USS THOMAS C. HART (DE/FF-1092) VETERANS ASSOCIATION

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OK shipmates, here's your page to tell us your "Sea Stories".  Eventhough most sea stories start out with the phrase, "this is a no s _ _ _er", let's leave the expletives out so we don't have to keep young eyes from our site.  Please tell us of your favorite times, liberty exploits, travels, shipboard stories, etc..  We'll get your story posted ASAP.  If you need additional space for your story, just submit a second form and we'll put them together when we post the story.

Click the links in the below table to read your shipmate's Sea Stories!

Sea Story: Richard Thornton

Sea Stories: John Moyer

Sea Stories: Neal Jefferis

Sea Story: Orin Reams

Sea Stories: Dave Altwies

Sea Story: Tommy Sexton

Sea Story: Warren Reade Jr

Sea Stories: David Nusbaum

Sea Story: Dave Ackerman

Sea Story: Dan Schubert

Sea Story: Steve Holliday

Sea Stories: Jeff Konowal

Sea Story: Jim McDougal

Sea Stories: John Moyer

Sea Story: Mike McKenna

Sea Story: Michael Slattery

Sea Story: Dick Whalen

Sea Story: Mark Dammer

Sea Stories: Van Sullivan

Sea Story: Skip MacMichael

Sea Story: OS1 Kevin Staten (87-92)
 
I have a vivid memory of being in France and forced to attend a "dinner party" thrown by the French to honor the sacrifice America made on their behalf. I think we had to provide so many Sailors for the event and no one wanted to go.
I was one of those they found onboard getting ready to head out on liberty and snatched up to attend.  We had to be in uniform and that's why no one wanted to go. Luckily a few other OS's were also forced to attend.
I'm so glad I did. We had a wreath laying ceremony and then an outdoor dinner, with a lot of champagne, wine, cheese and a terrific meal.  Everything was great that night!
I spoke with old WWII veterans there and remember being in awe of them. It was a perfect summer night that I can still see in my mind. I don't remember where in France or when it was, but that night was one of the good ones (of many) on liberty.
There are so many stories from the TCH! Who can forget being on drug ops and our ability to make water failing us (it happened several times). Showers were secured and every now and then you would hear one running, so we gave that selfish jerk a lot of grief. No showers for days at a time. Talk about stinky! How about the time our A/C went down and they wouldn't let us pull in for repairs. Skipper allowed us to sleep topside because it was intolerable down in the ship.
I was a happy camper when I finally left in 1992. Five years was too long for any ship and the longest I ever spent in one place during my Navy career. I learned a lot on the TCH and went on to have a great 26 year career. So many on TCH gave me what I needed later down the line. Thanks to all of you for your leadership, friendship and just being there!

Sea Story:  CAPT J. "Skip" MacMichael (83-85)
 
 While we were it the yards (84-85?) for overhaul, we had arranged to do the semi-annual PFT at a local quarter mile track.  I'm not a particularly good runner, so I always started working out for the six lap 1.5 mile run a few months in advance... which I did.  The great day arrived and in due course I started the run, alone as I recall.  I was struggling through the end of the 5th lap and really ready for it to be over when I started to run past the First Division, waiting their turn on the inside of the track.  One of them called out -- in a respectful, encouraging fashion -- "Come on, Captain...you can run faster than that!"
    I tried to think of a snappy response (probably delayed due to oxygen deprivation) when the young sailors companion elbowed him in the ribs so hard I heard him grunt and admonished him: "Shut up, man! When I get to be THAT old I'll be glad if I can run at all!" 
I said nothing, but laughed to myself all the way through that last lap...which went by quickly.
 
Best Regards, and thanks again!

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Sea Story:  ETN3 Patrick Burke (78-80)
 
How the Hart got its Heart.

The summer of 78 was a busy time aboard ship.
The ship would soon depart Norfolk for its first overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard.
Among the jobs we had to do was to remove a shelf and its mounting brackets from the forward bulkhead above the workbench in the ET shop.
The brackets were welded to the aluminum bulkhead and while removing one of them EW3 Mike Ray put a hole in the bulkhead at frame 70.
Needless to say when EWC OConnell was informed of this, his colorful salty reply was as you would expect. It was decided to hide this issue from further scrutiny as we would shortly be in the yard and it could then be repaired.
Sometime during that yard period [9-78 to 7-79] the welder assigned to the repair looked over the job then went back to his shop to make a patch for the hole.
When he returned he brought several different shapes of metal plates with him.  He was an old-timer at the yard and must have had a pretty good sense of humor because one was in the shape of a heart.  Mike Ray chose the heart shaped patch and those present agreed so it was welded over the hole. It was then painted red. Nothing was ever said about it and so it remained.
In August of 93, Mike Ray attended the ships decommissioning ceremony. Taking a last look   around, he chanced to visit the ET shop where to his surprise the red painted heart was still there on the forward bulkhead.
Photo by Mike Ray 

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Sea Story:  ETN3 Patrick Burke (78-80) 

Cape Hatteras March 1980
As part of Operation Safe Pass, The Hart departed Mayport, Florida on 2/25/80 in the company of several US and NATO vessels.
The ships sailed straight into a hurricane off of Cape Hatteras.
With the ship secured for heavy weather we settled in for what we all knew would be a rough ride.
As the ship plowed thru the 45 to 55+ foot seas on 3/3/80, one of the worst days of the storm, I wanted to take some photos so I grabbed my camera and headed for the bridge.
It was amazing watching the bow plow thru those giant waves, green water breaking over the gun mount. The ship was rolling and pitching violently; the bow would come out of the water and smashed back down shaking the entire ship.
As the ship slid down the side of a monster wave, the Bos'n Mate of the watch was calling out the degrees from the inclinometer.
After 35 degree you could hear things falling; at 45 degrees things that were secured started to break loose and there was some concern in his voice.
At 50 degrees it almost sounded like panic as people lost their footing.
I lost my grip from whatever I was holding on to and slid across the deck to the starboard side of the bridge. I remember looking out the windows and seeing only green water, no sky.
The ship seamed to hang there {at 53 degrees} for what seemed like forever, probably only a few seconds, and slowly started to right herself.
During that same storm, a wave sweep 4 sailors from the boat deck of one of the nearby destroyers, only 1 was rescued.
The Hart returned to Norfolk on 3/7/80.
After the Sept. 78 to July 79 yard overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard, the Hart had a new Skipper, Captain Pearson, whose nick name was "Big Red" as he was over 6' tall and had red hair.
The ships store was selling these bumper stickers that said "USS Thomas C. Hart FF 1092 BIG Red's Rough Riders" and SM1 Larry Shore even had a flag made.

He would fly it as we entered or departed port. We sure earned the "Rough Riders" name on that day in March. 

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Sea Story:  OS3 Tim Woodcock (85-88)

While on watch ,on our way to the Med,It was late in the shift and  I was on the surface search radar at the time. We hadn't had a contact to track for most of the shift and all of a sudden there was a blip on the screen! It had a good course and speed and we tracked it for quite some time. Then course the contact was on was bringing it very close to the ship so it was something we watched very closely! It maintained a good course and speed until it was close enough for the lookout's to get a visual on, but when they looked, nothing was there, but the contact was still on the scope! We tracked it until it should have been close enough to see with the naked eye and then just vanish! No one ever made visual contact and we never seen anything from it again!

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Email to Dan Schubert received from Ted Miller
 


Mr. Schubert,

Thanks for the invitation, but as I am residing in the Philippines it will
be difficult for us to meet.

You know, it was 32 years ago that I reported aboard for duty as a HM1 from
nuclear submarine service.

I have to corroborate the sea story of *ETN3 Patrick Burke (78-80) ***in
regards to Cape Hatteras 1980. It was the fiercest storm I had ever ridden
through before or since. After the ice cream machine on the mess decks tore
loose from the deck and got "underway", the Captain ordered "All hands not
actually on watch to tie themselves into their bunks." Since I was the only
HM onboard (during my entire tour) I didn't have the liberty to do that, so
I made my way up to the bridge via the Captains Ladder. Several times I was
airborne before arriving on the bridge. It was the scene that ETN3 Burke
described with green water over the forward gun mount and crashing into the
forward bridge windows. Before that day I had always wondered what that
steel cable stretching about 7 feet above the deck was for. I held onto
that cable to stay inside the bridge when the TC Hart rolled over 53
degrees. I was taller than Captain Pearson and my feet were swinging like a
pendulum.

It was the skill of the helmsman that kept the TC Hart "into the waves",
but it was The Almighty who saved the souls of every sailor onboard.

The Persian Excursion occurred during the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

TC Hart had entered the Mediterranean after what had seemed like a long
Atlantic crossing. The weather was fair and it was just a fluke accident. A
young sailor (I can't remember his name) had come inside from the
weatherdeck and the door slammed on one of his hands and amputated a
finger. The door did about as good a job as a surgeons scalpel. I sent his
shipmates back to find the finger. They did and I promptly packed it in
normal saline, sterile gauze and ice. I gave him IM Demerol and Phenergan,
wrapped his hand in sterile Kerlix after soaking in Betadine prep. Within
minutes, Captain Pearson was relaying my conversation to a Flight Surgeon
in Sigonella Sicily who promptly sent a med-evac helicopter. That was the
only time I ever had to med-evac one of my crewmen in 24 years of Naval
service. I saw that young sailor again after we returned to CONUS and his
finger was functional. He thanked me and we swapped "sea stories". (I have
not "practiced medicine" since October 1990 and I still remember -
amazing.)

I can't remember "why", but the TC Hart was on station alone for a one
month period patrolling the Straits of Hormuz. Captain Pearson had a "big
set of b****  " and when he sailed too close to Iranian oil wells they
(aggravated Iranians) scrambled two Russian MIG's. I had been in sonar with
the gang and we all stepped out onto the deck just in time to see the MIG's
jet past us on the port and starboard rails. They were close enough to see
the pilots inside the cockpits who were no more than 50 feet above the
waves.

Service onboard the TC Hart was a highlight in my career.

Theodore (Ted) Miller, HMC (SW)(AC), RET.

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Sea Story:  LT William Mathews (80-84)

It was 1984 and we were deployed to the Persian Gulf. I had been on the T.C. Hart for 4 years and was the Navigation Officer as well as the XOs Administrative Assistant. It was early on a Friday morning and we were at anchor awaiting the formaldehyde barge to come alongside that accompanied the weekly XOs Cookout.

I was on the bridge on anchor watch having proofed the POD late the previous night. The bridge copy of this daily digest was delivered and as I skimmed it for no particular reason I noticed a typo that made my blood run cold. The word Cookout was written as "Cockout." I had actually signed a POD that invited the crew to the XOs Cockout. As I considered what I could do to save myself the chirp of the sound powered phone interrupted the relative silence of the watch. Lieutenant Mathews, I said sheepishly. Bill, XO here, should I dress in any particular fashion today? said Commander McCullough calmly. No sir I said, the standard uniform will do just fine as I heard him put down the sound powered phone.

He was a good-natured man and took this in stride but that was the last POD I ever signed on the T. C. Hart or anywhere else.

Sea Story:  LT Jim Hunt (74-77)

One of the privileges of being the Chief Engineer is the ability to make subtle changes ("ShipAlts") when conditions warrant.  Days before TCH's maiden Med deployment, a shipfitter (sworn to secrecy) and I quietly removed the top bunk in my stateroom and threw it over the side, giving me a two-man stateroom all to myself.  The XO ranted and raved something awful -- he wasn't happy about losing that extra bunk space.  But because my stateroom abutted his, I calmly reminded him that his shower's hot water supply depended on my diligent monitoring of the valves leading into his head from my room. 'Nuff said -- he saw the wisdom of restraint and acceptance of the inveitable. Given the extra space, I decided to move my office from the chaos of the Log Room to the extra desk in my stateroom where it was much quieter - and where the phones actually worked!  Except one day in port, my outside line went dead.  Calling Elec Central for an IC man to check it out, a young IC striker came running.  After much poking and prodding, grunting and groaning, he pronounced his diagnosis in his best authoritative technical voice, "well, CHENG, since you can't talk to nobody and nobody can't talk to you, this here phone is broke"!  After retiring with more than 30 years's service, I still tell that story as long as there's still someone at the bar.  Cheers!

Sea Story:  ETR(N)-2 Jim McDougal (73-75)

After we left Avondale Shipyards, we pulled into Boston Naval Shipyard to continue our outfitting.

One cloudy day I was walking up to the CIC and heard a loud "crack". I started investigating and found nothing. A little while later, I heard another loud "crack". It seemed to come from a small compartment off the passageway. I opened the compartment and found a partially installed TACAN system. (Tactical Air Navigation)

The TACAN has a small antenna array on top of the mast that tells aircraft where they are in relation to the ship.

I heard another "crack" that was even louder now that I was in the compartment. I then saw the source. There was a thick coaxial cable coming down from the antenna that had not yet been attached to the equipment. Each "crack" was made by a bright electric arc jumping from the center of the coaxial cable to the bulkhead. It seems that the antenna was collecting high voltage from the atmosphere above the mast and as it built up on the antenna and the coax, it would occasionally discharge thousands of volts to the bulkhead. Anyone close enough to the coax would have been zapped.

Sea Story:  AW 2 Greg Powers (77-78)

I was the helo crewman from HSL-32 Det-2 on board for MED deployment in Aug.1977.When the Hart pulled into port @ Athens,Greece we flew the bird into the U.S.Airforce base @ Hellenica for phase inspection which involved tearing the cowlings off and starting to dismantle the jets for inspection by civilian employees of G.E who manufactured the engines.During a lull in work I found myself drinking heavily in an Airforce bowling alley with a 2nd class jet mech and my older brother who was stationed there in Athens. I was approached by one of the pilots (Lt.Rich Dryden) who asked us what the birds flying status was as he had received a request for assistance from Greek authorities to aid a stricken naptha freightor which was sinking off the coast of Kimi. We went,half drunk down to the hangar and proceeded to reassemble the bird quickly.Mind you I was a tactical sensor operator/SAR wetcrewman and not a jet mechanic but we somehow got the bird half reassembled, !

pushed out onto the line and fueled for launch. As there were no other members of our detatchment present we launched with Lt.Dryden as pilot,ADJ-2 Cliff House as copilot (he had never flown before) and myself as the rescue crewman.I was wearing jeans and a flight jacket as my flight gear was missing in the hurry to get on scene.We were successful in rescuing five seaman from the stricken vessel and getting back to shore shortly before running out of fuel. This was in December of 1977. On or about June of 1978 the three of us were decorated with the Air Medal w/bronze star for our actions that day.

Sea Story:  AD2 J. C. House (77-78)  

I am the AD2 who flew as co-pilot on the rescue mission detailed by my old shipmate AW2 Greg Powers in the above story. I almost fell  out of my chair when I came across this post. You see, I have lost all of the records and medals from several moves, and now that I am 55 years old, I have very fond memories from those cruising days,we were bullet proof then. Greg didnt mention that the ship was floundering just off a very rocky coastline without power. Gale force winds, 40 foot seas and a constant low fuel warning light that never went out, in spite of all troubleshooting...no survival gear as mentioned, I launched wearing levis and climbing boots, a borrowed helmet and old flight jacket....we were watched over from above no doubt... JC House

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USS Thomas C Hart (FF 1092)