By Brion Boyles
Did this for two years straight for one tour of duty aboard USS WHITE PLAINS (AFS-4), homeported out of Yokosuka, Japan…and I mean OUT of Yoko…we were NEVER “home.”
. Running jet engines, hamburger meat and toilet paper to every corner of the Pacific, Indian Oceans and the Gulf(s). There were times when we would UNREP an entire Carrier Battle Group and a few hours later another entire Amphib Battle Group…Clearing our holds and tanks like we were having a Fire Sale.
Then, a race down to that nail’s head of coral reef known as Diego Garcia in the absolute middle of the Indian Ocean for a frantic all-day cargo onload and MAYBE an hour of “Liberty” on a concrete pier or a phone call home. Underway at first light and back out to sea and do it again…The hardest working crew I have EVER had the pleasure of serving with. I often went for days without sleep, with just us two QM’s aboard, myself and QM2 Chuck Fisher.
Alternating between watchstanding, daily work, shooting stars fixes into the night and pre-dawn, attending UNREP meetings, Nav meetings, giving weather briefs, PMS maintenance, chart and pub updating….writing MOVREPS, weather reports, constantly revising our voyage tracks to meet flyspecks of ships in the middle of nowhere, on top of the regular routines of GQ drills or standing as one of two or three Master Helmsmen during 16 hours of UNREP.
No, we were not bristling with fancy missile launchers or 16-inch guns…We had two ancient 3’/50’s on the fo’c’sle, along with 13 shots of Mk 1 Mod 0 Anti-submarine Warfare attached to our anchors….but our kingposts and RAS gear coming over the horizon was our contribution to the fight.
The “shootin’ boys” may rightly congratulate their crew on a safe, efficient UNREP once a month or so, but the WHITE PLAINS would have done 4 of ’em before lunch. Two years, not a scratch or broken bone. Very proud to have served with such professionals and “kids”.