Joe Rosa, plank owner



Joe Rosa originally from Roselle, New Jersey and now living in Port St. Lucie, Florida, was one of the original crew of the HERMITAGE. Joe was in the forward engineroom for about a year then transferred to A gang. When not doing that, he hung in the repair shop "R Division." He worked on diesels and learned to weld

Joe entered the Naval Reserve in 1955 and trained in Bainbridge, Maryland for two weeks of boot camp..

In October 1956, he was assigned to the HERMITAGE for active duty. Joe went to the Norfolk Receiving Station in late November. He flew by military transport to New Orleans where he reported to the New Orleans Receiving Station. From there he went to Pascagoula, Mississippi, where the HERMITAGE was being constructed at the Ingalls Shipyard.

"The essential crew was already on the ship when I arrived," Joe said. "The rest of the crew came on in dribs and drabs.." He did not remember the commissioning ceremony.

"We left Pascagoula shortly after commissioning. Went to GTMO for a shakedown cruise and sea trials," Joe said.

"After sea trials, when we were in GTMO. We were not allowed liberty off base because Castro [guerrilla forces] had been in the mountains. I think the regular base personnel could still go to GTMO City," Joe said.

"We might have been in GTMO a week at the longest. One guy ended up in Marine brig. He drank ashore and went after the Exec," Joe said. "GTMO is supposed to be the worst brig in the Navy because the Marines ran it."

"After we completed GTMO, we anchored in harbor by Portsmouth and took on ammunition and probably other stores. We stood on deck, freezing cold in January, passing ammunition hand to hand," Joe said. "After we did that, we tied up a quay wall in Little Creek."

"Later went to Vieques to take on Marines," Joe said.

"Once after we pulled off the quay wall, we were ordered to emergency reverse engines because we were about to collide with another ship," Joe said.

"We did a mini-Med cruise of about three months. Admiral Arleigh Burke, commander of the Sixth Fleet, came aboard," Joe said.

"Prior to me leaving the ship, we went to the Caribbean a couple of times. We went to Vieques and did maneuvers at Roosevelt Roads. We took officers and their wives from Roosevelt Roads to San Juan," he said.

Joe recalled that on one occasion, the HERMITAGE docked at Quantico, Virginia. Docketed at Quantico, VA.

The ship also visited Baltimore for the American Legion convention. "While the convention was going on, Baltimore was the best liberty town. We marched in the American Legion parade. If you were in uniform, the American Legion people treated us to drinks," Joe said. Legion people treated us to drinks.

"We went to Vieques again. We picked up Marines in Morehead City. We returned to Morehead City and unloaded equipment. We arrived in Norfolk only to be ordered to return to Moorhead City to pick up Marines again. We were not told why or where we were going. It was the Lebanon Crisis. While underway, the ship turned around. We don't know how far we went and did not offload Marines. At one point underway we were told we were going to Lebanon," Joe said.

In October 1958, Joe left the HERMITAGE and returned to the Reserves.