After the Med Cruise and just about everyone was back from going home we began getting the ship ready for our next cruise. I was in the engine room and had a pump that had given us trouble on the cruise torn apart and laying on the deck. My first class came down and asked me how long it would take to put the pump repaired and put together. I told him that it was repaired and I was putting it together when he told me that I had to get it together as soon as possible. There was a sense of urgency in his voice that I never noticed before so I hurriedly got the pump together. We received a message over the ship's intercom that we had fifteen minutes to go on the pier, call our homes and tell our families that were we going to sea, didn't know where we were going and didn't know when we were coming back. Everyone scrambled to the phones on the pier. Every ship got the same message at the same time so the lines at the phones were a block long and I couldn't get to a phone. We looked toward the end of the pier because we knew there were phones on the base and found that the end of the pier had been blocked off by marines who wouldn't let anyone off. We ran back to the ship because time was getting short and we didn't know what to expect next. We knew that the U.S. had a running argument with Russia over Berlin and we all thought we were going to war.
It usually takes about an hour to get the main engines "lit off" (running) but this time we were ready to go to sea in half that time. Nothing was transmitted to us as we sailed out of Norfolk into the open sea...
We were going at "flank" speed (as fast as we could go) and none of us knew where we were going. About a half an hour out we received the speech that was given by President Kennedy in was the middle of October 1962. We knew where we were going, we were going to be a part of the blockade of Cuba and we knew that there were missiles on the island manned by the Russians pointed at the US and that there were more on the way. The Russians were sending a convoy of ships with missiles aboard and we were to stop them. We weren't part of the blockade...we were looking for subs. We were in open sea patrolling when suddenly we were again at flank speed. We headed to an unknown location. Scuttlebutt was that a Russian sub was spotted and because we had special sonar we were send to help surface her. We found the sub and with our sonar there was no way she was going to lose us. We followed her for days. Finally, she broke the surface and Borie sounded her horns. I was below deck shaving when I heard the horns and I knew what it meant. I ran topsides and stood with the rest of my shipmates as the sub surfaced in front of us. The sub never submerged after that it stayed afloat as we ran along side of her for two days. I'll never forget my fears as we tracked that sub while it tried to lose us. We had been at "general quarters" for a couple of days which means we had to stay at our battle stations until the threat was cleared. We had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an apple for all three meals with no sleep except for catnaps at our battle stations. I remembered all the stories of my shipmates that had been in war; It only took a few minutes for a destroyer to sink, during battle sailors with guns were placed at the hatches leading to the engine room to make sure that no one left the engine room which is the least protected area of the ship and if a torpedo doesn't kill you as it explodes through the hull then the six hundred degree super heated steam will. All these things passed through my, and all my friends, minds as we tracked the sub.
Suddenly we were at flank speed again leaving the sub behind as we headed south toward the Caribbean Sea. General Quarters were secure and we had a chance to get a good meal and to get some much needed rest. We were headed for the Panama Canal. We waited in the harbor as ship after ship of Marines came through the canal from San Diego. It was an invasion fleet. We were going to invade Cuba and we were ready. All of us new that if that happened then it was sure to be WWIII. We sailed toward Cuba with the troop carriers. I looked and found jeeps, tanks and all sorts of vehicles and weapons. As we sailed toward Cuba there was only one thing on our minds...subs. We knew were were equipped with the latest sonar gear so there had to be the possibility of Russian subs in the area. And as sudden as all this started...it was over. We and the Russians came to some kind of a deal and we were going home but not before a couple of days liberty in Kingston Jamaica. We went ashore with all those marines and it wasn't a pretty site. My buddy and me were involved in a brawl at one of the local bars with a few of those marines. My buddy had false upper teeth and was hit in the mouth and his teeth were forced down his throat. He lay there gagging as the fight was going on around us as I dug my fingers down his throat trying to retrieve those teeth. I got them out just in time to see the military police arrive and the brawl was over.
Since that time I've never liked marines. My buddy was smaller the I was and the Jarhead picked him out to hit first. Let's just say they're not my kind of people. I received the above medals during my time in Cuba. The upper one is the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the blue and gold is the Navy Expeditionary Medal, The red and yellow with stripes is the National Defense Medal and the red white and blue one is the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
The next segment is the Assassination of President Kennedy.