"Sea Stories" of PROVIDENCE
EXPERIENCES, PERCEPTIONS, MEMORIES AND POINTS OF INTEREST AND CLARIFICATIONS
AND INTERPRETATIONS OF VARIOUS TOPICS PAST AND PRESENT BY THE CREW.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO MAKE COMMENTS.
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 1999 2:01 PM
Remembrances of a "Salty Sailor"
USS PROVIDENCE CL82
To: Donald Lyons
How about the time we visited Providence, Rhode Island , Oct. 15, 1945?
I have several pictures, newspaper stories on that incident. I sure
remember there weren't hardly any spoons left after so many were given
to the girls (as bracelets) with the USN on them. I'll bet many are
still in possission as a keepsake of now old women.
Another one is the storm crossing the Atlantic when all the coffee mugs
got smashed in the mess hall. One of the first things I did in Naples
was buy a small flower vase and used it as a coffee cup.
How about the kids that lived in the sewer along side CL 82, Naples;
and how the mess cooks would throw left over food to them.
The night we were re- routed to Stromboli Island to pick up survivors
if the volcano got any worse throwing lava in the air.
How we (well, some guys including me) while CL 82 was in dry dock(Boston)
would put our dress blues in the bottom of a bucket, dirty laundry on
top, ask permission "to go ashore to wash clothes, sir" change into
dress blues in the laundry room and take off until before muster the
next day? I used my membership card in the Collegiate (San Diego) Dance
Club which had a saddle shoe on the face of it as ID to get past the
Marine Gate Sentry. I still got a Good Conduct medal.
The people of Providence, Rhode Island gave the officers the silver
coffee service and the crew an ice cream machine. I have a photo of
the coffee service (as a commissioning gift).
I kept only one record from my Dusty Dustin Show when Capt. Jackson
"volunteered" me to be a sort of disc jockey. That music was very popular
with the crew and I had a blast doing it. I have a copy of Vol 1 No.
1 of the Jolly Roger (May 15, 1945) which, if you want, I'll include
"Laugh alone and the world thinks you're an idiot"
Dusty (Carl Dustin)
USS Providence Webmaster
Wed, 28 Apr 1999 22:51:51 -0600
John Bunn <jbunn@NMSU.Edu>
They say the knees go first, but I think it is the memory
that goes first. My recollection of the helo crash is that the
Providence was somewhere off of the Chinese island of Hainan.
It was night time, I remember I had just hit the sack. The CPO
quarters was just below the helo deck , on the opposite
side of the ship from where the helo hit. I remember it as the
helo was supposed to have lost power just a few feet from the
helo deck, struck the side ship, flipped over and landed upside
down in the water. I heard the chopper blades digging into side
of the ship, it sounded like a BIG chain being dragged across the
helo deck. There definitely were chunks on the side of the ship where
the blades struck. I seem to remember that the crew of the helo
survived. The admiral and his staff were lost because as the helo
was coming in, they had removed their seat straps and were preparing
to disembark the helo. I think manoverboard was passed, I remember
having to go to the OE Division 'ET Shop' which is only accessed
from the weather decks, and it was dark, dark out.
I sure thought the Providence made more than one raid on
Haiphong Harbor. The ship would head north from the gunline and
the "shootin" would start around midnight. Afterwards, the ship
would get back on station in EARLY morning. The CPO mess would have
what BTC Jim Bullock called a "cowboy breakfast", plates of pancakes,
scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. Mighty good. Many years later I kind
of thought of the cowboy breakfasts as a Pavlov's Dog drill. The one
north I do remember, the Providence went north with the Newport News
several destroyers. Four North Vietnamese small boats made the unfortunate
mistake of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They more than
likely were coming back from a fishing trip, but they caught hell from
everybody, even the Air Force got in the act. One or two were sunk and
the others limped away. One of the chief's who was on the bridge said
the Newport News and company looked like a fourth of July display.
I was curious if anyone remembers if "PIRAZ" and "Yankee Station"
were one in the same. Prior to the Providence, I was on the USS Jouett
(DLG-29) and the ship would be on station at PIRAZ, providing radar
survelience by steaming continously in a one mile square. I thought
PIRAZ was north of Yankee Station but can't be sure.
Really enjoy your web site, hope you can keep it live. If help
could be provided, please let me know.
John Bunn ETCM USN (Ret)
Rememberances of Captain Kenneth Veth, first CO of CLG-6
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 12:38:16 EDT
I remember Captain Veth well. As a PNC during pre-com training at Norfolk
summer of 1959, I was pitching on our pre-com fast-pitch softball team,
CDR Ken Simmons catching, and happened to pitch a no-hitter against
the Norfolk-based ships. Captain Veth, up at the ship in Boston, heard
it and, being the big sports-enthusiast that he was, had me transferred
Boston because the 'main team' was just entering into serious competition.
drove up to Boston with barely enough time to dig my spikes and glove
my cruise box and meet our coach, Gunner Hartley, and get to the diamond
toss a few warm-up pitches before the game began. I didn't know any
team mates and was anxious and nervous as heck -- and promptly got knocked
off the mound!!! Embarassing to say the least -- but Captain Veth was
forgiving sole... On 16 Dec 1959 he promoted me to PNCS on the quarterdeck
and later recommended me for commission, which I received in the captains
office after Captain Veth had been transferred as a Rear Admiral. His
flag was as Commander of a Cruiser Division. He also served as Navy
legislative affairs; as Commander Mine Forces in Charleston; and shortly
after I finished an in-country tour with Naval Advisory Group, Vietnam/Naval
Forces Vietnam, RADM Veth became Commander Naval Forces Vietnam. Had
he was coming, I would have asked for a back-to-back tour to serve with
I don't know what happened to him after his Vietnam tour (heck, I hardly
know what happened to ME after my Vietnam tour), but he was truly one
top-notch officer and gentleman that any of us who ever served under
would have followed to hell and back. With his beat-up chevy in Boston,
was always quick to stop and pick up any Providence sailor walking toward
gate or ship and give them a ride and ask how they were doing. I knew
I respected and admired more than Admiral Kenneth L. Veth.....
Lloyd Dunton, LCDR (LDO) USN (Retired)
Re: First Skipper of CLG 6
Wed, 14 Apr 1999 18:13:44 EDT
Charles Sullivan USMC
Hello Don & Sam
Vice Admiral Kenneth Leroy Veth was some skipper. I have many fond
memories of him. When I was a 20 year old Marine, I was his orderly.
When he was the skipper of the Providence he was a 48 year old bachelor
and drove a ratty 1954 Chevrolet. He was from Minot, SD and an Academy
graduate. I was facinated by him. When he left Providence, he went to
ComMinePac. When I left the Marines, we exchanged Christmas cards for
a few years. When last I heard from him he was a Vice Admiral at the
Philadelphia Navy Yard. When our 1998 reunion at St. Petersburg was
forming up, I thought it would be great to get him to attend. I asked
a friend who is on the staff at the Naval War College to try to locate
Admiral Veth. Try as he did, he could only come up with an archives
photo from a meeting in Vietnam during the late sixties.
We deduced that the admiral was no longer with us. I wish I had more
to offer. The "Captain Veth" that we remember was one of many fine people
that served as a role model for me during the rest of my 4 years as
a Marine and then 30 years of law enforcement.
Subject: Land Story
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999
20:07:19 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Matteson
All our time in Westpac
wasn't spent at sea, nor were we all the time making
Tom Grogan had enrolled
in the 'Foster Child' program and sponsored a little
girl who lived in Kowloon,
across the harbor from Hong Kong.
Well, one time when
we visited there he had made arrangements through the
'Agency' to meet with
his foster daughter and he asked me to go with him.
We met an agent/interpreter
and boarded a bus on the Kowloon side and
started off to visit
his (Grogans) foster daughter. It seemed like we rode
for an awfully long
time on this bus and both Tom and I were getting nervous
and expecting to see
a checkpoint with Communist Chinese guards any minute.
We finally got off the
bus and walked a couple of blocks to a large
apartment complex that
was constructed of concrete and the agent/interpreter
said this was where
the little girl (I can't remember her name) and her
family lived, thanks
to Tom's contribution of a couple dollars a month.
There was a family of
8 living in a 3 room apartment and we learned through
that it was only because of Grogan adopting the little
girl that they were
able to live so nicely. We stayed for a bit and had some
tea and invited the
girl and her mother to have lunch with us the next day
at the floating restaurant
at Aberdeen. They agreed and it was arranged that
we would meet them there
along with the agent/interpreter.
We had a very nice
lunch which the agent/interpreter ordered for us and it
was served family style
and I don't think it cost Tom and I more than about
6 dollars US each..
When we were finished eating the waiter brought a bowl
of tea and set it in
front of me and then kind of stood there waiting. Not
knowing what else to
do I picked it up and started to take a drink when the
me and explained it was for washing our fingers in
to remove the fish smell
from our hands. Well, blow me down! I'm sure the
Chinese had a good laugh
That was a very enjoyable
liberty call for me and one I'm sure Grogan
remembers too. I wonder
what ever happened to the girl. She was about 10
years old at the time.
I have been racking what little brain I have to remember the CO who
the ship when I first got there. I finally hit pay dirt! His name was
I believe he went on to make Rear Admiral and later on was president
Washington DC based Defense Watch Dog organization. I don't remember
name of it any more. Anyway, he preceeded Capt. Tisdale. I remember
evening when I had only been aboard for a month or so when I was working
late in WDS and realized that the chow line was about to secure, so
down to the mess decks to eat and discovered that the mess line had
been secured. Well I trudged back up to the 02 level cussing and fuming
at the top of the Stbd. weather deck ladder I met this older guy in
suit who asked me what the problem was. I told him I had been working
missed chow. He asked me if I thought it would help if the BMOW was
the word "The mess line will secure in 5 minutes"? I allowed as how
be a good idea if there was any way to make that happen. You can imagine
surprise the next day when I heard the BMOW anounce "The mess line will
secure in 5 minutes". I told FTM1 Hendrickson (our LPO at the time)
and he said "Yeah, that OLD GUY you met at the top of the ladder was
Captain". He used to come up just about every evening and work out with
weight set that was set up just aft of the barbette of Director 6. I
recognized him the next time I saw him!!!
Smoking lamp was out,
all white lights were off, only red light could be used throughout the
ship. We were getting close to our destination in the Tonkin Gulf. It
appeared that helos were landing on the fantail and dropping off personal
for planning in the war room or CIC. This mission included a number of
ships of the 7th fleet.
That night it happened,
a helo trying to land on the fantail touched down to close to the edge
of the ship and plunged over the starboard side with the whole crew.
It sunk like a rock. I understand there were no survivors. I remember
approximately 6 small boats in the water in a slow quiet search in the
dark with only red lights illuminating the sea. Providence was just
floating lifeless on the sea as the search continued for several hours.
I could sense our vulnerability in the water as we were in enemy waters,
but the a thorough search was made just the same. It was cold that night,
the search seemed to last a long time; you could barely make out the
small boats under red lights. They had on those hard hats and life jackets
with their eyes to the water.
Hours later, we were
underway again to hyphong harbor on our mission. As we got closer I
remember seeing bright lights flickering and glowing in the distance.
It looked beautiful as if someone were celebrating a 4th of July or
something of that sort. Then I was enlightened that shore guns were
firing at the ship and that we were out of range at this time. We were
approaching our target off Hyphong Harbor. It was reality time, I was
on a ship somewhere off north vietnam and it was time for general quarters.
I was down in the computer
room for GQ and soon could hear rocks being thrown against the hull
of the ship and soon realized that it was shrapnel from exploding projectiles.
I understand we made a few assaults on the mainland and inflicted good
damage. All the ships then left the area in the zigzag formation till
we reached safe waters. The ship was vibrating from the engine and prop
noise as we steamed away. It was hard to get good info on this happening
for it seems that info is given on a need to know basis and an E-4 doesn't
need to know noth'in. Know what I mean?
Sam Villa Ftm-3
Subject: Ahoy again
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999
From: "Lyons" <email@example.com
To: "Sam Villa" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I was not familiar
with the aircraft launcher. I believe it was launched with a 5 inch
unarmed shell. The airplanes were SC-1s, recon type. We took them back
on board with a sled them hauled in close so the crane could pick them
up. The pilot always got out on the wing because if the sled hit rough
water the plane could take a dive. One did, we lost the plane, but not
Sorry to say but I
didn't make any pictures of the ship while I was aboard. I didn't own
a camera and if I recall correctly at that time pictures of the ship
were not allowed. We also did not wear the name of the ship on our dress
I am in touch with
a couple of guys who were on board when I was. I will contact them and
see if they have any pics. They were Fire Control men, who used to come
up to the radio transmitter room to hang out. We had great laughs used
a wire recorder that was in the xmtr rm, but I don't know why it was
there, we never used it. I think they came up to see me 'cause I had
some 100 proof alcohol used to clean radio crystals, which we tapped
every now and then. I only had a gallon, which by the way never did
see any crystals.
When it was nearly
gone. I sent a requisition in the radio officer for more. I ordered
a 5 gallon can. He came back to the xmtr rm and wanted to know why I
needed so much. I told him I had a lot of crystal to clean. He cut the
order to one gallon. It too never saw a crystal. I was really stingy
with that gallon.
During our shakedown,
a sister ship, I've forgotten her name and number, lost her bow. Chain
locker and all. When we got back to port her bow was reinforced. Another
thing that was wrong was she was top heavy. During the shake down we
made full ahead right and left hand turns. She listed so badly during
those turns I was sure she was going over. The hatch to the radio xmtr
room had six dogs on it; when we were making the hard turns, I would
close only one dog and would keep my life vest on.
A couple times I undogged
the hatch and was out on deck knowing for sure she was going over. Of
course she never did.
When we got back to
port the armour plate on the five and six gun mounts were reduced. Everthing
above the water line that could be lightened was. I had a work bench
in the xmtr rm that had a steel top. It was replaced with plywood.
The Providence and
her sister ship were the first ones to have fire-controlled 40 mm guns.
I think that added to the weight too.
Nuff of that for now.
Will trade sea stories with you again sometime.
DJ (Donald Lyons)
Hi Don Harribine,
I see Lee Ingraham
sent you an E-mail about my query about getting on the
Providence plank owners
I was assigned to the
Prov. while she was still under construction at the Quincy shipyards
in Mass. We took her around to Boston for commissioning. I recall, the
morning after we got there, looking over at the dock and seeing all
those sailors waiting to board. I said to my
buddy, where in the
hell are they going to put all those sailors.
Well as they went aboard,
they just disappeared. Some I never did see again. I stayed
aboard during the shakedown
and the training cruise. Then after VJ day took a
discharge from active
duty and went home to the family.
Sometimes I wish I
had stayed aboard. Have great memories of the Providence and my shipmates.
I am going to try to
meet on the ProvChatRoom. My nickname is "grotey", I
tried several others
but all were already used so thought no one would have
this one. So guess I
am stuck with it.
Hope to see you later
Don. In the meantime smooth sailing,
DJ (Donald Lyons)
Thu, 11 Mar 1999 16:53:56
I really do enjoy browsing
through the Providence web site and reading the
sea stories. Reading
your latest one put me in mind of the evening off the
coast of the DMZ when
I came up to Weapons Control to relieve the watch.
The sun had just gone
down and it was getting dark when I walked across the
02 level, (successfully
stepping over all the tiedown chains of the vehicles
parked there) and as
I reached for the dog on the weatherdeck door I looked
aft and there in our
wake I saw a splash, and then another and another and
they were getting closer!
I was kind of hypnotized watching the splashes
come up the wake and
was torn between watching them and wanting to get
inside the skin of the
ship. I finally had an attack of common sense and
hollered at the aft
lookout and pointed at the splashes and went inside as
he was relaying the
word to the bridge. By the time I got inside and got the
door dogged down we
could feel the screws biting in and we hauled butt while
the 6" turret provided
I don't know if we
ever found out whether we "got their range" or got "out
of range" but it was
exciting for a while.
Thanks again for this
great web site,
Mon, 8 Mar 1999 11:55:13
From: Reighley Jack
To: "'Sam Villa'" <email@example.com>
Right now all the information
I have at hand is that the reunion is in
Covington, KY in August,
1999. It is being chaired by Bill McCubbin.
When we get past this
reunion, I will have a little more information on
the one in Kansas City
in May 2001. I am the chair of that reunion.
I already have a hotel
picked out, but haven't signed the contract yet,
we are still in negotiations,
but the dates are May 24 through 27, 2001.
There is no "official"
name of the organization, but we have more or less
settled on "USS Providence
(CL-82/CLG-6) Association" for now. I have
suggested that we try
to nominate a board of directors at this next reunion
to get a little structure.
I was a Radarman on
the Prov from when I boarded her in Nov, 1966 until my
discharge as an RD2
in Jan, 1970. I was on her when she had the gun battle
with the shore battery
on Cap Lay just north of the DMZ, and when she broke
down the wall of Hue
in the Tet offensive. We went to North Korea when the
Pueblo was hijacked
(I also did some shore battery training in the same
building in San Diego
that the Pueblo crew was being debriefed in after
their return). Incidentally,
did you see the picture of the Pueblo in the
'68-'69 cruise book?
Look for the picture of the Providence in Yokosuka
with her Christmas lights
all strung out. The bow if the Pueblo (AGER-2) is
in the foreground. She
was hijacked shortly after the picture was taken.
The pier that the Providence
tied up to in Yokosuka is the hull of an
Heavy Cruiser that was sunk during WWII.
I am second from the
right, with the bottle of Akamada Wine (remember that
stuff??) on my shoulder
and the drink in my hand. I will have to get you a
list of the other guys
later (at home also, I just happened to have a copy
of the picture of it
on my PC here at work).
Re: Signed Guestbook
Mon, 08 Mar 1999 21:19:05
"Jesse W. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sam Villa <email@example.com>
Sam. I remember all
too well. I was in the Chiefs Mess which was just
forward of the flight
Found your pic in the
Cruise book. It's nice to be able to put a face to a
name, especially after
so many years. If you have a Cruise book, check out
pages 185 and 189.
Stay in touch. Seems
like we have a lot of things to swap sea stories
Sun, 7 Feb 1999 09:48:08
Michael Matteson <MichaelM@nhcorp.com>
Sam Villa <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Well, I found my picture
after you gave me more specific directions.
You asked me if I had
any recollections of the Providence's participation in
the Pueblo incident.
I used to have pretty much of a day by day diary that I
kept while we were over
there but I lost it somewhere along the way. My
memories aren't going
to be accurate down to the day.
We had gotten underway
from Yokosuka in early January of '68 and went down
to the gun line for
a couple of weeks.
The day we pulled off
the gun line we were supposed to head south for a 6
day stay in Subic Bay
and then we were scheduled to steam up to Hong Kong
for 5 days of liberty.
Our usual transit speed was about 12 knots and we had
set condition IV steaming
watches and were headed for Subic.
About supper time we
felt the ship increase speed and wondered what was
going on. It didn't
take long for the word to leak out of the radio room
that one of our ships
had been attacked by the North Koreans while it was in
and we were going somewhere in a hurry.
Without ever actually
saying 'why' the word was put out that we would be
stopping in Subic just
long enough to take on fuel and supplies and then
getting underway again.
There would be no liberty call.
As I recall, we were
in Subic about 18 hours and then got underway again
heading northeast at
a high rate of speed. (Prov could do about 35 kts at
full power & with
a clean hull) Still no official word about what was going on!
We steamed for several
days, I can't remember just how many, and were
instructed to winterize
all our topside equipment and all topside
watchstanders were issued
cold weather gear, but no official word on where
we were going.
We rendezvoused with
an oiler in the vicinity of Okinawa and I remember
hearing that we had
taken on 750,000 gallons of fuel. Anyway we were advised
that the oiler would
take our mail and it would be the last mail that would
leave the ship for an
undetermined period of time. After the mail had
transferred and we left
the oiler, the Captain came on the 1MC and told us
we were going to be
heading up a Task Force to go into the vicinity of North
Korea. (Big suprise!)
As we transited closer
to the Japanese islands there was a news helo that
came out and over flew
the ship and took pictures. It wasn't a big secret to
the rest of the world
where Providence was anymore!
Very soon we hooked
up with USS Canberra CAG-2 and a couple of destroyers (I
can't remember which
ones) set condition III watches and went up north. Of
course I didn't know
exactly where we were but it was cold and it snowed a
lot. I remember I had
to go to the bridge one day and I asked the Captain if
he thought we would
have to put chains on. I was never sure if he saw the
same humor in that,
that I did.
Max output from the
rumor mill was the only thing we ever saw happen for the
next couple of weeks
and pretty soon we headed south west again headed for
the Gulf of Tonkin because
the Commies had launched their Tet Offensive.
Well, we missed our
6 days in Subic and 5 days in Hong Kong and were headed
back to the gun line.
(I'll never forgive those North Koreans for that)
For some reason during
that time FTM2 E.Z. Moore and I were the only two WDS
technicians aboard so
we relieved each other watch on and watch off whenever
the ship was at condition
III and in addition to that I was Safety P.O. on
the forward rearming
station during underway rearming. At that time we were
shooting all the 6 inch
ammo we could get and it was hard to come by.
Sometimes we would have
to rearm two or three times in one 24 hr period if
we could find AE's that
had 6 inch ammo and it always seemed like the
rearming detail was
set when I was off watch. I don't know how many rounds
we fired in support
of the Marines at Hue but I do remember that our fire
was needed at just about
the Max range of the 6 inch guns and there were
times it seemed if we
got any closer to the beach we would need wheels! I
was one tired puppy
by the time we headed back to Yokosuka.
When we pulled back
into Yokosuka toward the end of February we had been 50
days without liberty
call. Of course some of the old Chief's said that was
nothing, "Why, back
in the Old Navy---"
I beat that record myself
a couple of times later on when things got stirred
up in the Middle East
but it was enough of an excuse to go over and drink a
beer or 8 at the time!
Hope this helps out
in filling some room for the Providence Web page. Maybe
one of the other addees
can supplement my memory too.
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