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  USS Noxubee AOG56

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Vietnam Ribbon Bar
Noxubee Crest

Painting the Shrouds


By Gary Harger
mast Being in Operations the care of the forward mast was delegated to our department because of all the associated gear we had on the mast, signal halyards, radio antenna, radar dish etc. Well I'm sure you know about the laws of the sea, the chain of command, Newton's Law of Gravity and how things in general just seem to roll down hill. I was one of the low men in Ops so I was involved in the job of painting the mast. When I finished that task I remember thinking how glad I was now that chore was behind me. By climbing the mast I found out just how frightened of heights I am. I think I did more clinging to rather than climbing the mast.

To my sorrow I found out that I wasn't done. In fact I was just beginning. Don Spence and I were next elected to the honorable task of white leading the shrouds! That time honored naval tradition meant we had to ride down from the mast along the length of the shroud in a boatswain's chair dipping our hand into the bucket of white lead and applying it to the shroud at the same time holding onto the chair with the other. The worst part was there were several shrouds to be done.

view from mast As luck would have it and me being afraid of heights Don Spence kindly volunteered to ride in the chair first! I was his line handler and had him tied off on the cleat on the tank deck with a series of figure eights. After a while I figured out that I could control his decent with a lot less figure eights. All I had to do was just hold the line. Then a thought came to me, sneaky as it was, a thought that I would surely pay for in the end, I knew I should not do it but the practical joker in me took over. I decided I would let him come down about 4 or 5 feet rather quickly and as this came to pass Don let out a yell followed by a tremendous verbal out burst that would make even a Chief Boatswain Mate blush. Don was bouncing up and down like a weight on a spring. I know I had a good laugh for at least 5 minutes. I dare not even repeat what the names he yelled down at me, not that I didn't deserve them all.

Painting Shrouds After Don finished his turn up on the shroud, guess what? My turn. The bill came due. Why did I have to play that stupid joke on him? That old saying proved so true, "what goes around comes around." I went up the mast and sat there on that little boatswains chair suspended 80 feet up over steel tank deck, on what seemed to me to be a very suspiciously thin piece of line. One hand hanging on for dear life on the boatswains chair and the other on the bucket. I just new my brief naval career was about to come to an untimely end.

Now Don was the line handler and I was totally at his mercy. I was trembling as I climbed the mast and left the mast to climb into the boatswains chair knowing full well what was coming. Don let me sit there momentarily so I could savor every inch of height and then Don gave me a ride that was better than any theme park I had ever been on yet! He let me drop a few feet but that alone seemed to me to be harsher treatment that I gave to him, it was like that parachuete ride at 6 Flags over Georgia I was hanging on for dear life! I knew I was going to crash to the deck below and break every bone in my body.

But just as I held on to Don's line he held onto mine. I not only learned to trust the line handler I learned a new respect for him too. I learned a more important lesson too. Don't do anything to any one else if you don't want it done to you, Trust me, my ride was a lot worse than his. He made a believer out of this ol'e boy for sure. When I first got into that chair my only thought was about what I had just done to him. I know it is coming and by golly it did. He scared the living daylights out of me, and from that point on I had great respect for the man holding the bitter end.


Noxubee Crest

Plank Owner's Story


By Gary Harger
Being a part of the pre-commisioning crew and serving the rest of my tour of duty aboard the mighty Noxubee, I had the opportunity to become a plank owner. In the years since my discharge that plank owner certificate has been lost along the way. Having done some research I found out that Plank Owner Certificate is something that is issued by the ship and not the Navy. I also learned that the Plank Owner Certificate is just what it implies, and is mighty difficult to obtain a plank off of a steel deck. So after learning this I had given up all hope of ever having a piece of the Noxubee upon her decomissioning. I left Noxubee in Danang in November, 1968 and flew out of country via Flying Tiger Airlines. They were lobbing motars at the runway when we lifted off and I never heard much about Noxubee again until the advent of this web page.

There was one time and that gets me back to the point of this story. Imagine my suprise when in the mid 80's my brother Rickie Harger formerly HT 3 USS Jason AR 8, asked me for twenty bucks for something I would be immensely satisfied with. Sight unseen. Twenty bucks, for something that would make me very, very happy. Considering the fact that he just returned home from one of his favorite watering holes, one that was frequented by Naval Avaitors, Trader Johns. It is a landmark here in Pensacola. I was skeptical to say the least, but he's my brother so I give him the twenty bucks. He goes back outside to his car and returns with what he had promised, something that has made me very, very happy...a very heavy hunk of brass. The Noxubee's Crest. I was ecstatic. It was mounted on the front door of Trader Johns and my brother talked the Old Trader out of it for the modest sum of ten dollars. The way I see it we ALL gained on that transaction but I gained the most. That hunk of brass now hangs on a highly polished walnut base under the Noxubee' s picture.

What my Dad, O.V.Harger Jr, SMC USN ret. deceased, told me and various others along the way still rings true. You can always get out of the Navy but cant get the Navy out of you. So the feeling is true. The time I served on the Noxubee and all the shipmates I had the priviledge of serving with, those are the times that are a very special time in my life. I was in the midst of 110 brave men. The times we shared, the stunts we pulled, those were the best. When it came to stunts, Don Spence was the best teacher I had, He taught me how to take down a Huge flag in a matter of seconds and run baby run! Yes those were the fun times.

I'll have to tell you later about Don and I white leading the shrouds. I'd like to thank you Paul for this site and enableing us to reunite, rememeber, and catch up on what ever happened to ...thanks again. Shield


Noxubee Crest

Skating


By Gary Harger

My proficiency in this area was unquestionable, I was pretty darn good at it. I practiced a lot, I formed a mind set at that time. I considered skating as learning expeditions. I learned a lot on these excursions. I know you all have seen the movie: (Mr. Roberts) With Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemon. I associate myself with Jack Lemonís, character. Happy go lucky, and not wanting to be noticed. That was me.

I would meander into other departments to see what else was going on. Watch the other guys, do their stuff. The benefit of doing this, was two fold. I considered it as an overview, to enable myself to see the whole picture. To be a greater asset to the ship, and to second it kept me out of sight, out of mind with my department. One particular excursion stands out in my mind. On this day, I was in deck and in engineering berthing under the mess deck. I was engaged in conversation with Gosnell, and a few other guys. It started on a friendly note but shortly the conversation went to departmental rivalry. Whose department was better theirs or mine? This lead to a heated debate all the usual rhetoric was used, anybody can turn a key to start the engines. Yea, you wouldnít even know where you were going. Couldnít even send a distress signal for help!

I donít remember at what particular instance it occurred maybe it was, when I threw " Godís Country" at them, meaning living up forward adjacent to officers quarters. While they lived down below. It all happened so fast, next thing I knew I was flat on my back, my shirt opened, arms and legs pinned and Gosnell, was in the process of giving me the prettiest pink belly I had ever had. It really smarted and it was very, very, pink!

I had said these were learning expeditions and I learned that we all need each other to make it work. Was I mad? Not at all, I was proud, although I didnít say anything. I knew it took five of them to hold me down to give me that pink belly I deserved at the time.