Rocking and Rolling, My Transit to Kaneohe

Rocking and Rolling, My Transit to Kaneohe

In the summer of 1961, I was one of about 600 Marines on the USS George Clymer sailing from San Diego to points west. My group was being dropped off in Hawaii after 9 days and the rest (poor suckers) were destined to be on the ship for many more days on the way to Okinawa. About day number three out of San Diego, we hit some rough weather. Most of the Marines got seasick, especially the guys who grew up where there weren’t any oceans, like Iowa. I was fortunate to have grown up in New Jersey where they have an ocean and we become immune to rocking and rolling. It is also why we are good dancers. Anyway, on this particular day somewhere between Hawaii and the land of the big PX, we were rocking and rolling, and the troops were puking over the side when they could make it. When they couldn’t get to the railing, they just “let’er rip” and it wasn’t long before the deck became slick with the morning’s breakfast.

I was standing near one of the hatches when it opened and out stepped the Chief Cook with a Mess man in tow. He took a look around at all the sick Marines and then said in a commanding voice to the Mess man, while pointing at the deck, “All right kid, start picking up the big pieces for dinner tonight.” That is when I went to the railing and lost my breakfast along with my seasick immunity.

-Story by Norm Spilleth

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!

15 comments


  • Cpl John W. DeStefano (aka duffle bag)

    The puke stories seem to be a common denominator of all the deployments to the 3rd Mar Div and Hawaii prior to the days of jet transport. I was on the USNS General Daniel Sultan (civilian crew) with Marines and dependents. The very first day out of San Diego (approx late April of early May 1965) we were all initiated to the conditions of the Pacific. At least 2/3 of the ship were violently sick the rest were all just turning green and feeling like death was imminent. I was in this group. While trying to get up on desk to get some fresh air (the smell below deck was unbearable) some guy comes pushing behind me trying to get to the hatch before he loses it. He didn’t make it. He puked all over the Marine if front of him which set off a chain reaction. I was fortunate and avoided the “puke dousing”. At that point all I could do was turn around and head back to my rack to wait out the carnage. I crawled on the rack, sure that I would not survive the night. The next morning I felt a lot better and went down to the mess deck. No Lines, but the whole ship stunk from the prior days debacle. Arriving at Pearl we had one day of liberty before we were to continue to Yokohama. I was only 19 at the time so I couldn’t have any Men’s beverages. I walked to the Army base. I think it was Fort Durocher?? so I could have a Man’s beverage. I was old enough to go to Nam but not to have a beer. That was f—ed. Somewhere between Pearl and Yokohama we hit a typhoon. We all pretty much had our sea legs by then. I was one of the unlucky that caught a 4 hour watch ON DECK for any men overboard. I felt that was total bull$hit. If anyone did go overboard there would be no way to recover him. And besides who was going to watch for me? I tied my self to a beam and survived the watch. I was pissed. Well anyway that’s my 2 cents on the Good Ol Days.


  • Edward Dodd, 1st Lt USMC, forever

    In 1961 I was in Okinawa and our usual 12 month rotation was prolonged two additional months because of Laos getting hostile. The Corps had already sent all our sea bags by air and it was decided we would return by AKA (forgot the name). We sailed out of Naha in mid-August and you all know what that means. The ship then headed WNW. We were carrying twice the number the ship was built for, and only the clothing on our backs. The ship went nearly to Alaska and, as the air cooled, the ship’s heating system went AWOL. Soon everyone was walking around the decks with a blanket wrapped around them, looking like the POWs in the movies. Finally, the crew got the heaters working, but by then we were in the waters of Northern California. Once started, for some reason they could not get the heaters to stop. Finally, by the grace of the Commandant we reached San Diego. Then came the final last straw. The Navy allowed all their dependents to come aboard while we were trying to disembark. It was utter chaos-is. The CO of embarked troops came up on the speakers saying ,”All Marines disembark any way you can, good luck.” It was the end of a memorable cruise.


  • Pete C.

    Sailed with H-2-5 on the USS Bexar (pronounced Bear if I remember correctly) Jan ’66 from Long Beach to the Rock with a short 3 day stay in Hawaii. Nasty being just a PFC on the bottom bunk stacked 6 high down in the bowels of the Bexar. Most of us were sea sick second day out of LB. Bad enough that even most of our Navy hosts were likewise hugging the rail. Thank goodness for some savvy corpsmen who packed us with saltines!!! Saved the day or at least made the crossing more tolerable!! After training on the Rock, we boarded the George Clymer and headed south to Chu Lai. Fine old ship with wooden decks and for me a much more comfortable bunk!!!


  • john burke

    Jan 1963 I sailed on the uss Mitchel from treasure island to kanehoe bay.If you think that the Clymer was bad the Mitchell was a bucket.and the in jan of 1965 we left Hawaii on the uss parrot on the return to treasure island.every body was sea sick both ways.


  • J. D. Hallford

    I too sailed from San Diego to Honolulu in June of 61 for my two year duty with H&S 3/4. Don’t remember seasickness until another 23 day cruise to the Phillipines and Japan. Even the sailors got sick! After two years we sailed back to San Fransico. I will never forget going under the Golden Gate Bridge. When the ship touched the dock the Marine Band began playing California Here I Come! Great memories! Semper Fi!


Leave a comment