Dean is right,
we should try to date our memories, at least within a
particular time frame.
I couldn't remember whether Ensign Garret had fallen over
the side during the North Atlantic cruise in the fall of
1964 or during Med cruise in '64 - '65.
Reading the clipping pictured in the attachment to
Mitch's letter that started this whole series, I see that
it occurred in the Bay of Biscay, which places it at the
end of the North Atlantic cruise, so it would have been
in November of '64. Therefore, Dean, you
missed all the fun. By the way, we weren't alongside the
stores ship, yet, but were next in line and we were going
along starboard side to.
We had two different occasions when we rescued pilots
while I was on board (commissioning until February 1966).
One happened in the Med in the spring of '65.
A jet from the carrier lost its after-burner
on take-off and the pilot and flight officer (FO) safely
ejected. However, the FO's chute got tangled
and he couldn't get rid of it and was hanging on to his
life raft to avoid going down. The helo
rescued the pilot, who informed them of the FO's
predicament. The Helo rescue swimmer jumped
in to help but landed wrong and hurt his back.
The FO got the chute cutters off the
crewman's belt and rid himself of the chute, then got the
crewman into the liferaft. The Tattnall was
on Plane Guard, but when they were told to effect a
surface pickup of the two men, they didn't even know that
a plane was down, let alone where the men were.
We were on screen and our lookouts had
kept the men in sight from the get-go. We requested, and
received, permission to make the pickup. When we went
alongside the carrier to return the two men, they had a
sign saying "Keep Them, We'd Rather Have Ice Cream!!".
The FO laughed at this, stating that their
ice cream machine had been broken for some time.
Incidentally, the FO asked Captain Welander if he could
bring the ship alongside the carrier, since he was
working on his OOD qualifications. His
picture is in the cruise book with the caption "I
hope my airedale buddies don't see me in this silly hat".
(Remember the officer's berets?)
I don't remember when the incident with the helo from
the Newport News happened. It was not during
the Med cruise, but could have been during the North
Atlantic cruise, although I don't recall the Newport News
being on that operation. I think it was
during some operation off the East Coast, but I don't
recall if it was during 1964 or 1965. We
might be able to pin it down based on who remembers it
and when they came aboard or left the ship.
Anyway, I do remember that our boat made the pickup
and returned the crew to SEMMES. I also
remember that our boat helped the cruiser try to get
their winch hooked up to the helo to get out of the water.
I think they succeeded (we usually did what
we set out to do), but I also seem to remember that the
cruiser's deck force managed to screw things up.
We didn't get any ice cream that time
either, and I believe that is when we had the sign "SEMMES
LOST AND FOUND" displayed. I think they
totally ignored our request for ice cream.
The sea story residue will get deep in Charleston.
DARE TO EXCEL
Subject: Re: Ensign Garrett
I remember the incident well. I was not
far from where he was when he went over. If
the truth be known, I did not see him "trip"
but rather do the unthinkable, of reaching for the
lifeline which was not there, and over he went.
It was during a refueling, and we were along side the
other ship, can't remember if it was a tanker, or what.
We could have been transferring stores too, the old memory
isn't exactly sharp as a knife.
He was like a windmill when he hit the water, arms and
legs going full tilt to get away from the ship.
He made it about four feet or so, which was enough to
clear our wake, but remember we were already along side
the other ship, so things were just a bit choppy between
the two ships.
We all watched, and cheered when we saw he was going to
clear all danger. I kind of remember
actually having a picture of that incident, but looking
everywhere, high and low, has resulted in nothing.
I also remember the transfer of the pilot, and maybe my
mind is playing tricks, but didn't the other ship have a
big sign up that said something like, "keep him, we
would rather have the ice cream"???
Major things I remember slightly:
- Running over the reef near Hatti, and damaging the
- Having the refueling hose break during transfer, and
totally drenching the ship and crew in oil.
Then we went along side a supply ship, and smashed
several nets of food all over the already oily deck.
This one I do have one or two pictures of.
After this rather adventurous outing, we then tried our
best to get Semmes looking like a Navy ship again, and it
was the only time I saw Chiefs, and Officers, cleaning,
and even painting to try and get things looking ship
shape before entering Charleston. Maybe that
is why I always felt Semmes was such a good ship.
Everyone did whatever they needed to do to give the rest
of the world the impression Semmes was nothing short of
"excellent". Clearly that day we
fell a little short of what the Navy would have liked to
see for a refueling and replenishment exercise.
- Building some sailboats, and trying them out at night
in the in-land waterway near Charleston, and being eaten
alive by mosquitoes, You know those
damn things that suck your blood. I remember
getting in the water, with just our heads above water,
and pushing the sailboat back trying to keep a little
blood for myself.
- I remember ordering a "safe" for the WDS
equipment rooms, and we ordered this little dinky wall
safe with a combination on it. What arrived
was a railway flat car, on pier "D" with two
huge vaults, they were about the size of a refrigerator.
I have no idea what the resolution finally
was, that was done at a much higher level than this 2
class PO. I remember Chief Maurelli asking to see the
paperwork I had submitted, and the book or whatever it
was I got the numbers from. Keith Cottrell
may remember a little more about this, he was innocent,
but did get involved. They were all in order, so I guess
I dodged a major bullet, but those things were still on
the pier with my name on them. They vanished and were
never spoken of again.
- One thing I can't remember is ever getting into any
trouble. Well, not any serious trouble.
I sent my old 8mm films off to be transferred to digital
media yesterday, and they should be back by the end of
next week. If all goes as planned, they will
be at the reunion with me, on my laptop. If
you remember the fashion show in France, you can see it,
"recorded earlier", and in 40 year old faded
color, at the reunion.
Subject: Re: Ensign Garrett
In a message dated 11/15/2002 1:17:29 AM Eastern
Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
P.S. The pilot and the ice cream is a whole
Wow, I love it when someone can remember these details!
Now someone will have to clear up the ice cream story!
Funny thing is we were sober when these things happened,
why do they get so mixed up! I remember when
Ens Garrett went over the side, as I was up forward on
the bow, port side. I remember we had the
snaking down, and someone said he backed up and tripped
over it, and over the side he went. I
remember people yelling "Man overboard",
probably you and a few others followed!
When we highlined the chopper pilot back to the Newport
News, we had made up a large sign saying something like,
"Semmes Lost and Found", as a joke.
But somehow we didn't get the ice cream that
traditionally is provided by the host ship that lost it's
crewmember. I'll route this and I'm sure
someone with a clearer memory than mine right now, will
shed some light on it. My good friend Dean Slone is good
at remembering these things!
Now, for the real story.
Ens. Garrett was the First Lieutenant (or maybe
assistant) and we were going alongside a store ship to
I was in charge of the inboard strikedown team, so I went
up on the forecastle to confer with Ens. Garrett and the
BM in charge. The crew was taking down the
regular lifelines and stringing light line on the top of
the stanchions, so I stayed away from the deck edge,
since I did not have a lifejacket on.
As Ens. Garrett was talking to me and the BM, he went to
lean against the lifeline (a big NO-NO in itself) and,
since the lifeline was not there, he went overboard.
The BM reached out to get him, but didn't make it.
I could have reached him, but since HE had a
lifejacket on and I didn't, I restrained my self and
instead did my part by sounding the MAN OVERBOARD call at
the top of my lungs (which anyone who knows me can tell
you is pretty loud).
Ens. Garret was stroking before he hit the water and was
well away from SEMMES before the stern of the ship got to
the spot where he fell. He then noticed
DEWEY bearing down on him and started to swim back, but
stopped in a spot where DEWEY could just come alongside
and take him aboard without changing course.
After replenishment was completed, the Motor Whaleboat
was sent to get him from DEWEY. When we
returned, Capt. Welander complimented him on his swimming
style over the 1MC but wondered why he didn't wait until
he got back to Folly Beach. AH, the sea
stories that have yet to be told !!!
P.S. The pilot and the ice cream is a whole nother story.
Hey Shipmate! No, I didn't get your email regarding
Ens Garrett. Please resend it when you have a chance.
Seems to me that he's the greenhorn that fell off the bow
when we were about to highline the pilot we fished out f
the water, back to the Newport News. They in
turn, sent him back to us in exchange for their guy, and
we DIDN'T GET ICE CREAM for the whole ship like we
would've! What a knucklehead! It was good for a laugh