NEWS FROM THE HUT by John Hamilton
Since this darn COVID has seemed to take over the entire world, and to a smaller extent, subordinating the posts normal activities has provided far less than previously. Last year we were having two meetings a month and there were also several more events a year that the post held and participated in. All this makes it hard to find something to write about.
I have not had as many experiences as most of the veterans at our post, especially veterans like Charlie O’Leary, Gary Lanham, Don Rainwater, or Jimmy Himes, but I have had a couple.
One experience I had was when our ship, a US Destroyer, DD 882, cruised down to Cuba at Guantanamo Bay for target firing exercises. While at general quarters during the firing exercises, the Captain announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot while riding in a motorcade in Houston, Texas. Every single man was shocked and stunned.
Another incident we experienced was while we were crossing the Atlantic. The radarman picked up a blip on the screen that was larger than our destroyer. According to the blips course and speed it appeared that we were going to cross the blips path. After a few minutes, the radarman reported that the blip was not moving but dead in the water, and that it was almost the size of an aircraft carrier. The radioman tried to contact the object that had been determined to be another ship that was adrift. We were unable to make radio contact with the ship. We kept reducing our speed the closer we got. Finally, the signalman received a signal with a signal light. The message said that they were a Spanish freighter that had lost power and that they had been adrift for hours and could we render assistance. Since it was dark night with overcast sky, and we were unable to see the ship we sent an armed boarding for safety. We found out that the freighter did not have sufficient equipment or knowledgeable personnel to troubleshoot and repair the problem. We assisted with their repairs and got them safety underway.
After we made it across the Atlantic, even though we did it through a storm that produced sixty-foot swells, we passed through the Gibraltar Straights into the Mediterranean Sea on our way to Naples, Italy. Unfortunately, our destroyer had been selected by Destroyer Squadron 22 (DESRON22) as his flagship and he decided he wanted the entire ship painted from the watch cap to the waterline. I was selected to paint the forward hull, port side, from the main deck to the waterline. Of course, the Captain ordered the speed reduced, but when the ship rolled to the port side and the stage that I was sitting on over the side would swing out away from the side of the ship. I then had to put my paint roller in the five-gallon bucket to get paint on the roller. When the ship rolled back to starboard the stage, I was sitting on would slam me back into the outer hull. I was able to stop myself with my legs and roll some paint on the hull. Then the whole paint process started all over. We were able to paint the ship completely before we reached Naples. DESRON22 was an incredibly happy Commander. We Med-moored in Naples in style.
Until further notice, our regular Legion meeting will be the third Thursday of each month. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, February the 18th. at 7:00 PM. The Sons of the American Legion meetings have been suspended until further notice, depending on the future COVID-19 situation. All dinners have been cancelled until further notice. The Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings have been postponed as well for the same reason. If you are a veteran, come by for our monthly meeting, and if you have a good story, it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at the Post 142 website “americanlegion142.org” and Hominy Legion on Facebook.