Aboard the USNS Gaffey March 1965 to Yokohama, Japan

Just joined the story time at Sgt Grit Community and read the story about a trip to Japan. Loved it. So i had to share my experience. We pulled out of San Diego on March 5th heading, initially, for Pearl Harbor, a five day voyage. I was a Buck Sergeant so i was birthed in the lower deck, three stack bunks. I was really enjoying the cruise until the ship left the harbor. As soon as the bow hit the Pacific currents the bow took a bow and so did my stomach. Within minutes I was hanging over the rail emptying my stomach overboard. To say i was sick is an under statement. When chow call was announced I joined the chow line, filled my tray, found an open seat at one of the metal tables welded to the deck and bulkhead. It took just one bite of food and, yep, you guessed it, I was off to the head. All that day I was sick and sleeping didn’t’ abate the problem. The next morning a sailor saw my condition and took me to the galley and gave me an empty #10 tomato can. I carried that can four two more days,. On the third day my platoon sergeant took me to sick bay and one look at me by the Naval Doctor and I was put in bunk Nd the Doc gave me a shot. What it was I never found out, but it seemed like minutes my stomach settled down. He also gave me some Dramamine and I spent the rest of the voyage walking about 2 inches off the deck. We had shore liberty for a few hours in Honolulu and pulled out of Pearl the next morning heading for Yokohama. Everything was great for the next 8 days, then we caught the tail end of a Pacific typhoon. The old Gaffey took a beating. The night before we pulled into Japan the waves and swells were so powerful the fan tail seemed to jump out of the ocean and the tork was so powerful one of the drive shafts that turned one of the propellers snapped. For the rest of the voyage Gaffey limped into Yokohama harbor on one screw. That’s not all. During that fateful night the Captain was thrown from his bridge chair, hit the deck and broke his hip. Ouch!… Lastly, once we were docked the PA system announced the names of 120 Marines telling them to get their gear and report to the rear gang plank. I was one of those whose names was called. Once all 120 men were formed into a platoon, the Gaffey was pulled out of the harbor and I never saw it again. However, one of the Staff NCO’s told us the rest of those Marines were being taken to Viet Nam.

 

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5 thoughts on “Aboard the USNS Gaffey March 1965 to Yokohama, Japan”

  1. Shipboard life can be dangerous- as well as boring- and a few laughs too! Was on the Gen. R. M. Blachford- an MSTS- mothballed during WW11- we sailed to Spain for Steel Pike 1- hit a strorm in the North Atlantic- or a a squall – rough seas – very rough- 8 bunks in a row – I had top bunk ( Thank the Lord ) ( a Gunny told me to get highest bunk- and he said trust me on this?) Most wanted lower racks- big mistake? AS the ship hit inclement weather and rolled like a toy ship in a bathtub – Marines got seasick- and the guy on the higher rack spewed down to the lower racks. I was on top and survived- I was on Staff Mess- got better food- and got topside privileges as I dumped the G I Cans after meals and during the day- got fresh air a lot of it- Mess Sgt.was a smoker and took me up on deck a lot to smoke and tell me stories as well. My other Best Bud and fellow Marine was on Guard Duty and had topside access as well. We made out okay on this trip- but part of the trip was no picnic. We all survived and went on with our lives as this is one story we encountered as one of many.

  2. Was on the Gaffey from San Diego to Da Nang. Had a stop at Pearl Harbor and got to do the Beach thing. Major storms made us feel sorry for the guys who got sick. Went up topside to listen to WLS Chicago several times, and even stopped at the International Time Line to bury some. Trip was Hawaii, Japan, Taiwan and then Da Nang. The biggest storm was in the South China Sea. Temper Fi!

  3. Left San Diego in late Nov 66 on the USNS Leroy Eltinge. The Gaffey left San Diego the next day for Da Nang. The Eltinge was a real piece of work. 2600 Marines on board- the galley could only seat 75 at a time, long lines all day long and no AC or coolers on board not even a fan. The ship would move along till black smoke poured out of the stack and then sit still in the water till the repair was complete, day or two later same thing dead in the water. Finally on a rainy night pulled into Naha about 80 of us off, got on some cattle cars and headed for Camp Schawb. Joined Alpha Co 1st Bn 4th Marines 3rd Mar Div… home sweet home.

  4. I was shipped over to Okinawa back in 1958 aboard the Hugh Gaffey. We didn’t run into a lot of rough weather, but I can remember a line of marines leaning over the rail and loosing their lunch, and you didn’t want to be downward of the sick guys. Thanks for the memories!

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