In Wisconsin, United States
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September 18, 1972 First Log.
1344 - Received orders to report for duty to the U.S.S. Schenectady (LST 1185). I was to be aboard ship no later than 2100 on the 27th.
September 27, 1972
1757 - Reported for duty to San Diego Naval Station 32nd Street. The ship was in the process of readying herself for a six month deployment on WestPac (Western Pacific). She was leaving at 2400. I saluted the National Ensign (American flag) and was granted permission to board. I was immediately escorted to my bunk and told to get some shut eye because I had to stand the 0400 to 0800 watch. Oh Lucky me. First day aboard, I get to stand watch and we're "shipping out" on WestPac for half a year. Not a good start to this day.
September 28, 1972
0303 - Machinist's Mate (MM) Third Class Thomas Orwell Harrison (known as T.O.) knocks on my rack (bunk/bed) and follows it up with "Hey Boot" (as in a person just out of boot camp), "grab your socks. You have the watch in one hour". I answer back "Ya, ya, ya, thanks pal for the wakeup call". I crawl out of my rack bleary eyed and put on my dress blues (uniform). I learn later that T.O. is from Arizona and 22 years old.
0326 - I find the crew's Mess (chow hall) and grab a hot cup of coffee. Coffee is the most essential food item aboard any ship in the US Navy. Suddenly someone grabs the seat beside me, awakening me from my early morning haze. "Good Morning Van Heesch" he says. "I'm Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (MCBM) Oberster. My first name is John but everyone calls me Obie. Welcome aboard". He asks where I am from and I answer "Born in Wisconsin, now living in Colorado. I find out that he is from Ohio and he's 28. I can already see that this is going to be a long friendship.
0344 - Time to go. I finish my cup of Joe (coffee) and head out of the crew's mess hoping to find my way through the maze of passageways to the bridge. At this time of night the ship feels like a ghost ship. Empty, dark and cold.
0357 - I find the bridge, open the hatch (door) and step inside. Once my eyes adjust to the light, I see the man I am to relieve. "I offer my relief of the watch", I say to him professionally. He snaps back with "I stand relieved of the watch". We salute each other and he leaves, happy to have his dreaded stint at the midwatch (0000 to 0400) over. I learn later that this tall thin sailor is 21 year old Quartermaster (QM) Seaman Randy Strait from Texas.
0403 - The JOOD (Junior Officer Of The Deck), Boiler Tech (BT) 1st Class Mark Gabrilska (27 year old from Wisconsin) begins belching out the orders of the day. Standard orders to all watches are to ensure that the ship is navigating safely, the crew is safe and to notify the OOD (Officer Of The Deck) of any aircraft, fishing, cargo or passenger vessels encroaching upon our right of way.
0600 - The BMOW (Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch) turns on the General Announcing System (1MC) and sounds “Attention”, followed by “All hands”. On his Bos’n pipe he then pipes Reveille. Again he speaks into the 1MC, "Reveille, reveille, reveille, up, up, all hands, heave out, trice up, now 0600, reveille". As the sun begins to rise behind us, I realize that this is the last time I will see the United States for quite a while.
0758 - Yeoman (YN) 3rd Class Tommy Morrison (19, from Texas) enters the bridge and starts the same relief process that I had done 4 hours earlier. I have survived the first of many eventless watches on the bridge of the USS Schenectady somehow.
0807 - I am now in the crew's mess enjoying breakfast. Today is a three egg, two sausage and two pancake kind of day. It's been a long night and I'm starving. Even navy cooking tastes good this morning. I fill my coffee cup for the second time and on my way back to the table, I notice a face that I recognize from boot camp. It's 20 year old Damage Controlman (DC) Apprentice Sidney Eugene Babbit. They say everything grows bigger in Texas, and I believe it after meeting good Ol' Cowboy Gene. It is good to see someone I know. He states that he has been on the ship for two weeks already and that he is in the same workgroup (Deck Division) that i will be in. All of a sudden i'm not feeling so alone anymore.
0823 - Gene escorts me to the Foc’sle (Forecastle - forward part of the ship) where we get ready for morning muster (roll call). He introduces me to Personnelman (PN) Recruit Ken Kroll standing to my left. Ken had just recently been demoted (Article 15) for disobeying a direct order. I can see that this 19 year old California boy has an attitude and I had better stay away........but I probably won't. To Genes right is another California boy, 22 year old Storekeeper (SK) Apprentice Pete Scheile who likes to be called Beach Boy. Two more friendships in the making never to be forgotten. So far the whole crew seems great and are helping to make my first full day aboard ship an easy one.
0831 - 34 year old Electrician's Mate (EM) 1st Class Don Sutton (from New York) calls for all hands to "Fall in". He is the Petty Officer In Charge (POIC) of Deck Division, and seems to be an easy going guy with a sense of humor. Morning colors’ (raising of the Ensign and Union Jack) is sounded and everyone comes to attention. A salute is issued and held until we are told to "Carry On". Radarman (Rd) 3rd Class Frank Burns (24 year old from Maryland) calls the role and reports back to Frank that all personnel are present and accounted for. I am introduced to the rest of the crew and given my work orders for the day. Day one aboard the Schenectady is off to a great start with many more to follow. Friendships have already been forged that will never be forgotten.
Solve for N44 XX.XXX W087 XX.XXX.
Are you a shellback or a Pollywog?
gotta run with the FTF. You "are" an honorary shellback.
fifth Newport class tank landing ship built.
commissioned on June 13, 1970
Displacement: 5,008 tons (light)
Displacement: 8,590 tons (full)
Length: 523 feet
Beam: 70 ft.
Draft: 19 ft.
Propulsion: Six 16 cylinder ALCO 16-251E main propulsion diesel engines. Two shafts, three engines per shaft, 15,000 horsepower per shaft.
Speed: 27 knots (50 km/h)
Troops: Marine detachment: 18 Officers, 289 Enlisted Marines
Complement: 14 officers, 241 enlisted
Assigned to Amphibious Squadron (PhibRon) 9 and homeported in San Diego. She Participated in Operation “Keystone Oriole”, an operation involving the withdrawal of Marine Corps units from Vietnam. During this period, the Schenectady also participated in the South Vietnamese Army's offensive to recapture Quang Tri province. On June 29, the LST came under the fire of enemy shore batteries and became the first ship of her class to return fire in an actual combat situation. The Schenectady returned to Coronado, California on August 6, 1972. She earned 1 battle star for service along the coast of Vietnam.
She was decommissioned in December of 1993 and laid up in reserve at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Ex-Schenectady was sunk as a target on November 23, 2004.
The actual Sailor Jerry, Cerilene and Sergent Craig geocaching in Colorado.
Picture taken in June of 2007.
Other Sailor Jerry Caches.
GC2DY23 Sailor Jerry: Gator Navy
GC2E9QD Sailor Jerry: Full Astern
GC2E257 Sailor Jerry: Life At Sea
GC2ECFD Sailor Jerry: Day of Infamy
GC2ECPX Sailor Jerry: The Navigator
GC2EJCN Sailor Jerry: Oceanus
GC2ENM7 Sailor Jerry: Battle of Sunda Strait
and GC2J4H6 Sailor Jerry: Final Voyage
The adventures never end.
I would save the final coordinates
to all of the Sailor Jerry caches.
They will be needed to solve
GC2J4H6 Sailor Jerry: Final Voyage.
[“Sweepers, sweepers (cachers) man your brooms (gpsr's). Make a clean sweep down fore and aft. Sweep down all decks, ladders and passageways (search for a bison tube).
Classified Information. Loose lips sink ships.
All Sailor Jerry caches are located near water.]
Last Updated: on 3/30/2015 6:33:57 AM Pacific Daylight Time (1:33 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum