"Ed" Hughes, FTCM(SS)
A non-Hancock Sailor, but worthy of note here!
Ed is the Author of some Pretty Awesome Navy Stories & Poems!
A brief history of my Naval career.
Well before I was of age to go in the service of my country I was aware that I would have to go in one service or the other. The Korean War was being fought by our country. even though most folks said it was not a war, they said it was a police action, but our fighting men were dying every day and the draft was right on each boys heels when he got out of high school. I graduated from High School in 1953. I joined the Navy in Jan 1954 and went to Boot Camp (Recruit Training) in San Diego, CA. After about 3 months where we received our uniforms much training about Navy tradition, ships, Navy Ratings and a multitude of other things about the Navy, those of us that graduated from Boot Camp were either sent on a ship or to a Navy school for training in what job the Navy decided we might be able to do to help the Navy.
I went home on boot leave, as it was called, with orders to return to San Diego to go to (FT) Fire Control Technician (A) School. The school was 52 weeks long and it was a struggle for a country boy like me who did not even know what electricity was, as we did not get the REA until 1953 and they did not make us qualify in order to use that electricity, it was mostly electricity and electronics that started with the basics and went quickly to advanced material. I did manage to pass the course and made Seaman 1st Class during that time.
After FT(A) school I was transferred to the USS Manchester (CL 83) homeported in Long Beach, CA. I made one WestPac cruise aboard Her and helped to put the Manchester out of commission at Hunters Point, San Francisco, CA. I was advanced to 3rd Class FT while on the Manchester. She was a good ship especially for a Sailors first ship as an FT, She was loaded with armament as all Cruisers were in those days , with four 6 inch turrets, twelve , 5 inch gun mounts and about the same number of 3 inch gun mounts, all these guns were computer controlled and the Manchester was at the time a state of the art fire control platform.
I was transferred to USS Missouri (BB 63) in Bremerton, WA. We never got underway but the Mighty Mo was a showboat and we spent a lot of time touring visitors, and Vets. Advanced to 2nd Class FT while on the Missouri.
I was discharged from the Navy at the end of that hitch, from the Missouri. I headed back to Colorado and registered at Denver University going on the GI Bill. That was in 1957 and times were rough for a young man, the country was in a large recession at the time, and the jobs were few. I finally decided to go back in the Navy where I knew they would provide 3 squares and a bunk. I reenlisted in the Navy in Nov. 1958.
My first duty station after reenlisting in the Navy was the Harbor Defense Unit in Little Creek, Va. This was preferred sea duty as it was called and we would occasionally have to go to sea on a Mine Laying or Mine Detecting vessel in the Chesapeake Bay, where the Navy had placed controlled mine fields at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, these mines were inert but had magnetic detecting ability built into the system and we would all ship traffic into or out of the Chesapeake Bay. This job was done with the Mk II Controlled Mine System.
From Little Creek I was transferred to my first Destroyer the USS Turner (DDR 834), we spent a lot of time at sea with local steaming on a continuous basis, we made a Med cruise and Gitmo underway training twice while I was onboard this Destroyer. She was a good Tin Can and I was advanced to FTG1 aboard her. And was Fox Division LPO most of my time aboard this Destroyer. I worked for a Chief Fire Control Technician (FTC James Harris) who was an extremely competent Fire Control Technician; he taught me nearly every job a FT had to perform on a Gearing Class Destroyer and required that I become proficient as a computer operator for the Mk 1A Gun Fire Control Computer. When Chief Harris was transferred I was certainly glad that he left me being well qualified to be the senior FT on board due to his insistence of my performing nearly every job that was required of an FT on a Destroyer.
I received an intersquadron transfer from the Turner to the USS William R. Rush (DDR 714) just in time to go to Gitmo again. The Cuban Missile Crises occurred while I was on the Rush (Oct. of 62), an anxious time for all of us, but we managed and when we returned to our homeport of Mayport, FL. I was transferred to FT (B) School, Great Lakes, ILL.
FT (B) school was nearly a year in length and what a miserable cold place to spend a winter. I was eligible for shore duty and was transferred to (IT) School, Instructor Training School at Great Lakes. After graduating from FT(B) School. This was to prepare me for instructor duty and this school was considered one of the top schools of the Navy, I did get into a little trouble while attending IT School, as I questioned the class standing of individuals in my IT School class. The school administrators rejected my complaints and made me suffer some by using their influence to prevent me from getting orders to a shore duty assignment for 3 months after graduating from IT School, I then received orders to a Submarine Training School, and I always suspected that the there were some Navy people that felt I would be buried there because I had questioned the integrity of IT School. The powers that be transferred me to a Polaris Submarine Training Command at Dam Neck, Virginia.
The Polaris Submarine Force seemed to be the major priority for the Navy at that time, 1963, and I was transferred to Submarine Guided Missile School, Dam Neck, VA. Here I was a Destroyer Sailor teaching Submarine Sailors their equipment. It was a busy time but Navymen need to stay busy. We Destroyer Sailors were so good that we each received a year extension of shore duty and a (MUC) Meritorious Unit Commendation for our efforts. I was advanced to FTBC during my tour at Dam Neck.
I was in a Submarine Rating and applied for duty on an FBM Submarine when I completed my tour at GMS, but SubLant would not have me at the time. Their reasoning was they wanted Sailors that were raised on Submarines, all Sailors transferred to submarines had to have attended Submarine School and CPOs could not be sent to Submarine School. Therefore my next duty was on a Submarine Tender USS Hunley (AS 31) in the Shipyards at Charleston, SC and soon to go to underway training again. We sailed from Charleston on 24 Dec. 1968 went through the Panama Canal and made our way to Guam, MI to relieve the USS Proteus (AS 19) for providing FBM Submarine support and upkeep. I had requested training in the next FBM Fire Control System which was system to control launches of the Submarine Launched Poseidon Missile, and after only a few months of performing Submarine upkeeps in Guam I was given orders to Pittsfield, Mass. factory training for further transfer to the USS Observation Island (EAG 154) upon successful graduation from that training.
The USS Observation Island (EAG 154) was a Research and Development vessel for the Polaris and the Poseidon missile and associated Fire Control Systems. She launched the Fleet Ballistic Missiles before they would be placed on FBM Submarines. What a great job for a country boy. I was advanced to Senior Chief Petty Officer while aboard the Observation Island.
Upon successful completion of R and D (about 3 years) for the Poseidon Missile my crew of FTBs were transferred to other duty stations. I was transferred to another Submarine billet, the Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Training Center, Charleston, SC. I was advanced to Master Chief Petty Officer while at that duty station.
I was eligible for retirement when the chance came for me to be stationed aboard an FBM Submarine and I requested that transfer, all the previous requirements for duty onboard an FBM Submarine, that I mentioned in earlier paragraphs, were waived . I was transferred to the USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628) Gold in Holy Loch, Scotland, and made 7 deterrent patrols aboard Her, the last 6 patrols were as Chief of the Boat (COB) and I was a watch stander the entire time that we were underway.
I was transferred to Submarine Squadron 18 as part of an Admirals staff and retired from there in 1978 with 24 great years in the US Navy.
E. A. Hughes, FTCM(SS)
US Navy (Retired)
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