Loren Williams in the Navy (part II)
In reponse to a follow up question from Loren the third.
Before the Antietam reached Sydney, the entire crew was briefed on protocol while ashore. We were told that at the beginning (or end - I've forgotten) of a movie, "God Save the Queen" would be played through the theater speaker system and all Aussies would stand and we should too. So we did - but no one else did!
U.S. Navy ships are nominally dry, but sailors have been known to smuggle liquor aboard. While the Antietam was at anchor in Sydney harbor (absolutely beautiful) a sailor came back to the ship one night with two bottles of whiskey. The J.O.O.D. feeling kindly said, "Now you knew you can't bring that on board. I'm going to turn my back and I want to here two splashes and things will be O.K." The J.O.O.D. (Junior Officer of the Deck) tuned his back, heard two splashes, turned around again and saw the sailor, running barefoot up the hanger deck!
I mentioned earlier that the Chinese Communists had Tsingtao surrounded by land when the Antietam was there in October 1947. In the rest of Nationalist China, possession of American currency was worth a death sentence to a Chinese citizen (to protect the Chinese monetary system from incredible inflation). But in Tsingtao, street hawkers would offer sailors hands full of Chinese currency for $1.00.
When the USS Cole was attacked by a small suicide boat, I was reminded of the security system we had on the Antietam while in Tsingtao harbor. Except for the garbage scow in my previous Tsingtao story, no foreign boats were allowed to approach within 50 -75 yards. We had a 24 hour guard consisting of sailors armed with M-30 carbines and others with fire hoses to enforce this restriction.
From time to time, our division would receive a flight pay allocation for those authorized to receive it (aviation ratings). On one occasion, I was authorized to receive flight "skins" and was assigned to fly for 2 hours with a division officer who was getting in his flight time. Our plane was an SNB, a small twin engine utility transport built by Cessena. I was assigned by the pilot to sit in the co-pilot's seat, to look out for other aircraft, and to operate the controls under close supervision. We took off from NAS Alameda (next door to Oakland and across the bay from San Francisco.) We flew across the bay, over San Francisco, and then to the Farralon Islands, about 50 miles west of the Golden Gate. We circled around the islands, looking at seals and sea lions, and then headed back to the golden Gate. As we got closer and closer to the bridge, I kept anticipating the pilot would pull back on the stick and we would fly over the bridge. But no. Instead we dipped down and flew under the Golden Gate Bridge! My pilot was very lucky. I don't believe there were any repercussions.
Also during our time of cruising up and down the California coast we took a crew from Warner Brothers on board to make the movie "Task Force" starring Gary Cooper. It was interesting to watch movie technicians paint bullet holes on an SBD (the dive bomber that was the nemesis of the Japanese Navy at Midway 60 years ago) in preparation for shooting a simulated flight deck crash. Also to see Gary Cooper sitting in the cockpit of an old biplane with a fan blowing his leather helmet flaps and a forklift jiggling the biplane itself. The movie was a rather mediocre history of Naval aviation. I'm in the scene where 1000 sailors are assembled to hear a farewell speech from the retiring Admiral Cooper.
As I said, this was pretty uneventful, but for one relationship. Before being recalled I had just completed a master's degree in psychology at USC (my recall orders were delayed about 6 months to allow me to complete the degree by courtesy of an intervention by the then USC president, Admiral Smith). While at the Aviation Electronics Training Center, I met a young sailor from Wisconsin, Jim Naylor, who had enlisted in the navy right after high school and had just completed the first round of training at Memphis. We became friends and he decided not to become a hood, but that he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in industrial psychology also - as I planned to do following the completion of my reserve tour.
So Jim completed his four year enlistment, went to Purdue University and told the registrar that he wanted a PhD in industrial psychology. The registrar said, "Fine, but first you have to register as a freshman." Jim did and left Purdue four years later with a B.S AND a PhD! I tried to get him to join our HumRRO research group in El Paso, but he chose a conventional academic career and went to the psychology department at Ohio State. He stayed there several years, was invited back to the Purdue faculty, returned and was made departmental chairman a few years later. We kept in touch for a number of years and he did occasional consulting work for HumRRO. A delightful episode.
-- Loren Williams
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