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  USS Noxubee AOG56

A Tribute To Those That Served

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Noxubee Crest

A View of the Noxubee


By Charlie Milhulka

 

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Paul and Dan, two shipmates that were on the U.S.S. Noxubee with me 30 Years ago. The highlights of my memories of four years in the Navy concern the comradeship of the shipmates and traveling to other countries.

Admittedly, I wasn't a very good sailor. I tested the patience of most of the gung ho enlisted, lifers, chiefs, warrant officers, and officers. Because of that I spent months, maybe years, on galley duty. Fortunately, I was competent at charting the ships course, and a good helmsman. This kept me off of permanent galley duty.

The picture I'd paint of the Noxubee wouldn't be of a glorious lady of the sea. Reading this site's history of the Noxubee, she had her moments, but they must have happened when I wasn't there. Maybe I was busy scrubbing pots and pans.

It's possible that thirty years clouds the memory, or that one only remembers the good times. I do have good memories of my time in the Navy. I also remember, after an extended boot camp and quartermaster school, dragging my duffle bag with everything I owned, up to the gangplank. There was a gnawing feeling in my gut as I surveyed a rather dingy, rusty, and small ship. This was going to be my new home?

This gnawing was reinforced when I saw that my personal area was a bunk, 6'x3', basically a metal shelf that opened providing 2 or 3 square feet of storage. The bunk above me was so near my shoulder would rub against it when I rolled over. The bunks were two wide, and three high and squeezed 24 men and a card table into an area approximately 24'x 16'. About half the crew smoked and the other half snored. I later found out these conditions were a lot better than the Service, Engineering and Deck Departments conditions below deck. At least we had cross ventilation and portholes.

The toilet, shower, and sink were so cramped, that if you bent over to spit out your toothpaste you stuck your butt in someone's face. Fresh water was precious, and the ship's ability to desalinize seawater wasn't the best, and it would occasionally breakdown. After awhile they would pump seawater through the system. Showering was like a day at the beach without the sun and sand. O.K., there was a little sand in the water.

The operations department was on the front of the ship the galley and movies were on the rear of the ship. In between was the dreaded catwalk. On calm seas there wasn't any problem, but any hint of waves (most of the time) the catwalk would become a monster wanting to consume you, at the very least drench you. A veteran would learn to count between waves, to see if there was time to make it across. Often I would snack on crackers etc. and miss the meal. Others have written about this on this site.

When they designed the Noxubee, it was designed for carrying JP5, black oil, or something else explosive. It wasn't designed for speed or the comfort of the crew. I believed that the designers used a cork for its model. The ship did some strange things. I remember that when the ship would be at the top of a wave it would make a small circle before heading down. This motion would bring out the "barf buckets." Even the regular rocking was amplified. The ship would slam the water and shake the mast when hitting the waves head on. In heavy seas we would gather on the fantail and jump into the air just as the fantail would drop. We'd end up with a pretty good vertical leap.

Eating was an adventure. The trays would slide. There was an elevated edge on the tables that would stop the trays from sliding off of the table. Sometimes just making it to the booth with your meal intact was an adventure. Sometimes the food itself was an adventure.

Earlier, I mentioned my ability to acquire galley duty. Unfortunately, I also witnessed the mutilation of product, later passed off as food. Many times, my meal consisted of ice cream and "bug juice. Who could forget "bug juice" a poor excuse for koolaid. When the ship ran out of ice cream, I would be given food by Philippine shipmates that cooked for and catered to the ships officers. One time, the cook asked me to taste coffee cake batter, it had the texture of cement. The recipe called for one cup of coffee. He added one cup of coffee grounds.

One redeeming quality of the ship was that it rarely, if ever sailed with the Fleet. It could be because it was explosive. It Probably was because it was pathetically slow. We visited wonderful areas. The Greek Islands, Ibiza, Malta, Nice, Corfu, Istanbul, the Spanish Riviera, are representative of areas I would have missed if we sailed with the fleet. One captain loved the Greek islands. Thira, Rhodes, Mykonos, Corfu, were his favorite sites.

One navy story I remember happened in Freeport, Grand Bahama, I believe it was more of a vacation than maneuvers. I was walking back to the ship when two shipmates and an officer in a golf cart stopped to give me a ride. After I hopped on, they turned into a hotel and started zigzagging around the parking lot. The officer stood on the front pretending to be George Washington crossing the Delaware. There may have alcohol involved, but everyone sobered fast when we were pulled over by the flashing lights of a police car. The cart had been stolen from this hotel earlier in the day. In the office, I remember a serious officer in his white starched uniform, saying things like, " They don't allow you to steal golf carts in America, do they?" The Ltjg started groveling and said " we are very, very dumb for doing this and very sorry." He said this after everything the policeman said. The policeman would puff up a little more each time. The Ltjg's tactic worked. I walked back to the ship.

The antics of Greg, Larry, John S., Duck, Willie, Dan, Charlie J., Gabby, Polack, Charlie O., Ed, Doug, Ron and more, kept everyone entertained. It's a miracle of the computer age that we can reconnect after almost 3 decades, and connect easily. Thank you, webmaster Paul, for creating and managing this site.


Noxubee Crest

Ode To A Short Timer


Submitted by Charlie Milhulka

Ah! four years spent in service
but now you're getting short.
You've seen mermaids and dragons
and almost every port.

You say you've had ptomaine
and once a case of gout,
but rejoice O salty sailor,
at last you're getting out.

You've stood inspection in your blues
and several more in whites,
but soon the Nav can't touch you;
again you will have your rights.

Yes, learning how to live again
is definitely all right,
a brand new car and a woman
are really outta sight.

You've got college if you want it,
and a job is even great;
and no one there to tell you
you can or can't stay out late.

Yes O Happy shortimmer,
I know this to be true;
you're almost free again,
so dedicate this poem to you.

As printed in the "Blurp", May 16, 1971


Noxubee Crest

Med Cruise Book

Noxubee

 

Mt. Vesuvius
Mt. Vesuvius

 

Ron Doug Paul
Ron Doug Paul

 

suntan
Ship's Work

 

Stormy sea

 

Unrep
Unrep

 

BBQ
BBQ

 

Football
Football on the Pier

 

Cafe 1
Corfu Cafe

 

Noxubee

 


 

Cafe 2

 

Waiting
Waiting for the Admiral

 

Oilers
Oilers

 

Libery
Liberty Boat