Through the years in the Navy
I had a lot of good times. This story is dedicated to these the
great guys who shared some of those times with me:
Michael Hahn (my cousin) who was killed in Vietnam.
Jerry Soden (My Best Buddy) who was killed way too soon after
Jerry Agan (my Uncle) to who served 25 years in the navy and died
My adventure started in the navy when I was 17 years old. My
cousin Manuel lived next door to us. Not having a big brother, I
looked up to him a lot. He was in the Navy Reserves then and on
one day he asked me if I wanted to go fishing down at the
Mississippi River. Back then we lived out in the country I
thought. Manuel had this old mercury that had a half glass top,
1953. So we took off for the rive and did more talking about what
is was like in the navy then we did fishing, I had another cousin,
Michael who joined the Marines about the same time I joined the
Navy. We both left home for our big adventures on the same day. I
made it back home. Michael did not.
When I left for Great Lakes and Boot Camp I was only 17 years
old. My dad had to sign for me. But he wouldn't sign until I
promised that I would finish school while in the navy. I dropped
out of school and joined the navy in 1967. I left behind a nice
girl friend or two, not knowing that when I came back home on boot
camp leave I would ask the right one to marry me a day before I
was to leave for duty aboard the Noxubee. Dad had to sign again
for me to get married too. The next day October 5, 1967 I married
my lovely wife Vicki. The very next day October 6, I left home and
my new wife for Pearl Harbor.
got to Hawaii the next day, I was dropped off at the end of this
pier. It looked to be a 2 mile walk to the ship. I had a full sea
bag and a hand bag. Back then I only weighted 120 lbs. It was all
I could do just to carry the hand bag after a 9 hour flight But I
started up the pier and as I was dragging my sea bag up pier a big
tall sailor come up from behind me and said "Hay, let me help
you." He grabbed my sea bag like it was full of air. He asked
where I was from I told him from Iowa he told me he was from
Pennsylvania, He was headed back to the ship after talking long
distance to his girl friend back home. He looked at my wedding
ring and asked how long have I been married because I looked too
young to be married, I told him I just got married yesterday,
When he grabbed my sea bag I didn't know that Jerry Soden and I
would become the best of friends, We did everything together in
Hawaii, in Japan, in Hong Kong, in Subic Bay, Philippines. We
liked the same food our favorite was cheeses burgers with just
mayo on them. If one of us had the duty and the other one would
always bring the other one at lease 3 bergers back. We bought guns
alike for hunting after we got out. We talked about hunting in the
Pennsylvania hills for deer. Well, sorry to say my best friend got
taken from this earth 2 weeks after his discharge from the navy
and 2 tours in Vietnam, I still think of Jerry, his mom, his
family and his girl friend often. After 30 years I still hear from
his mom from time to time. I had a lot of great friends on the
Noxubee, but Jerry was the best.
We did a lot of crazy things aboard that ship. One was to see
how deep the water was at night by taking a portable lantern at
night and lowering it over board with a monkeyfist heaving line.
Then we would let it go and see how long it would take for it to
go out of site. Another thing we did was to tie a heaving line to
one of the cook's galley slop buckets and toss it over the side
while underway and try like hell to pull it back on board before
the line snapped. Finally when there was nothing else to do we
could always harass the 2nd Class Boatswain Mate. One of the best
gags we pulled on him was to open a can of sardines and spreading
them under his mattress and see how long it would take smell to
get to him. He never did figure out who did it.
Here's a couple of more stories.
cruise we pulled liberty in Hong Kong. One day after shopping
downtown looking for a nice tattoo parlor because we all decided
to get a fine tattoo and of course a 17-course meal. With
appetizers of snails cooked in their shells, a slice of octopus on
ice dipped in the sauce. Damn it was the best I ever ate. At least
it is what I thought while eating it. After cramming down a few
beers before, during, and after the meal we headed back to the
ship. It was a trip I will never forget. If we were not sitting on
the commode, we where heaving our guts out all the way back. It
went on all night. One of the guys climbed into his rack after we
got back. He was so sick; he was tossing and turning all night. He
was even heaving in his sleep. Man! After sleeping all night with
that stuff sticking to your body after it dried was nasty. It
stuck to you all right! Ask me! I never scrub my body for so long
and so hard.
Another fun time involved poor Richard Spearback. We were
walking back to the ship one night after a night out with the
mates and about 5 or 6 of us tried to throw Richard off the pier
into the drink to see if he could really swim like a duck because
he had webbed feet. Really he had extra skin between his toes like
a duck. He grabbed a hold of something and we thought he would
never let go! So we never found out if he could swim like a duck.
Then there was Mel Short a Gunners Mate who liked to snorkel
and skin dive. Once soon after he bought this new spear gun he he
saw this 6 foot sting ray swimming around the fantail. He grabbed
his spear gun and we watched as he took aim and fired the spear at
that big monster. A direct hit! But the ray just increased speed
ripped the gun out of Mel's hands and was gone in less time then
it takes to tell the story. He acted like the spear was just a pin
prick. Mel was mad as hell be because he lost his new spear gun
and had nothing to show for it.
One day I received a letter from my Uncle Jerry Agan who was
Chief Electrician's Mate telling me his ship the USS Ranger was on
the way to Pearl Harbor. Noxubee looked like a tug boat compared
to the Ranger. Once I was joking around with him and I told him
that I will hold open a place for his ship to tie up next to mine.
As luck would have it that is exactly what happened. I had a great
time with him. We went out to eat, had a few beers and swapped a
few sea stories. As a matter of fact, we downed quite a few beers!
I don't remember how I got back to ship that night. I was told
later that a Chief off the Ranger carried me back to Noxubee
across his shoulders. I know you are looking over me now Uncle
Jerry. I would like to say thank you for that night.
Here's the best story from my time aboard Noxubee. On October 25,
1969 we were anchored off the mouth of the Cua Viet River in
Vietnam. I was called to the bridge by the Commanding Officer. He
said I have an important call. I thought to myself that he had
some geek on the beach on other side of the island on the line. I
thought it was a joke at the time. (For we did a lot of joking
around with each other.) I use to act like I could talk Vietnamese
to some of the geeks at the pumping stations up and down the
coast. The guys would get a kick out of me acting like I could
communicate with the Vietnamese. (I did not know how to talk
Vietnamese at all). But the Vietnamese used to look at me with a
what in hell are you saying look on their faces. But the call was
not a joke. It was a call from my wife letting me know I was the
proud father of a baby boy.
I remember many more good times from my Noxubee days. Maybe
someday I will write more.