QUALIFIED 05 OCT 62. MADE CS3 (SS) ON 16 NOV 62 AND GOT MARRIED 01 DEC 62. MY DAUGHTER, WAS BORN IN NORWICH, CONN IN SEP 63 AND HAD HER FIRST VISIT ABOARD WHEN I COOKED ON CHRISTMAS DAY, 1963.
IN OCTOBER 1961, WE LEFT THE PIER JUST AS A HURRICANE WAS COMING UP THE EAST COAST. WE WERE HEADED FOR SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO. CAPTAIN WALT KRAUS KEPT US ON THE SURFACE UNTIL WE GOT TO THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE; THEN WE SUBMERGED. IT WAS MY FIRST CRUISE AND I WAS SO SICK I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE. JILLSON QM1(SS) AND HENRI BAXTER WERE PROBABLY THE ONLY ONES NOT SICK. I WAS IN THE SEAMAN GANG AT THAT TIME AND STOOD AT THE HELM WITH MY BUCKET AROUND MY NECK, JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHER HELMSMAN.
WE WERE OPERATING WITH THE USS THRESHER (SSN 593) WHEN THE INCIDENT OCCURRED WHILE IN PORT AT SAN JUAN. I WENT ABOARD THE THRESHER TO BUM TWO CANS OF BLUEBERRIES FOR BLOSHINSKI’S PIES. I WAS ESCORTED TO THE GALLEY AND CREWS MESS BY AN ARMED GUARD. THE REACTOR INCIDENT OCCURRED THE NEXT DAY. I REMEMBER 4 SAILORS ON COTS ON THE DOCK RECOUPING FROM HEAT EXHAUSTION. THERE WERE CORPSMAN ASSISTING AND LARGE CABLES FROM CAVALLA CONNECTED TO THRESHER. NOBODY WAS SERIOUSLY HURT.
WE HAD 4 LIBERTY DAYS IN SAN JUAN. WE THEN OPERATED WITH THE MARINE RECON GROUP AND HAD 3 DAYS LIBERTY IN ST. THOMAS, VIRGIN ISLANDS. PARTIED AT THE NCO CLUB AT THE MARINE BASE AND IN CHARLOTTE AMALE.
THERE WAS A BEAUTIFUL 3 MASTED SCHOONER CALLED THE ‘BLACKWITCH’ MOORED IN THE BAY AT CHARLOTTE AMALE. IT’S OWNER HAD A DINNER PARTY OF 14 PERSONS ABOARD BUT HIS COOK WAS SICK. HE DISCOVERED JOE TRAIL WHO NEGOTIATED WITH THE OWNER TO BRING ABOARD SOME OF HIS NAVY BUDDIES FOR DINNER AND DRINKS AND COOKED THE MEAL FOR ALL THE GUESTS. TO PARAPHRASE - THIS WAS ‘JOES FINEST HOUR’!
HOWEVER, I’LL NEVER FORGET MY FIRST SUBMARINE CHRISTMAS PARTY IN 1961. JOE TRAIL BROUGHT A LADY WITH WHOM HE DRANK AT THE DOLPHIN BAR IN NEW LONDON AND JOE OBVIOUSLY DRUNK DECIDED TO DISPLAY HIS TWIN SCREWS TATTOOED ON HIS BUTT TO CAPTAIN KRAUS’ WIFE AT THE OFFICER’S TABLE. HIS DATE GOT UP AND LEFT BEFORE HE GOT BACK TO THEIR TABLE. AGAIN, I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE EITHER FROM EMBARRASSMENT OR LAUGHTER AT THE SAME TIME. JOE TRANSFERRED FROM THE CAVALLA A SHORT TIME LATER.
MY TRIP TO SUB SCHOOL
My orders were to report aboard the Sub Base to the OOD by 12:00 Midnight on Friday, June 2, 1961. I flew from Detroit to New London Airport via Philadelphia. When I boarded the ALLEGHENY DC3 tail dragger in Philly, I sat across the isle from a gentleman dressed in a civilian suit working on some papers. I said, ""hello sir"" and stated that I was heading for Sub School. After we landed in New London and we disembarked the plane, the gentleman was saluted by a 2nd Class Petty Officer whom the gentleman apparently knew. The man stated that his wife was there and turned towards me and said to the Petty Officer, ""Take this sailor wherever he needs to go"" and the Petty Officer saluted and said ""AYE AYE, Captain"". After I got into the car I asked the Petty Officer who this Captain was. The Petty Officer stated that he was Captain Beach of the Nuclear Sub USS TRITON. Fresh out of BOOT, so how would I know who this guy was!
USS THRESHER SSN593 LAST EXERCISE WITH USS CAVALLA SSK-244
PRIOR TO REFIT AT PORTSMOUTH, NH
I’m not sure of the exact date. The exercise took place a short time before the USS THRESHER went to the Portsmouth Yards for refit in 1962. COMSUBDEVGRPII selected the Cavalla as the Sub to demonstrate Night Recovery Procedures for Torpedoes, specifically the MK 37, for the CNO and 2 or 3 other Admirals who were aboard the THRESHER to observe these procedures. CAVALLA was selected because we had the BEST record for Recovery TIME on the River. Our experience and repeated exercises proved our skills as part of our training. This event took place at NIGHT which was the first time we retrieved at night, at least when I was aboard. I was a cook aboard Cavalla, but I liked to volunteer my assistance with the Torpedo Gang in the Forward Room during Recovery or down below in the room wherever they could use me.
""Willy"" Williamson TM1SS and Lou Fannelli TM2SS allowed me to hold and direct a lantern into the water. RON WOLF QM3SS would jump into the water to hook up the Boom Line to the Torpedo so that with the capstan and the Torpedo men, they would lift the Torpedo from the water and lower it into the Forward Torpedo Room for storage. The ocean swells were so high that sometimes the THRESHER would be visible and then would disappear over the horizon. At night, with a full moon, this was an awesome sight. RON WOLF transferred to the THRESHER while it was in the Yards at Portsmouth and was one of the sailors who were lost.
MY FRIEND, RUFUS WEAVER SMC SS
This is a man I will never forget. He was always upbeat aboard Cavalla and a friend to everyone both officer’s and enlisted. He often spent time in the Mess Area telling stories especially to the young ones and kept everyone in stitches.
If it were not for the Chief, I would have only had 3 days leave for my wedding on Dec 1, 1962. Bloshinski CS1SS and I were working port and starboard duty at that time. Unfortunately, Bloshinski had leave time scheduled at the same time and had just made CS3SS. Rufidoo, as we affectionately referred to the Chief, heard of my plight and offered to take 3 of my duty days so that
I would have 6 days of leave rather than 3. The Chief was a former cook who had changed to be a Stewards Mate and the XO, Lt Cmdr Stine, gave his approval. What more can I say.
Actually, there is! During the morning muster, on the morning Rufus Weaver left the Cavalla to report to the USS THRESHER SSN593, the Chief was presented with an Award for his contribution towards the MORALE of the Cavalla’s crew by Captain Williams and Mr. Stine the XO, who was the Official Morale Officer for the Cavalla. We all saluted and Rufus walked off the brow. Fortunately, something delayed the Chief from reporting aboard the THRESHER prior to its departure for sea trials after refit at Portsmouth Shipyards.
Perhaps, this was ‘God’s Way’ of Thanking Him.
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