Subic Bay, Philippines






Late in August, our sailing orders arrived and the Armstrongs took us to the pier.  Van had made arrangements for our car to be shipped to Subic.  We had rented the house to a Navy couple and we were ready to go.  We sailed on the USS Barrett and it would take us 21 days to get to the Philippines.  Our first stop was Hawaii and we were greeted by the Suggs. He had served with Van on the Bennington and now was stationed in Hawaii.  They loved it there.  They met us with leis and took us on a tour of the island and to their home before we returned to the ship.  I had my first migraine headache that day. Never had one before and have only had one more since.  They are terrible, but I enjoyed seeing the island, it was beautiful.  The kids enjoyed it.  Our hosts took us back to the ship and we were on our way the next morning.  We threw our leis back to the sea in hopes that we would return one day.


We were lucky we were on the Barrett.  It was the only transport ship that had air-conditioning.  Stories we heard later were that the other ships were so hot, that everyone was too sick to eat and had no way to cool off.  We had a good time on the Barrett.  They had movies and crafts for the kids and the dining room was nice and cool, so everyone enjoyed all their meals.  We met a young couple, Jack and Joanne Griggs, and we kept in contact with them when we got to Subic, even though it was against Navy regulations.  Jack was only first class and Van was an officer. We stayed friends all this time, too.


After leaving Hawaii, the next big thing was a “Crossing-the-Line” ceremony. This took place on the day the ship sailed across the International Date Line. The ceremony consisted of crew members getting dressed as King Neptune and various members of his court, and “initiating” those of us who had never been across the line before. (We had to put our clothes on backwards, and wear our hair in braids, for that day!)  We were lead, blindfolded and barefoot, down a slimy trail, and told we were walking on worms and snails, (Actually, it was cold, cooked spaghetti and other nasty things to walk on!) At the very end, we had the blindfold whipped off and we had to “Kiss the ‘Baby’s belly!” (The “Baby” was a very fat crew man, in an over-sized diaper, who had mustard and ketchup smeared on his tummy!)  Luckily for me I missed “kissing the baby’s stomach”, but poor Dorrie got caught and they covered her whole face with sauce.   For this we were all issued a fancy certificate, verifying that we were experienced line crossers!

Our next stop was Guam and it was pouring rain when we arrived.  We were met by a Navy band as usual.  We planned to go to the officer’s club for dinner since it was our Anniversary.  Dorrie and Carl came with us, but Bob was sick with a touch of the flu.  The corpsman that was treating him, said for us not to worry, he would check on him while we were gone.  Because of the rain, we didn’t get to see much of Guam.


We were pretty much on a shipboard routine, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, and resting, with walks around the deck for exercise! They had movies mostly every day and also Bingo for those who like to play.  The trip seemed to be taking so long, but after 21 days, we did finally arrive at Subic Bay.  It was pouring rain, a very hard rain.  We got a glimpse of the Mark, Van’s new duty ship parked along side the pier.  Next to the Barrett, it looked very small.



Our sponsor and his wife were on the pier to greet us.  They had extra umbrellas for us, but we still got very wet getting to the car.  They drove us to the house they arranged for us.  We were greeted by our maid, Nina, who had arranged everything in the house It was 2-story with living room, kitchen and enclosed screened-in porch on the first floor.  Two bedrooms on the second floor.  This was temporary quarters until a three- bedroom became available.  Nina lived in Olongapo and she went home every night.  Bob used the enclosed porch while we were there.  Carl and Dorrie shared twin beds in one room and we had the other.  Our sponsor had even purchased enough groceries for us for breakfast and lunch.  The sponsor stayed in Subic until they had a Change of Command Ceremony later in the week. All the top officers came to the ceremony and many speeches.  All kind of Going-Away parties for the several officers who would be going back to the states on the Barrett.


Every day, even rainy days, there was something going on.  In fact, I asked Van when could we stay home one night.  He said this was the time people would be leaving and new ones coming into Subic but it would slow down soon.  I wasn’t used to all this party stuff.  Eventually, I met all the wives in his command.  There was a luncheon once a month and each group had to host.  Since there many groups, we had to do that once a year.  So I had some time to learn the ropes. I wouldn’t be in charge but I would have to help.  I joined a Mah Jongg group that met one afternoon a week.  I enjoyed learning how to play.  In fact, later on, Van and the kids all learned to play it and when Van took a trip to Hong Kong he bought a Mah Jongg set.  Real ivory too, before the ban of ivory product.  The kids all learned to play too, and we often had our friends, the Griggs over to play in the evening.


Bob and Van both joined the Toastmaster Group.  Bob had joined the Junior Toastmaster Group.  Later on, I decided to join the woman’s group.  It was a big help in speaking before groups.  It took awhile for me to get used to it, but it sure helped a lot when I returned home and worked for the PTA.


Our first quarters were on the top of a hill. On Saturday mornings, the pilots would take their practice time for flying.  The first Saturday that we were there, we heard this plane right above us flying low. We both woke up with a start thinking the plane was going to land on us.  We soon learned that this happened every Saturday morning.  I don’t think it was more than a hundred yards above us.  We learned to expect it.


Carl was getting acquainted with friends from school and the neighborhood.  One evening while I getting dinner ready, he came in while I was at the stove in the kitchen. His white T-shirt was covered with black spots.  When I look a little closer, I could see that the spots were beetles. One look, and I told him to get out of my kitchen and get rid of those bugs, then come back and scrub your hands.  He thought it was funny.


After about a month, we received our assignment to our new quarters.  They were down the hill from where we were and we could see the swimming pool from our back yard.  The house was a duplex and all on the one floor with 3 bedrooms.  The bedroom area had an air-conditioned in one of the windows.  It made that part of the house very comfortable.  This was a much better arrangement for us.  We had a screened-in porch, which we never used.  Nina used it for drying clothes when it was raining.  Weather was usually six month of lovely weather and then six months of rainy weather.  When you went to a function at the O-Club, the women would wear go-aheads there and change to dressy shoes when they arrived at the club.  Rain didn’t cancel anything.


Dorrie continued with the Scouts, so did Bob.  If he was in the Scouts, he would get a chance to go to Hong Kong, so he joined.  We had a hard time trying to find a uniform for him.  The only one we could get was size 18 and it was so big.  Carl joined the Cubs Scouts and I got hooked to be assistant leader.  I was told it would be for only six months, but it lasted two years.


Van was skipper of the USS Mark AKL-12.  There was a sister ship the USS Brule and they took turns monthly making six trips to Manila, carrying cargo and household goods of people transferred to the Manila area.  He was the only officer on the ship and he had a crew of 13 men.  It was like having your own yacht.  I could go on trips when nothing was going on.  One-day trip to Manila, one day there, and then one-day home.  The first year we were there, I wasn’t eligible for the Hong Kong trip, but I did go on the second trip the ship made in 1963.

our "private" yacht! Van's ship

History of The USS Mark (AKL-12)

The children were all going to the same school, the George Dewey Junior and High School.  Some classes were small.  No comments from the youngsters, they seemed to like school.  They all made new friends.  Bob’s new friend was Bruce, son of the admiral.  Bruce had braces on his teeth, and Bob finally said he would have braces.  We tried to talk him into braces in the states and he wouldn’t hear of it.  Now he wants them.  We made arrangements in Olongapo for the first visit, and then Bob and Bruce went together for the monthly visit.  It was much cheaper than the states too, so we were glad he finally decided to have the work done.


There was a great deal of activities for the children as well as the grown ups.  The swimming pool was open often and the lifeguard had been in the Olympics.  He taught the boys how to dive.  Carl used to do a beautiful swan dive.  They also had the teen club right near the pool.  The theatre for Kalayaan was close by also, and there were movies every night.  Bob also took up sailing and he did very well.  One time, the officer in charge asked him to take this gentleman out and check him on his sailing.  When they were out for awhile and were returning to the sailing shed, the gentleman asked Bob how he did.  Bob remarked that he would never make a good sailor.  Later, Bob found out that his student was an admiral from one of the ships in port.

I was getting into a routine with Luncheons, and Mah Jongg.  Van and I had Bingo every week and he won almost every week.  Prizes were vacuum cleaners, a cake mixer (which is still in use).  He won so often, he was getting embarrassed, so he started calling Bingo.


The base had a square dance club and Bob belonged and was enjoying it .  Meeting a lot of nice people also, grown-up and teens alike.  They were having Open House one night and Bob wanted us to go.  I was willing, but it took some coaching for Van to finally say yes.  It happened that Ken and Pat Wilson belonged and Ken was President.  I danced when asked and tried to follow.  I was enjoying the friendly atmosphere.  It was one place that we were the same, no officers or enlisted policy.  Van finally got to dance and before the night was over, we were members of the Bataan Twirlers.  We dance one night a week.  Later in the year, they had election of officers and Van was elected President.  He decided to ask the Recreation Dept for new equipment.  What we had was ancient.  They approved.  Also the Filipinos were also putting on exhibitions of their style of dancing, so the group wanted to show them the American way of dancing.  We received permission to travel to different areas off base.  We would go by bus.  Our first trip was to Clark Air Force Base.  We joined their group and danced together.  Clark Air Force Base was built in the twenties and had beautiful old homes that were two stories high with a full porch all around the building.  And they were on the three side of the parade grounds.  The Base had been there a long time and it was terrible that it took a volcano to destroy the base.  Mount Pinatubo on the island of Luzon erupted catastrophically in June 1991 after 600 years of inactivity. In a vertical view, the full extent of the eruption is obvious.  A thick layer of ash completely surrounds the crater and the effect of mudflows in this previously heavily forested and agricultural region can be traced as ribbons flowing downhill.  Clark AFB, once the crossroads of the SW Pacific can only partially be seen.


We also danced in many Barrios.  We would arrive at the main Plaza and the men would start to set up the lights and instruments, etc. and the place would be empty.  At our first Barrio, we thought no one is coming.  But just as soon as the music started, they seemed to come out of the woods, hundreds of people, all ages and sizes.  They thoroughly enjoy our exhibition.  The caller was very good, and Bob was calling by this time and he did a good job also.  We’d dance about two hours and then pack everything up and get in the bus and head back to the base.


The Square Dance Association was having a Jamboree in the Manila Hotel and the dancers wanted to attend.  That was the same day that Van had to take the Mark to Manila.  He asked for permission to take the Square Dancers and off we cruised.  We danced on the ship and earned a Ship Dancing Badge.

The Bataan Twirlers arrived at the ballroom of the Manila Hotel a little early.  The group from the States were to arrive soon.  We wanted to get a good look at them and see how the dancing would be.  We soon found out.  In they came, some limping and some with canes.  No problem, we’ll be able to dance with them. However, we soon found out after a few dances that they observed of us, they decided that we were not good enough to dance with them.  So we kept to our group and the other military groups from the area and they danced with their own group.  They hobbled in, but they did okay in the dance department.  They were probably in their sixties or more.  I guess it goes to show that if you want to do something bad enough, you find a way to do it.


We enjoyed our trip there and back on the Mark.  It was an outing that doesn’t happen every day.  Everyone had a good time.  No doubt, that was the first and last trip for square dancing on the Mark.  We were on Manila Bay where a lot of history of WW II took place.  Some places in Manila had never been rebuilt.  It still looked like a war zone.  And the old jeeps that the military used during the war were redecorated quite fancy and were now the taxis in Manila.  Oh, while we were in Manila, we did get the tour the palace of the President.  It was lovely.  One chandelier in the main room was huge.  They said that they had buried it when the war had started to protect it.  They knew where to locate it when the war was over and they restored it and replaced when they finished restoring the palace.  It is the first thing you see when you go up the stairs to the office section.  It takes your breathe away, it is so beautiful.  The palace itself is very beautiful, but not very large.  Not huge like our White House in Washington.


We also toured the National Monument and looked at the many names on the huge black wall.  I found a John Fagan, but no relation to our family.  There are a lot of Fagans all over the world.

Time to get back to the Mark and return to Subic Bay.  It was a great trip and one that doesn’t happened very often in one’s lifetime.  We travel on the right side of the Bay this time and followed the Bataan March road.  Saw several bancas and men fishing.  Passed Corregidor on the left as we left Manila Bay and headed north to Subic.


Subic Bay had a lot of fringe benefits for the staff living there.  The trouble was trying to find time to enjoy them all.  After Manila, it was good to be back  in a regular routine again.  But not for long.  You are home for a few days and start thinking about where to go next.  Someone had talked about Pagsanjan Falls, so Van checked into it, and found out that it was something to see.  We made arrangements that when the Mark was scheduled to go to Manila Bay again, a group of us, including Bob, Dorrie and Carl, would go.


We took the Mark to Sangley Point, then a Special Services bus to make the trip to the Falls.  When we arrived, the boatmen, with their bancas, were waiting for us.  The bancas would hold only 2 people plus the boatman.  The bancas were small wooden canoes carved out of a single log, and we sat on the bottom of the boat.  Carl and I were together.  One wife was scared to death to go with her son, so Van went with her.


The boatmen paddled the bancas all the way up stream through a beautiful gorge with a number of waterfalls cascading from cliffs above.  Several times the boatmen had to get out and pull us up over rocks and shallow places. At the last major fall one can swim in the refreshing water of a big pool.  Everyone dresses for getting wet and put cameras, etc. in plastic. Carl and Van had their swim suits and went swimming with the rest of the group. Some swam  under the falls and dived in cool water.  Carl said that I wouldn’t let him go under the falls.  Maybe I didn’t know how good a swimmer he was then.  He was only ten.


The trip from the falls, was very was interesting.  You rode the rapids back to the bottom of the hill.  It was a wild ride down, water splashing all over.  Everybody got wet but that didn’t matter because it was so hot you would dry right away.  It had taken about an hour and a half to go up stream, but only  took about 25 minutes to go back down!  It was a ride you didn’t forget in a hurry.  But then it was back in the bus and back to the ship.


Another trip we took, when Van could take a few days off, was to Baguio City, the summer capital of Luzon.  We went with the Diazs and their son Fred.  We hired a station wagon from Special Services at Subic that fit the six of us and off we went.  No super highways there, we had to be careful of the animals and people walking in the streets.  When we were close to Baguio, we had to climb the mountain.  All along the side of the mountains were these terraces carved out of the mountains 2000 years ago and used to plant rice. They are one of the Ancient Wonders of the World.

Mule riding in Baguio

The road was so narrow that when a bus wanted to turn a corner, the rear of the bus hung over the side of the road.  The only thing that I remember seeing, besides the rice fields, was a jewelry factory.  The young people were making jewelry out of pure silver.  The silver was a wire from which they created beautiful pins.  I bought several pieces. But they were so fragile.  Dorrie has them now, she asked to have them one time when she came home.  It brought back memories for her.


We did a lot of family trips while we lived in Subic, which was great.  Van and I had quite a few social duties that it was so good to have time and travel with the youngsters.  They have never forgotten Subic and tell stories about their adventures all the time.  They kept busy with school, the pool, the teen club and the movie theatre.  The school also put on a school play every year.  One year Bob was in a play that was a take-off on West Side Story.  They called it The Kalayaan Story.  It was a big hit.


The kids were at the right age to learn, enjoy and remember all the good times they had at Subic.  Things seemed pretty dead when we came back to El Cajon.


Carl loved to fish, so one day he decided to take the bus and go to his favorite fishing spot.  I warned him to be sure to get back in time for dinner.  So off he went.  When dinner time was getting close, no sign of Carl.  Then the phone rang and he wanted to talk to his father.  We though he had gotten into some trouble, but all he said was the bus driver wouldn’t let him on the bus and would Dad pick him up.  We had a good laugh when he arrived home.  The bus driver wouldn’t let him on the bus because he had too many little tiny fishes on his pole.  Our maid, Nina, said she would take them home.  Her family loved all kinds of fish.


The only unhappy news that I remember was from a phone rang one morning while we were all at breakfast.  It was Fred, Bob’s friend, and he suggested that we turn on the radio because it had just reported that President Kennedy was shot and died.  I though that Fred was joking and that it wasn’t funny. But he said that it was true and he wasn’t joking.  Then we heard the radio and realized that he was telling the truth and we all were stunned.  The whole base was on alert and the Filipinos were all very upset by the tragedy too.  That’s all the base talked about, and many functions were cancelled and everyone was anxious for any kind of news.


The regular routine at the Base continued. I still went to my weekly Mah Jongg game and the kids to school and regular teen functions.  This was the week before Thanksgiving 1963 and the usual preparations were somewhat more somber than usual.  The talk and information continued for weeks.  Nobody could understand or believe such a thing could happen.  The local Filipinos were as sadden as the Americans.


The rainy season in Subic was from July to February, so trip were only planned when the rainy season was over.  When it rained, it would always rain very hard but only a short time.  One time, I drove Nina to the Gate to go home, and it had rained 3 inches in one hour that day.  When the women went to any functions at the Officer’s Club, they would carry their good shoes and wear push-ons and changed when they got to the club.  It was hard to get use to it, but one does.


After the rainy season passed, the trips were usually planned.  The Mark was to take a Marine Group to Corregidor and they had all kinds of misinformation about the island, so Van wrote a booklet about it and the base printed it and  whenever he took another group of Marines, they would receive a copy. 


He also make two other trips to Corregidor, one a group of base personnel and the other a group from High School.  One trip, the kids and I went with Jack and Joan Griggs .  When we arrived at the island, they had big trucks that hauled the visitors around to see what had  happened during the war.  We went into the Malinta Tunnel when the soldiers lived and the hospital where the nurses tried to care for the patients. General Wainwright and several thousands of soldiers had gone to the island to escape the Japanese.  But it didn’t help.  The Japanese were constantly attacking the island and life on Corregidor was unlivable.  After five months of constant shelling, bombing, etc., the Americans could not live in the Melinta Tunnel any longer with the dust, dirt, great black flies and vermin every-where.  And over everything hung the odor of men’s bodies and the hospital.  General Wainwright surrendered, in order to save several thousands of lives of men who would other-wise die. 


And many died anyway on the terrible Bataan March.  No one had the strength to march that long, long road.  Many died on the way, but some were determined that they would finish the trip.  How terrible war is!!!!

On our second trip to Corrigidor with the kids and the school kids was quite eventful also.  After the ship left Grande Island, I noticed how high the waves were.  Joan Griggs was along for this trip too.  Those waves looked like they were 13 ft high and I started to get seasick.  I asked Van if I could go down to the stateroom to lay down.  I did and I wasn’t there l5 minutes until Joan came in feeling terrible too.  Not long after, in came Dorrie.  All three in the bunk beds.  We were there a short while, when I started to feel bettter, so we all went on deck thinking that we had arrived at Corregidor.  But to our surprise we found ourselves passing Grande Island on our way back to port.  Van said that all the high school kids started getting sick and he turned the ship around back to Subic.  The crew had a mess to clean up even so.


Living in Subic kept us busy especially with the weekly routine.  Monday was Square Dancing; Tuesday- Mah Jongg; Wednesday- Bingo; Thursday was usually a Luncheon; Friday was Toastmasters for Van and Toastmistress for me.  Then there was always some ships in port that had to be entertained.  And we also had entertainers from the states come to visit us, Helen O’Connell was one I remember.  Plenty to keep us busy and entertained, and still have all the trips away from Subic. 


The biggest trip from Subic for me was not one but two trips to Hong Kong.  The first one was May 1963 on the Mark.  Jack and Joan Griggs managed to make the trip because Jack was “Sailor on the Year” and that was his reward.  It was a good trip and we had good sailing weather.  No one was sea sick.  Sailing took 52 hours to Hong Kong.  The ship had a large group from the base going and everyone was ready to spend.  Van had an invoice to bring back to Subic 14 pianos.  We bought Dorrie a violin since she was taking lessons in El Cajon and the teacher said that she was very good.


The owner of the piano company took about 6 couples from the ship to dinner after he had made that big piano sale.  The dinner was strictly Chinese and we were served one dish at a time.  He wouldn’t tell us what we were eating until we all tried it.  Everything  tasted pretty good until you know what it is. Joan wore her ChungSam that she had bought earlier and she looked great in it.  She was the star of the evening


We did some shopping  in Hong Kong when you knew where to go. There were street vendors on the sidewalks every where and selling things you wouldn’t believe.  It was very interesting to see and to hear the twinkling of the Mah Jongg ivory tiles everywhere you walked.


Jack’s birthday was in May, so it was decided that we would dress up and go out to someplace special to celebrate.  We had such a good time.  When we were with Jack and Joanne, we would laugh ourselves silly over nothing.  One day Joanne and I wanted to get our hair done.  Van knew this bar tender from the many trips he made to Hong Kong and asked her where we should go.  She said she would take to the shop and tell them what we wanted.  Which she did and left. After we had our shampoos and sets, Joanne said that she had to go to the bathroom.  We tried all kinds of signs, but they still didn’t know what she wanted.  Finally this gal came in, and I assumed that she may speak English. I told what was wrong and she told the hairdresser and they grabbed Joanne and ran her out the back door.  When we left the shop, I asked her where they had taken her.  She said that she ran down the alley and then she was pointed to a place.  She said that it was a hole in the dirt with marks for footprints on the side.  Really primitive.


Most of the places that we went to dinner, were very nice, and always has a show.  Dancers in very colorful customs and singers too.  But the shows were very much the same everywhere we went.  Not much variety and they got to be boring after the third show.  But the trip to Hong Kong is something one never forgets.  The cruise on the Mark was so relaxing and so pleasant, and the seas were nice and calm.


The second trip to Hong Kong in 1964  was different than the first.  We travel with a group of wives from the base and they counted on Van as to where to go and where to eat.  One gal insisted of having a Peking Duck dinner.  Van found out where the restaurant that specialized with Peking Duck, and she invited us to go with her and several other wives.  She ordered to Duck and they brought in a whole Duck and cut the slices right at the table for everyone.  When the waiter served everyone, he started to take the rest of the Duck out.  That was not to be, the gal that ordered to Duck insisted that the Duck stay at the table.  She also insisted that she take the rest of the Duck back to the hotel with her.  The waiter was furious, but she finally won.  When we all left with the wrapped Duck, she checked it out.  She found out that the only part of the Duck that was cooked was what the waiter had cut for us.  The rest of the Duck was raw.  She couldn’t believe it.  She gave it to the helpers in the hotel where she was staying.  They were very thankful.


Bob had gone to Hong Kong too while we were in Subic.  He went with the Boy Scout.  He didn’t  have a uniform, so we had to buy one  He had to have it to go.  When it finally arrived from where they purchased it, it was huge.  He had to make it do, since there wasn’t any time to send it back.  He had a good time, but he didn’t like sleeping on the flight pad.  Said it was very noisy, cold and damp.


One week-end, the base had almost 90 ships in the harbor.  At first, all I could think of was Pearl Harbor and what happened there.  We had to entertain five Aussies that week-end  The Club would be over crowded and too expensive for us to pay for the five Aussies and ourselves, so Van invited them out to the house.  They were very nice and sociable and I was busy in the kitchen.  When all the vegetables etc. were done, I went to take the roast our of the oven.  It was not cooked.!!!  The oven was broken.  I called Van  in to tell him and what could we do.  Well, it so happened that we stocked up on some good steaks.  Van told the group that there would be a short delay and told them what had happened.  They were a hungry bunch and had plenty to eat.  After dinner and clean up, we played Tripoli and they enjoyed playing the game.


Bob and Fred had birthdays in May 1964 .  It was their eighteen birthday and they both had to go to Manila to the Embassy to register for the draft.  The Brule was on duty and they took the Brule to go.  Their trip over was okay and they got to the Embassy and registered.   But the day they were to return to Subic, there was a big storm watch.  Waves were very high and the rain was heavy.  We hoped that the ship would wait for the storm to pass before sailing.  But the Captain had different ideas, he kept to the schedule.  When the boys arrived home, they were exhausted.  Bob rode the trip okay, but poor Fred was very seasick all the way.


Our time in Subic was beginning to be short.  Van’s transfer orders were for July1964.  There were some places we wanted to visit and Bob was about to graduate from George Dewey High School in June and the graduates were going to fly to Davoe in another island for their final trip.  Graduation was done with all the pomp and celebration that goes on in the states. One of the graduates was the Admiral’s daughter, so they decided to have the celebration at the Officer’s Club.  Some people objected to having  non-officers in the club, but the Admiral was the boss and the party went on.  It was a very rainy night and that also caused a lot of confusion.  He kids had a good time regardless and ever now they try to have reunions of the classmates ever so often. 


Van’s old ship the USS Bennington came into port while we were there and we entertain about l5 men almost every night.  There were so many other ships in port, they said, and no room at the O Club, so we were kept busy.  I was so happy to see them leave.  But before they left, they decided to take us to the O Club in Cubi.  I was the only woman, so I danced all night long, with a different  partner.  I even did the poker, the way it is supposed to be danced.  Didn’t know I had it in me.


Another trip the family took on the Mark to Manila, Carl got the scare of his life.  He was at the helm of the ship and everything was going fine, when the automatic steering on the helm broke.  Carl went flying.  Van and the other sailor on watch ran and caught the wheel and it took all their strength to get the ship on course again.  It started heading for the shore when it broke.  Carl was so upset.  He thought he had done something wrong.  Van had it fixed when were arrived at Sangley Point.


One week before we were ready to fly back to the states, the island had a typhoon(hurricane) hit the island.  Everything had to be secured until it was over.  They knew it was coming and Van had the ship moved to a safer place and everything tied down, so it was okay for him to come home.  The next day the wind and rain was terrific. The base called to have him come back to the ship.  He couldn’t because the roads and wind were terrible.  As luck would have it, his replacement was staying in the officer’s quarters.  All he had to do was go across the street and take care of what needed to be done.  We were sure happy to see the storm blow itself out and the base settled down because it was time for us to fly home to the USA.  Many farewell parties and goodbyes.


Bob - Carl - Dorrie 1963

It was a wonderful tour of duty and we make many friends, but it was good to be on our way home to the USA.


We flew from Cubi Point to Hawaii and then to Fairfield, CA where Travis Air Base is located.  From there, we rode a bus to San Francisco Air Field and from there, we flew to San Diego.  The Armstrong we at the airport to meet us and drive us to El Cajon.


updated: 20.11.2011