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USS Taussig DD746

Bob Shelley Class of 1959
email: BobShelley@aol.com

I enlisted in the US NAVY in September of 1959 and went to boot camp at USNTC, San Diego, where I spent 18 weeks in recruit training. After Boot Camp (I weighed 135lbs and none of it was fat. Ah yes, those were the days.) I was sent to MM/BT "A" School at Great Lakes, Illinois where I graduated as a Machinist Mate Fireman. That's one step above an Apprentice Seaman. After graduation I was assigned to the USS Prairie AD15, a Destroyer Tender, which was responsible for the repair and maintenance of Destroyers while at sea and in foreign ports. I was stationed in the Aft Engine Room until I was transferred to the USS Taussig DD746 a WWII, Sumner Class, Destroyer. She is tied up to a dock in Taiwan as the Yang Lo and is awaiting scrapping or being converted into a maritime museum.
On the Taussig I was stationed in the Aft Engine Room and went on the West Pac Cruise from 1960-1961. While on our cruise I visited Japan, Philippians, Hong Kong, Okinawa, Midway, Hawaii, and got within a hundred miles of Russia while following a Soviet submarine. It played with us for a week or so before taking off and leaving us alone on the ocean.
We got buzzed by a Mig in the Formosa Straights and played host to several covert ops units as they left foreign shores and came aboard early in the morning hours. I guess that's how I ended up being a Vietnam Vet. Seems strange since I never set foot on any part of South East Asia. But I guess when you're in the Navy or even the Air Force that can happen.
The only bad thing I endured, besides some massive hangovers, was when I scalded my hands while messing with some live steam.. it was all live steam now that I think of it. I just got careless and took a shot of DA tank water on my hands. Big blisters and so forth. I had them cut off so I could still operate the throttles which was my favorite watch station.
We were attached to the USS Kearsarge as plane guard. It was up to us to rescue any airman who crashed into the ocean. The only action we ever took in that regard when we helped locate a sailor who jumped over the side (he died) and the remains of crewman of a jet that hit the fantail during night ops.
The hairiest event that happened to our ship occurred while refueling off the Fleet Oiler, Guadalupe. We took a shot of water down the forward main induction vents... air conditioning vents for you landlubbers... and blew out the main electrical board. The short circuit melted a 2" thick X 4" wide X 18" long solid brass buss bar. Luckily we had made a slight course correction and had some right rudder which pulled us away from the oiler instead of into her. We had oil lines splitting open, fuel oil flowing over the decks and covering all hands, 50 gallons or so went down the outer hatch and into the Aft engine room and the hawsers, large ropes, that held oil lines in place were really straining and pulling at the cleats. Our Chief yelled for everyone to "hit the deck" and severed the lines on the fuel trunk with two blows of a fire axe. We had oil everywhere but we were all safe. It was pretty exciting with the whistles blowing, sirens sounding and collision alarm sounding throughout the ship. We were already at Condition Zebra.. all water tight hatches were closed... so we didn't have much to worry about once clear of the Oiler. All of the other ships had scattered and had given us plenty of room to maneuver in. When the main board goes blewey Aft Control, in the aft engine room, takes over. It takes a few minutes to transfer power so there are a few pretty intense minutes before control is regained. During that time the ship has no electrical power and is basically out of control since the steering gear is without power.
Our Captain loved rough seas and would go out of his way to ride out some pretty bad weather. During high seas a destroyer behaves as if it were part airplane and part submarine. A friend of mine, while standing bridge watch on the Kearsarge, told me that at one moment he was looking up at us and the next he was looking down our stacks. The thing I remember most is the shaking of the ship as the screws broke clear of the water spun at high revs only to chug when the stern went back under water. Dust and dirt went everywhere. The seas carried away out outer gas bottles. Two Acetylene and one Oxygen bottle used in welding. They broke loose and jammed into the fully loaded starboard depth charge rack. Our DC (damage control) First Class was roped up and sent out the after hatch to remove the bottles and toss them over the side. There were ten men on two ropes acting as life guards for him. He was repeatedly knocked down and finally managed to loosen the bottles and guide them into the sea. He got a commendation of course and a shot of brandy when he came back inside.
We did have some other things happen because of one man. We had a Jr. Officer a Lt. JG.) lower the sonar dome at 25 knots and it was carried away. We had it fixed in Yoko in dry dock. He then took out 25 feet of refueling dock at Okinawa and finally, while I was manning throttles, he tried to run down the Coronado Ferry. We were cruising along at 25 knots when we got a full back down. Both the forward throttle man and I managed to halt the screws and reverse direction in about 35 seconds... not a record by the way... and we avoided a collision by about 8 feet. Unfortunately for the Jr. Officer, NavDist 11 (the Admiral in command of Naval District 11) was on the Ferry with his wife and had no difficulty reading our hull number. We tied up to the Prairie, the gang way was lowered and HE was taken off the ship. I understand he was assigned to a closet in the Pentagon since he was the son of an Admiral. Anyone else would have been forced to retire. Just think. All of this happened in peace time. Glad I missed combat.
By the way, for those of you who remember Ken Jett I saw him at Great Lakes in 1960. He was taking Electrician Classes and was living in Philadelphia if I remember right. Steve Berry narrowly missed sailing on the Thrasher and is probably retired by now if he stayed in. The Naval Training Center in San Diego no longer exists and all recruit training is done at Great Lakes Ill. End of an era.
(If Ken or Steve reads this please let me know that you are alive and well.)
I was Honorably Discharged shortly after returning from West Pac and went to work in aerospace where I stayed for 35 years. Not at one company but in the industry. I am now semi-retired.


Christopher Taggart Class of 1978
E-mail address:  ctagg11793@aol.com
Years Served:  1985 to present
Outfit:  U.S. Army
Tours in:  Germany, Italy, Honduras, Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, Bosnia (2003), Iraq (2008)

James Oliver Clement Class of 1979
I was Company Commander at my senior year in ROTC.
I served aboard the Uss Tuscaloosa LST1187 from 1981-1985.. Then I was stationed about the Nas Moffett Field California from 1985-1989. I went to Millikan H.S. from 1976-1979.. I was in army Rotc and in Deca. I always wanted to be in the US Military. I am proud to have served my country.

Michael Buckles Class of 1979
U.S. Air Force / Dept of Defence ret.
Currently working as a PI/K9 Handler- Volunteer Fire Fighter & Search & Rescue
Hamilton, Montana.
email: forensick9s@dishmail.net
Posted 4.4.09

Michael Fitzgerald Class of 1979
I am also look for a year book from 1978-1979.
I served in the Marines from May 5, 1979 to June 16, 1997
email: mikefitzgerald.md@gmail.com
Posted 1.21.10

Craig Pickens
Class Year: 1986
E-mail address:
Years Served: 1986-89
Outfit: US Navy-USS Nimitz(CVN-68)
Tours in: World Cruise, Westpac, Rimpac


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