Navy Days

By the time school was out in the Summer of 1960 I was looking for something to add adventure to my life. I had been having difficulty concentrating on school for some time and it was evident in my grades. By then I'd been working part time at a local supermarket for three years and although that helped financially, it didn't do anything to help with school.

I had been trying out SCUBA diving, which back then was quite new as a sport. I'd watched a lot of the television program "Sea Hunt" which was centered around diving. That started me thinking about joining the Navy. When I mentioned the idea to my mother and got encouragement, it became a done deal.

I talked to the local recruiter and started filling out paperwork. I took a basic test and passed. But, before I was scheduled to report for boot camp I was in a car crash on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and ended up in a hospital for over a week. The U.S. Navy, ever cautious, insisted that I fully recover before they would allow me to be sworn in. So, instead of boot camp in July it was October before I actually went.

For me boot camp was in San Diego. The very first morning it was up at 4:30 AM and off to breakfast. After that there was nearly a full day of written testing. At all of 17 I was the youngest of the 80 new recruits in my company. Fortunately, or unfortunately, as a high school drop out I scored the highest in the company on the tests. As a result, when temporary boot camp company ranks were awarded the next morning I was put in charge of 79 other older and much tougher guys.

From boot camp it was on to the United States Naval Advanced Undersea Weapons School in Key West, Florida. This was to be only the first of several trips to this school learning the latest in high tech weaponry. It was while at school here that I bought my very first camera. Apparently I didn't develop a habit of using it much during my Navy years, if the paucity of pictures from those days is any indication. This collection is partly from black and white prints, a few color prints, and some color slides. The condition varied as the results here show.

From there I was sent to my first ship, the U.S.S. Moale, DD-693, a Sumner Class destroyer. On the Moale I cruised the East Coast of the United States making visits to New York City, Boston, Newport, Norfolk, Jacksonville and Key West. We also went to Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, and Cuba to name those I remember most. Along the way we hunted Russian submarines, participated in recovery operations for the Mercury astronauts, conducted surveillance off the coast of Cuba and were present at the confrontation marking the end of the 99 year lease on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay.

My next ship was the U.S.S. Grand Canyon, AD-28 a destroyer tender. The Grand Canyon was based in Newport, Rhode Island much of the time I spent o her, although we also spent some seven months deployed in the Mediterranean, mostly in Naples, Italy.

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Boot Camp - San Diego

The recruit officers of Company 544. I'm on the right end, third row back, with all the stripes. I learned a great deal about leadership from the experience, most of it the hard way.

Barracks Life

There were 80 of us trying to learn the Navy way. Some made it, and some didn't.

Sometimes It Seemed Like Fun

Other times it was just tough, especially for me as the youngest of them all. Earning respect was hard. Learning that rank meant power but not leadership ability was the most important lesson I came away with.

First Day Off

This was taken on the first, and I think only, day we were allowed to leave the base during boot camp. My mother and brothers came down to San Diego for the day.

Sailor and Brothers

I was glad to see family after 6 weeks of boot camp.

One The Way to a First Assignment

After boot camp it was off to Key West, Florida for what would turn out to be the first of many classes in advanced undersea weapons. Unlike my previous public school education, I managed to graduate first in every class I took in the Navy.

Advanced Undersea Weapons School

Here they taught everything from basic electronics to high tech rocket launched homing torpedos to atomic warheads. I signed up for everthing I could get. By the time I was 18 I knew how to prepare weapons that could sink almost anything afloat.

I Can't Remember Being This Young

But, I guess I was. This was taken during that first stay in Key West. The part of the Navy vase that housed the school also housed an anti-submarine helicopter squadron. Our barracks was next to the airfield.

The School Barracks

This was home sweet home during the various classes I took.

The Helicopters

Helos on the pad just opposite the barracks.


The base was also right on the water so flocks of sea gulls were common.

The Pad

Not much of a view.

The View

Looking out onto the water was a bit more interesting.

Fuel Station

Fuel station for the helos.

Skin Diving

In those days Key West was a quite small town without much to do. I resumed my interest in diving. It was the only time I also spearfished. The guy with me, I think his name was Maury, was a great swimmer and we went diving as often as possible.

Barracks Life

Forgotten names, but the guy on the right was also stationed on the Moale with me later. I think he was from Youngstown, OH.

Chilean Navy

These guys were from the Chilean Navy. They were training on older weapons systems the U.S. was giving to their country. Great guys!

Chilean Sailor

I wonder what ever happened to them?

Duval Street, Key West

Fuzzy picture from a faded slide but you can still tell that Duval Street only had about 3 traffic lights and hardly any traffic. There wasn't a whole lot to do in town that didn't happen in bars.

Key West House

This might have been a historical house but after more than 40 years I've forgotten. Nice though.

Key West Lighthouse

Again, I'm not sure which lighthouse this is, but it was in Key West.

Shrimp Fleet, Key West

Key West actually had a good sized working shrimp fleet back in those days. The shrimp docks were just down the road from the Navy base.

Shrimp Boats, Key West

They were a bit rough around the edges, but the were working boats.

Sport Fishing

The big tourist attraction in Key West in those days was sport fishing.

Sport Fishing Docks

The sport fishing fleet was mostly arrayed at docks on the road leading into the center of Key West. The boats all had racks to display the days catch in the hope of catching some new paying tourist for the next day's trip.


This private yacht was across from the sport fishing fleet.

Barracks Life

I can't for the life of me remember how I managed to bring my guitar along. I never did learn to play, but I did play with it often.

Girlfriend ?

Not exactly, but a former girlfriend that I stayed in touch with for a while.


I'm still diving, but haven't spearfished since these were taken about 1962.


In those days you couldn't buy a wetsuit in a store, you could only buy the materials and pattern for making one. This is my first one with a zipper.


A lot of things have changed since 1962. Notice the weightbelt. It's just a military web belt. So much for quick release! And, I haven't used, or even seen, the old twin hose regulators for many years.


Last one.

Interesting House

This thing is several miles out to sea and stands in about 40 feet of water as I recall. It's actually a house, reportedly belonging to Ernest Hemingway. We went lobster diving in the area regularly.

U.S.S. Moale, DD-693

The Moale was my first ship. I reported aboard at the shipyard in Charlston, CS while she was undergoing a complete updating with all the latest electronics, machinery and weapons.

Newport, Rhode Island

The Moale was assigned to Destroyer Squadron 6 based in Newport, Rhode Island. Newport was an interesting place. Look at those old cars !


Newport was my first experience of New England. Although a Navy town in many respects it had many charms. I liked the oldness of it.

The Breakers Mansion

Newport also has a history as the Summer hangout of the very, very rich. The Breakers was already turned into a museum.

The Breakers

There weren't many places like this in the San Fernando Valley when I was growing up there in the 1950's.

At The Helm

My primary duty on the Moale was taking care of the anti-submarine weapons systems. But aboard ship everyone has multiple duties. One of my other tasks was helmsman, i.e. driving the ship. I got pretty good at it.

Launch Tube

One of two 21 inch launch tubes for heavy weapons. I think these three and myself made up the weapons department.

Triple Launcher

Rotating triple tube launcher for smaller weapons systems. Don't let the size fool you. A single weapon can sink a submarine.

Triple Launcher

One of two triple launchers.

Launch !

Weapon caught a fraction of a second after leaving the upper tube. Twenty minutes later a direct hit!

New York

The Moale was part of the Atlantic anti submarine force. We patrolled from the North Atlantic down through the Carribean. Port calls were part of the duty and included places like New York, seen here in a light fog. This was way before the twin towers.

Hamilton, Bermuda

Hamilto was another interesting port call. Very British! Not very friendly to American sailors in those days. Too many got into trouble in the bars. Look at the old cars!

Hamilton, Bermuda

Cars had arrived in Hamilton by the early 1906's and from the power wires in the background, so had electricity. The Brits hand't quite connected using electricity to run traffic lights, so this chap still had a job.

Hamilton Again

My buddy and I went sightseeing instead of to the bars and thus stayed out of trouble. This time.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan was decidedly more friendly toward American sailors. The old town was great. No pictures seem to have survived. This one is the San Juan Hilton, I think. In the '70's it was the scene of a disastrous fire with much loss of life.

Ocho Rios, Jamiaca

One of my favorite port calls was Ocho Rios, Jamica. We had been conducting training with a U.S. submarine and both stopped at the then little port town of Ocho Rios for 5 days of R & R. We anchored in the bay.

U.S.S. Moale, Ocho Rios, Jamiaca

The Moale from the wharf. The little town was just beginning to see some development. Two new hotels were being built a couple of miles from town. Today I think the whole shoreline is lined with hotels.

Submarine, Ocho Rios

I don't remember which boat this was. I should look up the hull number.

Sunset, Ocho Rios

The end of a great day.

Duns River Falls, Ocho Rios

I think that was the name of these little waterfalls.

Fern Gully, Jamiaca

Very faded slide, as are most of these. This was the road out of Ocho Rios to Kingston.

Promotions on the Helicopter Deck

About twice a year, after passing tests and getting reccommendations, promotions were passed out. That's the captain and executive officer doing the passing.


I've long forgotten this guy's name, but I remember him as one of the good ones.


The promotion group. Not bad for a crew of 300 or so. I think I might have gotten promoted this time too, but that;s another thing that's just a fading memory.

U.S.S. Sumner, DD-692

The Sumner was our sistership. She was the first of a class, we were the second. I think this was taken in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba a few days before the 99 year lease on the base expired and Castro dynamited the water supply pipe to the base.

Moale & Sumner, Cuba

When the lease expired Castro announced that he would take over the Guantanamo base. President Kennedy decided otherwise and ordered Moale and Sumner to sea in preparation for battle. Then he ordered in some support!

Guantanamo, Cuba

Before the alert Gitmo, as it was called, was a pretty quite place.


When the order came from the White House Moale and Sumner were the only warships present at Gitmo. When the water pipe was dynamited our evaporators were about the only source of fresh water for the entire base.

U.S.S. Northhampton, CLC-1

It wasn't long before reinforcements began to arrive including the Northhampton, essentially a floating warroom.

Quiet Before the Storm

The peace and tranquility didn't last long. Within days the elements of the fleet began to arrive.

U.S.S. Entreprise, CVN-65

Centerpiece of the defense of U.S. interest at Guantanamo was the Enterprise, the world's first atomic powered warship and at the time the most powerful ship in the world.

Enterprise, Guantanamo

To emphasize U.S. intent to remain at Guantanamo the Enterprise just dropped anchor in the bay. Nobody messes with an 800 pound gorilla!

Crew's Mess, U.S.S. Moale

Meanwhile, life went on aboard the Moale, including meals. This was the crew's mess.

Crew's Mess

Now I wish these had been in color.

Refuling at Sea

Much of the time during the Guantanamo crisis Moale and Sumner spent at sea guarding the port entrance and approach. Every few days we refuled at sea, a tricky and sometime dangerous bit of nautical ballet. The ship in the center is a tanker.

Moving Into Position

Moale and Sumner move into position to make a highline tranfer of personnel and movies at sea. This requires exact matching of course and speed.

Highlining at Sea

Once alongside a light line is thrown from one ship to another. That line is used to pull across a heavier line, and the heavier to pull an even heaver one. Once secure on both ends transfer begins by pulling across a chair like device.

Highlining at Sea

Transfers include mail, movies, and other things. Refuling from the tanker is similar except that the heavy line is used to support a very big fuel line. Note the lifeboat swung out ready to launch, just in case.


One of these is me going across, but I'm not sure which anymore.

Almost to Safety

It's a very good feeling to be back on deck after this experience.

U.S.S. Grand CAnyon, AD-28

After a couple of years on the Moale I was reassigned to the weapons department of the Grand Canyon. The GC was a destroyer tender, or support ship. Our weapons department supplied ready to fire weapons to the destroyer fleet.

Short Timer Book

Four years is a looong time when it's measured from age 17 to 21. Toward the end I was counting days. Lot's of guys, including me, kept a "Short Timer Book" which was little more than a homemade calendar. The cover of mine was well worn.

Counting Months and Weeks

Crossing them off one by one.

Counting Everything

Crossing everything off.

The Last Days

Counting this one down was great. But, it had to be revised to this almost at the last minute. I was actually scheduled for discharge on July 10. The ship was in Mayport, FL and was scheduled to depart for Newport, RI on June 26.

Special Request Chit

I made a special request for discharge a few days early to avoid having to go back to Newport with the ship then take a bus back to Mayport where I'd left my car. I'd taken a weeks leave when the ship made the trip south and drove down.

Certificate of Service

I got this and a reserve ID card and I was out.

Dates of Service

June 25, 1964 was definitely a good day !

Honorable Discharge

Two years later, after fulfilling the entire 6 year term of my service obligation I got this in the mail. Finally over and done with.