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BUCKET & SWAB ARTICLES

SEA TALES & STORIES

August 1995 B&S

From the Old Skipper's Corner

CIRCUMNAVIGATION

After hard work with Task Force 77 and many great performances supporting Seventh Fleet operations in the Far East (Western Pacific), Lowry returned home sailing Westward around the world. We knew the need and displayed the ability to represent our Country to the best advantage wherever we were visiting. Fourteen ports of call on that 1952 cruise.

   

First running Southward to evade a full-blown typhoon in the East China Sea, we made our first port visit - Singapore. The Tiger Balm Gardens and the Temple of Buddha were of principal interest. Then came Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), after we had crossed the line. The elephant rides, visit to the tropical gardens and the zoo were all new to most of us. After this came Bahrain Island, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf along with 135o temperatures and sand storms (shamals). We could not have anticipated the Gulf War nearly forty years later, could we?

Next we stopped in Aden where it had not rained for seven years.

From there through the Strait of Bab El Mandeb, North through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal where we had a swim in Lake Timsah and finally a fuel stop at Port Said.

   

From Egypt we sailed to the Bosporus Strait and our anchorage in the Golden Horn off Istanbul, Turkey where we fed the orphan children. After this a run back to Port Of Piraeus and a look in at Athens and the Acropolis, Greece. Lowry then continued Eastward stopping at Naples, Italy for four days visiting Rome and other spots. Next stop Cannes, France! Can we ever forget the girl circling our ship on a ski board in her birthday suit the noonday of our arrival? This was the land of the emerging Bikinis and Lowry rocked from side to side in glee.

After a stop in Gibraltar, we reached home in Norfolk, VA all in one piece. What memories, what a cruise we had in those good old day of long ago !! Join the Navyand see the World - you bet we did.

May 1996 B&S

A MESSAGE FROM YOUR "HONORARY PRESIDENT"

Personal success is usually rooted in a good foundation, commonly required in education, athletics and many other activities associated with our lifetime achievements. Only the extremely talented can hope to succeed with little or no exposure to a learning cycle based on fundamentals.

Naval Sciences provides us excellent examples both in historical contact as well as in today's environment. Thucidides, that ancient historian of Greek sea wars observed this when he wrote: "Their want of practice made them unskilled, their want of skill made them timid, the maritime art like all arts cannot be cultivated by chance or at odd times"

Long ago our navy discovered that learning does not stick like fly paper, when unaccompanied by relentless practice of fundamentals early learned. We see this so clearly in requirements of flight safety, in carrier qualifications and operational exercises; again in submarine approach and attack techniques and in destroyer operations which never cease except in port.

     

Lowry was a high performance destroyer capable of multiple tasks sailing all over the world in harms way both in war and peace. Her personnel early learned the fundamentals, practicing them with great success as attested by her WWII Presidential Unit Citation, Korean and Vietnam war records and seven Battle Efficiency Awards, all through her 28 year-service.

     

She proved an excellent teacher, providing the seagoing foundation where her crew learned the basic lesson of life and death at an early age; at the end when it was all over and her crew left her forever, they had been given the priceless foundation upon which to build and to contribute the best that is America; and that's the glory of it all.

Last January the 1st a truly great Destroyer man was laid to rest at Annapolis, Maryland. Several years before this he had visited his namesake when she was commissioned at Norfolk, Virginia - U.S.S. Arleigh Burke DDG-51; at that commissioning he remarked to her crew "she is a splendid ship and you had damn well better know how to fight her". Admiral Arleigh Burke was Chief of Naval Operations when Lowry sailed the seas. I am certain he would have been proud to visit this great Destroyer for no other reason than you, her officers and men knew well how to fight her.

     

So my friends and shipmates, let's meet once again to share our glorious past next August in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I shall hope to see you there, one and all.

November 1996 B&S

I AM IN AWE OF THEM

Tom Brokaw, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News addressed the graduating seniors on class day at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts last June. At the conclusion of his address he spoke these words which should warm the cockles of your hearts ~ officers and men of the USS Lowry (DD770) and USS Plaice (SS390).

"Fifty years ago this spring, in 1946 another generation of young Americans, many from this institution, celebrated another special spring in their lives ~ their first spring of peace in five years.

Together with their allies they had won the war against Hitler and Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan.

They had done no less than save civilization. They were born, most of them, in the roaring twenties and came of age in the great depression, when all the land was bleak and without much hope. They left their homes, many of them from small villages and farms in rural America, for the first time, and went thousands of miles away to fight, often hand to hand, in primitive conditions, the two mightiest war machines that had ever been assembled. And they won. They saved us. We are their legacy.

They came home and 50 years ago this spring they began to build the America we know today. They went to college in historic proportions. They married and had families. They built great institutions and small businesses. They gave us great universities and great highway systems. They gave us civil-rights laws, and they took us to the moon. They discovered new cures and gave us great songs. They rebuilt their enemies and they kept the peace. They didn't whine and they didn't whimper. Some of them are around today. Others of them are your grandparents, class of 96'. I am quite simply in awe of them.

Fifty years from now let another class day speaker stand here and say, of your generation, 'They saved their world, I am in awe of them'."

July 1998

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE USS LOWRY - FIRST KOREAN WAR TOUR

 

The Commanding Officer's Emergency Night Sea Cabin was located aft of the bridge. It was there that I resided many days and nights when we were attached to Fast Carrier Task Forces in the forward operating area during the Korean War. It became almost a home for me, taking on some aspect of real affinity. A gyro compass repeater over the foot of my bunk kept me up-to-date on changes in the task force when orientationsoccurred. A voice tube by my bunk head connected me with the officer of the deck on the bridge. Internal sound-powered telephones connected me with the engine room, CIC, radio shack, and bridge. Food was always available from the wardroom. During heavy weather and storms, it provided me with quick access to the bridge while not being obliged to be there continuously. I even found the constant noises of the ship, wind, and sea welcome, as well as comforting, while confined to my sea cabin. Surprisingly, I sometimes miss its cozy atmosphere even to this day.

     

Lowry and I operated in the Yellow Sea, somewhere north of the 38th Parallel of latitude. One late afternoon, after a week of plane guarding HMS OCEON, a British Carrier, we anchored about eight miles off shore from the North Korean Communist's positions on the west coast near Pongnang Do. Our starboard anchor chain was then broken apart on deck with a buoy attached to a shackle which could be slipped over the side on a moment's notice if needed, allowing the ship to get underway immediately without first hauling in the anchor and chain, which was a slow process. Shortly after the evening meal, I came on deck and noticed white flashes on the shore and spray spots to the starboard indicating we were being taken under fire from the Communists' shore batteries on the beach. General Quarters was sounded, the anchor and chain was slipped and we were underway and turning, all within the space of 90 seconds, as the shell splashes kept coming closer. You might guess we got out of there in a hurry, returning several days later to sight our buoy and retrieve the anchor and chain. This was a close call, providing a warning shock to all hands at the time.

Later that winter, Lowry operations on the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. One morning, while stationed in a concentric circular screen, she was ordered to take plane guard Station #3 on the carrier Philippine Sea. This station was 3000 yards distance from the carrier bearing 340 relative degrees, putting Lowry ahead on the carrier's port bow. The sea was quite calm, so speed was signaled for 30 knots to get sufficient wind over deck for a pre-dawn launch which commenced at first light around 0430 that particular morning. As the planes took off, one of them seemed unable to attain altitude and suddenly crashed ahead and slightly to the left of the carrier's path and opposite Lowry's plane guard station. When the plane hit the water, a huge column of fire burst upward as her napalm bombs exploded. For a moment, it was almost like daylight from the flash of exploding napalm, then dark again. Lowry instantly turned 90 degrees right, slowed and headed directly for the aviator in the water, who by now could be seen firing his tracer bullets to signal his position. Lowry was at right angles to the onrushing 65,000-ton Philippine Sea, which had announced a slight course change on primary tactical circuit of 10 degrees to the right to pass clear of Lowry, now dead in the water. Lowry's rescue detail had been stationed on the forecastle ready to go overboard to pull the pilot up and get him safely aboard, all within 5 minutes of the crash. At that moment, as seen from the bridge, the carrier swept by like a huge mountain of steel, not more than 100 yards from the Lowry, at 30 knots while continuing to launch planes. It was an awesome feeling shared by all hands who witnessed this rescue. As a sequel to this, it should be noted that the rescued pilot was taken from the Lowry by Helo to the Philippine Sea and launched again later the same afternoon on another strike against North Korean targets. The carrier reported Lowry's response the fastest on record. During the Korean Conflict, many Naval aviation personnel were recalled to active duty and this action proved a serious disruption to many civilian lives. James Michener best describes their subsequent courageous performance in his short story, "The Bridges at Toko Re."

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