I thought it would be fun to have a page setup where fellow 'Byrdians' could
share some great sea
stories (I'm sure we all have gem or two to share!). Just send them to me at:
I only ask that they are not personally offending to anyone. I will screen all
stories I get prior to posting
to this page.
Richard Chapmann -
Night....late at night Guantanamo Bay, Cuba I was weapons sentry when we were
anchored out in Hotel Delta, or some such place. The splash of the feeding
tarpon sounded just like a diver going over the side of a small boat. I
wandered back toward the fantail. The OOD, POOW and the messenger were
watching that intrepid sportsman, Jim Haas, PC3 trying his luck at catching a
fish. He tied into or onto a tarpon...or it tied into or onto him. The fight
was on! I never saw such a battle! You probably haven't either. Haas started
that fight on the fantail, as I said before. He fought that fish (or it fought
him) all the way up the starboard side of the ship. Considering that this was
probably well after midnight, quite a crowd showed up to watch the fray. The
fandango reached the break...what to do? Our hero handed the rod to someone
(name lost in the mist of memory...hey, I'm a lot older now!). Jim jumped up
onto the torpedo deck, retrieved the rod and continued his bout with the fish.
he worked his way forward, handed the rod down and continued the fray. The
battle went on for quite awhile. Finally, being the true sportsman that he
was, PO Haas cut the line. It's been many years since that night, but I've
never seen another fishfight like it. I don't know if Jim Haas remembers that
night, but I'll never forget it. It was a thrill just watching it go down.
Darin Stevens -
During the Swan Song Voyage of the Byrd, UNITAS XXX, we had a great many ports
of interest, but one of the most interesting for me for Talchuano, Chile.
The XO made very clear on the 1MC what part of the city to remain clear of,
which all sailors know is excellent press for the establishments found there.
Our travels found us in a top rate dive called "Wacos" which had a
good house band called The Bats and a cool atmosphere. As was my custom,
I befriended the band and asked if I might join them for a set. With me
on lead guitar and vocals, Darrel Ritchie on drums, and the rest of the band
we preceded to make a little South American Rock and Roll history. We
did sound pretty good, but I digress. The impromptu concert drew a crowd
of Byrd Sailors, Officers and enlisted alike and a good time was had by
all. Little did anyone know, there was a reporter in the crowd.
This reporter wrote an article which ran as a companion piece to a series of
articles about the UNITAS XXX port call. It was, of course, in Spanish. The CO
was so proud to see what seemed to be positive press about his men he
ordered the article be translated. For the next two days I was
approached by Officers and CPO's who stated simply "Darin, Buddy, I
wasn't there, you didn't see ME". having been a Sailor and a
Musician, I have had to keep my share of secrets to protect the guilty, so
this wasn't new territory for me. To sum up, the CO did later ask me
about that article, where we were, who was there, and were any members of his
Wardroom in attendance. I smiled and said with as straight a face as I
could muster "Gee Captain, I just don't remember". He shot
back a grin and said with a grin "I thought you'd say that".
So fellas, your secret was safe with me. (There is a photo of me playing
the guitar at "Waco's" in the UNITAS XXX Cruisebook)
Patrick Withrow -
I reported aboard late in 87, and in early 88 we went to a private shipyard in Portsmouth, VA. for a "5" mounth overhaul that wound up lasting
about 9 months. We finally pulled out of the shipyard for 3 days of sea trials, and all the shipyard workers lined the pier to say goodby.
Keep in mind, this was an old looking wooden pier, with seawater piping, fresh water piping, steam piping, LP air piping, etc exposed. All crew members, not on watch, were expected to parade to quarters (man the rails). We were at about a 45 degree angle to the pier with a tug assist,
and for some unknown reason, we went all back and rammed the pier with the stern.
Shipyard workers were running, all the piping broke, and needless to say, there was a big mess. The bridge corrected the mistake and we heading forward. Almost all the crew members were laughing.
I remember the Weapons Officer, who was in the vicinity of my division on deck, becoming very angry about that.
Keith Hunsaker -
Howard Ellis relieved me of Comm Off the night before the 7-Day War broke out
in the Middle East. Howie can add some info on the USS Liberty.
I was lifted off the fantail of the RE Byrd by helo just as the word was
coming over the message boards. I remember the difficulty we were having
coping radio broadcasts and trying to determine what was going on. In those
days, crypto was not "automatic".
Gabe S.... Disbursing Off was up many nights helping break the messages with
the old wheeled typewriter.
Chip Cole -
I arrived onboard Richard E Byrd in the wee hours of the morning and was shown to OPS berthing by an extremely intoxicated OSSN
Darin insisted on carrying my seabag and when we reached the ladder down to OPS, he promptly fell and rode my seabag down the ladder.
He then showed to a "empty" rack where I was awakened a couple hours later by another intoxicated individual (don't remember his name) who whacked me repeatedly with his newspaper and insisted I was in his rack and made certain impractical if not impossible suggestion of what I
could do with my gear. Later that day, I was befriended by some guys from OC Division and the indoctrination went more smoothly. I have a ton of stories of things that went on during my nearly 4 years aboard DDG-23, but with the cast of characters I encountered there, one would expect
Joseph J. Gavin -
It's nice to find this site! The first letter i read was tims. The funny part was i left the dicky byrd thier last day in gitmo of 86. I went to school than to the uss whidbey island, we went back to jamacia, on the way down thier the C.O. asked me about the pier, I said i'm only an engineman but I don't think this boat is going to fit without hitting the grain shoot. Pulling in we had to man the rails(in the mean time i spread the word about hitting it) Guess what happened. It took off every hand rail on the bridgewing.
On a lighter note it is nice to see this site. Memories like the B.E.P.C.O flier,
the fun and hard times on the byrd.
From Jay Mershon - Navy Life : A
For those who have watched the movie "TOP GUN" and
one too many episodes of "JAG," a do-it-yourself kit to sample real Navy life is
If you suffer from illusions of liberty in exotic ports and flying Tomcats with Tom
Cruise, you can experience real Navy life in the comfort of your
own home. Follow these easy instructions with the aid of your family and
friends to recreate the untold joys of Navy life.
From Robert Tyndall -
One sea story I would like to relate is about a tour that we did in the persian gulf during the year of 80 or 82 .On one of our ship counting days
we were having a cookout midship when the crew was informed tha a cargo ship was taking on water and sinking. The byrd headed to
the site of the sinking and asked the ship captain if he would like our assistance to save his ship. He declined our help saying the breach in the
hull was to big and the insurance would cover the loss. The byrds captain said we would stay with the sinking ship to insure no other vessels
would be effected by a possible hazard to navigation. What was striking about the cargo ship was that there were two mercedes benzs on the top deck midship. As the ship sank we saw these cars slip off the deck into the water and at the end of the sinking the ship let out one last gasp of air. After the cargo ship went under MM3 Valentine played taps on his trumpet and when he finished we all cheered. Unexpectedly the Captian of the
Byrd came on the 1MC and said how dissapointed he was in us, that as sailors we should all be saddened when ever a ship is lost to the sea.
Kind of put a damper on the cookout after that.
From Tim Eberenz -
I remember back when I first got on the Byrd, we went down to Guantanamo Bay in January of
86 for training. We were down there for
3 weeks or so and it sucked for me because I got mono while we were there. Well, after the
training was over, we got to go down to Ocho Rios,
Jamaica for some liberty. As we were pulling in that day, there quite a few happy
Jamaicans on the pier to greet us. The dock where we pulled
up to had a grain elevator and dumper for cargo ships. Somehow, we got to close to the
dumper and our top mast ripped it off its hinges and
it came crashing down to amidships. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but I remember that all
the joy which had been on the faces of these
locals only a few minutes before,now turned to shock and horror. The only thing I remember
thinking was "Oh great, here we are, the great
American Navy, coming to this wonderful island for liberty and we just wiped out
their only source of exporting food !!".
From Tim Eberenz -
One particular event that I remember was back in the fall of 1987. We were doing
drug ops (helping the Coast Guard) down in the Carribean
and we came upon a small fishing trawler. Well it was cloudy that night and
there was no moon, and of course we were running dark. Well
we lit ourselves up and hit them with a spot light. How these guys didn't know we
were there I'll never know, but you've never seen people jump
like that, guys falling over each other, it was pretty funny. Then they got
the bright idea that they could out run us. Unfortunately, we weren't
allowed to board them and we followed them all the way to the Virgin islands at the
top speed of 8 knots. And, yes, they were eventually
picked up by authorities with about 10 kilos of pot in thier hold.
From Mark Cox -
The Crew of Richard E. in the summer of '81 was as tight as any crew I have ever
served with either before or after my stint on the Richard E..
The Commanding Officer was the nicest Guy you'd ever want to meet. Oft times he'd
call out your name or just stop in your office to chat
about "stuff". But he was the Captain and everyone yelled "Attention
on Deck" when he meandered into a space.
Around that time we had an outstanding night Baker who made the absolutely best loaf bread
ever, period. His name was Billy Ray.
Everyone called him Billy Ray, including the Captain. Billy Ray had one
weakness.....he was too nice of a guy. Very often he would allow me and a couple of other
guys into the galley to help make bread,and as a reward he would let us scarf some
leftovers or make us a pastry. No one was supposed to be in the galley except him or
another qualified MS, heads could roll if anyone was caught in there. One night me and
a buddy were starving as we had missed the evening meal. The yeasty aroma of Billy Rays
Bread would waft over the entire ship, especially into
Supply berthing where we were. We decided to beg for a hand-out. We offered our
services to help making bread. He let us in. To our dismay,
he advised us that he didn't have any leftovers that night, but he said "I'll
turn on the grill and fix you a slider". (He had made some fresh
hamburger buns). Just when the Sliders were getting cooked on one side the door
opened and...you guessed it... in walks the CO.
"Attention on Deck" someone barked out. Billy Ray's face was transformed
into the face of a ghost. We all stood there, petrified, with that
"Deer in the headlights" look that only being cold busted can produce.
The CO looked around the space, and noticed the burgers sizzling on the grill, and once
again sized all of us up. You could have heard a pin drop. "What's going on Billy
Ray" broke the silence. A sheepish "Not very much sir,
just making some bread... getting ready for Mid-Rats". The CO glanced at the
burgers again. "Mid-rats isn't for another hour and a half is it?
Billy Ray glanced at the floor and said "No Sir it isn't" What are you
guys doing? Cooking up a slider? "Yes sir" was the weak reply. "Billy Ray
would you mind doing me a favor?" Fully expecting the CO to say "Tomorrow
you and Chief Madarang come see me in my office", Billy Ray replied
"No sir what is it? With a grin the size of New York he said "Throw me
two sliders on there too." After a brief head-call to shake our drawers
We all enjoyed a burger and talked about the rest of the deployment schedule, and
the CO even bought us all cokes.
From Les Dunaway - (Les just may hold the record for longest continuous service on
the Byrd!!!!! see servicelog)
I think DDG-23 probably always carried and lived up to the nickname of "The
Shootin' Richard" , but for a while we had a couple of other
nicknames........ "The 'Reckin' Richard" ... "The Bump em' Byrd" .....
or "The 'Reckin' E. Byrd". As a member of the aft line detail I saw
than my share of collisions with piers, other ships, and snapping of mooring lines.
On one occasion leaving Norfolk, and the tugs had not arrived on time, the Captain decided
to get underway on our own by "springing out" on the bow lines. We cast
off aft, the screws began turning backing us down, but we didn't get the
"springing" action we were supposed to,,,,,, we proceeded to back down
underneath the bow of a DD parked behind us,
the bow of the DD first contacted the aft flag staff and it acted like a large
lever bending the center line chock and putting a permanent wrinkle in the
deck. The flagpole supports had to be shortened for future use, and we probably had the
only perfectly vertical flagpole in the Navy instead of
the standard slightly angled version. So if any of you late 70's and 80's shipmates ever
sat on the fantail on a cool moonlit night at sea and wondered why the aft most deck was
bent and the center eye chock seemed a little out of kilter....... well now you know why.
From Jeff Clark - Having joined the navy two weeks after my seventeenth birthday and going on
to spend three years and eight months
on the Steaming Richard , I have many fond memories . Though the sea stories are a book in themselves , I would
just like to thank a few
people who made it alot of fun along the way . I most likely have forgotten some folks , but here we go SN ( Jimmie)Cates ,
SM3 ( Fat Daddy ) Kolb , SM1 Connoly , SM1 Stewart , SM2 Tanner , SM3 Lindsey , SMSN Dawley , BM3 Johnson, BM3 Boyd ,
BMC Powell ,GMC Eisenbach, BMCS Moses , BM3 Kinnison ,BM3 Kiesgan ,BM3 Welch , BM3 Sexton and MS1
From Mark Edmonds - During our med cruise in 84-85,the electrical shop,em`s,dennis allen,andy cottman and myself got bored and built a kite from bed sheets
and curtian rods and 2000 feet of shot line,after a fey hours and afew failed attempts it took to the air carrying our pride and the words
BEPCO(byrd electric power company) the captian would even allow us time to fly by turning the ship into the wind ,we even entered the kite
in a contest with the rest of our NATO fleet and lost due to fact the cloud cover was so low the judges lost sight of it! the kite still exists to
this day and last saw it in 1990 when I took the trip back to virginia from my hometown of Portland Oregon to visit my buddy Dennis Allen, I
would like to say hello to anyone who rembers those times and to the guys in our shop:
happy sailing Mark Edmonds