Memories of the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) Sailors:
Shipmates! Wanna share a
memory or two with the rest of us?
Bordine (MS3, 1977-1981):THERE
ARE SO MANY PEOPLE AND PLACES IN MY MEMORIES DAILY. 2 MED
CRUISES,NORTH ATLANTIC CRUISE, BERMUDA, GITMO, THE LIST GOES ON AND
ON. I REMEMBER HM2 DOUG PIKE, MY BEST FRIEND, MY RADIO SHOW I DID
UNDERWAY. THE PIE EATING CONTEST I LOST TO A BM3, MY FRIEND MS3 STEVE
STALLER MY FRIEND FROM PA, THE WELL DECK RACE'S, THE COLLISION WITH
THE INCHON. I WAS IN PERSONNEL WHEN I SAW HER THRU THE PORTHOLE.
AWESOME. COOKOUTS ON THE FLIGHTDECK, CATCHING A HUGE SHARK OFF THE
STRB SIDE WITH A BT2, PUTTING ON THIRD CLASS AND MY ARM BEING BLUE
FROM GOING DOWN INTO THE ENGINE ROOM WITH BT3, SEEING THE FIORDS IN
NORWAY. "I HAVE THE GREATEST PICTURES", SO MAY MORE
MEMORIES TO LIST, IT WAS A GREAT SHIP WITH A GREAT CREW ABOARD. I
WISH I COULD TALK TO SOME OF MY SHIPMATES FROM THAT 4 YEAR PERIOD WAS
STATIONED ON BOARD THE SPIEGEL BEAGLE. SMOOTH SAILING THRU YOUR LIFE
SHIPMATES. AND BE CAREFUL.
MORE FROM ART: How about when we went to Bermuda: we all rented mopeds; you went out in the morning and there was about 400 mopeds on the pier. until the XO crashed when he came back from downtown one night. After that day there were no mopeds on the pier. My friend David Watts from R.I. he was a Postal Clerk and a great friend of mine. MS2 Brian Conners my LPO... we remaind friends until I got orders to Groton, CT and followed him there. These are two men I have not heard from in a long time. I was on the USS Stark, got off 44 days before they were hit by the missiles. I was on the USS Dale, made Chief aboard her. USS Vreeland went to Desert Shield/Storm on her. USS Gallery was my last ship as I go over 10 years at sea. I also remember getting sick for the first and last time sitting on the messdecks, with that mop bucket going back and forth on the mess- decks...ART
Kevin Flatley (OS2, 1980-1983): I remember checking aboard in June of 1980 at Little Creek, VA. My first cruise began in August of that year, and it was "Teamwork '80" - a North Atlantic 3-month'er. It was on that cruise that I got my first tattoo. I knew that my Ma would be pissed & my Pop & I were still not quite right after I quit school and joined the Marines (and not the Air Force, where he was a lifer) at 17, back in '73. It was this tattoo that began to fill the division that my Pop & I had between us. I called home from Belgium and sort of 'used' him to soften the blow to my Ma concerning this tattoo thing...by the time I saw them again, about 4 months later, she had been forewarned that I had a tattoo. I think that because it wasn't a knife dripping blood or have my girlfriend's name on it may have helped calm her down a wee bit! KEVIN
And here's another one: I was in a disco in Copenhagen, Denmark during that same cruise and fresh from that 1st 'too. I had been dancing with a local girl, had a beer or 2 and for some reason or another, a local guy kept bumping into me on the dance floor. After the 4th or 5th accidental bump, he cursed me (I didn't understand his lingo), so I simply gave him the universal single finger how do ya' do?! More cursing ensued and I ignored him and turned my attention back to my dancing partner. OK, I basically suck at dancing, but the US Navy uniform MORE than compensated for my 'dering don't' on the floor. I'd say a couple hours later I decided to bag liberty & head back to the 'Grove. Maybe 20 steps into the alley, nearing the street, a hand grabbed my shoulder and spun me around! It was this same dweeb that had been in my way (or me in his, you could say!) all night! He said something like "you mess up my dance" and "American Yankee" (ok, I'm grew up in northern Maine...how the heck did he know?!!)...well, bud, he unwisely decided to toss his right paw at me....and down he went! I cold-cocked him square in the trap. He lay on the alley deck spewing what I'm sure was more bad language at me, but at the same time kicking to get away from me. I felt satisfied that he wouldn't try to get up and take another shot, I turned to go. At that approximate time, his date came out of the shadows swinging! She hit me 2 or 3 times on the arms and shoulders as I left her to her boyfriend, still wailing away on the deck. I, in my irrepressible manner, probably suggested the planting of his & her lips on my American can as I ambled out into the moonlit street, Spiegel Grove bound once again.....KEVIN
Paul E. Mawn (ENS/LTJG, 1963-1965): On 14 January 1964, under Captain Peter Foley USN, LSD 32 got under way for a 6th fleet Med Cruise. On the way, we developed boiler problems & had to pull into Bermuda for emergency repairs for a few days. Bermuda liberty was our last time ashore for official liberty from January 21 1964 until April 1,1964 when we finally went ashore in Aden in the Persian Gulf. We had spent the previous 2 months continuously at sea (no liberty) during the Cyprus crisis & at one point had an Op Plan to invade to rescue American civilians which was aborted at the last minute. About half way into our at sea time, we had liberty at sea on the USS Enterprise & had spent 2 days in Soudha Bay Crete with the entire 6th fleet. We were then independently detached from the 6th fleet & chopped to ComMid East Four & steamed thru the Suez Canal to take part in an invasion of Karg Island with the entire Iranian Navy. We ran aground going thru the Suez due to high speed of the Egyptian pilots and as a result, Capt. Foley was relieved early at sea at Bahrain by Capt. Robert Dubzyk USN (both were WWII vets). We spent 6 weeks + in the Persian Gulf with "liberty" in Aden and Bahrain. During this period , LSD 32 made world news by discovering the wreck of a commercial airliner in Saudi Arabia . We eventually returned to the Med & ended up our tour with liberty in Athens, Naples, Barcelona and LSD 32 again detached from 6th fleet & sent to the beaches of Normandy for the 20th anniversary of D day as the only US ship in an allied task force. This gave us liberty in St Nazairre, & Cherbourg ,France as well as Plymouth , England before returning home to Little Creek after almost 7 months at sea...PAUL
Mike Zaloba (MUSN, 1963): Here's a story about a Sgt Black, recon marine. While on tour of Africa, managed to elude detection and climb up the lines from the pier , go throught the anchor room, and march straight to the young officer or duty to inform him of how poor the security was . It created quite a stir, not to mention the Captain was not too pleased...Take care , MIKE Z.
Pat Woods (RM3, 1971-1975): Hey guys. I served aboard from 1971 to 1975. my name is Pat Woods. I was a Radioman 3rd class. I have found memories of the Spiegel Grove (although I wanted to get off the ship most of the time back then - youthful inexperience haha). I would love to hear from anyone who served aboard, especially anyone who served during the years I was aboard. I still remember calling my mom from Radioman "A" school at 0300 an telling her that I was being assigned to the USS Spiegel Grove. Her response at 3AM was "that sounds like a nice picnic area"! Well, we all know the truth, haha! I always tell people it was like living in a factory. while i was aboard i never lived off the ship. the radiomen's compartment was directly above one of the emergency diesel generators and you know what that sounded like when they lit that thing off. underway we used to work 8 hrs on and 8 hrs off. I still remember when we were in port in Little Creek we had to go and pick up messages at the comm center. I had a VW Beetle but I had never driven any of the ship's vehicles. It was about 0530 or 0600 when I pulled into the comm center picked up our messages and started back to the ship. But there was one problem. The shift pattern was different in the truck then it was in my Beetle. I could get it into all of the "forward" gears but not into reverse. So, after carefully looking around so as not to make an idiot of myself (or get in trouble) I made a big circle (across the concrete parking space "stopper") on the front lawn of the comm center. Oh well it seems pretty funny now, but I wasn't laughing then. I am 46 now and I am really amazed at just how much was entrusted to us at such a young age ... nice making contact with former shipmates ... my experience aboard the Spiegel Grove taught me a lot about past history, current events and myself ...
More Pat.....as your history shows we made many trips to the Carib and one trip to the Med in 1974. In June of 1974 we held NATO exercises with Greece and Turkey and in July of that same year, as part of the amphib group in the eastern Med at that time we (the task force) were called on to evacuate the civilians in one of the countries. It was the longest that i ever stayed away without going to sleep (3 days). Though we never evacuated civilians (on that Med trip)...this was the plan. Both the marines and the navy evacuated their living quarters. The civilian women were to stay on the navy side and the civilian men were to stay on the marine side. We had cargo nets placed on the focs'le so that children could play "safely" there. As a Radioman I was privy to a lot of the planning that all divisions were doing. i was amazed to know that we kept baby formula and diapers as part of supplies.
I just turned 46 on September 19th of '99, but probably my most memorable birthday to date was my 21st birthday as a crew member of the USS Spiegel Grove. I spent my 21st birthday in Barcelona, Spain. Without going into all of the details I was able to ride the Barcelona subway (by myself and not speaking Spanish), met a Spanish pastor and visited his church. This same pastor along with a Dutch couple that were his friends from year's back and myself went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. For this "young" man from Cumberland, Maryland, this was quit an experience. It still brings a tear. Great time far from home. I really didn't appreciate the experience of serving on the Spiegel Grove while I was on board but as the years have passed it is one of the formative times in my life. I remember radio, pri-fly, and "now flight quarters...flight quarters all hands man your flight quarters station! Personnel not concerned stand clear of the 01 & 02 levels aft port and starboard wing walls...now flight quarters!"
I have other memories but I just got off of the night shift. Believe it or not I now work as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Cumberland, MD (don't ask how I got from Radioman to nurse???) I am married to Vicky and have 4 children: Michael 17, Ryan 7, Abby 4 and Christopher 1 (I got a slow start haha). I would love to read memories from other people who served on board. Were there ever any women who served on board? (NO, ed.) I was on board when they brought people from the navy department to "evaluate" how women would do on a ship. I presently live in Fort Ashby, West Virginia which is about 12 miles south of Cumberland, MD. it seems like satellites are everywhere these days but I remember when we got our first satellite receiver for broadcast. Wow, we were high tech then, haha!...anchors away...Pat Woods RM3.
David T. Glynn (QM2, 1963):Howdy Boys...I came aboard the Spiegel Grove January of '63, just in time for Solant Amity IV, what a gas that was--my first cruise. I was assigned to 1st Division--deck apes we were called, early in the morning of our departure for Africa we were awaken and handed snow shovels--it had snowed 14" the night before and we had to clear the decks so we could get underway--the party had begun. We pollywogs succeeded in getting possession of the Jolly Roger flag before crossing the equator which is supposed to get you out of the hazing, the Captain was pissed because in the act of getting the Jolly Roger flag--someone turned on a fire hose in the crew's lounge and messed things up a bit. The day we crossed the equator it was cloudy and somewhat cool and we watched from a distance the ceremonies taking place on the two Destroyers with us. Captain changed his mind the next day and allowed the ceremonies to begin--hotter than can be--the last part of the ritual was to kiss the Royal Babies belly--the Royal Baby was a black guy that weighed in about 250--he smeared a combination of ketchup, mustard and axle grease on his belly--we were made to kneel before him and kiss his belly--of course no really wanted to so he'd grab you by the ears and rub your face around in the goop on his belly while he rubbed more in your hair--what good times that was. I worked my way up to the pilot house to become QM3 the by the next year and then transferred to the USS Lindenwald LSD-6. And what about the "strip" in Little Creek? I was in the Navy for 4 years and never left the Amphibs--never wanted to--loved those landings--too many memories. David T. Glynn QM2 - Cincinnati, Ohio
George Morton (CT2, 1961):One of them was the USS York County, LST 1175. I was aboard her in April of 1961 to September 1961 during SOLANTAMITY II. On that cruise to Africa, the Speiglegrove was the Flag Ship, with Admiral Eugene Flucky as the Flag Officer. Along with us we had the DE's the New and the Ingram and a small oiler, the Chawaken. Not sure of that spelling. But, that was our task force and you already know the reason for the trip--to better relatinships with the countries in Africa.We hit them all beginning with Bathhurst,Gambia. The sailors and marines hit the beach and they (folks of Bathurst) had about 50 cold beers in the whole place and had to send to Senagal for supplies. Ha. We all became Golden Shellbacks on the 8th of May 61 as we headed down the coast to Capetown. Capetown and Durban were fine spots and we hit the Cape two different times. The only problem with South Africa was the restrictions put on our African Americans on the ship. We could not associate with them on the streets or anywhere else. We were the first American War ships into that area in about 8 years, or so we were told. When our cruise ended, it has been said that President Kennedy told the South African administration that NO MORE American Military ships would enter South Africa if that sort of thing continued. I have heard that it did cease to a certain extent. There are so many stories about that cruise. We do have the Cruise Book but not with me at this time. We all enjoyed the trip and of course the "Grove" was right there. I was a Second Class Communication Tech at the time. They are now known as Cryptologic Techs. I retired in 1974 as a CT1. So, I just thought I would throw a little info your way on that SOLANT AMITY II Cruise. It was really great fun. We even had troops in a parade in Gabon as they celebrated with big festivites on their independene from France. The last Port of Call was Trinidad and then we dropped off the Marines Moorehead City, N.C. and then on home to Little Creek. Take care and keep up the good work with the Home Page. It is sad to think about her not sailing on the high seas anymore but we all get older and progress goes right on by us. Ha! George H. Morton, CTR1 RET
Terry G. Morris (LCpl, USMC): - ONSLOW BEACH N.C. 1972 TO 1974. AFTER A 30 DAY WAR GAME IN THE SWAMPS OF CAMP LEJUENE, MY PLT. WAS AIR LIFTED TO THE FLIGHT DECK OF THE USS SPIEGEL GROVE. IT WAS SITTING JUST OFF THE COAST OF ONSLOW BEACH IN THE ATLANTIC. NOT LONG AFTER ARRIVING ON SHIP - WE WERE UNDERWAY. FIRST STOP WAS GITMO.. AFTER 4 DAYS WE WERE ON OUR WAY TO PANAMA FOR SOME WELL DESERVED JUNGLE SURVIVAL TRAINING. THEN HEADED FOR THE VIRGIN ISLAND' S REGION. DURING MY TOUR OF DUTY ON THE SPIEGEL GROVE - THE SHIP AND CREW WERE OF THE BEST I HAVE HAD THE PLEASURE OF SERVING WITH. IT SEEM'S A PART OF ME IS GONE KNOWING THAT SHE WILL BECOME UNDERSEA CORAL REEF MATERIAL. RUNNING PT ON IT'S FLIGHT DECK - PLAYING GUITAR'S IN THE FLIGHT HANGER- CATCHING A MOVIE ON THE FLIGHT DECK WHILE CRUSHING AT NIGHT - STANDING ON HER AFT WATCHING THE RUDER'S KICK UP THE WATER'S OF THE CARIB. SEA. WORKING WITH THE SEAL TEAM THAT WAS ALSO ASSIGNED - AND WORKING WITH THE DUTCH AND BRITISH ROYAL MARINES. ALTHOUGH OUR QUARTER'S WERE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SHIP NEAR THE BILGES (WHERE I SPENT SOME TIME). IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST EXPERIENCE'S OF MY MILITARY CAREER. THEY CAN TAKE HER AND DO WHAT THEY WILL BUT I'LL ALWAYS HAVE THE MEMORY OF HER CRUISING THE WATER WATERWAYS. GOD BLESS THE SHIP IT'S PAST CREW MEMBER'S AND THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS!!!!!!! L/CPL TERRY G. MORRIS - A CO. 2ND RECON BN
David W. Fitch (RM2, 1965-1968): I BOARDED THE SPIEGEL GROVE WHILE SHE WAS IN DRY DOCK JUNE 1965 AND SERVED ABOARD UNTIL JUNE 1968. AFTER LEAVING DRYDOCK AT HOBOKEN NEW JERSEY WE SAILED TO CUBA WHERE WE WENT THROUGH OPERATIONAL READNESS TRAINING FOR TWO WEEKS. AT THIS TIME THE CAPT WAS CAPT CUMMINGS AN EX AIRDALE AND WE HAD THE HIGHEST RELISTMENT RATE ON THE EAST COAST. CAPT. CUMMINGS WAS REPLACED BY CAPT. D.A. YORK EX TINCAN SAILOR. THINGS SURE DID CHANGE. IN 1965 WE PARTACIPATED IN OPERATION SPRINGBOARD ON OUR WAY TO SPENDING 6 MO IN THE CARABEAN. WE RETURNED TO THE CARIBBEAN IN 1966 FOR 6 MO. BETWEEN 1966 AND 1967 WE RECOVERED AN "A" BOMB ACCIDENTALLY DROPPED OFF THE ISLAND OF VIEGAUS P.R. TOP SECRET AND STILL CLASSIFIED I BELEVE. 1967 WE DEPARTED FOR THE MED AND WAS IN A STORM FOR TWO WEEKS. WE HAD TO DROP DOWN TO THE SOUTH OF AFRICAN COAST TO CLEAR STORM AND GET TO MED. WE SPENT 3MONTHS OF 7 IN PORT OF NAPLES BECAUSE OF BOILER PROBLEMS. NEXT 3 MONTHS WE SAILED MED AND ON OUR WAY HOME WE WERE SENT TO GREECE BECAUSE OF INTERNAL PROBLEMS. ON WAY HOME WE LOST THE SUB THREASHER AND I COPIED THE FALSE SOS SENT OUT BY RUSSIAN FISHING BOATS THAT FOLLOWED US AROUND THE MED. WE MADE ANOTHER TRIP SOUTH TO CARABEAN IN 1968 AND I LEFT THE SHIP IN JUNE. SHE WAS SCHEDULED FOR THE YARD FOR SOME REPAIRS FROM JUNE TO SEPT AND THEN WAS SUPPOSE TO TAKE A NORTH ATLANTIC TRIP. SOME OF THE DETAILS ARE FUZZY AND I WILL DIG OUT SOME OLD BOOKS AND TRY TO GET MORE DETAILS. I WENT BACK TO LITTLE CREEK TWO YEARS AGO 1998 AND THE ONLY THING I REMEMBERED WAS THE PIERS LOOKED THE SAME. THE GATOR LOUNGE WAS GONE THE PURPLE ONION WAS GONE AS WELL AS THE ARRANGE MENT OF THE BASE. WILL GET BACK WITH MORE INFO. THE SPIEGEL GROVE HAS BEEN SUNK AS A BARRIER REEF. WHILE IN THE CARIB. WE BROUGHT SOME BEER BACK ABOARD FROM A BEER PARTY WE HAD ON THE BEACH BECAUSE WE COULDNT MAKE PORT. WE STUFFED IT DOWN IN THE OFFICERS ICE MAKER IN OFFICERS COUNTRY TO HIDE IT AND WHEN WE GOT OF SECOND WATCH WE WOULD GET US A CAN OF BEER AND SIT IN A GUN TUBE OUT SIDE THE RADIO SHACK AND DRINK IT. LOTS MORE MEMORIES AND STORIES. COULD TYPE ALL NIGHT BUT WILL STOP HERE. HOW COM YOUR INFOR ON SHIP STOPS AT 1963 AND PICKS UP AT 1975???? BEST REGARDS, DAVID W. FITCH RM2
Richard Riberdy (RIB) (BM2/ACU-2): I remember getting hit by the USS Inchon (LPH-10) on my last Med cruise during an underway refueling operation. I was out on deck when it happened! It was kind of hairy to look up and see that BIG MOTHER LPH looking down on you! I got out in the summer of 1980, July or August. It's too bad as I think back now that I have forgotten so much about that time in my life or that it all kind of ran together as one event! I stayed in touch with some of my old shipmates at first, then as time went on, we lost touch which was a shame! Richard Riberdy, BM2
More Richard.....I remember all those flight quarters calls!! One time in the med. it was real rough! we where somewhere off TURKEY the call went out for"man flight quarters"so we all went up on deck, thinking it was mail,which as you know was a big deal to most of us then! Well the helo comes in, one of those big ugly green mothers, from the INCHON. After some pretty hairy moments. Down drops 2 or 3 mailbags cool! Then the helo moves off. I think were done but after about 2 mins the hellos back and we all think They must be going to take the mail off? So again after sometime they get lined up best they can. Out comes a person? NOW we're rock'n pretty damn good maybe 30* rolls?? And this poor bastard coming on board? Down he comes, the closer to the deck he gets the more he starts to SWING!!! I 'm thinking no way!! From were I'M standing I know this poor guys going to hit the BIG GREEN CONEX BOX that SEAL team 2 had out there!!! And sure as sh#$!! I see him swing in and the flight guys try to stop him. But in no way and I can still hear that sound in my head? It was like a cartoon HIT "BANG" SPLAT !! HES GOT TO BE DEAD??? Well someone got him off the line when he hit? Which was good cause I think they would have tried again? I started to think who is so important that they went thought all that to get him on board? Well first of he was OK ! BANGED up but ok, I thought may someone was looking out for you dude! Which turned out tobe the case! IT WAS A CHAPLIN!!! I had a real hard time at mass on SUNDAY ! Whenever the ship would take a roll, I'D SEE HIM HITTING THAT CONEX BOX!! BANG!!! MAYBE thats why I laugh in church on SUNDAY?? HUM HM?? BM2 RICHARD "RIB" RIBERDY / ACB-2 ON THE SPIEGAL BEIGAL - IN THE MED 77
Allen Black (EN3, 1971): You really brought back some memories. I was stationed onboard Spiegal Grove in 1971 as part of the Embarked troops. I was with a "Special" Navy Unit. That particular Med Cruise was said to have been the first +20 Knot amphibious group put together. The main reason for the speed increase were the "new" LST's. My fondest memories were of sleeping in our boats on the fantail/flight deck during the summer in the Med. We would watch the darkened ship mast swinging from side to side outlined by the brilliant stars as we cruised smoothly through the night. Some interesting notes from then, we had a slightly unbalanced screw that when kicked in the "ass" would vibrate the fantail so much you had to rub your ears. Of course there was also the time we put our stern gate down and it kept going...... (spent alot of time in Naples after that). I ended up spending 23 Years in the Navy and retiring as a Engineman Chief Petty Officer in 1992. I have seen the "Grove" show up at the strangest times through the years as I traveled around the world. I will miss her. Thank you for awakening the memories, Allen Black, ENC, USN(R)
John Evans (MM3, summer of 1981): I only spent a few months aboard the LSD32 that while was waiting for Nuke school in Orlando. I think there were 30 of us, nukes to be, and all of us pushbutton 3rd classes. We ran and worked in the firewatch division while we were in the Norfolk shipyard. I remember a lot of things. The nuke moped assault team in Bermuda was certainly a highlight. I remember a restaurant there called the "Swizzle Inn" where I had my first Monte Cristo sandwich. We dove from cliffs like idiots on that call. I also remember dancing in some nightclub to "Superfreak". In Little Creek I remember fishing for crabs off the pier, and a drive around town with a bottle of Wild Irish Rose, a loaf of bread and a pound of bologna. Man did we get sick. I recall a concert at the Scope where I stood in line outside for hours and had to pee so bad I thought I'd bust. The concert was Blue Oyster Cult with Loverboy opening. I think I still have the pick that the BOC lead guitar gave me. I had 7 more years in the Navy eventually leading up to me being the LELT on the SSBN 624 in Charleston, but I think my time on the LSD 32 was the best. Thanks for keeping the memories alive. John
Tony Anzik (BT3, 1959-1961): I did not serve on your ship, but I was in PhibRon 10 in 1959-1961 aboard the USS Boxer LPH 4. I just wanted to say you have done a heck of a job. I remember the Spiegel Grove in our group. Its been a very long time. The last time I saw her was when she went in the shipyard back in 76-77 in Baltimore. I was sitting in my boat fishing, when she appeared. It like to have blown me away. That night it was an article in the Baltimor Sun Paper. It was good to see her even if I was never on board. I visit all the Navy ship museums, but I don't think I'll be doing any diving. At least the ship will stay intact. Just thought I'd drop you a live and give you a well done. The Boxer has a web site now, but has a long way to go. But a least its a start. Ex-Sailor, Tony A.
Jerry Stephenson (BTC, 1974-1975): I came aboard as a BTC in January 74 after being out of the regular Navy for 8 years. I relieved BTCS Billy Joe Salmon. The next two years were filled with a lot of hard work keeping the "Ole girl" ready for and meeting committments that included 1 Med and 3 Carib cruises. Coming from tin cans and cruisers, I wasn't prepared for how hard gator sailers worked on a daily basis to meet the demands of the amphibious navy. Who had heard of condition 1-Alpha? Hard work all ratings and skills. No exceptions! I returned to the sand crab life during Christmas 1975. I truely believe that the deep hole snipes on the Grove were the best of the best of all ships I served on. Retired BTC -USNR in 1979. CO was John J. Avila. XO was English. Engineer was Williams. Would like to hear from shipmates from that time that remembers me and has a sea story to tell. Looking forward to the reuion in October! Jerry (Chief Steve) Stephenson BTC 1974-1975
Robert Calkins (Embarked USMC - 1958): I was crew chief of an 8-inch self-propelled howitzer that boarded the ship at Radio Island near Morehead City in January 1958. Since I made an earlier Med Cruise in the Belle Grove, LSD-2, much of the cruising portion of the trip is hazy at this late juncture, but I remember the day when we were to head home and the ship turned to port instead of starboard and we wound up off Beirut where we landed and spent several weeks on the beach and in the mountains of Lebanon. It was amazing to see the change in attitude of the ship's crew when they learned we were going land in a hostile situation. Previous to Lebanon, we the Marines, were barely tolerated by ship's company. We were in the way, we were screwing up the ship, etc., but when the word was passed to land the landing force the entire crew couldn't do enough for us, they even opened the armory and lent us some weaponry. Of course when we came back aboard several weeks later we were in the way again
SGT Robert Caulkins - Embarked Marine 1958
Robert Calkins (EN3, 1959-1962): I served aboard the Spiegel Grove LSD-32 from November 1959 until September 1962. This was probably the most memorable time in my life. At the top of the list of memories was the Solant Amity II cruises to Africa.
I noticed in your web site that there is room for expansion and elaboration of that spot. Please allow me to elaborate on one of my favorite subjects; To begin with, the Spiegel Grove carried the Solant Amity II Flag officer, Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey. Admiral Fluckey was a personal friend to President John F. Kennedy and was highly decorated having won the Congressional Medal of Honor twice and the Navy Cross five times. This man cast a long shadow and had a striking presence. He had flaming red hair and stood well above six feet tall. When he went ashore in his dress whites, he wore his CMH's. A more impressive sight I've never seen. He is quite famous a WW II submariner.
I was an Engineman Third Class and as such, took care of the air conditioning systems on the ship. Once when I had to adjust the Admiral's unit, I saw a picture of JFK on the bulkhead personally autographed to: "My Good friend Gene, From John". I was impressed.
The Captain was Capt. R.A. Moore and the Executive officer was Commander Harry Binks. On our way to Africa, about ten days out, we crossed the equator at the prime meridian making the entire crew "Emerald Shellbacks". Since I was into calligraphy, I had the honor of filling out all the certificates. A short time after we got underway, a member of the Navy Band that was on board, happened to hear a few friends and me playing music. He asked if some of his friends could join us and that was the beginning of the "Spiegel Grove Nomads".
Pretty soon, the Admiral's aid, Ensign Maxim got wind of our group and got the ball rolling. He got the clearance for the Nomads to play at various functions during the cruise. We played on a radio station in Cape Town. We played at a town hall in Durban. We played in a parade to celebrate the independence of South Africa. We played on the beach in the Seychelles Islands. It was estimated that we performed in thirteen countries before 250,000 people during that brief period.
During Solant Amity II, we delivered medical supplies to Dr. Albert Schweitzer's leprosy clinic. Hope this brief history is of some good to you, I know it was for me. Bill Powell EN3, Nov. 20, 2000
Michael Paul (BM3, 1985-1989): Michael G. Paul, 1985-89 BM3-2nd Div. and still...second to none! There is something very insidious about our peculiar devotion to our former vessel. Pro-rata, we (as near as my analysis determines) enjoy the highest level of reminisced camaraderie of any command, active or otherwise. I personally salute all that served on Spiegel Grove regardless of when, the ultimate can-do group of men in amphibious warfare! Florida should get some other ship to sink and let the SeaBees of Little Creek drag the Grove up on the beach next to the LCAC hangers for approach practices and a large scale "Old School" amphib museum. I'd like to take some time here to relate some paraphrased memories here:
* I was mess crankin' in the Wardroom on that fateful day in January 28 1986 when the shuttle Challenger exploded 79 seconds into launch. I had just served Cap't McCarthy his soup and was standing next him when it blew up. The wardroom was crowded for the launch/lunch but for the next 90 seconds after THAT moment the whole ship was dead quiet. A phone rang down the passageway, it was in Charlie Oscars stateroom. Squadron called ordering colors to half mast. Cap't RJ returned and ordered the OOD to muster color guard. Nobody ate lunch or dinner in O country that day and the same was true in the enlisted mess. Except for duty section, the ship was empty by 3pm and liberty was never called. The USS Grasp and USS Grapple were tied up on the next pier over and they pulled out a few hours later for recovery. The funny thing about the televised commentary was that NASA thought there might be survivors but all of us there watching at that moment knew nobody could live through that kind of explosion. Some weeks later however, the rumor came scuttling up the seawall from MDSU-2 that several of the astronaut bodies had water in their lungs.
* From 1985 until she deployed on Marg 3-87 Spiegel Grove earned the unflattering moniker of Building 32. The upside of this was that LSD 32 totally dominated in Captains Cup events which was a moral booster.
* In May of '87 Spiegel Grove transported 20+ fresh horses to GTMO in the well deck for the riding academy there. Several days before hand were spent fabricating the stalls for the transit and loading hay etc. During the shipment I had a chance to ride as the horses had to be exercised every day. There were no problems with them and it turned out they were just as salty as could be. The one nagging question I had was that we didn't bring the old horses back, "Where did they go"?
* After GTMO above, we did gunfire at Vieques, then tied up for liberty at P.R. On a duty night, myself and BMSNs Miller, Neri, Beesmer, Werneth et. al. had our own U.A.. swim call. As we were starboard side to and had a sidecleaners scaffolding barge made fast to the port side focs'le for a ladder, why not? We had a great time and even the Qm on duty didn't rat us out when he saw us leaping off the port bridge wing after returning from 8 o'clocks.
* I am not but I do know the identity of the unauthorized shitter in officers country during MARG 3-87.
* Through the big eyes, watching the natives in all possible combinations copulating amongst the rocks on the shore at Piraeus. Everyday. Perhaps the origin of getting your rocks off?
* While attempting to enter port at Little Creek after local ops, the Cheng was also standing OOD for Quals. For some unknown reason he executed his hard turn to port one buoy short of the channel entrance to the Creek. The ship scrubbed bottom hard, all hands lurched and you could hear the catcalls fore to aft topside. Two minutes later the plants shut down, power was lost because the sea trunks had packed with mud, prohibiting cooling and evap functions. We were tugged in and I don't know how any one kept this quiet. After linehandlers it was suggested (by Cheng) that Deck Dept assist with the mud bucket brigade that started at the bilges. The Bos'n nixed that idea. His boys weren't cleaning up after some engineers' (Cheng) sloppy shiphandling and that was that and that included the duty section. If Cheng didn't like that he could take it up with squadron, which would never happen.
* CWO4 TOM MARSHALL- SHIPS BOS'N Absolutely the Saltiest sob of the post war fleet. Craftmaster, Brownwater Navy,every qual a BM could get he had. If the Navy thought that it could launch an LCAC out a torpedo tube,he'd be the man for the job. Equal parts Clint Eastwood in "Heartbreak Ridge" and the drill sergeant in "Full Metal Jacket" We loved that guy but if you screwed up he would air you out, Hard. He enjoyed sleeping on the XO-CO passageway deck after returning from liberty in foreign ports. I hope to see him again one day.
A lot more to come, Kevin. I have a
fair amount of shipmate photos which are almost more important than
countless exterior views of the Grove. I know that I would not have
waited this long to write if I had seen myself in the backround of a
picture even if it was submitted by someone else. Thanks, Michael Paul
E.A. Kiel (RM2, 1985-1989): My favorite memory was watching the CSRR technician blow the tubes out of the URC-32's while trying to get 1Kw out of them during testing. We told him it was never going to happen but he had to prove that to himself, the URC-32's had a panel that covered the tubes just about eyes heigth, and every time he tried to go max power, arcing and sparking would jump out after him. As an RM2, I truly enjoyed watcing the Chief jump around! E A Kiel (85-89)
Scott Cavalari (ET2 (SW), 1984-1988): For the record the tranist to Gitmo in 87 was not quite as planned. We were not 12 hours out of Little Creek when major engine room problems arose. We were hearing serious talk of turning back, but we instead aimed for Charleston, where we stayed for a day or three as I recall. Rumors of Charlestons engineering techs threatening to have us decommisioned on the spot were flying, as our steam plant was questionable at best. We left Charleston under cover of darkness after 2 nites of unplanned liberty, and headed South. From the southern coast of Florida all the way to Gitmo, we were making 5-7 knots, and thats no BS. You looked out at the water and you would swear you could get off and walk faster. It was really bad but turning back was not an option. As we limped into Gitmo, they already had a portable steam plant on the pier for us, and it became affectionatley known as #3 steam plant, or words to that effect. Needless to say, the bulk of our reftra was done pierside, and liberty was eventually spent dragging clean laundry around to dirty it, thereby creating dirty laundry, and something to do. Still, loyal to our ship, we did almost have a fist fight with some of the crew of the Mt. Baker at the ice cream stand one night when they refered to the Grove as FTG flag ship. Tempers flared and HT1 Martinez, in a rare moment of sobriety, figured out we had just been slammed and had to be restrained. I'd pay big money to be back in 87 with those guys wandering around that freaking boring island with nothing but laundry to do.
Additional memories from Scott...
Like GTM 87, MARG 87 did not begin as
planned. On the first day as ususal we anchored by the bay bride
tunnel and ballasted down to take on the LCU's and those wild and
crazy guys from Beachmasters, (SM1 Baez and crew). Anyway one of the
HTs had left a manhole cover off one of the ballast tanks so we
ballasted a little more than the ballast tank, namely a dry goods
store room. So there we were, 1st day of the Med, enroute to
Moorhead, E5 and below working party to toss the entire contents of
the storeroom over the side. From a plane we probably left a big
white streak behind us as everything seemd to be bags of flour and
pancake mix and stuff like that. This was the first deployment in
many years for the Grove. I got on board in 84 and every year we had
a med scheduled and then canceled due to the steam plant. At least
the ET's weren't to blame but considering the nonsense that went on
in the ET shop we should have been blamed. We dreaded those Med
cruises as we were mostly young and recently married, and boy were we
wrong. That Med in 87 was over in the blink of an eye, it was only 5
months long. We were probably the only Med to never hit Naples. We
hit Rota on the way in, (controled liberty) after the suez etc etc we
had 3 days in Mombasa Kenya, then a few ops, then 17 days in Athens,
the hi point, 5 days in Palma, Rota again and then home. We got
robbed. We had seal team 2 onboard, the USMC recon team, and it was a
real privilege to see those guys around. Special people to be sure.
We did have a shellback which they greatly added to. There was safety
in numbers as a wog when you were with those guys. Anyway yeah, that
was some deal on the first day flooding that store room, I'm sure the
captain had to be shaking his head over that, like, what next? The
ET2(SW) (sand wedge) Cavalari
They ribbed me for being a goody 2 shoes for getting SW but I made 1st thanks to those 2 points. Half the SW book was NA on the Grove.
Brian Nutter (EM3 - USS Inchon, 1980): From the Inchon page, I was reminded that our two ships "came together." If I remember right, in 1980, we were refueling with Speigel Grove when we collided. You guys crunched into our aircraft elevator and our helos were stuck topside as I think the forward portside elevator was OOC. It was a rough cruise. The Austin ran into a container ship in the fog (a container sat on the bow for a day or so). One ship in company had a towing line wrap around its screw (bent something up?). We had a short in the SSTG1, the turbine in SSTG2 blew up. We had to run the diesels for weeks. They flew on generators in trailers for the flight deck, but couldn't get them working right. The someone in the Commodore's group rolled a car on the pier at Palma de Mallorca. Last of all, we lost a helo off the deck (lost power) while off-loading marines by Morehead City. Not surprised someone was releived of command after that one.
Someone (on Inchon, I guess), had a great sequence of pictures of the refueling going on. As the ship's got closer, you could see the guys on Speigel Grove running in different directions to get out of the way. That would be a real prize for your website, but it'll take time tracking it down. I had a good picture of the USS Austin's bow all smashed in Naples or Rota from the container ship collision. There were several containers (like truck trailers) floating in the water. The FT's were using them for small arms practice. Eventually, Inchon sank them with the 3 in. 50 cal. from her forward mount. (Personally, I wanted to see them to use the Sea Sparrow rockets!) Brian Nutter, EM3, USS INCHON
Wayne Burke (US Naval Academy Midshipman Cruise, 1970): Dear Kevin, Tks. so much for the effort you have put into the U.S.S.Spiegel Grove's history. I served aboard her during the Naval Academy's 1970 midshipmen's training cruise. I will never forget that cruise, nor that summer. As a 19 yr. old E3, it was 7 weeks of high adventure! We were 2 wks. at sea, a week at her majesty's royal shipyard in Portsmouth (England's oldest naval shipyard), where right outside the gate, pint's of cider flowed and sailor's listened to the sounds of one of G.B.'s hottest new groups, the Rollingstones. Then a week through the North Sea and into Coppenhagen. The ship tied up for another week within a hundred yards of the mermaid. Victor Borge appeared at Tivoli Gardens that week, and everymorning a bakery truck pulled up to the pier with fresh, warm danish for the the entire crew. I will never forget the taste of that danish. Our return to Little Creek took us around the Orkney Islands of Scotland and over the area the Titanic sunk in 1912. The captain allowed the ship to drift over the area for a short time. Little did I know then, that the story would regain such fame 28 years later. I'll never forget the storm we ran into off the coast of Newfoundland. Somehow, I managed to pull scullery duty during those wild 36 hours. As I clearly remember, the porthole directly across the passageway got a lot of use. I could go on w/ more memories; midrats and hot soup and sandwiches, general quarters, dropping anchor next to the Chesepeake Bay Bridge, old downtown Norfolk in the late 60's. Thanks again for a truly great webpage! P.S. I WILL BE IN KEY LARGO WHEN THEY BURY OUR LSD 32! Wayne Burke Englewood, FL
Ken Hatra (SFP2, 1964-1968): I served aboard the Spiegel Grove from November 1964 to August 1968 as a shipfitter pipefitter. I boarded the ship in Hoboken, New Jersey and was ischarged in Little Creek. Worlds Fair was going on in New York City--we went every night we could. I had so much fun and went to a lot of neat places on that ship. I had so many friends I wish I could find them. Leon Talley was our 1st class in the shop and Leonard Bean was a 2nd class. From welding in the engine room to over the side, swimming in the well deck and jumping off the cranes we had a great time on that old girl. If anyone would like to contact me I have 2 e-mail addresses and they are: kenhatra @alltel.net or email@example.com. I would like to hear from anyone on the ship from that time or any time. I remember getting put up to asking a marine if his sister took swimming lessons in the chow hall by somebody and I have pulled that joke so many times. We were all crazy but we were all Navy!!
Norman D. Hatch (ME2, 1960-1963): I was a ME2 while aboard. Date's aboard were from About April 1960 to April 1963. When I had orders to SG I was in Norfolk before SG returned from Lebanon. They were there because of the fighting going on there. They went there in 1959 and returned in 1960. I don't remember any dates on the events while I was aboard or some of the year's. I do remember some of the event's that took place while I was on board. Such as the Bay of Pigs came about. We left Norfolk in a hurry and steamed to Morehead City and anchored out till we got what Marine's and their supply loaded then pulled Anchor and steamed towards Cuba to support the invasion of Cuba. We got almost there and they called it off and sent us in to Jacksonville, Florida to refuel and load supplies. When we got to the river to go in to port we took on our River Pilot and he took us in. But some how he got the wrong information on what our draft was. He must have unloaded draft because we went to a pier that was to shallow for us and we ran aground. Well being a ship with steam turbines we suck up all the mud and lost every thing we had. We were dead in the water and the tug's had to move us to another pier. Then every one in the holes had to work real fast and break down every steam turbine and get the mud out before it harden up then would have be chiseled out. Well the steam turbine all had Babbitt Bearing's. At the time I was the one that know how to pour Babbitt Bearing's ( I learn this from my dad on old Farm Machinery ) It took most of the night. As soon as I got one set done Kenneth McKinney MR2 would take it and bore it out to size then cut the oil grove's in so they could put them back in each generator have two set's so it would take a while to get a generator back on line so we could have our own power to get under way again. After we got thing's repaired and refueled we got under way for Morehead City to off-load Marines & then on to good old Norfolk. I believe this was in 1962. I guess I'm doing this backwards. In 1961 we went to the Auditorium at Little Creek where Admiral McCain and a civilian named Rosenblum gave us a lecture on how to be American Ambassador's for we were going on a good will tour of Africa. Then we load the ship with 8 10 ft by 10 ft by 10 ft cube boxes 4 were refrigerated boxes and 4 were not. They were loaded with magazine's, toy's and candy. The other 4 had cases of meat and other food supplies. Then we steamed to Morehead City to pick up Marine's and their equipment such as Navy Mike 8's They were loaded in Norfolk. They went in and picked up the Tank's and 6 bys plus some bulldozer's. We also loaded 21 Helicopter's. Then we headed for Africa. The first port that went to was Dakar, Gambia. North West Coast of Africa. there we off loaded some of the supplies in the boxes. Then steamed to where we crossed the Equator at 0 Latitude and 0 Longitude and that is where we had our day with Davey Jones & King Neptune and all became Golden Shellback's. That date on my certificate is 8th 0f May 1961. R.A. More Captain was Commanding Officer of Spiegel Grove at that time. After that we went in to Libreville, Gabon is on the Equator. There we off loaded again I believe that is where we put some Marine's a shore for Jungle training and some got lost and the Chopper's went in and found them. From there we steamed to Cape Town South Africa. Only on the way we were refueling at sea from a tanker AO 50 ( I don't know the name ). While we were refueling the tanker lost power and steering and the tank collided with us and just damaged our small craft mooring boom. So when we got in to Cape Town I had duty shipfitter so I had to go over the side and cut and weld what had to be repaired. We had guest coming on board and me being a young Sailor wanted to what was going on first time there but had to go over the side and weld. The life of having duty when you come in port. We were for three or four day's. There was People that would come aboard and invite people to there place. On the second day in port, another shipmate (Dan Green SF2) and I got invited by a Banker's wife and her driver drove us in town to a club ( where member's only ) and had a few drink's and then she took us out in to the country then to their home and showed us their winery and then in to there home where we had supper and then few more drink's and that was the first time that I had champaigne and never again. the next day we went with a English teacher to their home for the evening. From Cape Town we steamed to Durban South Africa and had a good time in port then on to Zanzibar, Tanzania ( East Africa ) & then on to Mombasa, Kenya. I believe that is where some personnel went on a Safari and I and some other Sailor's just walked around town. I believe we were there for two day's then we got order's from the Pentagon to head for Kuwait because the Iraq Government was trying to over through Kuwait so we pulled out in a hurry to go there but when we got almost there it was called off and they sent us in to Aden, Yemen to refuel the same place that the ship USS COLE got blown up. We went a shore there some of us walked in to town in our White's and it was all just Desert sand so we looked nice when we got back to ship. From there we sailed to Victoria, Seychelles Island we were there for couple day's and I had to pull Shore Patrol the last day and what a job of trying to get drunk Sailor's and Marine's back aboard ship at 1 am. We sailed for Madagascar stayed 1 day ( good old duty again ) Then on to Reunion Island one day there. The Sailor's and Marine's that went a shore had to be bussed through the town where the pier was at to another town because that town was Communist controlled and off limit's to the US. from there back to Cape Town to fuel up again and then sailed to Brazil. We were suppose to go in to Recife, Brazil when we got all most there we got word that they were stoning the American Embassy so they changed us to Port of Spain, Trinidad stayed there couple day's then on to Morehead City to off load Marine and their Equipment. then on to good old Norfolk. One trip to the Caribbean we were on training and the force draft blower's to Boiler room burned out and they had to fly in two new blower's and I had to cut out two hatches through two deck's to get old blower's out and new one's in and then weld the hatch's back in and believe me that was about the hot's job that I ever had the heat was just pouring out of the Boiler Room. The BT's had to ware glove's to climb the ladder to get out. They could only stay down there just a few minute's at a time it was so hot in the Boiler Room. At the time I was the only one aboard that had been through welding school. One of the time's we were in the shipyard at New Port News they sent a bunch of us to school for bus driving to drive the liberty party back and forth to Norfolk. We got the schooling but they never got the bus to drive. While in the Yards I us to Drive truck to haul our Oxygen and gas to refill the tank's and to go get other supply's for the ship. Shipmate Norman D. Hatch
Vaughn Weston (BMSN, 1972-1975): hi shipmates from 1972-1975. esp. boatswains mates from 1st & 2nd Divisions.If any of you are still alive out there and remember me give me a shout! I have not spoke to any of you since we were all on the ship.Like idiots we never gave each other our numbers before we all got discharged.(probably in a hurry to get home!) Oh ya,my name is Vaughn weston, the crazy one ,in ports of call we were always drunk,womanizing fighting,etc. Any of you remember I rented the yellow volks wagon in rosevelt roads, Puerto rico and we were all DWI and I was shifting it without the cluth then we crashed it up?You guys took off back to the ship and I had to return the car by myself,I basicly thru the keys on the counter and ran back to the ship, luckily it was preparing to leave so I got out of that one just in time! firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Armstrong (LTJG, 1971-1972):What a great job of preserving some wonderful history. My name is Craig Armstrong and I served as a young j.g. about the "Spiegel Eagle" from March 71 - Nov 72. I was in charge of 22 guys in "A" gang - the auxiliaries guys who kept the diesel engines, HVAC, and IC shop running. I went thru every one of the photos you posted and did fine until I saw the ones of the well deck. When I was growing up in central MN my Dad and I used to play catch about every night when the weather permitted. I wasn't much of a ball player but used to play catch with the Radioman Chief on that well deck whenever we could. Got fun when the waves got to 5 ft+. I took a Med cruise and a Carribean cruise with the SG. We stopped in Izmir Turkey, Naples, Italy, Pizza, Italy, Barcelona, Spain and Rota, Spain. The "old man" was a guy named Andersen but can't remember his first name. I was a qualified OOD and proud to have been. I still tell my kids about it. FYI, in about Jan 1972 some Marines left a hatch open in an AmTrac and it went to the bottom in an excercise off of the coast of Maine. As the SG was one of the few amphibs with 50 ton cranes we were called in to go up and pull the AmTrac off the bottom. I will look thru some of my pictures and see if I have some of her worth sending. Thanks very much for taking the time to put this site together. I would never have known about it but my brother-in-law lives and dives in FL. Please let me know how I can join the reunion group. Thanks again for your dedication. Respectfully, CAPT Craig Armstrong (ret)
Bill Luyster (BM2, 1969-1972):I joined the ship in April, just after she returned from Gitmo after a shakedown cruise. The ship was under the command of Capt.D.W. Nordberg. Mid May we set sail for the Caribbean. Did our thing at Vieques for a few days, something called "Exotic Dancer 2" then to San Juan. Old San Juan was my first liberty port. Remember "Liberty Cards". On June 24, Capt. Burton B. Witham Jr took command at scenic Gitmo. Swimming with your sneakers on while the "grunts" were on the side of the hill dug in with machine guns. Then to Roosevelt Roads for fuel. The cattle cars were such a good way to move 75 drunken sailors and marines, what friendships. We did Panama for jungle training,Trinidad,St Lucia, Ponce P.R., San Juan where we found out about "Woodstock" and Vieques a few more times. Our last liberty port was St Thomas where we stocked up on liquor ( it was 18 years old back then) and on to Little Creek.
I think we went again in early 1970 to the Caribbean. Did a Mid-shipman cruise, to Liverpool, England and Copenhagen. We had these target drone boats back then that had big Chrysler 318 c.i hemi heads. With the middies onboard, they removed the offsets from the guns and we still had a difficult time hitting it. Swim call in the mid Atlantic.
Late fall 1970, saw us off Virginia Beach, practicing to pick up an Apollo space capsule. I was the "mike 6" coxswain so I had an even colder time. We developed a saltwater leak while anchored off Bay Bridge just after loading the mike 6 (Aloha Foxtrot 5 for any other coxswains). Flooding became very serious and extra pumps where flown out to us. They started dumping steam from the port boiler. Word later had it that there had been a discussion on the bridge about running the ship up on the beach. The new C.O was a fighter jock just back from Vietnam and this was his first command I believe. January 1971 we headed south to the equator. Tore the ship up doing our "shellback" experience. Stopped in Receife, Brazil and offloaded tons of Carnation Instant Breakfast, which was donated by a church group. What the hell where these people going to do with this stuff?? We then sat 1,000 miles off the coast of Rio for two weeks. Got a weeks liberty in Rio, except deck had to paint the sides as the C.O. was going to hold a recption for the embassy staff. If the gunners mates have to hose down the topside ammo lockers to keep the temperature down, how hot were the guys in life jackets sitting on the stages. This was Apollo 14 and it landed safely in the Pacific. The C.O. was Capt George E.R.Kinnear lll, who later became admiral as the C.O. of Miramar Naval Air Station (topgun school).
April 16, 1971 we departed for the Med for 6 months. Port visits in Athens, Iraklion Crete, Athens, Antalya Turkey, Brindisi Italy, Izimir Turkey ,Naples Italy, Palma Mallorca, Barcelona Spain.
I got off the ship in early December 1972, believe she had just gone into Norfolk Shipbuilding for a long overhaul. In 1974 I got a job as a salesman for the company that designed and sold all the gripes (tiedowns) to the Navy.
The ships official call sign was November Alpha Alpha Romeo (NAAR). Her underway call sign was Aloha Foxtrot.
To all the good guys I served with Joe Phillips, Spock, Bear, Toad, Hilky, Lonnie Wynn, Tom Rayner, Rabbit and others whose names now escape me, I leave you with two thoughts, "Hurry up and wait" and "you only remember the good times".
Believe I saw the ship on a Discovery Channel special concerning the recovery of a lost atomic bomb off the coast of Spain, might have been late 50's or early 60's.
I have followed the Grove for many years after I got off her, through my contacts in the Navy. Saw the notice in the NY times years ago about sinking her as a reef. Hope some of the above helps to fill in some gaps in her history. If notified in time I would fly to Florida to witness her going to her final resting place. I can be reached at email@example.com
Bill Carroll (RD3, 1964-1966): I SERVED ON THE GROVE FROM FROM 1964 TILL 1966. I WONDER IF ANYONE SERVING AT THAT TIME REMEMBERS SPENDING THREE DAYS IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC TO SET UP A SEARCH AND RESCUE LINE FOR PRESIDENT JOHNSON'S IMPENDING TRIP TO CHURCHILL'S FUNERAL? YOU TALK ABOUT THE PERFECT STORM! YOU HAD TO STRAP YOUSELF IN THE BUNK AND THEN TRY TO SLEEP. WE WERE TAKING 30 TO 40 FOOT ROLLERS. I WORKED IN CIC AS AN RD3. EW MADE A "BARF METER" OUT OF A PAPER PLOTTING COMPASS AND HUNG A GREASE PENCIL FROM THE CENTER. AS THE SHIP ROCKED AND ROLLED, WE COULD MEASURE THE DEGREES OF THE ROLL. IT WAS UNREAL. SOMETHING I'M GLAD I EXPERIENCED, BUT WOULDN'T WANT TO DO IT AGAIN.
I WASHED A LOT OF MY SKIVVIES THAT WEEK. A LOT MORE GREAT MEMORIES, BUT I'LL LEAVE ROOM FOR SOMEONE ELSE. I LIVE 3 HOURS NORTH OF KEY LARGO, AND WILL ATTEND THE SINKING. I HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE. KEVIN, THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK.SHE WAS A GREAT SHIP AND DESERVES THIS FINAL RESTING PLACE. BILL CARROLL RD3
Richard Keane (EM2, 1956-1957): I was just recalling a incident that occurred with the original crew,while we were be assembled in Norfolk Va.I think it was a Sunday and one of the crew members came running into the barracks we were billeted in. he was yelling that some of the crew had got into a brawl with some of the crew for the Boston (not 100% sure of name) a cruiser that was being converted in a guided missile cruiser. It seems our guy were outnumbered, and were getting the crap beat out of them. About 25 of us followed the guy back to were the brawl was taking place outside of the EM club. Anyway we were going at it with the guys from the Boston when a truck full of shore Patrol showed up, every body took of to the baracks. the shore patrol did get a few guys from each crew. About a half an hour latter the word came out that the Shore Patrol were in the barracks, most of the guys that were involved in the fight that ran from the barracks were bare footed, as it was after lights out. they said the shore patrol were checking the bottom of the guys feet to see if they were dirty. we all headed to the showers, the Shore Patrol Came into the shower on the second floor, there were about 20 of us in there, this big salty chief boatsman, looked at us, then started laughing, he commented that the Spiegle Grove most have the dirtyest crew in the Navy ,and left.
More from Richard:
Kev, just spent the last hour reading the
memories part of ur site, Loved every word of it.If I could I would
like to add a few memories.
We departed Norfolk Va. in May of 1956 for New Orleans by train,what a great Train trip. The Navy booked about 5 pull-man cars and a restaurant car for the crew. At diner , we made arrangements with one of the porters to get us beer. we all chipped in and he somehow got us a lot of cold beer. I never laughed so much in my life. two guys fell out of the top bunks,but never felt a thing. The Grove was supposed to be ready in two weeks, but that turned into 4 weeks. We had open liberty for that month, A lot of us found this bar in the strip, that was owned by a retired Navy Man. We spent a lot of time in that bar, and he treated us well, he arranged for a lot of the Strippers that worked the strip to spend a lot of time at the bar.
When we were leaving New Orleans to pick up the ship in the navy yard,he told one of the older guys(he was at least 25) that he feared the Spiegel Grove would never get underway. Thinking back now that I am 67 years old it does surprise me that a bunch of kids that had been partying for a month did get her underway.
Thinking back to a General Quarters incident that happened to me shortly after the ship was commissioned. My general quarters station was After Steering.And i loved that station. I used to bring a foul weather jacket down there,Spreads it out on the deck, Which at that level was shaped like a V. I used to lay there ,with sound powered phones on,and day dream , or better.
On about the forth GQ we had they called for a drill were the rudder could not be controlled from above. I was told to crank the rudder to so many degrees. No matter how i tried , i could not move the rudder. I sent word that i could not crank the rudder. In about 5 minutes this huge Motor MACHINES T MATE FIRST CLASS SHOWED UP AND TOOK OVER THE CRANK, AND WAS ABLE TO STEER THE SHIP.The Captain asked to see me after GQ to see what happened.He took one look at me and said ,Son you are sure skinny.Who was the mastermind who picked you for that GQ station. For a long time i had the nickname Skinny....
Frank Barnwell (OSSA, 1987-1989): I was an OSSA aboard during the 1987 deployment to the Med and Indian ocean. Were there any photos of CIC???!!! I really wanted to sweep the 03 weather deck, just one more time while reading about her clean-up. I found your site in Dec. 2000, shortly after have gone on-line for the first time. Merely typing in her hull # was enough to find your site. That was my only trans-ocean deployment in the Navy, and only ship I served on, making it still a very special memory. While off Somolia, when the water got low, cooking within her from being on auxiliary power, waiting for re-supply has remained the most vivid memory.
Some where in a green logbook, is my noteworthy brain-fart. I was at my station at the surface search radar console, just paying attention to the watches giving me ranges and bearings to contacts. I hadn't paid much attention to who was around me the last few minutes. Then I smelled a cigar burning!! So, to lighten the atmosphere with humor, ! asked "who's smoking that turd?" An officer with the heaviest brass cap turned to face me (Capt. MacCarthy), with a turd/cigar in his mouth. I turned five shades of red of course. The captain laughed his ass off, of course. Geeeeez!
Has anyone else mentioned The USS Spiegel Grove met the USS Stark as she transited the Suez canal under escort, bound for home after being "accidentally" attacked by the Iraqi air force in the spring of 1987? Take care, keep up the great work on this site!!! Frank Barnwell
Fred Bradley (FT3, 1960-1961): I joined the Spiegel Grove crew in late 1960 after completing "A" school and the following April (1961) we left on a good will cruise (to Africa) called "Solant Amity ll". I certainly can't add much regarding "Solant Amity ll" that hasn't already been mentioned by some others (Norman Hatch ME2, Robert Calkins EN3) but it was a memorable cruise. At the ports-of-call, the public were invited to tour the ships and I can remember the long lines as they really seemed to be interested in our fleet. They were very interested too in the "Solant Amity Band" that performed at some ports. But, what I always seem to remember the most about the cruise was the day of celebration when we crossed the equator the first time on that cruise. For those of us not already Shellbacks there was some anxiety at the beginning of the day but the anticipation of becoming "Golden Shellbacks" was exciting. I operated the sound-powered phones for flight quarters at the location where Capt. Moore and Cmdr. Binks (Exec Off) stood and had to relay any and all communications to the flight deck. For that and being a "Redhead" I was found guilty and was summoned to King Neptune's court. The day was long for most of us but more so for one shipmate. He was a good sized fellow (Fire-Control Seaman) from North Carolina and usually at odds with our Chief Fire Controlman. It so happened that the chief was King Neptune and very early that day he put a rope (like a leash) around the seaman's neck, made him hold a raw steak in his mouth (to keep him quiet) and led him around on his hands and knees for quite some time. It was very humiliating for him but humorous to the rest of us. At the end of the day we were all glad to be anointed (with garbage) Golden Shellbacks and pushed backwards into the large tank of salt water. We crossed the equator six times on that cruise but I never crossed it again and didn't get to return the favor to other non-shellbacks. My time spent on the Spiegel Grove was short but as I said, memorable. Was proud to have served on her especially now that I know about her fate as a man-made reef for divers off the Florida Keys at Key Largo. Fred Bradley
Vic Vickers (RM3, 1957 & 1958): Some stories: In 57, we went into Malaga, Spain, the first U.S. ship since WWII. The captain ran in too fast and rammed the pier. Did considerable damage. He was gone within a matter of days. We were really happy he was gone. I can't remember his name but he actually conducted white glove inspections of the ship... I'm sure we made a great impression on all of the people that had gathered on the pier to see the American ship come in, especially when they realized we were not going to stop. In 58, I was sitting on the bench in the Electronics Shack when I glanced out of the porthole. I couldn't believe my eyes. The USS Olmstead, an APA in our group was heading right for me. Found out later they had lost their gyro. They collided with us just aft of the gun turret on the port side. Did considerable damage.We went to Valetta, Malta where repairs took more than a week.That was a long time ago. I will probably remember more when I think about it for a while
James Baker (Duty Engineer, USS Olmstead): I thought Vic Vickers might like the other side of the story on the collision with the Olmstead. I was the Engineer on watch in After Steering. When the gyro went out, the bridge thought the steering had gone. They relayed steering to us. When the seaman with me followed instructions from them, they said the ship still wasn't turning away. They were still looking at the gyro. I ran up the ladder to the stern to see what was going on. The young guy on watch there was on his headphones. I saw the Spiegel Grove VERY close to the stern.
Apparently the Captain asked him on the headphones , "How close is it?"
The excited and scared Seaman yelled, "I can spit on the sonofabitch!" James Baker, Columbus, OH
Frank Davis (PN2, 1956 & 1957): Confession Time: While serving on the Spiegel Grove, I became very good friends with the two Filipino stewards. On numerous occasions, the Captain's steward, Gueramo, would ask me if I would like to have some of the Captain's ice cream, cake, and other deserts, which I certainly didn't refuse. Also, several times when I wasn't on duty, he would open the Flag stateroom next to the Captain's stateroom and I got some pleasurable Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z's on a nice thick mattress. Thanks, Gueramo, wherever you are.
One more story for your collection: One time when I was walking out of the Flag Office in officer's quarters, I wasn't paying much attention and when I turned right all I see in front of me was "scrambled eggs" and gold braiding. I didn't know that Admiral "Cat" Brown had been piped on board and he I collided in the passageway. He was a short fellow and though I was only 5'-9," I towered over him. The brim of his hat hit me in the chest. We both immediately grabbed each other, apologized, and went on our merry way. I later found out that the admiral and the captain's cook had been sparing partners when the admiral was a midshipman at the academy. Frank Davis, PN2, member, commissioning crew (56-57)
Some additional memories from Frank...
"If I recall correctly, the following
incident occurred in 1956 when the Spiegel Grove was at Veletta,
Malta. I was standing on the quarter-deck getting ready to go on
liberty when I noticed an English cab approaching the dock. A
gentleman in a black raincoat got out of the cab and proceeded to
climb the gangway. He was carrying two suitcases. When he got to the
top of the quarter-deck, I believe a chief ask him for his peddler's
pass. This gentleman raised his head up and promptly said to the
chief, "Peddler's pass, hell", I'm the Captain of this
ship." Frank Davis, PN 2,
(56-57 - plankowner)"
Kelvin Brink (Civilian - Durban, South Africa 1961): I was 19 when your ship pulled into Durban, it had come off the Cuban Issue and I think if I remember it was the flag ship, I managed to meet a few guys on the USS Spiegal Grove, One of them was Sylvester Tyron or Tyron Sylvester not to sure though 40 years is a long time, I and my Girlfriend went to a dance at the Seaman's Club where the Band of Sailors Entertained us, and shared there beer , I had a men's necklace that this Sylvester Tyron took and engraved it for me on board , to this day its the only navy ship I have ever been on and those memories will live with me, that's why I did a search on the USS Spiegel Grove and found your web page, I now live in the States in Seattle area I have been here one year and a few days, Thanks for giving me the pleasure of reading the history of the USS Spiegel Grove. Regards Kelvin Brink
Ken Long (RD2, 1965-1968): After graduating from A school, I joined the crew of the Speigel Grove in November 1965. Within a couple of weeks we left on a cruise to the caribbean. As the new guy in CIC, I was told I had a very important job during "Sea and Anchor Detail". They put me at a table facing the Starboard bulkhead and gave me a log book and a headset and told me to write down everything I heard. Being a newbie I didn't want to screw up this important assignment so I wrote as fast as I could,(it was the Fore,Aft,Port and Starboard lookouts that I was listening to) anyway it started to get awfully warm in CIC (they cut off the air conditioning), gave me a cup of coffee that I swear had to be 3 days old, a little milk and sugar and it was bearly drinkable. Then the guys fired up cigars the smell of which didn't mix with the heat. I remember turning around to ask a question and everyone was swaying back and forth simulating the motion of the ship at sea.
The mix of seeing the motion, cigar smell and rotten coffee had it's effect and I made a dash for the Starboard railing and puked my guts out. To my horror we were still tied to the dock!!!!! Welcome to the U.S. Navy. lol
Thomas Johanning (SA, 1973-1974): I served on the USS Spiegel Grove. I was a Deck Hand E-2 I remember being stranded in Aruba and the ship forgot to pick me up at the airport lol's what an experience, well anyways I was picked up later in Roseeveltroads misspelled I know Puerto rico man was I happy to see you'all when you showed up. I knew that I did'nt want to be stranded in Puerto rico, I don't remember names to well but just wanted to say Hi to the Crew I was with yeah I remember Hillbilly we use to get to drinking and fighting off ship sometimes on ship out of boredome lol, Learch was a character too and most of the Crew was alright alota good memories, I usually hanged around the bow of the ship or on the helicopter deck stood guard dutie and hung off the side of the ship learning how to paint lol and trying to figure out what kinda trouble I could get into that was me TJ, One night we had a couple of the guys sneak into the officers living quarters while one officer was past out with a newspaper over his head we raided the refrigerator for food snacks that was TJ oh well I wished I would have stayed on the ship longer back then I wasn't the best Sailor but the memories are forever. You can Email me at TJRoadie@aol.com HI YOU'ALL From Thomas Johanning.
Jim Leonard (MU3, 1961):My name is James Leonard MU3. I was stationed aboard the Spiegel Grove during the Solant Amity II cruise to Africa. I was in the band attached to her and I also played saxaphone in the "Nomads" that ENS Robert Calkins speaks about. I distinctly remember the day that George Gordon (piano & trombone) and myself were just out cruising the ship when we heard some guys jamming. They were great and after talking a bit,and jamming with them, we all kind of came up with the idea of forming a group-the "Nomads". I don't remember who named the group-maybe Bob does. I also remember playing at the Seaman's Club in Durban that civialian Kevin Brink refers to. I have a cruise book of that cruise and many great memories to go along with it. By the way, the other guy from the Solant Amity Band that played drums in the Nomad band was Dean Ruth. This is great and kind of eerie to come into contact with some old shipmates this way. I just accidently came upon this web site. Great work Kevin, thanks for providing this opportunity. I hope to get some responses to my e-mail and will be watching this web site. Thanks again.
Billie Nash (SF2, 1962-1965):found this by accident I was sf2 on the grove from jan. 62 to may 65. we did the suze canal the trip around africa,the bad storm when we played plane guard I believe when churchill died did the cuba and domingo thing and the cyprus and lebonon trip and we did win the covetd e award when I was aboard and we got the cake for 10,000 landings and take offs had a lot of fun on the ship am glad to see she is serving the public
Terry Brinson (SK3, 1972-1975): I was stationed aboard the USS Spiegel Grove LSD 32 from 72 - 75. I was a storekeeper while aboard the ship. I have pictures of when the Grove was laid to rest off of the Florida Keys last year for a barrier reef for fish. Would love to get into contact with individuals that where aboard the Grove during the time of 1972 - 1975. Just to chat about old times, the strip, Va Beach, downtown Norfolk and so on. We were docking in Gitmo and the pilot had gotten to close to another ship already dock. The other ship sounded the collision alarm. We docked alright hit that dock like a ton of bricks. I put a crack in the side of the ship. Also someone throwing a monkey fist into a windship. Great Med cruise I saw some places I will never see again. But, my best of times were in the Virgin Islands, or Bike riding in the country side of Italy. I had some great friends back then aboard the ship I just wish I had kept up with them. Thanks - Terry
Dallas Matthews (RD2, 1957-1960): I served aboard her from late 1957 to November 1960. I have a photo I purchased of her shortley after going aboard. The extended tour was due to the out break in Beruit, Lebanon. We were in Gibraltar getting read to head home when we were diverted to Beruit. We landed the troops on the beach and dropped anchor. The ship was awarded three ribbons during this landing.
When we joined Phibron ten the USS Boxer, an old attact carrier, was redesigned the USS Boxer LPH 4 (LPH is Landing Platform Helicopter) and it was almost like two weeks in the Caribbean and two weeks in port for the next two years. We took dependants from Gitmo to Hatti in that time also. For a high seas war vessel, we had a submariner 4 striper as captain and he almost ran us aground on Windard point in Gitmo while turning in hauling ass and the wind caught him. Then we had a grounded Airdale 4 striper take the helm. Don't remember which one did it but we went to San Wand Puerto and he parked it between two sailing boat, very close quarters, wirh no help. When we left he got underway by himself due to the tugs not being avilable. We were in Jamica when I left her in Nov. 1960. PS i was a 2nd class radarman and have been on the yard arms while at sea. Scarry at times as the water seems to meet you. Oh yes, when we left in Jan 1958 we encountered a hurricane as we crossed the Atlantic. I was in the wheel house looking at the roll indicater as we too a 58 degree roll. I went on deck to go to the flying bridge and grabed the rails to the latter, took a big step and landed on the flying bridge, not bad from one deck to the other in one step. Also was standing in the passage way and the deck came up to visit my nose. Was interesting to say the least. Oh yes we also went on a space shot recovery on our's was a monkey and he landed about 150 miles north of us. Dallas Matthews
Thomas F. Gerken (EN3, 1956-1960): I'm thomas f gerken usn e.n.3 1956-1960 I was aboard the uss olmsted apa 188,along with spiegel grove lsd 32, uss kleinsmith apd 134 uss muliphen aka 61 uss fremont apa 44, ussmount mckinley agc 7 our flagship we were transport amphibious squadon 4 on mediterranen cruse 1957 . 12 hrs out of gibraltar we lost our high pressure turbin and was adrift most of the night.the u.s.s spiegel grove lsd 32 @ day break gave us a tow back the 75 miles to gibraltar. yes you ship was a tug boat boat too. I thought she was a very beautiful ship. I was sadden to see her sunk she served very well, thank you. Truly Yours Thomas F.Gerken
Ron Reeves (Embarked USMC - 1957 & 1958): IM WRITING TO SAY THANKS FOR CARING FOR OUR SHIP. I was In the USMC and was on 32 for a long time as a cook for. when marines were aboard we had a cook for our marines.I cryed when I could see where the forward galley was I was in shore party like c bees in the navy I was In Norfolk va. F.M.F. It really makes me feel good that someone really cares for her I was abord her 1957 58 like I said Im an old Jarhead cook god bless you and all who served on her sorry to see her go down I seen on tv. them towing it to florida I cryed. I tryed to find where she was I found 33 the alamo but not the same well bye old ship mates write when you can If you care for and old marine Ronald Reeves
Hay guy's don't know any of you. I was a Marine cook! I may have fed a few of you guy's But don't hold that against me ok? I know I don't fit in for what you want But I cryed the day I saw them towing it to florida so I have ties to it .195758 tdy from little creek marine F.M.F. so take care ole ship mates Im 65 and Injoyed your web site Kevin keep up the good work ron. Reeves
I was only a marine but I made several beach
landings from it I was at little creek as a cook I am 65 now lost
some brin sells now . I remember going to orto rico to veigas a
couple times once a fleet adirmal and all his parity from east pack
in 1557 vice pres. was there we landed from 32 doing war games I was
t.a.d. to the navyin norfolk had lot of good days I had a good friend
was a yoaman and I had no liberty uninform so I went off ship 2nd.
class yoaman o.d never knew but I now If I think real hard I can find
more. I remember my quarters was by ships laundry and that wasent
cool when lsd 34 wes air condition rember BIG complint in 1957 58 see
you later shipmates
Carroll Pruitt (EN3, 1963-1964): HA guys we made the grove trips from 63-66 we had great time would to hear from anyone that was on board at that time we made the Reunion this year hello Mr Nash i know you Kenny McKinney him-to and old Biffonio all you guys out there try to make the Reunion next year its mich city mich looking forward to seeing you catch you guys on the tube later Pruitt
John Roberto (Sgt - USMC, 1958 Lebanon deployment): I was aboard this seaworthy ship with very fine crews of Sailors and Marines in 1958. We cruised the Mediteranean and then made an emergency landing in Lebanon that same year. Now that I'm 67 years old and look back , all I can say is that I was very proud to be part of this experience serving with others , and I wish to convey a salute not only to the sailors and marines of the Spiegel Grove , but all military branches. I'm proud of our country and proud to be an American. God bless all of you. John Roberto , Sgt. "C" Co. 2nd Tank Bn. 2nd Mar. Div. FMF
Brian Peal (1987-1989): Sometime after the 1987 Med trip, I joined the Grove. We took about 22 horses to Gitmo in the well deck. Also, I remember once off the coast of NC, we crashed the Captain's Gig on the flight deck. Funny, we must have been the only ship to have ever crashed a boat on a flight deck???? I served on her when she was known as the "Pier Queen" as we never seemed to go anywhere. The crash on the flight deck put a big hole in it. I was a manning a line to the gig when it happened.
1st we were off NC doing ops with the marines when our safety boat went dead in the water. So we lowered another boat to rescue the 1st boat, but it also went dead in the water. So then we had to take the Captains gig from the skids to lower directly in the water with the crane. With the ship tossing on the waves, the gig moved like a clock pendulum and dragged several other guys manning other lines. I wrapped my team's line around a cleat and was spared, but by then the Chief BM gave the signal to lower it back down. The crane operator basically dropped it and it fell partway through the flight deck. The coasties came to the rescue of the boats in the water. I think we have to be the only ship in the navy to record a boat crash on a flight deck. hahahahahaha I can not recall exactly when this happened, but I was aboard between 1987-1990 more or less.
The horse story is interesting because we used the well deck to erect wooden horse stalls to hold 21 horses. If you think humans get sea sick.... So do horses! But it was fun to carry something other than hardware in the well deck.
During this period, we also went to Baltimore and pulled right up to the down town area. One of the best times of my life. We also pulled into Savannah were we have a plaque in the museum there with my signature on the back. We almost did not make it as the bridge at the time was only 1 foot higher then our masts at low tide and a flooded well deck.
BTW, I never found that darn Stern Gate Key !!!!! Can you see if any old salts have a picture of it?
Hope these help to add some history for "Pier Queen" phase of her life. I really miss her sometimes. Brian Peal
Richard Clogston (1974-1976): Lessee . . . Playing spades with Kevin S. (name withheld by webmaster). I think I'm spelling that name wrong, but he was a big tall fellow from New York who drove a GMC Sprint, and we were tough to beat. Everybody that didn't play for money played spades, and we were bad-ass! Almost psychic. Barry W. (name withheld by webmaster), who had a Pinto with a stereo probably worth more than the car. He turned me on to a lot of great music, and we'd go get loaded, catch a movie, and listen to Captain Beyond cranked up to ear-bleed level. He would refer to Dr. Pepper as "The Nectar of the Gods."
Then there was Kevin, the postal clerk, whose last name escapes me. He was insane enough to occasionally loan me his Opel Kadett to drive around in, and I may have wrecked his clutch, but I tried real hard not to, and never got to properly repay his kindness and generosity. He was from New York state, and the guy who worked with him was from Oklahoma, and they constantly argued which place was better. All in fun, of course. Great guys, both of them. The other guy had a Datsun pickup with the first CB radio I'd ever seen.
Then there was (name withheld by webmaster), the body builder, who everybody called Young-god. The guy looked like a Greek statue. The head of deck division was a Warrant Officer, name forgotten, with a face that looked like it had been re-arranged with a snow shovel and a voice that sounded like he'd just swallowed a bucket of hot coals.
I play guitar, and the moment I hit the flight deck I was surrounded by guys pumping me about what the latest music was Stateside. I met up with the ship in Rota, Spain at the end of the 74 Med cruise. I hadn't gotten to my berthing compartment before every musician on the ship had introduced themselves. They had been doing the refugee run from Crete, and the Navy couldn't find her, so they parked my carcass in Sigonella, Sicily for a month, and I got to Rota the day before they weighed anchor for home.
The first guy I met was this deck-ape, again name forgotten, who invited me down to his locker. He opened it up and this reek poured out. He had stolen a ten-pound salami and stuck it in his locker. He pulled out a knife, cut off a big hunk, and offered it to me. I turned him down. He thought that was so cool. It had been in there about three days, and the rest of the division was ready to kill him. He finally threw most of it overboard a day out of Spain.
There was (name withheld by webmaster), who was supposed to the the technical guy in the CCTV shack, if they'd ever let him do his job. He was an excellent tech guy, but trouble followed him like a black cloud. He was a nice guy, quiet and hard-working, but always seemed to be wherever somebody was getting high and getting caught. Then there was Vic I. (name withheld by webmaster), who was from Washington state as I recall. He was married, and went into the Navy with the understanding that he would get stationed in Seattle or somewhere else on the West Coast. Bang, they put him on the Grove in Norfolk. He spent his whole hitch trying to get home. He would get a week's leave and drive like a mad fool to get there, spend one or two nights with his wife, and beat feet back East.
I could go on. If any of this is of use to you, feel free. Anyway, thanks again for contacting me. I feel like I've gotten back a piece of my life that I thought I'd lost. Some of it, I'd just as soon lose, but it's all part of the package. Thanks.
Bob Schoenbacher (1954-1956, USS Olmstead): I served aboard the Olmsted from Feb 1954 thru March 1958, leaving the ship in Naples to return to Brooklyn Navy Yard for discharge. Most have just missed the collision in Spain. But do remember the various times that the ship broke down...San Juan Puerto Rico 10 days, Baltimore, Md 10 days, and Gibraltar for several days...I can remember being told that APA's essentially had been built in a hurry during WW2 to ferry Marines onto the Islands of the Pacific. They were not expected to stay long time in the fleet. Many were resurrected during the Korean War. I reported aboard as a Radioman Seaman and left as an RM2. Of course many fine memories of our several Med cruises and the "Battles of Vieques" with liberties in Havana. Would love to hear from shipmates. Bob Schoenbacher
Harold (Hal) Favinger (1965-1969): During the 67 Med Cruise we spent a lot of time in Naples, Italy due to repairs to the #2 boiler. I myself discovered a leak in the mud drum after doing "Fireside Cleaning". I believe this was right around Christmas time 67. Weld repairs were made and X-Rays taken before heading back to sea. I'm sure that all hands were happy with my sharp eye or we could very well have blown the boiler after getting underway. Harold L. (Hal) Favinger
George P. Waterhouse (BM3, 1961-1964): Hi! I just found the Spiegel Grove website today(Dec 18, 07). I served aboard 'the Grove' from 1961-1964. I was due to get discharged and had a choice to 'extend' for the 'Med' cruise or get transferred to a shore base. I extended and went on the cruise and did the Cyprus 'steaming dance' where we stayed at sea for a long time steaming back and forth. We went to Rota, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Port Said, Egypt also I steered (helmsmen) through a section of the Suez Canal as we headed to the Persian Gulf. That was a great cruise and I am glad I extended my enlistment. We also went to Aden, Saudia Arabia and steamed off the Normandy coast finally ending up in England (where I turned 21!)
The Spiegel Grove was always off on a cruise somewhere when I was aboard. A number of Caribbean cruises and the cruise around Africa and the 'Med' cruise. Some of my favorite 'ports of call' were-- Athens, Greece ( I was fascinated with the ruins) ; Cape Town, S. Africa; Port Said, Egypt; and Trinidad. I was first in the 1st division as a 'deck ape' and later made BM3 (e4) as a boatswain mate and transferred to the 2nd division. I also had duty as a coxswain for the captains 'gig' (boat) and also of LCVP's and LCM's ( landing craft vehicle personnel and landing craft mechanized) I really loved those twin grey marine engines on the LCM's you could 'walk' those guy's sideways!!
I was also on board during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the time we were 'stationed' to pick up Alan Glen on his orbiting around the earth. I operated one of the cranes at the time and we practiced picking up the capsule (copy) from the sea that he was to re-enter the earth on. A group of 'frogmen' were on board and put a floatation ring around the capsel and I lifted it on-board with the crane! We never got a chance to pick him up because he did extra orbits passing over our 'station'.
There are so many memories that are coming back but I'll stop and relate something that everyone of my shipmates will remember. When we were in rough seas and the ship was entering a 'trough' in the swell you felt like your legs were cemented to the deck and when the ship 'rose' you flew up the stairs. We use to have level devices on the bridge ( I served helmsmen duty) and it told our pitch and yaw. When the helmsmen had duty we tried to see which one of us could get the ship to read the highest on those levels!! For those of you who have served as helmsmen you will remember you would spin the wheel (helm) in one direction until the needle started to 'rapidly' turn in one direction and then you would spin the helm in the other direction to compensate and hope that the ship 'righted' itself to the three degrees or so you were allowed to be 'off course'. Hopefully you could accomplish before the Captain or some other officer would 'catch on'. The officers pantry was right behind the bridge and you could hear all the dished (etc) come crashing down and you knew the captain would be arriving at any minute. The crew, if they were eating, would have to grab their trays. My friend Otto ( I forget his last name) had the record for pitch and yaw but I was second!! Well it was great fun for a 19 yr old and I remember it to this day at 65!
Michel Bennett: My Father served as a Navy Seal and had a cruise that lasted quite sometime. It was 1976 give or take a year or 2. I was about 14 years old! We received a call from him. He talked to my mother for a bit and then he ask to speak to me. My mother handed me the phone with a smile on her face, I said hello; he said I'm enlisting you in the Navy for 2 days. We will pick you up in Moorhead City, South Carolina in a couple of days along with some young men your age on our way back to Little Creek, Va. It turned out to be a Greyhound bus load of kids. It was one of the most exciting times of my life! We off loaded from the Bus & walked down to the beach. There she was sitting off the cost. They sent a smaller boat up to the beach to pick us up and take us out to The USS Spiegel Grove. I couldn't believe how our boat floated right up in side the hull. I remember standing on the flight deck saluting other ships. I had a great time because I was kicking around the ship with the Captain's son. We had access to a lot. I also remember that the food was excellent! Watching movies; black out at night. It is a time that I reflect on over and over & that's how I found this site while wondering whatever became of her. Her spirit will live for ever. Thanks, Michel Bennett.
Leila J Lewedag: My husband Loren M Lewedag reported aboard Spiegel Grove as a Lieutenant in the fall of 1961 to be the chief engineer (and also the postal officer, having come from his last duty station, Postal Affairs in Washington. It was his first time on a ship having previously been in London for two years). The ship was based in Little Creek in Virginia Beach and both of our sons were born during my husband's time on Spiegel Grove.
He went on two Solant Amity cruises
and on the second one in 1963, Spiegel Grove carried the advance
party of islanders to resettle Tristan da Cunha in the South
Atlantic. In 1961 the entire population was evacuated from Tristan to
England due to volcanic activity. In England some of the islanders
fell ill and some died, due to being exposed to new and unfamiliar
illnesses and in 1962 they decided to return, which, due to a lack of
transport, did not happen until 1963. Spiegel Grove went from Africa
to Brazil on its return trip and therefore helped England out by
taking the advance group of islanders, a National Geographic
journalist and photographer, and of course, the necessary supplies to
open the island pub and the post office!. My husband assisted on the
latter, (and no doubt the former), and brought back the commemorative
stamps sheet of the resettlement. He also had some photos of himself
on this very isolated island. He mentioned that the islanders spoke
English with very strange accents, having been isolated from the rest
of the world and possibly due to substantial intermarriage, there
being only eleven last names amongst the islanders. My husband
enjoyed this immensely although they were only offshore for a couple
of days at the most. The whole thing was written up by National
Geographic. I don't remember the date of the issue but it must have
been in 1963.
I also vividly remember the Cuban missile crisis. The ship did not have a lot of notice, less than 24 hours notice as I remember, and it was a very tense time.
Commander Loren M Lewedag passed away in April 1993 in Broaddus, Texas. Our eldest son has followed partially in his father's footsteps. He is a chief engineer, but in the US Merchant Marine. Our other son is also an engineer, but in the oil business. Leila J Lewedag
Rorena (Rena) Suell-Crawford (4-3-10): Good morning Kevin, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the beautiful write-up that you've done for the Spiegel Grove. I must say that I found it through a search for information on some friends that I had met during the years of 1978/1979, when the ship was docked here in Baltimore, but after coming upon your writings, it actually brought me to pause. You may ask "how I know of the Spiegel Grove?". Well, I actually dated, and married one of your shipmen and resided in Norfolk during the time that you all were docked. It's almost as though I can see the gate, the ship and then men&ldots;all out for beer and wine, drinking and laughing at the pub down the street from the gate. I'm quite sure that you remember all of your shipmates, but do you recall a gentleman by the name of "Charles Crawford"? He was blond, blue-eyed and his home was in Ohio&ldots;Zanesville, to be exact. Yes, I do remember the times of the Spiegel Grove.
I can actually remember when you all had first came into Baltimore, when the Fells Point area was jumping and hopping. There were so many of you, sharp as a tack in your white uniforms and polished shoes!! I don't know if you remember any of it as I'm sure that we have never met, but I so remember all of you.
Anyways, I just wanted to send you a quick message to say thank you for building that site, and bringing back such refreshing memories. You, and all of your shipmates, are so very much appreciated.
Rorena (Rena) Suell-Crawford
Lloyd Bankston Roach (1962-1964, USS Page County (LSD-1076)): OK. I came across your swabbie site. Almost all of my sea service was in Midpac or Westpac. I served aboard a 542 class LST. Started as a snipe, Engineman striker and switch to deck ape and then to RM, where was more civilized. While aboard transited the Pacific several times from San Diego, Pearl, Adak, Attu, Naha, Sasebo and a bunch of other places all at a screaming eight knots!
We had three radiomen for a 24 hour watch underway. All outbound traffic was in CW. (encrypted) Never saw a KW-7. Inbound traffic either fox CW broadcast or later, after Fram, KWR-27 on a Model 28. I operated K3QNT/MM extensively for phone patch traffic for crew and embarked Marines/Army.
Was high lined twice between to LSTs (while rolling mid-ocean) and fell off a buoy, while trying to make fast a bow line. Long time ago.............
Lloyd Bankson Roach
RM-2 - U.S.S. PAGE COUNTY (LST-1076) 1962-1965
Lloyd Bankson Roach
President - BrandywineRadio.com
The Power of Radio with the Reach of the Web...
Kevin Randall (YNSN, 1968-1970): After hearing about the death of Neil Armstrong...of course, I went back to July 20, 1969.. We were at sea, just outside of Venezuela and received orders to stay there and anchor...
Much to my surprise, we had been selected to be the pick up ship for Apollo 11, in case, it landed anywhere in the Atlantic near Venezuela. We stayed there for about 10 days...
Wanted you to know the USS Spiegel Grove became part of history, on July 20, 1969...I have never heard anyone else mention this..so wanted to past it on to you.
Best Regards, Kevin Randall
Gene Magda (OSSA, 1988-1990): Some of us were it just depended on when orders came through. I didn't help with the decom as a matter of fact I walked into cic to find 5 or 6 os's and rt's smiling like the cat that swallow the canaries. I'm thinking great I'm about to get thrown on the drt table and pink bellied for what I don't know, anyways os1 asks me if I notice if anything is different but I don't and they start laughing at me saying what do you mean the 25 is gone and so is the iff. Now to be fair to me the chairs and the shell for the radar were still in place but the guts were gone and they took it out during the night, on what day I couldn't say. As for the well deck I wasn't there for that either. Anyways I spent my last days there cleaning the berthing then liberty at about 09:00 that didn't last long if I didn't have duty we were tad to other ships or any other command that could get us. gene
Myron Persoff (Medical Officer, 1968): I was the medical officer on board the Spiegel Grove from July to November of 1968 when she was sent to the Azores (Punta del gordo) to transport the deep-sea research vessel, ALVIN along with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to look for the remains of the USS Scorpion. The gent that found the Titanic, Robert Ballard, was in charge of the group. LSD 32 and her men participated in the numerous launches and recoveries of the ALVIN during the search. The Woods Hole group stayed on the sister ship, LULU which was also transported by our LSD. The loss of the Scorpion remains a mystery, with many theories as to what actually happened. One explanation was that the diving planes stuck and she descended rapidly until hull strength was breached. She was lost on May 21, 1968 with 99 officers and men. There is some good evidence that the Soviets sank her deliberately. The remains of the Scorpion were located by the Navy research vessel, Mizar, in late October of 1968, towing a camera sled with steel cable just above the ocean floor. The wreckage was discovered and photographed in 9,800 feet of water, 460 miles southwest of the Azores. However, part of the mystery is that no mention is made about the ALVIN's role or that of LSD 32 in most written accounts, credit given to the bathyscape, Trieste II for recovering photos and debris, though ALVIN did much of the same thing. LSD on loaded the ALVIN and LULU and returned to Virginia Beach in early November, 1968.
I thought this little historical tidbit
might be of interest. Oh, yeah, on the return trip the Captain let me
take the watch from 0200 to 0400 and I had to roust him to the Bridge
as we were being harassed by Russian "Trawlers" repeatedly
crossing our bow!
Regards, Myron Persoff,MD
Walt Lepperd (EN3): I would particularly like to tell Jim Leonard, MU3 that I remember the guys in the b and filling their instrument cases with alcoholic refreshments when they played at officer functions on that cruise. I remember for sure because I was the engineman on LCM8 #17, an you guys always stashed your supply on our boat! I imagine it's been long enough to tell that story now.
Something all those stories seem to leave out is the incredible number of girls who would visit aboard every day, and the "activities" that went on!
Capetown had to be the best liberty port ever! Walt Lepperd
Dallas Matthews (RD2): In January 1958, the LSD was deployed with her squadron to the 6th Fleet on an extended tour which did not end until; 6 October. This tour started with a problem and ended with one. During the crossing we came thru Hurricane force winds and some of the crew were deathly sick. The ship took a couple of rolls over 55 degrees. The tour was extended due to the problems in Beirut Lebanon. Our group was sent there to off load the Marines and the funny part of this was the beach loaded with people to watch the landing. According to the grape vine, only one ship had a bullet hole in a stack.
Leonard Bragg (MM2): There an accident during a night time beaching exercise. We went to battle stations when we got the report of an LVT that had sunk. My battle station was the #2 engine room ballast pump. It was the Grove that carried that LVT back to Little Creek. At that time I was an MM2 with M Div. My memory is very good for a traumatic event such as that. We lost a number of Marines and a Corpsman.
Randy Weber (BM3, 1975-1977): I had the honor of serving aboard the Grove from 1974 to 1977. Reading the letters for others around the dates brings back a lot of great menories. I remember the kids being picked up and brought out to the ship in the boats, I remember it because I used to be the coxin of one of the mike 6 boats. I do remember a lot of great times in ports of call, as well the longest Med cruise in history 9 months off the coast of Lebanon to evacuate 250 Americans in 76. I think the funniest thing I remember is the freighter that dragged it's anchor and hitting us in the bow and the carrier running a ground to escape a ship that was not even close to them. I had the opportunity to be with the Grove when she was placed to rest offer the Fl. Keys which I am thankful for, I am only a few hours away and look foreword to diving her when I can. Thanks again to everyone for their postings. Randy Weber BM3
E.H. McDowell (CAPT, 1957-1958): I boarded the Spiegel Grove LSD-32 in mid December of "57 in The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth Virginia.
A. B. Clark (CAPT, 1958-1959): She embarked on a Med Cruise in January 1958, the LSD was deployed with her squadron to the 6th Fleet on an extended tour which did not end until 6 October.
We encountered a storm with very high winds or a Hurricane on crossing the Atlantic which resulted in the ship taking a couple of 70 degree rolls ( I was on the bridge and saw the roll monitor)
The degree for a rollover was 75 degrees and a lot of shipmates got sea sick. I went out of the bridge to go to the flying bridge and I grasp the hand rails and kind of jumped and landed on the flying bridge in one step.
We ported in Spain, France, Greece, and Turkey. Somewhere in here we changed captains.
R. A. Moore (CAPT, 1960-1961): On another trip to play war games we ported in Jamaica about the last of October 1960 and I was transferred to a Destroyer going back to the states for discharge.