NOSTALGIA - NAVY STYLE
Release from Dennis Milliken,
The USS Hancock CVA-19 (the 1998-99 cyberspace configuration, fleet call sign ĎJakeís Yankee Station) has began a lengthy and well deserved dry dock period at the B. G. Microsoft Naval Preservation Ship Yard. The mission of the shipyard is to re-configure the USS Hancock to enhance her mission capabilities. That mission is to take former Hancock crewmembers Boldly Where No Sailor has gone Before!
The recent deployment of the Hancock went through uncharted waters. The only navigational devices available to the ship, and future crewmembers, were the memories of one particular crewmember, Ken "Jake" Jaccard. Seaman was virtually a one-man crew. A Yeoman by rating, seaman Jake took the Con, manned the Helm and chart house, and stood fireroom and boiler room watches, in order to keep the Hanna underway and on course. Jakeís primary mission was to preserve his place in time aboard the Hancock during the early Nineteen-sixties. The Seaman proudly maneuvered his ship searching for the unknown. One night on a dark and lonely Bridge watch, Jakeís eye caught the faint glimmer of lights on the horizon. Not knowing if Pri-fly was manned, he donned his sound powered phone set and requested "Angel One" to be launched! After a few quiet and suspenseful moments, Angel One reported.
Angel One landing on Flight Deck Forward - San Francisco Bay - 1962
"Angel One to Jakeís Yankee Station, We have sighted and recovered numerous old USS Hancock sailors!" "They have been set adrift for decades and request permission to come aboard. Over."
"Yankee Station to Angels One, permission granted." "I will render honors on the flight deck and pipe them aboard."
The Yeoman quickly realized, after recovering Hancock sailors who served on her from launching to decommissioning, the cyberspace class USS Hancock would need to be re-fitted to better perform her future mission.
At the time of this release, the USS Hancock CVA-19 rests. Her boiler rooms quiet, steering engines disengaged, navigational charts stowed away, radar and communication gear silent. Not unlike other ships in port, it is Leave time for many crewmembers. Summer vacations and backyard outings or home improvement projects now occupy the Hancockís cyberspace crew. However, the shipís company and air group will soon be taking short and periodic leave of their daily personal lives and returning to the decks, compartments, and passage ways of the Ghostly Hanna. One ghostly sailor mentioned, after disembarking the ghostly Hanna earlier in the year: " I was thrilled and honored to once again become a part of and contribute to the adventure of sailing back to the past aboard this ship!! However, I must find a way to physically stand behind the helm; gaze out of the bridge windows and stand over a Dead reckoning tracer, with chart in place. Yes, I know the Hanna is physically put to rest! But maybe she has a sister still around??" (See related story to follow)
In a previous release, a former crewmember recounted his tour of duty aboard the USS Hancock CVA-19, in both reality and most recently in cyberspace, through Jakeís USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 memorial web site to the USS Hancock, ĎJakeís Yankee Stationí. The former Hancock sailor mentioned that he had taken summertime leave from the cyberspace version of the ship, and was looking to somehow make a physical connection with the old Hancock. He stated: "Yes, I know the Hanna is physically put to Rest, but maybe she has a sister still around?"
With leave being the focus of this article, the sailor digressed on taking shore leave while stationed aboard the USS Hancock, homeported at NAS Alameda.
He reminisced. "Leave time was one of those periods in a Hancock sailorís tour of duty when you were on your own. For a few days out of the year, you could leave behind the daily military routine of the Navy. Every minute of the day and night being controlled was left behind. When on leave, you could eat, sleep, and play etc. at your will."
"Getting home was one of the first problems encountered. Military pay at the lower ranks made your choices of transportation critical. Once you left the aft brow, the most important thing on your mind was to find the mode of transportation that would get you moving in that hometown direction the soonest." The former sailor elaborated. "After the long walk from Pier Three to the East Gate, and then a long walk up Atlantic street to the transit bus stop to catch the local bus into downtown Oakland, your patience to search around for the quickest transportation home was hindered by the necessity to keep moving in the direction of home!" He continued. "Being from a small town and no experience with air travel schedules and fares made it a longer than desired wait to commence travel. Also, train schedules and connections precluded a fast departure from Oakland. With not knowing the location of airline ticket offices or railroad stations, for this particular sailorís first couple of Hancock leaves, the Bus was usually the choice." He mentioned. "A little pre-planning and not spending what little money I had, by going to the multitude of movies and doggy dinners, (small hot-dog stands located on numerous street corner locations in the San Francisco/Oakland area) I would have probably got home quicker! However, traveling by bus or train and seeing the country side was part of the excitement of going home."
"Yes, traveling to and from home was part of the adventure." He recalled. "Remember it was the early Sixties. (61-63) "The exposure a young man from eastern Idaho had to the brave new world was limited. The influx of information about the world that a youngster receives today was not available then. It was not the dark ages. We had television. It came on the air in the early afternoon and signed off at the late evening hour of 11 PM! There wasn't in existence yet the multitude of news, travel, and other informational-educational shows that are present today; that would give a young person leaving home for the first time, a good insight into the world he, or she, is about to enter."
Getting back to the theme of this article, the gentleman pondered his early travel experiences while in the service. He continued. "The bus ride to Pocatello was a long and tiring one. After the adrenaline rush had worn off, usually after passing through Reno, Nevada, the journey was as boring as it could get. The occasional meal stop and passenger pick-ups, and a change of buses in Wells, NV, only broke up the monotony of northern Nevada. Another monotonous ride up to Twin Falls, Idaho took place before the adrenaline kicked in again! Only another hundred miles to go out of an eight hundred mile trip! Arriving at the hometown bus station usually took place late in the evening. To make matters worse, my leave time was always in the winter. Being the man of the world that I had become, I never gave anyone advanced notice of my leave plans or schedule. A long walk home from the bus station was in order, hoping someone cruising late night Pocatello would pick-up a tired serviceman in uniform and give him a ride home." "Home, Home at last!" He concluded, in his first reminiscence of leave time from the military routine of serving on the USS Hancock CVA-19.
"But!" As he resumed in his recollections. "One would think the ensuing days of being free to do what you want and when you want, would be enjoyable. Not quite the case." He explained. "After a few days of finding out the post - high school activities of my previous friends, the ones that were still around, were boring and down right juvenile in behavior, my enjoyment of being home waned. Donít get me wrong!" He stated. " It was good to be home and tell a few sea-stories to the parents, their friends, and relatives. However, for someone who had seen a good portion of the world, and having been involved in yet to be dramatic historical events; there was a desire for a return to the ship and newfound friends. Also, there was an abundance of things to see or do in and around the bay area." "Darn!" he exclaimed. "Maybe the daily routine of the Navy wasnít that bad after all! You had an interesting job and responsibilities. You had more of a connection with your shipmates and officers, than you did with your friends and parents at home! Yes, after all the anticipation of coming home on leave; the excitement and anticipation of returning to the ship was equally as great!" He commented. "Go figure!" Moreover, he continued. "There was another rush of adrenaline. The excitement of getting back to a more meaningful existence was present." Continuing, he explained...
"Remembering the ordeal of traveling home by bus and still being eligible for a railroad pass for free or reduced transportation, the train was the choice of transportation back to Oakland. Because of schedules again, a short bus ride from Pocatello to Ogden, Utah was in order. A late afternoon departure to Ogden and a 10 PM departure from Ogden for Oakland made the trip less of drudgery than the bus package! There was the Lounge car, Dinning car and Observation car to make the ride more enjoyable. Although, the first seven hours of the train ride was at night, there was always some entertainment in the Lounge car, even if you were under-age. Three or four hours there and you were ready for a nap through the rest of Nevada. The morning brought breakfast in the Dinning car and the vista of the Sierraís from the Domed Observation car." He sighed. "Train travel has always been my favorite form of transportation. It may be slow; and out west, there is not much access to it. It is now primarily set up for big inter-city travel, with just a few routes here in the west. But, you get to see the countryside and you donít have the stress of air travel like we are experiencing now, which," as he smiled, "is why Iím sitting next to you on this flight back to Salt Lake City from San Francisco!" You asked. "What brought me to San Francisco in the first place?" "Well, I have spent the better part of this flight reminiscing about the by-gone days of the Sixties; and my youthful experiences on the USS Hancock! That is what brought me back to the Bay area." He shook his head and continued. "Through the Internet, I was able to step back to those days. However, I wanted to once again try and physically touch the old ship." He reiterated. "The Hancock has been put to rest; but because of the Internet, I found one of her sisters, in the form of the USS Hornet CV-12/The Hornet Museum in Alameda at the old naval air station, where the Hancock used to be berthed!"
With an excitable quiver in his voice, the old Hancock sailor elaborated. "I wasnít able to duplicate the exact experiences of leave travel during the Sixties. Bus travel was out of the question and the train schedule made it difficult for hotel and car reservations. A car trip to Salt Lake City was necessary anyway. However, it was the anticipation of visiting a ship with the same configuration as the Hancock; walking, or driving, up Atlantic Street to the old East Gate of NAS Alameda; a cool and misty walk up Pier #3; viewing the ominous bow, island structure, the starboard side and the brow; and finally walking up the brow itself; made any lack of low stress transportation a non-issue!"
Coming to the end of this conversation with the former sailor, I asked curiously. " Has your mission been accomplished?" He quickly responded. "Oh Yes!" Then he pulled out of his travel bag a multitude of pictures he had taken of his return to Alameda and his quest to find a way to
physically stand behind the helm; gaze out of the bridge windows and stand over a dead reckoning tracer, with chart in place."
He continued. " I was kind of in a Twilight Zone Experience. Although not the entire Hornet was open for inspection, the island structure area was open for a step back in time. That is where the bridge, chart house, and pilot house were located; and most of my time on the Hancock was spent." "Sadly!" He exclaimed! "Some of the other areas of the ship that I spent time in were not yet open to the public. Those areas were the aft-steering compartment and the secondary conning station. The aft-steering section being located below decks at the rear of the ship; and the secondary con station being located in the bow of the ship."
"However!" He concluded. "As you can see by the number of pictures I took, there was plenty of other areas open of interest to me. I was a Quartermaster aboard the Hancock; and one of my duties was moving about the ship setting and winding clocks. So, on my exploring the Hornet, all the open areas were of interest to me."
"OOH!" "That was a sharp banking turn we just made. I guess we are making our final approach for landing."
Concluding this conversation, I asked the Ghostly Hanna sailor, "Do you have plans of sharing this trip, and your reminiscing, with anyone?" Again smiling, he said. "Oh, Iíll probably find something to do with it. I canít just let the experience rust in the gray matter between my ears!"
The Approach "Ramp" of the Fantail A Fog Foam Station located under the Steam Catapults
A typical Berthing Compartment
The Bridge or CON
The Yeoman concluded that his choice of XO, Historian and Chief Correspondent was definitely a good one. Dennis certainly fills this Billet! He hopes those who read these humble gleanings will agree with him.