San Diego , CA
June 1963 - February 1966
Cruise 1963 . . . .
was transferred to the USS Klondike AR-22, a repair ship out of
San Diego, in June of 1963. In July, we left San Diego on a 6 month
Western Pacific (WestPac) cruise (my first) with our first stop
in Pearl Harbor, HI. During this cruise, we had port-o-calls in
Sasebo Japan, Subic Bay P.I., Manila P.I., Hong Kong B.C.C., and
Yokosuka Japan. We spent 3-4 days steaming through Typhoon Bess,
looking for the Greek freighter Cryssism with loss of steering.
We never found her, so we got out of it and steamed to Sasebo Japan.
I've never been sea sick before, but I swear if we had stayed in
that typhoon another day, my stomach would have said "all bets
are off!" I took my first 3rd class rating exam during this
storm, I PNA'd (passed but not advanced), but, I might have done
better if the guy across from me had not been so sea-sick and kept
up-chucking into a bucket! Earlier, a couple of days into this storm,
the cooks prepared some oysters for a small group of young officers,
being green around the gills they refused them and ran out of the
place. Nobody else wanted them, so I said "I'll eat them!"
I ate them and in doing so, I almost had one section of the mess
decks all to myself!
Klondike AR-22, Pier One, 32nd St. Naval Station - San Diego, CA
USS Evans DE-1023, USS Bauer DE-1025, USS Brigett DE-1024, and
USS Hooper DE-1026 alongside.
Ironically, my shipboard career started at
Pier One on the Klondike
and ended on Pier One on the USS Robison DDG-12.
Top - The start of rough seas.
Bottom - Everything tied down for Typhoon Bess
pop song Sukiyaki . . . .
1963, one of the top tunes was Sukiyaki (by Kyu Sakamoto) and it
reached number one on our charts in the good old USA. Well, during
port visits in Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan any place that had a juke
box/radio/stereo, etc., this song was playing. And, I mean playing!
They would play it over and over again. We got so we hated that
song. Just now, in my later years, can I stand to listen to that
Klondike At Anchor In Subic Bay, P.I.
Klondike - With USS Taussig (DD-746), USS John A. Bole (DD-755),
USS Lofberg (DD-759),
and USS John W. Thomason (DD-760) along side, Subic Bay, 1963
Klondike - Moored In Subic Bay, P.I.
assassination . . . .
were at sea off Okinawa, when we got the news about the assassination
of President Kennedy - a very sad day.
tours . . . .
this cruise, I went on numerous USO tours (which I have done
on several cruises). The most interesting was the H Bomb museum
in Nagasaki Japan (I went back again on a later cruise). The
destruction caused by that bomb was amazing, and it was a small
bomb as compared to today's bombs. One member of our tour group
(a crusty boatswain mate or gunners mate, I believe) didn't
help to reverse our reputation as ugly Americans any. One little
Japanese guy was tailing along behind us and was getting more
and more upset and kept glaring and snarling at us as we progressed
through the exhibits. At one exhibit, he was particularly upset
and glared up at the Boatswain. The Boatswain looked down at
him and said "Boooooooooommmmm!" His eyes become the
size of saucers and he took off!
softball . . . .
our 3 month stay in Subic Bay P.I., the ship's CO dictated that
the ship start up an intra-mural softball league to keep everyone
out of trouble (in town particularly). Every division had to
provide a team to participate. The ship ended up with 26 teams.
We just barely mustered enough personnel in our tiny division
to make a team. During the games, the ship's cooks cooked up
hot dogs and hamburgers, and they sold cold San Miguel beer
for 5 cents a bottle (we couldn't drink beer if we were playing).
The games were played in the afternoon, during working hours.
To make a long story short, our division won the whole shooting
match. We only lost one game, and that was primarily due to
it's ending early because of rain. That loss was to the CPO's.
It was primarily fast pitch softball, but we had no one who
could pitch fast. So, our division chief became our pitcher
and he threw a real slow pitch, with a mean spin on the ball,
which very few people could hit well. We also had a couple power
hitters that could pretty much belt anything out of the park.
For winning, we all got 20 days basket leave upon arrival back
in the states. I used that leave to get married. We arrived
back in the states in mid-December and I went on leave in January.
We got married and settled into a small one bedroom apartment
on Kalmia Street in the North Park area of San Diego.
trying for a base hit
Me - trying for another base hit
SHC Dillard (our pitcher), and SH1 Smith
enjoying a cool one during a beach party
are a few WestPac 1963 photos:
Ashore In Hong Kong
Soo And Her Crew Painting The Sides - Hong Kong, BCC
Klondike - Moored, Hong Kong Harbor
Taxis Shuttling Sailors (Klondike In Background) - Hong Kong,
Peace Statue At Ground Zero - Nagasaki, Japan
& Carlton (And Me) On Liberty - Yokosuka, Japan
& Tom Everett On Liberty - Hong Kong, B.C.C.
(Note Tom's Wallet - Not The Safest
Place To Carry A Wallet In WestPac)
In Nagasaki, Japan
A Canoe Ride Up To Pagsanjan Falls - Manila, P.I.
At Alava Pier - Subic Bay, P.I. Naval Station
Ship-Serviceman Jessie Watkins Entertaining Us At An On Board
ship was a feeder . . . .
ship was a feeder too. I believe she won the Ney Award for the
crews mess at least twice while I was on board. This ship was
the second feeder I served on, the other was The L. Mendel Rivers
SSN-686. Also, the wardroom cooks on the Robison DDG-12, could
cook up the best liver - cooked just right, nice and rare in
Shore Patrol . . . .
Shortly after sewing
on my SH3 crow, I got my first Shore Patrol duty assignment in
San Diego. I was assigned (along with three other PO's) to one
square block area on 4th Ave (between F and G streets, I believe),
which was a rough part of town back in those days. I remember
that every time we came across a potential fist fight situation
(between some sailors), we would talk them into going across the
street to do their fighting. Then, we would watch them duke it
out while that beat's shore patrol tried to break it up - we had
a relatively quiet beat that night.
Store Operator . . . .
on the Klondike, I worked in the barber shop (as the chief's
& officer's barber, also the Admiral's barber one time,
when he was aboard), I operated the soda fountain and the ship's
store. At the time, you were only allowed two consecutive quarters
as an operator of the ship's store, before mandatory rotation
to another job. I ended up with additional quarters because
every time I was rotated, the new operator would go AWOL and
take off with the money. When I first became the Ship's Store
Operator (as a SH3 - almost unheard of at the time), I made
several salesmen take back many items that weren't selling and
replace them with more popular merchandise. One item was Gruen
watches, buy a Gruen and get a screwin' I always said. I also
refused to take merchandise under the table, as a bribe, a favorite
(and illegal) ploy at the time.
with the Master Chief . . . .
one of my many Ship's Store duty tours (three, I believe), I
had a conflict with our leading Chief (a SHCM - whose name escapes
me). During one of our major shipyard overhauls, a new walk-in
style of Ship's Store was being built and they installed Plexiglas
display cases. Upon stocking the new store, I refused to put
any merchandise in these display cases, because you could pull
open the cases very easily (due to the lack of rigidity of Plexiglas).
This infuriated the Master Chief, but it was my call because
I'm ultimately responsible for the bottom line. So, a lot of
additional work had to be done to reinforce all the display
cases. The Master Chief held this against me the rest of the
time I was onboard. During every inventory (surprise inventory
or otherwise), and after the first count, I would be short and
over the allowed limit. From this he would relish the thought
of making that the final count and thus hang me. I could call
as many inventories as I deemed appropriate, so I kept making
him go back in and re inventory (with me) numerous times (which
made him mad as hell) - until we got it under the allowable
shortage limit. It was my one small way of getting my digs in
against him. He also said that he would give me a bunch of time
off if I could go 30-days straight, coming out right on the
money on the money count, at the end of the day. I went something
like 40+ straight days, right on the money, but he reneged on
the deal. No surprise.
Old Liberty Card
Fountain Operator . . . .
while working in the soda fountain, a staff officer (full Commander,
I believe) read me the riot act over a box of Cheeze-it's he
had just purchased - it seems it had a few cockroaches in it
(cockroaches are a fact of life on some of these older ships).
I closed the soda fountain and escorted him up to the Ship Store
Office to discuss it with my boss. My boss, a crusty old Ship's
Clerk Warrant Officer CWO4, was at his desk with his back to
us. The Commander stomped into the office, threw the box of
Cheeze-it's onto the desk beside him and says "this box
of Cheese-it's is full of cockroaches". That old CWO4 never
even looked up, he just bellered "so what's the problem,
they eat too much"? I had to leave as I was laughing so
Picture Of Me and Bob Ratley (in the chair) Taken From The Navy
(January 26, 1966 Issue)
Softball . . . .
picture here is interesting, mainly because of the other individual
(besides myself, on the left) depicted in the photo. The photo
was taken for a PR article in the Navy Times (January 26, 1966).
The other individual, in the photo, is Bob Ratley. He was a
cook and had been in the Navy about 12-years at the time. What
was unique about him was that he was an awesome softball pitcher.
It's difficult to ascertain in the photo, since you can't see
his left arm, but his right forearm was easily twice the size
of his left forearm. At the time, the Klondike softball team
was trying to compete locally with the USS Sperry as the dominate
softball team. Bob Ratley was past his prime, but awesome to
watch. He could do some amazing things with a softball. He would
warm up pitching from second base and could throw a perfect
strike across the home plate. He could get rattled easily at
times though. During one of these episodes, he became agitated
with an umpire and threw a perfect strike across the plate after
pitching the ball behind his back. This rattled the umpire so
much that he charged out to the mound and threatened to eject
him if he did it again. Well, as you might guess, his next pitch
was exactly the same pitch, from behind his back, only faster.
The pitch was so fast that the umpire never noticed that he
pitched it from behind his back. We all sure noticed it though
and cracked up. He was amazing to watch and I would have loved
to have seen him in his prime.
Ratley - Pitching Behind His Back
[Photo Courtesy of Tom Christensen]
Klondike Softball Team
[Photo Courtesy of Tom Christensen]
Some additional photos I ran across recently. These were taken just before I left the Klondike in 1966.
Barber Shop. That's me in the center.
Self-Service Ship's Store
Battery Tests . . . .
my initial enlistment was almost up, I was becoming worried about
getting out on the outside and being a barber the rest of my life.
Fortunately, my division officer (LTJG Hobbs, I believe was his
name) took an interest in me. He noticed that my basic battery test
scores were fairly high and said I should be in a technical rate,
such as electronics. So, I re-enlisted under the SCORE program.
This was a program where you could cross rate and were guaranteed
class A and B schools for the new rate. I also took the High School
GED test while on board the Klondike and passed with flying colors.
I also got a little cocky and took the college GED test, but I failed
Capt. B.D. Gaw Swearing Me In - My Re-up In 1966
selected for the SCORE conversion program, upon re-enlisting
for 6-years. I was then slated to attend Electronics Technician
Class "A" school on Treasure Island, San Francisco,
Officer 3rd Class (Ship Serviceman - Barber)
Officer 2nd Class (Ship Serviceman - Barber)
I didn't find out that I made it until arriving at Treasure
of the USS Klondike (AR-22)
Hoist/Radio Call Sign: November - Bravo - Victor - Oscar
Citations and Campaign Ribbons
of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - American
Campaign Medal - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - World War II Victory
Bottom Row - National
Defense Service Medal - Vietnam Service Medal (1) - Republic of
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Class Destroyer Tender AD-22
Displacement 8,165 Tons Standard Full Load 16,900 Tons
Length 492 Ft.
Guns 1-5in. 4-3in. 4-40mm.AA. 20-20mm
Machinery Geared Turbines. S.H.P. 8,500 =18.4 knots Boilers
2 Babcock & Wilcox
Complement Accommodation for 826
General Reclassified as repair ship on Feb.20, 1960
Designation changed to AR-22
AD22 was launched Aug. 12,1944 by Todd Shipbuilding Corp.
San Pedro, Calif. Sponsored by Mrs.Dorothy J. Diirck.and commissioned
at San Pedro July 30, 1945 Comdr. M.E.Hatch in command. After
shake down, Klondike loaded hundreds of tons of spares and
stores in preparation for the important task of supplying
and maintaining the speedy, hard-hitting destroyers.
as a mother ship for the greyhounds of the fleet, she departed San
Pedro Oct.19 for Pearl Harbor, arriving the 25th.Recalled to the
west coast, she sailed from Pearl Nov.7 with 500 homebound veterans
embarked and arrived at San Diego Nov.15.
On Nov. 21 she became the flagship for Commander, San Diego Group
19th Fleet; Placed on an inactive status (in commission in reserve)
Nov.30,1946. Klondike was placed in service in late summer,1948.
She served as flagship until May 11.1955.
USS Klondike recommissioned on July 15. at Long Beach, Comdr.F.F.Mullins
Jr. In command. Returning to San Diego Dec.4 she provided repair
facilities as a unit of SerRon 1.
On Feb,20 USS Klondike was reclassified as a repair ship AR-22 and
she repaired vessels in San Diego, Long Beach and San Francisco
until July15, 1961.
USS Klondike (AR-22) departed San Diego for the Far East. She was
assigned, to SerRon 3, and arrived in Yokosuka, Japan Aug. 4. Up
and until Feb. 23,1962 she provided repair facilities at Sasebo
and Iwakuni,Japan and Subic Bay P.I. for the peacekeeping ships
of the powerful 7th Fleet.
to the west coast March 11 she resumed her duties out San Diego.
Departing San Diego July17, USS Klondike (AR-22) steamed via Pearl
Harbor for the Western Pacific. While in route to Sasebo, she offered
assistance the 6 through the 9th of Aug. to the distressed Greek
freighter Cryssism during a raging typhoon (120 mph winds). Reaching
Sasebo on Aug.11, she proceeded to Subic Bay Aug. 15 for repair
ship duties. Klondike operated in the Far East until Nov.30; then
she returned to the United States arriving in San Diego Dec.14.
During 1964 she continued servicing ships while operating out
of San Diego and San Francisco. Klondike continued to repair ships
of the Pacific Fleet into mid 1967.
Klondike AR-22 Reunion - Oct. 2004
Gold Coast Casino, Las Vegas, NV
USS Klondike Reunion Group Photo - GoldCoast Casino, Las Vegas,
1963 Crew Year Group Photo
USS Klondike Association Business Meeting - 2004
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