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Thomas G Williams

 

 

1954-1955 U.S.Army National Guard: Pennsylvania-109th Inf.3rd Bat. Heavy Mortar Co.
Rank-Pfc
Decorations-Sharp Shooters Badge (M1-Rifle) 1955-1968 U.S. Navy
1955-1957 U.S. Naval Ceremonial Honor Guard: Washington D.C. [ Played Football for Anacosta Sea Hawks while attached to Ceremonial Honor Guard............Running Back...........12 Touchdowns.
1957 U.S. Naval Hospital Corps School, Bainbridge Md. Upon completion of school transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Philadelphia for Operating Room Technician School upon completion was assigned to U.S.Dash MSO 428 as Corpsman on board ship.
1958 Lebanon Oil Chrisis reassigned to U.S.S. Monongahelia AO 42 Only Corpsman on board, survived 2 fires, one when ship was near St Louis MO. On Mississippi River, The other fire on board took place while on the Rhine River near Rotterdam Germany, also survived one near Collision at sea during night time operations, and several major Hurricane's at sea. One Hurricane, I remember very vividly, we lost the Captains Gig, one forward 5" Gun [ripped from its deck mount], 2 giant steel spools of 12" line ripped from their base on the steel catwalk, half the catwalk and maneuvered 20 to 30 foot waves, that slammed the ship constantly, our tanks were empty and we bobbed like a tennis ball in a washing machine, lost steering several times, and also while on board that same ship lived to tell about being jolted by 50,000 volts while helping the Radioman fix a TBL Radio transmitter.
1959 The Monongahelia was sent to the NY Shipyards for decommissioning, I was reassigned to the USS Maury AGS 16 The ship had just returned from a cruise to the Black Sea after doing some preliminary surveying in the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. The Maury was the first U.S. Military ship to ever enter the Black sea since the end of WWII. and was to be re assigned to a new Home port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She took on a 2 million dollar over hall while in The NY Shipyards ( I received no travel pay as both ships were in the Yard at the same time period), did get a jeep ride though!
From the Ny Shipyards we left for Pearl Harbor, a very long trip, forget just how long it took, we had to make several stops along the way. Our first stop was in Ft Lauderdale Fl., we were there 3 days we picked up a UDT team and all kinds of scuttlebutt was flying around and we were told to stow it and not write home about it. The USS Serrano AGS 24 also joined us along with 4 Attack Class Submarines. On board The Maury were over 350 men, four 52 foot gun boats one Mike boat and 2 lcvp landing craft, one Recoilless Rifle , 4 quad 50 mm guns and two 75 mm cannons.and a Helicopter Deck. We were on our was after 3 days R & R. We set our course in the direction of the Panama Canal. The trip thru the canal took 2 or three days, Cant remember exactly. I remember passing thru a large body of fresh water near the end of the canal , again do not recall the name of that Lake. The ship was hosed down by the deck crew with fresh water from that lake, we did make port on one night and there was Port and Starboard Liberty, I did not get a chance to go ashore as I was on the wrong side , cant remember which, however I do remember the ship taking out the large wooden pier on entering port. The next morning we set sail for the Pacific Ocean saying good bye to the Panama Canal and the Atlantic Ocean, heading under weigh for San Diego, California, the ship held a swim call in the Marianis Trench where the water is several miles deep, Couldn't get me to go in there, [a little difficult trying to touch bottom with your feet], also after seeing several Portuguese Man of War, with their endless tenniclels (?) No way was I going to go in the water. Every one survived the swim. The ship moved on to SanDiego, where we spent a week I did get to go ashore there and had some Mexican food and became pretty sick on it. During this brief stay the Maury received on board a Choctaw Helicopter complements of the USMC, I would later get to know this chopper and its Heroic Crew a very short time later. We left San Diego before Dawn after taking on supplies all night, we were to report to ComPacFlt, in Pearl in 2 or three weeks, on our way The Maury ran into a ferocious Storm and lost one of her 4 screws, we reported in two days late to ComPacFlt, and had Orders to be placed in Dry dock to have a new screw put on. We were in Dry dock one month as the Maury also took on some other renovations and also had some rather strange looking equipment installed. Hawaii was nice really enjoyed it, and It had not become a state at that time. Not sure of what Hawaiian food was a group of us went in to Honolulu and sought out a restaurant and ask the proprietor " Do you serve American Hamburgers ?"........Well this about cracked this guy and the patrons up real bad , I thought we would have to run out and find 2 cases of empty Pepsi cans for them. We did get our Hamburgers though. Don Ho would have liked it. on the next to last day after coming out of Dry Dock we took on board a large complement of U.S. Marines and their supplies, arms ammunition, ect. We did not know what to expect, again for the second time we were told to cut the scuttlebutt and not mention it in our letters home. We got under weigh again in the early morning hours after taking on stores and supplies all night. I believe it was around 0430 hrs when the order was given to take in all lines and we were escorted out of the channel past the USS Arizona Memorial under construction, past the Pennsylvania and other heroic sunken ships that still lay where they were stricken on that fatal day of December 7th 1941. The complement of Navy Corpsmen onboard Maury was to be a Chief Corpsman, One 1st Class Corpsman two 2nd Class Corpsmen and a HN (Hospitalman), also one Doctor, (Lt), and a Dentist (Lt), with one Dental Tech. We wound up with two 1st class Corpsmen, four 2nd Class corpsman and 2 Hospitalmen. I wa assigned to the Operating Room duties, and X-ray Dept. and Military sick call in Sick Bay, we were to stop off at Guam to meet a Fleet Oiler, at which time we would berth at Guam for a week, We noticed allot of Hi Brass coming and going during this time and as usual were told the same thing as before, when unusual things appeared and so on and so forth, while in guam some of the Men got to go on Liberty and got into a rather large brawl on shore, many were escorted back to the ship by Military Police and the Captain was visited by the commander of the base and his staff. Maury as it seems started the brawl and was forever condemned to never to enter the waters of Guam again. We would be stopping at Guam in several months for refueling. ( as it seemed). From Guam We headed out to Subic Bay, Philippines Islands. Half way to Subic Bay, one of the crewmen came down with appendicitis, we would have to perform the surgery on board, no this was routine for me as I had been trained in assisting in General surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic surgery as well as other branches of surgery while at Operating Room Tech School. Un-known to me the Doctor on board was "Bonified Pediatrician" he was petrified and took a crash course Grays Anatomy! The Dentist was to administer open drop anesthesia. I had the liberty of preparing the Sodium Penethol, The Spinal that the Dr. had tried was not successful. Orders were passed thro out the ship that the smoking lamp was out and the Air Conditioning was shut down in the OR as it was not safe to run during the open drop anesthesia. The two Port Holes in the or were opened to et fresh air in, it was stifling in the operating gowns and caps and masks. When it came time to proceed with surgery the Captain Ordered All stop and the ship was dead in the water, now that i think of it it was kind of silly as we were not doing open heart surgery. Well both the ships Dr. and Dentists entered the OR, and I guess it was too much to bear for the Dentists.....he fainted!, That left One of the 1st Class Corpsmen to give the Open Drop anesthesia, I had all the confidence in the world with him as he was a Lab Tech and also a Pharmacists, the other one only had experience in Health records and Sick Call. Well with the audience of Jar heads sticking their necks in the Port Holes , blocking the only fresh air we had, we got thru it ok, The ships Dr as a nervous wreck the entire time, kept yelling " " don't pull on the omentum, don't pull on the omentum, the other corpsman was holding the omentum with babcock instruments, I was clamping and tying off bleeders and when we got down to the appendics it was ripe and I handed the Dr. his first clamp, then the second one and when he asked for the scapel to cut between the clamps, I looked at him, smiled under my mask and reached out and made the cut myself!......he looked at me and his eyes were as big as silver dollars,......he said "you took the appendics , you took the appendics, I was supposed to do that! it was my first one and you deprived me from it"!......I reached for the sterile vial of Phenol and told him " here you can Cauterize the stump", He cracked up laughing. The surgery was a success and I just did my first appendectomy........It was great , from that day on The ships Dr, and I had bonded. ["I swear to God this is a true occurrence"].

 

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