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Right Way Wrong Way Conway

Compiled and edited by Marjorie and Bill Williams

 

Many of these Conway veterans "Sea Stories" have been told and retold for over fifty years. Marjorie Williams has been working on the text for several reunions.

Conway Veterans Association, Publication number one, December 31, 1994, Revised September 1995

 

New recruits in the Navy, it is well known, go through an initial period (or initiation) that is known as "Boot Camp". During this time all recruits are indoctrinated in Navy policy - shined shoes, bunks that you can bounce a quarter on, standing at attention, etc. Also during this period the fat are made lean, the skinny add weight and the muscles unknown are called to the recruits attention forcibly.

In 1940, in their infinite wisdom, the Navy shipped a bunch of recruits to the Bath shipyard to be assigned to the ship USS Conway. On arriving it was found that the ship was being built. It became the duty of those recruits and a few seasoned - or should I say salted - personnel to report each day to the yard to their ship. Now whether this was to guard the ship, check and see that the enemy had not stolen her or just because the Navy could not think of what to do with these men is not known to this mere mortal.

However, in due time the ship was finished. It became the duty of this skeleton crew to take the ship to the Boston Navy Yard to join the rest of the crew. When everyone was gathered aboard, the Conway set out for the pacific war.

While the ship is steaming for the pacific theater of war, let's get acquainted with the USS Conway. This ship is what is called a "Fletcher" class destroyer, also known as a "tin can". Destroyers are, more or less, movable guns of the fleet. They surround the slower, bigger ships and (hopefully) detect, chase and destroy submarines and other small ships. This class carries torpedoes and has 5 inch guns as well as the well-known barrel known as depth charges. In case you are as uninformed as I was, the torpedo does not go out under the waterline of this ship but shoots over the edge of the deck gradually settling to the surface of the water, skimming along until it hits the object at the waterline. (At least that’s the idea).

The Conway carried a full compliment of 300 men. It was 368 feet long, about a city block. At the widest section, it was about 40 foot. Imagine, if you will, a hotel a block long, coming to a point at both ends with a middle area of about 40 foot wide. This peculiar thing balanced on a rounded keel, or bottom, and extended 5 stories into the air, with two more decks in a smaller area just forward of the center.

In this floating hotel many of the men aboard the Conway as she (ships are always she) heads for the war will spend the next four years. Sleeping, eating, fighting, resting and whatever recreation they are able to provide.

Now as to correct terminology. On a ship there is no floor, it's called a deck. There is no right and left, it's starboard and port. There is no front and back, there is a foc'sle and a poop deck or fore and aft. The Navy is awash with tradition and I'm sure many of the terms inflicted on the new landlubbers are carried over from the past - when they might have meant something - for the sole purpose of ensuring that the new recruits are thoroughly aware that they don't know what they are doing.

The close proximity and utter dependence on each person's performance of their duties ideally knits a close bond. I say ideally because unfortunately some ships were not close knit but became factions. Officers against the crew, deck gang pitted against the "black" gang or engineers and so on. The Conway was either fortunate or had skillful officers at first because the men became so amalgamated the ship became known as a "Happy Ship".

The floating people menagerie that we refer to as the Conway crew contained various ethnic backgrounds and races. These are some of the World War II escapades I've heard about. Care to add one?

 

CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS

The boss of the ship is always called the captain. The whole crew always looks up to the Captain, as he is always right, Right?

In one of the early torpedo training exercises the ship was chasing a target. The Captain was calling orders to the quartermaster. Come left. Come right. Circle left - He was also telling the torpedo crew what to do with the tubes. He reached the point! FIRE ONE! There was a moment of silence, then the torpedo officer said, "Captain, I can't". "Why not, the Captain snarled?" The reply, "Well, if I do I'll shoot through your gig". The Captain roared, "Well it's my damned gig, FIRE!" (Fortunately, for the gig, no ammunition was being used).

At another time, some of the officers were feeling pretty elevated and complacent. Our wily Captain didn't say anything. BUT…At a time when the ship was anchored off some peaceful isle he called the officers together and indicated that they were to stay together and take no part in a drill he was having. He then called the rest of the crew together and ordered them to weigh anchor and move to such and such a position. The crew carried out this order with no detailed instructions. Then the Captain called the officers and said "Now move it back". They could not. The parting shot of the Captain "And don't you ever forget it."

Another Captain was apparently trying to pattern himself after a well-known figure in literature. He paced the deck in a red Chinese dressing gown, rolling two ball bearings between his fingers. Like all men, he had his idiosyncrasies. He liked to invent things and the crew would make them up for him.

One Captain did not like Vienna sausages. Not content with just not eating them, he banned them from the ship. BUT - an old mate liked them so he smuggled some aboard and was almost caught eating them. Did you ever try to get the smell of Vienna sausages off your breath?

 

MONKEYSHINES

As all parents are aware, it is hard to keep boys from their pets. In a manner unknown to this talebearer a monkey became part of the crew of the Conway. This monkey, as customary, was adept at climbing and causing trouble - much to the dismay of his caretaker, a pharmacist's mate.

Monkey was not awed by rank. Since the Conway was a flagship it often carried the destroyer division commander. "30 knot" Burke was a resident in his sea cabin one day innocently preparing for the day. He had removed his bridge and was brushing his teeth when a hairy little brown fist grabbed the bridge and ran. Soon the ship was treated to the site of the commander careening full-tilt after the mascot screaming at the top of his lungs "I'll make monkey-pie out of you." The story had a happy ending. Monkey ran into his pal, the pharmacist. The Commander got his bridge back and a couple of days later it even became funny.

Monkey took on Captains too. One day, the ship was being repainted. It had been sanded and was now in the process of having the rust resistant zinc oxide base coat applied. The Captain dressed smartly to go ashore and was proceeding down the deck. Monkey, from a perch above, tipped a can of the green paint and made a bulls-eye. Green paint covered the previously immaculate Captain to his shoes and the feet inside. After the air had cleared this left the poor pharmacist's mate cleaning the Captain's feet and probably some other unnamed regions.

This same Captain had a habit of sleeping with an automatic rifle, whether as protection from the crew or very large mosquitoes, I do not know. One night, while the Captain peacefully slumbered, monkey slipped through the door and - you guessed it - he fired one short burst. While the crew stood around wondering "what the h…is going on in there?" the Captain turned on the light to fight his attacker. After discovering the culprit, he opened the door to call for help - with the door opened, the light automatically went off for security - and the monkey escaped. Toll…. One holy blanket. One holy shower wall. One Captain - whole.

Monkey being the cosseted fellow he was, had his own little orange life vest. This proved very wise one day when he made a misstep. "Monkey overboard" the lookout called. No one knew what would happen - will we leave him or will we stop. Good news, the Captain stopped the ship and had a boat lowered. The monkey was retrieved.

The same generosity of spirit did not apply to two crew members who later were leaning on the lifelines and fell overboard. The ship did not stop but the next ship in formation fished them out of the water. A message flashed to the rescue ship "Tell those men they're on report."

 

SHIPMATES ALL

The boredom on a small ship and the stress (in wartime) of being constantly under fire or expecting to be under fire was alleviated somewhat by the practical jokes and ribald camaraderie, but there were limits. Unclothed tattoos meant another trip to the needle as the Captain ordered new clothes added. The type of language heard on the street and even in schools today was not allowed for those rugged seamen. From the stories I've heard the men appreciated those checks.

One of the problems of living quarters was to get enough fresh air. One pair of enterprising seamen waited until their crew mates were asleep and fastened a pair of work jeans over the intake. They each took a leg thus directing any fresh air to them.

The engine room crew used to make spaghetti (good stuff, I'm told) with some of their steam. Hot as it apparently was down there, they probably could have just set it out in the room and cooked it. They shared their treat with the night quartermasters. One night the Captain came by and found out about all this. Captain's verdict - this practice could only continue if he got a share.

One of the many duties the crew took upon themselves was the training of young officers. This apparently involved every man available. An officer working out one of his first siting locations used the wrong chart. When asked, he gave the coordinates that would place the ship just off the coast of Alaska. Shortly thereafter, an enterprising seaman came on deck garbed in full cold weather gear to stand watch. Suddenly he yelled, "Iceberg dead ahead!" The unlucky officer jumped up and yelled back "Where?"

One of the things new officers were eager to do was steer the ship. First, you must know that this could be done from two places, the bridge and from below - what we call the blind bridge that received orders by intercom. With willing connivance from the officer of the deck at a time when all was calm, permission would be granted for the new officer to try steering. The quartermaster would turn over the wheel at the same time punching the signal to disconnect the bridge and turn steering over to the blind bridge. The officer of the deck would call out the instructions - just opposite the true course. "Turn left 10 degrees." The young officer would turn the wheel madly and the ship would go the opposite way. "No. No." The deck officer would cry, "the other way." "I'm trying, it won't go" the hapless youngster would reply. Panicking, he would tell the quartermaster "You take it." Taking the wheel back and disconnecting the blind bridge, the quartermaster would innocently say, "well look, it works all right for me."

Training for crews being shipped out to the pacific theater on new ships was minimal. One such crew brought their new ship to the correct port only to steam around and around in circles. The Conway Captain finally sent a message and asked if there was a problem. The reply "We don't know how to stop." A boat was put in the water and a crew of instructors was sent to the hapless ship.

Another time, a ship was badly damaged in battle. She was taken in tow and many hours were spent getting her in shape to be towed to port for repairs. On the way, an overzealous U.S. ship spotted them as the enemy and sank the damaged ship. The crew on the rescue ship was so angry they gave chase - firing to sink - until cooler heads prevailed.

In another incident, while steaming in formation, a careless ship shot off a piece of another. Fire was returned and the offender suffered the same fate.

Members of the Conway, along with the rest of the ships, became adept in the art of scrounging. For instance, if the Captain or another officer remarked a coil of rope would look good in the Boson's locker - it would magically appear there. The same occurred with fruit, cigars or other items.

They were also somewhat particular. In Australia, when supplies were being loaded, a certain amount of mutton was loaded with each ration of beef. When loading the frozen meat, a line formed on the ship from one end to the other. While the beef was lowered to the refrigerator, the mutton continued to the other end of the ship where it sank quietly into the water. By the time it thawed and rose to the surface, the Conway was long gone.

 

TALES TOLD AT THE 1993 CONWAY REUNION IN DENVER

Charlie Coale, 1959 - 61

My good friend Harry Cuplin was the communications officer on the Conway during the time I was there. Harry loved to play golf. Harry went down to Little Creek and if you've ever seen the golf course on Little Creek it's got a lot of roadways running back and forth through it. Harry was on the fourth tee with two or three of his golfing buddies and he had a number three wood. He hit the ball and it went "swish." Unfortunately, there was a car coming up through one of the driveways and must have been one of the Marine Corps flag officers. Now there is not anything worse than a Lt. j.g. hitting a Major General in a Marine Corps car. This is the truth. The ball went right down the fairway and right over the road and smashed the windshield right like that (snap) and one of the golfing buddies said to Harry "Harry, what are you going to do about that?" Harry replied "Guess I'll change my swing."

 

Stanley Kloby, Gunners Mate 3/c, Oct. 42 to Dec 44, Plank Owner.

This deals with the missing bread. There was only one way in or out of the galley and that was padlocked when the cook and baker left. Each night they cooked the bread and locked up three pans of it. Each morning they began missing three loaves. The cook and the baker were the only ones with a key so they started arguing over the loss of the bread. The cook said he didn't take it. "I can get bread whenever I want." The baker said, "well we've got the only keys and each night we leave the door padlocked. Where is it going?" They decided "O.K. we'll fix them" the baker would stay in the galley and the cook will lock up as usual.

We had a man on our ship by the name of Birddog. His real name was Boston. He had the 12 o'clock watch. He and his two buddies came down to the number two gun about 12:30 when all was quiet. The cook and the baker had not thought of an overhead escape hatch of only about 18 inches in width. The baker was sitting in the corner when "eek, eek" the hatch wheel starts turning. As he looks up, the hatch opens and he sees the sky above. He then sees Birddog being lowered headfirst while his two buddies held his legs saying "alright Birddog, grab the bread and pass it up." While he's swinging his arms to grab the bread the baker grabs him. "Yahh" Birddog lets out a murderous yell. He has no idea what's holding him. The two buddies let go of his legs and he crashes to the deck. The two buddies run back to Gun number two leaving Birddog and the baker to fight it out. And… that's the story of the missing bread.

 

Bob Scanlon, Plank Owner, until he left the ship in Nov 44 in Japan

Nobody will ever know how much it cost the Navy to have quartermasters wake up Ensigns. It's disastrous. First we'd steal them blind, get up on deck and distribute their food, then wake them up when it was all gone. One night we had stolen a whole chocolate cake. You can't just steal a piece of cake, someone would know it was missing. We had the cake up on deck and sonar got a ping that sounded like a submarine. He called Captain Prime and the Captain came running. The Captain got mad because "He can't tell a whale from a wake" slams his hand down in the dark and "splat" lands it right in the cake. "Well," he swore "what's this?' I said, "it's chocolate cake. Will you have a piece?" He says "I have a whole handful" and swings his hand around sending cake all over the place. Well, I'll tell you… we got up early the next morning and cleaned up before he saw the mess. But, we went back to business as usual.

One night, we stole a big ham. Silver platter, the whole bitch had to be eaten. Like the cake, you can't steal a piece, they would know. So, we took the whole ham. The Ensign came up, a hungry guy, and asked "where's the ham." Well... I'm standing out on the bridge with a guy named Iner and the ham goes over the side, platter and all.

 

Otice Vail 58 - 62

I came back off the beach one night, was pretty well loaded and brought a pint with me. I had it taped to my leg. I made it back with an old buddy of mine. We were going down to the fire room to drink it. I looked over to my left as we went to the fire control room and saw a brand new can of 190 proof alcohol. I reached out, took it, handed it to him and told him to take it down. We got there and were trying to think where we could hide it because we knew very well that they were going to be looking for it. We put it in the uptake in the stack's blower ducts. You all know there is a double stack. We set it up there. Every time we wanted to throw a party we'd crawl up through the uptake and pour out a quart (a quart would make a good gallon). We never did get caught. About 30 years later, they got in contact with me about these reunions and they sent me a computer list that included Captain George R Brian. I contacted him and said "Captain there's something that's been on my chest for 30 years. Do you remember the 5 gallon can of 190 proof alcohol?" He said, "Yeah, I knew you got it. We just could never prove it."

 

Mildred

Told a story about Frank Corell who was a Plank Owner and on the ship until 45. He left and went to the USS Gregory after the war. He told her that on the Gregory, he had an appendicitis attack and they took it out with a rusty paring knife and a spoon. He let her tell that story for 25 years.

 

Roy Moberg Rode the Conway back to the states in 44 and got off in Frisco

This is a story about Bob Scanlon. It was Bob's job when we were gong to fire the main batteries to go first to the Commodore and give him some cotton then to the Captain and finally the rest of us. Captain Besson took big gobs of it. Stuck it in his ears leaving long pieces hanging out. Bob would get around behind him and taking long strips of cotton would saw back and forth level with the Captains ears. He never did know why everyone was laughing.

 

Another story was about Ensign Melanthey. Captain Besson at one time said that all the officers during special sea detail had to have a title so he passed out all kinds of titles. He didn't have enough to go around so Melanthey didn't get one. About a week later, the Captain told Melanthey "I've got one for you." Melanthey said "aye, aye, sir and what is it?" The Captain said you are administrative officer of the deck. "Aye, aye Captain and what are my duties?" The Captain said, "if I ask you the course and speed of the wind, ship's heading, ship's speed or anything like that, I want you to have it on the tip of your tongue." A few days later, we went to Manila Harbor and were taking a fix on a water tower when the engine died leaving us adrift. The Captain turned to Melanthey and asked, "how fast are we going?" Melanthey flapped his hands like he was shooing chickens and said, "Captain, we're just scooting along."

 

John Wrocklage "Rocky" Oct 42 to Sept 44

During the time in the South Pacific Rock was the movie operator. As those of you on the ship in the South Pacific know, we usually had the movie on the fo'c'sle. On one particular night we had a storm in Purvis Harbor which is located in Tulagi across the way from Guadalcanal. Because it was so stormy that night we decided to have the movie down in the mess hall as was occasionally the case. I had a great big monster of a machine that stood about 2 1/2 ft high. It would only run one reel of film at a time and the reel must be changed. On that night, we had seen about two reels and all of a sudden - BAM - the ship went this way and my machine went that way, the reel of film went still another. Wondering what happened, we went on deck and what do we see but the bow of the Cleveland (a light Cruiser). We had, unknowingly, dragged anchor. The Cruiser had come into harbor, didn't see us, and collided in the dark. Well, all the guys let out a big roar. You should have heard them. We all thought we were going back to the states right away for repairs. We only had a little dent and they fixed it up right away.

From the Conway, I went on the Norton Sound as a movie operator. Then I had two projectors and was getting $25/month.

 

Bill Williams QM3/c - From commissioning until about January 46

Once we got an officer, about 20 years old at the maximum. He was fresh out of college and we were all older. Well, he had no knowledge, whatsoever, of the ship. We were going alongside a tanker for refueling. On the bridge there were two controls for the aft depth charges. One was painted red, the other green. Coming in, they were secured so they could not accidentally operate the equipment. This officer came up on the bridge and said that he hadn't been assigned any detail and asked the other Quartermaster, my buddy Sawyer, what he should do. Well, this was too much for Sawyer so he told the youngster he was supposed to work the brakes. When he asked where they were, Sawyer said those two levers there. He gets the levers and says, "Well, how will I know when to put them on." Sawyer said, "The Captain's on the other side. He'll signal me and I'll tell you port or starboard." Every once in a while he'd yell port or starboard and the officer worked the brakes. Normally, the Captain went down through the stairway through the pilothouse so he wouldn't have seen any of this. This day he came around the back of the bridge and here is this guy working the handles. The Captain said, "What are you doing?" The guy said, "I'm working the brakes sir." The Captain kind of looked around and said, "Thank you very much, I couldn't have gotten alongside without you."

The young officer went down to the wardroom and told the other officers that the Captain had commended him. In the meantime the Captain was looking at us and crooking his finger (to come).

 

Stanley Kloby - once again

This guy, Bill Williams, now let me tell you something. I slept in the last bunk in the highest spot. There was a fan on the bulkhead, so naturally, the fan was for everybody. The fan was blowing down the isle and the temperature -- well, if you've ever slept in a microwave, that was us. I used to crawl up in my bunk to sleep and I would reach up with my foot and gently turn the fan to blow on me. So right away the breeze went whoosh. The guys would yell, "Kloby, you SOB, put the fan back." They fixed me one night by taking the guard off the fan. I came in, crawled into my bunk and looked around to see if everybody was asleep. I didn't know it but they all had one eye opened and as I reached up with my foot to turn the fan, there was a "brrrrrt" sound and three toes went flying. Purple Heart I figured. Well actually I just burnt out the fan and kept all my toes.

 

Dick Maginn SM2/C Mar 43 - Jan 46. Boarded in Havana Harbor, left in San Diego.

You asked for the Banana Courts-Martial. That term is not really correct. Before a courts-martial there is a Captain's mass. That is really what happened. We secured the Island of Corregidor and had gone to Manila. I had liberty in Purvis Bay. The Japanese were still there sniping and so on and so forth, but we had liberty nonetheless. At that time the skipper was C.L. Besson. Mr. Ball, the Boson's Mate, came up to me and said there was to be a Captain's Mass The skipper was there, the boatswain mate, executive officer, one of the communications officers and some others.

Captain Besson started reading off the charges I was to answer to. First of all was the charge of bartering with the natives. He asked how I pled and I replied, "Not guilty." What happened was I was down on the fantail of the ship while we were anchored in Subic Bay and as the bunboat, as we referred to them, came up there was a person standing there with a large stem of bananas. They would swap goods for soap or cigarettes or other things and thinking that some of the fellows on the bridge would enjoy some fresh fruit, I made the exchange, grabbed some bananas and went up to the bridge. When I got to the ladder going up to the back of the bridge, Captain Besson was standing on one side and the Executive Officer on the other. I told them good morning and started up the ladder. Captain Besson said, "Maginn, where did you get the bananas?" I relied, "I got them from the natives." He said "Oh!" I said, "anything else sir?" He said, "No." I then went up and shared the bananas. In each of the ports we visited, it was up to the port director to send messages out to the ships informing them what could or could not be done in that port. One of the things they were careful of was not to get something from the natives that would hurt a bunch of people. We had been in Subic Bay several times and the port officer there never issued a message that we could not barter with the natives. I was one of the signalmen and knew what was in that file, I explained that to the Captain. He turned to the communications officer and said, "Is that correct?" The reply was, "well yes sir, if Maginn says it is correct, it probably is because he knows the file pretty well."

The next charge was going ashore after being on report, going AWOL. "How do you plead?" "Not guilty." To be officially informed that you cannot go off the ship they post a roster down in the passageway of all people who are on report. My friend,. Yeoman Santos, had not gotten around to posting the report with my name on it. Therefore, I put on my whites and went ashore. We went over in an LCT and put the gangplank down. I walked off and met up with Captain Besson. He looks at me and said, "Maginn, get back on the LCT." I let the rest of the people go off the liberty boat and went back to the ship. I walked up to Captain Besson and, "Sir may I ask a question?" and he says "No Maginn, I don't want to talk to you," so I walked away. When I explained this to the Captain he turned to the officer in charge of yeoman Santos and asked, "Is that right?" The officer replied that they had not actually gotten around to posting the roster with my name on it.

The next charge was going ashore with a beard after orders were issued to remove it. "How do you plead?" "Not guilty" When we left the states in 1944 after repairs and modifications done at Western Engineering down at Alameda, all of the crewmembers grew beards. Out in Subic Bay, one day, the word was passed that the beards must be shaved off, or something to that effect. For some reason, I didn't get the word so I didn't shave. When I explained to the Captain, he turned to the communications officer and asked him. The communications officer replied that I might not have gotten the word. "I'm not real sure."

Captain Besson was rather perplexed. "Well Maginn, I guess we really don't have evidence to support any of these charges." He said. However, he then reached inside where his bunk was and pulled out a book. "I am going to read to you what it says in the manual relative to the behavior of a petty officer." I had about 15 minutes of serious reading laid on me.

And that's the end of the almost banana court-martial.

 

TALES TOLD AT THE 1994 NORFOLK REUNION

 

Torrey A. Sylvester, - Gunnery Officer, 1960-1963

The Conway was really my first job. It is interesting to see the three groups of, you might say, families, the 40's - WWII, the 50's - Korea and the 60's - pre Viet Nam and Viet Nam.

Charlie Coale, now you have to realize how thin he was on the Conway. He wasn't as big around as my arm and that isn't very big. Now I'm not going to tell you he was so thin, I'm not going to tell stories on Charlie, I wouldn't do that but I am going to tell stories on Roger Burson. He was our Exec, and Otice Vail was the oil king in those days. Roger was the man always smoking a pipe - I'm sure you've all seen him here. Roger was in after officer's country where the Exec. lived in those days. We were fueling along the pier and all of a sudden there was this odor. Well now, you all know what NSFO smells like, its pretty strong and there was some oil creeping in down on the deck. I don't know where Otice was but he finally came through the passageway and Roger Burson was just as cool as the other side of the pillow. He says, "Otice, can I light my pipe or will that blow up?" Otice says, "Go ahead Exec." And he just lit his pipe and Otice cleaned up the fuel. The only thing Otice did right in Boot Camp was he put his 13 button blues on backwards.

 

Gerald Kanter - 1945 until 1946 at decommissioning

I was on four different vessels in Hong Kong Harbor in two weeks. I came in there on a cargo ship from Okinawa as a replacement, I guess. When you are 17 or 18 years old, who the hell knows. But I left the cargo ship and they put me on the New Yorker, which was a rest vessel, no screws or anything. So I stayed on a rest ship, then a seaplane tender. There I stayed for about three or four days. My service jacket followed me to all these places. I think I could go back to Hong Kong today as a tour guide or something, since I crossed the harbor so much. They put me on the AR3 If you remember, there was a repair ship in the harbor there. The AR3 was the oldest ship the Navy had in commission during WWII.

It was a coal fired ship from WWI, or whatever. I came aboard, the Chaplain comes to me and says, "You're the new bugler." I can't read a note of music and I can't sing. I was frightened out of my mind and said, "What am I supposed to do?" He says, "I don't read music and I don't know. Here's the bugler's manual and here's the bugle." There was no PA system on that ship and the bugle passed everything. It was the command ship for the South China forces and Admiral Buckmaster was aboard. They took me to after steering (about 8 decks below) and I picked up a few bugle calls. After four or five days they said, "You're going to stand watch." I get on the Quarterdeck and the Admiral is coming up the deck and everyone is ready for me to, I guess, blow attention. Instead, I'm blowing first call, like at the racetrack. If you don't think a seaman 2nd class didn't get everyone's attention, your wrong. Fifteen minutes later, I'm in the Execs cabin. He said, "What in the name of God were you doing anyway?" I said, "They said I was a bugler and gave me a manual. I can't read a note of music." Four days later I'm transferred to the USS Conway, DD507. Now let me tell you something. That was home for 9 months. It was the greatest nine months of my life. I became a man overnight on the Conway.

 

Dale Grimes, - retired AW Chief

After I was on the Conway I transferred over to the Shenandoah and went into the Naval Air Reserves. I retired two years ago with a total of 38 1/2 years counting the time I had on the Conway and the time in the reserves.

One of the things I remember about the Conway was that I was on mess cooking and had the glorious duty of carrying the garbage out to the fantail. If you recall, they had a garbage chute and you carried the can out there, dumped the garbage down the chute and it went off the fantail. They have a swab, for you women, that's a mop on a line, (which is a rope). You take the swab and throw it over the side, get it nice and wet then scrub the garbage can. I said, "There is a better way." I took the swab off the line and tied it to the handle of the garbage can. "Now" I said," all I'm going to do is dump it over the side and the ship will wash the can." Well… I made one of the biggest anchors that the Conway ever had and when it was all over I ended up with just a handle. I went on down to the mess deck and said the thing had slipped. Didn't show the handle. The chief said, "dumb kids."

When I made chief, I was kind of pleased about it and was bragging to my grandson, "You know I made Chief in the Navy." He shook his head, "Grandpa, when I grow up I'm going to be a real chief. I'm going to be a Fire Chief."

 

Roger T. Burson - 1960-1962

When I was on the Conway, Torrey was a great physical fitness type. He used to get out on the starboard side and do his pushups and pull-ups. We had a chief commissary man who was, well, let me call him a little round man. His name was Stubbs. He would watch Torrey day after day doing his exercises and one day he said, "You know Mr. Sylvester, I bet you can't do half as many pull-ups as I can" and bet 5 bucks. He walked over and struggled over to get to the hole where he was going to do the push-ups and managed to get his chin up one time. He said, "Now, do half as many."

 

Stan Kloby

I'm up on the sorting elevator and Bill King was down below on the deckhouse. Now, I'm above him by about 25 feet off the deck. King is swabbing out the 5 inch (gun). That’s like cleaning it out. I'm looking down talking to King and he's swabbing. When he finishes he locks his hands over the barrel and yells through the barrel to the trainer inside the gun - "Take it away!" Instead of the trainer putting the gun in local and cranking it around, he throws it in automatic. Now, when you throw a gun in automatic it takes off. I'm looking down talking to King and all of a sudden he looks like he's on an elevator with the gun swinging around and almost threw him in the ocean. So after he monkeys back down the barrel of the gun, he's jumping in one side of the gun housing with the trainer running out of the other. King wanted to kill him.

 

John Wrocklage is in the after steering room and is doping off. Everybody is tired and all of a sudden a voice on the phone startles him. The voice says, "Describe what the after steering room looks like." John's response was, "If you'd come back here once in awhile you'd know what the hell it looks like." And the voice says, "You're speaking to the Captain of the ship. Report to the bridge first thing in the morning."

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