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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.

1 thought on “Virtual Brotherhood

  1. I joined the NAVY DEC13,1971. I dropped out of the University of Miami studing oceanography when I realized I would need a certification in diving. I wasn’t going to settle for a YMCA certification; I wanted the best and wanted to be trusted as the most skillful and safest when finally in my profession. The realization a Navy certification was all I would settle for. VIETNAM was still in full force.

    My father was furious when I quit college and didn’t agree with my decision.

    Going to war wasn’t in the plan. My detailer told me if I really wanted diving, don’t ask for an “A” school in bootcamp, just go to your first duty station and ask for diving school. Easy. Next stop San Pedro,CA- USS Manatee (AO-58) and one year off of Vietnam. This was not in the plan but I did my job as a navigator and always kept my dream alive. After being extended six times off the coast of Vietnam and knowing what I had participated in, my regret and guilt was not being able to help my fellow servicemen more. I live with this guilt today.

    The USS MANATEE got word we were to be decommissioned upon arrival in Long Beach, CA. The crew was encouraged to contact our detailors in Washington if we wanted special orders. I wanted a diving ship.Thus began my career on the USS Conserver and a turn around back for another six month Westpac. I was determined to keep my nose clean and become the best navigator possible. I was always around the CO and XO on the bridge and let my dream known to the ones that had the power to grant it. My wish was granted.

    The Conserver and its crew will never leave my heart.

    Can’t wait for the next reunion. It’s been 40 years!

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