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BUCKET & SWAB ARTICLES

SEA TALES & STORIES

January 1996 B&S

             

Robert F. Mooney, LTJG

                                                     

1952-1955

QUOTATION

The following quotation from Captain Charles B. Carroll, reminding his officers of his favorite quotation from Thucydades, which he had placed in the wardroom of the Lowry:

"Their want of practice makes them unskilled. Their want of skill makes them timid. The maritime art, like all arts, cannot be cultivated by chance or at odd times."

When we remember Captain Carroll once commanded the Lowry with fourteen brand-new Ensigns on board, we realize why he remembered this classical quotation from his days at Harvard!

January 1996 B&S

                               

Robert F. Mooney, LTJG

                                                       

1952-1955

A VISIT TO THE USS LAFFEY (DD 724), OUR SISTER SHIP OF 1952-1955

For those who have not done so, a visit to USS Laffey is the closest we will come to setting foot on the Lowry herself. Last April, on a trip north from Florida, we went aboard the Laffey for the first time since we crossed her quarterdeck forty years ago.The USS Laffey is one of a group of ships berthed in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of a naval exhibit at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum at Mt. Pleasant, across the river from Charleston. The other ships are USS Yorktown (CV 10), USS Calmagore (SS 343), and Coast Guard Cutter Ingham. The Yorktown contains a huge display of naval aircraft and the nearby museum contains naval books and mementoes.The Laffey was built in Bath, Maine, in 1944, while the Lowry was built in San Pedro that year. Thus the Laffey had the experience of bombarding Normandy for D-Day before sailing to the Pacific. While escorting the fast carriers, including this Yorktown, off the island of Okinawa, the Laffey gained her fame on April 16, 1945. She was attacked by 22 Japanese Kamikaze planes, hit by five planes and three bombs and suffered 32 men killed and 71 wounded of the 336-man crew. Yet she survived, knocked down eleven attackers and remained afloat to sail back to Seattle for repairs. Thus she returned to fight with the Lowry in Korea and serve until 1975 when she was decommissioned.

Because of the fate which attracted the Kamikazes to the Laffey while her sister ship suffered minor damage, our favorite destroyer gained the nickname "Lucky Lowry" which she carried for decades.

The present Laffey is identical to the Lowry as a Sumner class destroyer, although weapons modifications are the most visible change. No more torpedo tubes or depth charges, different radar installations, and minor re-arrangement of main deck spaces are apparent. The after officiers' quarters are converted into a small museum of destroyer history, and the wardroom is a shrine for heroic ships and men. We could still view the old ships' galley, sick bay, supply office, laundry, radio and communications spaces. Unfortunately, we could not go below the main deck, where they are still working on renovations, but we were told those familiar spaces should be open in another year. The solitary deck hand with the paint brush (a State employee) did not seem very ambitious or optimistic. We need more old Boatswain's Mates!

If you are in the area, the Laffey is worth a visit.

May 1996 B&S

                                   

Robert F. Mooney, LTJG

                                                       

1952-1955

FOURTH OF JULY IN HONG KONG

If I were asked to relate one single all-time liberty port, it would have to be Hong Kong, which the LOWRY visited over the Fourth of July in 1954.We had just sailed from Japan after several months sea duty in and around Korea, and were in our first liberty port on the long voyage home. At this time, we narrowly missed involvement in the French retreat from Viet Nam (the French Indo-China). President Eisenhowerdeclined to intervene with U. S. forces. So we sailed into Hong Kong with flags flying for the holiday, and it was a great one. Supply Officer George Betz hurried ashore to evaluate the available merchandise and returned with tales of wonderful restaurants and night spots, incredible prices and exotic women. Those of us with duty aboard ship could only look longingly at the incredible sights of the island and its harbor. The long-suffering deck force was told the ship had to be cleaned up and painted to look its best. Then across the water came a vision to warm any sailor's heart: A half-dozen native sampans were sailing toward the LOWRY, with all female crews, calling out to our sailors and ready for action! George Betz had done it again. These pretty girls were Mary Soo and her Side cleaners, an elite and welcome enterprise which was available to wash and paint the sides of navy ships in port at Hong Kong. They were a nimble crew, scampering around in their pajama suits and straw hats, scaling ladders and happily splashing on the gray paint. While the deck crew saved its energy and provided their supplies, the women did all the work, and the LOWRY was painted in one day. Nobody knows for sure what arrangements the supply officer made with Mary Soo. Some claim she was paid in food, or cigarettes, or in ready money from the deck force. One rumor said she was paid with the ship's garbage for three days -- which went to a native Chinese restaurant as a delicacy! In any event, the job was done, the ship looked great and the deck force went off to a well-earned liberty.

A final note: Hong Kong in 1954 was only five years away from the take-over of mainland China by the Communists. The island and province of Hong Kong was a British colony; it was swarming with refugees from China. Millions were trying to find places to live, and their shacks and shanties covered the hillsides. Especially unforgettable were the thousands of boat people living on sampans and every sort of vessel. With the native energy and industry of the Chinese, we imagine those refugees are now part of the prosperity and success story of modern Hong Kong.

August 1996 B&S

                               

Robert F. Mooney, LTJG

                                                             

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHAPLAIN

One of the most important duties of the Navy chaplain was safeguarding the morals of the crew; an especially heavy burden in foreign ports. When the Lowry took its winter cruise to the Caribbean in 1953, one of its ports of call was Port-au-Prince, Haiti - one of the most scurrilous liberty ports in the western hemisphere. The squadron chaplain, a dedicated man of God named Martin Luther Doerman, asked the Captain for permission to address the crew on the dangers of the port before they went ashore. Taking over the public address system, the Chaplain delivered a powerful message on morality, ending with these immortal words: "You men must be careful to avoid those native women, or you may contract a dreadful social disease -- and carry it home to your wives, sweethearts, mothers and sisters!"

That was one sermon we never forgot!

November 1996 B&S

                             

Robert F. Mooney, LTJG

                                                       

REUNION REPORT

The Sixth Bi-Annual Reunion of the USS LOWRY (DD-770) Association was held on August 29-31, 1996, at the Airport Hilton in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Approximately 120 members, wives and friends attended.

Under sunny midwest skies, members gathered for registration and socializing on Thursday evening, where they were greeted by President Bill O'Sullivan in the Ballroom.Early the next morning, following a hearty breakfast, most people enjoyed the Twin Cities Tour, led by excellent guides, who showed us the highlights of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The tour included the elegant homes on Summit Avenue, the mansion of James J. Hill, the railroad tycoon, and St. Pauls's magnificent Cathedral. Much of Friday's afternoon was spent at the Mall of America, the monster mall featuring hundreds of shops build around the former stadium of the Minnesota Twins. The evening was spent at leisure at a local dinner theater or restaurant dining.

   

Saturday started with another breakfast, followed by a tour of the colorful frontier town of Stillwell, noted for its shopping, antiques and fine dining.Then we got down to business, with the formal business meeting at 3:00 PM. A good crowd attended, to make plans for the next reunion, suggest means for attracting more active members and elect new officers. Bill O'Sullivan was commended for his great personal efforts over the past two years. The other officers were also thanked for their contributions to the Association.Upon nomination of Roy Kelly, Bob Mooney was elected President of the Association for the next term. Paul Kelley volunteered to replace Neal Smyers as Vice President representing the 1940's group, Neal retaining the job of LOWRY Storekeeper. The other officers were reelected to their existing positions.

An open discussion was held of prospective sites for the next reunion, based upon convenience, availability, activities and value. The general consensus favored the Norfolk, VA area, close to which many of our membership reside. It was also suggested that a date after Labor Day would be most desirable. The officers agreed to do their best.

 

Saturday evening featured the Dinner/Dance in the Ballroom, with a color guard from a local unit, a speech from Captain A. P. Carpenter, skipper of the LOWRY during the Cuban Missile Crisis (62-64), and a message from our Honorary President, Captain Charles B. Carroll, CO of the LOWRY during its first Korean Deployment (52-54). The Guest Speaker was Captain Ronald R. Lustman, Commanding the Minneapolis Naval Reserve Readiness Command. Songs and stories, pictures and memories gave us a memorable evening in Minneapolis.

A MESSAGE FROM YOUR PRESIDENT

To All Shipmates: Each meeting of the LOWRY ASSOCIATION gives us another chance to meet with long-lost shipmates, renew old memories and feel young again. We remember those times with great nostalgia, when we turned from youth to manhood; a time never to be forgotten.We were united by service on a famous ship, called the "Lucky Lowry", but we were the lucky ones. We had the chance to serve on a small self-contained naval vessel where our shipmates were part of our daily lives. The character and spirit of those men, most in our early twenties, has not changed with the years.

That spirit is preserved in our Association. It is our opportunity to keep alive those memories and to enjoy the company and the memory of those we will never forget. That is we are all volunteers in keeping the Association active, as we were all volunteers many years ago. This organization survives on personal effort, the personal letter or phone call to that long-lost friend who is waiting to hear from you.

Next reunion year (1998) is coming fast. As the members voted, we will meet in the Norfolk area, a place of many memories, well worthy of a week-end. We want to make this the most exciting Reunion and we want everyone there. Take this as a 'call to the colors': reachout and invite one of your Navy buddies to return with us to Norfolk, our old home port.

January 1998 B&S

                               

Robert F. Mooney, LTJG

                                                     

WHO COULD BELIEVE?

Last summer we had a cocktail party in Nantucket with many summer visitors, including Ted Kennedy and his wife, Vicki. When we introduced the Senator to Mr. and Mrs. Bill O'Sullivan, our house guests, O'Sullivan explained the he and I had been shipmates on the LOWRY during the Korean War, when we sailed around the world in 1954. The Senator exclaimed: "I don't believe it! How did that ship stay afloat?"

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