The Seaweed

USS Champlin DD-601  

Spring 2001

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"My recollection of Leonard Pott was he was not a striker, but a 3rd or 2nd class and maybe busted and regained his rate; he was an excellent signalman, as was Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth was a 1st Class Signalman coming aboard at commissioning from the carrier "Ranger" and was used to extreme discipline and not used to Tin Can life, but he came around to be a convert to destroyers and made Chief."

"The instrument used for measuring the incline of the ship is called an Inclinometer and is attached to the center line of the ship over the hatch from the wheel house to the chartroom. I know not what incline you took in the Okinawa storm - I was not aboard at that time - but, once in the Atlantic Ocean, we took a 54 tilt, which is very extreme. One of the ships of our squadron, the McLanahan, I believe, took a 72 tilt which blew out her boilers and she was rendered adrift without power and had to be towed. I guess I better sign off now until later, and when I recall various incidents."

Lou Gilbert weighs in with, "I would like to add though, that discipline at times may have seemed chicken poop. I never found it to be bad enough to make me miserable. All of my memories are of great shipmates and officers. Walter Tempinski was a very good friend of mine. He was huge, and muscular, but he didn't have a mean bone in his body. Likewise Rollie Hollingsworth was a great outgoing guy, I only had one fight while aboard the Champlin and I don't even want to relate it. We were a fine ship, and a great crew who always attacked any assignment we were given."

George Styles, former Champlin Reunion Group Historian, recalls receiving correspondence from Thomas J. Hall in which he indicated no interest in attending reunions. In answer to Hall's remarks, George offers the following: "Before I got into the Navy, I spent a year in the CCC's. I was sent to a camp in Salamanca, NY. Most of the guy's were tough and rough from Buffalo, Lackawana, Niagara Falls and a few from Brooklyn. I learned very quickly how to get along with all of them. That training was a big help to me when I got into the Navy. . . I learned how to get along with people."

Dick Valentine writes, ". .in response to the recent articles in the Seaweed submitted by Irwin J. Kappes and Thomas Hall. Needless to say, I was dismayed by the general tone of both pieces, especially since they were written by 'transient sailors', who were neither part of the Champlin's original crew nor among those of us who spent the majority of the war aboard her."

"Kappes' story reads like a fairy tale. No one, and I mean no one, walks in front of the ship's captain in any navy. On the Champlin, we all knew enough to 'make way' when the Skipper was moving around the ship. It's hard to believe that an enlisted man would find himself in front of the captain - on a ladder or anywhere else aboard. Secondly, where the hell did Kappes find a white sock on board ship? I've checked with other shipmates and none of us can remember ever being issued anything but navy blue socks for our entire enlistment."

"As to Kappes throwing coffee at the Bosun's Mate, he seems to have two different versions of this story. When I first heard it, the victim was BM2c Tempinski, who was well known by his shipmates for both his size and temperament. Had anyone been foolish enough to take such radical action against him, they would most probably have found themselves becoming part of the nearest bulkhead. The second version of the story has Kappes as the hero, throwing coffee at BM2c Ellis,...

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another sailor of no small stature who also did not suffer fools gladly. In fact, the entire incident lacks a ring of truth. I can not remember a single time when I or any other shipmate was pulled to do something during a meal. As you know, we had three sections aboard ship, one working, one eating, and one standing watch, so there would be no reason for Kappes to be called out. At the very least, if extra bodies were needed, they would be taken from the men leaving the mess hall, not those still eating."

"Believe whomever you want. I knew both Tempinski and Ellis and I remember them well. My money says Kappes' memory, or at least his stories, have suffered from a loss of clarity since 1945."

"As far as SM3c Thomas Hall's story is concerned, running down a fine man like SM1c Hollingsworth is indefensible. It is very easy to attack someone who is no longer here to defend himself. Perhaps Mr. Hall is not aware that it was Raleigh Hollingsworth and two other shipmates and true friends, Bob Sales and Glenn Ecklund, who put the original Champlin Reunion Group together. Maybe Hollingsworth did that just so everyone could tell him what a bast**d he'd been to them, but I doubt it. I find it more likely that a fifteen year old know-it-all had a problem with authority or with other sailors who knew their job better than he did. Obviously, a guy who lied to get into the Navy wouldn't have too much conviction to lie about what happened once he got there."

Champlin Memories:

"From the kitchen table of Louis Gilbert "we learn that, "Some of my memories of the Champlin, which may not be entirely accurate, as time may have dulled my memory. At seventeen years of age I enlisted on December 2, 1941. The Japanese, upon learning of the quality of recruits, such as I, decided to strike five days later. They didn't think the Navy could possibly survive, with the likes of me. After three weeks at Newport, RI, I was on my way to Ireland aboard the USS Wilkes DD441.

"After nine months aboard this ship, which went through serious damages unrelated to combat, I was transferred as a Fireman 2/c to the 'Champ', along with Albert Lee Starr, James Cox and S1/c Walter Parker. We were plank owners, but were not sent to Fore River, but waited for her first at Fargo, and later at Frazier Barracks in Boston Navy Yard. After serving three months mess cooking on the Wilkes, I wasn't too happy being assigned to compartment cleaning. When it finally ended, I was sent to the after Fire Room under Chief Joe Kratovil and 1/c Water Tender Chester Grabowski who became my mentor. For some reason we NY lads were looked at as wise guys, who couldn't keep our traps shut. "Garbo" taught me when to speak out, and when to shut up. With his and Martin Cover's lessons on civility, I went on to become one of the youngest 1/c petty officers in the Navy. Some of my memories:

"While in charge of Fire Rooms, while two sections were on 48's, I was approached by Lt. Fitzhugh, Asst. Engineering Officer, who told me we were to go into dry dock in the morning. My job was to put the ship on an even keel so that it would rest properly. I asked, 'How?' I was shown numbers on the bow and fantail water lines and told to pump oil as necessary to accomplish this. With great ingenuity I hooked up shore steam of only 80 pounds pressure, and was pumping oil at at very slow rate, from forward aft, with hoses...

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