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  USS Noxubee AOG56

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Vietnam Ribbon Bar
Noxubee Crest

Survivor


By Wally Barsell

What's with those "WIMPS" on TV's "Survivor"? I would like those guys spend 2 years, 3 months in Vietnam and 3 years, 9 months on the USS Noxubee. Has anyone else spent that long on that ship?

I don't know how I did it. It seems like I went through 3 entirely new crews during my time on the Noxubee. People would constantly come and go and I got to know a lot of them. I know I would not have got through all that time without the help of those shipmates. With such a small crew you got to know everyone's habits and quirks. One of mine is I don't like to take orders. I never got along too well with the officers or chiefs. But now that I have been married for 34 years I am starting to change my ways and learning to take orders.

For my first 2 1/2 years on the Noxubee, I was in the Deck Department. I must have chipped and painted every inch of the Noxubee from stem to stern 3 times over. One of my duties was coxswain the captain's gig. In Da Nang that meant many trips from the ship to the beach because the captain needed to go to the White Elephant (NSA HQ) and the Officer's Club.

Usually the captain would leave the ship sometime between 2100 and 2200 hours. Once on the beach, the boat crew and I would have to stand by the gig until he was ready to go back to the ship. Most of the time that was 5 or 6 hours. This went on for over a week so the boat crew and I decided that the next time we would leave the gig and walk six blocks to a bar and have a couple of quick beers then head right back to the gig. That way we would be back in plenty of time with no one the wiser. So the next night we let the captain off at 2230 and took off for the bar. I took the key to the gig so no one would take the boat and as planned we were back in one hour. As luck would have it, the captain came back in a 1/2 hour. So without a boat crew he caught a ride back to the ship in another ship's boat. Well let me tell you that trip back to the Noxubee was my longest boat ride of my life. The whole way back I was trying to figure out what kind of punishment the captain would give us. Lots and lots of night watches and extra duty was my guess.

My last year or so on the Noxubee was spent as the ship's barber so I finally got to put down my chipping hammer and picked up my clippers. The captain told me how short he wanted the crew's hair. He liked it short and close. I cut it that way for everyone except for one particular chief who had the longest sideburns I had ever seen on anyone. Every time I cut his hair he never let me come close to those sideburns.

One day this chief made me mad. So when he was in my chair and he fell asleep I cut his side burns completely off. Boy, to say he was mad is an understatement. He stormed out of my chair and headed straight for the captain. Within the hour I was in front of a Captain's Mast. They had to charge me with something, but with what? After all it was a regulation hair cut. So they decided to charge me with "destroying government property." The captain gave me 7 days extra duty starting at 1800 hours. That made me even madder so I told the captain I was a civilian at heart and didn't know what time 1800 was. His only reply was that I now had 14 days extra duty.

The chief handed me off to his 1st Class so I could work off the extra duty in the chief's department. After the chief left us the 1st class told me that he did not care much for the chief either. So the two of us spent the next 14 evenings playing card games.

Like I said, I am a survivor.


Noxubee Crest

The Sky Hook and Other Stories


By Wally Barsell

I reported to the Noxubee in September 1967 and left August 1971. I have many stories to tell. But I will start at the beginning for now.

Just one week out of boot camp I landed in Hawaii with orders to report to the USS Noxubee. I remember thinking "What is an AOG anyway?"

Lets see how many Pearl Harbor guys are reading this. I asked around to get some help in locating the Noxubee, what ever that was. All I heard from the girl that was helping me was "go to hotel." I thought to myself, that's good I get to stay in a hotel. By now you have guessed that this hotel is the pier clear out in the boonies. It was way out.

That wasn't bad enough. They sent someone out from the ship to pick me up. It was PERRY! If you know Perry he is what a Boatswain's Mate was made from. His facial expression was something to see. His voice was something to hear, I was so scared that I started calling him "sir." As soon as I said it, he growled at me in that voice of his "Don't call me sir!" All I could say was "yes sir." Actually Perry was very nice when once you got to know him.

Now remember, I am right out of boot camp and don't know much about anything. So while I was walking around the ship, Gunner's Mate Truett Brannen asked me to help him so I said sure. He was working on one of the 3-inch guns which looked very big to me and said he needed a sky hook. I asked where it was and he said it was up front.

So I went up front. Never being up front before I found myself on the bridge. This little old man was sitting in a big chair on the port side. I was looking high and low for the sky hook. The man watched me for a while. I saw him looking at me so I said "Hi, how are doing." He asked, "Can I help you?" So I told him I was looking for a sky hook. He the asked who wanted it, so I turned around on the bridge and looked back so I could see the guy who sent me up their. At the time I did not now his name so I pointed to him.

There were three guys laughing and pointing to me but they could not see who I was with. As soon as this man came around the corner to see who I was pointing at everyone ran. The man the said "You don't know who I am, do you?" I said no I didn't. He then told me he was "The Old Man," the captain. He said that I should get back to work and tell the guy that sent me looking for the sky hook to come and see him. I never heard what happened but after awhile Brannen and I became friends and I began to learn navy protocol. Yes sir, my naval education had begun.

The day before we crossed the International Date Line, the Plan of the day said: "At 0430, tomorrow morning we will cross the International Date Line. It may be too dark to see it but in case you are up, it is a red line superimposed on a black line (you can see what it looks like on the chart in the messdeck)."

Luckily I had the fantail watch at that exact time so I had an excuse to be up and about. But I do know of a couple of guys who were not on watch and were up on deck. I could name names but I won't. All in all I crossed the International Date Line six times.


Noxubee Crest

Noxubee Rescues Man Off Oahu


Submited by Wally Barsell

A fatal accident was possibly avoided November 24, (1967) when gasoline tanker, USS Noxubee rescued a 25-year old man found floating in a small dinghy seven miles off the Honolulu Harbor Channel.

Noxubee was conducting independent training exercises when the lookout, SA Walter S. Barsell, spotted a small boat with a man lying face up floating some 400 yard from the ship.

The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant James R. McCall, could not be sure if the occupant of the small craft was asleep, sick or even dead. Because of this, he ordered his 4000-ton ship to stop and attempted to attract the man's attention with the use of a bullhorn.

Upon hearing the caption's voice the man feebly raised himself up, waved and weekly attempted to paddle towards Noxubee with what was recognized as a six-foot long 2x4 board.

Noxubee quickly put her boat into the water and brought the man aboard, less that 15 minutes after the lookout spotted the man.

Unable to communicate any information other that the fact that he had been at sea without food or water for two days, he was identified after his wallet was found to contain the fact that he was Toluo Seigalo, a resident of Honolulu.

Not wishing to exhaust the victim by questioning him more that was necessary, Lt. McCall turned him over to HM1 William A. Jones who gave Seigalo a light meal of chicken soup, scrambled eggs with a little water.

The Coast Guard and Naval Base, Pearl Harbor authorities were notified of the rescue. Two hours latter, Lt. McCall turned Seigalo over to naval base authorities.

Although a little shaken by his experience, he was able to return home thanks to the alertness of a ship which had been in the right place at the right time, perhaps saving his life.

As reported in the "COMSERVPAC INFORMATION BULLETIN", JANUARY, 1968