The Internet Edition of

The Old Salt's Journal

Volume I - No. 4 Fall 1998

The Coast Guard Sea Veterans of America Quarterly Newsletter



This is the Fourth issue of our Quarterly Newsletter which we call the "Old Salts Journal." It is published sometime during each of the four seasons of the year. A retired Coast Guardsman, Jack Eckert, of Port Washington, Wisconsin is the editor. .


Does the Uniform Still Fit?

What you want to read and talk about.

Catching up on the Mail.

The 180's From Duluth.

The Light Ship

Monster Maggie of the Mackinaw

And Much Much More


Opinions expressed herein are those of the editor, columnists, or contributors and are not necessarily those of the U.S. Coast Guard or the Coast Guard Sea Veterans of America.

It is the policy of this editor to remain as apolitical as possible. But this article is so expressive and contains the right amount of pathos within it that it should be passed on.


by Frank Leite

Stored somewhere in closets is an outdated suit of clothes, cut to military specifications, yet there is still a special meaning to that uniform. This meaning does not come from the rank on the sleeves or the campaign ribbons on the breast. This meaning comes from the use of the cloth. This cloth symbolizes the battles that the world thought would settle things once and for all.

With the world balanced crazily on the brink, one wrong move by those in power could have us wearing uniforms again. How long will our uniforms be stored away -- No one knows. But it is imperative that the uniform still fit us if needed. It is even more important that we measure up to the symbol of the uniform that is also the symbol of peace.

Most people in this world seek peace. Nations of different political, economic, race and religious convictions could live together harmoniously with respect for each other. National and local organizations demonstrate that unity is possible with mutual respect for the differences that set organizations apart yet work together for the common good.

If we project that spirit into world affairs the difficulties hindering peace would be resolved. Nations do not need to think alike to live together if there is tolerance for differences.

That stored uniform may not fit physically, but it still fits nationally. Veterans exhibit the nations temperament with their loyalty, devotion to duty and supreme effort to defend American ideals.

Yes the uniform, that symbolic emblem still fits.

- The New Jersey Legionnaire - February 1988


Letter From The President


Membership is growing and Everything is looking shipshape for the new year (AUG 4/98 to Aug 4/99). Please keep trying to recruit new members.

I recently went to the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival. And for those of you who have not been able to attend in the past, keep a mental note on trying to attend. It is the finest celebration of its kind anywhere. I had the good fortune of being "adopted" by the WW2 Spar delegation, and what a wonderful group of Ladies they are! I was there alone and with their help was able to see and do as much as possible in three days beyond my imagination. A special thanks to Mary, Dottie, Clara, Mike and the whole gang! I also met various nice Coast Guard people to numerous to mention by name. A hearty Thank You one and all! We will keep you informed of next years function as the info becomes available. I also want to mention that the people of Grand Haven are 100% Coast Guard!

I haven't heard a word from anyone in regard to our organization be it good or bad. It is hard to believe that we have a "perfect" situation within our group! Lets hear from ya!

Semper Paratus and Help Guard the Traditions.

Your president,

Larry Stefanovich



"Here are six APC's. Take two every four hours and you are fit for duty." "But Doc, I gotta broken leg!

The Blue Jacket 's Club at Argentia and the Cattle Car's at Gitmo. Experiences not easy to forget.

Greasy pork chops for evening chow on the first night out to sea. Joining the Junior Ensigns at the lee rail.

Swapping cans of coffee with the Yard Birds at Curtis Bay for everything imaginable.

Sardines and crackers for night rations. Waiting on the mess deck around midnight for the baker to start setting out freshly baked loaves of bread to cool. The first several loaves always disappeared quickly. The rest were sent to the freezer to be issued after the older bread stored there from previous night's baking (and weeks) was eaten.

Across the dock transfers. Ships were always shorthanded and needed crewmen to go on patrol. Arriving on one Weather Ship and sailing two days later on another one. Sometimes going back across the dock to catch your first ship about to leave after the one you were transferred to got back in off of patrol. Single sailors were particularly vulnerable.

Sewing on your first crow. The port list you developed during the first week after making third class. Wondering how to act. Worrying about losing your friends.

Stripe wetting parties. Paying for your promotion was like being shivareed.

What do you remember? Send in your contributions while you are thinking about it - ed


Old Salt's who have access to the Internet are encouraged to sign on at Fred's Place, THE site that contains names and addresses of more than 15,000 Coasties of all stripes. The internet address is You will also find an area aptly named The Reunion Hall which provides a place for each current and former cutter, station, etc. to be signed on to by former crewmen. Look into each unit you were ever on and maybe you will find an old shipmate or two.

The Home Page address of the Coast Guard SeaVets is

The Editor maintains an internet site called "Jack's Joint" which carrys among other things stories to long to published in the OSJ.

National President, Larry Stefanovich at

National Secretary, Ken Long at

News Letter Editor, Jack Eckert at

If you have an email address please contact either Mr. Long or Mr. Eckert so that you can be listed for easy contact.


Rope Yarn Sunday

by Joe W. Rush

During the days of wooden ships and iron men an occasional Sunday was set aside for sailors to mend their personal items. Sailors were allowed to take small fiber twists, or yarns, from the ropes used as ship's rigging and to use those yarns to make the repairs they needed to make, such as mending clothes, shoes, seabags, etc. This time was eventually to become known as ROPE YARN SUNDAY. That is what I learned. This is what I already knew: The use of the Rope Yarn Sunday evidently degenerated over the years and was to become used as an unofficial and unscheduled holiday for the crew not on watch. On some occasions there would even be general carousal, such as drinking, gambling and fighting among the celebrants, if you can imagine such a thing. I have participated in a few of these in my day..


This listing of reunions is very space consuming. In most cases this is a duplication of information found in several other sources. From now on the reunion will be listed in the Old Salt's Journal without amplifying detail. If you are unable to get amplifying information on it email the editor at or request the information by snail mail.

USCGC Spencer


USCGC Mackinaw

USCGC Spencer


WORKHORSES OF THE FLEET - The 180's from Duluth

by Ray Wiemer (USCG 1952-56) and Tom Bourne (USCG 1951-54)

At age 50 years plus, many of the original 180' Seagoing Buoy Tenders are still on the job.

The 180' Buoy Tenders (WLB's formerly WAGL's) were built from 1942-44. A total of 39 were built, all but one in Duluth, MN. The IRONWOOD (WLB-297) was built at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, MO.

The preliminary design was initiated by the U.S. Light House Service prior to its amalgamation into the Coast Guard in 1939. The final design was executed by Marine Iron & Shipbuilding Corp., Duluth, MN.

The design was intended to replace all large or Class A Lighthouse Tenders. For the first time Search & Rescue features were added to a ship designed for tending buoys and servicing lighthouses. Following the USLHS/USCG merger, ice-breaking capability was added to the design.

The final design produced a single-screw ship with considerable slack bilges and a cutaway forefoot. In addition, the deckhouse was extended outboard to the ships sides to increase interior space. The search and rescue requirement caused a reduction in beam-to-length ratio and gave the ship finer lines at the bow and stern.

Faced with the problem of turning out 38 ships in just three years time, Marine Iron and Zenith Dredge Company, also of Duluth, were awarded contracts to build the new ships. At the end of 1944, Marine Iron had built 21, Zenith Dredge 17, and Curtis Bay 1. The cost for hull and machinery was $850-950,000.

All the 180's have 3 digit hull numbers except for BALSAM (WLB-62). The first one built at Duluth was CACTUS (WLB-270) commissioned in September 1942.

The quality of construction of these cutters was unparalleled in Coast Guard history. Proof of this lies in the fact that 26 of the original 39 are still in active service today. With the exception of BLACKTHORN (WLB-391) and MESQUITE (WLB-305) which were lost due to accidents, others were decommissioned or sold.

In the 1970's and 80's, the Coast Guard executed modernization and renovation plans to extend the service life of these cutters by replacing the main engines and main motors, replacing electric buoy handling systems with hydraulics, installing bow thrusters, and improving accommodations for crews of both sexes. The Coast Guard referred to this as SLEP (Service Life Extension Program).

The 180's have traveled many of the oceans of the world. While service is generally limited to coastal waters, the Great Lakes and Alaska (where the majority of the buoys and lighthouses are), search and rescue missions, law enforcement, drug interdiction and the recent Cuban and Haitian "boat people" problems have brought the 180's from a wide area to assist in the efforts. ACACIA, out of Charlevoix, MI, has recently completed its second trip to the 7th District (Miami).

The 180's have proven their durability. Now they are showing their versatility. Unlike the white cutters, the "Black Hull Fleet" are work boats, pure and simple, yet they perform virtually every service the Coast Guard demands - A to N, S&R, environmental, law enforcement and, yes, ice breaking.

Many of these cutters are still in service today, but after more than 50 years the end is near. It is no longer cost effective to put more money into ships of this vintage. They have served their time and earned their stripes. Those of us who served on them will never forget the unique role they played in the history of the United States Coast Guard. Yet it will be a few more years before we write "Finis" to the chapter on the 180's. It will be at least the year 2000 before enough new replacement ships are available for service.

We all hope that the 140' Bay Class cutters can handle an increasing ice-breaking role, and we all look forward to seeing the new JUNIPER Class cutter constructed at Marinette Marine, Marinette, WI which was commissioned in the summer of 1995. At 225' x 45' x 13' it is a major addition/ replacement to the seagoing buoy tender fleet. JUNIPER is the first of a planned 16 ship fleet, four of which are part of the pilot contract with Marinette Marine.

Although JUNIPER's primary mission will be buoy tending, she will be a multi-mission vessel with capabilities to recover spilled oil, perform ice-breaking, service fixed stations and other vessels with fuel, water and cargo, and conduct search and rescue and law enforcement operations. It will be outfitted with the latest and most sophisticated electronic navigation gear.

It will be a real challenge for a new ship and a new crew to perform all of the chores assigned to it, but in the true spirit of the United States Coast Guard, "SEMPER PARATUS".

(Also under construction at Marinette Marine is a new Coastal Buoy Tender, The KEEPER Class, at 176'6" x 36 x 8'4").

Note: Ray Wiemer of Cleveland, OH served aboard CGC ACACIA at Detroit, MI 1952-54. Tom Bourne of Pittsburgh, PA served aboard CGC WOODRUSH at Duluth, MN 1952-56

Monster Maggie of the Mackinaw

by Floyd Stormer

Most mascots living on Coast Guard ships were well loved and cared for. In return, the animals (usually dogs) were faithful to their own ships and protective companions for the men. Each, in their own way, gave of themselves to the other.

Then there was Maggie of the Mackinaw She was at least part German Shepherd (some would say "part" pit bull) and she didn't like anyone. The men of the Mackinaw returned her animosity in triplicate. The big problem being, one could not get rid of the other.

Maggie insisted the Mackinaw was her home and she refused to leave. When she was left behind in Cleveland, accidentally of course, she was see swimming past the Cleveland Lights .... trying to catch "her" ship. When the men at the Light called the Mackinaw and told them their dog had already swum six miles and was going strong, the ship was turned around to retrieve Maggie. Maggie thanked the crew by becoming more cantankerous than ever.

There was a time when members of the crew tried to "dump" Maggie (the only name mentioned consistently as one of the participants in this effort was "Doc" Holbrook.) Maggie was put off at Detour Island and it was felt she was gone forever.

However another Coast Guard Cutter, the Tamarack, found Maggie and did not realize she wasn't the most popular mascot in the Coast Guard. They made a special trip to "The Great White Mother" which was breaking ice in Whitefish Bay, to return Maggie. If the men of the Tamarack expected thanks, they must still be waiting. To quote one man who was a member of the Mackinaw crew at the time... "That damn dog had more lives than ten cats."

No one seems to know or care how long Maggie was aboard the Mackinaw and it is unknown what happened to her after her hitch in the Coast Guard ended. It is hoped that the "Monster of the Mackinaw" found someone that liked her enough to keep her.

From "We've" Been There by Esther Stormer, Copyright 1982


These few lines were written by Mr.Robbins in memory of the crew of the Vinyard Sound Lightship that went down during a hurricane with the loss of all hands. He remembers it well because his ship the Relief Lightship #110 had just come off relief duty a few days before.


There is a light upon the sea,

That flashes bright,

Its searching beam is a welcome gleam,

For mariners in the night.

This stout light vessel rides the swells,

and stands the angry fury,

A faithful guide to ships that pass,

And beacon to the weary.

Her chains and anchors hold her fast,

A guard upon our shoals,

Through rain and fog, sleet and snow,

Her bell will faithfully toll.

The men who serve this lonely watch,

Fear not the tempest rage,

But give their lives beyond the call,

That others might be saved.

Brave men and ships have passed this way,

Homeward and seaward bound,

But all have praised these lightship men,

As they passed her on the sound.

So bless all those who nightly serve,

To keep our landfall bright,

They hold their faithful lamps up high,

And overcome the night.

-Guy G. Robbins

My apologies for not printing this sooner, It was submitted in January 1998 and was inadvertently misplaced. - ed

The Seagoing Lawn Mower

One good thing about lightship duty was the time off-watch when you could pursue whatever hobbies you were into. For instance, we had an engineman who liked to bring small home projects out to the ship for repair . . . or whatever.

On one occasion he brought along a gas engine-powered lawn mower and proceeded over the next few days to completely disassemble the engine and running gear. The engine needed a complete overhaul and required many parts, so the project was stalled for a while. On his next shore leave, he purchased the parts and brought them out to the ship.

Slowly but surely the engine got reassembled and put back together. Now, for the test run. Of course, he could not operate the engine in the confines of the shop, so he dragged the whole thing up on deck where there was plenty of fresh air and room to maneuver.

About this time the buoy tender WILLOW passed by about a quarter mile or so on her way to the Farallons. The bridge watch, observing us through binoculars, were somewhat amazed to see our man vigorously engaged in "mowing the lawn." It didn't take long for the word to get around. Lightship sailors were thought to be a little crazy.

-Jim Gill - Extracted from the Little Red Boat From Coast Guard Tales, an Anthology soon to be published by Don Gardner.


Here is another type of shore duty, one without 40 footers, foghorns, and dramatic rescues. Who envisioned this type of duty when they read the recruiting posters?

Coast Guard Loran Station, Ulithi Atoll

by Ken Smith

Potangeras Island, Ulithi Atoll, the "Paradise of the Pacific," and all those lovely native girls. What more could a nineteen-year-old fellow ask for? Well, for one, I had to share them with other young studs, and two, I was a long way from home--in the middle of the Pacific Ocean--and in the Coast Guard! How's that for a bummer?

And I haven't even mentioned the rusty old Quonset huts, the humidity, or the red ants that bit you on the rectum while doing your duty in the "head," or most of all, the damn radio skeds.

This very small tropical island was inhabited by a LTJG, an Engineman and his Seaman striker, a Boatswains Mate, a Hospital Corpsman, a Cook, and eight Electronic Technicians--fourteen "coasties" who ran the Coast Guard Loran Transmitting Station at Ulithi. If you count the Radioman . . . fifteen.

We were a sorry lot. Because of the extreme heat and humidity, we wore cutoff dungarees and Japanese sandals . . - nothing else.

Because the Radioman held skeds with Guam Radio (NRV) four times a day, he never had a chance for more than four hours off at a time during the daylight hours, and he was always moaning about his terrible lot in life. Also in the year 1950, an ET was supposed to be able to copy code at 10 WPM for advancement to Second Class Petty Officer. Well, this idiot ET3 (me!) wanted to be an ET2, so I spent some of my off hours in the radio shack practicing my code into a dummy load, with help from "Sparks."

When I could sort of manage 10 WPM, Sparks suggested I sit in with him and try to copy along on his sked. Gee, I thought, that would be fun. (I can't believe I was that dumb and couldn't see what was coming.)

After a few of these "lessons," he asked if I would take the noon sked so he could make a trip to one of the neighboring islands. I said, "no way," but he claimed it would be a piece of cake because there is never any traffic on Sunday. Besides, I was copying fine--the Radioman at Guam would slow down for me. This was enough bullsh_t - to convince me to do it.

By the time the fateful Sunday arrived, I was a wreck and scared to death. About an hour before sked time, I started practicing and watched the clock count down to the witching hour, as the sweat flowed off my body. Precisely at 1200 hours, with a trembling hand, I sent to NRV that I had a priority message and that I was going to send at 10 WPM because I was an ET.

The operator at NRV immediately acknowledge and told me to go ahead. I sent the message (a weather report) and he acknowledged receipt, then said he had two messages for me. I almost died!

One of them turned out to be some kind of commissary inventory shipment order full of numbers, and I'm trying to copy this in longhand because I couldn't type. I'd get behind and ask him to repeat all after a certain word, then he would start again. I could hear the disgust in his fist. The problem was, he'd start at 10 WPM and gradually speed up to his normal speed.

I don't know how long this went on, but I'm sure he was as frustrated as I. My scribbled longhand copy was covered with sweat droplets. Somehow it finally ended, and I still had to type it up on a message form by the hunt-and-peck method--a chore in itself.

I doubt I've had a more traumatic day in my life. After a few weeks of cooling off, I was conned into doing it again. Can you believe it? I seem to remember it went a little better--but I still had to copy in longhand.

The crowning touch came some time later--the Radioman's tour was over and he was being rotated back to the states. The "old man" informed 14th Coast Guard District they needn't send a replacement because he had an ET who could "do it." There I was, screwed again.

In hindsight, my "Baptism by Fire" wasn't all that bad. Six years later, in 1958, I decided to become an amateur radio operator ("ham") and the Morse code element was a piece of cake. No FCC code test could have been worse than that first day on a "live" key at NRV3 working that "lid" [poor operator] at NRV who couldn't keep his code speed down. I'd still like to meet that Dit jockey for not being nicer to a poor, struggling ET who was out of his element. I'll bet some of you RM's are laughing your heads off!*

From Coast Guard Tales, an Anthology soon to be published by Don Gardner.

This Sea Story kicked around the Coast Guard for years and is retold in one of its many forms.


After WWII the Coast Guard drew it's forces down to a dangerously low level. Weather patrol required more ships and each ship required a crew to sail it. Over a several month period 17 Navy AVP's were commissioned. Each with a complement of 12 Officers and 140 men. A severe shortage of personnel to man these ships existed. It was easy to recruit seamen and firemen and send them to boot camp and have them on a ship in eight or nine weeks. But these younger sailors had to have someone to teach them what to do. With this in mind the recruitment of ex Navy senior enlisted personnel began in earnest. Recruiting Offices were instructed to use all means possible short of press gangs to get these people on board as quickly as possible. Many of the basic requirements were waived to meet their quota.

An ex Navy man named Joe Winthrop reported into a mid western Recruiting Office and inquired if he could enlist in the Coast Guard with his former Navy rate, Plushman First Class. The recruiters were baffled. No one knew what a Plushman did but a first class was a first class so they enlisted him post haste and cut orders for him to report to the First District in Boston for further assignment to duty.

Winthrop checked into Constitution Wharf a few days later and was ordered to the District Personnel Office. The Personnel Officer had no and idea what a Plushman did but there was a crying need for a first class on one of the newly arrived AVP's. Orders were cut and he reported aboard.

The Ships Office notified the Executive Officer of Winthrop's arrival. The Exec didn't have the foggiest idea what a Plushman did and what division he should be assigned to. He contacted the Engineering Officer who likewise was in a quandary as to what to do with Winthrop. This was becoming embarrassing. The Exec and Engineer went to see the Captain and they had a "pow wow." The Captain didn't know either. They didn't want to admit their ignorance by calling the District and asking them what Winthrop was supposed to do. Ignorance does not look good on fitness reports and the Captain, a Commander, was nearing his fourth stripe.

In those days the Coast Guard only had 27 different ratings. Most of the personnel were either Enginemen, Boatswains Mates, and a few of the shipboard unique ratings such as Quartermaster, Carpenters Mates, etc. The Navy had hundreds of different ratings because they were large enough to specialize, a luxury the smaller Coast Guard couldn't afford. The Captain had a stroke of genius, "we'll assign Winthrop to the Engineering Department, give him several strikers, and see what he does." The Exec and Engineer concurred with that idea and it came to pass that Winthrop was assigned to E Division and was given two FA's and an SA to work for him. The problem now solved the ship got ready and sailed to OS Charlie.

After about the fourth day out it was noticed that not only Winthrop was missing but so were his strikers. The Exec told the Engineer to search the ship and give him a status report. Within a few hours Winthrop and his strikers were located in the Main Parts Hold. There he was manning a five ton chain fall that had a large steel ball on it. The strikers each had a blow torch and were heating the steel ball up to red hot. The Engineer was so amazed he contacted the Captain and Exec and requested they come to witness this scene. They arrived.

"Winthrop, what on Earth are you doing?"

"My duty sir" replied Winthrop.

"Why are you heating that steel ball?"

"To drop it in this water tank sir."

"That makes no sense at all Winthrop", said the Exec.

"Yes sir it does" says Winthrop as he released the red hot steel ball and it dropped into the Water Tank.

"PLUSH" said the steel ball.



Once upon a time on a Coast Guard Station on the Western Shores of Lake Michigan lived a BM1 who didn't know what he didn't know!

It was late Fall and the 36' MLB was laid up for the season.

Came a call, as it inevitably would, when the needed boat was laid up for the season. "Disabled boat in the surf, Two and a Half miles North of your Station," said the official dispatch.

The OinC was ashore, The Group Commander was in Cleveland and the BM1 was on his own.

The crew was mustered, everybody, including the tower watch. All were briefed, the crew donned life jackets and foul weather gear. The boat was ordered launched from the boat house and crash.............. The doors were not open as the boat rolled like a juggernaut down the marine railway to the water.

On the following week the BM1 was the mess deck Master at Arms on the Mackinaw.


The Answers to Last Issues Posers

Who was the first Captain Commandant of the Revenue Marine? Captain Fraser

Which Light Ship was painted white with a Coast Guard racing stripe near the end of her career? Hint: This was the only Lightship that had a permanent name. All of the rest were designated numerically but had temporary names painted on their exteriors. Nantucket Light Ship

Which two Coast Guard Cutters were the first to go on Ocean Station (Weather Patrol)? Bibb and Duane

Which Coast Guard Cutter made the last Ocean Station? Ingham

What engines were installed in the steel hull 40 foot Utility Boats? General Motors 6-71's

Here are This Month's Posers:

Where was the Coast Guard East Coast Boot Camp located immediately before it was moved to Cape May, New Jersey?

The old sailor suit was very utilitarian. What was the purpose of the flap behind the neck?

Which Lightship used to mark the entrance to New York City?

In the pre-1950 Lifeboat Stations, what was the approved bulkhead (wall) color?

What is the name of the last manned Lighthouse under the cognizance of the Coast Guard?


The Coast Guard SeaVets has a number of items for sale. Call (360) 856-2171 to place your order

Garrison Cap for the SV Pin - $7.50

Ball Cap C.G.S.V.- $11.00

S.V. Pin - $5.00

S.V Patches - $5.00


USNS REDBUD - How Even the Brightest Among us Goofs.

From The Old Salt's Journal, Summer 1998: "Which 180 foot tender never sailed under a Coast Guard Flag? Answer - Redbud"

Dear Ken:

Thanks for the prompt arrival .of the Membership Package.

The summer issue of subject Journal was very interesting. Is it possible to order back issues?

The item in the Summer 1998 issue on page 7 re the USS REDBUD caught my eye since she was one of my nine CG Cutter commands. . However I must inform you that she DID sail under the CG Ensign, and for some time.

I was hastily recalled from the WALNUT in French Frigate Shoals to take the REDBUD south on a Loran Station supply mission in the South Pacific under the command of CGDistrict 14. Following that interesting (and on one occasion hectic) voyage we were assigned to duty with the Navy Hydrographic units at Bikini to prepare for the atom bomb test in the spring of '46. We were under USN OPCON but retained our CG identity and CGD14 support and ADMIN. .

This was much the same arrangement that TUPELO (where I spent several happy years) operated in the Guam area setting heavy ship moorings for a Navy Service Squadron .

REDBUD did not get to see the bomb go off however, and after planting all the buoys required for positioning the test vessels we were ordered back to Hawaii and I went home for the 120 days of leave that had accumulated. Presumably then she was disposed of to become a USN vessel

s/Bill Bailey

Dear Bill Bailey,

I stand corrected. Redbud operated under the USNS flag many years out of Argentia. In later years she operated out of New Bedford. The standard brass name plate called it a USCG Cutter but I was told by one of the ship's officers that it never was in the Coast Guard, the Navy had taken it directly from the builder.

Well you never know. I was surprised when I saw a gray 180. That was in 1951 when I was a crewman on the Evergreen and later in New Bedford when I was a Junior Officer on the Escanaba.

My apologies,



From: D.S. Bailey

Jack: After almost 4 yrs on the Pontchartrain in early '60s, I have a few sea stories. Here's one for your consideration:

During one O.S. November patrol by the Pontchartrain in about 1964, the Fish & Wildlife Service asked the USCG to report sightings of any albatross, or gooney birds, dye marked with yellow heads. While the gooneys were constant companions on station, we saw none that were marked. The XO was really taking the project seriously and was upset that we couldn't report any. So... The crew, weary of cockroach races, decided to make things interesting. We dropped baited hooks out the port hole in the DC shop, counted to 10, and hauled up the birds (heads through the port), painted the heads with RED paint and let them go. The XO was soon reporting red-headed albatross to a very confused F&WS headquarters! By the end of the patrol, he was still "not getting it," so we caught a "whole" bird and sewed it into a bright red sharkskin vest with "WPG-70" written on the breast. Only when the XO saw that gooney hovering over the bridge wing did he realize he had been hoaxed by the crew.

I was a QM in those days, so I had a front row seat for the whole game!

Dave Bailey, CDR, USCG (Ret)

Sequim, WA 98382

P.S. Doubt that I can get to the reunion, but would love to be in any directory you may have.

From: Jim Gill



Some mighty interesting stuff there! I was USCG from 1941 to 1963 and served in CYANE, HEMLOCK, McLANE, WESTWIND, GEN GREELY, GEN AULTMAN, IROQUOIS, SPENCER, TANEY, ESCANABA, FINCH, CALUMET, CHEROKEE and LIGHTSHIP 612.

Some of those were pretty short. I was in IROQUOIS only from 21 May 1946 to 22 July '46, the worst ship I was on EVER!

We sailed for OS November right after I reported aboard. Then, to everybody's displeasure, instead of returning home we were sent to Honolulu. Nobody could figure out why and it turned out to be a big mistake and we left. Talk about screwed up, but that's how it was in 1946. Anyhow, the "Incident" must have taken place during our two day stay and that would place it about the last part of June 1946. As I stated, I don't remember much about it than I sent to you in a previous email. There must have been disciplinary action, but I can't remember and I transferred off of the ship soon after to the East Coast and the SPENCER.

I like the bit about the "Spark Plugs" and maybe can work into the ESCANABA chapter. The big "E" was a good ship, in fact have to rate her as one of my better assignments despite the hard times. 1946 was the pits in the CG and 1947 wasn't much better. What saved the day was a good CO, XO and crew. The ship was clean, ran well, and fine chow. All just the opposite of IROQUOIS. That was a ship with a malevolent spirit and I wasn't at all surprised when the accident took place.

Well, I'm running on and on here (as usual) and had better let loose and get some work done. We live on a 50 ketch (for the past 20 years) and keeping up with things is a full time chore. Semper Paratus



I was stationed at Pier 4 in Honolulu from September 49 to April 52. I did not have intimate knowledge to infamous incident since it happen at night after the office closed and most of went home. The 255 moored at Pier 4 and as the story goes one of the sailors from the ship had a little too much to drink and had a run in with the HASP. Their headquarters were right across the street from Pier 4. The sailor somehow got the 5 inch gun pointed at the HASP headquarters. From accounts we received later it cleared all hands out of the headquarters in short order.


William W. Thurmond

formerly YN USCG and eventually served on the Ponchartrain and retired as a LCDR, USCG


From: Jim Gill

Subject: Re: HASP


Man! That was a loooooong time ago! I was aboard at the time but can't remember much about it. I was on 14 different CG ships and am writing a collection of stories about all of them. I was only aboard IROQUOIS for a short time and don't have much material to fill out the chapter, so that "incident" would make a great addition. I had forgotten all about it until I read your blurb on the Instant Bulletin Board. Thanks for the memory jog.

Were you aboard the ship? Maybe you can fill me in on some details.

As I remember it, the HASP had locked up one of our guys and his drinking buddies were highly incensed. A couple of them were Gunner's Mates and they all came back to the ship and unlimbered the 5in/38. The HASP HQ was just down the street from the ship and in plain sight. Somebody got a key to the magazine and sent a live round up to the mount and onto the tray. All they had to do was hit the spade and the ram would have shoved it into the breech. I'm not sure but I don't think that happened. The mount however was trained out and zeroed in on HASP. Somebody then got on the phone, called them and said, "Turn our guy loose or we'll blow you to hell and if you don't believe it, look out the window!" I don't know how it all ended.

Where was I? Passed out in my sack and missed the whole thing. There was hell to pay in the morning but the ship sailed before any action could be taken.

Would appreciate anything you can add or suggest

Jim Gill


I wasn't in on the event. I doubt that you will ever get all the details; anyone involved would probably not own up to it. I'm not especially proud of my behavior in those days, but we did have a lot of fun. Once when I was on restriction, some of my local lady friends came down to the ship to visit. At Pier 4, in those days, there was a little beach on the opposite side of the building from where the ship was moored. My friends brought food, liquor, ukuleles, guitars, etc. Myself and some of the guys from the ship raided the officers' linen locker for bead spreads and sheets. We used boat hooks and oars and rigged ourselves a nice tent. We were near enough to the ship to hear the PA system and appear for Eight o'clock reports. The luau lasted all night.

When I applied for OCS in '53, I was made to wait a year before it was approved, presumably because they wanted to be sure the wild partying urge was out of my system, or at least diminished somewhat.

Yours for bigger and better sea stories,

Harold Doan


Jack, just got the Spring 1998 Old Salt's Journal. Great job. Nice to get so much scoop in one pub. Keeping up on CG affairs from afar is not always easy. Being a member of the Seavets does help. For your records my e-mail address is

Have a request, if you might be able to help. Have an older friend that was in the Coast Guard when I was a pup ,who served on the CGC AURORA. He is looking for a photo of the vessel. Do you have any contacts that I might be able to use to see if I can help him? Appreciate your help and response either way.


John Wallace


I was on the Minnetonka WPG 67 out of Long Beach, California. I boarded in September of 1961 and left in June of 1965 and went from SA to QM1. So I knew the 255 intimately.

General Comment: The 255 was a interesting ship to serve on. To put it mildly is was not a smooth riding ship. Sea worthy to be sure, but in bad weather well let's just say it was an experience. I can remember relieving the Taney on Ocean November and she was gently rocking, we on the other hand were taking 20 degree rolls. This got worse when they put the SPS 29 Radar on in late 1963.

My favorite 255 story is the sinking of a derelict off Santa Rosa Island. We were returning from San Francisco, when our old man, who was trying to impress the Admiral of CG District 11 and would go 100 miles out of his way to take a SAR case, got a message from CG Districts 11 and 12 . Well when the CG 12 & 11 both contacted us concerning a large derelict floating in the main channel , the old man almost had a brown nose hemorrhage. So we were sent to find the derelict. We found it and it was a large 60 + fishing boat over turned . We sent a small boat over to hull and the gunners mates put two charges on the hull ( concussion grenades I think), then the small boat backed off and , using a draw string, detonated the charges. Nothing happen.

Well the old man was having a fit, he was going to have report that the Minnetonka could not sink a derelict. The next thing I know we are going to general quarters, now this is a time when the quad 40 MM were still on 255s. So we backed off and open fire with the 40’s . Red tracers were hitting the water and going in every direction. Well let me tell you the residents on Santa Rosa Island were not pleased to see 40MM tracers skipping off the water and landing all over the Island. Well we fired about 50 rounds and never did hit the damn thing. But soon a Navy helicopter was hovering over us and a flash message from Commander 11 Navel district was informing us to cease and desists. Finally we ended towing the derelict out of the shipping lane and a tug took it form there. When we reached Long Beach there were representatives from CG District 11 waiting. It was not to congratulate the old man.

Richard White

Why Editors Edit For Free.

Dear Jack,

I just want to take a moment of your time to tell you that I enjoyed the "Old Salt's Journal", Volume I, No. 3.

I found your editorial comment, GRUMBLINGS FROM THE ENGINEROOM INTERESTING and I must say I TOTALLY agree with you. The service is small enough and as a multi-functional service, we should all come together as one.

You made me feel 40 years younger reading DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN. Incidents which were long gone and forgotten about came rushing back to my mind. I sat for about 20 minutes after reading this article and let the memories wander. It was wonderful and enjoyable. Like reading a book or watching a movie, I escaped to another time.

Keep up the marvelous job and keep the memories coming.


Dan Hagen

Sometimes it is worth the effort - ed


Officers and Board Members of the Coast Guard Sea Veterans of America:

Larry Stefanovich - Chairman of the Board/President

Rod C. Jernigan - Vice President

Ken Long - Secretary-Treasurer

James Duffield - Director

Richard T. McCombs - Director

Bobby Padgett - Director

Jack A. Eckert - News Letter Editor/Director

Dennis Streng - Historian


Editorial Comment


by Jack Eckert

For almost 55 years the CGC Mackinaw has plied the Great Lakes, unable to go out and work in the salty seas. Through all of these years from Buffalo to Duluth, Chicago to Detroit, Death's Door Passage to Whitefish Bay and on to Isle Royale she was the famed "Great White Mother" of the Great Lakes. Her beautiful white hull in spite of her age looked liked it was polished with auto wax.

Today she is sporting the red colors of a harlot. What will she be called now, "The Great Red Mother ?" Hardly, that sounds almost Communist. Maybe "Sweet Water Strumpet" would be more appropriate.

Oh ye Salt Water Scoundrels who perpetrated this abomination on to our lovely old lady, know this well, she needn't have a coat of red paint to cover up the rust of her long journeys and old age.

An old song is recalled to mind - With Apologies:

For she's more to be pitied than censured

She's more to be helped than despised,

She's only a lassie who's ventured,

O'er the Lakes deep waters and pack ice.

Though by the dockside she waited,

She may yet mend her ways

That poor Great White Mother,

Who's seen better days.


We hope that you have enjoyed this edition of the "Old Salt's Journal." Your suggestions for improvement and your submission of timely and interesting materials will be greatly appreciated.

Look for us again this next Winter.


c/o Jack A. Eckert, Editor (Interim)

312 W. Washington St.

Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074


To Any Officer of the SeaVets
































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