USS Noxubee AOG56

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Noxubee Crest

The Great Water Fight

By Ray Willis

The Ballad of the Noxubee Water Fight

(sung to the tune of "The Wreck Edmund Fitzgerald")

The Noxubee and Crew
On the Med we all knew
Was worn out from
Chasing the Russians

A liberty was set
And the sailors all met
On the docks
Of a Bay call Souda

They had a good time
Drinking down local wine
Somehow making it back
To the seashore

The whaleboat that day
Took them into the bay
Those sailors all woozy
From drinking

An officer and crew
Began discussing anew
Old grudges and problems
With orders

A challenge was spoke
As they climbed up the ropes
To the decks of the
Waiting Noxubee

The fire hoses were laid out
And there rose a great shout
They are taking over
The after deck

The duel was a struggle
With fire hose nozzles
The spray was
Wet, wild and salty

The Ensign turned away
From the force of the spray
And the blast fully
Blew off his skivvies

Then the battle grew sore
Through the staterooms and more
Water dripping
From bulkhead and ceiling

The X.O. called below
To stop the whole show
He said "Turn off all
The ships water"

Thirty years have gone by
And the old sailors cry
Laughing about the events
of that evening

There will never be an old crew
With the times we all knew
On the decks of the
Famous Noxubee.

R. Willis


The Story of the Great Water Fight

It seems that one of the more popular stories at the Noxubee reunion this year, is the story of the water fight.

Well thirty years have gone by, and I may not have everything exactly right, but I will tell it like I remember it, or have been reminded of.

It was another liberty in the port of Souda Bay, Crete. We had been here before, so we knew where to get the cheapest wine. This stuff was homemade by a Greek fellow who would fill up your bottle for a quarter, and if you did not have a bottle he would sell you one for 10 cents.

This stuff was not your nice filtered vintage table wine by any means. this wine had the color and consistency of blood. We called it " The Blood of Hercules". Now I don't know if this was the local name of the wine, or something we made up because it would really "kick Butt" if you know what I mean.

On this particular night we bought several bottles of the cheap wine, and I am sure we caused the locals some grief before we made it back to the docks to catch the motor whaleboat back to the Noxubee.

The Noxubee was anchored out in the Bay, and the water was a little choppy that night. It seems several of the guys had gotten away with bringing a few bottles of wine onto the boat, and as we neared the Noxubee, someone got the bright idea that we should re -christen the ship with a less than flattering name. Well a real ruckus broke out and the bottles began breaking against the side of the poor old Noxubee.

Now I am not sure if this, or something else started an argument between Radarman John Wofford and an Officer (John believes it was Ensign Bay). But there was a challenge made that if the Ensign did not shut up that Wofford would let him have it with a fire hose. The Officer dared him to try it, and Wofford, not one to let a dare lie, started unrolling a fire hose on the tank deck.

Now Wofford had the hoses on and was proceeding to blast every thing that looked like it had brass on its shoulders, and the officers retaliated by getting a hose of their own, and the water fight was on. Back and forth the fight reigned, first the officers gaining, then Wofford and his help. Finally the lead officer turned tail to run and was hit in the rear with a blast from the nozzle, and it blew his skivvies off. Now, John had the upper hand.

Not content with that victory, John chased the officers into their staterooms and thoroughly doused everything in sight. The X.O. who had been observing the battle decided "enough was enough" and called below to have the water to the fire systems water turned off.

This effectively put an end to the infamous Noxubee water fight.

There is an interesting sidebar to the story. We had been assigned to tail and harass the Soviet Fleet during this time, and Captain Cass had done an exceptional job in keeping up with them in spite of the slowness of the Noxubee.

We had on board a Lieutenant from another ship that was there to observe our methods. Now the story goes, that during the water fight, one of the Officers shouted "They are taking over the after half of the ship". This poor Lieutenant locked himself in his stateroom, thinking he was in the midst of a full blown mutiny. I heard he refused to come out for quite some time believing himself to be in mortal danger.

Now I don't really know if this was entirely true, but I do know that after the Lieutenant went back to his ship the story must have been spread around and probably embellished.

It seems from that time on, whenever we ran into any sailors from that ship we seemed to have somewhat of a wild and unpredictable reputation. Shoot, I wonder what they would of thought if they could have seen the crazy things we did?

Noxubee Crest

Random Memories

By Ray (Willie) Willis

I don't know who pulled the missing .45 trick, but that is another thing that really "ticks me off". it was on my quarterdeck watch when it was reported missing, and it was on my watch that it was reported found. I spent double time in a dark room under a bright light being grilled by the Naval Investigators.

I do know who disconnected the shore power cable and put the ship into a blackout, and I know who tried to set the gang plank on fire with kerosene, and I was not witness to, but I do know who threw the Captains Chair over the side, and the Captains bicycle. and etc, etc, etc.

I remember being chased by the local police in Sardinia, and hiding out in the fish nets. I remember one sailor walking back to meet the Motor Whaleboat, notices a tower with a signal light. This delinquent climbed the tower and proceeded to send out obscene morse code messages to all the ships in the harbor.

I think it was in Crete, one night after liberty, that the crew and the officers engaged in a wonderful water fight with the fire hoses. The story goes that the LTJG observer from another ship thought it was a mutiny, when he heard "they are taking over the after half of the ship" I heard he did not dare come out of his stateroom for a day.

Who was the Chief Petty Officer that took the wrong road back to the ship and tried to take away a Greek guards automatic weapon? He had entered a restricted Greek military installation by mistake, and was irate when the guard would not let him pass.

There was a helmsman once, on a dark and moonless night, that steered the ship in a 360 degree circle a few degrees at a time, without the OD noticing. The next day the navigator could not figure out why we had made very little headway during the night.

I remember Thira, Corfu, Athens, Sardinia and Villafrance. I remember Souflakia in Greece, Lasagna in the Grotto in Italy, Escargot in France, and my favorite, fried calimari, in Spain. There was also a little place in Spain where we would go and get "pulpitos" those little fried baby octopus.

I remember a little Mexican fellow that got seasick the second we threw off the lines to get underway, I didn't think anyone would actually turned green, but he did! He stayed in his rack from Little Creek to Spain, could not eat so they let him out on a medical.

I never got seasick, I rode out those typhoons off Vietnam, and the Atlantic crossings. Even those landing craft we used to take back to the ship in Italy, with everyone drunk and puking their guts out.

Well its 30 years later, and I retired 5 years ago from my profession as an alcoholic. I live near my old home in an area I love, with a wonderful woman I married 4 years ago. I camp when I can and cook over a fire in a Dutch oven. I fish and I hunt when I want to, and I still work because I have to, but I am happier than I have ever been. I would not want to repeat any of what I did on the Noxubee, but it was an experience I would not trade.

Oh yeah, Remember the buddy I started out with? (see "New Recruit" story) Well he decided I was right about screwing up and he devised a clever way to get out of the Navy. He scammed them good and was discharged about a year after we enlisted.

Noxubee Crest

New Recruit

By Ray (Willie) Willis

I knew I had made a big mistake when we hit the airport terminal in San Diego. This barking second class marched us through the terminal and had us stand at attention on an island in the airport entrance. I looked at my buddy and said " I think we screwed up"

I thought I was being smart joining the Navy, the draft board was hot on my heels and I was not keen on being a grunt in Vietnam. So here I was with a dozen other guys from Arizona, wanting to be anywhere but here and Vietnam at the moment.

Well I made it through Boot Camp and had my orders for something called the USS Noxubee AOG 56. currently in Pearl Harbor. No one at Boot Camp seemed to have a clue as to what an AOG was, so I didn't know what to expect. My buddy had the same orders, so off we went. We caught a stand-by out of LAX and arrived in Honolulu that evening.

Too many movies and too much TV had me expecting the lovely island girls welcoming me to the islands with a kiss and a lei…didn't happen. In fact no one met us, it was getting dark and with what little money we had between us, we caught a taxi to Pearl.

We managed to find the Noxubee tied up alongside several other non-descript ships at Ford Island. "Permission to come aboard sir" two or three times before we found the right place. My first impression of the Noxubee was about like Boot Camp, "I think we screwed up!" We were sent down to the deck dept. berthing area, and told to find a bunk. Oh what a delightful mixture of smells, diesel oil, B.O. putrid socks, farts, grease and paint. I think I spent that first night in someone else's rack and he had not sent his sheets to the laundry in awhile.

The following morning started four of the longest years in my life. Polish the brass, swab the deck, chip the paint, and paint…. Chip the paint, and paint… chip the paint, and paint… etc. etc. etc. Then stand the watch, and they had a watch for everything.

Off duty was great, it seemed that at every corner of the base was a club. Being broke most of the time, we spent little time in Honolulu, and most of the time at the EM club. 10 cents a draft, 50 cents a pitcher, mixed drinks anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar and a half. It was here that I started my professional career as an alcoholic.

My buddy was asked to "strike" as a radioman, and left the deck dept. for the "ops" dept. He advised me that if anyone asked me to "strike" for anything, hold out for the "ops dept." That is the elite group, he said. It seemed like forever before I was asked to "strike" as a quartermaster. I did not have a clue what a quartermaster was, but since it was in the "ops dept" I jumped at the chance.

Polish the brass, swab the deck, chip the paint, and paint, and more watches to stand….real elite! I guess "ops dept' did have its advantages, like our living quarters. Like Charlie Mihulka says, the cross ventilation made somewhat of a difference in the smells, more fresh salt air, mixed with the odor of diesel, socks sweat, paint, and farts.

There are some things that happened on the Noxubee that still really "tick me off". When I arrived we still had the canvas bunks that would kind of cradle you in the rough seas. Whose sick idea was that to put in the metal bunks that tossed you back and forth until you thought your brains would scramble!

I did receive an education in the Navy, it was not the kind of education my parents had planned for me, I heard every swear word imaginable, some I know were made up at the moment to fit the situation. I was exposed to every perversion, misdeed, and idea for mischief I can think of. Great learning moments for a backwoods boy from Arizona.

Then I heard we were shipping out, headed for where else, Vietnam.