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I'm not sure that other forces get to experience the same feelings a sailor does at sea. Every once in a while when I drift off, I still think back to starry nights on the deck of the USS Spartanburg County out in the Mediterranean.

A Tank Landing Ship (LST) is a flat-bottom ship so in calm waters it didn't slice the water like a tin can, it tended to bob and weave on it gently. We ran off of a couple diesel generators usually and would slowly make our way across the ocean at 15 knots or so.

In the evening, I'd find myself a quiet place on the deck and just stare out at the sea. In the moonlight, the deep blues made the surface almost glow. You'd trip over a cleat on the deck if you didn't watch out, but looking out - it seemed clear as day.

The air was warm and fresh with a hint of diesel exhaust and the only sound was the diesels purring through the stacks sitting behind you.

Truth be told, I'm not sure I ever had periods of greater solitude in my life. I'm not sure what I thought about out there - but I don't think I was ever at greater peace with myself and the world.

Sometimes I'd sit out there for hours... interrupted by someone heading aft for watch or someone else coming out to have a smoke or a cigar. We wouldn't even speak a word to each other, we'd just sit there and take it in.

There's nothing as peaceful as being out in the ocean drifting along on a US Navy ship, folks! Boy I miss it sometimes.

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Comment by Jack E Butler on August 2, 2010 at 5:57pm
Yes I remember those LST's. My first ship was LST 1138 (Steuben County) they changed that after I departed. I picked up 1138 in Long Beach Shipyard in 1952. We left Long Beach in August 1952 for Japan then on to Korea. Our first stop was Hawaii and the pineapple capital of the world. They brought tons of pineapples. We had then every wear. Pallets topside and in the tank deck. Of course I no longer eat pineapple. We arrived in Japan (Yokosuka) to out fitted as a tender for the those wooden hulls MSO but they would not say anything to us until we left port and we found out then that we were headed to Wonsan Harbor 38 degree the coldest spot in the world. We had a total of 4 MSO and they would come aboard every day and raided our small stores. We hardly had anything left. We would stand watch with 2 on the bow,2 midships and 2 on the fan tail of course we had to relieve them every 2 hrs or they would freeze and I mean freeze. After sitting up their for 6 months we would head back for Japan and then back to Korea but in a different direction. Or port of call was Pusan,Korea to have the Army Eng came aboard after we beached the ship and they started to make prisonner of war pens. We found out we was going to load with North Korea Prisonner of War and take them to Inchon,Korea after off loading them we proceeded to tie up at a pier and if any one thats been to Inchon you know what happens. The tide goes out and you are high and dry,I forgot to mentioned the Army guards decided at 4:00 am to shoot some tear gas into the air vents and everyone below decks scramble to the topside with just our skievees on and about 50 yards out their was a Naval Hospital Ship had just pulled and all the nurses were manny the rail. Those LST everyone should ride one for one trip to westpac or to the med. Then they would really know what Navy is like,
Jack Butler
YN1 USN RET
Comment by Tim Gulliford on January 14, 2008 at 6:57pm
I feel the same as you do. Matter of fact, I explain to my wife and friends this same feeling one gets when at sea. Of course my friends think it must be really boring but they could not be further from the truth! Besides being constantly busy, the down times are some of the best "Me" times I ever had. Only thing that has come close is when I go out into the woods hunting or photographing. Over the years, that feeling of sea life is sure missed and partial reason I joined up again in the reserves. No one understands unless they have experienced it themselves.
Thank you for the comment and look forward to making new friends.
Comment by Frank R. Bartolotta on January 9, 2008 at 10:56pm
My two years aboard the Gen. Wm. O. Darby T-AP-127 were some of the most peaceful I will ever remember. Thanks for your comment. Frank

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