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REMEMBERING Key West in the early 1960's


When money was scarce and you had the weekend off we (John Skondill, Richard Brown & et al) headed to Smathers Beach, across Roosevelt Blvd. and the Key West Airport. All you needed were a Swim Mask, Fins and a Hawaiian Sling (spear gun). The water there was shallow (waist deep) for approximately ¼ mile (give or take). After that it dropped off to an unknown depth, but there among the crevices were numerous Longouste’s …also referred to as Spiny Lobster I only knew them as Longouste by the locals. With a pound of butter and a couple six packs of beer, some drift wood you could have a FEAST. What a time that was. Somehow now if & when I order Lobster at a restaurant (which is VERY, VERY rare) it doesn’t taste the same as in back on Smathers Beach. Plus it was a hell of a lot cheaper back then. Things were so different in those days. In the evening you could also take a flashlight, net & pail and walk among the Mangrove Swamp Land, shining the light in to the water in the Shrimp’s eyes, paralyzing them and scooping them up in your net. Another cheap dinner on the beach. On a side note while shrimping with John Skondill we came neuromas FOR SALE signs in the SWAMP LANDS. We both laughed…who the hell would want to buy this land. At the time we both had the money. Years later when I took my wife and daughter’s on a week’s vacation trip to Key West those for sale signs were replaced with HIGH RISE CONDO’s… Che cosa mai sarà sarà.

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Hello, Remember me?


Some call me Old Glory, others call me the Star Spangled Banner, but whatever they call me, I am your Flag - the Flag of the United States of America...There has been something that has been bothering me, so I thought that I might talk it over with you here today.

I remember some time ago, (I think it was Memorial Day, or was it Veterans' Day?) that people were lined up on both sides of the street for a parade. A high school band was behind me and, naturally, I was leading the parade. When your Daddy saw me coming along waving in the breeze, he immediately removed his hat and placed it so that his right hand was directly over his heart.

And you - I remember you.

Standing there as straight as a soldier, you didn't have any hat, but you were giving me the right salute. Remember, they taught you in school to place your right hand over your heart, and little sister, not to be outdone, was saluting the same as you. There were some soldiers home on leave and they were standing at attention giving the military salute. Oh, I was very proud as I came down your street that day.

Now, I may sound as if I am a little conceited, Well I am!

I have a right to be, because I represent you, the people of the United States of America.

But what happened? I am still the same old flag. Oh, I have a couple more stars added since you were a boy. A lot more stars added since the beginning of this country, and lot more bloodshed since that patriotic day so long ago.

Now I don't feel as proud as I used to. When I come down your street, some people just stand there with their hands in their pockets and give me a small glance and then look away. I see children running around and shouting. They don't seem to know who I am.

Is it a sin to be patriotic anymore? Have some people forgotten what I stand for? Have they forgotten all the battlefields where men have fought and died to keep this nation free? When you salute me you are actually saluting them!

Take a look at the memorial rolls some time. Look at the names of those who never came back. Some of them were friends and relatives of yours. That's whom you are saluting, not me!

Well, it won't be long until I'll be coming down your street again. So, when you see me, stand straight, place your hand over your heart and you'll see me waving back-- that's my salute to you. And then I will know you remember who I am....


When you fly me at home at night..."DONT FORGET THE LIGHT"

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I have tried the internet to locate the crew/ medical staff /nurses but only found one Corpsman for the Oct 1967 to Nov 1967 time frame . It seems the nurses finished their tour / time in the USN and faded into life. ANyone have any idea how to locate

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On 29 January 2019, the Federal District Court reversed the BVA and CAVC denials of Mr. Procopio’s claim AND reversed HASS. In addition to Mr. Procopio, this decision restored the Blue Water Navy’s rights and benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991. No longer can the VA deny Blue Water Navy Agent Orange claims based on a “boots on the ground” (or lack thereof) requirement.


If you have any of the listed ailments associated with the “Agent Orange” exposure and were within the Territorial Water of Vietnam, you may be eligible for compensation. If your claim was ever denied due to not having “BOOTS ON THE GROUND”, your denial may be overturned.


Collect your claim paperwork and discuss your status with your Veterans Service Officer.


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I entered bootcamp on 07 jan 1970 in great lakes illinois after failing my initial swim test i was asmowed to another division i started in 19th division and ended up graduating in 43 division. I did learn to swim, after boot camp i was sent to the USS Butte AE 27 stationed in nofuck va i did 4 carribbean and two meds and then in 1972 the boat did a west pac where i ended up in vietnam for a longer period that i thought i would be, i was taken off  the boat, and TAD they said and i was put on small boats, in danang vietnam and my greatest memories was trolling down the ravines searching for pows and lost souls, i was able to save a few and lost a few, i ended up getting out of the navy even after the navy offered me $10,000 to re-enlist. I got a job being a police man in national City for 7 years, and after being involved in 37 shootings i decided to get back in the navy, the navy said i was too old i got ahold of a family friend us congressman melvin price acting armed services chairman and i was back in the navy in 10 days, i was then stationed in yokosuka japan on again sea duty on the USS Midway CV 41 for a year  then re-assigned to san diego ca on board  the USS Ranger CV 41, did a couple of west pacs and again I got out of the navy for 4 months I went to the Beverly Hills Polce Dept for three months, didnt like the politics so because  my current wife was six months pregnant i did a stupid mistake, tried getting back in the navy the navy wouldnt take me so i contact mr price again and got back in within 10 days, the navy felt sorry for me a wife with a new born child i was sent to yokosuka japan agan this time on the blue ridge and i loved the ship  but i felt the C.O. was a real racist against Whites, well from there its another story if you want to know more about bono then email me at i have lead a very interested life totalling 34 yrs of Navy 18 Yrs law enforcement, currently 100% PTSD and 14 other disabilities, I did have the pleasure of serving with Admiral Mike  Boorda on the blue ridge, he would come out ot the gunmounts at night and talked to me and the other gms, fcs, and he even played with the guns in the ships armory. he was a good man.forever a sailor!!

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Privacy Shared Information

Today I googled my name (Bill Fihlman) and found a complete discussion and personal information that I posted on this website on the internet. I just went on my page and changed my privacy settings, but I want to completely delete any information that I have posted on Navy Vets website and my membership. I don’t know how to contact Doug Karr or this website’s administrator to do this. I thought this website was private, but I guess I was mis-led. I am a police Officer and don’t need my private information shared on the web. Can someone please forward this to Doug or the Administrator for this website. Thank you. 

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Hello Navy Cousins! I am an accredited County Veterans Service Officer.  That basically means I teach veterans about VA, help you do the multiple forms, and then yell at VA when they try to not give the benefits you are eligible for.

Unfortunately this means I won't have a lot of time on this site but I recommend that if you don't already know your CVSO you get to know them soon.  

Go to the VA database and search the VSO Rep area. We are veterans trained, tested, and attend both classroom and online classes every year.  We also have state and national associations that share, via forums, information, questions, and solutions to tough cases.  ;

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up date from 2015

well it has been about too years now. since I was denied A.O. .but I was given 100% on P.T.S.D. . MY discharge papers stated that I had be come very depress . that was enough for them to give me the compensation. but the A.O. nothing. so look in your records for any thing that will help you. GOD bless you all. don't give up.

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Looking for my biological Father

Good day all, my name  is Thomas and I am 33 years old in the US Coast Guard. A recent DNA/ancestory kit revealed that my father is someone I never knew about. I would love to find him. He has no idea he would have a son out there somewhere. My father who raised me, Robert J Kotrba was a Master Cief in the US Navy. The person I am Looking for is Machinest Mate Bob Horton. He was stationed in the Great Lakes in 1894 and possibly the USS Sierra before that. I don’t know anything else. Thank you all for reading and thank you for your service and dedication to our country. 

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I had the alarm set for 4:00 am to be in the galley for 4:30. It is already hot, as most every day on the island. I fill the big stainless coffee urns and have a cup myself. I drink it black. Then, from the recipe card, which is made for quantities of 200 portions, start the “soup of the day” in one of the big steam kettles. I will work with a wet towel around my neck and swallow the salt tablets from the dispenser that hangs on the wall. If working the grills I make eggs to order for the crew, some scrambled, some over light and some sunny side up. And some mornings, pancakes and sausage or French toast on the grill. Put hash browns, grits and pastries that the night baker has made, on the serving line. We fed about 300 for breakfast, about 1000 for lunch and about 2500 for the evening meal, as I recall. As soon as breakfast was over you started lunch and after lunch you started supper, all from the menu made up for that day by the Chief. All ingredients once again on the recipe cards and multiplying as needed from the 200 quantity as the cards indicated. One of my favorites was chili or spaghetti, making good mashed potatoes with lots of butter or meatloaf. Also savory baked chicken, marinated in soy sauce and then baked in the oven. I could be in the butcher shop deboning fresh hams for supper or in the store room breaking out the supplies of cans of food and boxes of ingredients for the next days meals. It was always nice to go into the big walk-in cooler to cool off for a short while. Working the grills, ovens, steam kettles, or making up salads, all part of a day which went until 6:00 pm. You tried to cook a good meal for the crew because it might make a happy time for somebody who was not having a good day, that day. Then, off for a shower and something cold to drink. Somebody else would wash up the pots and pans and utensils. Not the cooks job. Then it was soon time for the night baker to go to the galley to start baking the pastries for the next day. 

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Being a cook at Bay Hill Galley, I worked port and starboard, 15 days a month worked with every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. There were about six cooks to each watch as I recall, and two night bakers total, who alternated. On an off day I might go lift weights after breakfast, then write a letter to my girl or go to the commissary store. Then perhaps drive to Windmill Beach (we had our own truck) where the iguanas hung out on the cliffs along the beach. I had a mask, snorkel and speargun. The water was full of beautiful tropical fish and the salt was so heavy that it clung to you when you left the water to sun yourself on the beach. Occasionally a barracuda might swim by as I explored under water, just off the beach. I might bring a sandwich from the galley for lunch. Late in the afternoon I could drive back to the Hill, grab some supper, then either go to a movie or the club, where Miller was 20 cents a can and drinks were thirtyfive cents. There was Heineken too. Or, perhaps sit behind the cook shack, our barracks, and drink beer and tell stories and sing some country songs with the other cooks. Tiny green lizards would scurry around at our feet. We had our own refrigerator stocked with beer that was supplied by the guys who lived in base housing with their families. We had our own whiskey and rum in our lockers too. We behaved and nobody bothered us, not even the base police. Maybe on the off weekend I can get a ship that is there for fleet training, that is going to Jamaica for the weekend, and see some sights there. They went to Haiti too. And then there is the horse stable. Go ride a horse. But there is that one smart horse that tries to knock you off by running under a low hanging branch. And, after a year here, the Chief just told me that new “orders” have recently arrived. I will not be leaving, I will be spending another six months here. But I really liked the Chief. Best Chief Petty Officer I ever worked for. His name was Cecil Moss, from Oklahoma, and the only Chief in charge of that galley while I was on the base. 

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Consists of several free standing piers forming 3 Deperming slips, barracks and process control building. It was built in the 1940’s. 

I was here in 1967 wrapping cables around ships, mostly submarines at that time, for the deperming process and one of two commissarymen on the station. We had a fifty foot liberty launch to get back and forth from the station to shore. I had my car parked at the landing. The barracks consisted of a room full of racks, a tv, a pool room and a dining area with a small galley.  We spent time watching ships sail up and down the river. While I was stationed there a fire started in the carpenter shop under the galley that spread to some of the berthing area. I was working on the automatic potato peeler in the galley, preparing the noon meal and smoke started coming up through the deck from below. When I ran down the ladder, the shop below was on fire, too much for a fire extinguisher to handle. There was an old coal fired crane that was working on the pier, it was on a barge next to the pier that adjoined the carpenter shop and galley and some sparks from it’s stack ignited the timbers and creosote under the pier and spread into the shop. Efficient damage control by the crew plus the aid of Navy and civilian tug boats with fire hoses, deck guns, helped to save the station. Due to some damage to the berthing area, some of the crew had to live in temporary barracks at the main Norfolk Naval Station until the repairs were made. The following link explains the deperming process and gives a bird’s eye view of the station on the Elizabeth River.

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Quarters K Naval Barracks Arlington, Virginia

A now defunct station that was built sometime during or before World War II. It was my first duty station after leaving Great Lakes Naval Training Center in late 1965. It was located along the Columbia Pike In Arlington, across from the old Navy Annex, Bureau of Naval Personnel and the Marine’s Henderson Hall. Fort Myer, being just down the road, afforded me the opportunity to go to a movie in the evenings and take an occasional stroll through Arlington National Cemetery. The Cemetery, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the other monuments which have been erected since, is something that all military personnel should strive to see if at all possible, or anyone for that matter.

The Pentagon could be viewed from the barracks which was located on a slight hill along the pike. These barracks housed many Waves and sailors who worked at the Bureau of Naval Personnel and, as I recall, the Pentagon also. There was a galley, store and a club where we would dance on Saturday nights. I met and danced with many Waves and also dated one or two. It was good duty, to say the least. I had my car there, a 1964 Dodge Dart Gt with a slant six engine and a four speed floor shift. I used to drive over to D.C. and the Smithsonian and the Museum of Natural History and on some Saturday nights go to the clubs in D.C. One that I recall was The Casino Royale with lots of good music, food and drinks and dancing. I can still hear the Beatles singing “We can work it out” over the smoke, noise, drinks and dancing. 

A few buddies and myself would drive down route 50, on the weekends in the summer, to Ocean City, Maryland. We would camp out on the beach in Fenwick Island, Delaware or get a motel room in Ocean City. 

I had guard duty at the main gate there about once a month as I recall. My job at the barracks was a compartment cleaner. I cleaned barracks and waxed and buffed the decks with one of those electric floor buffers. It was overall, very good duty which rather spoiled me with all the good night life and things to see and do in D.C.  Having hundreds of Waves just across the lane from the men’s barracks was nice also. 

It is gone now, and I do not really know what is there. I think I heard something about a parking lot or maybe it is just an empty lot now, near the Virginia State Police building. The Navy Annex was demolished in 2013.  I have pleasant memories of Washington DC and Arlington Virginia. 

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Some of you old timers might have heard some sea stories of T.C. or you might had a Beer or 2 with him . He was a Navy Legend and served on many ships and did 2 tours at RTC Great Lakes and 30 year Navy career. T.C. was involved in a terrible home accident that ended his life to soon . I pushed with T.C. in 1968-72 his fist tour at Great lakes we were both First class . His company always took all the flags .  

We had been friends for years and and always kept in touch i talked to him on Thursday evening 4/5/18  and he passed away on Saturday 4/7/18 morning . RIP Master Chief we have the watch     Norm Atwater HTCS Ret 

Below are 2 links to see his Obituary and the story of the accident 

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subase Pearl Harbor

I was stationed at the subase 1965 thru 1967 first as the indoctrination school yeoman then as the subase police department yeoman.

In 1967 a Japanese submarine visited Pearl Harbor, I was TAD as the driver for the captain, anytime he needed to be transported I was at his peck and call, including a ride to a formal dinner at CINPACTFLT .

There were many interesting stories that I experianced with my time on subase.

If there were any other members of the police department or the subase that knew me I really would like to chat with them. .

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