USS Huston CA-39 “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast”
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet of today, traces it’s proud heritage back through the WW-II “Battle Wagons” of the Pacific Fleet, to the China coast and Yangtze River Gunboats of the Asiatic Fleet, which ceased to exist after the USS Houston “went down with her guns still firing” at the battle for the “Malay Barrier.”
On board Houston, shells were in short supply in the forward turrets, so the crew manhandled shells from the disabled number three turret to the forward turrets. Houston was struck by a torpedo shortly after midnight, and began to lose headway. Houston‘s gunners had scored hits on three different destroyers and sunk a minesweeper, but she was struck by three more torpedoes in quick succession.. Captain Albert Rooks was killed by a bursting shell at 00:30, and as the ship came to a stop, Japanese destroyers moved in, machine-gunning the decks and men in the water. A few minutes later, Houston rolled over and sank. Of the 1,061 aboard, 368 survived, including 24 of the 74-man Marine Detachment only to be captured by the Japanese and interned in prison camps. Of 368 Navy and Marine Corps personnel taken prisoner, 77 (21%) died in captivity.
The Congress, by Public Law 105-261, on October 17, 1998, authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in commemoration of the United States Navy Asiatic Fleet.
Sixty years to the day after the Houston was sunk, March 1, 2002 was proclaimed to be Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day by President George W. Bush. It reads:
“All of America’s service personnel and veterans deserve our gratitude, and it is fitting to pay tribute to the United States Asiatic Fleet.
The United States Navy’s presence in the Far East dates to 1822. The Asiatic Fleet was formed in 1902, reestablished in 1910, and continued to serve into 1942. Through years of unrest and disturbance, the Fleet protected American lives and interests along the China coast and the Yangtze River, bearing responsibilities that were as much diplomatic as Naval. The Fleet also assisted civilian areas devastated by the forces of nature and by internal warfare.
When the attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into World War II, the Asiatic Fleet played a key role in the defense of the Philippines. Outnumbered and outgunned at sea and in the air, the Fleet was joined by ships of the British, Dutch, and Australian navies to oppose the Japanese advance through what is now Indonesia. The Fleet’s destroyers hit the Japanese at Balikpapan and Badung Strait, and the cruiser Marblehead fought her way through massive air attacks off Bali while submarines, short of fuel and torpedoes, struck Japanese supply lines.T
he battle for the ‘Malay Barrier’ reached its climax in the Java Sea. In the opening hours of March 1, 1942, the American cruiser Houston and the Australian cruiser Perth, outnumbered and outgunned by the Japanese, fought to the last in the Sunda Strait. They went down with their guns still firing and were followed hours later by the British cruiser Exeter. The remaining Allied ships were then ordered to make their way to Australia.
The Asiatic Fleet was no more, but its heritage of courage and selfless dedication helped spur our Navy to victory in World War II.
Since then, the Seventh Fleet has carried on the Asiatic Fleet’s duties, earning honor in Korea and Vietnam and helping to preserve peace and stability in East Asia. The men and women of our Naval services who saw the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion and won victory in Operation Desert Storm are worthy descendants of the sailors and Marines who earned glory in the Java Sea.
As we pay tribute to the memory of the Asiatic Fleet, I call on all Americans to join me in saluting its proud heritage of bravery and honor.
The Congress, by Public Law 105-261, on October 17, 1998, has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in commemoration of the United States Navy Asiatic Fleet.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the Untied States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Friday, March 1, 2002, as U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fifth.”GEORGE W. BUSH
by Peter T Yeschenko
Some of my USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 shipmates may remember this.
In 1996, I was stationed in USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 home ported out of San Diego. I had reported to the USS Kitty Hawk in January 1996 as the Chief Master-at-Arms and Brig officer.
On Saturday, 24 February we were out at sea doing flight operations off the California coast.
Around noon, I was in the Chief’s mess eating lunch when all of sudden alarms start going off over the 1MC. Everyone stopped doing what they were doing in the Mess and we looked at each other….I was thinking…I don’t recall any drill scheduled for that day, especially since we were conducting flight operations….
All of sudden…we heard “This is not a Drill…plane in the water!”
Everyone in the Chiefs mess cleared out and went to our stations…..One of our EA-6B Prowler crashed into the water 150 miles off the Southern California coast and the plane went down approximately 40 miles from the ship.
The plane was from squadron VAQ-135 which was part of Carrier Air Wing 11.
Two crewmen (both Lt’s) were rescued by helicopter and were examined aboard the ship by the our medical team.
Another crewman, Lcdr Dee was recovered but pronounced dead on board the ship. And the pilot, Lt. Francis, was lost at sea and presumed dead.
After everything was situated and we secured from flight operation, the Chief Corpsman and I carried Lcdr Dee remains below decks into one of the chillers awaiting further transport.
Later that day, they flew the two injured crewmen and Lcdr. Dee remains off the ship to Balboa Naval Hospital. Both of the injured crewmen made a full recovery.
Pacific Fleet Vice Admiral Bennitt ordered a two-day safety stand-down for all 1,600 aircraft stationed at 79 squadrons on the West Coast, Hawaii, Guam and Japan.
The Prowler crash came six days after an F-14D crashed off the San Diego coast, killing two crew members during exercises involving the carrier USS Carl Vinson.
That crash was one of 32 in five years involving F-14s and prompted the Navy to ground its entire fleet of F-14s to review procedures and safety.
LCDR. Dee and LT. Francis were both great people and Americans!Th
at was a sad day!
REST IN PEACE SHIPMATES!
by Peter T Yeschenko
Today is the 79th Birthday of the US Navy “SEABEES”! I just wanted to wish all my Seabee shipmates a very Happy Birthday.
In December 1941, with US involvement in war soon expected on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks, recommended establishing Naval Construction Battalions at a newly constructed base at Davisville, Rhode Island.
With the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US entrance into the war, he was given the go-ahead.
On 5 March 1942, all Construction Battalion personnel were officially named Seabees by the Navy Department.
Rear Admiral Ben Moreell personally furnished them with their motto Construmus Batumius, or We Build, We Fight.
Camp Thomas, a personnel-receiving station on the base, was established in October of that year. It eventually contained 500 Quonset huts for personnel.
On 11 August 1942, the Naval Construction Training Center, known as Camp Endicott, was commissioned at Davisville. The Camp trained over 100,000 Seabees during the WWII.
In California in May 1942, a base for supporting the Naval Construction Force was established at Port Hueneme in Ventura County.
This base became responsible for shipping massive amounts of equipment and material to the efforts in the Pacific.
The earliest Seabees were recruited from the civilian construction trades and were placed under the leadership of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps.
Because of the emphasis on experience and skill rather than physical standards, the average age of Seabees during the early days of the war was 37.
More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in WWII, fighting and building on six continents and more than 300 islands.
In the Pacific, where most of the construction work was needed, the Seabees landed soon after the Marines and built major airstrips, bridges, roads, gasoline storage tanks, and Quonset huts for warehouses, hospitals, and housing.
They often operated under fire and frequently were forced to take part in the fighting to defend themselves and their construction projects.
The Seabees were officially organized in the Naval Reserve on 31 December 1947.
With the general demobilization following the war, the Naval Construction Battalions (NCBs) were reduced to 3,300 men on active duty by 1950.
Between 1949 and 1953, Naval Construction Battalions were organized into two types of units: Amphibious Construction Battalions and Mobile Construction Battalions.
Mobile Construction Battalions were later designated Naval Mobile Construction Battalions in the early 1960s to eliminate confusion with Marine Corps Base in Vietnam.
John Guy writes: “What God did at Pearl Harbor that day is interesting and I never knew this little bit of history.
Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time.
In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, “Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Sunday, December 7th, 1941— Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington, DC. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone.
He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war.
On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”
Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?”
Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?
Mistake number one: The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.
Mistake number two: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.
Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply.
That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or, God was taking care of America.
I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book. It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it. In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredericksburg, Texas — he was a born optimist.
But any way you look at it — Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism.
President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job. We desperately needed a leader that could see silver lining in the midst of the clouds of dejection, despair and defeat.
by Brion Boyles
For those of you who have never been, the Carousel was a little sex club at the back of a tiny alley near the station.
You paid a pretty fair entrance (seems to me it would have been about the equivalent of $20 today), which also got you an Ichiban Kirin and access to all the entertainment activity within. Inside, it was dark and cramped, lined with smoked-stained, red velvet curtains… like that in Belle Watlins’ whorehouse in “Gone With The Wind”.
There was a stage at the rear, with a narrow runway that projected out into the center of the room, ending at a circular platform with thick, furry pink “carpet”. Performers put on “artistic” shows on the stage, sometimes using transparent rice-paper screens to tease and give illusions… but they performed their more “intimate” acts on the platform, which was ringed by chairs and small tables.There were a couple of other tables/chairs scattered around, and then the walls were lined with chairs, also…which terminated at a curtained-off doorway in the corner.
If you sat around the platform, you could be called upon to join the performer on-stage.If you sat on the chairs along the wall, you were taking your place “in line” to join an off-stage performer in the curtained-off room for a few minutes.While the act was going on aboard the platform, the last guy in the “line” would go into the curtained-off room, and everyone else would shift over one chair.
MEANWHILE, the girl onstage would reach out and pull on the the guys up from around the stage at some point, for his bit in the “show”.While this might sound like a good time, “performing” in front of a darkened room of onlookers was “harder” than it sounds.(pun intended).
One night, a few of us were in for a show. Two girls were on the round stage, and one of them reached out and grabbed a Japanese sailor, pulling him up to the center, cheered on by his own band of shipmates…
He stood there, trembling… eyes squeezed shut, hands clenched in fists at his side, while one girl pulled his pants down…”PLINK!”… out came this tiny little dick…The girls kept their composure, though… one girl winking back at the audience with her finger to her lips, “Shhhh…!”
..and the other girl trying to slip a condom on his mighty cocktail spear, using her mouth…
,,,but with so little real estate upon which to unroll the thing, the little mushroom-capped condom kept falling off with each attempt. No matter how she tried to clamp that puppy onto his desperate, throbbing little unit, the condom would drop into the pink fur, as if to escape such an unworthy fate.
FINALLY, she gave up, and our hero quickly pulled up his pants and disappeared into the welcoming anonymity of the smokey darkness.The winking girl reached for another audience member…this time selecting a 6′ 6″ Iowa farmboy, a Fireman from the USS MIDWAY, dressed in coveralls and a Black Sabbath T-shirt.
He stood there as she undid his coveralls, and out flopped the finest specimen of schlong the US Navy ever offered for the benefit of local cultural advancement.The room erupted in cheers… and the other girl went back stage for a bigger condom..
.If memory serves, some admirals’ wife heard about the Carousel and had it shut down.
So much for “showing the Flag”…
by Garland Davis
I was diagnosed with cancer about eight months ago and was slated for a number of CHEMO Therapy treatments. I was given a sheet explaining the different drugs used in CHEMO and listed the side effects (enough to scare the shit out of the strongest person) and the drug interactions for each one.
- Nausea. Often puke a lot.
- Loss of appetite (Good chance to lose that fat ass you are packing around.
- Sometimes your fricken hair falls out, completely or in clumps.
- On the bright side it gives you a good reason to smoke marijuana.
Being an Asia Sailor in good standing, I was particularly interested in the effects of alcohol consumption, As I read the sheet for each drug, I became more and more perplexed. Each one said that alcohol was permitted in small amounts. My questions were:
- How much is a “small” amount? In my experience anything below a six pack can not even be considered an “amount.”
- Are you only permitted one small “amount” or can you have a small “amount” for each medicine?
After agonizing over the problem for awhile, I decided that not drinking during the treatment would probably be best. Once CHEMO was finished, I was scheduled for fifteen radiation treatments. The Radiation Oncologist explained the side effects of the treatments.
- Torture. Since my cancer was in my neck, they fashioned a mask that covered my face and head and was clamped down so I couldn’t move. (See Photo)
- Probably lose sense of taste.
- Recommended increasing calorie increase because could cause rapid weight loss. (A fat boy’s wet dream.)
- Could rot your teeth. Prescription toothpaste.
- Could cause loss of hair growth on face and neck. Oh, Boy! Simce I would rather eat a bug that shave, I saw this as a benefit.
- There were some other things, but Tara, the pretty nurse, came into the room about that time and I don’t remember anything else he said.
I also decided to forego the drinking during radiation treatment.
Now that I have been considered cancer free, I guess I could have a few, but I think I will wait until The Asia Sailor reunion in Branson. Come on May!
I want to ride it again
“Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”
“Sometimes when I reflect on all the beer I drink, I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. I think, “It is better to drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.” – Babe Ruth
“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.” – Paul Horning
“24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not.” – H. L. Mencken
“When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let’s all get drunk and go to heaven!” – George Bernard Shaw
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.” – Dave Barry
BEER: HELPING UGLY PEOPLE HAVE SEX SINCE 3000 B.C.! – W. C. Fields
Remember “I” before “E,” except in Budweiser. – Professor Irwin Corey
To some it’s a six-pack; to me it’s Support Group Salvation in a can! – Leo Durocher
By Willie R. Ellis
If you go onboard her in San Diego and stand in the expansion joint passageway, if you’re very still, and very patient, every once in a while you’ll notice that joint flex and move ever so slightly. It’s like she’s still breathing. Dreaming perhaps. Dreaming of flight ops no doubt. Or maybe a high speed run down the South China Sea to Subic. Carrying her cargo of young, crazy sailors on their way to adventures they’ll remember the rest of their lives. She dreams of all her adventures the same way we do. And she dreams of being underway again.
The way we all do…