Seven years a sailor

These true stories chart the first career of a small-town Kansas lad whose first love was the navy, a path that fit the recruiting posters at the time perfectly: Join the Navy, and See the World. And see the world he did! All stories are in sequence from the fall of 1949 through July 1957. The first fourteen stories (1949 – 1954) are college-based navy experiences and summer cruises, compliments of the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC).  After commissioning in the regular navy’s supply corps in 1954, the stories touch upon the highlights aboard a small seaplane tender, the Gardiner’s Bay (AVP-39), and a minesweeper tender, the Hamilton County (LST-802) serving in the Western Pacific.   These stories capture much of the culture of the Navy and the historic times related to the two-China Policy.  The offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu, the Pescadores, Taiwan, and the Nationalist Navy are among the military hot topics of the era.

The Test A note to report to the high school principal’s office sets the stage for The Test  that would start an adventure for the next seven years.
Beaver Country Coming from the high plains, Beaver Country in Corvallis turns into a drizzling surprise.
Uncle Sam’s Travel Four poor college students gamble on a 6,000 mile cross-country trip in an old Plymouth using Uncle Sam’s Travel.
The Real Navy Getting the word in The Real Navy is an awesome telescope into the future.
Slip in the Deep The Statue of Liberty risks sharing her fame with the battleship Wisconsin after her notorious Slip in the Deep.
Sucking Sound Surviving the first cruise, the return train trip to Oregon develops a mysterious Sucking Sound.
Navy Watch Business Reflecting upon the career options, only a single barrier prevents escaping the Navy Watch Business.
Wild Blue Yonder Recruiting pilots is the Navy’s agenda in the Wild Blue Yonder, but the script gets lost in a horrible surprise.
A Marine Affair Little Creek recruited a different kind of sailor in A Marine Affair, and a fatal mistake for a brother.
Crusty Shellback Kissing the Royal Baby’s belly is the price of admission to become a Crusty Shellback, and enter the Ancient Order of the Deep.
Tin Can Sailors Refueling while underway graphically illustrates the magnificent thrill ride of the Tin Can Sailors aboard the USS Tabberer (DE-418).
The Contract To serve your country does not mean resigning from life, although The Contract stands in the way, – or does it?
Miracle at Kansas U The Navy’s habitual ritual gives way to an absolute miracle on the Kansas University campus, and I am secretly its only benefactor.  Praise the Lord!!!
Dealing with Doctors A horrible oversight threatens to destroy a house of cards while Dealing with Doctors, the first of many bureaucratic super-blunders.
Ready for Sea Getting Ready for Sea at the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens is complicated by the survival demands of the southern climate.
The Mother of All Journeys All reasonable preparation is inadequate for enduring a trip half-way around the world in 1954: The Mother of All Journeys.
The Gardiners Bay Surviving the journey, I am safe at last aboard the Navy’s secret little cruise ship, The Gardiners Bay (AVP-39).
Nationalist Navy The two-China policy gives rise to the Nationalist Navy that strikes terror in the Taiwan Straights near mainland China.
Station Ship Hong Kong As the Station Ship Hong Kong, we slave away in the world’s greatest liberty port, – but somebody has to do it.
The Paper Tiger Misjudging the gravity of the captain’s relieving ceremony, The Paper Tiger is shot and goes down in flames.
AVP to the Rescue The little seaplane tender is called from Hong Kong to Viet Nam in order to do its thing: AVP to the Rescue
Spuds and Slit Skirts The great potato famine returns in Nha Trang, revealing more surprises than the eye can see in Spuds and Slit Skirts.
Mary Soo Back home in Hong Kong, we are ordered to terminate our intimate relationship with the notorious Mary Soo and her many hard-working girls.
Gardiners Bay
Reunion 2011
Three WWII veterans were among the almost 40 sailors, wives, and friends who attended the ship’s annual reunion in Alexandria, VA.  Pictures document the festivities, attractions, and attendees.  Next year’s reunion: New Orleans May 22-26.
Navy ship pictures  1951 – 57


Random collection of ship pictures served on or seen during this period of time.
USS Hamilton County Are you sure the Hamilton County (LST-802) is a supply ship?  Who says?
Load List from Hell A freight train loaded with minesweeping gear arrives dockside for storage aboard ship according to the Load List from Hell
Wooden Ships: Iron Men Our little flagship administers the acid test of survival to the cat’s whiskers in minesweepers, the MSO: Wooden Ships: Iron Men.
The Wardroom Rat An unwelcome intruder, apprehended, captured, and subdued, is revealed as The Wardroom Rat.
Honolulu Hang-up On its maiden voyage to the Western Pacific as a minesweeper tender, the Hamilton County develops a serious Honolulu Hang-up.
Contrast in Cultures A navy wife’s first visit to a unisex restroom in Nagasaki City uncovers a major Contrast in Cultures, and marginal skills.
Typhoon T Three days in the eye of a typhoon outside of Subic Bay, Typhoon T, cracked like an eggshell but not broken, pounds its way into a Sasebo drydock.
Cumshaw Navy Of all the compartments aboard a navy ship, the commanding officer, a product of the Cumshaw Navy, has no compartment for a slippery concept.
Sayonara U.S.N. Bailing out of the Navy offers several weeks of separation celebration in San Francisco: Sayonara U.S.N.


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