Sea Story: Jim McDougal

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I was on the USS Hanson on the west coast as they were readying it for decommissioning. They told me to make out my "dreamsheet" as to where I wanted to be transferred to, "but it won't do any good to ask for the east coast because the Navy is low on money and can't afford to ship people all over the place." I chose three west coast locations so they sent me to the east coast to join the pre-commissioning crew of the TCH. Went to Rhode Island for Omega Navigation System training.

Time came to join the ship so they put us in one of those non-pressurized transport planes to fly to New Orleans. This was summer, but the plane was freezing because of the altitude, even though it had to stay low enough that we didn't need oxygen masks. I thought I was going to freeze to death and it went on for hours.

Finally, we landed near New Orleans and the weather had to be 98 degrees and 98% humidity. I stepped off the plane and got instant heat rash! Well, we got our gear and got on a borrowed school bus, as I remember. At least it was yellow. That's when the fun began. We were headed for New Orleans with a madman at the wheel. He drove very fast and didn't slow down for the curves. We all feared for our lives. I later found out that the driver was ETR-3 Les Horner, my new shipmate.

We spent the night in a four star hotel. Yeah, right! They bunked us on a reserve destroyer tied up on the Mississippi. There was no place to lock up our seabags and those reserve guys stole us blind. Next day we got our gear and went to the Avondale shipyard to the TCH, but if I remember correctly we spent several more days in New Orleans. One of the young ETs had some good times there.(I'll withhold his name.) Some of the guys introduced him to "The Ladies" of New Orleans. I was a married man so I stayed away from those places.

Time came to deliver the ship and a shipyard crew sailed her from New Orleans to Boston Naval Shipyards. Boy what a party! These guys had a caterer on board to cook meals. Mmm,Mmm. And since this was not yet a commissioned ship, there was plenty of liquor flowing. Card games were easy to find, too.

That was a cruise to remember. Any of you guys on that cruise remember anything? Please, correct me if I got any details wrong. Long time ago.