About the Spirit

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This blog started out with "about me" in the title. My whole life has been "about me". I hope that the entries that I make will be about the Spirit and how He has changed my life because it has always been about Him and how He works through us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

USS Borie DD-704


After about six months in Portsmouth we finally went to sea in I think it was June 1962. Our first "cruise" was with the families of all the sailors aboard. We just took a short trip around the harbor. The water was as calm as it could be and resembled a table top as we dropped the last mooring line in the water and the captain ordered all ahead one third. We weren't out five minutes and I got sea sick. I was so sick...I didn't think I would ever be able to sail and that's all I wanted to do. I didn't realize at the time that the Navy didn't care how my tummy was feeling, I was going to sea even if I had to puke my way across the Atlantic.

After about a week of taking on stores (food) and ammo we headed for Guantanamo (Gitmo) for what the Navy cal
ls a "shake down" cruise. Which in civilian terms means that we were going to go through a lot of training with little sleep in the heat of the Caribbean in the middle of summer. I didn't think it was going to be hard but it was like going through boot camp again. This time however, it was a lot of "what ifs" training...what if the ship was sinking, what would you do? what if the engine room took a torpedo what would you do? That kind of stuff. Most of the old salts knew what was going on and it didn't take us long to learn what our jobs were during war. I was very disheartening however when you go through all that training and a wisened sailor who fought in the second world war says that most destroyers (tincans) sank within a minute of being struck by a bomb and if a torpedo struck the engine room you had better make sure your life insurance was caught up because you will never make it out alive. Preparing for a nuclear attack was the worst. The engine rooms were already 120 degrees and you had to shut off all the vents. We took salts tablets to keep from dehydrating and some of us passed out and had to be dragged topside to get fresh air.


We spent some time shooting our five inch guns at targets that were painted on an island. They never told us when they were going to shoot them off so we were taken by surprise and didn't have time to protect our ears. Some of us lost hearing for several minutes which led to hearing loss later in life.

After getting all that training we headed h
ome to Norfolk were we all went on leave before leaving for the Mediterranean Sea. I was looking forward to the cruise except for the rough seas. Some of the guys told me that it could get so rough that the waves could get twenty feet high and I, who gets sea sick standing of a pier, wasn't looking forward to it.

We were a part of a fleet that was leaving Norfolk and I'm not sure how many ships were in the fleet but I know it was over fifty. I was told it takes seven days to get across the Atlantic. After we were out for a couple of days I became a little apprehensive knowing that we were out there alone and had to depend on each other. We learned what it meant to have someone depend on you and sometimes with their very survival. I was standing on the main deck one day looking over the side when one of the older guys came up to me and said "don't worry we're only two miles from land...straight down!" Yeah, that made me feel just great.

Anyway, the thing that I fearing the most... a storm at sea, struck about five days out. It was a hurricane. It lasted for days. The ship was taking unbelievable rolls and had us literally walking on the bulkheads (walls) and trussing (tying) ourselves into our racks where we trying to get some rest. The old salts had a ball with this. Most of them weren't sick and would walk by you eating something that smelled and looked bad or would send the younger guys to the bilges to find out how high the water was. Once you saw and heard that water slouching from one side of the ship to the other you got sick all over again. Some of us were actually carrying a bucket around with us. You couldn't go outside because the ship was under water most of the time. Lines were strung outside so that the guys that had to could get around by hanging on to the line. Funny thing is we never saw another ship during the storm and the waves were something that you wouldn't think was possible. The storm followed us across the Atlantic and we never had any relief until we sailed through the Straights of Gibraltar. I'll never forget that morning. It went from violent seas to calm in a matter of minutes. We were below decks and ran outside for the first time in a week. The sea was beautiful with all the ships on the horizon and dolphins jumping in and out of the waves that was left by our ship.

The Med cruise was wonderful. Here's a list of
some of the ports we visited:

Catragena, Spain


Naples, Italy



Cannes, France


Bormes, France

I could go on and on posting pictures of the beautiful ports we visited but if I do that this blog entry would five pages long.

Here are all the rest of the ports visited the summer of 1962:

Toulon, France............................................... Gulfe Juan, France
Corfu, Greece ..................................................Tarento, Italy
Rhodes, Greece................................................Beirut, Lebanon
Panza, Italy .....................................................Pompeii, Italy
Serento, Italy ..................................................Gaeta, Italy
Rome, Italy .....................................................Vatican City
Palma, Mallorca .............................................Rota, Spain
Karachi, Pakistan.......................................... Suda Bay, Crete
Lido, Italy ......................................................Venice, Italy
Port Said, Egypt .............................................Port Suez, Egypt
Aden, Saudi Arabia .......................................Patras, Greece
Portsmouth, England ....................................Copenhagen, Denmark
Kiel Canal, Germany .....................................Turku, Finland

After we came home in October 1962 we were only in port for several weeks when we were called to sea once more...this time maybe...to war!


My next entry will be titled The Cuban Missile Crisis

2 comments:

antoinette said...

i just stumbled across your blog and really enjoyed reading about your time on the Borie.

i believe my late father was a radioman on this ship during this time period.

sadly, i never had the chance to ask him in-depth about his Navy career.

thanks for sharing your story!

-toni

Lee said...

Antionette:
I was a radioman during this period. What was you late Dad's name.
Call me area code 606 928 2292
Lee Prather RM2 Ashland Ky