The Seaweed

USS Champlin DD-601  

Spring 2000


Randolph K. Stover writes, "Just a few lines of remembrance about my time served aboard the Champlin. I came to the Champlin by way of the USS Texas, on which Taisto Ranta and I served at the same time. I also served aboard the USS Nicholson DD-442 which I put into commission. Then to the US Naval Torpedo Station. From there John Choman TM1c and I reported to Quincy MA and billeted in a private home. We reported aboard the Champlin daily to help in preparing for commissioning along with Wayne Smith CTM who was later commissioned to rank of Ensign.

"The lowest experience of my times on the Champlin was the loss of Eddie Miller, Torpedoman Striker. We spent many hours on torpedo mount watch. Several hours before he was lost overboard he and I spent the mid-watch together. The weather was really rough and he had the dawn alert General Quarters on the starboard K-guns. After GQ was secured he was not missed until I made the muster on station report. Then it was much too late to make a search for him. Eddie was one of the strongest men I have ever known. He had been a 'Gandy Dancer' tracklayer on the railroad. He could let any man in the compartment get any hold on him in any position, standing or lying down and he could break it with no strain, I liked Eddie a lot and sure missed him.

"Some of the finest men I have ever known I served with in the Navy. Sad to say, some unsavory ones too. When the Champlin sank the U-856 by ramming, she received a large hole in the portside in the mess deck. Hugh Baker, Rush, Bill Henke, some other men and myself were working trying to plug the hole with mattresses and timber. The water was cold and deep, we had to sometimes swing ourselves up to the overhead as the ship rolled in the heavy sea. Many lockers were broken open and the contents floating around. One weasel came down in the compartment, not to help but to steal from the contents. Some money was floating about which he took. Later, when the truth was known, the Executive Officer, Lt. Baughan, who had assumed command upon the death of the Captain, Commander Shaffer, straightened out the thief real quick.

"Another event was the missing ham caper, or should I say, circus, as it turned out to be. I know some of the crew knew what happened and I also believe several officers knew that the ham was cooked the first night it was missing. After seeing the movie "The Caine Mutiny" I think a course was probably taught at the Naval Academy to make a big to-do over any incident no matter how small just to break the monotony of so many days at sea. The caper livened things up for a few days.

"I was involved in another incident when we were patrolling off Anzio. I was working out on the punching bag by the loading machine when the bag came loose and bounced over the side. Some time later a lookout reported a floating mine. GQ was sounded and later we retrieved the bag. The OD was a little unhappy when I reported what had happened, but not until after we had gone to GQ. I guess, all's well that ends well.

"In late 1947 I decided to go home to my family, one son already. He did one hitch in the Navy aboard the USS Ranger off Vietnam. My wife insist my Navy stories influenced him to enlist. I am still a Navy man at heart and it was a pleasure to have served on the Champlin with so many fine shipmates. I would like to add; may God bless them all.

"One last thought, I think the bad mouthing of Raleigh Hollingsworth was from someone that got what they deserved. Raleigh was a fine man and a great shipmate."

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Victor Wright says he remembers "several sailors trying to pick up survivors from the convoy ships. All the names I am not sure of, but I do remember Bosun Powell for one, with ropes tied to them trying to swim out to rescue the men in the water. I remember the calls and cries of those on life rafts and timber.

"But due to the large swells and the fact that we were not allowed to stop because of the danger to our ship, the Captain called for the men to get out of the water. Some became angry that they couldn't rescue the men in the water.

"But the Captain was adamant and demanded that the rescue cease. His demands had logic in them. His orders were not to endanger 180-200 men for the few souls that could be rescued.

"For myself I remember vaguely visiting a French Foreign Legion post or outpost in the village of Sidi Bel Abbes near Oran or Mers El kibir. We traveled 20 or so miles into the desert in the latter part of 1943 or first of '44. I remember the garrison had stables filled with white horses. We visited a small pub there also.

"Also in 1943 we had the opportunity to visit the catacombs at Palermo Sicily - after the invasion to be sure.

"Also among my memories is the Champlin rescuing two downed pilots who went down in the Mediterranean from their P-38 planes. The pilots said that lightning struck their plane in a storm


Mark J. Leonard writes in a note to Norm Prewitt, "I was a RT3c on board the Champlin. I came aboard in New York when she returned from Europe to have the torpedo tubes removed. The first thing I saw boarding was the carrier USS Franklin. This was the worst mess I think I ever saw. Later in life (I learned) my best friend's brother was killed on board and our parish priest was a Yoeman when it was hit.

"I was stationed in CIC during my time on board the Champlin. I stood watch with Joe Tramonti and Van Dusen. I have never seen anything about Van Dusen but I knew Joe has died.

"I remember the typhoon and how I found a case of peaches under a tarp midship and ate peaches for several days."


John W. Haskell writes, "I very much appreciate your fine compilation of shipboard personnel stories and recollections of their experiences on the Champlin in your publications of "The Seaweed". They are most interesting and very colorful.

"As for me, I was a Seaman 1c (RT) and the extent of my duty on the DD601 was only about five months in 1945/1946. This, of course, was far too short a time to get to know many of the other shipboard guys, however, my memory of that time is still clear and memorable. I was temporarily assigned to assist a Chief Yoeman who was working for CAPT R. Malpass, the Material Officer and

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