David F. Worley, USMC on Vietnam cruise


My name is David Worley.  I live in Union City, Tennessee. and was a combat Marine in 1966-1968.  I can remember being aboard the USS HERMITAGE when Robert Stack was on board. 

Best I can remember we were underway at sea.  The HERMITAGE was hauling our artillery battery K-4-12 to Okinawa to change tubes on the 155 self propelled howitzers.  The convoy was made up of several ships and the flag ship was the USS OKINAWA, a helicopter  carrier.  I was reading the section on Viet Nam service and saw the part about Robert Stack but the part about carrying our asses to Okinawa was not mentioned. 

I remember the ship very well.  Those sailors were always picking on us Marines.  I stood “mail buoy” watch about three hours on that ship, with the sea salt and spray coming all over me as we were is somewhat large swells. 

Another thing “yall” done to us was the “sea bat” thing.  I saw one dumb ass Marine get his ass busted THREE times before one of the sailors kicked the bird box over and told him “hell Marine there is no bird.”  I think he would have went for four if they had let him. 

We saw a cook throw a huge pot overboard one evening with a rope tied to it with a NAVY knot.  When he pulled it in it was shining like new.  Three guys from our unit thought what a clean up that would do to their M-14 elephant guns.  We were going to have inspection on board in two days.  First off the Marine Corps don’t care if there is any bluing on the weapon at all of if there is any type of finish on the stock, all they want is it CLEAN and in operational condition. 

These three idiots got together and tied their weapons together with a MARINE knot, “whole lot of difference than a NAVY knot”, tossed them over and watched them splash for a while when one said “how many did you see...three I hope....no I only saw two....oh hell....bring them in fast.  Sure enough one was gone, check serial numbers and one guy is in shit city.  The other two have the most immaculate looking 14’s I have ever seen.  They took them below, put a light coat of gun oil on them, wrapped them up and put them away for a couple of days. 

Inspection day.....everyone got ready and it was time to go topside and have inspection.  Lo and behold I guess when you drag steel behind a ship for about an hour the salt water penetrates the metal or something.  These weapons had the most even coat of rust inside and out that I had ever seen.  Almost pretty to look at but not regulation.  The bolts would not retract and the operating rod handle had to be stomped on to get them free.  Needless to say two more guys in deep do do.  These were some of the fun times I had on the Hermitage. 

There were LOTS of others but these really stood out.  Had swimming day one day, I thought when they opened up the back of the ship we were gone.  I had to walk “guard” duty below deck on the big guns.  I asked my CO, who the hell is going to steal one of them and if he did where the hell was he going with it.  Never understood guard duty on a ship at sea. 

I was proud to be part of this ship’s history.  I think it was an eight day cruise for us to go from Da Nang harbor (I think) to Okinawa.  We had a great time away from combat though I was sent back about two weeks later to join a 105 Howitzer battery A-1-12 where I was med evac out of country and back to the US.  I earned a purple heart with this unit and we were ALWAYS under fire from mortars. 

I thank GOD for the opportunity to serve my country and I thank GOD for getting me back home safe.  My cousin, Robert Lewis Trevathan of my home town of Union City, Tennessee was not so lucky.  He lasted only 28 days after arriving in Nam.  GOD bless you Aaron, and may HE keep and preserve the memories we all have of that time so long ago.

Aaron:  You sent me an e-mail the other day asking if you could use my story on the Hermitage web site.   YES you may.  I would be honored to have it there.  This is all factual stuff.....it really happened.  I laugh every time  I think about Mail Buoy Watch, and the Sea Bat incident.  I’m sure a lot of the guys, both Navy and Marines, who witnessed this still laugh about it.  I know plenty of them saw me on Mail buoy watch and the sea bat incident had a real crowd.   They could have gotten me on this one too but after once, or twice, I would have known better.  Not a whole lot of guys saw the rifle cleaning trick but I did and a few more Marines.  Of course we ALL saw it on inspection day.  It’s great that someone like you takes the time and effort to maintain such a wonderful “take me on a journey in time” web site. 

Thank you very much. 
An Old Brother In Arms....Worley, David F.  2306808 USMC  1966-1968.  GOD BLESS YOU!!