Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Aboard the USS Maddox

Recently, while we were in the Seattle area, we did a tour of the USS Turner Joy. The Turner Joy is one of the last surviving class of destroyers built in the fifties and retired in the 80's. The Turner Joy is an exact duplicate of the USS Maddox. Oh, No, you groan! Oh, yes!

1Maddox.jpeg In a time long, long ago and in a land far, far away, USAFA sent us on a summer field trip circa 1961. As part of that trip, we all spent a week with the Navy. Some of us were assigned to the USS Maddox. I don't recall exactly why we were not all on the Maddox.

Some general memories of those six days:

- Destroyers roll in any sea.

- The Captain of the Maddox was a gung ho, hard ass Annapolis grad who felt wannabe fly boys were something he found on the bottom of his shoe.

- The sailor assigned to clean the mops and brooms spent ten minutes tying a line to the mops and brooms, threw them overboard and forgot to tie the other end of the line to the railing.

- When it came time to practice gunnery, the Captain was really pleased to discover the Armory officer was on leave along with ALL of the keys to the powder storage lockers. Think bank vault doors.

- We were on an exercise to protect an aircraft carrier from a sub. Spent a week, never saw the sub on sonar but did see it at the end of the exercise when it surfaced between the Maddox and the carrier. Perhaps this was a predictor for the Gulf of Tonkin.

2Bunks.jpeg Roll (pun intended) along to the personal memories:

Warning sign ... Rick Walsh turned a strange shade of green walking up the gangplank. By the time we were assigned to our bunks in the aft crew quarters and under way, Rick was really, really sea sick. His bunk was on the upper right and he was soon joined by his new best friends the mop, the galvanized bucket and many boxes of Saltine Crackers. The crew head, very tiny, was right next to the bunks. After one day, the combination of the destroyer wallowing, the crackers & Rick basically made the quarters uninhabitable. The rest of us moved to the adjacent births across the ship or slept in the mess hall. Rick stayed in the bunk or the head for the next six days.

3Gages.jpeg While on board we were assigned to watches to get a feel for life on a ship. This photo is the engine controls down in the bowel of the ship. Four hours of unmitigated, eye-numbing boredom. SOME of us actually stood all of our assigned watches. Others, not so much.

4Messhall.jpeg We ate our meals in the crew mess. As I recall, we thought the food was good, but we were coming off our fourth class's year long walk in the park and may have only been trying to make up for lost calories. In the picture, you see long tables with swivel seats bolted. The metal baffles that kept your food tray from sliding off the sides or ends of the table as the ship wallowed along have been removed from the Turner Joy.

Anyway, I think it was Wednesday and Jim Evatt, Gary Ryser, Mike Gilliom, and I (some others were there but I can 't remember who) were eating. Ken Snapp came up with a full tray and joined the conversation. We were discussing throwing Walsh overboard to end his misery. Ken had almost finished and said he had not been seasick and couldn't understand the problem. As he put the last bite of rice pudding in his mouth (to this day I can't eat rice pudding), he turned a lovely shade of green and returned his meal to his tray and the surrounding table. To our horror, his tray then slid down the now lubricated table bounced off the baffle and returned multiple times as the ship wallowed along. Kinda killed the mood.

The Officers Mess had the same food, but they ate on china & silver individually served by mess attendants in starched coats. One or two of us got turns to eat a meal each serving time. As I recall, it was Friday noon and Rob Tornow and I were the designated victims. Very formal and the Captain dictated the conversation. We were just finishing and the Captain asked how many had been seasick. Rob put on a brave front and said it was primarily Walsh. The Captain asked more details and Rob slowly choked and returned his meal to the china, the silver, the table that unlike the table shown had a white table cloth, and the person next to him (me). The Captain roared with laughter.

So, lots of other memories about our Maddox time but they only have made me more land locked and stranded ashore ever since.

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