Richard served as EMO, Personnel Officer and Navigator on our ship 1966 – 1969. Richard and Editor Steve Cross met for breakfast in Buellton, CA joined by Steve’ wife, Carol. They enjoyed a grand time swapping stories about adventures in South Island NZ and Winery visits in Australia. He started two wineries in his career and is still involved with the second, Alma Rosa in an ambassadorial role. He’s active and healthy, living on some of the same property he and his wife acquired many years ago. Their grown daughter lives nearby with her family. He says “hi!” to all.
When George and I arrived in San Francisco we had to spend the night there and wait for transportation to Vallejo where the Mare Island Naval Shipyard was located. We decide to spend the night at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown on the square.
We were shocked to learn that our room was $95 a night, and that was about half of our monthly pay. No more staying at the Fairmont or any place else in downtown San Francisco. We went to a nice restaurant on fisherman’s wharf and had dinner. We were offered a bottle of wine with our meal. We had never had wine before with a meal, so we asked the waiter for a recommendation and suggested a local Rose that I thought was delicious. We asked the price of everything in there in advance after the Fairmont experience, and they usually gave discounts to military personnel. Read More
Gerald "Dutch Harms TM1, wrote this for his family to be as events happened in 1945. A diary is a collection of personal thoughts and observations for future reference. The reader needs to suspend all thoughts about spelling, punctuation and grammar and focus on the events and isolation reported by one man as his ship closes toward ultimate conflict with the Japanese.
Re: Thomas Evans, FTG3
You mentioned that you were on board '67-'69. I was with the Army in Cam Ranh Bay from March '69- March '70 and almost had a chance to visit your ship while it was making a stop in Vung Tau. I don't remember the dates anymore, but had plans to fly down when I got word that the Knox was going to be in port. Tom was able to send a message, however, it came in late on a Friday and I was never given the message until the following Monday morning. I used to joke with Tom to keep their shots high as we were right on the shore and could hear the ships when they were firing inland. We could hear the sounds of the ships firing and then the whistling sounds as the projectiles were going overhead in towards the mountain areas just South of Na Trang.
Hope you had a nice trip to Italy. My wife went over to Milan, Revo, and Cagno about two years ago to visit relatives and had a great time.
Chapter 1: The Hurricane
I yelled above the noise, “Sir! Sir! I can’t move the wheel! I’m losing it! Nothing works! We are out of control!”
While this went through my head, the ship’s bow jumped straight out of the water and tilted up, so steep I couldn’t see the ocean; all I saw was sky.
I wasn’t scared, yet. Then the ship pitched down, and the sky went away replaced by surrealism. I couldn’t see the surface; instead I saw two huge perpendicular smooth walls of water, one on the port side and one on the starboard side. We fell between those deep walls, descending like a high-speed elevator; I was certain we would die when we hit bottom. Amazingly the ship’s buoyancy took-hold, we stopped.
I sighed with relief thinking it was over, that we would rise, surviving a big vertical pitch. I was wrong; the ship lurched dropping 54 degrees to the starboard side, almost tipping over. I was a young sailor in dungarees; I gripped the wheel, so I stayed upright on my feet. The Captain and three officers stood near me on the bridge, fell, slid on their asses about ten feet, and collided in a heap of arms and legs against the bulkhead. They looked like stooges in a farcical comedy, the scene overrode my fear; I could hardly keep a straight face; I laughed inside.
Loud crashing sounds erupted from the turmoil below decks. Everything even slightly loose spilled. Food, supplies, kettles, tipped over, and fell. Pissed-off cooks in the galley, seeing the colossal mess, swore like pirates.
It was rough, but the ship stabilized. We rode it out till the storm was over, ever concerned that the ship might go under.
Being a close call, Destroyers like this one should capsize in a hurricane that powerful; ours didn’t. The year was about 1955 and the ship was the USS Frank Knox, DDR 742; we sailed the South Pacific. Under weigh, I took the helm every eight hours. The rest of the time I was a “Gun Fire Control Technician”, FT3.
For three days before this event, waiting it out, we stayed trapped within the hot and placid eye of the hurricane. Smooth as glass, the water showed not a ripple. A tropical sun beat down; there wasn’t the slightest breeze. Yet it was creepy, with a horizon ringed by angry black clouds. We knew there would be big trouble ahead when the eye collapsed. There was.
Note: At one time, we took the Knox to Mare Island shipyard for modification and overhaul. The yard reduced the steel on the housed gun mounts from about ¾ inch thick to ¼ inch. The yard changed much top side superstructure from steel to aluminum. The modification removed tons of top weight. I can’t remember if the yard did the modifications before, or after the hurricane incident. It was probably before. Anyway, we saw 54 degrees on the inclinometer.
"All gun design tin cans [Gearing, Fletcher, Adams] would typically lose their gun mounts at about 55 degree rolls. Removing the topside weight would increase the righting moment [GC moves lower, greater buoyancy, reduced displacement] and hopefully the ship will recover."
I authorize the use of this document for non-profit use to promote the history of the USS Frank Knox, and the U.S. Navy in general. Private use for profit is denied.
The association would like to keep our reports as updated as possible. Please contact us.
THOMAS EVANS, FTG3, On Board from 1967 - August 1970. Passed away May 13, 2003 in Orangeville, PA. His death was reported by his brother, Army Veteran John Evans. They served in the military at the same time. John was in the Army in country Vietnam (Cam Rahn Bay) when Frank Knox was planning a stop in Vung Tau. John's account of a planned visit with his brother is in the blog. John Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org. (Reported May 31, 2016)
ROBERT (Bob) SUMMERS, STG3, On board from 1967-1970. BOB SUMMERS, STG-3, passed away this morning (5-12-16) of cancer. His death was reported by his daughter Jennifer. He is survived by his daughter and two sons. Many of you will remember Donna Scuitto Bob's companion at many reunions. Donna and Jennifer and family kept careful watch over Bob during his illness and during his final days. Notes can go to family and friends at Bob's Foster City address below. I'll post notice of services when Bob's family decides location and date. Orv and Nancy plus all of us who worked closely with Bob on the Frank Knox Reunion Association will miss him. Bob left the Reunion Association with a strong board and a vision which will keep the FKRA vital and growing in the coming years. email@example.com.
JAMES G. BAKER, CDR, USN Ret. CO of USS Frank Knox from 12-1967 to 11-1969 died 1-24-2016.. He had a "major stroke" on Friday according to his son and was in a coma. His death was reported by his son David. Cards and notes should be directed to: Mrs. James G Baker, 1455 Walden Oaks Place, Plant City FL 33563.
"Captain Baker was a major influence in my life. I don't think I'd be the person I became without his mentoring" "I will be forever grateful for what I learned as a young man aboard DDR-742." Pete Sandrock, CAPT USN Ret.
LONNIE D MCCAIN RD2, died 12-29-2015. 11-50 to 11-52 on USS Frank Knox. No cause of death known.
CHARLES FOLK, GMG3 died 12-31-13. Folk served aboard USS Frank Knox from 6-67 to 12-68. His death was reported by his son Dennis Folk. Dennis can be reached at (253) 732-6746 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELVIN BRUSH, FM died 01-08-16. Brush served aboard USS Frank Knox from 5-49 to 01-50. His death was reported by Susan Brush, email@example.com.
LIFE MEMBER #60 – Bob Sheridan, Engineering Officer aboard FRANK KNOX 1968-70 became our 60th Life Member. “I don’t know why I waited so long.” said Sheridan. Bob is pictured here in the Engine Room #3 onboard the USS MIDWAY CV-41 in San Diego. Pictured with Bob is WWII Veteran Jack Scott who served aboard a destroyer escort during D-Day and Atlantic Operations before and after June 6, 1944. Congratulations Bob!! If you are attending the San Diego Reunion (September 18-21, 2019.) you can swap stories with Jack Scott, he is a regular in Engine Room #3 at the USS Midway Museum and Bob Sheridan.
Merle was my friend and only 21 when he died in the faithful service of his country, the United States of America.
We served together as shipmates aboard USS Frank Knox (DD-742) in 1967-68. Merle Bissell was the ship’s postal clerk and operated the ship’s store where sailors could make small purchases of cigarettes, ‘gee-dunks’ (candy), razorblades and other sundries. I was a sonar technician.
In June of 1967 USS Frank Knox would set sail on her first West-Pac cruise since the ship ran aground on Pratas Reef in the South China Sea July 18, 1965. The ship went through a massive repair in Yokosuka, Japan and would be returned to service in the Pacific Fleet in November 1966. The rebuilt Frank Knox would receive an all new crew following her salvage and repair.
The Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy is awarded each year to the ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet which displays the greatest improvement in battle efficiency during the competitive year. In 1968 the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy was won by the USS Frank Knox. This is a praiseworthy achievement for any ship. For the Frank Knox it was more than that. In the year 1964 this ship was on of the top destroyers in the Pacific Fleet, displaying battle efficiency "E"'s in all major departments, with hash marks under many of them. She had just been voted "Ship of the Year" for 1963 by OUR NAVY MAGAZINE, and awarded the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award. One of the few laurels not received was the Arleigh Burke Trophy. But on 18 July 1965, these merits seemed of secondary importance as the Frank Knox lay stranded on the coral heads of Pratas Reef, in the South China Sea. Extensive salvage operations finally freed her, and she made her way slowly to Japan. Over a period of 386 days in dry dock in Yokosuka, Japan, the Frank Knox was resurrected through the skill and industry of Japanese yard workers and her dedicated crew members. She was recommissioned in November 1966.
In July of 1967 Frank Knox deployed to the waters of Southeast Asia and began a climb that has brought her to the level she previously held as one of the most distinguished ships in the Pacific Fleet. During the competitive year 1968 she walked off with the Battle Efficiency "E" for Destroyer Squadron Seventeen plus individual awards in gunnery, engineering and anti-submarine warfare. Then on 20 November 1968, two years and one day after she was recommissioned, Frank Knox was formally awarded the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy. This achievement is testimony to the spirit and ability characteristic of the Navy in general and the destroyerman in particular. (Quoted from the 1968 cruise book of USS Frank Knox).