Jim Wood RM3
68 – 72, Task Group Operator, Yankee Station,
Jim’s Work station a Navy teletype machine
In 1968 I joined the Navy to follow my older brother and after San Diego boot camp was assigned to his new supply ship out of Boston, USS Kilauea. We made Panama Canal, Mexico, and finally homeport in Vallejo California.
We loaded up and made the first WestPac deployment with all the usual stops and Subic Bay was our home away from home. I worked up from deck to radio and soon became interested in radio-teletype TTY. Impressed by the typing skills, the chief assigned me a watch section and that was that. I met a number of fellow “sparkies” who nicknamed me “teddy”.
People say I’m nearly deaf. I say “what”?
Here are 4 YouTube videos for your to turn on and listen to what I was subjected to every day. Hit Play all four and run them together to get an idea what a radioman in the 1960′s had to put up with. Oh, did I mention it was not uncommon to have 5 – 8 machines running at the same time in a room the size of a small bedroom. Most of the repeaters were stacked one on top of the other. Sometimes the paper tape would come out of a receiving TTY, up over a air-conditioning duct, and then down into a receiving tty. This allowed personnel access to hard to get to areas of the radio room.
Time passed and I discovered another ship nearer home. Orders were cut and before you knew it, my brother was dropping me off via the Captain’s Gig, into Da Nang where I spend a number of days waiting for a flight home. As a young fool, I volunteered to help deliver some new PBR’s upriver. When I arrived back into Da Nang I had found a new respect for those 500 pound bombs I used to stub cigarette butts on.
Connections were made and 72 hours after arriving in Seattle, the USS Sacramento departed for my third WestPac Deployment. We returned to take up position in Yankee Station and service the fleet 24/7. Between watches I could be found watching the pyrotechnics along the distant horizon. Fifty years later, I was invited to the Sac’s decommission.
It was difficult knowing her next stop was the scrap yard. A few shipmates sobbed uncontrollably during taps. My turn came with the departing Radio Section approached and tucked the antique message board high under my left arm, saluted, and then said, “Teddy, you have the last watch!”
So many Bombs were needed that they filled the deck of the SAC
The USS Sacramento loading at Subic Bay, Philippines. This is only a small portion of the pier.
For movie files of the USS Sacramento unreps click here.