thank god the chaplain had a little more sense than we did then and I think he kinda put the kibosh on that. Maybe he just held off long enough to pass the request through channels until we were deployed and Wiseman forgot about it or something. I don't recall him getting married. Wouldn't it be funny if he did actually marry that girl. Wouldn't that be an incredibly romantic ending...hahaha.

-Stephen Lancelot

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< < < Man, the things we'd do for fun!
I had a great time while on the ship. When I first got onboard we were at port in Norfolk for 4 months and during that time myself and another guy painted the entire hull from the waterline up. To include the ships numbers and the anchor. We used a cherry picker to paint the port side and a paint barge for the starboard side. The funny thing is I was painting with this old retired Navy salt who thought he knew everything. He was going to show me how to properly apply haze gray. When we were in the cherry picker painting it would slowly drop into the water if it was extended all the way and below level. I would sit up on the railing of the little working platform and while this guy was painting and instructing me it would sink over his knees. He would get so mad and I would just play "the new guy." He never found out I was doing it on purpose by not paying attention to the boom controls. I later told him though. He also taught me how to tie many different types of knots. He even knew many older, no longer used ones as well. He was a good to me.
I would also have so much fun with the other ship along side getting refueled. I would kind of mess with them. If they had a windlass or a winch it wouldn't work. But if they were heaving it with deckhands on the smaller ships I would let the wire get very close to the water. Occasionally letting it touch the water and it would kind of jerk the hell out of the guys. Of course someone in your position would yell up at me and I would immediately correct the problem. Then I would over correct. I would see just how tight they could get the wire, then pay out the winch just a little too fast and the wire would touch the water again. Hahaha. Which made for a fun day with the other two guys that operated the saddles for the fuel line.

-Patrick R. Murphy - deckhand

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< < < Collision with the Wasp 6/12/1968
Short story here on when the ship collided with he WASP. I remember that one because it was the first time in all the time I was assigned to steer during replenishment that I was not either steering or on the bridge. I had a bad cold that day and I just couldn't steer any more. The Capt suggested I go down to the "easy" station in after steering, a place that NEVER got called upon for any reason since it was purely an emergency station in case ALL the other steering systems failed. So there I was, sick as a dog in aftersteering, resting up quite nicely, thank you, when I hear the Collision alert and hear all the hatches clanging shut. I hear over the headphone we collided with WASP and I hear the motors on the rudder straining to turn away from the Wasp. I was sure I was going to be found years later, submerged under who knows how many fathoms of water, locked away in aftersteering, with a very dumb and angry look on my face. Luckily, all that was damaged was the kingpost on the port side aft, I think, as it was bent almost in half from being hit by the elevator deck on the Wasp.

-Stephen (Lance) Lancelot QM3

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< < < Collision with the Wasp (Part 2)
I had just relieved a QM who's name I am having a hard time remembering, he was having a hard time at the wheel.

We were steaming at 12 Kts. on a heading of 180 checking 186. The Wasp was on the Port side and the USS Dupont was on the starboard side and was pulling away.

I had been at the helm for maybe 10 minutes, and had just calmed down the control inputs when Captain Freeman ask me to mark my heading, which I did, and then my checking or magnetic heading, both were correct.

The Captain asked this information a few times and then the Wasp hit the port side of the Truckee we then made a hard rudder input towards the Wasp and went to 099 on the lee helm for turns on the engines. We then went to rudder amid ships and started a turn I think to the left.

It got very loud with the Wasp rubbing against us and bending one of our mass, they had an elevator down on our side and it was tearing us up pretty bad. Black oil and avgas were everywhere.

We sounded the collision alarm and made radio broadcasts during this time also.

Captain Freeman had made a correct turn into the Wasp as she hit us which helped keep the damage from being worst, he also was very calm and kept control of his command. He talked to the Wasps Captain over a bull horn to complete the turn and slow to a stop.

I don't know how long it took us to disengage from the Wasp but it seem like a long time. We returned to Norfolk for repairs and a I spent three or four days at a Admiral's mass.

During the course of this inquiry it was determined that the Wasp had a locked shaft, the QM on the Wasp did not correct for this event and they hit us. At 12 Kts. it would only take about 6 miles once off course to run into each other.

I remember allot of my testimony but that's another story, but we were (Truckee) cleared of any wrong doing, one of our old Captains who became a Commodore was on the broad that reviewed the findings and remembered me and my steering for him.

Our captain stood tall, was a good man and served the Truckee well.

-Tim Beach QM3

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< < < Collision with the Wasp (Part 3)
I just read Steve Lancelot and Tim Beach's stories about the collision with the Wasp and had a good laugh.

Lancelot told of after steering and how far down in the ship it was. I was the normal QM down there but that day he replaced me. As for the helmsman that Tim Beach relieved that was also me and the time between when he relieved me of the helm and the collision were not as long as he stated. I went out to the wing and reported to the captain that I was relieved of the helm and that the Wasp was extremely close. I was just going into the bridge when the Captain hollered Emergency Breakaway and stand by for collision.

Also the story about the stare down with the Russian CLG was started by a signalman either Alan Boscoe or a guy named Kirwin. They asked the OD if they should send an Alpha Alpha and were told OK. The Russian sent back Alpha Alpha, this started the whole thing . I was on watch when this happened. Just thought I would add my little bit to these things.

-Mike Wojtylko QM

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< < < The way I remember the collision with the Wasp
The way I remember the collision between the Truckee and the USS Wasp. I was off duty and laying in my bunk on the port side, when I heard the word passed to stand by for collision port side. As I was getting off the bunk I heard the ships come together with a loud screech, I ran up the ladder and forward in the port side passageway and opened the door on to the outside and looked up and the elevator of the Wasp was over head and the king post was bent way over and things were falling from the elevator and the king post, I shut the door and ran back the other way.

We went ahead and finished our commitment, and headed for Jacksonville, Florida to empty all the fuel tanks before we went in the yards at Portsmouth. As we were headed for port I remember them showing movies and slides on what can happen to a ship with empty tanks. I know it was quite scary to see what could happen, one of the pictures showed an oilier with it’s side blown out.

After we got in port and pumped the tanks out. That night there was a drizzling rain, there was a young officer and two enlisted men inspecting the tanks on the tank deck, the officer shined his light into the tank and as he looked down in the tank it blew in his face and burned him quit bad. There was a storekeeper 1st class on the quarter deck as OD, I can’t think of his name. He told me that he was standing in the little OD Shack when it blew, he said that if he had been standing in front of the shack he would have been roasted, he said that the fire ball went as high as the mast.

-Teddy George CS1

And this addition from Teddy George:

I missed putting some stuff in the story I sent, after I sent it off I got to thinking about it. I remember there was more I should have sent. As I remember it we were on springboard Ops. off the coast of Florida when this happened. After the explosion (around 11 PM) the word was passed "Fire on the tank deck" and for all hands to lay to the fantail. Talking about something to send chills up your back, being woke up to hear that coming over the 1 MC.

I believe the SK1 that was on duty that night name was McCullough. The cause of the explosion was investigated and the conclusion was that it was caused by static electricity from the drizzle rain, The officer I believe was an ensign, he just happened to look in the tank at the wrong time, he came back on board several months later.

The next day all personal E-5 and below were sent in the tanks to scrub them out, I remember thinking I'm glad that I was an E-6 and didn't have to in the tanks. There is a word for cleaning the tanks, but I can't think of it.

My memory isn't what it should be but I think this is pretty accurate, anyway I hope it is. I hope someone will come on board and verify it.

Ted

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< < < USS Truckee and the collision with the Wasp
I just want to add my two cents into this story. I was one of the new QM on the bridge when this took place. My station was the lee-helm (I think that is the right spelling). Anyway I was standing there minding my job, and again I was still pretty new when I looked up and saw the Wasp getting closer and closer. I believe we who were on the bridge all ran to the port side. I will never forget that day as it was definately seared in my mind as a very exciting day. Also I remember the damage of the mast, but also on the starboard wasn’t there also about a 20’ gash in the bow?

Also when the officer was burnt, wasn’t that explosion caused by a fire extinguisher that was being lowered into the hole? I believe he came back aboard and was missing his ears, and eyebrows? Wasn’t it called muck-raking or something like that, when we cleaned those tanks? I remember those bails of rags that we had, man that was a horrible week. Remember having to go down those steep ladders to get down there, wow, and I had a fear of heights.

I also remember a hurricane in I think 1969. We were on our way to the Med with several destroyers and were told there was a hurricane heading toward us. The destroyers pulled into port at South Carolina and we road it out. When the storm hit we were reportedly 100 miles from Norfolk. Three days later we were 30 miles from Norfolk. We were all hunkered down in our bunk area and I remember that the chow hall made a bunch of sandwiches that all that weren’t sick ate on. There was one line that was tied to hang onto as you worked your way from forecastle to the chow hall. I definitely remember the ocean during this time. You could stand on the deck and as far above you as you could see was water and the next instant the water was so far below us it looked like a mile down, what a crazy memory.

-Dan Lehr QM/BM

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< < < 1962: An eventful year in the history of the U.S.S.Truckee!
1962 was an eventful year for the sailors of the U.S.Truckee (AO-147). In January, we left for the Med, all looking forward to the six month cruise. We relieved our counterpart, the U.S.S. Neosho (AO 143), on station in Sardinia. Enroute in mid Atlantic, we passed a Russian Cargo ship with long tubes loaded as deck cargo. Little did we know the import of those tubes and how it would specifically affect all of us! Our Intelligence Petty Officer, RD2 Duffy, took pictures that actually may have been published (?) on the cover of Life Magazine! We then continued on our journey to the Med! We were home ported in Naples and cruised the Med from Cadiz to Izmir. In between, we visited Beirut, Malta, Piraeus and Golfe Juan (Cannes), where the Crazy Horse Saloon and the U.S.S. Sumner going aground were the highlights of our visit! The Destroyer (DD?) who pulled the Sumner off the sand put on an absolutely superb display of seamanship! The deck force on the U.S.S. Gainard (DD-706) vowed never to fight with our deck force again after they spent a long afternoon cleaning ship. Apparently, there was a somewhat prolonged discussion between the two groups that I believe started in the Texas Bar on Via Roma in Naples. When the Gainard came alongside to replenish, there was an unfortunate episode with some rags that had got stuffed up into the pigtail. Unfortunate because the strainer in the Gainard’s receiving trunk was in perfect working order, just as the manufacturer had guaranteed. CINCUSNAVEUR, a Vice-Admiral, came aboard while we were underway. Sideboys everywhere! Ten days at ten knots on course 270 got us back to Norfolk in late June. “Sherry” by the Four Seasons and the “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler were the new popular songs. The Aerodrome Club and the strip were just as we had left them. In July, a week of exercises off the Virginia coast. At the end of that month, we received a set of Operational Orders for a very large Amphibious Exercise with Marine landings at Vieques, Puerto Rico in September. It was unusual to receive an Op Order for such a large exercise on such short notice. Usually we had six months to prepare for an exercise as large as that. We left in early September on a Thursday morning. As we steamed south, the weather turned nasty with 20-25 foot swells. We replenished a Squadron of early WW II 2100 ton Destroyers that pulled away looking like leopards from the spilt oil. We were surprised that the exercise wasn’t cancelled to reflect the adverse, almost hurricane weather conditions. On Saturday, we received Flash Radio Traffic that the U.S. Navy would Quarantine the island of Cuba and not allow any more Russian missiles to be delivered. (That meant us!!) We were then just about parallel to Charleston, SC when the announcement was made. Destroyers got underway on that Saturday morning with, in some cases, only seventy crewmembers aboard! Many sailors had to sleep by their posts. On Monday, the crewmen and Officers caught off ship on weekend Liberty were flown out to the carriers in company and delivered to our heliport on the fantail. That day, the Truckee set a record of, I believe, 354 men highlined to their ships as they came alongside to refuel. Every Department had to send men including Petty Officers up to 2/c to handle lines for the transfers, which took most of the day. Our new orders were now to support the Destroyers, Cruisers and Carriers that would be stopping all shipping to search for contraband. We had an Ammunition Ship and a Reefer in company and three destroyers for an anti-submarine escort! At this point, Truckee’s CIC personnel went to port and starboard watches, six on and six off. FTSN’s were added to our watches to man the surface search radarscope, as we were spread out to handle Radio-Telephone communications, the various tracking devices, as well as the Air Search Radar, which was activated and constantly monitored. Our leading Radarman was a first class named J.D. Luther. His experience from Task Group Bravo, the anti-submarine Hunter/Killer Carrier/Destroyer Group was a great comfort to us, as we were thrown into our first real hardass warlike experience. Six on and six off gave us just enough sleep to stand the next watch. However, when “Splendor in the Grass”, the best sex flick of 1962 was playing, sleep was not an option! As it turned out, by going to the movie we were at least dressed and awake when they rang General Quarters mid-flick!! We flew up the passageway from the messdecks and were out on deck when they added that it was just a drill!! To this day, I have never seen the end of that movie. R & R finally came with a liberty trip to Kingston, Jamaica, where we quickly learned that “Blueberry Hill” was not just a Fats Domino song. Back on the line and with a refreshed attitude, rumors of Polish Submarines abounded but never came to anything. We did think a lot about the amount of AVGAS we carried in the midships tanks and those pictures of WW II tankers going up in flames! One night, on the CIC voice net, we heard a call sign we had never heard before and actually had to look it up! The brand new world’s first Nuclear Carrier U.S.S. Enterprise was steaming back from the Med to become part of the blockade!! We steamed around for another month or so and made sure the area was clear of the Russian Nasties before we prepared for out return to Norfolk. How wonderful that port looked to our weary butts! We arrived in Norfolk in mid December, just in time for Christmas leave. We anchored in Hampton Roads and commuted by boat to Fleet Landing.

We had been in the front lines of the Cuban Missile Crisis but actually knew very little about it. We didn’t have news or radio at sea. The country apparently was quite stirred up by those missiles and the risk of a Nuclear War with Russia. Nikita Khrushev pounded his shoe on the desk at the United Nations. President Kennedy made a brave speech when he called the quarantine. We just wanted to get off watch and grab some snores!

1963 was a much different Year. The Yards in Brooklyn, NY!! A target rich environment for single, good looking young petty officers. The Mafia warring with each other and just down the street from us! That, however, is a story for another time.

by Thomas Beebe (then RDSN), U.S.S. Truckee

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< < < Dead In The Water!
After the 1970 Med Cruise, Truckee came home to Norfolk Va. After a little refit and paint, She headed to Port Canaveral, Fl. We were fitted with huge Antenna's.. two astern and two forward for tracking missiles. Our Captain, Robert Oechslin, volunteered the Truckee for this detail. We cruised off the Southern tip of Africa for about 6 weeks. One beautiful sunny day, Roy Whitenmyer and I were off duty and sitting on the fourth deck portside forward listening to Joy to the World by the Three Dog Night on an Ampex Am/Fm Cassette Tape player I purchased from the ship's store. All of a sudden the Truckee slowed down and then stopped. We started hearing a very loud banging noise, like pipes filled with too much air pressure. We turned the Ampex off and Roy and I watched to stern. The Engineering Officer, LT Palmer, came from aft to forward and talked to the Captain. LT Palmer then went aft again. Soon the Captain traveled to the Engine Room. The noise was getting deafening all the time. Then we were DEAD in the water! Both engines shut down. For what reason I still don't know. The talk was for a Fleet Tug to tow us back to Norfolk. It would take 3 to 4 days just for the tug to arrive to tow Truckee at 2 to 3 knots. Well the Snipes didn't like that much after having an E award painted on the stack. They got one engine going and we cruised back at 10 to 12 knots ... shit city sure looked great!

- Bob Jennings RM2

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< < < The Russian Spy Trawler VS. The Finger!
I remember the Russian ship that lit us up with his spotlight that you mentioned. On another occasion (probably around the same time) I had to do the early morning transmission checks between my gunfire control control systems and the aft gun mounts. When I came out on deck from the mess hall (barely dawn) there was this Russian Spy Trawler chugging along just a few hundred yards off of our Starboard stern. Lots of attennea's on his superstructure...probably taking pictures and broadcasting our formation back to his Admiralty. Scared the crap out of me. I shot him a bird, ran into the computer room and cranked up the gunfire control director and "beamed" him. He chugged off a short while later. I think the Russians made a game of getting into our task force as close to an American ship as possible. That's the last I saw of that ship.

-Joel (Skip) Alcorn

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< < < The 2 Jumpers!"
One story comes to mind. In 70-73 era. Cruisin through the straights of Messina, with a great view of Mt. Etna puffy out smoke, one of our wayward deck hands decided he had had enough of the Navy and jumped overboard. A guy from NY City. I was on the whale boat team that pulled him out of the drink. Pretty exciting stuff with a real "Man overboard".
We had another jumper on the way out to sea while in the sealane of the Chesapeake. I had the honor of pulling that guy out of the water also. Getting dropped from a tall moving ship into the sea in a tiny whale boat kinda sticks in your mind. I can't recall who else was in the rescue boat but if anyone recalls drop a note. I sometimes think of those two fellas and wonder what in hell ever happened to them. The straights of Messina guy was sent off the ship at the next stop never to be heard from again. The guy from the Chesapeake jump stayed on and did some rehab. I think he ultimately got a General discharge with mutual agreement of the Navy.
As to the explosion , I am wonder if you are refering to a fire we had at 2 a.m. while out to sea. I think it was in the engine room and some of the E folks can probably reflect better on that. Thanks for your fine work on the site.

-Ed Frank

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< < < The 2 Jumper Saga Continues!
I'm so glad Mr. Frank sent that story in ... it just keeps getting better! Now we get to hear from a man who knew one of the jumpers and why he did it.

The jumper in the straights of Messina, was a young RMSA named Clyde Ledsworth. He was Aboard for the 1970 Med cruise. When we arrived at Rota, Spain we picked up staff for Comservforsixflt. A staff Rm1 took a dislike to Clyde pretty quick (can't remember the 1st class's name, but most did not like him). After crusin to Naples Home port, things got worse between them. Radio was offered a tour of Navcomstay Asmara. If you filled out a chit, ya had to go, Clyde filled one out, but guess what ... he didn't go! So the RM1 punished him by sending him to clean the Bilge. I don't remember what Snipe took Clyde there, but they had a good time. I talked to Clyde about it. I was not really any older than him in age just a little more Salty with time in (I was an old 19). Anyhow, I remember when he jumped. It was from the Starboard side, and we were going a fast 18 knots or better. Must have hurt! The Truckee slowed down and put the Whale boat in the water while she started her long turn. I still remember the Officer in the whale boat on the bull horn saying "Ledsworth let us come to you!" It looked to me like Clyde looked over his shoulder and started to swim the other way faster!!!

I also remember the 2nd jumper in Norfolk. A copycat in a much more dangerous place. There was a tug just behind us (man, was this guy ever stupid!). I don't remember his name, think he was BM striker.

As to the explosion, we had a fire in the paint locker right at the forward magazines, no explosion thank God!!!!!!!!!!

We also had a very trying time refueling in Sicily at that depot. A flare was set off forward by the guns (gunners mates). Someone put it out by placing a water bucket over it. Never knew how that happened! Luckily, we were completely empty, 30 ft above water line, from refueling ships in the Jordainian Crisis. Got a ribbon for that one!


-Bob Jennings RM2

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< < < The 2 Jumper Saga - The 2nd jumper!
Bob Sharpe knew something about the 2nd jumper.

The second guy in the jumper saga was a guy named BMSN Whaler. He was in second div. If I remember correctly he threw his sea bag over first with all his belongings and then proceded to jump in after it. We were on our way out to sea and he did not want go.The guy wanted out of the navy and was willing to try anything to get out. I remember one time he took an axe and tried to chop his foot, but all he did was to split the toe of his boondockers because they were steel toes. I also remember he supposed to have tied up a BMSN Lake up in the sail locker and sexually molested him. Like I said he was willing to try anything to get out.


-Bob Sharpe SN

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< < < In memory of Clyde Ledsworth
My brother, Clyde M. Ledsworth is one of your Lost Crew Members that you have been searching for. I was surprised to find his name amongst the crew stories... you see, Clyde jumped off the ship in 1970 in the straights of Messina. I was just a young girl when that happened, but our whole family was affected by it. Clyde received an Honorable Discharge after being hospitalized for several months and returned home. He married, then divorced with no children. He was a wonderful man.... I say was because my brother committed suicide last year on April 18, 2004.

This is a portion of his obituary --

FORT GRATIOT -- Clyde M. Ledsworth, age 54, of Fort Gratiot died unexpectedly Sunday, April 18, 2004 in his parents home. He was born March 25, 1950 in Port Huron, MI to Warren W. and Patricia A. Ledsworth. He graduated from Port Huron Northern High School in 1968.

Clyde was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and was a radioman aboard the USS Truckee (AO-147). He received an Honorable Discharge on Nov. 12, 1970. He previously worked at Mueller Brass Company.

Clyde was a generous man with a good heart. He loved his family and would lend a helping hand to anyone in need. His favorite way of giving was to play, "The money game." This was his way of sharing with others.

He is survived by his parents and brother and sisters, etc...

I just wanted you to know that my brother was respected by all that knew him. He lays to rest with a Veteran's Memorial headstone, and my mother keeps a flag on his site. I wrote a poem for my brother as a Tribute for the funeral. He collected eagles, and my mother came up with the title: "Where Eagles Soar."

Where Eagles Soar
by Julia A. Brown

The mourning dove with lonesome song,
Awakes us with the quiet dawn,
The robin chirps his melody,
As the sun breaks over yonder tree.

Your gentle spirit like the dove,
Encircles us - we feel your love.
Many questions arise - we don't understand,
We can only pray that it's in God's hands.

But now your pain
It is no more...
You're in a place
Where eagles soar.

-Julia A. [Ledsworth] Brown

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< < < The 1967 Hurricane.
It was in 1967, while on a Med cruise, that the USS Truckee met her match. Sounding General Quarters and manning those 3" guns were not going to help with the force we were about to tackle! Mother Nature was gearing up to kick our butts and no one had ever told her about the Geniva Convention!

I remember that hurricane very well since it was me and my crew that had to secure everything on deck and rig all those life lines for people to hold onto so they wouldn't get washed overboard. As a matter of fact, if you look on the "Crew Pictures" page, there is a picture of me rigging one of those lines right before we hit the thing. Also, in the "Ship Pictures" page, under "What We Saw", there is a picture I took from the railing showing the swells as they started to get bad. Lucky me got BMOW (Boatswain Mate of the Watch) on the bridge that day. The Captain turned the ship into the wind to ride it out. It was so cool being on the bridge and seeing nothing but air, no water at all, as the ship rode a huge wave up. Then you saw nothing but water, no sky at all, as the ship topped the wave and started down. The ship then plunged into the water like a submarine. Water was pouring into the bridge. Everyone was holding on for dear life. Then nothing but sky again as we rode another wave up.

We finally hit the eye of the hurricane and I got off watch. The sea became very, very calm. That was so strange. No rain, no wind, no swells, it was as if the Atlantic Ocean became a calm lake. I remember looking at the sky and thinking "man, I've never, ever seen anything like this!" The clouds were so different. Everything took on a pinkish hue. But that didn't last more that about 30 minutes ... then we started out of the hurricane and the sea erupted with a force that Mother Nature would really be proud of. When we finally came out of it, I remember seeing all the guys lining the rails and puking. They were everywhere! I went to the mess deck and got "cooksey" to make me a sandwich. Then I went back accross the deck by those guys, eating and offering them a bite as they were throwing up. You should have seen the looks I got. I laughed my butt off! It was really funny then, but I wouldn't want to do it again. No sir, I'll pass!

-Steve (Louie) Lewis

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< < < Remember the USS Liberty (AGTR-5)
In June of 1967 the Truckee was refueling the USS America in the Mediteranian Sea. While our rigs were connected, the America went to general quarters. They started turning into the wind and as rig captain of the #1 rig and static line, our lines were the first to be stretched to the max. This is where you seperate the men from the boys. You must think fast, act fast and make all the right decisions under extreme pressure... or someone is going to get hurt... and hurt bad! We were shutting down all pumps as they began catapulting jets off the flight deck. The men on the America were just disconnecting all the fuel rigs and lines at the same time. Everything was falling into the water as we were hauling it in. EMERGENCY BREAKAWAY! If you've never been through one... you don't know what you're missing. Then we went to general quarters. I grabbed my camera and got some great shots of the jets taking off! Does anyone else remember this?

The USS Liberty had been attacked by Israeli fighter planes and torpedo boats. She was in international waters about 12.5 nautical miles from the coast of the Sinai Peninsula. 34 U.S. sailors dead... 171 wounded... and their ship was completely destroyed.

Supposedly messages had been sent to the Liberty warning her not to come within 100 nautical miles of the Sinai. The messages were never received. Lots of pictures can be seen here! This all took place during the six day war.

-Steve (Louie) Lewis

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< < < Russian Guided Missile Destroyer
It was the 1967 Med cruise. We were at sea and had been following unknown radar contacts off our port bow. Late at night, one of the contacts started a course directly towards us. It turned out to be a snow white Russian guided missile destroyer. She ran a collision course but turned at the very last minute. Both ships were standing dead in the water so close you could have jumped from one ship to the other. Our Captain gave the order to shine our signal light on her. She immediately trained those missles on us and completely lit us up with her spotlights. I was standing on the port wing with the Captain and port lookout. We all three hit the deck. After a few minutes, she steamed away and left us alone. This was during the time that Russian ships were "known" to come alongside and "bump" our ships to intimidate.

-Steve (Louie) Lewis

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< < < Have a story to submit?
Just email it to me and I will post it.

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