Happy Hour


Mother, Mother Ocean

Mother, Mother Ocean, I've heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall
You've seen it all, you've seen it all
Watched the men who rode you, switch from sails to steam
In your belly you hold the treasures, few have ever seen
Most of 'em dream, most of 'em dream
Yes, I am a pirate, two hundred year's too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder
I'm an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late


"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is."
―Yoda, to Luke Skywalker

Counted the Stars

Counted the stars on the 4th of July
Wishing we were rockets bursting in the sky
Talking about redemption and leaving things behind
I have these pictures and I keep these photographs
To remind me of a time
These pictures and these photographs
Let me know I'm doin' fine
We used to be so happy once upon a time
Once upon a time
But the sun sank west of the Mendocino County Line
And the sun sank west of the Mendocino County Line


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Around The World on The Good Ship Kitty Hawk

USS Kitty Hawk CV-63
The Circumnavigation of The World
3 January to 30 June 1987
This was the Last Cruise of Your Old Retired Petty Officer.

We in VA-147 rode our C-9s from NAS Lemoore CA  to NAS North Island CA(Sandy Eggo) on 2 January. We loaded our sea bags aboard and being TAD to AIMD Hydraulics/Pneumatics, I was not required to participate in the on load of squadron gear. Sorry about that to my old shipmate, AMH2 Mark Errecart!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AIMD was a good gig.
After stowing our gear, a number of us headed to the 49er Club for some chow and malt beverages. Those were the last beers for about a month.

3 January: The aircraft had been craned aboard so we presented that awesome appearance of a US Navy Aircraft Carrier leaving San Diego. We did look good, I have to admit that much. It is an awesome sight to see. I had seen it done before when I was serving aboard USS Independence CV-62 out of Norfolk VA from Jan 1974 to Jan 1977.

Subic Bay Philippines was our first port about a month later. Most have heard the stories. I am not going to go in depth as there is a trust among those in The US 7th Fleet. What happens in West Pac, stays in West Pac. That being said, the food is great. The beer, San Miguel is alright as it is a mainstay. The ladies...........................yeah. Better left for another time in a saloon. But we compressed everything into two days. Port and Starboard Liberty. There were places we had to be in as little time as possible with serious business to conduct. The passage was through the Straits of Molucca and The Eight Degree Channel. Singapore is something I have only seen from a two ships, Ranger and Kitty Hawk, as it went by on either the port side or starboard side. The bummer of it all is that I never got a Singapore Sling at The Bar in the Raffles Hotel. That is on the Bucket List, however. It has to be. Don’t you fine folks think it should be that way? In the days we in The Pacific Fleet did those long voyages to the other side of the world, The Raffles Hotel was almost a Pilgrimage destination. It is one of those things that is hard to explain to those who have never been to West Pac. Even our younger brethren in The US Air Force understand that. H/T to my Blog Buds, Old AF Sarge and MSGT Buck.

During the Transit of The Straits of Molucca we had a very high profile visitor. The Sultan of Brunei came aboard to see first hand to see how we do what we do in the United States Navy.

Through Molucca and the Eight Degree Channel to what was then known as Gonzo Station. The wikipedia entry is as follows: Gonzo Station on Wikipedia.
Daily ops with the occasional snoop by the Iranians. We also had the Russians sending IL-38 May coming from Somalia on occasion to test us. Set the Alert 5! By then we had been underway for quite awhile.When we hit the 45 day mark, it was Beer Day along with a Steel Beach Picnic. We got two beers each. That was it but damn, it was so good.

Yes, Dear Readers as Buck would say, that is yours truly as a Younger Petty Officer. I had been in The Navy about 13 and 1/2 years when that picture was taken by my Shipmate, Donald L. Locke. Beer Day!

After that some seventy days out of Subic Bay, we got to go to Karachi, Pakistan. It was unique and quite different to say the least. I still have the chess set somewhere that I bought from a street peddler. I will say nothing either way about this port call. It was the first and only time in my life I have heard the call to prayer. I do not plan on ever going back. We did have President Zia of Pakistan visit us though.

Sometime after another period at Sea, we rolled into Mombasa, Kenya. I had been there before on The Good Ship Ranger in December of 1980. That is when I became a Trusty Shellback. The second time across The Equator was much more enjoyable. I got to do it on my feet....................

That is me in the center with the head band and bad mustache. Facing left is Argonaut CO, CDR JR Hutchison.

Mombasa, Kenya. The Beer was British. The Souvenirs were cheap and plentiful. Half the bar stools at the Nyali Beach Hotel were in the pool. RADM Kihune bought the five of us a round of Tusker Premiums one afternoon. We were impressed. He was the Battle Group Commander and a pretty cool guy for a surface warfare type!
Jambo! Mombasa. I would consider going back for a short visit. The wood carvings of animals were good, plentiful and cheap. I got a few for my mother in law for her birthday and they showed up on that very day. Dang, I got lucky! She did think I was the neatest thing since sliced bread for a while anyway.

Sometime after that we transited The Suez Canal. It is called Doing The Ditch. The Ditch. When we did this I did begin to understand that part of the Old Testament about Moses and the Israelites. It is a great and terrible wilderness. Believe me. I have seen it. Not to mention the remnants of the two Arab-Israeli Wars of the 20th Century. Building that still had shell holes, bullet holes and parts missing from all sorts of fire.
What a place to fight a war.

The morning after we cleared Suez, we were conducting ops just over the horizon from The Gaza Strip when we were notified of the attack on USS Stark. The tension was such that it could have been cut with that proverbial knife. We in the Sea Service are always on a certain footing after leaving our home waters but this had an edge.
I have been close to war on this occasion and when in The Med in 1974 when on Independence CV-62 during the Cyprus Crisis. We were cocked and locked then and in this instance as well. Such was life in the Fleet during the Cold War and the other little incidents in the waters adjacent to what is now referred to as The Sandbox.

Our next port of call was Palma de Mallorca. I had been there on two previous cruised while I was Ship’s Company aboard that Good Ship Independence on my very first sea tour. This was a really amazing place as far as I was concerned. Texas Jacks was a popular hangout for all hands. The beer was cold and the chili was great. Plaza Major was also a great spot after walking the city. Taking the bus to El Arenal was easy and very cheap. I got off the bus and all I heard were 35mm motor drives. The ladies on the beach were wearing thongs and a smile and that was about all. I admit it was most pleasing to the eye. I never said this was going to be a G rated post, did I?

We hit Cannes, France next. Really nice place and expensive as hell. The best deal was the train ride to Monte Carlo and Monaco. Those are really damn expensive. We paid ten bucks for a burger and the beer was the same price. Pretty place though. The scenery is nice too!
Vive Le France!
Did I mention there were TaTas everywhere?

On 30 June 1987 we went tied to Pier at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. When I was aboard ship here it was called NOB Norfolk. For the first three years of my career, NOB was Home Sweet Home, Pier 12. The Navy had pretty much every C-9 and DC-9 in Navy Colours at the NAS Norfolk side waiting to take CVW-9 personnel home to the West Coast. I had not been onboard that station in ten years, since I left Independence and rotated to my first tour of shore duty at a little Naval Air Station in Texas.

The C-9 I was a passenger on arrived at NAS Lemoore CA that evening. Done. Six months to go around the world. This was the most significant event of my career.
To my shipmates:
Mike Williams, Tim Lobretto, Clay Donaldson, Donald Locke, Mark Errecart, Mark Craver, Chris Green, Bob Miller, Wayne Levy, David Zeigler, Bruce Hirschel, Dan Ingram, Ed Zwick, Dennis Bagley and those who I no longer can remember, I miss each and every one of you. I hope the Almighty has granted you all a good and plentiful life.

I decided to write this after posting a picture of the Kitty Hawk Battle Group taken while we were underway in the Indian Ocean on Gonzo Station. The comments were such that people wanted to know what it was like. I hope that I have met that expectation in some simple way.
This is the picture of Battle Group Bravo. None of these ships remain in service.

Old Retired Petty Officer Sends.


OldAFSarge said...

Good times ORPO1, good times.

(And as always, thanks for the linkage!)

Buck said...

BZ, Glenn. That cruise was indeed the experience of a lifetime; I have NOTHING to match it in my AF career.

Apropos o' this:

The bummer of it all is that I never got a Singapore Sling at The Bar in the Raffles Hotel.

I never made it to Singapore while in the AF, but the good folks at EDS sent me there on bid'niz in the early '90s. Raffles was the very FIRST place I went when I had some free time and I camped out at the Long Bar for an entire evening (I got poured into a taxi at the end of the night). No Singapore Slings, though... it was ALL gin & tonics. Too many, actually. :-)

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Thanks for keeping what goes on in Olongapo in WestPac

I hated operating in a carrier task group

Glenn Mark Cassel said...

Thanks to you all.

I will not go down and tell my children I didn't have the courage, the conviction, the commitment or the character to fight for this country...Don't go home and let your children down~~ LTC Allen West

Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus

‎"Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.("Therefore, he who desires peace, let him prepare for war")" from "Epitoma Rei Militaris," by Vegetius (Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus)