I was working for Carnegie Illinois Steel in Youngstown when the Korean War Started in 1950.  Paul Miller of Younstown and myself were the first to sign up.  We were sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. As I look back on it now, it was a typical boot camp where they pushed you to the limit. In about 3-1/2 months, many of us went by railroad to Green Cove Springs, Florida where we took the LCU 664 out of mothballs.  While I was in Green Cove Springs, Helen moved to Tampa to be with her sister Jackie and I was able to go down to see her. Shortly after I returned to Green Cove Springs, we got orders to sail to Norfolk, Virginia.

boot camp
Me in Boot Camp
friends in boot camp
Paul Miller, Me, Jim Carey
me smoking
Me Smoking

Once in Norfolk, we sailed over to the shipyards at Portsmouth, Virginia. At the time, I  had no idea where we were going, only that we were definitely going somewhere. It wasn't too long before we found out that we would be loaded aboard an LST and set out for Thule, Greenland.


As you can see, massive chains and cables were hooked to the 664 and it was lifted out of the water and onto the deck of an LST.  Our weight was 120 tons and we were gingerly set down on huge sliding blocks and then chained down for the long trip to Greenland. I can tell you for certain that there is nothing worse than a top heavy round bottom LST to sail the North Atlantic on.

big crane

Very gently the shipyard workers lowered us down onto the LST. The whole process of loading our ship took about an hour. Once we were safely settled on the launch blocks, they began the task of lashing us down.

aboard lst

The big question for all of us in the beginning was what are we going to Greenland for.  There was a huge convoy of ships, mostly cargo ships loaded with food, cigarettes, dozers, cranes, building materials of all kinds.  We were soon to find out that we were going to bulid an air force base in Thule. We also found out that there was no big crane up there to lift us off the LST and that we would be launched off the starboard side of the LST.  It was beyond my imagination as to how they would do this and I was there with camera in hand just in case I could get a shot of us going over the side. When the time came, we were all ordered off the 664 onto the LST 983 and they began to fill the starboard side of the LST with ballast water. At the same time, they removed all the chains holding us down until there were only 3 one inch cables left. When we were sufficiently tilted, three men with axes simultaneously came down on the cables with the axes and the 664 went sliding off.

the launch

I managed to get this shot of our 120 ton ship in mid air just before it hit the water. When it struck the water, it went totally under and then came bouncing up like a very large cork. It was a tremendous splash and I would have caught that too if it had been one of today's cameras in my hand at the time;

We crossed the Artic Circle on our way to Thule and everyone who went got an ID card identifying them as having entered the northern domain of the Polar Bear. We became part of the "Ye Royal Order of Blue Nose".

blue nose

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