Veterans Day 2019

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National Day Calendar Veterans Day Image One
Image Credit: National Day Calendar

Last year, I did a post on World War I for Veterans Day as it had been 100 years, exactly, since the end of that war. I also covered how other countries memorialize and/or celebrate and, ended the post with two poems. I’ve written in a previous post about my almost Army brat status and referred to my significant other in this post.

Ken Image One
Hargrave Military Academy Circa 1958

Ken’s first foray into the ‘military’ was the Hargave Military Academy in Virginia. His mother sent him there for summer school to assist with grades after a poor eighth grade year. He stayed for his ninth grade year and did very well. Unfortunately, it was extremely expensive and he returned to regular high school for tenth grade.

At the end of his junior year, he’d had enough of regular high school and made it clear to his mother that he wanted to go into the Navy. The military was all he was interested in. So, at the tender age of 17, his mother signed him into service. He went into the reserves for two years and began to train as a Corpsman. His sea duties were aboard the USS Robinson (DD-562), a Fletcher Class destroyer, the second ship in the Navy to be named after Captain Isaiah Robinson (Continental Navy). The “Robbie” received eight battle stars for World War II service and appeared in the movie Away All Boats.

Robinson Image Two
The Robbie
Circa 1953
Ken Image Three
Circa 1961

After two years of training, he went active duty…and the Navy lost its mind. Orders to report to his new ship in hand, he was sent to Charleston, SC, to be assigned to the USS Canisteo (AO-99), a Cimarron Class fleet oiler, named for the Canisteo River in New York and the only ship to bear that name. It’s crew received nine medals.

Unfortunately, upon his arrival, there was no ship to board. The Charleston Naval Base had no record of it being there and, in the meantime, he was sent to the transit barracks. While waiting, he volunteered to be a lifeguard for a week. The remaining time was spent waiting at the barracks. After three weeks, the Navy adjusted his orders and sent him to Norfolk Naval Base, the home port of the Canisteo. Upon arrival, no ship. He was, again, assigned to the transit barracks…until they could find the ship. After a four-day wait, the Navy adjusted his orders a second time and he was sent to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard. The shipyard had no record of the Canisteo being there so, he was sent…a-gain…to the transit barracks. His ship was finally found at the Todd Shipyards in Red Hook Brooklyn, a civilian shipyard. With his orders in hand (now, a rather large portfolio of paperwork), stamped by the Navy (adjusted a third time), he headed to his ship. He reported to the Officer of the Deck and was told that he had been reported AWOL. The OOD examined the orders, informed him that his Corpsman striker slot had been filled due to his (unintended) absence and, just like that, he was transformed into part of the deck force, wiping out two years of training. He became a Bosun’s Mate striker. *facepalm*

Canisteo Image Three
The Canisteo
Circa 1961
Ken Image Four
Circa 1962
While on board the Canisteo, he participated in the Cuban Blockade

He left active service in 1964 and rolled into the IRR, waiting for the end of his contract to expire. On March 8, 1965, Marines landed near Da Nang, marking the beginning of the ground war in Vietnam. Ken was working a full time job and was watching what was going on. By the summer of 1966, he decided that he was going to go back to the Navy, interested in the River Patrol (and PBRs) and went to see a prior service recruiter. The recruiter told him that the Navy would not give him his rank back. Ken left his office and was stopped by a Marine recruiter in the hallway. He told him to go back in and ask about the Seabees. He did so and the Navy prior service recruiter changed his tune. Off he went to Camp Endicott in Rhode Island for training. He was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 and sent to Gulfport, Home of the Seabees.

He arrived in Vietnam in July of 1967. His base was Camp Haskins on Red Beach in Da Nang. The Marines were on Monkey Mountain across the bay and at Da Nang Air Base in the opposite direction, across the highway. At the beginning of the Tet Offensive, the bombing of the Air Base in January of 1968 nearly knocked Ken out of a guard tower. He was designated a builder and did his share of such but, spent most of his time running patrols with the Marines.

Ken Image Five
Gulfport, MS
Ken on the left.
The puppy had been rescued from a house fire.
Circa 1967
Ken Image Six
Camp Haskins
Notice the guy waving in the background.

On November 3, 1967, a fellow Seabee had an accident with a saw while cutting some wood. A sawhorse shifted and the man injured himself, accidentally. The blade cut an artery in his thigh and Ken’s Corpsman training kicked in. He, literally, stuck his hand into the guy’s thigh to clamp the artery with his thumb and forefinger. When the rescue helicopter arrived, the coagulated blood on Ken’s arm prevented him from being able to remove his hand from the guy’s thigh. Ken got a free ride in the helicopter to the hospital with his charge. A life was saved (the actual details are pretty gruesome).

Ken Image Seven
A life saved…

And, this concludes my long-ass tribute to my Fleet Navy/Vietnam Seabee veteran. If you have a veteran in your life…hug them. ~Vic

[Addendum: When I moved in with Ken some years ago, I was looking at his DD-214. He swore he only had one and I saw from the data that he had two. We sent off for his records and, sure enough, there were two. I discovered that, when he went to the prior service recruiter, the guy didn’t bother to check to see if Ken was still on contract. He was and, had he checked, Ken could have returned to the Navy, with rank intact, and left for Vietnam as part of the Brown Water Navy…and most likely died. The life span of PBR guys was fairly short.]

21 thoughts on “Veterans Day 2019

    bereavedandbeingasingleparent said:
    November 12, 2019 at 2:48 AM

    What a wonderful story and what a wonderful person.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      November 12, 2019 at 1:44 PM

      He’s a good guy but, at 76, he is a salty, cranky old Seabee and a retired cop. LOL!

    MichaelStephenWills said:
    November 12, 2019 at 5:56 AM

    We lived in Canisteo in the early 1980’s. A great place, loved exploring the surrounding hills. Did not know there was a USS named after the river. Thanks and congrats to Ken.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      November 12, 2019 at 1:50 PM

      Wow. How cool. I saw a picture of the river and the area looked beautiful. What a neat coincidence…

      Yeah. The ship was decommissioned in 1989, struck from the register in 1992 and sold for scrap, completed in 2010. It was one of the first oilers designed to refuel other ships en route. You should hear the stories about trying to refuel an aircraft carrier, while both moving, in rough seas. Those without good sea legs were usually green & barfing. LOL!

    indigo fern said:
    November 12, 2019 at 10:15 AM

    This was such a nice story! So nice of you!

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      November 12, 2019 at 1:56 PM

      Thank you, dear. Thanks for staying and reading. Believe it or not, this just a highly condensed version.

    badfinger20 said:
    November 12, 2019 at 11:12 AM

    I have to ask did Scott stay in touch with him at all? That was quick thinking and awesome.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      November 12, 2019 at 2:07 PM

      They didn’t stay in touch permanently but, Seabee Scott was returned to duty as his injuries healed & he was able to continue working.

      Here is the inside story that I didn’t want to gross people out with…the ‘other’ thing Scott cut was his ‘manly member’. Ken knew he would freak and likely die in the process. He put his leg across Scott’s chest to keep him from rising up to see what he’d done. Luckily, the shock he was in numbed him.

      When they met up again after his recovery, Ken just had to ask…”Everything still working, OK?” Scott said “Yeah”.

      DUDE. When Ken told me the story the first time, my ass got lightheaded at the thought…and I don’t even ‘have one’!

      When Ken went into Corpsman training, he was fascinated with surgery. But, he would have never made it thru medical school. He HATED school. He got his GED in the Navy and has always been more of an on-the-job, on-the-fly learner. I’m very much the same way. I will learn quicker if I put my hands to it than read about it as an abstract. But, I don’t have his strong stomach. Have mercy…

        badfinger20 said:
        November 12, 2019 at 3:07 PM

        Scott owed Ken his first born wow… Yes that is tough to even think about…I have one and that hurts thinking about it. That was quick thinking and staying calm under that situation.

        Scott is one lucky person to have had Ken around. The gash must have been huge for him to get in there like that.

        Yes school gets old because I want to do…not read about it.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          November 12, 2019 at 11:56 PM

          If Scott ever had kids, Ken wouldn’t have known. Ken never kept up with any other veteran…until he got on Facebook. He joined some veteran groups and found a couple of guys he was in Da Nang with. Scott wasn’t one of them, though. In the Fleet Navy, he doesn’t even remember names. With the Seabees, he had two annuals, much like high school.

          That calm under pressure helped him as a cop.

          It had to be a deep, big wound. Ken has big hands…and big ass feet for that matter. I call him my Great Dane…big, goofy dog. He is 6′ 3″. Little play on words…his mother’s maiden name was Dane. Heh.

          I love to read but, instructions for doing things…

            badfinger20 said:
            November 13, 2019 at 12:03 AM

            Yea I can see how that would help as a cop. Everytime you pull someone over you have to wonder what will happen.
            LOL…I would not see 6′ 3″ on a ladder….if the Dane fits…

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              November 13, 2019 at 12:21 AM


              The Hinoeuma responded:
              November 13, 2019 at 12:44 PM

              Also, he was a PSO and it was in the 70s…whole different world. Thems were da days when officers carried revolvers. He was a Colt Python man. He was a deputy in the 80s. I didn’t meet him until the early 90s when we were both with the state. He still had his Python, even then but, was forced into carrying a semi-auto by Raleigh HQ.

              He has stated that he wouldn’t be a cop, now. Not only are people vicious (civilians) but, the cops are, too.

                badfinger20 said:
                November 13, 2019 at 4:59 PM

                What he said is dead on. The civilians and the cops…they are ruthless.

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  November 13, 2019 at 6:00 PM

                  Max…honestly…I don’t like our world, anymore.

                    badfinger20 said:
                    November 13, 2019 at 7:08 PM

                    I feel out of time with the world and I’ll happy about that. I just live my little world. That is sad but I don’t wanna go out there.

                      The Hinoeuma responded:
                      November 13, 2019 at 8:50 PM

                      I so totally agree. I do feel out of sync, too.

    JT Twissel said:
    November 12, 2019 at 5:26 PM

    My two stepbrothers were in the Navy about the same time. I’m afraid Vietnam vets have never gotten the appreciation they should have.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      November 13, 2019 at 12:27 AM

      I agree. Ken had some folks flipping him off when he came home. He never had anyone spit on him like some did.

    Kat said:
    November 13, 2019 at 8:11 AM

    A real life story that reads like it’s from a novel! You must be very proud of Ken. Thanks for sharing this story with us.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      November 13, 2019 at 12:55 PM

      He’s a good guy. He was very lucky that he walked away from ‘nam with his body and most of his wits intact. War is hell. War is awful. If it doesn’t kill you, outright, it can destroy your psyche. And, he’s never considered his service particularly noteworthy. To him, it’s just something he did.

      Welcome, love. ❤

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