THE "Sea Stories" of PROVIDENCE

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I have thouroughly enjoyed the Prov. website that you have put together and have read through it many times. My time aboard her was a very memorable experience and one that will never be duplicated. I was an SM3 signalman during the years of 1971 through 1972. I always felt honored that our little world up in the signal shack was the best place on the ship next to the mess hall. On cold nights you might see many guys come through for a cup of coffee and sharing a little warmth from the forward smoke stack which made up one of the walls of our little abode. One of the funnest things I remember is when we picked up new recruits in the Phillipines and for them, being their first time on a ship, some were a little green when we got out on the open sea. Some of us old-timers, would buy "kipper snacks" from the gedunk store and nonchalantly munch on them in the shack with the doors closed. The results were hilarious and there were many a man who "heaved-to" when the smell permeated the shack! On a more serious note, though, there was more than one occasion where I was a little nervous being in the open during our gun battles. As a signalman we were required to try and spot and locate all of the return fire flashes coming from the enemy, down to the bridge. I know that during the second raid into Haiphong that I became pretty hoarse trying to communicate all of those flashes and listening to all of the "air burst" blowing around us. It was not unusal to hear metal fragments bounce off of the ship during those times. The one place I thoroughly hated was a little island that our ship had to pass by called "tiger island". It seemed that whenever we went by that island we could expect to get some kind of salvo reception from the VC, everytime. The night the Helo went down I was on the bridge behind Capt. Haynes and as we watched the helo come in to land it was so surreal to see the back wheels catch on the side of the ship and then go vertical and slide down the ship into the drink. As soon as it happened Capt. Haynes went rigid just for a second and then started to bark orders for the rescue. I felt pretty bad for the pilot who was, I think, the only one rescued. Other than that it wasn't unusual for some of us signalmen to rig up the ship's flags as hammocks and sleep out in the open on warm nights or play frisbee with our white hats on off days. Vietnam was an interesting experience. Our ship was the best.

I noticed some information about the earlier days of the Prov. when it was tied up next to the U.S.S. Pueblo. I had the fortune of being stationed in Whidbey Island Washington as a Survival Instructor during my first two years of service and was in the same detachment with one of the fellows off of that ship. His name was John Law and he provided a lot of information to us about about his time in captivity with the North Koreans. He was a fun guy but you could tell he was a changed man due to that experience.
Nevertheless, I hope you will put this in the "profile" section as I would like to hear from some of my old ship mates. I do remember you and believe you had come up to the shack once or twice! Please let me know about the reunion in Las Vegas I would love to go.
Kent Utterback


Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 14:47:40 EDT


Thanks for forwarding Kent Utterback's message and please relay my warmest
regards to him. Ask him if he was the signalman who wore the Peaceband?
There is a story about that.

Kent may remember when the TV crew and the NY Times reporter came on board.
When they had finished talking with whomever they wanted to, I was asked to
join them in my sea cabin for a personal interview. Figured for a set up,
anyway went along rather well and then I was asked what I thought about the
Signalman wearing a Peaceband. I replied that his hair was rather long, the
signal bridge was windy and without the Peaceband the hair would blow in his
eyes and he wouldn't be able read the flaghoists! They went away happy, we
made the magazine section of the NY Times, and I was always a bit
disappointed that I never received one letter pro or con!

The night of the helicopter accident was probably the worst experience of my
Navy career. Rem Robinson was a friend and a mentor and Ted Taylor and I had
known each other for many years. In fact, the Taylors and we shared the same
wedding anniversary date. All three aviators survived and only one of the
non-aviators made it out and it was witnessing the death of good friends.
The memory will live with me forever. Ted's wife Joan, passed away a few
years past and lies in peace in the Arlington National Cemetery. She died on
the night Haley's Comet passed and it was said at her funeral that Ted had
come to take her away. I believe that.

Warmest personal regards,
Ken Haynes

From :
To :
CC :
Date : Mon, 1 Jul 2002 22:26:20 EDT

Dear Don and Sam,

Please tell Kent I have no recollection of a letter to the Privateer, but of
course The Captain does not need to know everything!

Great ship, a great ship's company and a time in our lives when we all worked
together as a magnificent team.

Warmest regards,
Ken Haynes


From :
To :
Subject : Providence
Date : Sun, 9 Jun 2002 16:01:42 -0700 (PDT)

Enjoyed looking at your site. I was stationed with 1st Fleet staff in
1970 and 1971 and we were embarked on the USS Providence. I was only
and RMSN back then but it was great looking at the pictures of the ship.

David C. Foster
Bremerton Washington

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