Willie Yang

Anyone recall Willie Yang?

During 1968 through 1970 I made two Med-cruises on Semmes. It seemed like we couldn't hit a liberty port without hearing the announcement, "Willie Yang. Hong Kong tailor is now on the Mess Deck" The brow would barely touch the pier, or the anchor dropped, and we would hear this announcement over the 21MC.

Willie would travel around the Med, selling custom tailored suits to the sailors of the 6th Fleet. He did quite a business too, considering that back in those days, we could not keep civies on board. Willie would set up shop right on a couple of tables on the Mess Deck and pull all kinds of samples out of the suitcases he'd drag around with him. Pick a style, color, fabric, get measured, and you're in business. The suits cost around $50 or $65, and if you ordered one, Willie would show up a couple of Liberty ports later with your new suit.

I sometimes wonder. How the heck did Willie Yang knew the movements of the 6th fleet? How did he know where the Semmes would be in 5 weeks in order to deliver? Sometimes, even we didn't know where or when the next port of call would be, until we just about got there.

Jim Saccento (QM3/Semmes '68-'70)


I rememeber Willie well. I bought a suit from him and what always amazed me is he nver wrote anything down yet it was always right.

Merle Visser 70-71

I remember Willie Yang. Had him make a sport coat for me with leather patches on the elbows.

Gene Hart

Not only do I remember Willie, I still have the suit.  Sigh...it no longer fits though.

Freddie Cummings BT2/70-72

Those people had their way of knowing what we were doing when we didn't.  On my first West Pac cruise in 1958, a bunch of us were in a bar in Yokosuka shooting the breeze and speculating on where we would be going when we left port in a few days.  One of the bar girls said "Two weeks, you go Okinawa two days, then two more weeks, you come back here". She was right on.  My son who was homeported in Yoko in 93-95 said the intelligence was still pretty good.  

Keith Cottrell (62-66)