The Night of a Storm called Typhoon 'Gloria'
by Ron Wandler - VAW-11 Detachment Lima - WestPac's '62-'64
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Hi Jake -
I found your website and talk about a blast from the past! I enjoyed reading about your experiences on the Hancock on the 1963 WestPac and it struck me that we may have passed each other and most likely made eye contact. The night of the storm, I had the mid-watch as Petty Officer of the Deck. I was responsible for securing top watches on the flight deck. I felt it was much too dangerous to have anyone on the deck. The previous watches had just used a line to tie two people together with enough length (hopefully) to be able to catch and hold one of them if he fell overboard while checking the running lights. I told (requested?) the Watch Officer that the running lights could be checked from below decks, that if an aircraft were to slip from its tiedowns we could not do anything any way and we definitely could not afford to lose someone in the storm. I then made a last inspection of the flight deck and we secured the watch.
I was with VAW-11 as an AT2 working on the communication/navigation equipment.
I was supposed to leave the ship in the first part of November for an early out, but because of the circumstances I was declared essential personnel and I completed the tour, being discharged on Christmas Day back in San Diego.
What a tour.
Write Ron Wandler
Jim Barbour's Encounter with Typhoon Gloria
Concurring with my own version of the Same
Jake, I recall the typhoon as well. I will never forget going from the fantail quarters where V-2 slept to the bow where V-2 catapults quartered. The fastest way was via the flight deck. As I stepped up onto the flight deck to head towards "manning my post" on the "steam watch" (catapults) I saw this TREMENDOUS swell that had to be 75-100 feet above the flight deck. I'm sure it was because we were on the downside getting ready to meet the next upward swell. Boy, did it get my attention and scare the hell out of me. I'll never forget those expansion joints moving about 3-4 feet and hearing the stretching sound. I knew I was gone for sure.
I recall being in port, I want to say Japan and possibly Sasebo. We left port trying to outrun, etc., the Typhoon, but got caught up in it. I still tell the story how, as a young lad, I looked out to see the darkest, stormiest, most violent ocean I had ever seen. I recall the expansion joints at (what appeared to me) their limit of expansion. I recall a destroyer off our port side, that would literally disappear and headed in every direction imaginable. I still make the comment, those (destroyer sailors) are the true sailors. Just a few recalls from 40+ years ago.
I will get something in writing to you real soon, shipmate. You're right, nice to talk with someone who has the same memories from the same time. Your shipmate,
Write Jim Barbour
I tell you, shipmates, unless you have ridden out such a storm, and experienced the mighty power of the elements like we did, you cannot appreciate such a story! When Jim Barbour, and Ron Wandler speak of giant swells that broke over the bow of an aircraft carrier such as the Hannah, and seeing 100 to 200 ft swells above the flight deck, then you know this was one hell of a storm!
One conjurs up the old fears, when Jim spoke of the squacks of the expansion joins groaning and complaining. The giant rolls, that made you think, as a fresh new seaman, if she could take them... yes, these feelings were true, and thank you Jim and Ron for sharing with me these memories!
Did you catch the story about 'Typhoon Cobra'? on the "Mighty Moo"? Go here.
If you read this first, you may wish to catch up on the conversation regarding 'Typhoon Gloria' by reading my own version of this tremendous storm by going here