I found my short timer calendar from late 1973. At the time I was assigned to Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. I spent just over one year in a pilot program that brought senior second class petty officers from the fleet to serve as Assistant Company Commanders. During that year I worked for 14 different Company Commanders helping them train recruits during their first 2-3 weeks of boot camp. There were about a dozen of us Assistant Company Commanders out there on the streets and grinders and in the barracks and classrooms of RTC. We all became well versed in all phases of training (folding clothes, locker stowage, marching , the 96 count manual of arms, the 16 count manual of arms, etc). We were a Godsends to new company commanders pushing their first company. Our presence with a company also gave the old salts with four or five companies under their belts more regular hours during the first weeks with a company, the most time consuming part.
The photos are of my “wheel book” during that time. It became my short timer calendar. As the day of my discharge grew closer I must have lost interest in the countdown
because the X’s stopped on November 18, 1973 and never started again. I was discharged on December 10, 1973. It didn’t last long. I reenlisted three months later, got married and swept my school teacher bride off to
Hawaii to begin my tour on Conserver and her new role as a Navy wife.
Here’s a blast from the past that I discovered in the bottom of a dresser drawer. MRC(DV) Thoenes had me do the artwork for a T-shirt that he had made for the divers onboard. I rarely wore the shirt given that I wasn’t a Navy Diver and didn’t feel I rated it but MRC(DV) Thoenes gave me one for doing the artwork. Consequently it has weathered the past forty years quite well. It was produced sometime between May 74 and May 77. It may well be the only one that has survived.
One of my memorable days on Conserver was the day I took a short cut to the berthing area.
As a newlywed my wife Thayes and I had very little in the way of furniture. She had been renting a furnished house and I was a single sailor when we married. We had just moved into our quarters at Navy housing in Pearl City. I was granted special liberty to be home with my wife because our personal effects had arrived and were being delivered. They consisted primarily of clothes, kitchen utensils, linens and such, all my stereo equipment and both of our record collections. Not much really, but they were things we missed and would help make our house a bit more homey. The few furniture items we had were loaners provided by PWC.
I had duty the night before. My special liberty started after morning quarters that memorable day in October 1974. Operations Department held quarters on the port side of the main deck near the bow. As soon as QMC Larose dismissed us, I headed for the berthing area to change and get ready to hit the beach. The shortest route was down the forward hatch on the starboard side that led to the armory then aft. It had drizzled early that morning, the hatch had been left open and the ladder treads were slippery.. I stepped over the hatch coaming and that’s the last thing I remember until I came to at the bottom of the ladder.
Doc Hansen swathed my head in bandages to stop the blood flow from a gash on the back of my head. I forget whether I walked to the ambulance that had been called or was transported to it in a stokes stretcher. I had a short ambulance ride to the Medical Clinic near the Makalapa gate where I got eleven stitches. Someone from the ship had called my wife to tell her what had happened and where I was taken. When she got into the ER recovery area I was a mess. Dried blood all over my hair and on my dungaree shirt. They observed me for an hour, prescribed 24 hours of bed rest and some pain killers then released me to my wife.
First thing I did when I got home was take a nap. It lasted only until the shipment came. It was time to open the boxes and find the stereo equipment that had been dearly missed for months. Neither stitches nor the throbbing headache were going to keep me from setting up my stereo system and listening to some tunes.
Just a day or so before Conserver pulled into Chin Hae, ETN2 John Peterson and I were called to Radio Central to investigate problems with both high powered radio transmitters. They were down hard which severely curtailed our long range communications. I recall John and I worked a good many hours getting one back on line. The second one would have to wait. We knew the problem but the five 17 cent diodes that we needed to repair it were not in stock down in supply.
Shortly after we pulled in it was decided that I should try to get the diodes from a Korean ship. In short order the mess decks were filled with Korean vendors. I wrote down a introductory greeting and a description of the parts and had one of the vendors trnslate it into Korean for me. Off I went, note in hand, searching for the parts.
The first ship I went aboard was an old WWII LST. The translated greeting worked well and before too long I was on the bridge waiting to talk with the ET onboard. Maybe not so much talking more pointing and gesturing. He figured out what I needed and was off to his supply office to see if they had the diodes. Not 20 seconds after he left me, general quarters sounded. Sailors were battening down hatches, stuffing their pant legs in their socks, and donning helmets. I learned later that the Korean Navy has drills daily due to the proximity of North Korea. Fortunately things settled down quickly and the all clear was sounded. My Korean ET came back. Sadly, they had no diodes in stock. I was off to another ship.
This time I ended up on the quarterdeck of a destroyer. The Korean ETC had gone to electronics school in San Diego which solved my communication issue. He was about to head to supply in search of the parts when the word was passed that the ship was breasting out. Rather than send me pierside to wait, he parked me in the ET shop and off he went. No luck in his search but he did tell me he might be able to get them from supply in Chin Hae.
I don’t recall if I ever got the diodes from the Korean Navy supply depot or not. Perhaps SKC Holstein or SK2 Witala had to get involved, maybe not. My memory zeroes in on the adventure of the search.
Those transmitters continued to be a royal pain throughout the remainder of the WestPac. Back in Hawaii, John and I had the pleasure of hauling them off the ship for a complete overhaul when Conserver went to Dillingham for drydock.