Hancock Oral Histories Site
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Personal Oral Histories by visitors

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Many of these Email Addresses have gone down due to our contributors not keeping the Yeoman updated on changes - Sorry!

The following are Oral Histories added to the Oral History Site by visitors. They are totally unedited, and will reflect EXACTLY what the visitor wished to portray. Until further notice, the Oral History Site cannot be changed or Edited, therefore, any new additions to the Oral History Visitor's Pages will be shown on this Page. - Jake

If you wish to include your story on this page, or the furture succeeding pages, please Email your story or if it's large, send as an attachment to the Yeoman. You can also use our Oral History Submission Page.


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The "XO" Dennis F. Milliken, QM3

Dennis F. Milliken

His own Humorous Oral History

Read a Funny-Now-Not-so-Funny THEN Story
Some History you won't find in the History Book

CONTINUED ORAL HISTORIES
(Oral Histories originally Added independently by Shipmates)
Page #1

Oral History is donated by: Ken "Jake" Jaccard
Email Address: Contact Jake

Entered on: Dec 20, 1998 at 20:41

My Homepage is: Jake's 'Yankee Station'

Subject:
Jake and the Shore Patrol at Subic

My Oral History:
During my navy days I didn't do 'heavy' liberty, UNTIL we hit port in Subic Bay, sometime summer, 1963. Being a newby, my more 'seasoned' shipmates wanted to 'bust my cherry' and so took me to some of the raunchiest bars in Olongopo City. I found myself in the 'California Bar' on the main street. My shipmates later abandoned me and I was alone in this bar. I commenced to get my blackshoes full of whatever you call it. I was feeling pretty woosy and decided I needed some air so I went out into the back alley, which was exactly the wrong thing to do as this area was 'off limits' to all Naval Personnel. I was weaving back and forth out there, without my 'cover' on when along came the Shore Patrol in a jeep, and asked me what the 'f....' was I doing out there as it was not only off limits but dangerous for me to be there. I don't remember what excuse I gave them, but they could see I was in no shape to allow me back in the bar, so they sent me in to get my cover and hauled my little white butt back to the ship.. I am surprised I wasn't put on report, but then, these things happen all the time; why fill up the Captain's Mass log with all these breeches? My own breeches were full enough after that time, as I was sick for a quite a long time, with the dry heaves! Fair Winds! Jake

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Oral History is donated by: Sue Purkey

Email Address: bearcub@polyinter.com

Entered on: Jan 22, 2000 at 20:02

My Homepage is: None

Subject: USS Indianapolis

My Oral History:
My Uncle George Edward "Ed" Jones was lost on the Indianapolis. I have a series of his letters recounting his life aboard ship as well as a poem that he wrote entitled "A Sailors Reward" If you are interested in these items I can e-mail them to you and you can decide if they would be appropriate for your site. Ed was very young when he died and was never married. These items are his legacy and the family would be proud to have them included on your site should you decide to post them. Sue Purkey, Val David, Quebec

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Visit the Ed Jones /USS Indianapolis CA-35 Memorial


Oral History is donated by: Lee Ridenour

Email Address: lee3@flash.net

Entered on: Feb 23, 2000 at 00:46

My Homepage is: http://www.usshancockcv19.com

Subject: My First Ship

My Oral History:
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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Oral History is donated by: Bob Jenkins

Email Address: rgjinks@aol.com

Entered on: Feb 28, 2000 at 07:42

My Homepage is: None

Subject: Community Service

My Oral History:
It wasn't all fighting on the Hanna. We did some neat things for the community. While we in Japan in 1957 we had Japanese Cub Scouts and parents aboard for part of a day. Ex Scouters on board were the hosts and guides. In 1958, Don Hartmann, YN2 instituted, with the help of Captain Miller, a Boy Scout Council on board the ship to reach out in the Bay Area to help Scout Troops in trouble and help them get on their feet. This was very rewarding to all of us Scouters/Sailors to do something like this and didn't hurt the Navy's image either. We then brought Scouts and leaders aboard for a day of fun, food and some time to show them what the Navy was all about. It was a great experience.

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Oral History is donated by: Fred Shacklett, QM2, N-Div 74-76

Email Address: fjshacklett@west.raytheon.com

Entered on: Apr 7, 2000 at 17:47

My Homepage is: Raytheon Company

Subject: Comment on Shipley's Emergency Breakaway

My Oral History:
This is a reply to Bill Shipley's "Night of Terror" regarding the Emergengy Breakaway that Hancock had with the USS Kawishiwi on our final cruise in '75. This is also a followup to NCCM Johnson's account of the "collision". I sent Bill an email also. I was that "Quartermaster at the helm" during the UNREP with Kawishiwi in '75. And believe me, it was the most difficult evolution I had ever done! According to our division chief (QMC Steve Brown), the problem was caused by Kawishiwi losing power to her rudder and the venturi effect pulling the ships together. I had only been on the helm about 10 minutes when things went wrong, in a hurry. For the record, I was one of only six qualified Special Evolution helmsmen on board. As you know, the Special Evolution helmsmen have the responsibility for driving the ship in and out of port, and taking the helm during Flight Ops and Unreps. We would generally have 2 or 3 Special Evolution helmsmen for each UNREP, rotating every twenty minutes. Here is what happened on the bridge. My compass heading would not hold, no matter what I did on the helm. I reported to the Conning Officer that I was unable to hold my course. But with each correction in the rudder, the lines and hoses between the ships would pull us closer together. Capt Fellows on seeing the danger, relieved the Conning Officer, because we were not gaining distance between ships fast enough. He ordered the Quatermaster of the Watch to sound the Emergency Breakaway signal on the ship's horn and ordered the 1MC announcement on the breakaway. We successfully pulled away, after "All Ahead Flank, Emergency" was ordered. The first and only time I had ever heard that particular command. It's a funny thing, after writing this, I remember it like it was yesterday. Hard to believe it's been 25 years!!! Only by speeding up and literally pulling away, did we get out of harm's way. Our division Leading Petty Officer (QM2 Mende) wanted to relieve me in the middle of the breakaway, but Chief Brown refused to let him on the helm. Mende thought I wasn't turning the rudder fast enough. Capt Fellows was giving me rudder commands every few seconds. And believe me, I had never done so many rudder reversals in my life. My arms felt like lead. The credit really goes to Capt Fellows for recognizing the danger we were in and directing me correctly on the helm. I later received a commendation from him for expert performance on the helm. I'm just glad there were no serious injuries. Even though UNReps can become routine, you must always be prepared for emergencies. I also want to give credit to Chief Brown for my training and his guidance. It saved the day. Footnote: It should be noted that while I was doing my best to keep up with rudder commands and course changes, my counterpart in after-steering had to match everthing I did on the bridge. The after-steering gang really saved everyone, by staying alert and by keeping both steering engines on line. And for those who remember, QMC Earl (Steve) Brown. He passed away unexpectedly on March 11, 1997, after complications from surgery on an old injury to his shoulder and neck. He served over 26 years active duty, before retiring to Dolan Springs, AZ with his wife Judy. The VFW in Dolan Springs, where he served as Post Commander, gave him an excellent Honor Guard farewell. He is missed, but not forgotten. Judy has returned to Napa to be closer to their children. Fred Shacklett, QM2, N Division 1974-1976 (Last LPO of N-Division) fjshacklett@west.raytheon.com

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Oral History is donated by: Raymond L Simkunas

Email Address: RaySim77@hotmail.com

Entered on: Feb 10, 2001 at 15:26

My Homepage is: Jakes Yankee Station

Subject: My Fathers history aboard the Hancock.

My Oral History:
When my dad was assigned for duty on the Hancock he was in for the suprise of his life. Just getting out of boot camp and riding a double coach train from Great Lakes Naval Training Center to his destiny which is the glorious ship named U.S.S Hancock CVA-(19). The big numbers inscribed on the massive island structer #19. Kind of gives you that feeling that you are not a teenager anymore. My dad boarded and set foot on the ships assume flight deck, was expecting a guy to come and make him march and do push ups. My father was shocked when he told him to go in to the city and don,t come back for another two days. until the ship departs.

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Oral History is donated by: Alan H. Barbour

Email Address: popasmoke@erols.com

Entered on: Mar 16, 2001 at 10:23

My Homepage is: USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association

Subject: The Last Marines KIA in Vietnam - HMM-164 aboard the USS Hancock

My Oral History:
YT-14 – The Last Helicopter and Crew Lost in The Republic of Vietnam By Alan H. Barbour, Historian USMC/Vietnam Helicopter Association At 06:00 on the morning of 29 April 1975, the Boeing Vertol CH-46D SeaKnight YT-14 prepared to launch as the overwater SAR (search and rescue) aircraft from the carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) for Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of American and Vietnamese personnel from the American Embassy in Saigon. Normally, a fixed wing carrier such as the Hancock executing helicopter operations would not launch a helicopter SAR aircraft as any helicopter could perform SAR duties. However for an operation of this magnitude, a designated rescue helicopter provided the task force with the capability of responding instantly to any emergency. This was a special day however, because of the air traffic potential. Emergency USMC helicopter operations were planned all day as necessary for the evacuation as the North Vietnamese Army entered Saigon. Much of the air traffic would be of South Vietnamese origin, as had been witnessed the previous day. Vietnamese helicopters and fixed wing were expected to arrive at any time. Some Vietnamese pilots, with their families and friends attempting to escape South Vietnam, ditched adjacent to the shipping, while others attempted to land on the various decks, some on top of other aircraft. There were many times during the day that the decks of various ships were fouled with aircraft, sometimes intentionally, including both helicopters and fixed wing. YT-14 was designated the Angel Flight (Naval term for overwater SAR) for operation Frequent Wind, to be used for any eventuality. YT was the designation given to all aircraft assigned to Marine helicopter squadron HMM-164. Cpl. Stephen R. Wills was the Crewchief/Right Gunner of YT-14, an aircraft affectionately known to the Marines who flew it as a Phrog. Cpl. Richard L. Scott was his 1st Mechanic/Left Gunner for this early-morning SAR mission. The aircraft and these men were assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164. The two Marines remained with their aircraft in orbit over the South China Sea through the entire day and into the night, for 17 hours, refueling every couple of hours, without shutting down. According to Steve Wills, throughout the day during several hot refuelings on the deck of the USS Hancock, Vietnamese aircraft were “trying to land on top of us.” “Conversations during the day between crew members aboard YT-14 were strictly that of Marines carrying out their routine duties, and wishing they were someplace else.” As the day advanced, at approximately 13:00, during a hot refueling, Capt. William C. Nystul and 1stLt. Michael J. Shea relieved the originally assigned pilot and copilot aboard YT-14. Bill Nystul was a recent WestPac [Marine operating area – western Pacific] arrival to Okinawa when HMM-164 deployed with the remaining UH-46D’s and UH-1E’s from MCAS Futenma, Okinawa. He had just completed schooling, and had re-fammed in the H-46. Bill had been a fixed wing instructor in the Naval Aviation Training Command at Pensacola, and had since accumulated approximately 20 hours of refamiliarization time on the CH-46. Mike Shea had accumulated approximately 25 CH-46 hours in Futenma before deploying, and was previously a designated CH-53 pilot (7564). Capt. Chic Schoener was assigned to H&MS-36 as a pilot in Okinawa and did his CH-46 flying with both HMM-164 and HMM-165. He remembers giving Bill Nystul an Okinawa island Fam hop before they embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA-41) for cross decking to the USS Hancock and had known both he and Mike Shea before and while embarked. Chic, like many other squadron pilots, flew 13 or more hours during this day. “A typical CH-46D carried 2400 lbs. of jet fuel (JP-4 or 5)(1200 in each stub wing) and had a routine flight endurance of 2 hours. Under certain flight conditions that time could be stretched to 2+15 hours. However, NATOPS and safety dictated refueling when the fuel quantity was no lower than 200 lbs per side (approximately 20 minutes fuel remaining). The fuel “low caution lights” usually came on with 340 lbs of fuel remaining. This operation was not routine (by any standards) with many aircraft and crewmembers' limitations being stretched well beyond stated limits. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary efforts.” According to Steve Wills, maintaining the SAR orbit was not simply a “watch.” The crew had been active all day with various tasks. “I would just be guessing as to the number of times that we refueled that day. But it would have to have been six or seven times, maybe even more. On one of our landings to refuel, we were loaded with about twenty or so refugees that were to be transferred to the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).” “Just as we landed on the Blue Ridge, we were told to launch immediately, as there was a small aircraft that had crashed aft of the Blue Ridge. We off loaded our passengers, took off and CPL Scott and I readied the rescue hoist, and opened the hellhole. We spotted three personnel in the water and lowered the hoist. It was very evident that two of the people where in bad shape with what looked to be massive head injuries. All three of them tried to get in the hoist, as they were only a few feet apart from each other. The one that wasn't hurt got in. “We started to bring him up, when I saw that one of the injured men slipped under the water. I told Capt. Nystul to back off as our rotor wash was pushing them under. I told Captain Nystul that I was going to go into the water to try to help the other man. He told me to send in Scott. I informed him that Scott couldn’t swim. By the time we got the first man in, we lost sight of the last man. We started to circle to see if we could find the third man but couldn’t find him. A small Navy launch from the Blue Ridge was now on site, and we were released to return to the Hancock to refuel, and return to our SAR orbit point.” “During this mission there was a Navy officer on board taking pictures of the rescue … I had to keep pushing him away from me, as he kept getting in my way while we were trying to rescue those downed men.” The weight of the helicopter and the temperature of the day had significant effects on the operation that day. “Twice we had to dump fuel because of our weight. After we departed the USS Hancock we where losing altitude due to our weight and the heat of the day. Capt. Nystul told me that he was going to dump fuel. I informed him that there should be no problem with the system, as I had personally checked it out a few days before. “That’s what we heard” was the comeback from Capt. Nystul.” “Several days before the evac, I pre-flighted YT-14 for a test flight after replacing the rotor pitch-change link bearings. The flight was to take place later in the afternoon. After going down to the maintenance office, I was told that the test flight would take place in about 20 minutes. I was told to have YT-14 spotted and to unfold the blades.” “We had the deck crew spot her on the #1 spot. I got in and fired up the aircraft APP [auxiliary power plant] and when I brought the electrical power on line, I switched it from DC current to AC current. Right then the ship’s deck came alive with people trying to get me to shut down the aircraft. My 1st Mech, Cpl. Scott came in yelling that we were dumping fuel on the flight deck. I reached up and hit the APP switch to shut it off. Still we were dumping fuel. I told Cpl. Scott to go back and put his hand over one of the dump pipes and to have one of the other mechanics out side do the same to the other side. I guess you could imagine the double hand gestures I received.” “I looked up and saw that the fuel jettison switch was in the open position. I fired the APP back up, reached up and moved it back to the closed position, flipped the APP off. Still, we were dumping fuel. Then it came to me that I didn't bring the electrical system on line with the AC current.” “Again I fired the APP up, only this time when she lit off - there was a ball of flame that shot out the back at least ten or fifteen feet from the APP. I could see people running everywhere away from the A/C. I switched the system to AC and toggled the switch, shut down the APP, and vacated the A/C.” “By then, the crash crew was there. Needless to say, I was asked to go visit the CO and the ships Captain. That’s why I told Capt. Nystul I knew that the system worked.” The second time they had to dump fuel was when a Marine CH-53 was losing altitude. It had over 30 people in it and they feared that it was going to go in. “We were vectored to its location and could see that she was dropping and at the same time dumping fuel. We dropped half or more of our fuel as we knew that there was no way we could maintain altitude while trying to hover if we were to try and rescue any survivors. The H-53 couldn't have been more than a hundred feet off the deck. This was during the hottest part of the day. Thankfully it started to gain its altitude back and we were not needed.” The day had progressed to evening. The Ambassador still refused to leave Saigon. It was dark and it was getting later. All crews were pushing their safe flight time limits. Twice in the final hour of their SAR flight they were on final approach to the USS Hancock when they were sent back out to their orbit point for another possible mission. They were to report when they were down to 30 minutes fuel remaining. The fatigued pilots on the flight crew had been flying continuously for ten hours and the aircrew had been working continuously for seventeen hours when, in Steve Wills’ own words, the following happened: “We were at our orbit point when Capt. Nystul radioed for clearance for a landing approach back to the USS Hancock. We were down to about 30 minutes of fuel. We were given the OK to return, refuel and then go back out.” “On our inbound approach, I looked out the rear of the ship and saw a light at our 6 o’clock position coming in on us. I made it out to be another aircraft. I told the Captain and I then cleared him for a hard right turn. That other aircraft missed hitting us by less than 100 ft. “For the next 15 minutes there was no conversation in our aircraft, except for a comment made by Captain Nystul that "Some one is going to die up here tonight." “On returning to the ship I was asked if we were clear for a left turn. I gave the OK and no sooner than that, I heard “Pick it up, Pick it up, Pick it up.” I did not hear “Pull-up” as was stated in the KIA incident report. I braced myself, thinking that we were about to be in a mid-air with another aircraft. That day we must have had five or six close calls with other aircraft; not those of the Marines but of the Vietnamese.” “I don't remember any sudden descent or that of pulling in power. The only thing I remember was that of the hard landing lights coming on. That's when every thing went black.” Concurrently Sgt. Chris Woods, Crew Chief of Swift 22 aboard the USS Hancock witnessed the following: “The traffic pattern around the Hancock was very congested with aircraft landing, dropping off passengers, refueling, etc. Helicopters were continuously landing and taking off. Swift 22 had been refueled and stashed behind the [carrier] island to free up landing spots.” “I can't remember if I was doing a turnaround inspection or trying to get some rest. “ PULL UP, PULL UP, PULL UP” the air boss said over the 5MC (flight deck) speakers. The air boss kept yelling "PULL UP" until the aircraft impacted the water. I ran out in front of my aircraft to see a left running light (red) angling towards the water, it continued until there was "flash" caused by the aircraft impacting the water. I remember hearing several helicopters hovering trying to pick up survivors. Pandemonium was everywhere. There had been an immediate response from the personnel aboard the Hancock aware of the distressing situation. There were at least four helicopters that made attempts to get the survivors out; two Navy rescue SH-3's, one Marine CH-53 and finally another CH-46. Cpl. Wills related: “I came to under water. That’s when the Water Survival Training took over. I was only able to inflate one side of my LPA. The right side of it was torn. When I hit the surface I found that my radio was gone, along with my pistol. I found my pen flares and fired two of them. I started yelling to see if any one else got out. Cpl. Scott yelled back. He was about fifty yards from me.” “Cpl Scott was yelling that he couldn't swim. I was yelling back to him, to pop his LPA and finally he did. We both tried to get to each other, but the current was pulling him farther from me. I couldn’t move because my right hip was dislocated, and my left leg had a compound fracture 8" above the knee.” “The first two Navy SH-3’s tried to get us out with their hoist, but we couldn’t hook up. The rotor wash from the CH-53 that came over us just kept pushing us under the water. The two SH-3's and the H-53 tried to drown me and then backed off.” “After firing my pen flares, I was able to light up my strobe light. I do remember that Scotty fired his pen flare at the first or second helicopter almost hitting it. I yelled to him to get his strobe out and light it up. That would have been the only way that he could be seen.” Another CH-46D, call sign Swift 07, from HMM-164 was on the deck of the USS Hancock undergoing hot refueling, piloted by Capt. Steve Haley and 1stLt. Dean Koontz. They launched immediately, and picked up Cpl. Richard Scott by hoist. They completed a water-landing at night near the crash scene in pitch-black conditions and water-taxied up to the struggling and seriously injured Cpl. Wills. He was unable to get into the rescue harness due to his injuries. “In all of our training we were told that PHROGS don't float. But I can sure tell you of the one that can swim.” “When the rescue aircraft tried to get me out, and when being pushed under water by the rotor wash, I remember covering my strobe light so they couldn't see me. They would then have to back off, letting me come back to the surface. I did that more than one time. I was blacking out from loss of blood and shock when I came to and saw those rotor blades over my head.” “There was seawater in the cabin section [of Swift 07] when they pulled me by hand thru the cabin door of the CH-46. I heard the emergency throttles come up and remember the whine of the engines and the slapping of the blades ... I still can look up and see the rotor blades and thinking that H-46 was crashing on top of me.” “The hand that reached out to me was that of the rescue aircraft Crewchief, Sgt. Lon Chaney … we spent approximately 45 minutes in the water before they got us out.” Continuing the account of the rescue as witnessed by Chris Woods on the deck of the USS Hancock: “Then all of a sudden I watched as the bottom anti-collision light on a Phrog went underwater. I thought, GOD, not another crash. I watched as I realized that the aircraft was in the water to pick up survivors. Moments later Swift 07 was on the flight deck with Cpl Stephen R. Wills and Cpl Richard L. Scott. Capt. Nystul and Lt. Shea went down with the aircraft. The mood was not good. Everyone was exhausted and now we had to accept the deaths of two squadron mates.” The rescue was completed at about 23:30 on 29 Apr 1975. The bodies of Capt. Nystul and Lt. Shea were never recovered. Estimates from the ship were that they were in 65-100 feet of water [the ship had been moving all day]. The only items that were found after the incident were the four flight crew helmets and the front landing strut with the tires on it. At twilight on 30 Apr 1975, a very moving and traditional Burial at Sea was conducted for Capt. Bill Nystul and 1stLt. Mike Shea aboard the USS Hancock. They escorted one of the surviving crewmembers, Cpl. Richard Scott, across the deck for the Memorial Service. Cpl. Steve Wills was resting in double traction of both left and right legs on the 03 level of the ship and could not be moved. He was later very appreciative of the aircrew members for dropping in on him during his recovery. “If it were up to me, Capt. Haley and Lt Koontz would have received the CMH. But in saying that, please don't forget the hand that reached out, with seawater flowing in the cabin section, pulling me in … not with the hoist but by his hand. The aircrew of that ship will always live in my heart and mind as my guardian angel, even though I was flying the Angel Flight.” Operation Frequent Wind ended on the morning of the 30th of April with the extraction of Ambassador Graham Martin, followed by the extraction of the Marine Security Detachment, as did all U.S. involvement in the Republic of Vietnam. YT-14 (BuNo 154042) of HMM-164 was the last Marine helicopter lost in Vietnam, and still sits at the bottom of the South China Sea in 65 - 100 feet of water at coordinates N 09 55’ 32” E 107 20’ 06”, or at approximately 30 nautical miles on the 150 o radial of the Vung Tau NDB. “One last thought. If we know approximately where YT-14 lies, why couldn't there be an attempt to see if there are any remains. With today’s technologies, it might be a simple operation. We dig up mountains at crash sites to find remains no matter how small. To bring back the remains of the last two American service men, the last two Marines, to have been killed in action in Vietnam would mean a lot.” Cpl. Steve Wills, USMCR (med/ret), surviving Crewchief of YT-14

Note: Cpl Steve Wills' Oral History (Thank you Alan Barbour!) is now also a part of this Site's Hancock KIAs/MIAs Memorial.

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Oral History is donated by: Robert G. "Bob" Jenkins, YN2, USN (Ret)

Email Address: RGJinks@aol.com

Entered on: Feb 10, 2001 at 15:26

My Homepage is: Hancock Oral Histories Site

Subject: My Fathers history aboard the Hancock.

My Oral History:

One of the things I enjoyed doing was going on Zone Inspections on fridays with the Skipper. I always wanted to say I had been in every space on the ship so by going with the Skipper, I did this because he wanted to go to a new zone every week. My most memorable space was shaft alley. We sat looking at the shaft going around and the Skipper told me how amazing it all was. For me, I just wanted to get away from that turning thing as soon as I could. I remember he said, "Jenkins, every time that shaft turns, the ship goes through the water 14 feet". Like I said, I just wanted to go topside away from the turning shaft.

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Oral History is donated by: Davd Church

Email Address: oldswab@aol.com

Entered on: Apr 27, 2001 at 13:17

My Homepage is: Dave & Terri's hangout

Subject:
The night the A-4 Crashed

My Oral History:
It was just a normal night, it was 1963 - I don't remember the day or month, but it was my first cruise on the Hannah and it was night time and came this terrific crash and boom. It seems that this little A-4, nickname "Tinker Toy", had crashed into the rounddown. Later it was found that the main landing gear had smashed into the spud locker and killed the man on duty there, and the rest of the fuselage and the engine flew into the deck. The pilot was dead. Of all the details I remember most, clearing the treatment room and putting the pilot’s body there to remove the bits of his flight suit, those orange suits, that had melted. It was a long drawn out process, a very unpleasant one. There was an HM2 Ericson there and without him I probably wouldn't have made it. He encouraged, cajoled, joked and sympathized. When the task was complete, and the young aviator was in his body bag, I somehow felt empowered. I could do anything. Later on, my skills grew and I could do quite a bit; got a little cocky, if I did, it was thanks to that A-4 pilot and HM2 Ericson

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Oral History is donated by: Bob Matt

Email Address: Desires to be anonymous send Email to Jake if you wish to contact Bob

Entered on: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 3:26:09 AM Eastern Standard Time

My Homepage is:
Jake's 'Yankee Station' - USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Memorial

Subject:
Jake, I came aboard the same day you did! I have something to add to your Oral History about the crash of "Double Nuts" on the Fantail

My Oral History:

Hi Jake....A few weeks ago I looked up the USS Hancock and saw your web site. I also was a crew member on the 63 cruise. It took me a while before I decided to contact you, some of the topics you mentioned brought back memories that I had forgotten.

August of 62 was my arrival date. I can remember the first time that I stepped on board, entering the three hanger bay areas was such an eye opener. I couldn't believe that this hard concrete "floor" was actually floating.

One of the incidents that you mentioned brought back some sights and sound memories. When the plane crashed into and on the fantail, I was there. At the time I was a visitor at the LSO station. communication. What I remember was (if I have the terms right) the pilot was in the groove coming in for a night landing. Two 2nd division seaman were standing port and starboard life buoy watch on the fantail. The port side watch was stood by Mack, from Ohio. At the last second the plane (pretty sure it was an F8 Crusader) dipped below the site line. At that time someone pushed me off the LSO area into a netting that brought you into an area under the flight deck.

I remember a flash and noise, then silence broken by Mack yelling help me.

Ships bells started going off after that. Everyone had to report to the hanger bay areas to take muster. The plane cockpit and nose section was all that remained on the fantail. Mack was pinned, I believe he eventually lost one leg above the knee and one below. It looked like the impact turned the plane sideways and that some of it hit the aft 5" 38 gun mount station. I was told that part of the pilots leg was recovered in the cockpit. I believe we had two burial at seas that cruise. The sound of the ship's bells going off stayed with me for many years. Whenever a movie had those ship's bells going off, I would remember the situation. Nothing that drove me over the edge, just a memory. Rodriguez from Brooklyn may have been standing the starboard watch, I'm pretty sure he dove down the hatch that was on the fantail.

I thought the jeep the airdales use went over the side during the fly off the day before we returned from the cruise. It was one off those slick flight decks and I presume the driver was in the wrong place when the ship rolled.

The crash occurred on the side of the ship that would be facing the dock.

The deck force spent the next 24 hours chipping and painting. It might have been the quarterdeck station.

For a time I also stood bridge watch, mainly as a messenger. I remember a night the weather was very bad and one of the escorting destroyers said that they could not see our starboard forward running light. I was instructed to go forward to see if the light was working. Long story short, using the catwalks, I crawled as far as I felt brave, never made it to a forward position to see the lights, returned to the bridge and told them that I didn't see any lights.

I was at mess finishing up breakfast preparing for a 4 - 8 watch when I found out about the President. I believe we were handed a ship's newspaper as we were dumping our mess trays. For one day the ship's company had "holiday routine."

I do remember the typhoon, the serious pitch and roll during the storm, smelly fog foam stations and the ship vibrating when the props came out of the sea. Also dragging clothing from the fantail while out at sea, so that they would have that "salty" appearance. How about the time we took an Admiral to the Santa Catalena Islands, the ship stopped, we lowered the Captains Barge so he could go fishing or where ever Admirals go. While we were stopped, some of the crew fished off the side. Or the time we stopped, lowered #2 flight elevator and were allowed to swim in the ocean (or sea, gulf, wherever it was). And the time each division was turned loose on an island with beer and sports equipment. The first time we made port in Hong Kong they were in a drought. Our ship's ships evaporators supplied the colony with free water. The next time in they did not have a water shortage and Uncle Sam bought water from them.

The longer I sit here the more memories come flooding back, but it's getting late and I better get some sleep. It's been close to 40 years now, a lifetime ago, you have allowed me to travel down memory lane and talk about things that I have not spoken about for years. Thanks for the memory jogger Jake, it's appreciated..............Take care

Bob M.

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Oral History is donated by: Bill Kline AOC (Ret)

Note: You can write Bill in care of Jake. Send Email for Forwarding.

Entered on: May 16, 2001 at 16:16

My Homepage is: no name

Subject: Memories & a 'Question' - HANCOCK / USS CAMDEN Collision - 1968

There are 3 stories on the Collison (not near Collison as sometimes reported) in this block.
This is USS CAMDEN Story #1
Go to Tom Rosenberg's story for More on this Collision and Emergency Breakaway evolution Here.

My Oral History:

My time aboard the Hancock was late in my 'broken service' Navy Career, in fact I was piped over the side some where in the Gulf of Tonkin. Spent time in the South Pacific, on different islands during WW11, PBYs in the Aleutians, aboard CVE 114 during the Korean police action and last but not least CVA 19, Qct. 68 to April 70. Most of my time was with multi-engine aicraft, PBY, P4Y and P2Vs. I became a shellback when aboard the USAT Willard A Holbrook some time in Sept-Oct of 44. Whe the Hancock crossed the line, I think Nov 68, I was looking forward to being on the giving end rather than the receiving. But I was captured by some polly wogs. I have to smile even now after all this time remembering the look in the eyes and faces of these young sailors, having so much fun messing up some chiefs. A lot of them were taking pictures, but unfortunately I never saw any. Now my question concerns the fender bender between the Hancock and the Camden. I don't remember if it was the 68-69 cruise or the 69-70 one. We were getting ready for an Unrep The ships were coming together, the Camden had all its booms out, rigged for fuel, stores, ammo transfer. On the Camdens deck was our usual load of approx. 1200, Mk 82 bombs along with other ordnance items. On the Hancocks aft deck edge elevator there was an F8 and the S2F Cod with their tails sticking out over the water. Then the two ships came together, the riggings caught the tails of both aircraft and they ended up upside down on top of the bomb pallets, 6 bombs to a pallet. Avgas and JP5 all over the place. Lucky for all of us on both ships no one decided to have a smoke. Can any one of you fill in the details? From what I can recall the Hancock was not damaged but the Camden was out of service for a while. I have never heard of the who and why of this accident. Any one have any information that they might pass on?

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This is USS CAMDEN Story #2
Go to Tom Rosenberg's story for More on this Collision and Emergency Breakaway evolution Here.

Subject: - HANCOCK / USS CAMDEN Collision - 1968

Gregg Marshall sent us an update on the Camden collision:

"Got New News about The Break-a-way It was on November 26, 1968. I have records from the Department of the Navy, stating, '...on Nov. 26 While making an approach on USS Camden, ships collided. There were no personnel injuries of any kind, however two aircraft became entangled in fueling hoses and were dragged from the Hancock flight deck to Camden cargo deck. Both aircraft received substantial damage. Hancock damage was minor while Camden sufferred fuling rig damage and slight hull damage.'"

greggm54@msn.com (Gregg Marshall)
Thanks, Greg!

Oral History is donated by: Terry Crissey, AG3, USN (Ret)

Email Address: TCRISSEY@mail.fhsd.k12.pa.us

Entered on: 17 Dec 2004, 08:57:16 AM

Subject: USS HANCOCK / USS CAMDEN Collision - 1968

This is USS CAMDEN Story #3
Go to Tom Rosenberg's story for More on this Collision and Emergency Breakaway evolution Here.

My Oral History:

WOW, it wasn't just a bad dream! I was aboard the Hancock during a collision. It was the 68-69 cruse. My recollection is much the same
that of Chief Kline. I was an AG3 at the time on watch on the 07 level. The official report gave me the impression that the collision occurred as the ships approached each other. As I recall, lines had already been passed and rigged. After the collision and the subsequent delivery of the aircraft unto the Camden I observed transfer lines being stretched during the breakaway. The Hancock was not pulled from the line but remained on station.

Terry Crissey


Oral History is donated by: LCDR Bill Smith

Email Address: willy9@earthlink.net

Entered on: May 22, 2001 at 16:10

My Homepage is: Hancock Catapults

Subject: Best Catapult Crew on Yankee Station

My Oral History:
It was a Sunday morning, Hannah was steaming for Subic Bay, PI for R&R. We were awakened with the sound of "General Quarters, This is not a Drill" coming over the ship's speakers. I thought, what could this be, we have to be miles from Vietam. As I arrived at my battle station, the catapult launch officers station, I discovered we were heading back to Yankee Station at full speed. The airgroup was getting ready and we were to launch the first strike against North Vietnam at about 1300 hours. The adrenilin began to pump through every man's veins and the readiness, the training, and experience of the whole crew came to bear on that moment. As we began the launch sequence, props first, followed by jets so they would arrive together over the target, it was like a beautiful ballet to observe the Flight Deck crew and Catapult crews working together. The crews would hook up aircraft on the catapults and get them ready faster than I could get the pilots ready for launch. It was an amazing feat to watch. We had previously had contest between bigger carriers launch beside us at the same time, and Hannah would always win, because she had the best crew. This day as we launched for North Vietnam we exceeded even our own high standards by launching prop aircraft with 25 second intervals and the jets at 20 second intervals. Think about that for a moment...an aircraft leaving the proud bow of the Hannah every 20 seconds, and what all had to go into making that happen....the plane captains, the squadron checkers, the catapult hook up crew the flight deck directors and all the coordination that had to take place to ensure a safe launch....all happened in record time. There is no doubt in my mind that Hannah's crew was the best in the Pacific fleet, and I would match them against any other ship in the fleet when the chips were down. I was proud to be apart of that crew, and to witness such a beautiful ballet of men and machines launching in such record times. Everyone was proud when the launch was over and they looked overhead to see the planes forming together to go to their assigned targets. It was a proud moment and the highlight of my career. Thanks to a marvelous Hannah crew. LCDR Bill Smith Hancock 1963-1965.

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Oral History is donated by:
Jim Perkins

Email Address: songcabin@mail.com

Entered on: May 23, 2001 at 02:28

My Homepage is: jimmy's page

Subject: Olongapo

My Oral History:
Olongapo Any sailor who knew about Hotel St. (Pearl), Shitt St. (Yokosuka), Won Chi (Hong Kong), or Oceans 11 (Olongapo) can also tell you about how stupid it feels to buy a baby chick and throw it to a crocodile that hadn't moved since the Japanese surrendered. It seems this little guy in Olongapo got the idea if he could put up a wrought iron fence around a crocodile, feed it everyday, keep it wet and happy, he could make a lot of money selling baby chickens to drunk sailors that would just love to see a baby chicken between those massive yellow teeth. What a HOOT! Well, you know when someone is drunk, their attention span is nil, so, they'd watch about two minutes then say, "Piss on it.", and try to walk away. Then, this wonderful smell would stop you cause anybody drunk in Po had not eaten in hours. This little filipino fellow also knew this and sold what he called sweet and sour pork on a stick for two pesos (eight pesos to a dollar). He would cook this stuff on a little rusty habachi under a big yellow umbrella rain or shine, day or night. It tasted so good and and when you're drunk and hungrier than twelve hounds you'd buy a whole handful and start eating like there was no tomorrow. But, who cared? because pesos were meant to be whizzed away anyhow. I'm sure there was more money changed there than the market itself. I would also bet pig meat is not as stringy nor covered with enough spices to disguise that difference. I'd even bet that pig swung from branches and barked like a dog until they trapped it, knocked it in the head, skinned it and cut off that long, skinny, curly, furry little tail. There wasn't no squeal in that pig. I don't know which is worst, telling somebody you've handled a monkey or eat one!

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Oral History is donated by:
Jack Downs

Email Address: Chitownjak@aol.com

Entered on: Jun 17, 2001 at 21:41

My Homepage is: Chitownjak's Card Page

Subject: Man Overboard

My Oral History:
Hi Jake I didnt know how else to get a hold of you so that is why I'm using this form. Just finished reading the
Man Overboard, this is not a drill story by John Yeoman. I was on board the Hancock in '66 when that happened and still have a few old Hancock Signatures, if you remember those. I have the issue with a picture of John Wayne talking to the fellow who fell overboard. His name is Roy Deardorf. They are down in sickbay and the guy looks great. Fact is Wayne looks like a guy who just spent 9 hours in the water. Don't know much more about him. This is a great great site. Very nice job. Jack

The Articles from the Public Information Office

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Oral History is donated by: Capt. Tom Wimberly, Former XO of the Hannah '70-72

Email Address: TWimbo@aol.com

Entered on: Jun 17, 2001 at 21:41

My Homepage is: USS Hancock CV/CVA-19 Association and Jake's 'Yankee Station

Subject: How Hannah Saved me from taking a Swim

My Oral History:
On the 1955-56 WesPac Cruise of USS KEARSARGE (CV-33)., I was a "nugget" (first cruise) Lt. (Jg) flying the McDonnell F2H3 "Banshee" with VF-141. VF-141 was a "dual-mission" squadron, which meant we did night flying (which was still fairly new for jets in those days) and also "Special Weapons" bombing. (Special Weapons was how we referred to nuclear weapons then.) During a special exercise, I was fortunate to get scheduled to fly a special mission to drop a T-63 "shape" on a little rock in the ocean somewhere between Japan and the Philippines. The T-63 was a full-scale dummy of a Mark 7 nuclear bomb. It weighed 1,600 lbs., which was a pretty heavy load for a Banshee. My chase plane for the hop was flown by the squadron XO, Big Al Yesensky, a WW2 fighter pilot who used to love to embarrass the junior officers by challenging them to do a one-arm pushup (which he could do with no sweat.) I flew the flight profile, dropped the dummy bomb, and headed back to KEARSARGE, checking the clock and fuel gauge. It was apparent we had an unexpected high head wind for our return to KEARSARGE. Big Al was a couple of steps ahead of me in rank, experience, and thinking ahead (thank goodness!), he announced to me "You're not going to be able to make it back to the ship." Fuel was no problem for him, because he hadn't been lugging that 1,600 lb., 30-inch-in-diameter dummy bomb. As I was pondering over the significance of his message, and wondering how this could be happening to me, Big Al got on the radio and found there was another carrier - USS HANCOCK, CVA-19, and it was much closer than KEARSARGE. "You're going to the HANCOCK," says Big Al. And so I did, and thank goodness it was around, because I would have run out of fuel before getting back to my carrier. This would have meant ejecting and taking a swim. I landed aboard HANNAH with 700 pounds of fuel, which was much lower than we liked to have for a landing when operating off a carrier.

I don't remember anything about my stay aboard HANNAH, except that I was really very anxious to get launched with the new steam catapults. It was much easier than from a hydraulic catapult, which just hit you this tremendous blow the first instant. The steam started you off easier, and then took your breath away with the continued acceleration as you went down the track.

Thanks, Big Al, for seeing me safely aboard, and thanks, HANNAH, for saving me from a swim!

P.S. George Jarrett, Hans Grimm, James Ploor, Thomas Sena, Joaquin Garcia, Salty Gr'een, Rupert Castillo, Edgar Warriner, Ed Funderburk, Robert Larson: you were all in the Air Department at about the same time all this happened. Do any of you remember a strange Banshee coming aboard?


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Oral History is donated by: Dennis Spang

Email Address: Trble4me2@aol.com

Entered on: Jan 27, 1999 at 13:00

My Homepage is: No name

Subject: Life aboard Hanna

My Oral History:

Me Standing by a Spad on Hanna's flight deck

Well, here goes. I was born in Montana, went to a very small school. My High School graduating class numbered eight. Five girls and three boys. So when I tell you that joining the Navy and seeing the world was a big thing for me, it was a REALLY BIG THING for me. I went aboard the Hancock the end of December 1961. We left for our first WestPac cruise I think in January or February of 62. Our first port was Yokosuka Japan. I fell in love with it. If I remember correctly, we spent most of that cruise in and out of Japan. The next two cruises I made however we spent in the South China Sea. The Nam thing ya know. I can’t remember very many bad times aboard the Hanna, I know there were a lot, but seem only to remember the good times. I know there were a lot of those. My worst memories aboard the Hanna were of my new wife I left in Alameda on the second cruise, missed her like crazy, and on my third cruise, I had my first daughter, Deanna Lynn born shortly after we left. Needless to say I hated not being able to see her. All kinds of things pass through my mind when I think of life aboard ship. I remember one incident that I am not very proud of. I remember one night that an F-8 Crusader crashed into the fan tail killing the pilot and I think injuring someone standing fantail watch. I had garbage detail that night and we were not able to dump garbage off the fantail because if the accident. I remember I was happy because I got out of some work. That night before taps the ships Chaplain said a prayer over the PA system for the pilot that died. I felt like an idiot for how I had felt earlier. I guess when you are young it is hard to think past the end of your nose. I think I have grown a bit since then. I hope so anyway. I recall another incident that maybe made up for my stupid thoughts about the F-8 crash. I was on the mid watch in CIC and my station was our air search radar. I remember it was real quiet, we were not at flight quarters. I had a couple of contacts on the screen, nothing important I thought, when I heard over my headset a pilot talking to one of our support ships, probably a destroyer. The pilot was lost. I can’t remember just what his problem was, but he didn’t know where he was. I had a contact on the screen about 180 miles out that I thought might be him. I either asked him to, or he told me he was squawking emergency IFF. I identified him, gave him a range and bearing back to Hanna. We went to flight quarters, turned into the wind and recovered him safely. I remember him coming up to CIC and shaking my hand and thanking me. Interesting note, he was flying an F-8 Crusader. I wish I could remember all the particulars. I don’t know if he was off the Hanna or off another carrier. I guess it didn’t seem important to me at the time. I also remember some wild liberties in Olongapo. I will spare you the details. My wife will probably read this and I don’t think she would think most of those stories were very amusing anyway. Does anyone remember the 7-11 bar? It was one of the first ones you came to just after the bridge. Not sure if I really liked the bar, or it was just because it just happened to be the first one I came to every time I went on liberty. Have lots of memories of Olangapo. Memories and scars. Does anyone remember Tennessee Ernie Ford coming aboard ship and taping two of his TV shows? We anchored out by Alcatraz. When the show was aired, I was with my new bride on our honeymoon at the Desert Sands Motel in Sacramento Calif. Nothing but the best for my lady… LOL… Well here we are, some 34 years, 4 more daughters, and 13 grandchildren later, and I’m still talking about my years aboard the USS Hancock. Wouldn’t trade um for nuttin…. TURN HER INTO THE WIND BOYS AND LAUNCH

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