Not a Morning Personby Lt. jg Dale Potts USNR
Seems like I was always tired while on active duty. I could sleep just about anywhere, on a plane, bus or wherever, except at bedtime. In college I had developed the habit of staying up late. That made getting up early difficult. That habit caused a few problems for me because, while at sea, I normally did not get a good night’s sleep.
I recently found a post card I sent to my parents about the first few days of our ‘68 WESTPAC cruise. While doing some maneuvers around Hawaii, we had a problem with our distilling equipment; forcing us to take Navy showers. I also wrote about flying into Pearl Harbor on the COD ahead of the ship. I failed to tell the whole story. I had flown in with our SECNAV VIP guests. The XO sent me with them to make sure everything went OK. It turned out that one was a retired Navy Captain. The BOQ at the airbase was full but he found that the Q manager was away on vacation and arranged for me to stay in his quarters. I only planed to stay overnight so just brought my summer whites, swimsuit, shaving gear and underwear. Someone at the “Q” swim pool gave me the phone number of a local schoolteacher from his home town. I called her and asked her to dinner. She did not have a car. I had gotten an old beat up Navy pickup from the motor pool to do some errands for the ship. I sure hope the rules for use of official vehicles in Hawaii were different then than they are now because I used the pickup my date. I didn’t have any civilian clothes so I took the insignia off my summer white shirt and wore it with my khaki pants.
for the free previews of the Academy Award Winning Movie
the USS Yorktown, "The Fighting Lady.
The COD was making daily flights to and from the YORKTOWN with mail and supplies. It was scheduled to leave the Naval Station at 0400 hours. But when it left the island the next morning, it returned without me. I arrived at the flight line at 3:45 am and watched the plane taxi down the runway. I frantically tried to wave and catch the pilots’ attention but was not allowed on the flight line. I do not remember why, but the same scenario repeated itself the next day. The air operations guys enjoyed radioing the plane both days that they had left their ship PAO Ensign behind. But when the COD returned to Pearl that afternoon, one of the pilots contacted me and told me the XO suggested I be on the plane the next day. I was on the flight line at 2:30 am the next morning. Even though I still had use of the pickup, I had run out of money anyway. (That was before credit cards and ATM machines were popular.) No one ever said anything directly about my absence but it was a long time before I got any more special favors from the XO, CDR Smith.
Later, while when the YORKTOWN was the command ship in the Sea of Japan after the Pueblo capture, we had an exchange program with the destroyers in our battle group. Helicopters swapped officers between the destroyers and our ship to stand bridge watches. LCDR O’Connor had lobbied hard for me to be a participant.
I was scheduled for a 0200 hours helo flight to stand a 0400-0800 watch on a destroyer. I was sleeping then in a huge bunkroom for junior aviators. It was located directly under the flight deck which made sleeping difficult. We were standing one-in-four bridge watches on the Yorktown, which meant I had a four-hour watch every 16 hours. I did not have an experienced petty officer to run the Public Affairs Office and had about half the number of enlisted personnel authorized for our work. So I was also spending 10 to 14 hours a day in my office, trying to meet all our job requirements. Tension was heavy aboard as Russian ships trailed us (actually, no what we did, they maintained a course directly ahead of us), We went to general quarters (my battle station was with the XO in secondary conn which was in the forecastle) ever time Russian planes, Bears and Badgers) over flew us. The sea conditions were terrible with freezing cold rain and huge waves crashing over the flight deck, tossing the carrier around the ocean like it was a matchstick.
The night of my flight, I had the 1600-2000 bridge watch on the YORKTOWN. Next I worked in my office until about midnight and then had a fat burger in the wardroom; before deciding to catch a few winks in my bunk before my helo adventure. I had a little portable wind-up alarm clock in my bunk and I either slept through the alarm or mis-set it. I missed the flight.
I did not get that opportunity again. At the time, I was so tired that I didn’t care. Now I realize it could have the basis for a future sea story.
SINGAPORE was a Bore by Lt. jg Dale Potts USNR
One of the ports of call for our 1968 WESTPAC cruise was Singapore. It has an exotic sounding name but turned out to be a rather tame place. It had no public bars and limited entertainment.
The British Officers Club there was all spit and polish. There was an official welcome there on our first night in port. The Yorktown Supply Officer Department Head got tanked and did a header off the diving board into the swimming pool while wearing his Mess Dress Whites.
The second night in, some of the aviators overdid it and decided to go skinny dipping in the pool. That action got us barred from the British Officers' Club for the rest of our visit.
British Marines drink Yorktown USMC Marine
under the table in Singapore
Giving "a piece of my mind" to the C O
USS Yorktown USMC Marine Detachment Cpl. Joe Capozzo firstname.lastname@example.org
During our Westpac tour we made a courtesy visit to Singapore in 1968. Now, what would you think a couple of Marines in Singapore for the first time, after having been out at sea for at least 30 days or so, would want to do as soon as liberty call was sounded? Go bowling, what else ?!
So, that's just what myself and my best buddy Cpl Dennis Fairman set out to do. We ended up at a really neat very modern bowling alley, bought new balls and bags and spent the day bowling !! Pretty exciting stuff ! It gets better !
We left the bowling alley and decided it was time
for some refreshment so we ended up at a local watering hole. It just so happens
that at the same time we were in port there, there was also a British carrier
there. It seems they also have Marines on their carriers too.
Well, as luck would have it, some British Marines were in the same place we stopped in and invited us to join them. Now for another shock, I don't drink ! I know, a non drinking Marine ? NO WAY ! Well, its true, but not of my buddy Dennis. He could put em away with the best of them ! We had a good time swapping stories with our counterparts and I guess Dennis figured he could keep up with those guys with no problem as far as putting away the beer goes. Most anybody can tell you that beer in countries like that is mostly pretty weak stuff especially compared to the ale etc. the British drink.
Picture: Cpl Joe Capozzo on the right....Cpl Dennis Fairman on the left.. Yorktown Marines in Hawaii 1968
needless to say, Dennis was no match for the British Marines. They drank him
under the table ! Finally after I saw I might have to carry my buddy back, we
got out of there and back to the ship. I barely kept Dennis from going over the
side of the gangplank on our way back onto the ship !
Well, we got to our compartment and all seemed well until the beer really hit Dennis and he got nuts ! He decided he wanted to tell our Marine CO just what he thought of the Marine Corps, etc., etc. ! I couldn't talk him out of it or even get near him, he was really out of it as he headed for the CO's state room with me and a hospital corpsman in hot pursuit !
Dennis had been pretty loud and a corpsman showed up with a syringe full of sedative and figured he would calm Dennis down. WRONG !! Dennis was built like a little tank and not to be messed with in a sober condition let alone the condition he was in. We had to keep our distance and sure enough he made it to the CO's stateroom and banged on the door. Oh. did I mention that it was about 2 am by now ?
There's Dennis, banging on the CO's door at 2 am, a raging bull ! I figured he was headed for the brig for sure. Well, the CO's door opened and he let Dennis in and I just new it was the end of the road for Dennis! It was deathly silent in there and I could only imagine what could be going on in there!
Well, the door opened and out walked Dennis just as calm as could be, headed back to his rack and that was it! It seems that our CO just sat and listened to what he had to say and said all the right things back to him and that satisfied Dennis.
Nothing else ever came of it which I think speaks well of our CO and how he handled the situation. I'm just glad we never hit anymore ports where British Marines happened to be at the same time although I think Dennis had learned his lesson!
Officers just look different when they aren't in uniform
Mike Smertick email@example.com
was on board from 1961 until 1963. Radio
Gang RM3. The captain of the Yorktown when I came
aboard was William G. Privette. I only heard him referred to as "Big Red". Like most RM's, I started out as a messenger in Main Comm.
The first time I delivered a message for the Captain to sign I knocked on his stateroom door and a voice said to enter. Sitting their was an officer with just a khaki shirt on that had no rank or insignia on it. This gentleman was bald with not much evidence of red hair. I figured he was the Captains orderly. So I said "Sir, is the captain in, I have messages for him to sign". Never will I forget this rather deep voice saying "sailor' how long have you been aboard? I AM THE CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP"
Well let me tell you I certainly heard about that, Got chewed out by everyone from the division officer on down.
A USS Kearsarge story: Before I reported aboard the Yorktown I was a photographer on the USS Kearsarge CVS 33. I was a sailor in the US Navy for about six months and still basically fresh from boot camp. In boot camp an Airman Apprentice outranked you and a Chief Petty Officer and Ensign were like Gods.
The Admiral's staff wanted a new picture of the Admiral so I was sent up to the Admiral's at-sea cabin and told to "wait here!" I stood there with my giant Navy camera when in comes a Rear Admiral in full dress uniform, medals and all and he looks at me and says "I can't find my pants!"
His aide rushes in from another space and says "Oh, that's OK Admiral, he'll just photograph you from the waist up, right sailor?" I mumbled something like "yeah, I guess so.." while still rather surprised to see an Admiral with half his fleet still in port.
Daniel A. Bernath, Airman Apprentice 1967
Ice skating champ Peggy Fleming sure
by not hooking up with a Yorktown swabbie
When you are in the US Navy it can get rather lonely. There were no women around but we thought about them and discussed them all the time. All the ship's company of the USS Yorktown seemed to be in love with Peggy Fleming the ice skating champion. I remember when word spread throughout the ship that Peggy Fleming had gotten married! We were discussing this sad situation in our berthing area and one of the weather guessers in Operations just climbed down into our compartment.
He say "What, what? Peggy Fleming got married?"
A 275 pound yeoman in the Operations Office says, "Yeah, can you believe it, she married some damned dentist or something."
We all shook our heads in disgust that the lovely Peggy Fleming was no longer single and had married a lowly dentist. Even at the time I thought, "So here we are in the depths of the USS Yorktown, a bunch of enlisted guys and we're thinking PEGGY FLEMING MARRIED A DENTIST INSTEAD OF ME." Even at the time I had to chuckle that we were thinking that the perfect Peggy was missing out or knew that her fans on the USS Yorktown even existed. "Yeah sailor; like you had a shot." by PH2 Daniel A. Bernath 1970
1968, the Olympics were televised for the first time
and a 19-year-old U.S. skater by the name of
Peggy Fleming took Grenoble, France and the world by storm.
She was the
only American to win a gold medal
in those Winter Games.
In 1970, she married dermatologist, Dr. Greg Jenkins