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Vietnam Ribbon Bar
Noxubee Crest

A New Navy Wife


By Janey Spence

 

My name is Janey Spence. I became a Navy bride on November 18, 1967 when I married Don. He had asked me to marry him while he was home on Christmas leave in 1966. We spent our whole engagement apart, all eleven months of it. He made it home 4 days before our wedding. We spent about three weeks here in Texas with family and then moved to Hawaii.

Don & Janey Spence The first time I flew on an airplane was flying to San Francisco and on to Hawaii. On the flight from San Francisco, before we took off, a stewardess found us and took us to first class. They had extra seats there and since we were military we got to fly first class. I was so impressed. We were served a 7 course meal and when you could see Hawaii we were given champagne. It was a magical start to my experience in the Navy. We arrived in Hawaii and rented a car since Don didn't have to report back to the Noxubee for a few days. We saw a lot of Honolulu on the way to our first home. When he opened the door and we went inside a green lizard was climbing up the wall. I thought maybe I needed to go back to Texas at that point, but later realized that lizard took care of the bugs so we had our first pet. We went to look at the beach and the ocean and I'll never forget how beautiful it was. When we went to Waikiki Beach I would sit there thinking I was looking toward home, only to realize months later I was really looking toward Japan or that vicinity.

The day after arriving in Hawaii, Don took me to Pearl Harbor so he could pick up a few things we had shipped over from Texas, and most important so I could finally see the Noxubee, not just pictures. I told him the Noxubee was cute. Wrong choice of words I can assure you. I thought he would be sending me back to Texas for sure.

I would try and go out to the ship when Don had weekend duty and eat supper and watch some of a movie, then head home. The stars seemed so close you could touch them and looking over at the Arizona Memorial would always tug at my heart, especially after we went over and saw it up close.

Don with purse Don would love it when he had to carry my purse to put in his locker. He was always razzed by the guys. The first "tour" I got of the Noxubee, Don was holding my hand and coming around a corner when he started to tell me to "watch out for the" and before he could finish my head hit a big bell. I understand that happened to a lot of people. Don had duty on my 20th birthday so I went out to the ship. Word got around that it was my birthday and I was given a blueberry muffin with a wooden spoon on fire while they sang happy birthday. I'll never forget that. I still have that spoon tucked away. The first time I got to iron Navy whites was a real treat. I thought ironing them wrong side out was ridiculous but later learned the crease looked better and to never forget to roll the edge of the hat.

There are lots of happy memories and I enjoyed so much meeting people from all over the country. All the different accents were great. I wish I could remember specific names better, but I do remember Gary Harger and how he and Don would use hand signals to talk to each other just because it drove me crazy. He became a great friend and touched my heart when he came to the airport to see me leave for home. I remember Bob Heidinger and the pranks he and Don used to pull. They also plotted something with an Admirals flag. They can tell you about that. I do know they had tuxedos made in Hong Kong and Don wore his at our wedding. I remember Melvin Short and the weekend he went with Don and I in a rented car and we toured the island. We stopped at a sugar cane field and Melvin came running out because of a really big spider. I have the picture to prove it. Then there was George Hahn with his movie camera. George was always taking movies when he was with us. There are so many others but unfortunately I don't remember names too well, but I do remember the faces.

Dependats Cruise The dependents cruise was great. Getting to cruise off shore of the island was really fun. I had seen the island from the air when we flew in, but the view from the Noxubee was better. I could understand why Don loved being at sea so much just from that short time.

I am so glad that we got married while he was still in the Navy and didn't wait until he got out. I was officially a Navy wife for about 7 months before Don was discharged. He didn't have enough time left to go on the second cruise to Nam, so he got an early out. I always knew it was because Don married me that he didn't make the Navy a career. That's what he was going to do. He was sworn in the day before he turned 18, and he was going to be Navy until he retired. I understand now that once Navy, always Navy. That goes for me too. It was a great experience.

Right before Christmas, Gary Harger called. We had lost contact with him years ago and it was great to hear from him again. Then a few weeks later, Emet Gosnell called and sent information about the Noxubee web page that he had found and he started trying to find people. After that, Don started getting e-mails from many former shipmates and he's been like a kid again. This has been great for him to remember old times and old friends. Joe Pogan sent us a video of home movies taken of the Noxubee and the places they were. It was great watching Don seeing that for the first time last night. The wheels were turning. This web page will be wonderful if all the former crew members can be found and they can find each other again. It's been great for the Spences.