USS Pocono Association
USS Pocono AGC-16/LCC-16/JCC-16
Fact, Fiction, and Stranger than Fiction
From Don Mooney, Com2ndTaskFleet, 48
While serving on Flag ComSECONDTaskFleet (Vice Admiral Donald B. Duncan) aboard Pocono in Persian Gulf waters 1948 the conditions were beyond belief. It was the days of no air-conditioning in ships. In fact, one of the reasons the task force entered the Persian gulf was to ascertain just how men would endure such oppressive heat. "It gets so hot your eyeballs rot in the Persian Gulf Command" went the ditty made immortal in Milt Cannif's serial comics. Indeed!!! We used to wear Frank Buck helmets and allowed to strip to the waist. Get this! Work knocked off at NOONTIME every day due to the heat. Corpsmen were always feeding us pills to combat loss of water. Trying to sleep in the furnace like compartments was to be immersed in clothes drenched with perspiration.
As a yeoman on Admiral Ducan's Flag I had the unique access to his air-conditioned office. I used to take a few guys at a time into the beautifully cool office to sleep nights. I soon became as popular as those guys depicted in movie prisoner-of-war camps. You know the type. Always able to provide some off limits things for the guys. Of course, finally I was found out. Being just an18 year old kid I was terrified when Flag Officers called me up on it. I put on my best shy demeanor and got away with it, promising never to allow unauthorized men into such a cool paradise as the Admiral's air-conditioned office. Now that I'm older I'm sure the officers must have gotten a private kick out of it.
We would get liberty at one of the ports in the gulf and I will never forget the clash of sailors loaded with saved up money playing the oil workers in a recreation hall for their money on pool tables. What a clash. They were a rough and
tough lot and we had no chance to match them in dice. They simply overwhelmed us with their mucho wads of dough. Some bad fist fights too.
A team of UDT guys were aboard ship. They were rough and tough and sure enough fights would ensue in those hellish, broiling compartments. My closest pal, Amando Brigante (as tough as they come) ended up in sick bay as a result of one clash.
I marveled at seeing these UDT training in the waters. You know the scene, popping up at intervals and being scooped up into a rubber raft attached to a speeding boat. I often wondered just what were these guys doing in the Gulf. A little heads up intelligence work?
I know if anyone was on Pocono during all this they will fondly nod and say to themselves, "I remember, who could forget."
Best of luck to one and all.
From Don Mooney, Com2ndTaskFleet, 48
One might say the Pocono Band was on the cutting edge. It was July, 1948. The ship was sailing through the Red Sea on it's way to the Persian Gulf. The time dusk, the location, the stern. Routinely the officers and men would gather there to enjoy the band's music and to view the movie of the night. It has always been a recurring, fond memory of mine. A beet red sun slowly descending behind the stern as the band played the beautiful and certainly appropriate number "La Mer." This number was later to become a hit, basically through the vocals of Bobby Darin. The American name "Somewhere beyond the sea." So there you go guys. Down through the years, whenever that tune is played, one guy always points out that he first heard that way back in 1948 by the band of Pocono. Step aside Bob Hope while I say "thanks for the memory."
Wine Making 101
From Harry Morris, SN, 1st. Div., 64-66
After coming back from Steel Pike and going into the yards for repairs, we made a shake down to Gitmo in early spring. While under way, my buddy was doing mess duty when he decided to brew up some raisin jack. He made a still from the garbage cans and kept it in the garbage locker. It was the perfect place. Who in the world would want to go in there? Especially the officers. Best darn secret on board. Sure made the nights interesting.
From Phil Richter, RD2, OI Div., 66-70
During the early part of 1968, while coming back from operation "Solid Shield", we hit a fierce storm off Diamond Shoals. The safe in the Captains office broke loose, chased the Yeoman around the office, until he jumped through the opened top half of the dutch doors of the office. We had been told that Pocono would not recover from a roll of 41 Degrees, but that night
we recorded 44 degrees on the Bridge Clinometer. Scared the living hell out of all of us.
From Rick Bream, BM2, 2nd. Div., 68-71
The safe in the Captain's office wasn't the only thing that broke loose that morning. I had the morning messenger watch on the bridge that day. We had been told to make our way to the bridge through below decks because of the weather. On the Mess deck the milk machines were sliding all over the place, along with salt and pepper shakers. It was a real mess. You had a real
hard time getting through without being hit by something.
Now I had only been aboard Pocono a couple of months so I was new to the ship. I had stood messenger of the watch during the Sea and Anchor detail when we departed Norfolk. During that watch we were to show honors to another ship passing. Captain Barkley gave the order to dip the flag to the aft boat crew. The dip took too long and he ordered me to go get the coxswain of the boat crew. Since I was new to the Fleet and Captain Barkley seemed to be the type of Captain that never took "NO" for an answer and if he told you to jump, you better jump high enough the first time. So I went to get the coxswain. When we returned to the wing of the bridge Captain Barkley held Captain's mass on the coxswain and gave him three (3) days bread and water. See I told you he wasn't a man to mess with. As I approached the bridge I passed the Captain's cabin. The door was open and there in the middle of the room was Captain Barkley in his skivvies jumping over something that slid toward him. Well of course it was funny but did I laugh, hell no, when he looked at me I just rang up full speed ahead and moved on out.
It wasn't long after that Captain Barkley came to the bridge (fully dressed) and ordered a course change. That's when we rode out the 44 degree roll. As Pocono took the roll and before she started back for a couple of seconds she just set there and shook, like she was trying to make up her mind if she was going to stay up. Standing there you could look to your right and see nothing but water, looking to your left you could see nothing but sky. But Pocono stood tall and brought her crew through the storm. Yes, it scared the hell out of all of us.
From Ralph Sweet, RM3, Comphiblant, 55-57
I think I can make this one clean enough especially since it concerns going to the bathroom anyway. Some of you may remember the old Pocono did not have the best in amenities and probably the worst of the bunch was the heads and berthing areas. The heads (bathrooms for spouses and others who don't remember the technical term) were the worst as far as privacy was concerned. No doors on the stalls just sides so you didn't touch the guy beside you. No comodes, just slats over a long trough with water running through it and you can imagine 8 to 10 persons sitting in a row. Well once in a while we would pull a trick on someone as they were sitting on the think tank down at the far end where the water ran under them. Someone would take a small amount of toiler paper and set it on fire and float it down under the person. What a hot seat and surprise. It wasn't enough to injure anyone or cause damage since it was floating in water, but it sure made them jump high. It was one of those things you could pull on new guys, but you wised up to that one real quick.
I'm sure everyone has heard of the old mail buoy trick played on many a new seaman on board. Well this one has a new twist. As usual the new person was placed on mail buoy watch, rough seas, rainy night, long pole to catch the buoy...etc...but as the sailor caught on and returned below, he was met by a bunkmate who had picked up some mail which had been sent to his berthing area later than others because he was new. As he continued to put up his mail buoy catching items, one of the persons who had arranged for his mail duty saw him and asked if he had caught the mail buoy. The sailor held up his late letter and said "Yes sir, but I was the only one who had mail on it."
From John M. Burney SN, 2nd. Div., 59-61
We were called back early from leave for Castro's July 26th movement 1961(which he did squat) and operated with an enormous task force in the vicinity of Cuba. The Pocono got liberty in San Juan,and I had read an article in Navy Times about some submariners off the Nautilus that pulled of a scam in Bermuda.As we all know, those guys get the best liberty. Determined to beat them, I acquired a British Major's Uniform, and after a mild success in the Hilton Casino, I got a room, or rather, Major MacIvers got a room. Accompanied by his aides, (Vince Pacetti,and Perkins) we proceeded to have a mega party in the room with ALL the trimings, and of course, girls. AHHH, food, drink, women, what more could a sailor ask for.We folded our tents very late that evening or morning, went to a miserable shack on the beach where we had stored our own uniforms,changed and headed back to the Pocono. It topped the Nautilus and we were the pride of the Pocono. Lt.O'Reilly personally congratulated us.
From Ronald B. Harvey MM3, M Div., 63-65
I was in A Div. during patrol on a LCVP during Operation Steel Pike One. I was the boat engine man on patrol when we spotted an octopus in the water. We picked it up and took it back aboard but the Officer on duty would not let us bring it on board. He was afraid it would hurt the gator (Spike).