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BUCKET & SWAB ARTICLES

SEA TALES & STORIES

August 1995

                       

Lance Nemanic RM2

                                                   

1966-1969

REMEMBERING

I always hold a special place in heart for Lowry. She was my first duty station and brought me back safely from Vietnam.

Life was not always "smooth sailing" in the nearly 4 years I spent aboard her. At times, Life was like the sea itself, turbulent, peaceful, demanding, and at times, seemingly a religious experience. But, she won me over, and after Vietnam, I re-enlisted. It was difficult to serve in the military during the Vietnam War in such a turbulent time of the 60's and 70's. I left the navy in 1973, after spending 8 years of the 10 years on active duty. I have never regretted the challenge, and would do it again. We never got any respect (during a 3-day visit in my hometown, my own Godfather and wife's uncle, told us to get the hell out of town) but I don't care. We were given a job to do and did it to the best of our abilities. We were just kids, growing up fast, as any war can make you do. During WWII, the average age of a solder was 26 years, during Vietnam, the average age was 18 years 11 months.

Moving right along to 1995, I am preparing for a trip to the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk CV- 63 in mid-July (I am a drilling naval reservist attached to the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71). However, in July I'm escort officer for 7 Navy sea cadets ages 16 to 18. My 2 weeks of active duty aboard the Roosevelt will be in September over in the Mediterranean. She is in Bosnia and assisted in the Rescue of Air Force pilot O'Grady who was shot down over the former Yugoslavia Republic.

Having been the only person in my entire family to have served in the military (except for my youngest son who proudly serves in the naval reserves with me aboard the USS Roosevelt unit here in the Twin Cities), I guess at times, I can't get enough. I have seen some profound changes since 1966. The average on active duty is 28.6 years, the average age of the reservist is 46. The military is very high tech - your average recruit is better educated. It is much more a career oriented and professional organization then it was during Vietnam. There are rigid physical fitness and weight standards to be maintained. A lot less grumbling, because everyone is a volunteer. I just returned from a Southern California vacation. The rigors of civilian life justifies this, once a year. I met up with an older Vietnam buddy of mine, Mitch Jones who worked the radio shack with me. I had previously called Bill Meddings who was our OPS officer aboard Lowry. Without letting on to Mitch and lovely wife Billie, Bill made luncheon reservations in the Mission VeJo area for us, our spouses and Bill's son, Todd. We had our own micro-reunion. I love a great surprise and thanks to Bill and his lovely wife, Shari, we managed to pull this one off beautifully./P>

Mitch and I knew each other for about 3 years on the Lowry, and became best of friends. Theodore Roosevelt once said, "If you ever want to find out what a man is really like, go camping with him." Mitch and I hit it off from day one! We have remained best of friends and although guys have a tendency to lose touch, not communicate or write, after meeting with Mitch again 26 years later, we hadn't missed a beat. Picked right up where we left off. That time on the Lowry was one hell of a camping trip!

There is a cozy Irish bar in the San Diego area on the island of Coronado called McP's Irish Pub. It is a local hangout for Navy Seals and townspeople. I have a Guiness Beer Mug with my ID on it that hangs from the Bar. When visiting San Diego, I stop at McP's for a cold draft and a cigar. Scotty (from Glasgow Scotland) and I swap cigars and conversation. At some point I always raise my mug and give a toast to the Lowry and all who sailed upon her. Mid-July, I'll be in Coronado again for the USS Kitty Hawk Cruise. If I get the chance, I will pay Scotty a visit. If any Lowry shipmates get to San Diego, visit McP's and tell Scotty your a shipmate of mine. The food is good, prices are reasonable and dress is casual (of course, in California, if you are wearing socks, you are over-dressed). Purchase yourself a refreshmentand toast the shipmates and their families of the fine lady, USS LOWRY DD-770.

February 1995

                     

Lance Nemanic RM2

1966 - 1969

VIETNAM SHIPMATES MAKE A GOOD SHOWING

Twenty six years had passed since the Vietnam Vets had seen each other. It was as though we hardly missed a beat. We all came out of the O-C Division, including the operations officer, "Wild Bill" Meddings. Bill was the only one who actually looked younger after 26 years. The rest of us were missing hair, teeth and other miscellaneous body parts. The Vietnam Vets "Put the Lowry to Bed" each night down there in New Orleans as Ken Pounders put it. We stayed up until 3 or 4 am each night telling sea stories. We agreed the reunion could have been held any place, as it was the people who made it such a great event.

Sal Tornello was up on the umpteenth floor of the Marriott, or as we called it "The Emerald City" (from the Wizard of Oz).

We wandered the streets of "Sin City," sometimes with no particular destination in mind. I put together a video of the Lowry, and the Marriott wanted to rent a TV for 2 or 3 hundred bucks! One night I talked to one of the gals behind the bar and asked her if I could patch in an 8 mm video tape into the giant TV screen at the bar. She was gracious enough to assist me. By the time the video finished playing, folks from the Lowry, the bar, and kitchen staff had gathered around the TV. It was great fun.

We walked the river walk and had a memorable ride on the St. Charles Street car. Actually Mark Smith had talked us into the streetcar ride. The memorable part of it was when it finished, we had just enough time to have a couple of beers before the gala evening.

The reunion was one of the most fun times I have had in my life. However, I did feel a sense of sadness in that Capt. Blanding who took the Lowry to Vietnam, had passed away shortly after that tour. I really had wanted to see Jack Blanding again. Also, Chief Marvin Litner had died about 2 years ago after a short respiratory illness. He was our radioman chief. I found out recently that for nearly 2 years he lived just 15 miles from my house. I had thought he was on the West Coast.

November 1996

                     

Lance Nemanic RM2

                                               

1966-1969

NAVAL SEA CADET CORPS PRESENTS THE COLORS IN MINNEAPOLIS

The Color Guard consisted of four outstanding cadets from "The Twin Cities Squadron of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps". The first is Lindsay Alden. Lindsay has been in the program for some time, is an excellent student and would like to fly for the Navy. She has been soloing twin engine aircraft since the age of sixteen. Cadets Jake Durant and Josh Cobb are two of our senior cadets that are Marine Corps bound this summer. Cadet Durant was also "Cadet of the Year" and was honored at the annual Navy Ball here in the Twin Cities with over four hundred guests in attendance. Cadet Durant would like to serve in a Marine Corps Reconnaissance unit. He has also been on numerous two week training exercises to both coasts, and joined me last summer aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV63). He completed Seal Team training this year with the Navy Seals in Norfolk, VA and it was a very strenuous program as you can imagine. Cadet Josh Cobb completed the Seal training along with Durant and was also aboard the Kitty Hawk this year. Cadet Cobb is a truly outstanding cadet. I recently finished a "Letter of Recommendation" for him and was very proud to write it.

The fourth cadet I have not mentioned is Cadet Charles Scheel. Cadet Scheel is another outstanding cadet and we have high aspirations for him in the Corps. An excellent student and athlete, Cadet Scheel always gives 100 percent and makes our job easier as we have the second largest Sea Cadet unit in the United States.

Note:

See related story on the "Sea Cadets".

November 1996

                           

Lance Nemanic RM2

                                               

1966-1969

THE NAVAL SEA CADET CORPS

The Twin Cities Squadron of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps was founded in the Minneapolis area in 1962. There used to be a Naval Air Station here in Minneapolis which closed during the 1970's and the squadron of pilots at that time were the Twin Cities Squadron. Our Squadron is the 3rd largest in the United States and Puerto Rico. It is commanded by Lt. Jan Nemanic and has over 80 cadets, and 26 adult volunteers. Some of the adults have extensive military backgrounds, and others do not. We have retired school teachers, police officers, corporate managers, homemakers, firefighters, you name it.

Cadets entering the program must have a good scholastic record, be in good health, and no criminal or juvenile court history. We look at this program as an enrichment program for teens that are good performers. Many of them will enter the armed services after high school. In fact, since the program's inception here in the Twin Cities, we have never had a Cadet turned down for an academy appointment once they have applied. In our minds, the Naval Sea Cadet program is the best youth program in America! (We don't do campfires.) For example, last year, LOWRY Shipmate Lance Nemanic escorted seven of our senior cadets for three weeks in San Diego. During that time the cadets went to TOP GUN school at NAS Miramar and flew the F14 flight simulator. They also flew the Seahawk helicopter simulator at North Island Naval Air Station. The cadets spent a day aboard a tugboat, another day with SEAL Team One, and the subsequent days at the Marine Mammal Warfare Training Center and Camp Pendleton.

Activities also included, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Deep Sea Submergence Recovery, Submarine school, and a day aboard a nuclear sub, Fire Fighting School, and one week of at sea Flight Operations aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63). Aboard KITTY HAWK the cadets got to participate in "real work", as they were assigned Navy "running mates" for the week.