Tuesday, September 1, 2015

One Sailor's Cold Warrior Story

We have a guest post today!

Mike Kerr and I served on the same ship, the U.S.S. Harold J. Ellison, we served at different times but we steamed some of the same oceans, walked the same passageways, ate in the same mess decks, and listened to the same gun mounts roar during the Cold War. Even though I do not know him personally, I consider him a brother. A brother in arms.

Mike wrote the following for a Facebook page we belong to for our old ship the Happy Jack, which is the Ellison's nickname.

"50 years ago this week our ship, the U.S.S. Harold J. Ellison, DD864 left Key West, Fl. While we were notified that we were going to be part of a squadron of destroyers that was the FIRST, from the East Coast to go to VIETNAM. My initial reaction was probably OMG! We left Norfolk, Virginia in September, 1965 with the U.S.S. Bache, DD740. We joined DESRON 24 from Newport, Rhode Island off the coast of Virginia and began our around the world adventure. As it turned out it was probably one of the most exciting events in my life. As an 18 & 19 year old kid, I didn't really take into consideration what might happen over there. We did our time in the war zone, supporting the fleet ops and in close, "in country" river & harbor patrol and gun fire support of the ground troops. But we also circumnavigated the globe (Order of Magellan), went through both the Panama & Suez Canals (Ditch Diggers), went across the International Date Line (Golden Dragon) And going from Polywogs to Shellbacks when crossing the Equator. It was quite an experience and I'm glad I was able to do it."

Thank you Mike for sharing.

The things I have in common with Mike's story are: DESRON 24 out of Newport Rhode Island (my old squadron 72-75), Rounding the Horn and navigating the Straits of Magellan (1972) which Mike would have done following Magellan's path, Panama Canal Transit (1972), Norfolk Naval Station D & S piers, Virginia Capes, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and I served on the Happy Jack from 1979 to 1982.

I also have the Crossing the Equator Shellback and Order of the Ditch Panama Canal certificates.

Here are images of the Happy Jack and the certificates that Mike references in his post.

My certificates are in storage or I'd post photos of the originals.

Thank you to Tiffany Publishing for the use of the sample certificate images.

If you would like to share your Cold War story, please email me at proudcoldwarrior@gmail.com.

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Where did you serve? Military or Civilian? Stateside or Overseas. Fulda Gap? Berlin? NATO? CIA? State Department? The Dew Line? On a Missile Battery? Down in a Silo? At Sea? Under the Sea? In the Air? According to the VA over 26 million Vets are still alive. I'd bet that most served in the 1945-1991 time frame and I'd like to share your story on this blog. As long as it isn't still classified, email me with your story and I will post it here. proudcoldwarrior@gmail.com