Kenneth D. Groom, YN2

Plankowner from Recommissioning in 1954

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I was transferred to the USS Hancock on January 1, 1954 and served the last of my four years in the Navy on the Hancock. My first three years was on the USS Yancey AKA-93. I was a yeoman third class on the Yancey and volunteered for the Hancock that was being commissioned in Bremerton Washington. I was part of the ship's company of about 50 people when I reported aboard about the same time as Jack Fisher. We were in the X division and I was assigned as petty officer in charge of the administrative Office under LCDR Russel F. Kornman. It was an exciting time because at last we were on a well organized ship. Since many sailors were sent in drafts from shore stations we had a lot of people that had never been to sea before including Chief Petty Officers.

One incident I remember was when Jack and I came aboard after liberty one night and the officer of the deck (an ensign) stopped us and asks us why we didn't salute the flag on the stern of the ship. I informed him that there was no flag there at night. "But, all of the chiefs come aboard and salute the stern". So I saluted the stern for him. I knew I was right, so we went to the office and looked it up in the Navy Regs. Sure enough, I was right, so I proceeded to go up to the quarterdeck to inform the ensign. When I told him, he was surprised but grateful.

I confess that most of my exciting stories are from the Yancey of collisions, typhoons and Captains like Captain Queeg, but I still am very proud that I served on ships on both ends of the scale. Today, I am a member of the Hancock association as well as a historian for the Yancey.

One more Hancock story...

About the time we were recommissioning in Bremerton, we would review the shore patrol reports. Just outside of the west gate in Bremerton is a tavern called the "white pig", but better known as "the albino swine" to the crew. So we get this report of a sailor who was somewhere between the gate and the albino swine tavern with his pants on wrong side out. He would come out of the darkness and the marine guards would try to capture him but they couldn't leave their post, so he would go back to the tavern at just the right time. Finally they captured him and wrote him up as drunk and disorderly and with his pants on wrong side out. When it came to the bottom of the page he was allowed to make a statement. So he wrote: "The Marines are three grades lower than Owl S--t". I doubt if he could prove that statement in a court of law, but that was his opinion at the time he made the statement.

More later, Ken (K.D.) Groom

Kenneth D. Groom
2505 South 250th Place
Kent, WA 98032
To Contact Ken Groop, send a Message via Admin

P.S. I do have some good pictures such as the time we entered San Diego bay for Christmas with a 60 foot christmas tree raising on the forward elevator.

This is the way the Hannah looked when I was aboard

More from Ken Groom...

I have a couple of stories that you might enjoy. I think they may not be as good as the last ones, but I will try.

When Jack Fisher and I reported aboard the Hancock in January 1954, we soon discovered that the trip to Seattle was by two means. First we discovered the Bremerton to Seattle ferry took an hour and cost a significant part of our pay. So, we decided that, after a month of being good buddies, we knew each other well enough to buy a car together. We bought a 41' Ford club coupe for $250 (whose emergency brake didn't work). This was going to do wonders for us. We soon discovered that the replacement bridge for "Galloping Gerty" that spans the narrows of Puget Sound had become a toll bridge - so much for saving money. But as wise sailors do, we took out insurance on the car. We found that the emergency brake problem could be overcome by placing the parked car in reverse. The day came when the ship was going to San Diego and we decided to sell the car. A friend, A.C. Nettle, helped us to sell it to a widow lady that needed a car cheap - we sold it for $75. Our ship moves out of Bremerton to Bangor Ammunitions Port, for one day, to on load ammunition. The night before sailing I get a call from a Bremerton resident that says "your car is in the side of my house and everything - including the plumbing is wrecked. While I was trying to understand all of this, A.C. Nettle grabbed the phone and got things sorted out. The next day, we went in the ship's car with our legal officer to see the damage. The resident greeted us with open arms and declared the whole situation a non problem. Apparently he discovered that 1) we no longer owned the car and 2) that even if we did, we had insurance as well as the current owner. We found later that the current owner had parked the car on a hill, set the emergency brake and later called the filling station that she wanted a lube job on her car. "What car" was the reply and the rest is history.

Second story: San Diego has a long pier at North Island where the carriers tie up. To go to San Diego from North Island requires a shuttle boat - affectionately called "The Nickel Snatcher" - for the turnstiles that take the fares. On one occasion, the USS Wasp was tied up behind the Hancock. The next morning we were suppose to go to sea for a few days. During the night a tired and happy sailor, from the Wasp, came aboard the Hancock looking for his sleeping compartment. The next morning the duty petty officer was waking everybody up including the Wasp man. The Wasp man looks around for a friendly face and suddenly ask "Where am I", to be told: "The Hancock - we have set the sea detail". He is up and out of the bunk to be seen no more.


* Jack Fisher is Ken's best buddy on ship

And still more...

Jake, I have another story, but this is one from my first ship, The USS Yancey AKA-93. I sent this one to the Yancey reunion people.

Watching movies on the Yancey was a unique experience. The movie screen was rigged aft on the number three hatch. This allowed the audience to seat themselves on the decks and hatch and in various weather protected areas of the aft superstructure. The higher the rank the higher you could sit in comfort. On cold and windy nights at sea, foul weather gear was used to keep warm.

One enterprising disbursing clerk thought he found a solution. He had a chair in the office, so he had some comfort. But keeping warm was another problem so he decided to order an Air Force Jacket that worked like a heating blanket. These jackets were designed with small wires routed thru the thin jacket to be worn under heavier conventional jackets. He quickly realized that he didn't have the right kind of plug for the jacket so he talked an Electrician Mate into installing a plug. Nobody wondered why they make different kinds of plugs for different voltage systems.

When "movies on number three hatch" was announced, he was already seated in his favorite chair, zipped up the jacket, passed the extension cord thru the ship's office porthole and said "plug me in". In hind site "zoom me up Scotty" would have been more appropriate. Well, we did just that. From here on I am not sure of the actual sequence of events, since time and witnesses at the time have clouded the actual events. Besides, exaggeration is more fun. We may have been distracted by the extension cord reacting by sort of coiling up like a snake. But I think he jumped out of his chair before the flash and frantically began unzipping. Only a few people probably know if he has a strange pattern of burn marks on his body today.

Years later, when I was in Engineering School, I learned that the heat generated varies as the square of the voltage. Later I found that most airplanes and ship operated on 28 volt systems. The exception is that when someone does a favor for the ship's electricians, they will route a 110 line for you so that a record player can be played - so we did just that - before the incident. A quick calculation indicates that our friend received about 16 times the maximum designed heat capacity of that jacket without any regulation control.

I never found out if the electrician mate was his friend or just getting even for some past deed. It just doesn't pay to fool mother nature or an electrician mate.

Ken has done it again with his new Addition (February 23, 2007 of his Tribute to the U.S.S. YANCEY (AKA-93) Oral History Site. Come and visit there.

More later, "K.D."