The Seaweed

USS Champlin DD-601  

Summer 2001

SS Wyoming Photo

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"The Champlin was soon deployed to the Pacific with passage through the Panama Canal in June, 1945. I concur with ship's company men that the Okinawa typhoon was unforgettable in many ways. The Japanese mainland was topographically as I had learned it to be in grade school geography - meticulously terraced hillsides and people wearing sandals on little block of wood cleats. But the huge guns hidden at Wakayama were not part of the lessons".


Gerald M. Cruthers, RdM3c writes, "During the early 1960s when I was teaching mathematics at the Norwich Free Academy in Norwich, CT, I was privileged to have as one of my students in an algebra II class, John B. Padgett III. He was very intelligent, personable, made a good appearance, and was a good athlete; he had what it takes to go places. His father and grandfather were both naval officers; so, he was a 'Navy brat'. He graduated from NFA in 1965 and from the United States Naval Academy in 1969; he earned a Master of Science degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1970. Among the many posts he held was 75th Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy."

"In May 1998 I read in the local newspaper that my former student and now Admiral Padgett was to be assigned as Commander Submarine Group Two/Commander, Navy Region Northeast at the Submarine Base in Groton, CT. I wrote to him and received a handwritten letter of thanks from the Admiral. In September, 2000 Marilyn and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary; Bill and Bev Gustin were in attendance, as Bill was our best man. We also invited Adm. and Mrs. Padgett, but they didn't show. At Christmastime I sent them a Christmas card and expressed our disappointment at their not being with us. One day, I received a telephone call from Adm.Padgett saying that he had been called to Washington DC and wondering why we hadn't been notified (of the conflict in schedules). Evidently, someone in his office had goofed.

"I knew that he was going to be transferred to Hawaii this spring, and one day in February, Marilyn and I received an invitation to the Change of Command Ceremony. It was one of the most impressive ceremonies that either one of us had ever attended. The Navy Band Northeast played, and the flag offices were piped aboard. When the senior flag officer came aboard a nineteen gun salute was offered. To Adm. Padgett's surprise, his daughter Morgan, a student at Ledyard High School, sang the National Anthem. The Admiral remarked that he gets weepy at beer commercials. The Chaplain, Captain Mary Washburn, USN, gave the invocation. The congressman from this district, Rob Simmons spoke, as did Vice Admiral John J. Grossenbacher, Commander Submarine Force, U. S. Atlantic Fleet. Adm. Padgett's flag was hauled down, and his successor, Adm. Michael Tracy's flag was raised. Then they each made appropriate remarks."

"The benediction was very moving, as, while Captain Washburn was pronouncing it, the band played 'Eternal Father Strong to Save' (The Navy Hymn). I remember that we used to sing it when we attended church services at sea."

"Following the departure of the official party a reception was held for Adm. Padgett and Adm. Tracy. I carried my Champlin hat with me and had my picture taken with Adm. Padgett both wearing our hats; the photographer was Marilyn."


(The author of the following is unknown. It was contributed by Steve Anastasion.)

I liked standing on the bridge wing at sunrise with salt spray in my face and clean ocean winds whipping in from the four quarters of the globe - the destroyer beneath me feeling like a living thing as her engines drove her swiftly through the sea.

I like the sounds of the Navy - the piercing trill of the boatswain's pipe, the syncopated clang of the ships bell on the quarterdeck, the harsh squawk of the IMC, and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.

I liked Navy vessels - nervous darting destroyers, plodding fleet auxiliaries and amphibs, sleek submarines and steady solid aircraft carriers.

I liked the proud names of Navy ships. Midway, Lexington, Saratoga, Coral Sea, Antietam, Valley forge - memorials of great battles won and tribulations overcome.

I liked the lean angular names of Navy "tin-cans" - Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, McCloy, Damato, Leftwich - mementos of heroes who went before us.

I liked the tempo of a Navy band blaring through the topside speakers as we pulled away from the oiler after refueling at sea.

I like liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port. I even like the never ending paperwork and all hands working parties as my ship filled herself with the multitude of supplies, both mundane and exotic, which she needed to cut ties to the land and carry out her mission anywhere on the globe where there was water to float her.

I like sailors, officers and enlisted men from all parts of the land, farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England, from the cities, the mountains and the prairies, from all walks of life. I trusted and depended on them as they trusted and depended on me - for professional competence, for comradeship, for strength and courage. In a word, they were 'shipmates' - then and forever.

I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was passed: "Now station the special sea and anchor detail - all hands to quarters for leaving port," and I liked the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting pier side. The work was hard and dangerous; the going rough at times; the parting from loved ones painful, but the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the 'all for one and one for all' philosophy of the sea was ever present.

I liked the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ship's work, as flying fish flitted across the wave tops and sunset gave way to night.

I liked the feel of the Navy in darkness - the masthead and range lights, the red and green navigation lights and stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of radar repeaters - they cut through the dusk and joined with the mirror of stars overhead.

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      Crew with Fieldglasses

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