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The Clock is Ticking

The clock starts now to tell us what you think of the reunion committee idea or throw your name in the hat for the committee. Those of you who have already volunteered don’t need to do it again; we have your name in the hat already!

The deadline for comments is Saturday, 27 July. If the consensus for the committee is favorable (and so far it has been), we will publish the list of nominees/volunteers and conduct the election on the ussconserver.org website. If you haven’t registered on the site, now would be a great time to do so.

This should be our first step towards getting the “2nd Annual Reunion of Conserver Sailors” rolling!

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Cars

Skip Lash and I were swapping sea stories last May. We were talking about our cars my Isuzu which I got from Roy and Skips blue Honda. The Isuzu was used as an ice chest and his Honda was the stereo. I sold it to “Squirrel” I think his last name was Wilson.

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I Remember

I remember patching up and sewing many in the 4 years in Conserver. The most memorable was when Roy cut his head open but thought it was a scratch. BMSN Benson had the fuel drum on starboard O-1 level bounce off his head while painting the side. He got shorter and went to Tripler.

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Special Liberty

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.

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Conserver Caps

USS Conserver Ball Cap imageTaking a head count (sorry) to see how many crew members would purchase one of these. The vendor I’m looking at describes them like this: “5 panel wool blend cap. Has adjustable plastic strap closure. Made in the USA. ”

I’m pricing them out at various quantities to get the best price. The more we order, the lower the price. The preliminary price I got for a quantity of 100 is $18.70. Whatever price I get will only be marked up to cover my shipping and handling costs, first class USPS.

Please comment below with a “yes” or “no” if you would order at least one.

 

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Short Timers

Romondo Davis short timer imageI was flipping trough my Navy photos when I came across this gem — that of the unshaven face of a serious short timer. I’m posing showing the open door of my locker in the engine shop where I kept my tools, geedunks, audio cassettes, etc.

On the inside of the locker door, along with a full page magazine ad for my dream car— a British racing green Triumph Spitfire — was the face of a discarded oil pressure gauge that I had repurposed and labeled with a dymo gun as, “Davis’ Handy-Dandy Short Timers Gauge.” Each day I would decrement the red gauge hand one day closer to my discharge, and then taunt my buddies with it.

Assuming most of us were as anxious to move on as I was, I open up discussion here for stories of how we counted down the days to departure or discharge. Let the fun begin.

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Adventures in Chin Hae, South Korea 1974

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.

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Virtual Brotherhood

Liberty in Sasebo 1975 imageI think a lot about the fact that I had a pretty solid set of running mates while on Conserver. I rented an apartment with a group of guys in Salt Lake — 1128 Ala Napunani — to be exact, not too far from the Hickam gate with easy access to alpha docks.

EM2 Scott Gossler and I were the anchor tenants sharing that three-bedroom, two-bath apartment. EMFN Mike Cone of Baraboo, Wisconsin rounded out the trio for a while after we moved in, but was soon replaced by MM3/DV Roy Sykes. Even though we enjoyed having the younger Mike as a roommate, it seems Roy, Scotty and I, being closer in age and petty officers, just had more in common.

MM3 (DV) Roy F. Sykes,1974 image
MM3/DV Roy Sykes diving off Conserver in 1974

Roy and I shared a home town (St. Louis), and I adopted Scotty’s love for sports cars early on, and the three of us just loved partying and relaxing in our comfortable and clean bachelor pad that allowed us to live like civilians when we were in port, not working or standing the dirty duty.

Underway, on local ops and Westpac cruises, the three of us also hung together along with the likes of MR3 Barry Shooltz, SK3 Russel Wiitala and occasionally others. My other favorite shipmates were QM3 Paul David Muller and YN1 Bob Castro.

My point in all this is that out of all the enlisted men to choose from — the ward room and goat locker seemed to be classes in and of themselves — most of us seemed to choose our running mates and that was it. What makes this interesting, considering the total time the old girl was in the fleet, is how even though we had our cliques and circles of friends, we all share a common allegiance in having been assigned to that vessel, knowing that we worked hard, played hard and all can look back and say, “I’m proud to have served aboard the USS Conserver, ARS-39.