USS Champlin DD-601
Norm Prewitt S2c writes that his "tour of duty aboard (the Champlin) was a short seven months or so, but it did have a lasting effect on the rest of my life."
"I turned seventeen on January 6, 1945 and having enough credits to graduate High School, and wanting to get in the fight, I joined the Navy on January 16th. I tell this so you will know just how green and wet behind the ears I was."
"After boot camp and a short leave home, I reported to Camp Elliot just outside San Diego. There they sorted you out for your next duty station. I put in for destroyer duty and wound up a few days later aboard the Champlin. Being from the middle of the country, I had never been on anything afloat bigger than a fourteen foot rowboat. I had never seen an ocean or been fifty miles from home, for that matter. I was put in the second division sleeping aft. When I say aft I mean aft.. My compartment was alongside the after steering holding six bunks. My bunk was against the bulkhead and in high seas or speed runs would fluctuate and vibrate. I can still smell the odor of uncovering our bunks from the fireproof covers, as our cubbyhole had no air circulation."
"The first day at sea, the Bosun, I think it was Tempinski, sent me forward to straighten up the paint locker which was located right in the bow, about three decks down. I opened the hatch and found a very neat locker. So I just turned a few labels around and sat down. He came to check on me a couple hours later and looked disappointed that I hadn't turned green. I was fortunate that I never became seasick my whole four years I was in the Navy - not even during the typhoon off Okinawa. I was reading the Seaweed about the chickenshit Navy but I just considered this and other tricks the initiation of being new, like your Freshman year of moving into a new neighborhood. He sent me after the proverbial left hand monkey wrench. I found a dog wrench, went to the paint locker, took a few strands of rope and dipped them into chromate and wrote "Left Hand" on the handle and gave it to him. He looked at it and didn't say a word, but he was having a hard time suppressing a big grin."
Also in this issue:
Champlin Memories.................page 1
"During our bombardment of Wake Island, the hatch to the magazine under the aft 5" gun was jarred loose and fell on my right foot. After limping around for a few days and my foot turning purple I went to sick bay. Doc said it was probably broken so when we got to Okinawa, he took me over to the USS Pennsylvania and took x-rays that verified that indeed I had some broken bones. We came back to the ship and Doc put a cast on my leg up to the knee. I held a metal strap that came down under my foot so I could walk on it, but swim, that probably would have been another matter. The USS Pennsylvania took a hit just hours after we left."
"I was standing watch on the bridge to scan the horizon for ships. The O.D. handed me binoculars to scan from twelve to three o'clock. I had never used binoculars before and when I looked through them everything was fuzzy so I just eyeballed without them. The O.D. asked me why I wasn't using them. I told him I couldn't see a thing through them. He took them from me, adjusted the lens, showed me how to adjust to my eyesight and sighed. The hayseeds were still dropping and the green still livid."
"I had my first can of beer on a party around the other side of Okinawa. I can remember thinking I would rather it was a Coke."
"I remember after we had been eating rations for a few days due to the typhoon, we took on fresh supplies and the baker baked some luscious looking pies. The only trouble , he mixed up salt for sugar. I was eating early chow because I was going on watch. The cooks had a good laugh when we bit into them. More hayseed dropping." "I also remember going ashore in Japan and walking around in the devastation of what was once the city of Nagasaki, or what I always thought was Nagasaki - could be wrong." (Editor: T'was Hiroshima)
"When we returned to the States, I got leave at San Diego and while home, I received orders to report to Treasure Island. I still had over three years to go on my enlistment and the Champlin was headed for mothballs."
"Although my tour on the Champlin was short, it left a definite stamp on my life. I left a lot of hayseeds and the green faded somewhat in those short months. I was only seventeen when I boarded and seventeen when I transferred."
"I spent three years on the light cruiser USS Dayton CL105 attaining the rank of MM2c, before being discharged one day before my twenty first birthday. I fondly remember my Navy days and sometimes wish I had stayed in for twenty or thirty years."
George Styles Bkr2c recalls that "One of my early recollections aboard ship is this. Just picture this: World War II going full blast. Brooklyn Navy Yard working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The Champlin was in the yard for repairs. At that time I was a seaman on the deck force. My job, along with another seaman, was to go over the side on a camel, and chip, wire brush and paint all rust spots. So here the two of us are, with our equipment on this camel hard at work. We had finished one section and about to move to another section of the ship. A wave came along and we lost our grip on the ship and we were quickly swept out by the fast tide."
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