Edward Nole remembers...
Enclosed are copies of the 1953 Thanksgiving Menu and copies of the Navy Times of September, 1952. I must say that some of the best times of my life I had in the Navy. If I knew then what I
know now, I would have stayed 20 years or
more. My grandfather served in the sailing navy... you know SAILS.
Wayne K. Hartman remembers...
I was in Subic Bay early December 1972 trying to find the Rich, which was my first duty station after graduating from Engineman "A" school. I was 18 at the time. All that they knew was that the Rich
was a destroyer somewhere off the coast of Viet Nam. I was shipped out on an ammunition ship (the USS Nitro), and later heloed over to another ammo ship (the USS Flint) while cruising up and down the
coast of Viet Nam. Finally I was flown back to Subic Bay where the Rich was having the 5" gun barrels replaced. I think that was the 2nd of January 1973. The Rich was pretty banged up, and in rough condition from being out to sea for a few months. It had been on the gun line for a couple of months off and on. There were a couple of inches of water sloshing around on the compartment deck when I was shown to my bunk. I was wondering what had I gotten myself into.
We got under way back to the gun line in a couple of days. I got the routine down in a short while. The sea was beautiful. It was hard to believe I was going to war. We did hit some bad weather the second day out. I was assigned to watch the forward emergency fire pump, which was on the line because the main was US. The seas we so rough the forward part of the ship was coming out of the water, and the pump would loose suction. I would have to shut it down, and restart it to get a
suction again. Two days out and I knew what destroyers were about. I learned how to walk on the bulkheads of the inboard passageway.
While on the gun line we were on blue and gold duty status. Six hours on and six hours off. I worked as a handler in the lower magazine on the forward gun mount. Mount 51 I believe it was. After several days of this duty you lost track of days and nights, because we never saw outside. I was awaken three o'clock one night (I thought), to report to the pilot house to see my Division Officer. When I got topside I was amazed to see the sunlight. It was mid afternoon. We also did some plane guarding
for a couple of carriers. We picked up some pieces of
planes that came back too shot up to land on board, or some that just didn't
We left the gun line after the cease fire went into effect, and headed to Hong Kong for R&R. That was a learning experience. The ship was painted from top to bottom by an old woman and her family. They did it with rags on their hands. From there we headed to Yokosuka, Japan. We had some structural repairs done there. We had rudder and shaft packings blown out from all the concussion while on the line. We were constantly taking on water. Some of these things were fixed. We finally returned to homeport (Norfolk, VA) in the end of March. We did a couple of small cruises to the Caribbean after that.
I loved my time on the Rich. It's a part of my life I will never forget.
Al Tilly remembers...
The way it really was........
the green" You wait at the fwd door of the fore and aft
passageway. The green water pours through filling the midships
passageway. Now you make your break. You get to the aft door.
Its dogged. With superhuman strength you open it and go aft. The
next green comes through right behind you. If it had hit you would
have been extruded through the boat winch or carried off to
chief says, "We're ready, but you don't have to do this." You
head down the ladder into the fuel tank that has a leak in it leading
to the stbd shaft alley. The stench is overwhelming. The red devil
blowers are putting in fresh air but it's not enough. The rungs of
the tall ladder are coated with oil and it's slippery in a way you
can't believe. It's hard to see with just a couple of portable gas
lights for illumination.
out flat and work your feet into the boiler firebox first. My
God, it's hot. As you work your shoulders over the sill the metal rim
burns you across your back. Its better when you're laid out on the
fire brick and then stand up but the floor was hot on your hands
when you stood up. Boilers are slow to cool in Subic Bay. The
firesides look good, though.
night order book says "The OOD will stand his watch on the
open bridge." The center section of windshield is removed to
improve vision. The windshield wipers never worked anyway. The
green water comes through powerful enough to damage Mount
One. You dodge behind the captain's chair and wait for the next
one. The canvas overhead leaks water down your neck. When you
can go below you'll sleep with your arms beneath the mattress so
that you don't roll so much.
God, I loved it.
(Re-printed from DOL: http://www.plateau.net/usndd/ddsships)
Ron Tucker remembers:
For three years, the Rich was literally the only real home
I had. Now, at age 53, I reflect back and see what a privilege it was to serve
on the Rich and to serve my Country. When I look back, I realize it was the most
challenging time in my life. It was an experience I would not want to repeat,
but a journey I am especially proud to have traveled. I salute all those who
have served on the Rich BEFORE me, all of those I served WITH,
and all those who served AFTER me - especially those no longer with us.
While on the Rich I became an A.S.R.O.C. Gunners Mate and worked to maintain the missile system.
My first time at sea was in June of '67 as the Rich pulled out of Norfolk for a Spring Board Cruise in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Gitmo). This was my first time out to sea and it was a tremendous experience. I felt that the earth was moving under my feet as the Rich got underway. Through the steel decks, my feet could feel the engines churning below.
Between January and February of 1968, the Rich departed for another Springboard Cruise at Gitmo. Ports of call included the Virgin Islands (St Thomas, St. Croix, St Martinique, and St. Johns Islands) This cruise proved to be a particularly rough one, having been hit by both sides of a hurricane. The ship experienced damage when splitting a hull seam and began taking on water below deck. A very competent damage control team successfully sealed off the compartments receiving the water. Heavy seas were experienced for the remainder of the cruise. This was my first experience at getting seasick (yes, I felt very green).
In March of '68, the Rich left Norfolk again. She was headed for duty with the Seventh Fleet in the waters of the South China Sea, off the coast of North and South Vietnam. She steamed toward Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin.
In route to Yankee Station, the Rich crossed the Isthmus of Panama. It was a pleasure to see this important place that had such a rich history. I remember getting an embossed commemorative card that I still have today.
"Order of the Lock, Panama Canal
Commander Edward C. Whelan, Captain of Rich, signed the card. Commander Whelan was among the Navy's finest.
After crossing the Canal, the Rich was scheduled for dry dock and repairs at the Long Beach, CA Naval Shipyard. The ship was in dry dock for nearly fourteen days. Most of us went on liberty to Tijuana Mexico, downtown San Diego, downtown Los Angeles, and Disneyland.
Upon departure from Long Beach, CA, ports of call included: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Midway Islands, and the Island of Guam. During this time at sea, the Rich crossed the International Date Line.
On May 7, 1968, forty-two days after departure from Norfolk, VA, and 12,000 nautical miles later, the Rich arrived at Subic Bay in the Republic of the Philippines. Liberty was granted in the City of Olongapo. Other ports of call included Koishung, Taiwan.
The Rich then steamed to Yankee Station. From May 13, through July 20, 1968 the Rich provided escort and plane guard services for four successive attack aircraft carriers: USS Bon Homme Richard, USS Enterprise, USS Constellation, and the USS Ticonderoga in the Tonkin Gulf.
What impressed me most about this tour was getting the opportunity to see these fine ships and their attack aircraft in action. It was a long way from the plastic models that I tinkered with as a child.
I made the following notation in my diary:
"To the portside of the Rich, I can't help but marvel at the poised aircraft on the USS Enterprise. These elegant machines make the rigor of war difficult to comprehend. If I were a ground soldier in the jungle of Vietnam, I might actualize the war more readily. It is incomprehensible that the pilots of those sleek F4 jets, now zooming off the carrier decks, are destined to bomb and destroy enemy installations, unprotected villages, homes, farms, and HUMAN SOULS. Thoughts about some of those pilots not returning are somewhat buried in the recesses of my mind"
What a workout Vietnam was. A basic workday in Vietnam aboard the Rich consisted of an eight hours on and eight hours off. During the eight hours off, time was spent performing ship maintenance, hi-lining food and stores, refueling, or taking on ammunitions and mail (God Bless the mail.) In essence, the workday was sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. During the eight remaining hours of the day, time was spent eating, showering, and sleeping (sometimes showering was skipped in favor of sleep). And of course, sleep was often interrupted by more refueling and Hi-lining.
Good spirited fun, rest, and relaxation came to the Rich, as the ship steamed to the Port Of Call Singapore, but not before a traditional Shellback Day Celebration. Navy tradition states that any sailor who has not crossed the Equator is an "unworthy Pollywog". Sailors who have previously crossed the Equator are called "Trusty Shellbacks". No unworthy Pollywog can become a Trusty Shellback without first being initiated into the "Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep". Thus, on June 12, 1968 when the Rich crossed the Equator at 105 - 15.0 E the initiation of all Pollywogs began. I spent most of my day on my knees, obeying Royal Commands of Trusty Shellbacks, being sprayed with salt water, barking like a dog, and screaming like a cat. Whew! Does the Navy still do this foolishness?
This initiation and the brief stay at Singapore provided a welcome relief from the frustrations and tensions of the Vietnam War zone.
On July 30, 1968, the Rich arrived at Danang, South Vietnam to join a search and rescue group consisting of the USS Sterett, USS Hanson, USS Wainwright, and the USS England. These were guided missile frigates and destroyers that were dispersed at three stations along the North Vietnam coast from which they controlled aircraft and conducted rescue operations for pilots unable to return to their parent carriers.
It was during this period, in the middle of night, that the
Rich manned its battle stations; the result of North Vietnamese helicopters
delivering rocket fire at the England and Hanson. My heart was pounding like a
jackhammer. No casualties were reported and damages were slight. But, it
was scary for us first-timers.
I remember one morning looking out to shore and seeing a rainsquall unloading over the Vietnam landscape. I was thinking of home and recalled sitting in my high school government class back in 1965. The teacher asked the class if any of us could find Vietnam on the World map. Not one of us could. The teacher said: "You guys better find out. You' are going to be fighting there in a year or two!
And he was right. I was in a war that my friends back home were protesting. I remember being confused about what we were supposed to doing in Vietnam. I remember standing watch on the Asroc Deck one evening, looking out toward the Vietnam shoreline. The weather was warm and comfortable. The ship was about twenty miles from the mainland and the sun was moving fast behind the Vietnam landscape. After sunset, the hills of Vietnam become nothing but dark masses to the eye - almost lost in the darkness. The nights were generally silent, giving a false sense of peace, tranquility, and safety. The ship was too far from shore to hear the artillery fire and explosions taking place on the mainland, but the yellow flash of artillery fire and vast explosions repeatedly silhouetted the landscape. I could see the flames sprouting out from the rear of naval jets. It was like watching a great silent apocalypse. I was watching a war in remote silence. The silence was so serene that one
could almost forget that it was a war zone and that villages were being destroyed, that men, women, and children were being killed on the mainland.
In September of 1968 the Rich visited the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong (now officially part of Red China) for rest and relaxation. We were greeted by great Chinese cuisine, bargain shopping, tailor shops, rick-a-shaw rides, and friendly women.
The visit to Hong Kong was followed by ten days as a task unit on the gunline in the I Corp Tactical Zone in the northern sector of South Vietnam. From Sept 21, to October 1, 1968 the Rich provided naval gunfire support for the First Division, Army of Republic of South Vietnam, and the 26th Marines, Third Division. The nights were no longer silent. It was a relentless ten days of gunfire. I can still hear the relentless "Boom . Boom . Boom. The percussion of sound would hit your body so hard it would numb your chest. There was the constant spray of burning cork and the smell of gunpowder in your nostrils.
In October of 1968 the Rich was relieved of duty by the
Battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62). I regret that I did not get a closer look at
the New Jersey. The reputation of her 16" guns was legendary. I could see
her along the horizon on the starboard side (about five miles away) and could
hear her guns firing. That was as close as I got to her.
The Rich was reunited with Destroyer Division Twenty-One on return to the United States. The Rich arrived in Norfolk, VA on November 5, 1968. Brutal winter temperatures, high winds, freezing ice, and rough seas marked the return.
During the early part of 1969, the Rich participated in another Springboard Cruise in Gitmo.
After returning to Norfolk, the Rich was ordered to Atlantic operating areas where the She acted as a recovery ship for the US Apollo Ten Space Mission. A commemorative, certificate was issued to all crewmembers. The certificate read as follows:
TASK FORCE ONE FOUR ZERO, MANNED SPACECRAFT RECOVERY FORCE:
Be it known to all who sail the waters of the briny
qualifications in the fine mysterious arts
Apollo Ten's lunar orbital flight began on Sunday, May 18, 1969, after a flawless launch, the Rich made port of call on the Island of Bermuda.
On July 3, 1969, the Rich departed Norfolk, VA for a "Good Will" tour in the Middle East. Ports of call included: Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico (July 6, 1969), San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Porto Grande, Cape Verde, Islands.
On July 21, 1969 the Rich crossed the Equator at Latitude 00 00' and Longitude 00 00'. This gave me an opportunity to become a "Golden Shellback". So on this occasion, I got a chance to reap revenge from the time I had crossed the Equator on June 12, 1968. It was sweet payback time for the humiliation of my Pollywog days. Ha!
Other ports of call included: Luanda Angola, Africa; Lourenco Marques, Mozambique Africa, Port Louis, Mauritius; Madras, India; Chittagong, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) Columbo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka ) Karachi, West Pakistan; Bandar Abbas, Iran; Djibouti, Somalil D; Victoria Island; Seychelles (Oct. 8, 1969); Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf, near Saudi Arabia (Nov. 20 1969) and Recife, Brazil, South America.
On January 21, 1969, the Rich returned to Norfolk, VA from the Middle East.
On July 14, 1970 I received my Honorable Discharge from the
Navy and departed the Rich.
Postcard photo taken as we sailed from San Diego on our way to Long Beach Calif. We were supposed to go directly to Hawaii with the the rest of DESRON 2 (on our way to to VietNam) but we had a split seam below the waterline and attempts in San Diego to weld it underwater only made it worse. We went into dry dock in Long Beach not far from the Queen Mary. We were there for a week as I recall. Then steamed at 34 knots all the way to the Philipines. Caught up and passed the other three ships of Desron 2 in the San Bernadino Straights. The other three ships were the USS Blandy, USS Furse, (they thought they could out run us) and the USS Borie.
The Post Card
The Christmas Card signed and sent to parents and wives by CDR E.C.Whelan Christmas 1968
Oachel Asbury remembers...
My tour aboard the Rich was one of the best of a thirty year career.
When I left the Rich, I went to the 3rd Marine Division in Vietnam. serving at KheSahn, Quang Tri, And DongHa.
When the Rich was providing fire support for the 3d Marine Division, off the coast, I was able to "host" the DESRON 2 Medical Officer, Lt Newman, at Charlie Medical Company in Dong Ha.
Does anyone know the whereabouts of the Commanding Officer in 67/69. Commander E.C. Whelan or the Executive Officer, LCDR B.F. Gray, Jr. I would like to re-establish contact with either/both of them.
Needing a "chit" to grow a beard...
Rick Shenberger remembers...
A little history from my memory.
Went into the Philadelphia ship yard in 1974 to 1975. It was completely overhauled such as a asroc launcher added, boilers re-tubed bearthing and mess deck re-done and many other over-hauling of equiptment and compartments.
First thing out of dry-dock was a shake-down of the ship. Next thing was getting ammo from Bayonne, N.J.
We visted many ports through-out my enlistment, such as Nova Scoito ( invited to a Candian Navy ship it had a bar and beer machines on it, what a good time), Newport Rhode Island (which the town closed down at 6:00pm), Norfolk Va. many times(one for getting a rope cut off the propeller from pulling a sled), Mayport Florida ( for fire fighting training), and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba twice for damage control training.
While going to these ports many training exercises was done such as gun shoots, re-fueling, and tactical formations. Many of the training was done with Desron 30.
The best part or sad part was watching your shipmate throw his hat overboard at the Deleware Memorial Bridge on his last cruise with the Rich before getting out.