The following piece is from a former IC3 Stephen Gray (who failed to include himself) around the 1973-74 era! It describes a time aboard the USS W.S. Sims (a.k.a.) Silly Willy and the shipmates that served under then DCA Ltjg. Charles “I Never Take Off My Sunglasses’ Rodriguez!!!
Repair Division, an integral part of Engineering, was composed of four rates; Hull Technicians, Electricians Mates, Machinery Repairman, and Interior Communications Electricians! The HT’s were sometimes led by HT1 Maurice Bower and other times by mass confusion! Second in command was HT2 Frank (The Nerd) Trimmer who played at Helicopter Fire Chief during flight quarters and whose ability to clean out stopped-up toilets was beyond reproach!! HT2 Mike Shockey rounded out the ruling class of HT’s and being “short” there wasn’t much said concerning his naval views in a censored military environment!!!
Keeping with the Navy pecking order, HT3 Keith Chambers entered the scene! Petty Officer Third Class (Push-button type) Chambers’ obsession with a high-speed, good maneuvering, well-constructed Volkswagen had made him a key figure in the toilet cleaning brigade second only to Frank Trimmer! HT3 Dan Hinkle came to us from the Army where he traded ground pounding for wave riding!! For the illustrious strikers (those fools attempting to become HT’s) there was FA John Berger who would constantly, in port, try to disprove the theory that the shortest distance between point A and B is a straight line, while HTFA Mike Baimbridge, the Naval Reservist in our midst, didn’t know whether he was an HT or not... He evidently assumed the title while going through that tough two week Bootcamp!!!
FN Leonard Baldini, our bird and rabbit murderer of the division, would gladly tell you the necessity of hunting the vicious man-eating sparrow with a Thompson sub-machine gun! FN Mike Carter, a Boatswain mate reject, was a real asset to the HT’ with his superior knot tying ability!!!
Head maladroit of the Electricians EMC Terry (Chief) McDaniels whose trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, brave, clean, and reverent ideas (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) had sparked the electricians under him to heights few men have ever achieved! The manipulator and general enforcer was EM1 George (Frenchy) Ouellette whose conduct ashore was in the highest traditions of the United States of America, Department of Defense, United States Navy, the USS W. S. Sims, and the First National Methodist Church of America!! Next in line was EM2 Harry (Motor Mouth) Patterson with past adventures of the USS Saratoga which were, in fact, unbelievable!! His first and foremost admirer, EM3 and a half Oliver (Briar Hopper) Cornett Jr. whose speech and mumbled wit required constant translation from the other barefoot, down-home boys of the Division, had brought about the rejuvenation of the now famous song “Jingle Briar” followed closely by “Sixteen Briar Hoppers, What do you get?”
EMFN (at long last) Don Braun alias BB alias Buddha Belly alias Bubbles Braun alias Butter Ball is one of the comical electricians with his joint checking account with his car-wrecking girlfriend! EMFN Vince Sinopoli was from Louisiana and dreamed of going to the Mardi Gras one day!! I’m sure that he and his goatee (all twelve hairs) had eventually made it!!!
FN Richard (Ravin’ Richie) Hughes dreamed a little differently! His dreams were of becoming an OS or a QM or maybe an MS or anything out of Engineering! He was our gullible fireman who pleased our Sea Story tellers by believing every last word as the Gospel Truth!! EMFN Joseph (Squeaky) Nalli and EMFN Steven (FRIO) Donofrio both were recent arrivals and therefore won’t be subjected to verbal abuse as they were too wet behind the ears before I left!!!
Division Officer, Damage Control Assistant and Division Chief ICC Charles (Chuckie Baby) Miller, was the ranking babysitter of the ship’s gyro compass and whose ludicrous inanity on small jobs had given him the title of Ace Sweat-Pump aboard Silly Willy! Leading Petty Officer of the IC work center was IC2 Danny Waldrop!!
Although new to the ship, his endless stream of “bubblehead” (submarine) jokes enhanced the Divisions ever sinking morale!! His right-hand man was IC3 Thomas Davis better known as the old man of the Division!!!
ICFN Daniel Rohde, the other designated striker, constantly attempted to build non-working Heath Kit projects! FN Gerald Jenkins, the last of the IC Men, was TAD to IC “A” School proving the fact that you could get off the Silly Willy without getting out of the service!!!
The Machinery Repairmen section of R Division was by far and away the smallest segment! Smallest, not in work load but in number; only two men!! The top-dog of the MR’s was MR2 John Phillips!! His ability to produce precision cribbage boards and pegs (which don’t work) and his superior (what a joke!) card playing ability had earned him an unprintable name with which to live by!! The other MR, FN Axel Wittenrood hailed from Chicago, Illinois and let you know it as soon as you meet him, so that he wouldn’t be confused with the “hillbillys” in the other gangs!!!
All kidding and joking aside, being part of Repair Division, was a hard-working, thankless job endured by all the above mentioned men and it was my privilege to be associated with those people for the last year and a half of my time aboard! Just maybe someday, someone, will realize the importance of this Division and the individuals who were a part of it!!!