- CHET HEADLEY -
Chet Headley was a Navy Sonar Tech who came aboard the Michelson in July 1964 as a STGSN after having attended Fleet Sonar School Key West and Guided Missile School’s Spec Tech at Dam Neck Virginia.

Shortly after arriving aboard Michelson he was promoted to STG3 and in 1965 was promoted to STG2.

He left the Michelson 13 December 1965 for the USNS Bowditch. After taking leave he met the Bowditch in Lisbon Portugal February 1966. After the Bowditch returned to Hoboken New Jersey for dry dock he was transferred to Brooklyn Receiving Station 13 December 1966 to await separation.

His history of assignments is:

Enlisted NAVCRUITSTA Cleveland OH       - 24 Jan 63
USNTC Great Lakes IL                                 - 25 Jan 63
US Naval Hosp Great Lakes                          - 08 Apr 63 - 05 Jun 63
Fleet Sonar School Key West FL                   - 22 Jun 63 - 13 Mar 64
GMS Dam Neck VA                                     - 14 Mar 64 - 19 Jun 64
USNS Michelson T-AGS 23 at Bayonne       - 06 Jul 64  -  22 Dec 65 - at Yokosuka
USNS Bowditch T-AGS 21 at Lisboa            - 20 Feb 66 - 12 Dec 66 - at Hoboken NJ
Brooklyn Rec Sta Release from Active Duty   - 12 Dec 66 - 15 Dec 66 - at Brooklyn NY

After separating from the Navy he went to work for General Instrument Corporation as a Tech Rep and was assigned to the USNS Michelson. He arrived back aboard Michelson 17 March 1967 while the ship was dry docked in Yokosuka Japan. He served 13 months aboard Michelson then returned to CONUS April 1968. In September 1969 He returned to General Instrument Corp as a Tech Rep for a return assignment to Michelson. He arrived 19 November 1969 and remained until 22 June 1972.

 

HOW I GOT TO THE MICHELSON
Boot Camp, 1963
Boot_Camp1b.jpeg (185572 bytes)

RTC Great Lakes – Company 39 1st Regiment 15th Battalion
Commenced Training:    05 Feb 1963
Completed Training:      11 Apr 1963 

Front Row L to R:
Robert T Simmons
Kenneth C Loud 

Back Row L to R:
Larry L Tucker               Atlanta Georgia
C J Headley                    Munroe Falls Ohio

Fleet Sonar School, Key West.  July 1963 to March 1964
FSS_Key_West_Buddys_and_Car.jpeg (171732 bytes) The Adventures of “Old Shitbag” and Her Buddies 

- Click to enlarge. 

This is a true story, not a “Sea-Story”, about the 1955 Plymouth Plaza Station Wagon my buddies and I bought while we were attending Fleet Sonar School Key West, Florida, from July 1963 to March 1964. We were in class 22-63. My ultimate duty station was Oceanographic Detachment Three embarked aboard USNS Michelson T-AGS 23, with an intermediate TDY assignment at the U. S. Naval Guided Missiles School Dam Neck, Virginia Beach, Virginia, from March 1964 to June 1964. 

In the photo above I can only remember the name of the third person from the left, Robert Saunders. Bob was prior service (Navy), having reenlisted in England where he had been living since he left the Navy after his first enlistment. The guy to the far left with the sunglasses was from Virginia, Richmond or Winchester I believe. The second guy from the left was from New Jersey. Sorry I can’t remember their names; it has been 44 years since we went our separate ways. This picture was taken in the fall of 1963. 

The car is a story in itself. Four of us bought the car, the three guys facing the camera and yours truly. Three of us went to Miami one weekend to buy a car that we could use to go to Miami on weekends. The idea was to take other sailors to Miami for five bucks apiece up and five bucks back. We figured we could carry five guys in it so we’d take in about $50.00 on a weekend. That was the plan. As fate would have it our plans kind of went awry. 

After the three of us (the guy with the sunglasses, Bob and yours truly) arrived in Miami we started “kicking tires”. I can’t remember which road we were on, but it seemed like the one we chose was nothing but wall-to-wall used car dealers. We especially liked the kind that had a big sign saying: “We Tote the Note.” They were our kind of “used car” lot (known nowadays as Pre-Owned). After what seemed like an eternity we finally stumbled upon the white-over-green 1955 Plymouth Plaza Station wagon you see in the picture. It seemed like the ideal car to haul sailors between Key West and Miami. In theory it was a great idea, in practice, well, that is the story! 

We took the car for a test ride, which wasn’t too impressive as the engine was only running on five of its six cylinders. While on the test drive we stopped to have a look in the engine compartment to see if we could figure out why it ran so “well”. It turned out that one spark plug wire was off the plug. As soon as we returned it to its rightful position she ran like a top. Of course, being the wise chiselers we thought we were, we took the plug wire off before we returned to the dealer’s lot.

We put our little beanies on and started bargaining like real pros (read that “rank amateurs”). We managed to get the price down to $200.00. With our $80.00 down payment ($20.00 from each investor) the dealer toted the note for the $120.00 balance, our first foray into the world of high finance. Darn we were good, wheeler-dealers extraordinaire; look out world, we were on our way!

Once the paper work was completed we drove off the lot, and as soon as we were far enough away that we couldn’t be seen we stopped and reattached the plug wire. We then commenced tooling around Miami Beach proudly showing off our “new ride”. While so doing we noticed that the floor seemed to be a little lumpier than it should have been. We figured there must be some trash that had worked its way under the fine OEM “designer” rubber floor mat. As we proceeded down the road with Bob behind the wheel, I decided to lift the mat to see what it was that was causing all the strange contours on the floor. Low and behold the lumps were garbage can lids, which were substituting for the floorboards that had rusted out. When I lifted the lid on the passenger side the only thing visible was moving road surface and the remnants of the bracing that once served as support for the now disintegrated floorboards. These braces were all that kept the garbage can lids from dropping out the bottom of the car, and they were in pitiful shape themselves. Obviously we couldn’t put much weight on the floor, especially while she was underway, or at any time for that matter. All of a sudden this slick deal we pros had pulled off was looking like a snooker job with us being the ones snookered. Yeah, it looked more like the dealer got the slick end of this deal.

To make the best of the situation, we started dreaming up ways to make use of the convertible floorboards. The first idea we came up with was that we could relieve ourselves on those long trips without having to stop at restrooms, and secondly it would make a great way of disposing of empty beer cans without being seen throwing them out the windows (you have to remember we were young and full of ourselves). Last but not least, if the brakes failed we could do a Fred Flintstone and use our feet to stop the beast.

After coming up with a bunch of great uses for the convertible floorboards the deal didn’t seem so bad. We continued driving around Miami looking at the great scenery. For some reason all the scenery we waved at just stood there laughing. Maybe they knew something we didn’t. I got the feeling this set of wheels had been around the block more than a few times in Miami and probably had a reputation that we had yet to hear about.

One of the things that attracted us to this car was the fact that it had three rows of seats, the last row facing the rear. It could seat a lot of sailors (read that paying customers) and still accommodate a couple of the investors. As luck would have it we decided to head up to Fort Lauderdale to check out the scenery there. On the way we saw a couple of sailors in dress whites hitch hiking. We passed them by, and then decided to go back and offer them a ride north. When we got back to where they were we asked them where they were headed. They said Fort Lauderdale, which is where their ship was docked, a carrier whose name escapes me after all these years. At any rate we said we’d take them to their ship. Since the rear seats were folded down the three of us had been riding in the front. We got out and pulled the middle seat up from the folded position. The sailors got in and off we went to Lauderdale. The trip up was uneventful until we got to their ship. They got out of the car and started walking away from us heading towards their ship. The backs of their uniforms were black from all the dust that had been covering the seats and was now covering the backs of their whites from their shoulder blades to their knees. These guys were absolutely filthy and they were about to climb the gangway to their ship. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in a uniform that looked like theirs when I reported back aboard my ship, especially a carrier. Those things usually have an Admiral lurking around somewhere. 

When we saw how messed up their once nice uniforms were we couldn’t help but laugh. If you had seen them walking away from the car you’d have laughed too, it was impossible not to. We then turned around and looked at the rear seat; what we saw made us laugh even harder. You could see exactly where they had been sitting, two relatively clean spots. The remaining dirt on the seats must have been an inch thick. We actually felt bad that we had inadvertently ruined their dress uniforms. I say ruined because I doubt they were able to wash the filth out. The car was eight years old but the seats looked as if they had been in the folded position collecting dust for at least twenty years. Those fine airtight floorboards only helped to make matters worse. 

Now that we had a fine reliable means of transportation we headed back to Key West. Once back we commenced detailing it so it would be ready for the next weekend, which was when we were to commence our transport operations.

That weekend arrived none too soon. We needed to get things moving so we would have a cash flow that would enable us to make our car payments. We didn’t bother with such niceties as insurance as that would just subtract from the bottom line. Of course the lack of it, among other things, is why you see the car parked outside the base; they wouldn’t allow it inside. The first trip to Miami turned into a disaster, two blowouts on the way up which used up our spares (it came with two which should have been a clue that something wasn’t exactly kosher). We finally made it to Miami; needless to say our paying customers weren’t overly impressed with the service. On the return trip to Key West we lost another tire and had to buy a used one (which we could barely afford) to make it back to KW. That was a 75% failure rate. Somehow this venture was getting off to a rather bumpy start in more ways than one. We were out of spare tires and the tires on the ground didn’t look up to another Miami / KW round trip. Fortunately we did manage to make it back to Miami to retrieve our passengers. Once we were back in KW we rethought the whole idea of using the car outside KW.

The green and white 55 Plymouth wagon henceforth became known as “Old Shitbag”. We continued to use it around KW, though never again venturing off the island with her. It wasn’t long until additional problems developed with the car, so it ended up sitting outside the base. We’d go visit her once in a while but never to go anywhere in it because it couldn’t go. We actually started to feel sorry for her just sitting there; of course she had plenty of company as there were other similarly fine cars like her parked close by that were also banned from the base.

Eventually Bob went to Miami and bought another car (Bob was the wealthy one of the bunch, with him being an E5 with over four years longevity. The rest of us were so low on the pay scale we had to use a microscope to see the amount printed on our checks.). This time it was a ‘54 Caddy convertible that was in nice shape. Needless to say, with this being our new ride “Old Shitbag” was ignored big time.

One day we decided to pay the old gal a visit. To our surprise she was gone, like vanished. We figured someone must have stolen her because the guy that was toting the note wouldn’t have come all the way to KW to repossess a piece of junk. The thief must have been desperate to take something like her. We kind of felt bad that we didn’t know exactly what had happened to her. We had some great times with her and all we could now do was hope she had a good loving home. We resigned ourselves to knowing we’d never see her again.

Late one afternoon, for some unknown reason, we decided to drive the road that circled the island of KW. What we least expected was that we were about to learn the fate of the “Old Shitbag”. As we were traveling along we came upon a junkyard. Sitting high atop a pile of crushed cars was none other than our beloved “Old Shitbag”. She was at the pinnacle of that pile of flattened cars. The stack was at least 40 feet high and she was sitting there, the only uncrushed car on the pile, like the crown on Queen Elizabeth’s head. She actually looked kind of happy sitting way up there. She seemed to be smiling at us as if to say goodbye and to thank us for the good times. I think she knew she would once again become part of something new.

Come to think of it we never finished paying off the note; in fact we never made a single payment. Just think how much interest has accumulated on that $120.00 note in the 45 years since we “bought” her. I hope the statute of limitations has run out.

I hope everyone that reads this realizes that when we named her “Old Shitbag” it was out of fondness for her, not malice. We were young Sailors who used profanity differently than normal folks. It was our way of referring to her in an endearing manner. We had a lot of fun with her and got a lot of laughs from all the trials and tribulations we experienced with her. My memories of her and our adventures with her will remain a source of pleasure. I’ll never forget her or my buddies, even though time has blurred some of their names.

 

USNS MICHELSON, 1964-1965
Bernie Streneb.jpeg (632332 bytes) Bernie Max Strean, Jr. of NAVOCEANO, ca. 1964-1965.
b. 06 Mar, 1936
d. 02 Jul, 2002
My Bunk Lower 64-65b.jpeg (562083 bytes) My bunk-lower, January1965.
ScannedImage018_018b.jpeg (581847 bytes) Underway. Mirror Imageb.jpeg (519877 bytes) Mirror Image, January1965.
Michelson Transits the Panama Canal on Her Way to Japan,
September 196
4
ScannedImage003_003b.jpeg (579082 bytes)
- Click the thumbnail for the photo album.

Here I am writing about the trip we took through the Panama Canal on our way to our new home port in Yokosuka, Japan (sort of home port, I believe Norfolk was always our “Official” home port), with a side trip into an Oakland dry-dock (Willamette Iron and Steel Works, if my memory isn’t in fabrication mode), 44 years after the fact. Better late than never.

I reported aboard Michelson in Bayonne, New Jersey July 1964 while the ship was docked at the Bayonne Army Terminal. She had been undergoing sea trials approximately every two weeks. Our schedule was two weeks in, two weeks at sea, Caribbean Sea to be precise. Most of our operations were for testing the new equipment that had been installed during the recent overhaul. The equipment that we were testing consisted of LORAC, LORAN C, SINS, BRN-3 and SASS. When LORAC worked it was fine. One problem was that when you lost tracking you had to return to a known position to pick up the correct “Lane Count”. Needless to say, this piece of navigation equipment did not sail with us when we left Bayonne for the final time. SASS was also experiencing quite a few “teething” problems. In other words it didn’t work worth a darn and could hardly stay up long enough to make a single pass. But, it was the latest in Sonar so it stayed.

I have digressed from my original intent, which was to write about the trip to and through the Canal, so here we go back on track.

It was, I believe, sometime in early September 1964 that we sailed from Bayonne for the last time and headed for Panama. After what seemed like a week at sea we arrived (during the evening or very early morning before first light) at the canal entrance, which is in Limón Bay. Once there we joined the other ships anchored in the bay waiting for their scheduled passage through the canal.

 Eventually a canal pilot came aboard. It was now our turn to head South East through the canal. I’ll digress a little here to explain something a lot of landlubbers, and sailors alike, don’t know. When traversing the Panama Canal from the Atlantic side you travel from the North West to the South East where you exit into the Pacific Ocean. Doesn’t seem to make sense but that’s the way it is due to the geography of the Isthmus of Panama.  If my memory serves me correctly we started through late in the morning. From the time we entered the canal and passed through it and sailed under the Bridge of the Americas at the most eastern end, approximately nine hours had passed. It was dark thirty.

The first set of locks on the Atlantic side are the Gatun Locks, a series of three steps up, or down, depending on which direction you are headed. In our case it was up 85 feet above sea level during mean tide. All locks but one are the same size, 110 feet wide, 1000 feet long with seven-foot thick gates. All ships passing through must pass through six locks, during which 52 million gallons of fresh water are used. I’m sure that varies with the displacement of the ship.

Once we exited the last of the Gatun locks, we were in Gatun Lake at which time the MSTS crew began washing (hosing) down the ship. We were in fresh water for a change so it was a great opportunity to wash the salt off our trusty old C2 Victory hull. This was probably more of a ritual than anything practical; the big salt-water pond called the Pacific Ocean was approximately 51 miles South East and we were heading for her. In all likelihood we were destined to spend many years sailing around in it with little or no chance of ever returning to the canal for another “fresh water hose down”. So, in some respect it made sense. To the best of my knowledge, Michelson never sailed the canal again.

The passage through Gatun Lake was relatively slow; we probably never went over ten knots, if that. It was a slow and enjoyable 23-mile trip through the lake. The scenery was beautiful, like lush jungle almost everywhere one looked. There were signs of human encroachment, there had to be for the canal to exist. And of course, the weather was perfect. Another aside: Lake Gatun is one of the worlds largest man made bodies of fresh water, 166 square miles.

As we passed through the canal we entered Gillard Cut, one of the narrowest portions of the canal. We came to a very picturesque spot where a waterfall on our port side was cascading down the hillside into the canal. I managed to take a picture of it with my trusty Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. 

Some of what you see in the pictures may no longer exist due to “improvements” to the canal’s capacity. Recently I viewed a time-lapse transit of the canal from the Atlantic to Pacific and I did not see the waterfall shown in picture 08 nor did I see the Panamanian Railroad Bridge. I’m assuming these items have become victims of the “progress” (expansion) that has taken place since our 1964 passage.

Unfortunately the only camera I had was the Brownie Hawkeye. Considering the camera, the time that has elapsed since the pictures were taken, and the cameraman, they are relatively decent.  I still have the negatives but they turned out to be useless; there has been a drastic deterioration of the dyes. The pictures here were scanned from the original 44 year old prints.

Commentary:

One last item most people probably don’t know about the Michelson. She saw combat in the Pacific as the SS Joliet Victory and was attacked by Japanese aircraft, two of which she shot down. There were two “Meatballs” painted on the side of the bridge during her service during WWII to commemorate the event. She had guns on the forecastle, fantail and on both sides of the 04 level. She carried a couple of US Navy or Marine guards and a contingent of convicts that manned the guns. To get the convicts to accept these assignments they were offered commutation of their sentences once the war ended if they survived and served honorably. I was told of her exploits by one of our Chief Mates / First Officers, Mr. Jack A. Rath who sailed the Michelson during WWII when she was SS Joliet Victory. I got to know Mr. Rath fairly well during my three tours aboard the Michelson. He was the Chief Mate / First Officer during the SS Grand rescue and in my opinion, was one of the best officers aboard the Michelson.

Hopefully other former crewmembers of the Michelson have pictures of the Canal transit and the many other voyages she and her sister ships made and will share them and their memories with this Web Site. Earl Adams was thoughtful and kind enough to create it. This is history, if we don’t save and share it, it will be lost forever. Once we are gone it will be irretrievable. And let’s face it; none of us are getting any younger. We owe it to those that steamed ahead of us, with us, those that followed in our wake, our descendants and those interested in these ships. Long live the memories of the Michelson, Bowditch and Dutton, our seagoing homes.

 

USNS Michelson, 1967-1968
  Headley_GITechRep.jpeg (446964 bytes) Chet Headley
General Instrument Corp. Tech Rep
USNS Michelson
ca. 1967-1968
Officer_Club_ca67-68.jpeg (189457 bytes) The Officer's Club in Yokosuka.  Chet Headley (left) and George Glotzel of NASL
  Click a thumbnail to open the photo album, then any thumbnail in the album to start the slide show.  Click any slide in the album to open that photo at a higher resolution.
  ScannedImage031b.jpg (138569 bytes) Start of the Aug, 1967 Cruise Aug1967_Cruise_Storm039.jpg (147340 bytes) Storm during the Aug, 1967 Cruise
  IwoJima019.jpg (177179 bytes) Stop at Iwo Jima, July, 1967 Cruise. UnscheduledExcitement017.jpg (154710 bytes) Unscheduled excitement, July, 1967 Cruise
  Killing_Time1.jpg (183720 bytes) Killing time, July, 1967 Cruise    
         
         

 

USNS Michelson, 1969-1972
  Chet Headley GI 1970b.jpeg (340319 bytes) Chet Headley General Instrument Corp. Tech Rep, USNS Michelson, ca. 1970
  My Wife's dog Chibi
22 Jan, 1972, Yokosuka, Japan

"The Char-O Snaps are real doggone good!"
  "Thanks for the People Crackers. I'm getting even with the people that eat Animal Crackers!"
Photo Album:
  - Click a thumbnail to open the photo album, then any thumbnail in the album to start the slide show.  Click any slide in the album to open that photo at a higher resolution.
  1971_Storm003.jpg (136506 bytes) Storm during the December 1970-January 1971 Cruise
     

 

USNS Bowditch, 1966
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Coffee break, ca. 1966.  Chet Headley, STG2 (left), and Jack Barone, General Instrument Corp.

 

Hank and Chet’s “Travel Adventures in Portugal” , July 1966
     
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The Photo Album alone.  Click the thumbnail.
(Click the first thumbnail in the album to display the photos.  Click each displayed photo for a higher resolution image.)

The Story, with photos.
During the Bowditch’s July 1966 port call in Lisbon Portugal, Hank Mullaney (GI) and I (Navy) decided to visit the shrine at Fatima. During most of our imports Hank and I would share a rental car except when we were in Belfast. Hank, having been born in Dublin, had family there so he usually rented a car and drove down and stayed with relatives. I would rent one and drive to the Embassy Club where I would stay with the, uh, local virgins.

The day of our trip to Fatima was bright and sunny, perfect sports car weather, especially for a car that had a top that could be lowered. We found the perfect car rental agency that specialized in high performance sport touring vehicles. The Triumph Herald immediately caught our eye. Its low-slung chassis and ultra wide stance made it the perfect road car for our trip, or so we thought.

We signed the papers and off we went. The trip to Fatima was quite enjoyable though uneventful. The scenery was rugged but beautiful. Traffic was light so we didn’t have to contend with other drivers that thought they were Grand Prix racers; we already had two of our own.
     
 

On the way to Fatima Hank Mullaney decides to check the highway’s suitability for a High Speed Test Run in our rented “Sports car”.
 
     
After we arrived at the shrine we walked around taking in the sights. It is a beautiful and very sacred place. In my infinite wisdom I decided to make a few sacrilegious jokes and or comments. Chalk it up to stupidity and more stupidity. Pay back wouldn’t be long in coming.
     
 

The Fatima Basilica at Fatima Portugal, the goal of our trip.



Fatima Basilica 06/05/2001 copied from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%A1tima%2C_Portugal

(Used by permission under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.)

 
     
The shrine is quite large so it took a good bit of time to walk around and see the sights. Needless to say we got a bit hungry in the process, and a bit thirsty too, if you know what I mean. The next order of business was to find a nice restaurant where we could have a good meal and a bit of refreshment to “re-hydrate” ourselves.

We found a place close by where we could sit outside while enjoying our meal and refreshments. Well, after a couple bottles of wine each, we were ready to tackle the High Speed Test Run of our rented Triumph Herald “Sports Car”. Don’t ask what we had to eat cause I’m not sure we ate. Drinking wine is basically the same as eating grapes, right? Let’s just say we had a liquefied Fruit Salad.

Feeling quite confident in our sobriety (read that as “feeling No Pain”) we hopped into our rented “Sports Car” and headed for Lisbon. I was flying co-pilot so I didn’t have access to any of the controls except the emergency brake, which I don’t think worked. Hank was flying the thing and I was navigating, so to speak. As I said, we weren’t feeling any pain. When we got to a section of the road that looked like a good place for the High Speed Test Run, Henry put the hammer down and let her rip. I was watching the speed-o-meter climb past 100 clicks. Seemed like we should have been airborne momentarily.

As this highly stable racing platform hurtled down the highway at a blistering pace we noticed that just ahead the road no longer went in the same direction we were pointing. There was a major “jag’ (as we say in Texas) in the road. It went to the right and when I say right I mean immediately, hairpin style. Henry began applying the brakes to slow our guided missile. The only problem we encountered was that the brake pedal hit the floor with a resounding “thud”. Henry’s only comment was “I think we have a systems failure”.

He began pumping that pedal like he was afraid we might hit a wall or some other stationary object. Well guess what, there was a stone-wall looming straight ahead. As we arrived at the curve Hank turned the wheel to the right but our rented “Sports Car” ignored the turn command and kept going for the wall. It was about this time I came to the conclusion that we were going to wake up dead. “Payback Time”!

Just as the car went off the road the frantic pumping of the brakes finally forced a few drops of fluid into the brake cylinders. She started to slow a little then she seemed to remember something about a command to turn right and made an attempt to get back to the highway. We slid sideways through the grass and dirt finally sliding sideways onto the roadway. The only problem now was that our inertia was 90 degrees off center. You guessed it, as soon as the wheels hit the pavement our rented “Sport Car”, with the low center of gravity and ultra wide track racing suspension, showed us what a stable platform it was. It flipped like a tossed coin. Over we went and of course our momentum carried us down the road a bit in the inverted mode. I enjoy “Blue Side Down” while flying but not when driving.
     
 

Successful End of High Speed Test Run in a rented “Sports Car”; we dodged the wall, that’s success!
 
     
Without a top and no seat belts it was going to be a miracle for us to remain in the car. But miracle of miracles, we weren’t tossed out. As the car rolled over the windscreen shattered into a zillion pieces. The only thing that saved us from being trapped inside was the windshield frame and the small vent window frame on the passenger door. They held the passenger side up enough to provided us with an escape route. As our rented “Sports Car” came to a halt, I realized I wasn’t dead yet; I looked out the opening between the door and road surface to a dreadful sight. My Nikon Camera was rolling down the road, bouncing as it went. As soon as our inverted slide stopped, I crawled out and started to run after my camera. Before I could get two steps away I heard Hank yelling “Get me out of here”. I went back and pulled Henry from the newly modified rented “Sports Car”. As soon as he was safely out we both retrieved our cameras and commenced taking pictures of the outcome of our just completed “High Speed Test Run” in a rented “Sports Car”.
     
 

What is an Armadillo from Texas doing in Portugal?
 
     
We were pretty much in the boonies, though it didn’t take long for a crowd to gather. I think most of those folks came out of the woods though they may have been hiding behind that wall just waiting for some fools to come flying down the highway in a rented “Sports Car”.
     
 

The wreckers have arrived.



Thank goodness the wipers are OK.

 
     
Fortunately a couple of gentleman that spoke perfect English came along and offered to help us. They advised us not to call the police, as that would just “complicate” matters, like maybe JAIL. They helped us push the car into town where we shoved it into a parking space; they then found a taxi willing to haul us back to Lisbon so off we went.
     
 

The Pit Crew from Heaven. Thanks for the help gentleman.
 
     
It was already dark thirty when we arrived back at the ship. Good old Doc Peacock treated our wounds and made sure we were fit for late night sports. Once he cleared us as being medically fit, we did what any normal American male would do; we headed back to town so we could enjoy some additional refreshments with our shipmates.

The Bowditch was set to sail the next afternoon; before leaving we called the rental agency and told them their rental “Sports Car” was in Fatima with a few  “minor mechanical problems”. They weren’t too happy when they arrived in Fatima and saw the extent of the “minor mechanical problems”. They called the American Embassy and raised hell about how we treated their fine rental “Sports Car”. We were gone and the Dutton was still in port. Any guess as to which ship got the nasty call from the Embassy? Our apologies to Dutton and Ocunit Two, 41 years late.

The moral of this story is “Careful what you say and think. The folks upstairs know everything”.

 

USNS Dutton in Brownsville, TX, 16 October, 2007
DSCF0028_028.JPG (467359 bytes) - Click a thumbnail to open the photo album.
These pictures of the USNS Dutton T-AGS-22 (click on the thumbnail on the left)  were taken at All Star Metals, Brownsville, Texas on Tuesday morning 16 October 2007. Photos are by Melvin J Francis.

The USNS Dutton T-AGS-22 is slated for the cutters torch. Her condition is such that this is her fate. I was on the Dutton several times during 1966 while my ship the USNS Bowditch T-AGS-21 and Dutton were in port together. Seeing her in this condition was a heartbreaker. It appears that when she was taken out of service she was gutted to the point it would never be feasible to return her to service.

I’m glad I was able to visit her before dismantling. It was my way of saying good-by to the Triplets. Remember her as she once was, not as you see her in these pictures.

The folks at All Star Metals were very gracious. They provided us with unlimited access to the ship, hard hats, safety glasses, transportation and a guide. They understand how we feel about our old ships and went out of their way to accommodate us.

An employee of All Star Metals found an item belonging to a former crewman of Dutton, Merchant Mariner John Gallagher, and turned it in to the office. They gave it to me so that we could try to find the rightful owner and return it to him or to his family.  If anyone knows Seaman Gallagher or his family, please contact me through the Administrator of this web site.

 

Chet Headley, Contemporary (sort of) Photos
Latest avocation / vocation: Arborist since July 2010. 

For those interested in climbing, check out "Recreational Tree Climbing" on the Internet; it is a popular sport and also great exercise.

(Photo by:  CDR Gary E. Kellner USN-R, USNA Class of 1964, F8 Crusader Pilot, Vietnam Combat Vet.)
  If you don't believe that's Chet up there, here's a closer look!
Chet_Playboy_Club_1981.jpg (142584 bytes) The Playboy club in Great Gorge NJ.

From a corporate meeting, mid-February 1981, almost nine years after I left the Michelson for the last time.

july4b.jpg (194580 bytes) Flying co-pilot with my friend Capt. Ross Burgess USNR-R.
sunshineB.jpg (886151 bytes) At Sunshine Silver mine in Idaho late October 1995. I'm the one with the Navy flight jacket, the same jacket as in the picture of me with my two pups.
vicriley-r.jpg (68839 bytes) Victoria and Riley with their pet Geezer, taken around Christmas of 2003.
DSC00168.jpg (131969 bytes) From the summer of 2005 while I was working as a cop.
My_Passtime.jpeg (84186 bytes) My passtime.