My Navy Days

My decision to join the Navy came to me after high school when I was living alone in a rooming house.  At the time, I was working at an office supply store making $52 dollars a week gross, and was barely able to buy enough food to live on.   One night I picked up a hitchhiking sailor in my old Nash who talked about the electronics school he was attending, and how much he was learning.   I knew my work as a shipping clerk had no future, and I hated the underhanded business practices they often did, so within a week I went to see a Navy recruiter and was guaranteed an electronics field  IC  if I enlisted.  Being in the Navy allowed me to travel to many places like San Juan and advance to an E5 level or IC2.   During my four years in the Navy, I was able to observe many ocean views like these that were breath taking.

I went to boot camp after taking and passing all of the entrance tests at the old Fort Hayes in Columbus.   In Great Lakes Training Center or boot camp, I was assigned to Company 272, and went through my training during the months of July and August in 1961.  Iíve also enclosed a few pictures of myself and few of my friends from boot camp.  Some pictured are Jim Sturgill, Dwane Dailey, Earl Estep, David Wentz and Kenneth Starkey.
After boot camp, instead of going to electronics “A” school right away, I was sent to Quonset Point, RI and was assigned to the USS Lake Champlain CVS-39.  I enjoyed my time aboard the Champ working as a telephone repair person, and being part of the IC gang (staff) some of whom are shown here. Below, I've posted a few pictures I took back in 1961 just after the ship was used to recover astronaut Allan Sheppard and the Freedom-7 space capsule.  I even scanned my welcome aboard brochure I was given the first week I arrived.   Did anyone else stand a mail buoy watch in the North Atlantic?   Some of these latest images were provided by Jerry Lombardo BT (*) who served on the Champ in 1965 when the ship was used again for the recovery of the Gemini-5 space capsule with astronauts Lt. Col. L. Gordon Cooper and Lt. Cmdr. Charles Conrad.  Be sure to also take a look at the the newest Lake Champlain Assn. web page. (Note the web person from the old site passed away along with the passwords).

After about six months, it was time to go back to Great Lakes for my electronics training as an Interior Communication Electrician or IC.  Navy electronics school was very difficult for me, and each night I attended "Stupid Study" to help me understand the fast paced theory that we covered each day. While attending school, I took some time off and ventured up to Milwaukee where I met my wife Paulette.

After IC school, I was assigned to the USS York County LST-1175.   At the time, the ship happened to be on a Mediterranean cruise, so I was flown there on several transport planes stopping in the Azores, Morocco, Naples and finally Athens Greece where the ship was anchored.  I began my service on the York as an IC-FN (E-3), but before leaving the ship I was an IC-2 (E5).

I now look back fondly of my service aboard the LST York County, although at the time, I was like most of the crew wishing I was somewhere else.  But now, forty years later, I wish I could go back and do it again.  Iím going to post some pictures of the ship, and a few of the crew during the time I served on her from 1963 to 1964.  Before leaving the York County, I made with the help of others, a 3 inch shell ashtray, and with the help of seaman Veith, who did the rope fancywork for me.

I also want to show this picture of me on the fantail between generator watches. The main reason I wanted to show this image was to show the books in my back pocket.  I enrolled in a CIE course during my last few years in the Navy that helped me pass and receive my First-Class Radiotelephone license which got me into broadcasting soon after my discharge.  The CIE books were small and written in such a way as to stop me every few paragraphs asking questions to see if I understood the lesson. If I couldn't answer the questions, I'd re-read the chapter again until I understood the topic. This method of study was the only reason I was able to finish the Cleveland Institute of Electronics distance learning course.
Thank You Carl Smith for the Auto-Programmed method of learning.  Here's a link to CIE.

Some LST history: Before viewing the pictures taken while some of us served during our years on the York County, I thought I'd show a picture sent to me by Jim Marders taken from a newspaper article showing the building used for training, and to develop an LST even before the first LST ship was ever built.

View "at sea" Navy movies on the York County Page

Did you know that the York County crew held a reunion in September of 2007, in October of 2008 and in September of 2009? You can read about them if you follow this link.  

York County LST-1175 Archives

Other LST Sites:

LST- 325 Page   Gatorforce.Com   LST - 1165 Page
LST - 912 Page   Dutchman's 1171 Dock   LST-334 Page   LST-1148 Page
LST Association Web Page

LST - 1169  A web page showing the sinking of the Whitfield County LST - 1169. She was sold to Greece in 1977 under the Security Assistance Program, and was renamed HNS Kos (L116).

I also served on the USS Vermilion AKA-107 a cargo ship my last few months of the four year enlistment, and like my other ships, I took a few pictures while on board.

Some Time ago, I received an email from John Pulignano  (  who served as a Cook during his time on the ship between 1959 and 1964.  He sent me that image of himself on the fantail during a mediteranian cruise while the Vermilion was at sea.  He also mentioned the Vermilion was sunk, and is now sitting in 140 feet of water off the coast of Myrtle Beach and being used as a diving location for Scuba Express. The Vermilion is covered with barnicles and urchins, and supports 1000's of fish and tiger sharks who winter inside her. John says it's great to see her give life to others.  John recently sent some images of of an item from the sunken Vermilion which was cleaned up to help identify the part.

The last three images below were taken from the decks of the USS Plymouth Rock (LSD29) while the Vermillion was approching on the starboard side for a highline detail.  I'd like to thank Bill Provencal who helped me locate those images.

As I put together this Navy page showing ship images, I also had several travel images I found within the collection of Navy images I wanted to share with everyone reading this Navy page.  These were taken during my four years in the Navy.

The links listed below are places you can find out more of the history of the of the York County, Lake Champlain, Vermilion and towns around America where you can visit restored Naval ships.  A few years ago I visited the USS North Carolina BB-55 in Wilmington, NC and took a few pictures of inside the ship which are shown here.

I was very disapointed with my trips to the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, and the USS Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in NYC, where you were confined to either the main deck and/or the hanger bay.

Note! I get at least 80 spam messages everyday, so if you write me please use my links from my home page.

USS York County LST-1175.

USS Lake Champlain CVS-39.

USS Vermilion AKA-107.

Preserved Naval Vessels in the United States.  Take my advice, if you've been in the Navy and want to remember the good old days, stop and visit the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, NC, or the USS Massachusetts in downtown Fall River, MA, where you have complete run of the ships.  Be sure to view my BB-55 images above.  

On a personal note, while serving in the Navy, I was alone and was visiting a shipyard where they keep old mothballed ships.   As I walked around and listening to the eerie creaks and groans of these old ships, I noticed a battleship silently cruising by me.  As I watched it pass, I saw a tug boat pushing it out to sea. The next day, I read a newspaper article where the school kids of Massachusetts collected money to help buy the ship from the Navy, and was pushed up the coast to Fall River using tugboats.   A few years ago, I paid it a visit and toured the ship with other tourists, but believe me, I had a special feeling as I walked around the ship because I knew I was the only person to see it off from the VA area.

Note! Please send me your images of the USS Massachusetts for posting here.

Here's an informational page for the USS Mass BB-59.

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