CHRISTMAS EVE 1956
It was 50 years ago today that the Geiger arrived in Bremerhaven after an Atlantic transit of 9 days from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I had just been transferred from Kami Seya as a CT2 and I was the senior CT holding the orders for about 20-25 CT's straight from Imperial Beach. Amongst the group was Jack Hipp, Marty Ruggiero, Chuck Luby and Lee Gough. Would love to see if there are any others checking your website that made the trip with us. We hit a storm in the North Atlantic for 3 or 4 days that beats anything I experience before or since. When we checked in to the Staging Area all the rated men were given liberty but I don't believe the strikers got to enjoy Germany on Christmas Eve of 1956.
If any one sees this message and sailed on the MSTS Geiger from 12-15-56 to 12-24-56 please email me - thus far I have only been able to identify 5 of us. - Bob Haggerty (ex CT1 - '53-'61)
I was stationed at USNAB from 1947 to 1949. I was a DK striker and divided my time between the disbursing office and the gymnasium. I played on the 1948 Bremerhaven Blue Jackets. After winning the overall Bremerhaven championship, we played in the Eucom Northern Regional Tournament against the U.S. Constabulary. 1st Squadron "Blackhawks"; the USAFE Northern League champions Camp Lindsay "Commanders"; and the Berlin Command 3rd Bn. 16th Inf. "Green Hornets".
We beat the Constabulary, but lost in the final against the Green Hornets. I must confess at this point that I was a forward, but did spend a lot of time on the bench pulling splinters out of my butt!
After Bremerhaven, I spent the next twenty-some years on various ships and shore stations; retiring in 1969 as a Lieutenant Commander.
About two years ago, I did manage to contact one of my Bremerhaven basketball teammates who lives in Conn. Most of the other teammates have passed on.
One last note, I notice in your (Chuck Braun) photos of the team that you were wearing the same jackets that we wore on our team.
It's been sixty years since I arrived in Bremerhaven and the memories are still fairly fresh in this grey old head. What a great experience for a teenager! - All the best, Ken Livingston
The Cable Caper
There was a hog farm down the road, across the street, that bordered the antenna field. The farmer was laying water pipes to his pig stys and cut a 52 pair cable coming from the DF site to the Ops bldg. I was sent there with 3 or 4 other Matmen, whose names fail me, to splice it.
It was hard to find the ends of the cable as the farmer had covered them when the Army told him they didn't have any phone lines in that area and must be a leftover from the war. Yeah-Right!
Anyway, the farmer felt bad about it and we were working in the July sun to find the cable and splice it. He kept bringing out trays of ice cold bottled beer, Becks, Haake Beck, and several others. I was he only one who could speak German and politely refused the beer as we were on duty. As they day went on and I continued to refuse his offers, I could see he was getting someone insulted by my refusal of his hospitality. I called back to the base and told our boss, a CTM1 we called "Pappy" and explained the situation. He told me it was OK for us to accept the "refreshments as a matter of good will, but to go easy.
Long story short, by the time we were done we were all 3 sheets to the wind and returned to the base and went thru the gate somewhat crocked. MPs didn't notice, thank goodness.
Wet Finger Walker
Early in 1958, I reported to NSGA, Bremerhaven, my first duty station out of ET "A" school, which is where we M branchers were sent for our CT training. Arriving as an 18 year old CTMSN without a final clearance, I was assigned to the Antenna Shop where I learned more of the fine arts of toilet repair, ditch digging, use of power tools and standing fire watch for welding jobs. Four months later, the clearance arrived and I was assigned as the Charlie Section Duty Mat Man.
I would get frequent trouble calls on an early version of a fax machine (HellesSchriber). Unreliable and overused, it gave operators fits. After a time I pretty well knew what the trouble(s) might be and stopped taking up a bunch of test equipment for troubleshooting. A light touch on the stylus could tell me if the machine was getting writing current. On a few occasions, my "light touch" was too heavy and I'd reflexly recoil from the shock. This was very amusing to bystanders and earned me the nickname of "Wet Finger Walker".
In those days the Armed Forces Network couldn't get authority to play much of the current rock and roll tunes. So on the mid watches, using a mat shop signal generator as transmitter and the AC distribution throughout the building as the antenna, I'd send out prerecorded tapes of Radio Lux and others to anyone who could tune their receiver to the preselected spot in the HF spectrum. Not authorized, but never caught.
Anyone who has wintered over at Bremerhaven remembers the vicious North Sea winds. On one occasion four of us were on our way to watch. We were crossing the grinder with P Coats turned up, watch caps pulled down as far as possible, leaning into the wind and with eyes tight shut for protection. As we stepped into the street approaching the ops building, one man exclaimed, "My eyes! My eyes!". His eyelids had frozen closed. Nothing permanent -- he thawed in the building.
On completing my kiddie cruise in December.'59, I was returned to Brooklyn for discharge aboard a USNS troop ship - the only sailor being transported. The crew took note of my "special" status and exempted me from fire watches, but tapped me for a couple of bridge watches instead. I still remember the shortimers refrain that I sang out on any occasion, "You could make me a Fleet Admiral in this canoe club and I still wouldn't ship over."
After a year as a civilian, they gave me ET "B" school instead, and I did ship over.
You Call That a Haircut!
I was in B'haven from January 1970 to December of 1972. I was a CTT3 and in Charlie section.
I was also switched to Delta Section for about 6 weeks when almost all of the Marines were transferred out at the same time. The new ones were all just out of A-school and needed training. I think about 6 of us spent 6-10 weeks training them. Gunny Stipe was the new Section Chief. Unlike the Navy which had one inspection at the start of each new watch string, he had inspection before every watch! My first inspection with him, he said, "Pendergast, I don't particular like you boy! You need a HARCUT!" After watch, I went and got a Zumwalt type haircut. The next inspection he said, "I thought I told you to get a HARCUT!." I told him I had and he replied, "You got yer money took is what ya got!" I pointed out that I was in the Navy and my haircut met Navy regs. I thought he was going to split a gut! He pointed out that I was in HIS section and that I would do what he told me!!! Later in the watch, he came over and told me he was going to do me a favor! He was getting a HARCUT after watch, and would show me how it was done. After watch, we went to the barber and he got in the chair first. The barber shaved is head to about a quarter inch on top with nothing on the sides. He spun him around in the chair to look in the mirror, and asked how that was? Gunny told him to take a little more off the top! You can guess what happened to me! Gunny later came to respect the work I did and we got along OK.
I got transferred to Guam after B'haven and one day as I was going out of the shack, Gunny was coming in. He acted like we were best friends! He told me he was taking over Delta section and would see if he could pull some strings and get me back in his section. I acted really enthusiastic about that, and then ran to my supervisor in Charlie and told him what ever he does, do NOT let me get sent to Delta section!