Lee Ridenour, SK3
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'Water for Men and Machine'
Fresh out of storekeeper school I was looking forward to a sub. Everyone told me I had a LOCK on it. Then I received my orders CVA-19.. Give me a break, Even a poor SK knew that wasn't a sub. I reported as ordered in June of '64 and immediately got lost. I quickly found that though the ship was old their pride was great. We accomplished in a 24 hour period what would take others days to do. Our goal was WestPac and we would move heaven and earth to get there. We we finally left San Francisco on our cruise everyone on board I talked with was both eager and happy. Almost halfway to Pearl though we had a problem.. All of our Cats went down. A tech rep was flown out for inspection purposes. He concluded that we'd need extensive yard work to fix everything and recommended we turn around and return to the states.. We headed back home but no one has ever seen the determination of a ships crew like ours. They worked non-stop and when we were but a day out of Wa. we were pronounced fit to operate, turned around again and we were off. I don't believe a SK ever worked harder than during that period. Verbal requisitions were processed, men were digging through stocks, comming up with strange parts that were MADE to work. Our Chief put the word out that if you needed a part, TELL US, and we'd worry about the paper work later. We lived in the holes but we were glad to do it because we knew that after everything was said and done we'd be WestPac bound again. The Fighting Hanna! Not the prettiest ship, nor the biggest, but don't you ever mess with her because she'd run you in the ground every time. We were in a glass of our own. The ONLY CVA still on active duty and the only aircraft carrier that responded to every call given. Replacing the Ranger as well as other carriers when then just couldn't handle the load. If I'm not mistaken I think between the South China Sea tours (30 days) and the North China Sea ( 30 days), we on the fighting Hanna spent more time at sea that any other carrier during the same period. I do know this. When we pulled into PI for a much deserved rest stop ALL the ladies gave us priority treatment over those Ranger land lovers.:) I was very proud to have served on her and still have her plaque. Hope you enjoyed my story.
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