USS Everglades AD-24 Charleston, South Carolina
June 1965 to December 1967
Slide Show of USS Everglades AD-24
Click on Icon to view Slide Show
Click Back button to return to this page
The USS Everglades AD-24
This was my first assignment following LDO
Class in Newport, RI. It was now time to put into practice all that I had
learned in Newport and all of the experience from the eleven years prior
to obtaining a commission.
This tour of duty was long and very exciting. My first assignment as an Officer and I lucked out with a Commanding Officer that dedicated his life to developing young officers. Even though I was 31 years old I qualified as a young' officer by virtue of my being a freshly minted Ensign. Five of the LDO class were sent to the Everglades. Captain Steinbeck was a jewel of a CO. In 2011 I tried to contact him to tell him how much I appreciate the excellent job he did in developing me for my career as an officer. I found he and his wife have both passed away. I'm so sorry I was unable to let him know how I feel.
An example of his sterling leadership is how he handled an error I made while in CIC for a midnight to four watch. We encountered another ship approaching us from ahead but offset to the starboard side. My recommendation was to turn to port to widen the distance of our passage. They didn't follow my recommendation and turned to starboard and the other ship did the same. At four in the morning as I left CIC to go crawl into bed for what little there was left of the night I found Capt. Steinbeck waiting for me in the Chart Room. He had me sit down and explain my thinking behind the recommendation I had made. I explained how I viewed the situation and why I made the recommendation. He said, "You just described the collision between the Andre Doria and Stockholm." I learned that if a meeting situation was such that it could be viewed as meeting, even if offset in the way that situation was it had to be treated as "meeting" and turn to starboard to pass port to port. That was all he said and from then on my recommendations were followed.
Following a watch my watch partner, Ensign Hicks (another one of the LDO school graduates) and I would go to the Wardroom and get a mug of soup that was always on the stove staying warm. We would discuss all of the details of the watch and ease ourselves down from the tight feeling we always felt after a watch. Then we could go to bed and catch a little sleep before time to be up and into the next day. I loved those times... the watches and the recap of the watch over a mug of warm soup.
Ens Hicks and I swapped CIC and Underway OOD every other watch. Hicks had a strange quirk when he would send a note to the bridge or CIC it was usually in rhyme. I should have saves some of them. After all those times at sea on the USS Teaberry AN-34 when I was seasick it was wonderful to be at sea on the Everglades, not seasick and standing watches as CIC Officer or OOD Underway. I loved it.
The Everglades was the Flag Ship for the Service Force Group when involved with fleet exercises and such. Usually the Admiral's cabin was an unused space with white carpet which was visited only on routine tours of the ship by the OOD, CDO, Sounding and Security watch etc.
We were to participate in a Fleet Exercise in the area of Cuba and the Admiral would be aboard for the exercise. A new, state of the art, TV had been purchased for instillation in his cabin. My ET's were to remove the TV from the housing it came in and install the chassis and picture tube etc. in a cabinet in the Admiral's cabin. It was determined that additional cooling was needed since the confines of the cabinet did not allow the heat generated to dissipate.
The set was removed from the cabinet and work was progressing installing super quiet fans in the cabinet. The set, with all the innards exposed, was placed on a table in the center of the cabin.
The XO was making his rounds of the ship in the wee hours of the morning and discovered the situation and came to my cabin, woke me up and told me to get the men who were working on the project up and have them put the TV into the box to protect it while the work on the cabinet was in progress.
I got up and dressed and started for the crew's quarters for my Division. It occurred to me that I didn't know where the men I needed slept in the compartment and would have to disturb the whole Division to find them. Also, as an Enlisted man I had repaired hundreds of TV sets and felt competent to do the job myself. So I went to the Admiral's cabin and started to lower the TV into the box... and snagged the neck of the picture tube on the edge of the box. The TV set continued into the box without the tip of the picture tube neck!
It was now about three am and I had just broken the Admiral's new TV set! I went immediately to the XO's cabin and woke him up to tell him what I had done. Now, he was a Naval Academy graduate and he gave me the full plebe treatment for about 20 or 30 minutes at a volume that was audible throughout Officers Country!
Then, an unexpected thing happened. He told me to sit down in the chair next to his desk and he sat down at his desk, still in his skivvies, and we began to work on solving the problem. The set was state of the art and parts were not in the pipeline as yet. We had nine days before the Admiral came aboard to occupy his cabin and it took all nine days to get the TV set fixed and installation completed.
The most amazing result of my stupid mistake was that because of the way I had handled it, reporting my error to the XO immediately, my word aboard the ship was golden. At Arrival Conferences my response to questions was never second guessed. The Captain would tell the arriving ship that if the situation changed so that a rejected job order could be accepted Mr. Jones would contact them. That was not his response with the other Repair Officers.
The lesson I took from this experience was that is was far better to admit a mistake immediately so that the problem was being addressed instead of an investigation to determine the cause of the problem. That approach had always been my way of dealing with my errors but this event was so significant that it really pointed out the advantages of that approach to problems.
Chaplain Bott requested that I take charge of the three day Christmas tour to Rome for him. He had been experiencing problems with the Tour Company he was using for tours of Rome. That meant that I was on duty for the tour.
There were three busses with officers and men from the Destroyers the Everglades was performing repair work for as well as those from the Everglades. There was one other officer from the Everglades, the Chief Warrant Carpenter.
When the busses arrived in Rome they pulled into St. Peters Basilica and everyone was off loaded and organized with the Everglades personnel on one and the Destroyer Squadron Commodore and his officers and men on the other two. The Everglades buss went to a very nice hotel, the other two evidently to one of lesser quality. Soon the Commodore and his officers joined us at our hotel. That was strike one against the Tour Group!
At breakfast Christmas morning I called the Tour Company representative over and asked him how many tickets he had for Papal Mass. He said the USO didn't have tickets. I left my breakfast and we went to the USO to find out what was going on. At the USO I was told that there were plenty of tickets available. I was to have those wishing to attend Mass dropped off at the USO (an easy walk to the Basilica) and they would be provided tickets. On the way back to the hotel I was reading the Tour Company representative the riot act! Strike two!
Arrangements were made for a short special tour of Rome for those who didn't care to attend Mass. The CWO Carpenter and I were among that group. The special tour was completed and back at the Basilica before Mass and as the CWO and I stepped off the bus the Tour Company representative saw us and in trying to get into my good graces talked a passing man out of his ticket and gave it to me. We started walking down the isle between the roped off areas. I was in uniform and had a single ticket. The ushers kept motioning us further forward... and forward and eventually forward past the last roped off area. There was only the steps and the actual setup for the Mass ahead. We walked up the steps and took the last two seats available. They happened to be in the front row to the right of the alter. The front row was padded chairs and padded kneeling pad. Behind us were benches .
I sat there thinking that we were not Catholic and had not cared to attend Mass. Yet here we were in seats millions of Catholics would almost sell their soul to be in.
I received a phone call in my Hotel room in the wee hours of Christmas night. We were to load up the busses and return to Naples in the morning. It was a lady who had gotten my name from one of the sailors in a bar. She said she and her husband were archiologists and had some artifacts they wanted to get back to the States. Would I be willing to take some of them back aboard the Everglades? I said I would be willing to help them. If they would turn the artifacts over to Customs and have them get in touch with me I would be most happy to help. Oh no! They couldn't do that! Of course, I already knew it was against the law to remove artifacts from Italy.
Well, eventually our deployment to Naples was over and we got underway to leave the Med. We made an R &R stop at Cannes, France for a few days. A Chief in the Repair Department became concerned because he had taken packages from that couple. He reported what he had done to the Executive Officer and they opened the packages and found artifacts instead of the drugs they expected to find. But, it was illegal to remove artifacts from Italy so the Chief returned to Naples under guard with the packages to face the music.
When ships arrived back in the States there were FBI, Customes Officials, Navy Criminal Investigation and other law enforcement representatives awaiting all the ships returning from Italy. There were Officers, Chiefs and Petty Officer on many of the ships that had taken artifacts from that pair of smugglers. There but for the grace of God... Had I taken any aboard it would have been the end of my career and a not very pretty end at that! A good number of careers ended badly.
My leadership method was to observe my men to determine their skill and work ethic. Once I was satisfied they knew their job and would do it I got out of their way and let them do their job. The result of this approach was that they usually developed an attitude of "ownership" and did more than was expected of them.
An example of this is the Test Equipment Calibration Lab on the Everglades. Each week I checked the output of our lab against that of all the other labs in the world (for all services) and we were always right up with the leaders. One week we were twice as good as any lab in the world! Obviously there was a mistake... or we were doing something totally different from what all the other labs in the world were doing.
I checked it out and found that ET2 Adlis had set up a folding table across the lab door and put a power strip in it. When test equipment was delivered to the lab it had to be plugged in and checked for basic function. If it didn't have basic function it didn't even come into the lab. They would submit another job order to have it repaired.
The result of this simple step was that the only equipment taken into the lab worked and only needed to be calibrated. Before, a lot of time was spent troubleshooting equipment that didn't work to see if it was something that could be fixed in the Calibration Lab or had to be rejected for repair in the Repair Shop. Now, all of their time was devoted to calibration and productivity doubled!
What he had done made me look good in the eyes of my superiors even though I told them he had taken the action on his own.
Years later I would encounter this young man in Subic Bay. He would then be Chief Adlis running the Calibration Lab on another Destroyer Tender and would once again make me look so good by taking the job orders the facilities in Subic could not handle even though his ship was not in Subic to do repair work for other ships. Once again he made me look so good in the eyes of my superiors.
The success I enjoyed in my career was because I was standing on the shoulders of some truly great young men who worked for me.
In all those years I only had to write one poor evaluation report. When the young man came to my stateroom to go over his evaluation he asked me why I had given him a poor evaluation. I told him I had not given him a poor evaluation... he had given himself a poor evaluation by his performance, I had only recorded it. His performance from then on was great. I can't sing the praise of all the fine men who worked for me loud enough. They were the greatest!
Tradition in the Navy dictates that the first log entry for the New Year must be written in verse. I swapped duty days with another officer to be on duty for New Year's Eve for the beginning of 1967 so that I would be able to write the first entry in the log for 1967. The entry had to include all the standard entries for each new day. Normally that entry would be as follows:
Moored port side to pier PAPA berth 3A, U.S. Naval Base, Charleston, S.C. with standard mooring lines doubled plus two additional breast lines. Receiving miscellaneous services from the pier. Alongside to starboard is USS SOLEY DD 707. Other ships in the area include various units of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Yard and District craft. SOPA is RADM J.L. Shaffer, USN, COMINLANT.
The entry I wrote in the log:
To Papa big Mama is tied
Berth 3A, our own, occupied.
Charleston is where we're at home
But soon duty calls us to roam.
Our moor is standard, but just to be safe
Two more breast lines are taunt in place.
PAPA providing services we need
As all good papas do indeed.
Hanging on to starboard, an old friend
USS SOLEY whom we are honored to tend.
Caring for ships of our Atlantic Fleet
Our District and Yard craft can't be beat
SOPA tonight, has weathered the test
COMINLANT he is and one of the best.
RADM SHAFFER, to call him by name
A good group of Minesweepers his claim to fame.
The start of a New Year has all the signs
Of being a challenge and lots of rough times.
You ask, "Can we hack it?", take a care
Our record shows we do more than our share.
To our shipmates up and to those at rest,
Happy New Year! And to you, all the best!
As with all junior officers, I had a ton of collateral duties. One of those extra duties was Wardroom Inventory Officer. That job required that once a month I take an inventory of all the food in the Wardroom Mess. In those days (I don't know how it is done these days) each Officer reporting aboard joined' the Wardroom Mess buying into the mess at a rate based on the current value' of a share determined by the mess inventory. On leaving the mess he sold his share back to the mess at the rate of the value at the time he cashed out. Sometimes he would make out' by cashing out at a higher mess share than he bought into the mess... but then it could go the other way as well. Sounds like a simple job... right? Well, on inventory day I would get suited up for arctic weather and spend half a day or more in the freezer conducting inventory. One of the little adventures of my first assignment as an Officer. One good thing of the Wardroom Mess run that way was that we ate what we liked... we bought it. The Chief Wardroom Steward would do the shopping for the Mess and he got what we wanted to eat. I liked that system. Of course, we were paying for our food out of pocket. With the Wardroom there were plus or minus 25 Officer sharing the cost. The Captain had the same arrangement but there was only one member in his Mess... the Captain. Of course, he made a little more than most of the Wardroom.
Another collateral duty was that of Education Officer. In that capacity I administered advancement exams for the Enlisted men. In those days the answers were recorded on IBM punch cards by punching the proper choice chad out of the card. The result was a huge pile of chad, each with a little number on it, 1, 2, 3 or 4, representing it's position in the column for one of the questions on the test. Of course, after the tests were completed each table had a huge pile of chad to be cleaned up. Several mess deck crewmen were detailed to do the cleanup. There was one Seaman Apprentice right out of Boot Camp cleaning up chad, wiping the piles off of the table into a trash can. I maintained a perfectly straight face and solemn tone told him, "You know, those are the answers to the exams." He looked at the pile of chad with numbers on them and his eyes got really big. "Really?", he asked. "Yes, each one is an answer to one of the questions." We usually gave new men out of Boot Camp a hard time, running them around the ship for such things as left handed monkey wrenches, relative bearing grease, steam soap etc. When anyone was approached by a new crew member asking for any outlandish thing like that they would ask, "Have you tried_____?" and if they had already been there they would send them somewhere else on the ship, if not, that was where they sent them next. That could go on for hours as they ran all over the ship. On the up side, they got to know a little bit about the ship and where key people worked.
In Naples I made arrangements for a little "Professor" to give lessons in Italian. Many Officers and Enlisted men took advantage of the opportunity. I was among them. I was interested to learn that there was no such thing as spelling lessons in Italian. If you could pronounce the word you could spell it. There were no words with weird spelling, silent letters and such. I wish English were that way!
Another collateral duty was that of Welfare and Recreation Officer. In that capacity I was the "Coach" of the ships Softball team. In spite of that fact (I was not well versed in coaching softball) our team won the Sixth Naval District Championship. Good thing, right? I thought so until I realized there could be a problem. Until then I hadn't noticed we had quite a few blacks, a full blooded American Indian and some Mexican American players on the team. I never saw them as colors or nationalities. They were crew members, watch standers, workers in the shops that performed the mission of the ship. I trusted my life to them when they were on watch. Now I was faced with a problem. The case of the murder of the three Freedom Riders in Mississippi had occurred not that long ago at that time. The team would have to travel in personal vehicles through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee to the Regionals. They would have to have lodging, stop to eat and get gas... in cars with blacks, whites and other nationalities in them. This was when minorities were not allowed to eat at lunch counters and there were white' and colored' fountains! I was not allowed to go with the team due to my work load with the ships under our care. They made it to Memphis OK, played the minimal games for elimination and returned without incident. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Those were such wonderful men and it would have been a huge tragedy if they had been accosted along the way.
The Rest of the Story
Once I arrived aboard the Everglades I finally got the ...rest of the story...' of the incident of my Commanding Officer arrested on my watch at the Navy Reserve Training Center. A Chief Warrant reported aboard shortly after me and told me what had led up to the arrest. It turns out that he was on the desk at Sixth Naval District Headquarters that tracked surplus leaving Warner Robins Surplus Depot. He is the one who noticed our Commanding Officer taking all kinds of stuff from Surplus that could not be used at the Reserve Training Center. The FBI followed up on his report, following him as he left Warner Robins with things like tires, parachute drying racks and arctic boots. He would take the stuff to his farm in Alabama. They spent quite a bit of time documenting his thefts, taking night vision movies of him (from the football stadium next door to the Navy Reserve Facility) arriving back at the Facility in Columbus, taking some of the stuff out that would be used at the Navy Reserve Training Center then taking the rest of the stuff to his farm.
He was making a run to Warner Robins the day of my first solo watch at the facility. In the wee hours of that night the FBI arrested him. What the Chief Warrant was able to provide was information on how the incident was "seen" from the vantage point of those at the Navy Reserve Training Center. It seems that they believed I was NIS sent to finger the Commanding Officer. He was arrested on my first solo watch. He was in the jail in Columbus for about a year until his case was taken care of in court. At that time I "...put my Officer's uniform back on and left...". I suppose that would be easy to believe from their view point. Many years later I was back in Columbus, Ga and driving by the old Navy Reserve Center. I almost stopped to let them in on the truth of the event but thought better of it. I know how those stories make the rounds with each new arrival at the facility. It was just too good as those stories go to take it away from them'.
Volunteering - my advice
I had a tendency to volunteer for things. I wanted to have a career as rich in experiences as possible. One of those things I volunteered for was the first log entry for 1967 which had to be written in verse. I'm no poet but I wanted to experience that event. The general rule for those in the Service is Never Volunteer'. I would never advise anyone to follow that rule. Go for it, experience as much as you can... is what I advise anyone in the Service... or any job
Following this most interesting, challenging and perfect first assignment as ENS and LTjg I was now ready to move on to more challenges and to expand my experience as an Officer...
at Atlantic Command Opperations Control Center in Norfolk, Virginia
of 1965 Papal Christmas Mass
The seat I occupied is highlighted in slide 06