1951- 1954

I grew up in Baltimore, MD. and I joined the US Navy in Feb.1951 at the age of 17. I attended Boot Camp at Bainbridge, Maryland which is about 40 miles East of Baltimore City, Md. and was assigned to Company # 27. I requested Cooks and Bakers school. But after boot camp the Navy sent me to Norfolk, Va. assigned to Battalion one for Cargo Handling training. We also took special training in ammo handling and ABC warfare school, Cargo Handling school, small boats, LCVP’s, LCM’s at Little Creek, Va. for loading and unloading heavy equipment, trucks, troops, rigging, winch handling operations, making landing at the beach with UDT personnel, and troops and drilling with our Marines detachment using M-1‘s.
After about 3 months of special training our group was shipped off by troop train to Orange, Texas. Once there we were assigned to one of 3 ammunition ships, USS Vesuvius AE-15, USS Wrangell AE-14 USS Firedrake AE-14 or USS New Kent APA-21 7. I was assigned to the AE-15, 2nd. Div. Deck Force. After placing the 4 ships in commission, The “V” Captain, Rex Caldwell, from Annapolis, Md. took command of the ship on November 15, 1951. At which time the “V’ was moved to Beaumont, Texas ship yard for minor repairs and removal of some 20 MM gun tubs on the main deck, While cutting off a gun tub, starboard side fwd, sparks went into a stuffing wire tube and a fire broke out on the 2nd deck. The damage was confined to mooring lines, cargo nets, electrical wires, and replacement of both sides of our main deck at #2 hatch..
Soon after sea trails we were on our war to San Diego, CA. by way of the Panama Canal, our duty was to escort 2 LCI’s . One broke down on the East Coast side and the other made it with us to Rodman Naval Base on the West Coast side. After 18 days, we all got under way for San Diego. On our way we preformed basic under way training, firing our guns, General Quarters, Damage Control Drills, etc. After that we went on to Port Chicago, CA. to load ammo. We departed on April 1 1952 for Sasebo, Japan. We arrived April 19, 1952. Sasebo would be our HOME PORT.
We departed Sasebo May 19, 1952 for the Air Base at Ulsan, South Korea to off load bombs, rockets, napalm, incendiary bombs. Our first ship to rearm was the USS Evansville PF- 70 off Pusan on June 4, 1952. On our second trip to Ulsan Air Base, we off loaded an estimated load weight of over 180 TONS of bombs and rockets and incendiary etc. On Sunday June 29, 52 we were going to play soft ball with the guys at the base but then all HELL BROKE LOOSE, about noon, the place BLEW UP sending box cars and what ever flying into the air. There were about 4 or 5 explosions. It looked like an “A-BOMB” went off. The only thing that saved our ship was a small hill between us and the docks. You could see the shock wave coming over the top of the hill. We manned our guns and hauled in the anchor chain. We hoisted our boats while underway. After all of that we ended up with about 58 Koreans, under heavy guard who we took to Po Hang where we turned them over to the Army. Because we were not scheduled to be in that area, we steamed all night with all our cargo lights on.
From then on until 12/1/52 we sailed back and forth from Sasebo to as far North as Songjin, Chongjin North Korea; on the East Coast and Inchon on the West Coast South Korea. Sailing in “TYHOONS” Snow storms very cold and wet weather.
There were many events that had taken place, which I hope to go into at a later date, and provide a more detailed operational of events, this is only an overview for now. After making 2 more rearming trips to Sasebo and Korea I departed the “V” in August of 1954 from off the coast of Po Hang. I departed the “V” from Sasebo, then on to Yokosuka, Atsugi, Midway, Pearl Harbor, Moffitt Field, and CA. and to Treasure Island for discharge and then on to Baltimore,
Finding a job was hard because there were not too many jobs at that time. I worked for a Big Department store until they closed and then for A&P Bakery for 3 months. I also worked as a 2nd class carpenter building pre-fab homes until the work was completed. October 25 1954 I went to work for a Large State Hospital where I stayed for 25 years. I worked my way up to a Maintenance Supervisor IV and after that I transferred to the Department of General Services as a Construction Inspector over seeing the work on a New District Court Multi-Service Centers. I was assigned to this project as Building Manager to manage the District Court for 18 years. I retired at the age of 62 with about 36 years of State Service.

July 1957 1 joined the Naval Reserves and was assigned to surface units and USS Roberts DE-749. In 1961 I was recalled back to active duty for 10 months as our ship went to CUBA for the blockade. I sailed on the following ships: USS Liddle APD-60, USS Newman K Perry DD-883, USS Hyman DD 732, USS Wright CC-2, USS Waldon DD 699, Tug Boat at Charleston, SC.I also was assigned to New Port RI Naval Base in SIMA as a shop supervisor. I served on the USS Steinaker DD-863- AMSU Little Creek, Va. - SIMA 606 Repair Unit in Portsmouth, Va. While there I was TAD to a Tug Boat to take the USS WRANGELL AE-12 up the JAMES RIVER. To lay- up. To me it was a fitting honor to make the trip. I retired as a BMC.
On November 15, 1956 I married Shirley Ann Davis, who was a RN. We have one daughter and 2 grand children. I enjoy hunting with a group of Navy buddies and army buddies. I also enjoy going to my cabin in West. Va.
When time permits I hope to add a more detailed description of the operations of the USS Vesuvius AE 15.                             

DECEMBER, 2003                                                                                                              












1951 TO 1954

   I joined the Navy at age 17 on April 27,1951 and was sent to Boot Camp in Bainbridge Maryland. I volunteered for Submarine duty and passed the physical and was placed on the waiting list. I had high hopes of learning diesel engine mechanics. However, the Navy had different plans for most of us who were on Sub list. We were sent to Norfolk for a one month long cargo handling and small boat training course at Little Creek.

  From there we were sent by train to Orange Texas to put Ammunition ships into commission. I was assigned to the deck force and eventually to the first division on the USS Vesuvius. During this time the ship was moved to Beaumont Texas to complete repairs. The ship was re-commissioned November 15,1951.

  Soon after, we got underway and went through the Gulf to the Atlantic. We stopped at Panama City for a few days as we passed through the Canal heading for San Diego. At Diego we were granted leave. My buddy Sherman and I only had ten days coming to us so we decided to catch a military plane hop home to Baltimore. However, we caught one to Phoenix A Z. and had to hitch hike from there. It took us three days traveling night and day, to reach home. We flew back. From here my memory gets kind of fuzzy but I think we went to San Francisco and then to Port Chicago and loaded up and headed for Sasebo Japan our homeport.

  We spent the next year re-arming the fleet operating off the coast of Korea until the war's end July 27,1953. During that time, we would spend 30 days on line re-arming ships both American and British and then return to Sasebo to load up. We would return home once a year around  Christmas for leave. When on line we traveled with a tanker, a supply ship and a couple of escorts. We usually worked by day and a lot of times well into the night. Along with regular watches, we stood gun watches at night. When anchored off shore we would stand watches on deck 20 feet apart, armed with M 1 riffles looking for enemy swimmers.

  During our first re-arming of a Destroyer, we almost lost my buddy Sheff over the side. From what I was told, as I was on watch at the time, when the Tin Can came alongside, they laid planking between the two ships just forward of our superstructure. Then, while both ships were underway, they instructed our guys, to carry one 5-inch projectile a piece over the planking to the other ship! From what I understand, Shef being first in line stepped onto the plank and as he did, the plank went one way and him the other. Luckily he was able to catch hold of the side of the ship with one hand and hold onto the projectile with the other. As he hung there, over the side of the ship, the boatswain (Chief Warrant Officer) while wringing his hands yelled to him to hold onto the projectile. Sheff yelled back ***!! the projectile and at the same time dropped it into the water. He climbed back aboard and nothing more was said.

However, the next day they had fashioned a wood chute that we used to slide the projectiles from our ship down to the decks of the receiving ships. During this operation the ships were tied to us and we would maintain enough speed while re-arming to keep rudder control. We used this method when we only had 5 inch to deliver. Otherwise we high lined everything else such as two thousand pound bombs, napalm, black powder etc. Everything was hand loaded up to the hook.

  During the time I was over there, we encountered a typhoon, at the height of which, a fire alarm went off in number two hold causing the Missouri and the rest of the fleet to abandon us, leaving a DE to pick up survivors. Shortly there after, that same night the shoring in number three hold gave way letting thousand pound bombs loose to roll & to pound against the side of the ship.
  One Sunday morning, after unloading our entire cargo at an ammunition dump somewhere in South Korea, the dump blew up. Luckily for us we had a hill between it and us. Another time, three Migs decided to buzz us while we were re-arming a heavy Cruiser, causing us to cut all lines and sending us to GQ. One night somewhere off the Korean coast we narrowly missed hitting a floating mine. We spotted it from the 3-inch gun tub and yelled to the watch who was manning the phones on the bow. Instead of notifying the bridge he took off running and darn near choked himself when the phone lines stopped paying out!

 We were out there when the truce ended the conflict. The shelling stopped at midnight. It was like somebody turning off the light switch. After that we headed for home by way of the Philippines, stopping at Subic Bay & some other islands. We left there and went onto Hawaii stopping long enough for port and starboard liberty and then onto the states. On April 27,1954,I was discharged at Treasure Island Ca.

These are only the highlights of our adventures on the Vesuvius. Some day I hope to elaborate on all of them.

 After leaving the Navy at age 21, I attended college for one semester and then dropped out to pursue my ambition to become a mechanic. After taking a two-year apprenticeship course at a trucking company in Baltimore, I finally became a full-fledged mechanic. For twenty-two years I worked on everything from trucks & cars to construction & industrial equipment. Then I went to work with the State of Maryland as a Safety Inspector under the state O. S. H. A. Plan.

 After two years of general inspections, due to my mechanical background, I was assigned to inspecting cranes and other lifting equipment. My cargo handling experience, which I gained in the Navy, helped me tremendously in this field. Eventually I became the Lifting Device and Fall Protection Safety Specialist for the State of Maryland. I retired at age 62.

 During this time in 1957 I married a girl from my hometown of Baltimore named Jean and we had three kids, two boys & a girl. We bought a home in Baltimore County where we raised the kids. Jean took a job after the last kid was in school. She was a Water Safety Instructor who eventually became a Director of Aquatic's & Physical Education of a large recreation center. She retired after 25 years. All three of our kids attended college, graduated and married. They have given us to date, nine grand children.

  Both Jean & I, as youngsters, liked camping so we started family camping about two years after we got married. For the first 10 years in tents, then a pop up tent trailer. We also got involved in scouting when the kids reached that age which got us into back packing, canoeing and rafting. Together after the kids were married, Jean & I drove out and back to the Grand Canyon, sleeping in a two man tent all of the way. She out did me though, when her and our 68-year old lady neighbor did the same; only they went to Oregon and back!

  When we retired, we sold the house and bought a small mobile home on the beach in South Carolina. Fishing, beach bumming, volunteer work, neighbor gatherings, kid visits and visiting them keep’s us on the run. At the time of this writing Jean and I have been happily married for 46 years!

DECEMBER 3, 2002









1951 - 1954




My interview was with my grandfather, Erich Henkel, born January 16, 1931 in Hammond, Indiana. He now lives here in Battle Creek, and he was willing to discuss his military experience and what it means to be a veteran.


"I served in the Korean War, and I enlisted in April...23, 1951, and I was discharged about April the 5th of I955 ... I was in the U. S. Navy and I took my boot camp, which is what the Navy calls basic training, at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, which is just north of, Chicago.

When I finished there, I went to Interior Communications Electricians School at Great Lakes, and that was I think a fourteen week long school. When I left the school at Great Lakes, I was assigned to the U.S.S. Vesuvius A.E. 15.

The A.E. designates an auxiliary explosives ship, and the 15 means it was number 15 in the Navy. That vessel was at Orange, Texas in moth balls. And so I was on the crew that put it back into commission. After we got it all stripped off ... we were towed to a civilian ship yard ... in Beaumont, Texas, where we spent a couple of months and we, and the shipyard workers refitted the ship and made it ready for sea ...
When the ship was ready for sea and we left Beaumont, Texas, through the Caribbean Sea  -  through the Panama Canal to Panama . We spent about three weeks there because there was some rough weather going down to it and although our ship wasn't hurt, there were a couple other naval ships that were in pretty bad shape.So they made temporary repairs to those ships - the navy ship setters at the naval base in Panama on the Pacific side - and then we escorted those ships up to San Francisco. And escorted means we just went with them so if they really got in a problem, we could take the crew off, or the crew could swim over to us, or whatever.

From San Diego, we went to San Francisco and down the Sacramento River to a place called Port Chicago, which at that time was the naval ammunition depot on the West Coast of the United States. There we loaded cargo -loaded 10,000 tons ammunition ... that's lots, and if you touched it off it'd blow up Battle Creek.

Anyway, we crossed the Pacific to Sasebo, Japan, which became our home port, from where we took the ammunition up to what we called the line. It was off the Korean coast ... and we would deliver, or give
ammunition, during the day. We would give it to destroyers and cruisers, who would spend the night shelling the Korean coast. In other words, they would burn up our ammunition, and they'd come back the next morning at dawn for more. But at the same time, all night we worked. We'd be sailing down the ocean and a carrier would come along side of us. And we'd send bombs over to them all night because their planes then would be ready to fly at dawn, and use up all their bombs and the next night they'd be right back to us. So we worked in the day time with cruisers and destroyers. Heck, we used to carry a lot of British ammunition, because we always had British and Australian, and let's see, New Zealand and Canadian destroyers along with us. Their guns were a little different size then the U.S. So I did that for a couple of years ... until the war was over. I was very, very lucky. At any rate, I got transferred.

My last year in the Navy I was transferred from the Vesuvius to a vessel called the U.S.S. Allstead, which was A.F. 48. And the "F" means it was a refrigeration ship. It was a ship the same size as the Vesuvius, only it carried about 10,000 tons of fruit and vegetables, and meat. You can't imagine the size of it. When I got on that ship the first day - I was transferred to it in Sasebo - we left for Norfolk, Virginia via Pearl Harbor and then through the Panama Canal again, and up to Norfolk. I was very lucky. We went on a Mediterranean cruise. I got out of the Pacific fleet, and into the Atlantic fleet, and I spent about 6 months in the Mediterranean ( it was the sixth U. S. fleet ) and visited Valencia, Spain, and Naples, and Greece."


The last part was , yes, very easy duty. The first part was work all day, work all night."
"Pretty vigorous." "Yea, you just sleep whenever you could ... In fact it's interesting. Down in the holes of
the Vesuvius, you'd go to sleep on two thousand pound bombs."


"Well no, it wasn't at all.. . because you'd just get used to it. You don't think about it."


"That's a hard question for me to answer. I don't think I'd trade my time in the navy but I haven't dwelled on it in my life. I don't belong to any of the veterans' organizations, except an organization called the Korean War Veterans Association. But I don't go to any meeting, and I don't wear their garb or uniform."


"I was patriotic to begin with, and I was patriotic when I finished .. .I don't think it affected me - didn't make me cynical, didn't make me dislike the United States or anything like that. I lived in a different time. That question could be asked to someone who was in the Vietnam War, where people have a different attitude toward their country.

The attitude of the Korean veterans is close to World War 2 veterans. We did things ... I don't know if patriotism is the word. It was a thing you had to do for your country and for other people and you just went and did it. Most people said," Oh hell, maybe I don't want to do this, but
it's my duty. So I do it." That's all."


" [Chuckling] ... I don't know, there are a couple of them."


(8) "OK,ONE OF THEM ?"

 I was communications electrician on the ship, so I was kind of down in the bowels of the ship. And I had my own little world that I worked in, and my own little room, and the ships gyro compass was there, all the phone systems, and all the communications systems, and I took care of them. And when we had any drills, and when anything was happening, that's where I had to be. And I wore telephones.

There was going to be an invasion. I was standing watch. We were at general quarters all night, which means you were at watch. Well I was down in my private room and I used to go to sleep with the phones on ... and so I was sound asleep. But if someone wanted to call me they'd ring me up, and then I'd talk to them.

One time there was no ringing and all of a sudden there was a screaming in my phone. And it was, 'He's gonna hit us! He's gonna hit us! He's gonna hit us!' ... and then the phone went dead. And then there was somebody, an officer on the bridge saying, 'Who is that? Who is saying that?' It was one of the lookouts posted all around the ship. It was the stem lookout and some ship got out of formation, and it was aiming right towards us. And these big ships don't stop so easy, and they don't turn so easy. And so I woke up from a dead sleep to hear them screaming. And then the collision alarm sounded. If you're on an ammunition ship, you don't want to be involved in a collision. And so that is the one memory I would not like to continue just because it woke me from a dead sleep with somebody screaming that in my ear.

 I heard later the guy who was on lookout, who screamed the warning, had thrown the phone off - that's why you couldn't reach him - and ran down to the other end of the ship. He tried to run away from the collision [laughing]. And so he was kind of a ship's joke for a couple of weeks.

See, everybody (in general) said, 'Where were you gonna go, sailor? You'd have to go about twenty miles to get away from the explosion if somebody ran into us.'" We had a good chuckle for a few seconds. Then I went on.


Well I don't know what was important. It was important because it was my duty. That's all. 'You're supposed to do this. Do it. I think probably, at that time, people were less questioning than they are now. There's certain things you just did."


"Well, Thomas, I'm not sure I understand what it means to be a veteran. Like I said, it was your duty - you just did it. I think most people understand what it means, sure."


"Well, Thomas, it took four years out of my life~ but I matured a great deal. I was kind of young, and a little drifting, and unfocused going in, and when I came out, I don't want to say I was disciplined, but I was a little more focused, a little more 'knew what I wanted to do.'"


Many thanks to my grandfather. It seems many of the veterans' stories I've heard or seen depicted (through the media) make wars sound like a very negative experience. My grandfather's story actually sounded like the opposite. I could tell he was very excited to inform me of his experience and his opinions. The way he expressed his ideas definitely changed the way I'll look at veterans and war in general from now on. We should be thankful to them all.













1952 - 1954

  In the summer of 1951, I was a 19 year old kid.  I had just finished junior college in the spring and was ready to go out in the world to make my mark. There was one impediment; we were in the middle of the Korean War and the draft had been reactivated.  I had majored in music in junior college; I was in the marching band and played trumpet in a dance band that we had organized in college.  My roommate was the drummer in the dance band and his mother was secretary to the draft board.  While she did nothing improper on my part, she did keep me posted as to my status with the draft board.

  Several of my friends had been drafted into the Army and an Army National Guard unit (medical) at the college had been called up and sent to Korea and they were serving as medics on the front line.  The Navy had a school of music that lasted several months and this is what I wanted.  I contacted the Navy Recruiter and took a test for the music school.  I passed the test and was told that I would be accepted to the school of music, however, there were no openings at the time and I would have to wait for an opening. 

  I was still waiting for an opening when I was informed by the secretary to the draft board that I was on the list to be called up on the following month.  I went to the recruiter and was told that all students for this school still had to go through boot camp.  He also stated that some 40% of the students were selected from personnel that were already in the Navy.  I had to do something or be drafted in the Army so he recommended that I join the regular Navy; go to boot camp, and since I had passed the test for acceptance to the school of music I would be sent to this school.

  So I joined the regular Navy and went to boot camp in San Diego.  In about the 7th week I was interviewed as to what I wanted to do in the Navy and I informed them that I had already done this and was going to the school of music at the end of boot camp.  When boot camp was finished we all got our orders and mine were to attend Radar School at Treasure Island.  Somehow they had forgotten that I had been accepted to the school of music.

  After a 30 day leave I went to Treasure Island and attended Radar School.  There were several schools on Treasure Island at this time and there were several frustrated musicians among the students.  We got together and formed a band, played for dances at the officers' club and also did a musical variety show with the talent mostly consisting of Navy personnel.  We were well liked by the commanding officer and were assigned to our own barracks.  It was at this time I learned a very valuable lesson.  The executive officer had the idea that the students were there to attend classes and there was no valid excuse for not attending classes.  When we had a playing gig coming up we would tell the skipper that we needed to practice and he would excuse us from class, which obviously irritated the executive officer.

  A U. S. Congressman from California was on the base and attended one of our musical variety shows.  He was also a Navy veteran and indicated that he was going to work toward having the band assigned to special services and we would travel throughout the states putting on these shows and recruiting for the Navy.

  By this time I (and several of the others) had finished school and we were left in the barracks while we waited for the congressman to pull the right strings.  We had open gangway and just practiced and played for dances.  As you could imagine, the executive officer did not like us very well and about this time the skipper was promoted to Commodore and placed in charge of a destroyer flotilla.  We actually played for the ceremony when he left the base and the executive officer was appointed temporary skipper.  This happened on Saturday afternoon and the first thing the acting skipper did was to cut orders for all of us that had finished school.  We took whatever kind of transportation available and by Sunday afternoon the barrack was empty.

  I was assigned to the Vesuvius and took a troop transport ship to Tokyo and a train from Tokyo to Sasebo.  This was apparently a troop train as we had hammocks to sleep in.  It was hot in the train and we were told not to raise any windows.  As it turned out someone raised some windows.  The train went through several tunnels during the night and by the next morning we were all covered with soot.  I never will forget one incidence.  When I waked up the next morning we were stopped in a small farming town.  When I looked out the window I saw a Japanese farmer about 30 yards away.  He was looking at the train and taking a leak. 

  When I got to Sasebo, the Vesuvius was not in port so I stayed on board a liberty ship that was tied up at the dock and used as a barracks.  I believe it was the USS Dupage.  I came aboard the Vesuvius either in May or June of 1952 as I remember.  I don't know if I came aboard in time to take the first trip to the bomb line or if it was the second trip.  I remember that my supervisor was Wally Troup, a second class radar man who had been called up from the reserves.  He left a short while after I came aboard.  I don't believe he was transferred to another ship but was mustered out. 

  I spent 2 years aboard AE-15 and was transferred to the USS Etlah, a net tender that maintained the submarine nets to the entrance of Tokyo harbor.  At night we tied up on the docks in Yokosuka and went out each day to maintain the nets. I remember an incident aboard the Etlah.  I had been aboard several months when they decided to take up the submarine nets in the harbor as the Korean War was over.  We worked for about a week taking up the nets and buoys, bringing them into port and unloading them on the dock.  One Friday afternoon we had the forward half of the ship loaded with nets and buoys, which were covered with barnacles.  We worked late this day and it was after 6 PM when we came in so we decided to wait until Monday to unload. Saturday was quite hot as was Sunday.  By Sunday afternoon the smell was overwhelming. 

  When I mustered out of the Navy they offered to send me to the school of music if I wanted to go.  The only problem was that this was a Class A school and they required that you spend an additional 2 days in the Navy for each day in school which meant that I would have had to reenlist in order to get the school.  By then I had enough navy duty and told them no thanks.   

NOVEMBER 1, 2004


Earnest Reimann                           KOREAN CONFLICT           








 Earnest Reimann, 57, of Fortune Lake, died unexpectedly Sunday afternoon at Iron County General Hospital.  

Mr. Reimann was born April 16, 1927, in Cleveland, Ohio, and was a graduate of Crystal Falls High School He lived in Charlevoix and Sacramento, Calif., and returned to Crystal Falls in 1964.  

He is a Navy veteran of World War II, during which he served in the Philippines and Korea. Mr. Reimann had been employed as a stock control officer at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base and retired in 1979.  

He married Dec. 30,1950, to Eva Norena. Survivors include his wife; three daughters, Lynne of New York and Cheryl and Laura of Crystal Falls; one son, Ernest of Crystal Falls; and one grandchild. 

I have learned that Ernie was part of the commissioning crew, who in the fall of 1951 took the USS Vesuvius out of moth balls in Orange Texas and made it ready to join the Korean War.

His name appears on our original roster as  Ernie Reimann, Service no. _ _ _ Rate: Machinist's Mate (General), Rate: 3rd class Petty Officer, USNR-V6.

He assigned to "M' Div. and according to his log book he sailed on the AE15 from it's commissioning till Nov. 18, 1952, when he was transferred to Yokosuka, Japan and from there he was flown to the USA. 

I was aboard the ship the same time as Ernie but I only remember his familiar face, which reminded  everyone that he looked like the actor, "James Cagney". His daughter, Lynne said that the family thought he looked like Earnest Borgnine. We all agree that he had an interesting face.

Obituary, log book and photos were donated by Ernie's daughter, Lynne Thomas













1953 - 1956

 I came aboard the Vesuvius as a seaman and was assigned to the 2nd Division deck force during the Korean conflict. As I recall the cease fire happened at 12:00 noon. At the time, we were replenishing destroyers and they would head toward the shore fire their guns and return for more ammo. After the cease fire, when we were leaving Wonsan harbor and while we were backing down, we spotted a mine. What a way to end the war!

I was the Coxswain of the No. 2 Motor launch but that may have started in 1954. I ended up running the Captain's Gig later.  I would go to pick up the Captain and he would send me back to the ship to ask the other officers for a loan so he could spend another night in Sasebo. That was a Hoot!

DECEMBER 09, 2005









1954 - 1957

  Al grew up, in Mount Dora, (Lake County), Florida, which is, about forty miles North of Orlando.  He attended the Mount Dora School, and, in 1954, when he was seventeen years old, he joined the U. S. Navy.  He attended Boot Camp, in San Diego, California, and was assigned to the Deck Division, of the USS Vesuvius AE 15.

  Al made Seaman, and, before his discharge, passed the test, for the rate of 3rd Class Boatswain Mate.  He enjoyed serving as Coxswain, for Captain Klinker.  When time was nearing, for Al's discharge, Captain Klinker, who was being promoted to Rear Admiral, asked him to consider staying, in the Navy, and transferring to Dayton, Ohio, to serve as motor pool driver.  Although Al loved the Navy and the Vesuvius had been "home", for, almost, four years, he decided it would be best, to take the discharge.

  Al married Janice Johnson, of Memphis, Tennessee, in July 1957.  They rented an apartment, in San Francisco, since the waiting list, for Navy personnel housing, at Port Chicago, was too long.  It was hard, to meet expenses, which included $60 a month, for the apartment.  There, on
 O' Farrell and Pine Streets, the fourth floor apartment consisted of a combination sitting area/bedroom, with "Murphy" wall bed; bath, kitchenette and long hall, which served as "guest room".  All rooms were very small.

  In October, 1957, Al was discharged, at Treasure Island.  He settled in Memphis, Tennessee, and worked for Tayloe Glass Company and it's successor, Burke-Hall Paint and Glass, Inc., last, as manager of the branch at Jackson, Tennessee, until 1976, when he, Janice and their daughter, moved to Florida, to start operation of their new business, Durham Glass and Mirror.
  After selling that business, in 1987, Al was employed, as a traveling glass and mirror salesman, until 1993, when he began working, for Lake Care Systems, which he continues, installing and servicing emergency systems, for individuals.
  Al enjoys golfing, fishing and bowling.His and Janice's travels have included several trips, back to California; two to Hawaii; one, from New York, to Iceland, to Luxemburg, to Germany, through Belgium, to France; one to Milan, Italy, to Rome, and to Switzerland; and one, to Grand Cayman.
OCTOBER 25,2003









1956 to 1957

    The AE 15 was my last duty station before my discharge in 1957. As a Teleman Second Class Petty Officer, my primary duties were as Postmaster of the Post Office on the Vesuvius. My most lucid memories of time aboard the Vesuvius were the outbreak of more fires than reported in the entire fleet. One time it was grease in the galley when rough weather slopped it over the sides of the pan the Cook was using to make fresh doughnuts for the crew. Nice Cook, bad weather.

  9 May 1957, 0200 hours. “FIRE!” Fire in the galley. These words were blared throughout the ship. “ALL HANDS TO GENERAL QUARTERS! ALL HANDS TO GENERAL QUARTERS!” We leaped out of our racks and headed in all directions at a dead run. Smoke was pouring out of the hatches and through the passageways. It was seeping into the dark, misty air of the South Pacific. It was rumored that we carried enough ammunition to equal the force of three Atom Bombs! And, we were fully loaded. Would this be the end, or not?

 It wasn’t. After the fire was extinguished we secured from General Quarters and headed for the sack.

  0400 hours. “FIRE, FIRE IN THE GALLEY!” Here we go again. This time it was under control much sooner and once again we all trudged back to our sleeping compartments muttering about the heat, the fire, the stinky smoke and how nice a full night’s sleep would be. No one said anything about the ammunition as we filed past row after row of explosives. No one had to.
There were a lot of fun times, too. Here’s another entry from my diary.

  8 January 1957. “NOW HEAR THIS, NOW HEAR THIS.” The ship’s speakers boomed out another announcement. “THERE WILL BE NO MAIL CALL TODAY, THAT IS, THERE WILL BE NO MAIL CALL TODAY.” After working all night, getting prepared to receive mail, there wasn’t any for the ship. I did a quick disappearing act. The crew always blamed me, the Postmaster aboard.

  Luckily I had found an out of the way spot that still gave me a great view of what was about to unfold. During mooring of the ship and lowering of the boats, lines have to be run from the bow of the ship to a buoy and from the fantail to another buoy. Ammunition ships were not welcome too far into any harbor. The saying that got around was that we had to moor so far out our liberty was over by the time we reached shore. Anyway, the difficult procedure requires men on the buoys as well as the ship. The mighty “V” after only two hours and two wet seamen, finally accomplished this feat.

Then, after an hour or so required to get the boats (The LCVP and the Captain’s Gig), into the water, the fun really began.

  The LCVP was partially loaded with the personnel and cargo intended to go ashore, when the O.O.D. decided to let the captain go ashore first, which is the proper procedure in the first place. So, the LCVP had to lay off while the Gig came alongside. The coxswain of the Gig must have gotten nervous, because his first try for the gangway was good, but, after Captain Ashley and his relief Captain Klinker had proceeded to the bottom of the gangway, the coxswain let the boat ease out too far and he had to make a new approach.

  So, naturally, while the two captains stood patiently waiting, the coxswain tried for the gangway once more, smashed into it, bounced off, tried again with the same results. When he finally made it successfully, the entire crew had lined the ship’s rail and every one of them was laughing his head off. Same thing in the LCVP floating nearby. By the time the Gig made its final approach, the two Captains were just standing there drumming their fingers on the gangway’s wooden rail.

MARCH 1, 2005







1956 to 1957

  I was in “A” Division and worked in the fan room next to the mess decks. I came aboard with John C. Nettles who went through boots with me. He and Roderick Gardner went to deck Dept. My Chiefs Name was Oliff. Some of the guys who worked with me were; FN named Rufus Cook who liked to be the duty MAA and EN2 Fisher who was also was my LPO for a while. Jerry Dean A FN who was kind of my protector tall and slender: a nice guy. There was this guy Greer, who could really play the mandolin. I used to strum a mandolin along with him. We also ha a guy who could play a guitar but I don't remember his name. He used to go down in the Emergency Fire pump room to play because the acoustics there had this tinny echo sound. Funny how I remembered that.

  We had a 52 Chevy pickup that the deck dept painted haze gray with a brush. Also we worked on a old jeep. We had it rebuilt in concord CA.

  I stood watches on the Motor whale boat at sea and did man overboard drills, going up and down with the boat davits. I was also the boat engineer for the Captains gig.  During underway replenishments I worked on the crane winches. I remember putting graphite powder on the brake drums. When it was over I was as black as the ace of spades.










1959 to 1962

I was born and raised in East Liverpool Ohio where attended Horec Mann Grade School, Junior High School East and East Liverpool High School. In 1958, at age 19 I joined the Navy.

I went through boot camp in San Diego Calif. and after graduation I was assigned to the deck force on the USS Aludra AF-55. After the Aludra in late 1959 I transferred to the 2nd Division as a seaman on the deck force of the USS Vesuvius AE15.From there I went to the quartermaster gang for a short while and then I went to the commissary department as the ships baker. I left the ship as a 3rd Class Baker in August of 1962 and was honorably discharged.

I then joined the Naval Reserve and served 30 years, from 1963 to 1993 at Youngstown Air Force Base, Ohio.

During this time I worked in a family owned bakery and later when my dad retired I became the owner of that bakery. My last job before I retired was a cook for a river boat casino in Rising Sun Indiana.

I married Faye in 1962 and together we had one child, a boy. He married & divorced and has two boys one 7 years old and the other is 10 years old

Now that I’m retired I play golf and hang out on the computer.











1956 -1958

I joined the Navy in 1954 at age 20 and went to boot camp at San Diego, after which I was assigned to the AO24 USS Platte as a BT.

On Nov. 16, 1956 I made 2nd class BT. Since the Platte had three or four 2nd class BTs, I was transferred the following week to the AE 15 USS Vesuvius. Since both ships were in Bethlehem Steel Shipyard at the same time, my transfer consisted of simply walking from one ship to the other.

While serving on the “V” I remember two things happening, which I’ll never forget.

One day while a cruiser was alongside, the seas were so rough that both ships were being tossed up and down as they rode into and up and over the swells. During the replenishing of 8” projectiles using the forward boom, I saw that one of the cables had started to unravel all of the way back to the drum.

Then, just as our ship went down, the cruiser went up and the cable parted letting the skip box loaded with 9 projectiles swing into the side of the cruiser. When it hit, it bounced off and then flipped up side down and empting them into the sea.

The skipper, Clinker, at least I believe that was his name as I went through three of them while I was aboard, passed the word to the cruiser that we are breaking loose and if you want more ammo follow me to Sasebo!

While we were steaming from Okinawa to Japan in 1958 , I had just gotten off watch down in the fire room, taken a shower and gone to bed. About 0100, someone came through the compartment screaming fire, fire! Then the G Q alarm started going off. I was used to alarms going off so I usually didn’t really worry too much about them until I smelled smoke.

Still, I jumped up, put my dungarees on and ran up the ladder, which was located in the aft compartment, forward of No. 5 hold, to the passage way. Where, to my surprise I did smell smoke. That’s when it occurred to me that I was standing in the middle of 40,000 tons of ammo and that a little worrying just might be in order.

I continued on to my duty station, which was down in the fire room, where my job was to keep the boilers operating. There was supposed to be 5 of us on station but as it turned out, I was the only one to show up.

Being down in the fire room, I didn’t get chance to participate in helping fight the fire but I was told that it was located in the galley and that it took them about an hour to put it out. Meantime, the whole ship had filled with smoke making it hard to breath. However, it did clear out soon after the fire was put out.

The galley was burnt pretty bad; actually it was so bad, that we existed on soup and sandwiches for the next three days.

I was discharged in June of 1958 from Treasure Island and went back to Alabama. For the next two months and after trying two different jobs I decided that civilian life wasn’t for me. So, I went to the local recruiter in Montgomery where I told them, “Here I am, if you can get me Class B, BT School in Philadelphia you can ship me over. The recruiter said, “give me 10 days”. On the 10th day he called me and said, “get down here, you have to be in Philadelphia by Friday to start school on Monday”. I never felt so good in all of my life. I knew then that I was going to be there for 20 years. This I accomplished as I retired in August 1974 with 17 out of 21 years of sea duty as Master Chief BT.

After the Navy I went to work at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery AL, in the Steam Plant. I was foreman of the Central Energy Plant in charge of maintaining the heating and domestic hot water for 56 buildings (5 boilers) and air conditioning (5 air conditioners with chill water system cooled 38 of those 56 buildings.

I was married three times, the third time being the charm. I adopted my second wife’s daughter and my third wife came with 4 daughters from a previous marriage, and we had one son.

I am now retired and we fill our time traveling in a 5th wheel camper throughout the country, usually following our daughter’s family going to sailboat races to keep our grandson while they race.


FEBRUARY 5, 2008