D. 'Inny' Cerbini, Fireman Second Class
An 'Old Salt'
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Jake: Although, Inny was on the Hancock during WWII, he chose to submit the following story, while he was attached to the USS BAHAM AG 71, a Radar and Radio repair ship, and so I am putting the heading of this story under the heading of 'Other Ships Oral Histories'
This is a slightly funny thing that happened to me after I left the Hancock. The situation was as follows. I had been transferred from the Hancock to the USS BAHAM AG 71, a radio radar repair ship. I spent about four months in ships company and found that didn't sit well with my engineering officer. He and I had a run in. At the time I was standing top watch in the evaporator room. It was the dog watch when I received a phone call to secure the evaporators. The reason for securing the evaporators was that they had lost the water level in the boilers. I immediately shut down, for the evaporators used a lot of steam. I was a Water Tender Second Class. Leaving a Fireman First-Class in charge of the evaporator room, I ran to the boiler room to assistant with the problem . As I was going down the ladder into the boiler room, I looked down and much to my surprise there was some stupidity going on. Our engineering officer was opening and closing valves and looking at the gauge glass. It was quite apparent he did not know what he was doing. I started to laugh. He looked up at the wrong time and saw me with a smile my face. This officer stopped what he was doing and in a pissed off voice wanted to know what I was doing in the boiler room and to get back to the evaporators. I returned to my station and sent the firemen to crews quarters to get another water tender to the boiler room. The engineering officer was a hard headed ass. The ship received orders to go back to the states. Needless to say I was one happy camper. I forgot to mention that we were anchored in Tokyo Bay at that time. While waiting to go through the chow line we noticed a piece of paper posted on the bulletin board. The sad news was that it was a transfer list. Of the crewmen that were on that list my name was right on top. At the time they used a point system for rotating you back states. I had more than enough points to go home. I left the chow line and went to the engineering office . He was sitting behind his desk and had a big smile on his face when he asked me what I wanted. I told him that I had enough points and wanted to go home. He responded with "there's nothing I can do for you." He then added , "now get the f--k out of my office." So I left and went to the Captain's Office with my complaint. I was informed by the Captain's Yeoman (Inny was making a joke here, knowing I was a Captain's Yeoman) that my name was put on a transfer listing by the engineering officer. He put my name on the list and he could take it off. They did not understand why my name was put on the list in the first-place . I returned to the engineering office. He once again said, "What do you want?" So I told him that I had enough points and wanted to go home. His response was. "I told you there's nothing I can do for you, now get the f--k out of here!" I said "Sir I am not leaving until you remove my name from the transfer list. I have been informed that you placed my name on that list and you can take it off." He stood up and screamed, "get out you son of a bitch!" He then took a swing at me. But I stepped back and started my own swing. He missed and I didnt. I knocked him over his chair.I left the office in a panic and went to crews quarters and was shaking like a leaf. My buddies asked me what was wrong. I told them that I was going to go to Portsmouth Naval Prison because I just hit an officer. Needless to say that I sweated it out for 45 minutes.
Over the P.A. system came the word, "Cerbini I.D. Firemen Second Class, report to the Quarterdeck". I reported to the officer on deck, "Cerbini I.D. Watertender Second Class reporting as ordered Sir." He said, "you are now Firemen Second Class, get your gear ready you are being transferred right now."
I never got to thank the Skipper for his kindness to me.This is how I wound up on a Light cruiser. This all happened in one day. I packed my gear and was sent to the USS Duluth."
More from Inny in another Email:
USS Duluth CL-87
"I want you to know that I am the only person you know that has the unique distinction of running through the Queen Mary. Upon arrival I was shown to crews quarters. As I started to unpack my sea bag all hell broke loose.Gongs were going off and over the Bitch box came the word, "Collision drill! Collision drill!"- it gave reference points between frames. Being totally unfamiliar with this new ship, I said to myself, "find the boiler rooms and report." I know that the only way I had was to get back to the main deck and try to find the boiler rooms. So I hauled ass up the ladders to the main deck and started to look for a hatch that would take me into the engineering spaces. While doing all this I was running. There were some officers standing in the way. As I started past them, one reached out and grabbed me by the arm. He asked me what I thought I was doing. I told them that I was trying to find the engineering spaces (this was the executive officer that I was speaking to). He said to me with a smile on his face "Do you realize that you have just run through the Queen Mary?" What could I say? So I said, "I'm sorry Sir, I didn't see her." He laughed and took my name. I told him that I just reported aboard and was unpacking my sea bag when the drill sounded and I just wanted to help . He said, "we cannot have people running through ships." His punishment was that I had to study the blueprints of the ship and know where all frames were located so that it would never happen again.That moment was talked about for weeks. Every time that I think about it, I get a big chuckle out of it so it seens that I am the only person in the world to be able to claim that I ran through the Queen Mary with no damage to her or me. This is just some of the nonsense in the United States Navy."
Addendum to the USS BAHAM story above, Inny elaborated on this a bit here:
From an subsequent Email: "...the USS BAHAM AG 71 was a radio and radar repair ship and she also had 4 triple stage evaporators. We used to supply fresh water to other ships. The water would be transferred to a small vessel that we called the Gunga-Din . This ship would travel to any other ship that was anchored in Tokyo Bay that needed water. So in the process we were constantly making water for other ships and also had enough water to take fresh water showers. This aboard ship is, as you know, a god send. We never had water hours aboard. Once more, I send you my best - take care!
P.S. The Engineering Officer - an Ensign - was only a few years older than I was at the time. He never saw action and resented the fact people around him had more experience. He was a spoiled brat!
Note: Inny sent me the pictures of the USS Baham and the USS Duluth as file attachments in the previous Email. I used them for this Page. He further stated: "The Duluth operated in a cruiser division comprised of the USS Topeka and the USS Atlanta. We were making overnight runs between Guam and Saipan. We would pull Liberty on Guam then make the overnight run to Saipan where once again we would have Liberty. The thing was we had four section Liberty so you were sure that every four days you would go ashore be put into a stockade and drink beer. Oh the stories that I could tell you of that insanity. The Duluth was assigned to China and a way we went. After spending several months in China we rejoined the division. As the USS Atlanta received orders to go home I was transferred aboard her and finally headed back to the good old USA.
The Yeoman's Note:
I need to make mention here (February, 2011) that our good Shipmate and friend, Inny Cerbini has passed from this life on 30 January 2011. He was a good man, and a very good friend of the USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Memorial. His bright, upbeat and positive outlook could get rid of any gray day, and he contributed immensely to this Website. I had the opportunity to meet Inny and his wonderful family back in 2002 when they all came down to Orlando, Florida to visit Disneyworld. I was living at the time in Bradenton, Florida, and I drove over there to meet and have breakfast with them. He was very proud of his family, and I found that the closeness of his family showed to me, the mettel of the man who was their father, along with their mother, Edda - a true American Family. This Family was proudly American and Inny couldn't say enough about his admiration of President Ronald Reagan. I just have to know that Inny no doubt was greatly troubled by the condition that our country is in today. Had I the chance, I would have assured him that there are enough Solid Patriots in this country, that this present situation is but a bump in the road of our National future.
Inny will be sadly missed, but we know nothing good ever dies and is gone forever. We will meet up again one day! Rest in Peace, Inny, dear friend,
Fair Winds and Following Seas, Shipmate!
Richard Cerbini is now a Contact Point for Inny's Family Contact Rich Cerbini
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