When the Cuban Missile Crisis began to heat up in September 1962, the ROOSEVELT (CVA 42) had just left NS Mayport for its umpteenth Med deployment. The newly married JO’s (junior officers) would gather on the fan tail to watch the wake that pointed towards the brides they had left. Misty eyes were the uniform of the day. In my case it was not just my “bride,” but my two-day old daughter that I had to leave. I had held her just twice.
We were approaching the Straits of Gibraltar and steaming East at slow speeds when the message traffic spiked as never before. Messages were mimeoed (remember that?), posted on bulletin boards, and even passed from hand-to-hand.
Fantastic, we junior officers thought at the time over bad coffee and clouds of cigarette smoke in the Wardroom, we are trained, armed and ready to take on any threat…surely they will turn us around and we can go down there to kick some butt. Heck, we knew those “waters,” we had just spent six weeks of Refresher Training (RefTra) at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). The proud ship and its air group were the “readiest” in the Navy. Here we are…send us.
In those days, personal or even service ribbons were scarce. Not even a National Defense Medal (“being alive in ’65” as it was known later) ribbon. None of us junior officers had ANY ribbons at the time to wear on our brand new “blues.” The Navy Expeditionary Medal would look really nice, we agreed.
Also, a Cuban excursion would give us some salty sea stories to improve on: “Well, there I was…at OCS…in cold Newport…standing in the rain…for at least 15 minutes…waitin’ for chow…can you believe that…is that bad, or what?”)
Sad to report, our course remained about 090…as we bored holes in the water on the way to Gibraltar. I believe they sent the Sara…but I know they didn’t send us…although God knows we were more than willing.
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Other works by Dr. Connors…
Now Available As E-Pub
Baited Trap, The Ambush of Mission 1890 is the story of helicopter rescue Mission 1890, one of the most heroic—and costly—air rescues of the Korean War. This harrowing Air Force-Navy mission is explained in compelling detail, creating a detailed personal account of what five incredibly brave and determined Air Force and Navy airmen achieved on June 25, 1952 in the infamous “Iron Triangle.”
The Korean War’s Greatest Love Story
Baited Trap is much more than a heroic war story from the “forgotten war.” It is also the Korean War’s greatest love story, following Wayne and Della Lear, Bobby Holloway, Ron Eaton and Dolly Sharp, and Frankie and Archie Connors as they tried to put their lives and families together even as the Korean War was reaching out to engulf them.
Truckbusters From Dogpatch: the Combat Diary of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing in the Korean War, 1950-1953
Truckbusters from Dogpatch is the most comprehensive Korean War unit history yet prepared–over 700 pages summarizing squadron histories and first person accounts—and includes over 1,000 never before published photographs and images, highlighted by the 8 ½ x 11-inch format.
Arguably, Truckbusters From Dogpatch is the most authoritative unit history ever prepared on the Korean War. In addition to consulting formerly classified squadron histories filed monthly throughout the conflict, the author was in touch with hundreds of veterans of the 18th—pilots and ground crew—whose personal recollections add vivid detail and emotion to the facts recounted in the official documents.
Recent Log Entries by CAPT Connors…
After reading these Night Orders you can better appreciate what training, attention to duty, and vigilance was required by underway watchstanders in those days. What has changed since then that has resulted in the recent tragic collisions between U.S. Navy ships and other vessels?
Saipan CO, CAPT Jack Renard, was not exaggerating when he noted that “without exception, SAIPAN is the most versatile instrument of peace or war on the seas today.” Like its motto pointed out, SAIPAN could do it all.