A Memoir and Reflection on the Search for the USS Scorpion
Memorial Day 2011 was one of the most splendid and euphoric weekends of my life. My then 26-year-old daughter was about to graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a master’s degree. She had become a lover of learning at a great institution, a reflective student and a confident and capable young woman.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed I was in college, and at Christmastime I was back in Vermont and enlisted.
When I enlisted most of the fellows wanted to be "fly boys," but I wanted signal corps. I liked radio, had gone to a National Youth Administration project and had some radio training, so I got what I wanted.
On July 16, 1942, men from various units were gathered together on the ship Pasteur designated for parts unknown. We became the 1060th Signal Service Company, a part of the 323rd Air Service Group.
I was a flight engineer with the 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company, the Muleskinners, in Cu Chi Vietnam from June 1968 to February 1970.
In the predawn hours of Feb. 26, 1969, the North Vietnamese sappers made a ground attack on our flightline. I was part of a reactionary force asleep on my helicopter when the attack came. One crewmember was on each helicopter in its protective revetment to assist in any attack that might occur. We were warned this may happen.
We had rotated crewmen each night for two weeks in anticipation of such an event.
I served from 1976 to 1980; then reserve time; in 1985 went back on active duty until I retired in 1999.
My highest rank was Master Sergeant/E8. I enjoyed my time in the Corps. We raised three boys all the way through college degrees. I'm currently 100% disabled; the VA hospital in Cincinnati has done a terrific job helping me get through all my medical needs.
I wish to thank everyone who supported our military forces, not just us warheads.
Proud of my son who decided to join the Kentucky Army National Guard.
JOHN (ED) BRAY, WORLD WAR II PURPLE HEART RECIPIENT
John (Ed) Bray was awarded a Purple Heart for his service and wounds in World War II. After all he went through in the war, he and his wife often say, “God must have had a mission for him.”
Assignment to sub hunter duty in the Atlantic. Ed grew up on a small farm in Mount Vernon, Ky. He had four brothers and a sister. When he turned 18, he was drafted into the Navy on Oct. 23, 1943. He took his basic training at Great Lakes.
Photo: World War II veteran and grasshopper pilot Charles Rogers stands in front of his Piper Cub. Rogers’ plane had an image of a baby on it, in honor of his first child being born, a daughter, Clare.
During World War II, Charles Rogers, now 96, flew more than 100 missions, unarmed and without parachutes, through the front lines of battle in Europe. He received an air medal with two oakleaf clusters for his service.
As a grasshopper pilot, he steered a nimble Piper Cub to safety, despite facing off with Germans, along with their Messerschmitts and Long Toms.
In my case, REALLY cold! 1963 - 1972 in a submarine (SSBN and SSN) with two Extended trips to the Arctic seas, occasionally under ice. Ice in the bilges, cold sleeping on mattress on the torpedo room deck (tank top). Sometimes terrifyingly anxious moments, other times mostly slow and quiet. Glad I did the tour, but wouldn't want to repeat it. Other runs in the Med trailing "bogies" and occasionally finding undersea mountains that were not on the charts, yet.
Memorable was a repair job I did on a radio aboard USS Nautilus in New London.
Smooth sailing and following seas!
Lt. Col. Wittenborn enlisted in the Air Force Reserve, 442nd MAW, Richards-Gebaur AFB, Mo., in February 1967. Returning from basic training, he entered the OJT 70210 personnel specialist program. In June 1971 he returned to Lackland AFB, Texas, to enter OTS. After graduation he went to Laredo AFB, Texas, to UPT and graduated in August 1972. He returned to Richards-Gebaur and the 442TAW flying the C-130A, E and B models.
In he moved with members of his unit to Peterson AFB, Colo., to start a new C-130 tactical airlift wing, the 303rd TAW, with two squadrons and a total of 16 aircraft.
I enlisted while attending the University of Chicago in 1942. They sent me to Dartmouth College. I did OK, but opted to fight the war. I was trained as a signalman in flashing light and semaphore. I was then sent to Chickasaw, Ala., to be a signalman on a new destroyer, DD656 Van Valkenburg, a Fletcher-class destroyer. We took the ship on a shakedown cruise in the Atlantic. We stopped over at Bermuda and then returned to the United States to Charleston, S.C. We then escorted a cruiser through the Panama Canal.
Then went to San Francisco. Sailed to Hawaiian Islands.
As an 18-year-old kid fresh out of high school in the Naval Reserve, I received my orders after reporting to Treasure Island, San Francisco, for active duty. After a plane ride out of Travis Air Base, a stop in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then on to Midway Island, I finally caught up with my ship, USS Maddox DD-731 based out of Long Beach, Calif. Preparing to go on my first West-Pac for naval gun support and enemy interdiction along the coast of Vietnam, little did I know just how demanding and spartan a lifestyle awaited me aboard that ship which became my home for the next two years.
I graduated from Highland in May 1967; the Vietnam War had broken a few years earlier. By July I was signed up for the United States Air Force on a short delayment, until my sister Dixie got married. I left for Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on Aug. 10 1967. I finished basic training there, and was transferred to Chanute Air Force in Rantoul, Ill., for tech school. I started out with single engine jets; in the 1960s Chrysler was testing a turban-powered car.
I joined the United States Air force on 9 July 1959. At that time the draft was after every eligible male in the United States. I had told my parents and high school friends that after graduating I would join the Air Force. That did not happen immediately. I went to work at a gas station tending the pumps (this was when you did not have self service). I learned the mechanical side of the car by doing tune-ups and eventually rebuilding engines. When the Vietnam situation was getting hot, I decided it was time to serve my country.
I departed from my beautiful Island of Puerto Rico and joined the Air Force. Back in those days racial bias was an ongoing thing in the United States of America, but not back in Puerto Rico where the color of a person didn't matter as long as that person had money. The bias back home depended only on whether a person was rich or not.
I was sent to Lackland AFB in Texas for basic training.
I was in the Air Force for 28 years, from 1952 through 1980, serving during the Korean and Vietman wars. I retired as an E-8 (SMS), earning among others the AF Commendation Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters and the small arms marksman medal. Basic training was at (now defunct) Parks AFB, Calif., (near Fairfield - 12 weeks at that time), and tech schools at Biloxi, Miss. (1952-1953 for Intercept Operator and 1963-1964 for Computer Maintenance Specialist).
I lived in Peoria, Ill., and joined the Air Force July 10, 1951, with my friend Jack Cooper. Basic training was at Sampson AFB, New York, in Flight 510. We were issued O.D. uniforms and later blues. I still have my complete O.D.s and they still fit! I was never stationed in Texas! After basic training I attended radio operator school at Keesler AFB, Miss. At Keesler I received orders changing my rank from PFC to A/3c. My next assignment was at Blue Knob State Park, Pa., as a radio operator.
I was stationed overseas at Thule AB, Greenland, from September 1952 to September 1953.
The city of Ocean Springs, the mayor and board of aldermen put on a spectacular event to honor Command Sgt. Maj. Adelchi Pilutti, U.S. Army combat veteran of World War II on March 6, 2015, at the Ocean Springs Community Center.
Aldelchi is a member of American Legion Post 42. Adelchi, born in Italy, emigrated to America as a child and after Pearl Harbor, as a young man, enlisted in the Army; after being detained for two months along with other aliens, he joined the 82nd Airborne. He jumped at 2:30 a.m., June 6, 1944, with the 508th PIR at Chef Dupont, Normandy, France, on D-Day.
By 1st Lt. David B. Bartruff, U.S. Army
Dear Diary: This is the first Christmas that I’ve ever spent away from home and my family in Chicago, Illinois. So far it has been peaceful: thankfully, for now anyway.
This story takes place back in 1952. I had recently returned to my squadron; the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Walker AFB in Roswell, New Mexico; from a six-month tour at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Ill., where I had attended and graduated from the Aircraft Instruments Repairman Course. A C-124 cargo plane landed at Walker AFB and I was handed a work order to repair a problem with and engine temperature system on that aircraft.
I repaired the problem in due time.
I worked at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., for three and a half years. We had missile silos, B-52s, a fighter jet squadron and strike force helicopters to defend the missile silos. Instead of going to Vietnam, I stayed in Minot where I worked in personnel. One job was in-and-out processing, where we would take records in and help airmen and officers get situated and into their proper work area. Working with SAC was different from other commands. SAC seems to always get their personnel back after a tour to Vietnam.
In the mid 80's I was aboard the Coast Guard cutter Salvia; she had just gone over major repairs, mainly to the boom and winch. We were off the east coast of Florida testing the boom. The ship had about 15 degrees of list and was trying to lift a lot of weight off the ocean floor, when we got a call in from the Coast Guard base about a vessel on fire and sinking in our vicinity. We looked around and reported no, we don't see any vessel. The base had the woman on the phone and she kept saying she was looking at it.