VIGNETTES: This page, and additional vignette pages, will
contain stories I remember, stories I have been told and stories that I found on the internet.
STEVE ELLIS AND
THE BRIG: Remember that brig in the forward part of the ship in the troop area? I would doubt that there had ever been anyone
confined there at any time, much less a Military Department member. BUT: We did it during my twelve months on board. Steve
Ellis, an electrician, had done or said something to make somebody angry. He probably told "Uncle Louie", our Administrative
Officer (or whatever he was called) to go "administer" somebody else! Or maybe he told Chief Maxwell to "get off his case".
That would have been Steve. I can't imagine Steve getting into any spat with anyone other than one of these two. He was charged
with something or other, probably "insubordination", that being a pretty good catch-all charge. We had some sort of disciplinary
proceeding, probably a Captain's Mast, I can't recall. Anyway, Steve got two or three days brig time. Well we, the Military
Department, assumed the role of his jailers. We never left him alone, we "escorted" him anywhere and everywhere he wanted
or needed to go (he still ate with us in our dining room), we played cards, etc., and we all laughed about it and made jokes
about it, including Steve. In a day or two or three, his "time" was up and we released him. Nothing ever made it into his
service record and I don't know whether he stayed in beyond his enlistment or not. I would think not. So, now you know. The
brig did hold some very dangerous criminals in its time. Steve: I hope you were not so traumatized by your Barrett "incarceration"
that you were unable to live happily ever after. Knowing you, I'm sure that you were not.
CHIEF MAXWELL AND THE
BRIG: Maxwell and I never got along very well. He thought that I didn't show him the proper respect and he was right about
that. As I recall he wasn't terribly well liked by many of the enlisted crew. He really didn't want to be one of us even though
he was a chief. He was aspiring to something better like Chief Warrant Officer. He and I had quite a few run-ins. Anyway,
as luck and fate would have it, he missed the ship one time in Manila. It was a big deal for anybody to miss the ship as
you might imagine. Quite likely no MilDep crewmember has ever missed the ship either before or after this incident. Right
up to the time they pulled up the gangplank we expected him to show up but the minute those lines were let go and we shoved
off, everyone in the MilDep knew the chief was missing. I don't know what happened but probably the same story as any other
sailor who missed the ship. He probably got tanked somewhere and didn't wake up until it was too late. I'll bet that would
be a sobering experience for anybody. He turned himself in to the Navy there in Manila and rejoined the ship in Guam. This
had happened after the Steve Ellis incident so we were all wondering how the brass would handle this. And the Maxwell incident
was so well known that they couldn't completely ignore it although I'm sure they would have liked to. I think they thought
that in light of what had happened to Ellis, that if they did nothing in the Maxwell incident, word of the disparity might
trickle up to MSTS at Fort Mason and that I might be the "trickler". I was the senior yeoman on board so I had some idea of
what was going on, everybody knew that I had been to Naval Justice School and had some experience with Masts and Courtsmartial,
that I aspired to become a lawyer someday, that I was working on a law correspondence course from LaSalle Extension University,
that I was already the "sea lawyer" for any of the crew that had any problems, and that I did have some friends at ComWesSeaFrontier.
Anyway we had some sort of disciplinary proceeding, a Captain's Mast, I think, and Maxwell was "restricted" to the ship until
we got to Hawaii or San Francisco, I can't remember which. Big deal! Nobody was going anywhere anyway while we were at sea.
But no brig time for the chief. I dutifully recorded all this in his service record on a separate DD form something or other
so that it could be easily removed without any trace since I knew it would be. But I did keep a personal copy for myself!
I still have it in my Navy papers. Sure enough, within a week or so the brass wanted to see some service records of several
individuals including Maxwell. When Maxwell's came back, the documentation was gone. But Maxwell was quite subdued and quiet
after that. He left the ship at the end of that trip or the next, I can't remember which. I'm sure this was all arranged with
the MSTS people at Fort Mason. I never got to know any of the MSTS people at Fort Mason so I don't know for sure what was
"arranged". My time with MSTS was to be so short that I just didn't bother to get to know anyone there. All of my contacts
and "influence" were with ComWesSeaFrontier in Treasure Island and that's how I had wrangled this supposedly rather choice
assignment to the Barrett. Maxwell's stature and "dignity" were much impaired after this incident. You can do a lot of
things in the Navy that you aren't supposed to do and, eventually, those incidents will be relegated to the "sea of forgetfullness"
but not so for missing the ship. Nobody ever forgets someone missing the ship as witness this recollection some fifty years
later. And I would bet that if you asked any of the old MilDep crew today about the incident that they would recall it vividly.
when we got Chief Fredericks. We all called him Chief Freddy, of course. Freddy was universally liked by the crew. Freddy
was like Popeye in the sense that he seemed to say "I am what I am and I am Chief Freddy". He was the kind of guy who did
not demand respect but whose personality and demeanor were such that it was bestowed upon him. It was amazing how quickly
you could establish a network of influential friends in key places if you, youself, were situated in an administrative or
legal position where you could trade favors and if you went out of your way a bit to get to know these other people. That's
the big reason I was able to go to two Navy schools in the relatively short time that I was in the service. I'm sure Maxwell
put in many more years in the Navy. I hope that he got to be a CWO and lived happily everafter.
AND THE DESTROYER: One dark and stormy night (we seemed to have few stormy times) the Barrett was contacted to rendezvous
with a destroyer (or destroyer escort) in order to transfer a crewman who had appendicitis for surgery. I can't remember where
this happened or whether we were inbound or outbound from San Francisco. We had a fairly well equipped (if not fully equipped)
surgical operating room and our ship's doctor, Doc Sigal, was a qualified surgeon. The corpsmen let us know what was happening
and you could just sort of "sense" when things were happening aboard. The corpsmen were busily preparing for the surgery.
We in the Military Department had nothing to do with operating the ship or with seamanship. That was done by the civilian
or maritime crew. We all found vantage points from the various decks where we would be out of the way but where we could
get a good view of what was happening. The rendezvous came off just fine. It was exciting to see the DD's lights come into
view on the horizon and close with us. The DD or DE crew seemed to be good at what they were doing and did get a line over
to us. It was rough that night. Those guys on the DD were really getting knocked around. The ship was bucking and pitching
and the waves were crashing into the crew. They had lighted lifejackets on and were safety-roped to their ship. We never
did try to transfer the ill seaman. The bosun's chair we tried to run across several times just to test it but it would dip
into the water and then pop up again as the ships rolled. I think that several times the rope broke because of the rolling
and pitching of the ships and the DD had to shoot over another line. The Barrett was quite large but even she was rolling
and pitching. The DD was really getting clobbered. Eventually the CO of the DD decided that the seaman would be much safer
if they kept him on board and made for the nearest port so we broke off contact. I don't know if our crews seamanship had
anything to do with his decision or whether it was just the weather and the terrible instability of their relatively "little"
craft. I don't know the name of the destroyer or what became of the ill seaman. I hope that everything turned out well for
him. We were all impressed with seeing the "real Navy" at work under really horrible circumstances but we were all grateful
that when this was over we could go back to the safety, warmth and comfort or our bunks. Maybe somebody from that destroyer
from long ago can finish the story.
(7 APR 07): Since I wrote this (which was a long time ago) I have heard from people
concerning the ship being in or near typhoons or just rolling and pitching a lot. (See the LOG page). But for the year that
I was on board this was the only night of bad weather that I recall and we all rather enjoyed it as a break from the usually
placid seas. I never seemed to notice that the ship rolled a lot. It always seemed quite smooth and steady to me.
GLEN YUPONCE AND THE DATELINE: I was somewhat stunned to find another Golden Dragon Certificate on line when I found Glen
had posted his. (See my certificate on the photos pages). He and I crossed at the same time and it must have been a first
for both of us. See http://www.whoa.org/70/yuponce/. This is now on the links page entitled "Golden Dragon". It looks like
Glen was a 1970 graduate of a high school over there which would have made him about three years old at the time of the crossing
so, chances are, he won't recognize any of us. To the right of his certificate appears "International Dateline Certificate"
in either blue or red. Click on it to enlarge it. I believe I read somewhere that those high schools are long gone, either
the victim of the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo or the relinquishment of and withdrawal from Clark Field.
THE SEABAT AND THE MARINES. Remember, there are ten links on the upper left of the page and up to ten more at the bottom of