Tag Archives: Sasebo Nagasaki

You’re In The Navy Now Part~11

9 Oct

 A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Navy

 

On a guided tour of the island, we stopped for lunch at a beautiful restaurant located at the top of one of the high hills overlooking Victoria Harbor, where we could see Kowloon, Mainland China in the distance.1  That sight gave me a very uncomfortable feeling at the time, knowing I was eating lunch that close to Communist China.  Another part of the tour was to the amazing Tiger Balm Gardens.  The gardens consist of acres of Chinese figures cut into a hillside, and painted some of the most vivid colors you can imagine.  Overall, the trip to Hong Kong was really great, and a one-of-a-lifetime experience. I would like to go back some day to see how it has changed over the years, as modern pictures show a very modern city compared to what I remember.

A few months later, Hector’s six-month tour of duty in Sasebo was extended, and the ship made another quick trip, this time to Nagasaki, 2Japan.  I can’t remember just what the occasion was for our visit, but the day after we got there the ship hosted an “Open House” for the Japanese people.  We had the ship roped off so the visitors would walk in a line, in one direction, through only certain areas.  We had a solid stream of people, walking through the ship all day long, and I didn’t notice until it was all over, but all those wooden shoes the Japanese women wear had chipped the paint right off the decks, everywhere the tour went on the ship.

Our stay in Nagasaki was short, however, one of the most interesting 3places I visited while there, was the “Ground Zero Museum.”  The museum houses many graphic artifacts from the ruins of the city, and photographs of what was left of the city after the Atomic Bomb (Fat Man) was exploded 1540 feet above the city on August 9, 1945.

The devastation was total, and this was another time, when being in that spot, gave me a very uneasy feeling.  Think about it.  Here I was, standing at “Ground Zero” only 12 years after that history changing event.  Was all the radiation gone?  How long did it take for it to be safe for people to tread on this uniquely damaged soil?  Was I being zapped as I stood there?  Those were some of the thoughts that were running through my mind, as I remembered what had happened at this very spot on the day the world came to an end for roughly 70,000 people.

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                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

You’re in the Navy~Part 9

25 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill LItes

Navy

 

Back on the Hector, the ship headed west, and after an uneventful week at sea, our first stop on the way to Japan was Honolulu, Hawaii, to refuel the ship and to spend a few days enjoying that beautiful tropical paradise.  1Honolulu was everything the travel brochures advertise it to be.  That was a marvelous time, with swimming, snorkeling, surfing, touring, and an occasional wonderful and delicious evening luau, with lots of pretty hula dancers.

 Then it was another week at sea before we arrived at our destination, Sasebo, Japan, where, for the next six months, we were scheduled to swing around a buoy in the harbor, servicing any Pacific fleet Navy ship needing2 the type of repairs not extensive enough to require a shipyard.  The USS Jason (AR-8), the sister ship we were relieving, had her steam up and was ready to head back to California when we arrived.  There was a brief “Changing of the Guard” ceremony, then the Jason was gone, and we began the work for which the ship had been designed.

My duty on the Hector, while it was on station in Japan, was as a diesel engine mechanic.  This task kept me busy repairing and overhauling the 3many boat engines used by the ship, as well as boat duty.  Since we were tied up to a buoy in Sasebo harbor, anyone needing to leave the ship to go anywhere (ship to ship, or ship to shore) had to go by boat.  There was the Captain’s Gig, used by the Captain and the other ship’s officers, and the Liberty Launches, used to transport the ship’s enlisted personnel and for every other task know to man.  The three-man crew for each boat consisted of a Boatswain’s mate, a Quartermaster and an Engineman.  This meant the ship had to supply enough three-man crews to man all the boats the ship might have in the water at any one time, and still maintain adequate shipboard operations.

When ships would tie up alongside the Hector for repairs, our ship’s boats would normally provide transportation for their personnel, as well as our own.  Since the four-ship destroyer squadrons usually traveled together, we could sometimes have as many as eight ships tied up alongside at one time.  As might be expected, this kept us very busy with boat runs, transporting people, equipment and supplies to and from the ship and the base, 24/7.  One big surprise at Sasebo, during our stay there, was the day the Fleet Tug USS Tawasa (ATF-92) came along side the Hector, and there was my high school friend, Jim, from Albuquerque.  We had a great visit and both remarked what a small world it was, that we should run into each other on the other side of the world from where we had first become friends.

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                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

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