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  USS Noxubee AOG56

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Vietnam Ribbon Bar
Noxubee Crest

Great Times and Great Guys

By Joe Pogan

 

I joined the Navy in June of '65 with three of my high school buddies. We decided since we lived in Oregon that the longest plane ride would be to Great Lakes not San Diego, so we went to Great Lakes for boot camp. I still remember what went through my brain when the bus from the airport got to the gate, "What the hell am I doing here?" We all four went our separate ways after boot camp.

joe I went to San Diego to wait for Storekeeper school. While waiting for school they had me issuing boondockers to the new recruits. Here I was just out of boot camp and already these guys thought I was an old salt. There were about a half dozen guys I went to school with, who went down the line and would call me sir. About once a week I would take a busload of recruits downtown to a shoe store to get boots that fit their feet better. So, finally the school started and I found out fast that this wasn't high school. If you don't study they don't fool around with you. So after about 2 weeks, they booted me out and I got my orders for the USS Noxubee, which was being recommissioned in Baltimore.

I went to Norfork, VA to wait for the ship. That's when I started meeting all my new shipmates. The guys I did things with the most there were McKelley, Ray and O'Meara. I remember one time McKelley and O'Meara shaved the tops of their heads so it looked like they were going bald. I think the idea was to make themselves look older so they could get the higher per cent beer. Norfork isn't the most exciting place in the world but we did have some good and bad times there. The bad times were things like mess cooking, if you know what I mean. That's where I first met Gosnell. I remember a bunch of us taking a break and Gosnell came out and told us the break was over. One of the guys just laid there and wouldn't move and so Gosnell goes over to him and boots him on the butt and says, "Get your #&% ass moving." That was my first memory of Gosnell. I think he'd be good at raising goats.

I can't remember all the things they had us doing to pass the time, but I did go TAD aboard the USS Aldeberon for a short time. We used to go to Virginia Beach or the Trade Winds ( I think that was the name) the most to pass the time. The Trade Winds was the EM Club.

I remember the day the ship was recommissioned, I had duty and was standing the messenger of the watch on the quarterdeck. I knew the shipmates that I had spent time with there in Norfork but I didn't know who the Commanding Officer was or other such trivia. Anyway, a phone call came in asking to speak to a certain officer. So I took off looking for this officer. I was on the tank deck and I saw about four officers standing on the catwalk talking to each other, so I yelled up to them that " a Lt. Pabst would like to speak to a Lt. Whoever, on the phone." One of the officers yelled back "sailor, go back and get your message right." Needless to say it was a Lt. Whoever wanting to speak to our Commanding Officer Lt. Pabst, so I had to go back and relay the correct message. Like they say, always make a good first impression.

I remember we took a few shake down cruises and then took off for Pearl Harbor, our new home port. We sailed down through the Caribbean's and through the Panama Canal. We did a fresh water wash down on one of the lakes on the Canal. Our first foreign port of call as a crew was in Panama City, and we did what all sailors do, we headed for the bars. The taxi would take you to a bar and then wait for you and then take you to another. It was a good first foreign port. After we left the Panama Canal we were suppose to go to Alcapoco but a hurricane changed our mind and we headed straight to Pearl Harbor. As straight as you can when your avoiding a hurricane that is. I do remember the showers in the rain.

We finally made it to Pearl Harbor, I can't remember were we tied up but I do know that Hotel pier was our main spot. We settled into our regular routine of ship duties, standing watch, and liberty. Oahu is definitely a better port then Norfork. I remember while we were doing shake down cruises getting ready for our first West Pac cruise, Duck (Paul Donald) and I were on liberty and we decided not to go back to the ship. Well, if you ever go AWOL, don't do it on an island. After 3 days we decided to get drunk (or drunker) and go back to the ship. We got a suspended bust and 2 weeks restriction to the ship. That got my attention, but not Duck, he went AWOL again the very same night of the Captain's Mast. To this day everyone thinks he slid down the forward mooring lines and some how got past the rat guards. That's not how he did it, but I'm not telling how. You'll have to ask Duck or who ever it was that night standing watch on the quarterdeck. Don't ask the Petty Officer on duty, who went to have a cigarette because he doesn't know either.

I remember one time while we were out doing a shake down cruise, we picked up a Hawaiian who had gotten drunk and fell asleep in a little rowboat without a motor or oars. He had been out there for 2 or 3 days. He could barely stand up when we got him and his boat on the tank deck. There were a lot of other Navy ships out there doing their thing, and nobody spotted him, until we did. This was all within sight of Oahu. Another time we were eating breakfast and the coffee tasted funny. One of the mess cooks named Paul Rogers was looking for his transistor radio. He found it at the bottom of the coffee urn.

I can't remember anything of importance that happened on our way to Viet Nam; just the cracking sounds from the ship as it twisted along. I remember when we pulled into Da Nang Harbor we were in our dress whites standing at attention and all the other ships staring at us. We also bumped the USS Tombigbee as we tied up to her. This was our first time in a war zone. We survived all that and started running fuel up and down the coast of Nam, getting into a routine. I remember sitting on the fantail watching the war and thinking, "Man, am I glad I joined the Navy and not volunteer for the draft like I was going to do." When I joined, Viet Nam wasn't making the headlines, it was while I was in boot camp that it started to really take off.

On our last day in Da Nang just before we were to start heading for home, I came down with appendicitis. I went to see Doc Jones and he told me to go to the Hospital in Da Nang. So off I went hitchhiking, trying to find the Hospital. When I finally got there, I had to wait to see a doctor because they were bringing in wounded Marines. When I did get in they decided I had appendicitis and did the operation. After a couple of days there in Da Nang they sent me to the hospital ship, USS Repose. Here I was a sailor with my appendix taken out and the rest of the patients were wounded Marines. Believe it or not, we all got along pretty well. One, whose name was Williams got shot through the shoulder, he became my best friend there. He wanted me to take a picture of the entry and exit holes of his wound. So I did. Then some more sailors came aboard as patients, that' s when the USS Forrestal blew up.

We then pulled up anchor and headed for Singapore and Malaysia. On the way we crossed the Equator, and I became a shellback. In Singapore and Malaysia, when we went on liberty, all they had were Marine uniforms so I went ashore as a Marine. The best time I had was when the British Army families came and took 2 patients home for a meal and to show them the sites. I wish I could remember the name of the family that took Williams and I to their home. They had a 5-year-old daughter, I do remember that. We then sailed back to Da Nang and I flew to Okinawa with the Marines and stayed there one night at the Marine base. I then got sent to the Air Force base and checked into their transit Hotel (not barracks, Hotel) which was just across from the EM club. There I met some Air Force guys and they gave me some civilian clothes to wear and showed me all the hot spots to party at. Those guys really had it rough. They had rooms instead of a barracks to stay in. I was there for about 3 days and then flew back to Hawaii and waited for the Noxubee to get back. I stayed aboard the ship until just before it took off on the 68 cruise.

That's when Grewien, St.Romain and I volunteered for duty in Viet Nam. Grewien and I got orders for fire fighting at Da Nang airbase and St.Romain got orders for some other duty their. I didn't make it to Viet Nam, but that's a whole different story.

I had some really great times and met some really great guys aboard that ship. That's when we were young and could function on no sleep and in my case, no brains. I still have many memories going through my brain that happened aboard the ship but I have to stop someplace. It's been great finding everybody after all these years. I'd sign off with some Navy slang but I've forgotten most of that stuff, so I'll just say "Thanks for the memories."

Re Comm Crew

Noxubee Crest

July 1967 Family Gram


Submited by: Joe Pogan

 
USS NOXUBEE (AOG-56)
Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California 96601

Dear Families and Friends of NOXUBEE,

Motor Whaleboat …Since our last Family Gram we have continued to operate along the coast of South Vietnam. As you are probably aware, there are very few deep water ports in South Vietnam through which to bring the thousands of tons of supplies to our forces located at bases and airfields throughout the country. The real life blood of these bases is oil and gasoline which cannot be supplied by trucks because Viet Cong sometimes control the roadways. The solution has been to build pipe lines from the storage areas ashore, underwater out about one-half mile off shore. To the end of the pipe line a flexible hose is floated to the surface. NOXUBEE has made all deliveries by anchoring next to these floating hoses and attaching them to our pumping discharge lines. To date we have delivered 4,021,573 gallons of diesel oil, jet fuel, aviation gasoline and motor gasoline by this method.

Since our arrival in Vietnam, the increased tempo of operations by our forces ashore has of course resulted in a greatly increased usage of petroleum products. As a result we have experienced very little unoccupied time and have been in a nearly constant state of either filling up or delivering. This has required round-the-clock work by many of our personnel and to their everlasting credit they have performed in their usual outstanding manner.

On the 22nd of May, one of the commercial tankers in DaNang harbor spilled some gasoline into the water. As a small boat passed through this gasoline it ignited and the small boat was quickly engulfed in flames. Our Rescue and Assistance Detail was quickly called away and these people promptly and efficiently responded by placing the proper equipment into our 26 foot motor whaleboat and proceeded to the fire. Our personnel were the first ones to arrive on the scene and quickly extinguished the fire before any of the harbor fire boats arrived. I mention this episode because it is a classic example of the outstanding performance that this crew has exhibited since NOXUBEE was recommissioned in September of 1966. The following personnel were members of this Rescue and Assistance Detail and have been awarded letters of commendation.

W-1 Richard D. Bland, Officer in Charge
BM3 Edward A. Angeloff
BM3 Larry P. Benard
SN Eddie R. Cooper
SA Robert W. Duff
EN1 Leonist Franklin
EM3 William E. Gath
SN Robert E. Heidinger
SN Joey C. Pogan
FN Larry M. Schmidtendorff
SK3 Samuel D. Slack
SFC Eskel Wolfe

At Anchor …On the 22nd of May, USS ELKHORN (AOG-7) arrived in Vietnam to relive us of our duties for a while so that we could travel to other places in the Western Pacific and enjoy liberty and relaxation. Upon completion of turning over all necessary information to ELKHORN, Noxubee departed Vietnam on 23 May and anchored in the harbor at Hong Kong on the morning of the 31st. From then through the 31st our crew enjoyed liberty in Hong Kong. The rioting which was taking place in Hong Kong at this time did not seriously effect us, except that the hours which liberty was granted had to be curtailed somewhat.

We departed Hong Kong on 1 June in the poring rain and arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines on 3 June with it still raining. Our stay in Subic Bay was for upkeep purposes and we had many repair items. …The rain finally stopped on 10 June and on the 13th we proceeded to Manila Bay where we tied up at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Sangley point, directly across the bay from the city of Manila. Once again liberty and shore leave prevailed until the 16th, when we steamed back to Subic Bay, filled our cargo tanks, when we steamed back to Subic Bay, filled our cargo tanks and departed for Vietnam where we arrived on the 20th and resumed our fuel support operations.

…It has been a pleasure to share some of our activities with you.

Warmest regards,

LCDR H. L. Pabst, USN
Commanding Officer
USS Noxubee (AOG-56)
FPO
San Fransisco, Califormia 96601


Noxubee Crest

Twice a Marine, Always a Sailor


By Joe Pogan

This is a story about two events that happened to me while in the Navy. One while on the Noxubee and the other right after I left the ship.

The first event was while in Viet Nam, on what I believe was the last day before we were to leave for Japan and then home. I woke up with a gut ache and went to see Doc Jones. He decided I had appendicitis, so told me to go to the hospital in Da Nang. I had no idea were the hospital was, so after the whaleboat dropped me off on shore, I started to hitch hike. Some how I made it, but I had to wait for a few hours before I could see a doctor because wounded Marines were being brought in. The doctors decided it was appendicitis also, so they took me into the operating room and told me to sit up and hold my knees. The next thing I knew they stuck a needle in my back and my butt went numb. I think it's what they call a spinal tap. I had the impression this was the first time they ever used this procedure. I felt like a guinea pig. I was awake during the whole operation. They never told me I'd be awake. I survived and spent a couple more days in the Da Nang hospital and then they flew me by helicopter to the USS Repose (a hospital ship).

Here I was a Navy seaman and all the other patients were wounded Marines. We were there for a day or two more and then pulled up anchor and headed for Singapore/Malaysia. While on our way there we went across the equator and I became a Shellback. When we got to Singapore and able to go ashore, all they had for me to wear were Marine uniforms. So that's what I wore, a Marine uniform and for the first time I was a Marine. I became friends with one of the Marines while aboard Repose. He asked me to take a picture of the bullet wound he had in his shoulder. He wanted a picture of the entry and the exit wounds. I did and that's how we became friends. I know his last name was Williams but can't remember his first name. I remember he was scared because he was going to have to go back to the war. He didn't have a million dollar wound and had only been in Nam for a month or two. I don't know what ever happened to him.

While we were in Singapore and Malaysia, British families would take two Marines home for a good home cooked meal and show them the sights. Both William's and I went with this one family and I think that was the best time I had while in the Navy. I sure wish I could remember the family's name. I remember they had a 5-year-old daughter. They did write to me and I wrote back a couple of times but being young and not to smart, I stopped writing. We spent a few more days there and then headed back to Da Nang and that is when the USS Forestall blew up. They brought a bunch of the injured aboard the USS Repose. I got to know a few of them, also. I spent a few more days aboard and then flew to Okinawa with the Marines and spent a night on their base and then was sent to the Air Force base. Talk about two different worlds, at the Marines base I was in a barracks and at the Air Force base I checked into a transit hotel and had my own room. I spent about 3 days there and then flew back to Pearl Harbor to wait for the Noxubee to arrive back home.

The second part of my story has to do with when I left the Noxubee. Lloyd Grawien, Harold StRomain and I all got orders for shore duty in Viet Nam. Grawien and I went to Treasure Island in San Francisco for training in fire fighting. We could be stationed at the Da Nang air base. After fire fighting school we had a week before jungle training at Coranado, so they sent us home on leave for the week. While home I had a little too much to drink one night and totaled my car. My drinking buddy says I hollered "Geronamo" and jumped out of the car. I was too drunk to remember but I did have a tire track across my leg. I do remember coming to and my mouth full of mud, though. I broke my leg and cracked my head open, so I wasn't in very good shape to go to Da Nang. After a few days in my hometown hospital in Tillamook, Oregon, they sent me by ambulance to the airport in Portland to catch a Medivac plane coming back from Viet Nam.

It was full of wounded Marines headed for the Naval Hospital in Bremerton, Washington. To this day, I've never heard of any other plane full of wounded Marines diverting their flight to pick up a drunk driving sailor. Well, anyway since I was the last one on the plane, I was the first one off. So when we landed at the McCord Air Force Base in Washington and they lowered the back hatch of the plane, they started carrying me off in the stretcher that I was in. I remember seeing blue sky and all of a sudden a band start playing. Then this Red Cross nurse came over and said "It's a beautiful day in more ways then one" and all of these officers with scambled eggs on there hats came up to me to tell me what a great job I did over their. I wasn't very smart back then but I was smart enough to know not to tell them I got drunk and had an accident. That was the second time I was a Marine while in the Navy. They loaded one of the wounded Marines and me in an ambulance and took us to the Naval Hospital. When I told the Marine I was riding with, he had a good laugh about it too.

This isn't the best story ever told but it's one that I think of every once in awhile since I got out of the Navy and it still makes me laugh.