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  USS Noxubee AOG56

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Noxubee Crest

My Noxubee Memories


By Mac MoKeever

A Boston Post reporter thought he sneaked onto the ship with other yard workers without being noticed. He didn't. Chief Borden, the duty CPO, saw him immediately, greeted him, sent the messenger to find me, and bought him a coke. When I approached the two of them, he threw the coke cup on the fuel lines and raced down the pier and through the main gain without being caught. He had done no harm, but I logged in the incident and got the log typed and signed before the Post was printed the next day with headlines about the incident, it said that the Duty Officer had no idea he had been aboard and that the coke cup he threw could easily have been a bomb!

Capt. Gold, Boston Shipyard Commander, had four secretaries whom four of us officers dated and invited on board for supper. In return our ship was not on the Yard's Shore Patrol list, so everyone got more liberty. Also, we got a 15 minute warning prior to Capt. Gold's 'surprise' visits to our ship. By the time he arrived we had everyone working like mad!

We had a similar arrangement to tell us when Capt. Dunham returned from leave. The forward bulkhead was 99% ready for painting, and when he walked down the pier, he saw and heard 20 guys madly chipping paint on that bulkhead! Then he had to walk on boards to get to his cabin because I had sent all the ladders and stairs off the ship for regalvanizing. This convinced him that everyone on the ship knew what to do, so he left us alone!

Chief "Pappy" Horton had over 35 years and had been in each of the services included Gen. Joh J. Pershing's 5th Calvary. He was not a diesel man, so he spent his time in the CPO quarters. One day I was very busy when Bill Johnson, the Exec, came to me with his Father and asked me to take care of him all day! Within 5 minutes he told me had ridden with Pershing's 5th Calvary. I introduced him to Pappy, and they had a great visit all day. And I was free to work!

In Naples one night Art and I were waiting on Fleet Landing when someone told us to go to SP Headquarters and rescue Joe Cleary. Otherwise, he would have to stay with the 6th Fleet and probably never return to our ship. He was singing Irish songs in a bar when the SP picked him up. When the SP LT, a short, pompous guy told us that Joe had stood on a bench and popped him on top of his head, it was all we could do not to laugh! But we had to take Joe back with us, so we got rough with Joe and threatened him with everything but death when we got him back to the ship. When the SP told us that we could not be so rough with Joe, we yelled, "Stay out of it!" As soon as we left Naples the next morning, we had a Capt's mast. We had to do something and then send the report to Naples.The Captain restricted him to the ship for 14 days. All at sea! But we did not tell that part to the Naples SP! I did not like to share liberty ports with the 6th Fleet. The independent duty was great.

A few years later I moved to Hartford, CT and phoned Joe Cleary at his home in Simsbury. His Father said Joe was killed by a hit and run driver a year ago. His case had had a lot of publicity, but the papers had not published the victim's name. It became a famous case and resulted in legal changes to Connecticut Law.

Returning to Newport one foggy morning we knew there were other ships in the area, but could not see them. Capt. Dunham was on the open bridge and could see nothing. Neither our loran nor sonar worked well. But Arnie Block got on one, and I got on the other. We both got our position at exactly the same second. We were about to pass over an unexploded depth charge! One of us yelled "right hard rudder", the other "left hard rudder". The Captain said, "#*!@$ maintain your course - straight ahead!"

As Stores Officer my rule was that at least one of the 7 cooks had to be on board at all times after 1800. One evening in Tripoli at 7 p.m. we were told to prepare supper for 7 Commanders and 1 Captain who were going to Wheelus AFB as a court martial board. All 7 cooks were on the beach! Gunner's mate Joe Peria had always wanted to be a cook. Jahn, the laundryman, and Joe had learned to cook from their Mothers. They prepared a great dinner featuring steak and eggs! One month later Peria was a Watch Captain. Jahn preferred to stay with the laundry.

The Captain called Art and I the Whiz Kids and took great pleasure in ordering us to attend a formal reception at the British Embassy in Tripoli in our honor. We over did it checking that one another looked proper before we walked up to the second floor when the embassy was located. So we were well behind the Captain. By the time we caught up to him, he had stubbed his toe on the top step. Just before reaching the very formal receiving line of big wheels. He had to walk past the entire receiving line trying to keep his balance while holding his hand out to shake hands. We then sucked in out guts and represented the US Navy very well! The only drink was gin and water. One table was full of gin bottles. Those with the label still on contained gin. Those with the labels peeled off contained water. Then someone peeled off all the remaining labels, so many of us were drinking gin mixed with gin! It was a good party after that.

This photo was taken in St. Peter's Square 4 July 1953. Art Greenberg is 3rd from the left and I am on the extreme right. Art is Jewish, I am Lutheran, and the 13 others are Catholic. I know that Joe Cleary is not in this photo because he celebrated too late the prior evening. When I saw him later in the afternoon, I asked to borrow $10, then stopped a taxi, gave the driver the $10 and told him to take Joe to all the churches he had missed that day. Art and I made sure all the Catholic boys didn't miss anything. We bought $500 worth or rosaries in downtown Rome. Each rosary was $1. Later at the Catacombs, we got the same rosaries 3 for $1, all 'blessed by the Pope'. We then drove the bus back to the Rome gift shop and got our $500 returned!

I made a model of the ship right after my release, and two years ago I spent 300 hours perfecting it. It's now in a glass case in house.