Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Tribuke To Me Pappy

Popeye has always been one of my Dads favorite cartoon characters, and at times he has mimicked him pretty well. And since they were both in the Navy, it suited him.

Since my first posting about my Dad's Naval Service many people suggested that I post a Tribute with more information. And since his health is declining, I have been working feverishly on a detailed history to put on a DVD for my family. I have been searching online for information on his ship and some of the places and things that he saw while on his tour of duty.

I won't bore you with all of the details but will try to pass on a little information.

My father entered the Navy at the age of 17, he had to have his parents sign for him.

He had his basic training at the Great Lakes Training Center in Chicago, IL, below is a photo of him there.

Here is a photo of him home on leave, before shipping out to California.

This is the ship he served on during his Pacific crossing to China.

Here is a photo of him in Hong Kong. It was taken by a street vendor and developed in solutions in mud puddles in the road.

There he was transferred to CA-130, the USS BREMERTON, a heavy Cruiser at Wosan, Korea.

He served aboard the Bremerton as a Fireman Second Class (not as in the traditional firefighter sense but as a boiler tender, a holdover title from the old coal fired days) and his duties included the desalination of sea water into fresh water for the ship and crew. He also piloted the Captains Gig (launch) when they were in port. Transporting officers from ship to shore and back.

Some of his ports of call were: Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tsingtao China.
Yokosuka, Sasabo, Japan with sightseeing trips to Tokyo and Yokohama.
Yokosuka above and Sasebo below.

Guam , Saipan and Pagian Islands in the Marianna's.
Manila, Luzon Island, the capital of the Philippine's.
These photos are from Manila when they celebrated their Independence July 4, 1946.

And the Bikini Atoll after the Able and Baker Nuclear Bomb Tests, the first bombs tested as part of Operation Crossroads. A huge fleet of surplus warships was amassed for these tests. The famous and the infamous, German and Japanese, but the bulk were American. And on these ships were the test subjects: a variety of livestock.

My dad said the aftermath was horrifying. The stench of death. The pitiful crying of the surviving livestock, the hungry and thirsty, the sick, and the dying.
Some of the ships were towed back to the US for study, some were sunk, others were sold for scrap.

And very happy to be returning home after a very interesting tour of duty.
Some of his remembrances:
Chinese Fire Drills at basic training.
Surviving a Typhoon at sea, with walls of water surrounding the ship and waves battering and lifting and dropping the ship. Tossing it about like a cork, like nothing you've ever seen in a movie.
The garbage pickers; sharks at sea and Sampan's at anchor, all looking for something to eat when the leftovers from the galley were tossed overboard.

Drinking hair tonic for the alcohol and spending days recovering.
Target Practice with the BIG guns. Loading, storing and unloading ammunition.
Being treated well by everyone no matter where he was overseas.
And finally I will end with an excerpt from another seaman:
....In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea, he will still recall with fondness the ocean spray on his face when the sea is angry. There will come a faint aroma of fresh paint in his nostrils, the echo of hearty laughter of the seafaring men who once were close companions. Now landlocked, he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas were the largest part of him and a new port of call was always just over the horizon.Recalling those days and times, he will stand taller and say: "ONCE I WAS A NAVY MAN!"


Farmgirl_dk: said...

What amazing pictures. I didn't know that about the livestock on the ships in the Bikini Atoll.
How fortunate you are that your dad shared his stories and photos with you. I've got a lot of photos from my dad but none of the stories and he's gone now. I'm so glad you wrote this down!
I can totally see you in your dad's basic training picture!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that dad. It is always interesting learning more about that time in history, and my family's part in it. I'm looking forwad to the dvd. :)

Country Girl said...

Great tribute to your Dad!

frugalmom said...

Thats amazing. How great that you have all those memories. Can you imagine how much Ethan (and Aden too) will love some of those stories as they get older.

Great tribute.

warren said...

Cool pics and story...My grandfather-in-law was navy in WWII and I love to hear the of my favorite stories was of refueling...I am so glad to see the pic of that..

Great work

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hair tonic, eh? That's serious desperation for a drink, Gary! lol!

The photo developed on the streets was facinating to me. How amazing that you still have it and know it's history.

The ship photos, especially the one with the waves crashing while they were refueling was awesome!

Broke my heart reading about the lifestock used as an 'experiment' though. So sad.

I can tell you are very proud of your Dad, of which you should be.

Thanks for sharing this tribute.


Reddunappy said...

My father in law served on the
Bon Homme Richard in Korea and Japan, he was in the Navy in @ '54, we lost him about 4 years ago, the boys still have all the old film he took back then, and want to have it put on DVD, that old cellulose can be so brittle though, I hope they do give it a try.
Wonderful stories and pics from your Dad, it is a treasure.

OH and I talked to my daughter yesturday, and her orders to go to Iraq have been canceled! it is a bit of a relief. She says she hasnt gotten any new orders yet.

navyman834 said...


My name is Ed Hughes and I just happen to come across your website as I was looking for Navy ship sites. I would first like to express my condolences for the loss of your Dad. You had written "A Tribuke To Me Pappy" and I found it quite interesting, and I bet your Dad liked it as well. I noticed that he served on the heavy cruiser USS Bremerton (CA 130) and spent time in Japan, China and the other places in the Far East that our Navy patrolled for many years since WWII. My first ship was the light cruiser USS Manchester (CL 83), which I served on during 1955 and 1956. The USS Manchester, USS Bremerton and the heavy cruiser USS St. Paul (CA 73) were during that time, the makeup of Cruiser Division One out of Long Beach, Califorina and we operated together on many occasion out of Long Beach and on Mediterranean cruises with Task Force 77 in the Formosa Straits. Formosa is now called Taiwan and the straits are called Taiwan Straits. We spent a lot of years trying to keep the Communist Chinese and the Nationalist Chinese from killing each other.

I spent 24 years in the Navy and it was a great career for a country boy. I attended Denver University in 1958 after completing my first Navy hitch. During that time I had to write a poem or short essay for English 102 and I titled my work “Once I Was A Navyman”. And even though my English Professor had much criticism of it; she said Navyman was two words, the way I used the hyphen was not proper in the English Language, and I did not follow the rules of capitalization or good sentence structure. She did decide to give me a passing grade after she found that there were a limited number of works submitted by the freshman class for this annual writing contest at Denver University, and her brother that had recently served in the Navy looked at my work and said it sounded just right for Sailors.

I reenlisted in the Navy within 6 months of that time and spent another 20 years before I retired. I added a number of things to my work just before retiring in 1978 to recognize some of the Navymen that I had known during that time, some more of the ships they and I served on, and places in the country where they came from, as that was always important to Navymen. One of the first things a Navyman would hear when he reported aboard a new station or ship was “where you from Sailor?”