My Memories Aboard Of USS Georgetown AGTR-2
June 12, 1968 to December 19, 1969
I arrive in Key West, Florida on June 12th, 1968 and boarded the Georgetown. The first person I recognized on the quarter deck was Mike Rocaberto. I met Mike in Pensacola shortly after I arrived there in November. Mike was an R-Brancher. It was good to see someone that I knew. I was temporarily bunked in the forward compartment. The first three weeks on the ship I was assigned to compartment cleaning and then I was fortunate enough to be assigned to help CS2 Eder as a night baker. In my time as night cook and night baker I met many General Service personnel and earned great respect for the work they did keeping the ship running. As many remember, we didn't have the best of engines. I also managed to put on about 20 pounds.
We left Key West shortly after I arrived and spent the next three months off of Havana, Cuba. We were in and out of Key West probably two or three times. Our cruise book does not have any thing on the Cuban Deployments but they were full of excitement. It one point we rescued a raft full of Cubans fleeing Cuba, which happened on pervious cruises. The Cubans would hassle us quite a bit by sending out patrol boats running around us and throwing out fishing nets to try to tangle up our propellers. At one point we intercepted a speech by Castro stating he was going to sink the CIA Ship, USS Valdez, that was now off his coast. We pulled out 12 miles for a while. That is why I liked the mid-watch because that was when everything happened. Around the middle of August we returned to Norfolk and I want home on leave to celebrate my 21st birthday.
I returned to Georgetown on September 9th and on the 17th we shipped out for Africa and the Indian Ocean Deployment. I was moved back to the aft compartment, where all the T-Birds were and I was assigned to the Aft Research Department. On the way to the Indian Ocean we stopped in Port-of Spain, Trinidad and Recife, Brazil. We were in Recife during their carnival week. We enjoyed several days of celebrating and relaxing on Brazilian beaches. During the carnival I fell out of the back of a jeep after someone through some kind of powder in my face. Thanks to what ever Butch Kern was drinking I was able to see again. I'm sure many of us remember "The House On Stilts".
On October 10th we crossed the equator and all of us pollywogs went through the time honored ceremony of crossing the line. In those day I was 6' 2" and very lanky. We started running in the forward berthing compartment to the aft. The first hatch I ran through I failed to judge the size of the opening and smashed my head on the top of it knocking me out. I was taken to sick bay and told I could not go through the ceremony. I insisted on going through with it because there was no way I was going to go through it on our return trip. The doctor let me but I could not be flogged by any fire hoses which didn't hurt my feelings very much.
We arrived in Lourenco-Marques in November of 1969. It was the first of three times that we pulled into Port. I remember we Spent Christmas there. It was the first time I spent Christmas sitting on a beach drinking a rum & coke. There was a hotel in Lourenco-Marques that served a fantastic steak dinner with fried eggs on top of them. Also in the bar they had bowls of cashews or snacks.
This is a statue I got in Mozambique and still have today along with a drum. Hanging on him are my (hippy) glasses and my National Defense Medal
One of my experiences that stands out the most was when CTTSN MacNair, CTA3 Peters and myself almost caused an international incident. On our third and last time into Mozambique we decided to take a train ride. We got on the train and I really don't remember the name of the village we decided to go to. We did not clear this trip with anyone on the ship or not tell anyone where we were going. The train pulled into this village and we found a place to eat. This middle aged man came over and visited with us and stayed with us the whole time. I tried to take a picture of him but he never stopped moving and the ones I got were not very clear. He asked us a few question about who we were and we were very vague as trained. After a couple of hours he took us back to the station and put us back on the train.
Being we were so low in rate and didn't have the NTK we did not know about the situation in Northern Mozambique with the rebel upraising. It seems that we managed to get into a rebel village and the man that was with us was from the Company. Boy did we get into trouble. Here we were in our uniforms with the lightening bolt and quill. We were three lucky young men.
I think of all the places we went to I liked Mauritius the best. Mauritius is the home of a US Navy base in the Indian Ocean. We went into port there a couple of times. Nothing really stands out that happened there, that I would want to print, it was just a beautiful Island.
I was really starting to enjoy the Navy and the places we got to go to. When we got back to Norfolk and went into the docks for repair and fitting talk started about being decommissioned. A lot of the non-reserved personnel started getting transferred off the ship. I spent much of the summer and fall of 1969 going on weekend trips to Washington and other places with Gerry Peart and Butch Kern. In August of 69 we were going to Butch Kern's house in Richmond and we got into an accident. Genellie was in the back seat sleeping. He got hurt pretty bad but came out of it OK.
I think it was October that we found out for sure we were going to be decommissioned. I then had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life, whether to ship over, or get discharged and go home and learn to take over the family business. I chose that later, which many times I regretted. But thing worked out for the better. I got married in 1971 and have a wonderful wife and three fine sons and am now the President and General Manager of a large California wholesale nursery.
There are many people I still remember with fondness, but to name them would be impossible. I look at the cruise book and see the faces of all the young men and wonder where they are now.
After I got off of active duty Larry Dean came out for a visit. I visited John Dusell down in San Luis Obispo, I was Gerry Peart's best man at his wedding, I ran into Mike Ivy at Skaggs Island and Brian McNair and Jerry came to my wedding in 1971. That was the last contact I had with any Georgetown personnel until I started this web page.
Me at the Polano Hotel, Lorenco Marques