Port of Calls

Not necessarily in order of port calls:


Rotterdam, Holland     Greenock, Scotland     Rock of Gibraltar
Hanburg, Germany     Inverness, Scottland     Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Africa
Monaco, France     Athens, Greece     Accra Ghana, Africa
Nice, France     Rhodes, Greece     Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Genoa, Italy     Mykonos, Greece     Boston, Massachusetts
Naples, Italy     Island of Crete     New York City
Istanbul, Turkey     Norfolk,Virginia     Rome, Italy
Bologna, Italy     Piraeus, Greece     Augusta Bay, Sicily
Island of Cyprus     Plymouth, England     La Harve, France
Corunna, Spain            

Crossed the Equator (big event for first time sailor) on my 21st birthday at a longitude and latitude just below Ghana, Africa.  I went from not crossing the equator as a “pollywog” to a “shellback’ which included an informal ceremony on the ships main deck conducted by previous sailors that had crossed, known as “shellbacks.”

In October 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered a naval blockade on Cuba.  The USSR was installing nuclear missile sites targeted on American cities. The Salamonie refueled ships that circled the island and could retaliate within minutes of a missile attack on the U.S. The USSR backed off.

Still keep in touch with many Salamonie shipmates and attend many ships crew reunions.  Having the ship named after a river in Indiana, the ship has a small museum in Warren, Indiana where the river flows thru the town .The ships crew has a mini reunion each 4th of July weekend in Warren as well as a national reunion each year in other parts of the country.  Navy fleet oilers, at the time, were named after rivers and the Salamonie River flows thru Indiana.


JULY 1963 – APRIL 1965

Although Bainbridge, Maryland, previously mentioned, was a shore station, Anacostia was my first long-term regular tour of shore duty. This was to be a 3-year tour on dry land.  Lois and I had an apartment in the extreme Southeast corner of D.C., within walking distance of Maryland.  My duties were record keeping for clothing and food items.

Anacostia is on the same property as Bolling Air Force Base, just across the Anacostia River from the city of Washington, D. C. The Navy’s Ceremonial Guard was based at Anacostia, and what I believe to be the hangar for the Presidents Helicopter, Marine ONE.  On our last trip to Washington, there was the hangar completely surrounded by concertina wire and fencing and it sure appeared to be Marine ONE.

Our department had an 18-wheeler van that was a traveling clothing store and every day a civilian driver and the sailor in charge would visit remote bases all around the greater D.C. area, such as Camp David, security bases on top of hills and mountain tops.  Some that only allowed the van to do business through a cage in the fence.

The Supply Department had in its control what is called “dry stores”, in addition to fresh and frozen food.

In addition to the base mess hall, the President’s mess, Secretary of Navy and the Secretary of Defense mess would draw supplies from us. It would be nothing to see the Presidents Navy mess man come and draw items and the next evening watch TV and see him beside the President at a luncheon. This duty station was to be a slow paced shore duty with no getting underway to sea, etc.  It proved to be a very busy time in D.C. Being in Washington, all the relatives had a reason to come and visit and see the sights.  Our first child, Michael, was born on Valentine Day in 1964 at Andrews Air Force Base.  I served on President Kennedy’s Honor Guard after his assassination.  The honor guards were in the Capitol Rotunda and the White House.  We guarded the bier as the mourners passed by.


President Kennedy's Honor Guard



I would like to share with you my experience serving on President Kennedy’s Honor Guard.  The Navy’s ceremonial guard is stationed at Anacostia, these sailors were either selected upon completion of recruit training or selected from the fleet for the guard.  This guard is similar to the Old Guard at Ft. Meyers for the Army, the Air Force Honor Guard at Bolling Air Force Base and the Marine Barracks.  These groups of servicemen put on all the military funerals at Arlington, escort former Presidents to their final resting place, and participate in heads of state visits to Washington D.C.  President John F. Kennedy was a Officer in the United States Navy, having skippered PT- 109 in WWII.

George is on the right side,(Navy white hat) directly in front of  the American Flag, at the right corner at the head of the casket (red dot)

At the time General Douglas MacArthur and former President Herbert Hoover were both ill and there might be two state funerals.  In preparation for such a possible event the Navy Ceremonial Guard had to be supplemented. Our department was to submit two names for the supplemental detail. Having never given it a thought, other than your name going in, here came that fateful call just after noon on Friday, November 22, 1963. My wife Lois, being six months pregnant at the time, called the office and said the Presidents been shot!  I hung up and blurted it out.  We turned on the nearest radio to listen to the broadcast in disbelief.  You think your name just went in on a list and that was that.  It wasn’t an hour or so, the Military Police of the D.C. district stopped by and picked up my buddy and myself and drove us off.

We were taken to the barracks of the ceremonial guard for some practice.  The Chief had moved a desk in the center of the room to resemble a casket and handed out broom and mop handles to have as make shift weapons for practice.  No time here to do the real thing. For those of you that have observed a funeral detail such as the Presidents, the commands to come to attention and parade rest are all done by a very, very slight movement of the head by the officer at the front of the casket.  When his head is moved, a silent count of three and then you slowly make the movement to either attention or parade rest.

Similar motions are made when it comes time to be relieved after a half hour watch.  Your relief comes to rest beside you and then the officer nods his head a step back is made and another nod and the relief takes position. At each corner of the casket is a service member from each of the services with an officer at the head of the casket.

Our first stop was at Gawlers funeral home on Wisconsin Ave, just down the street from Bethesda Naval Hospital.  There were a handful of us sailors in the funeral home, for what reason we did not know.  No radios, T.V., to capture the moment. We were told not open the curtains to look out.  That’s all you need is to tell a sailor not to do something, the curiosity gets to you, right? Peeking outside the curtains it was now dusk and the camera lights were blaring towards the funeral home.

The President’s body had been motored to Bethesda Naval hospital for an autopsy. I can only speculate that perhaps we were housed in that funeral home for possible use at the hospital.

Next stop was the White House itself.  We were escorted thru the basement, led thru what appeared to be nothing more than a stark line of bunks one on top of another, just like living aboard ship.  It was our understanding this was at one time a bomb shelter and now housed the White House police as there were trophies around, bowling, sharp shooting and the like. I assume it was shelters for the police should some big incident at the White House occur and the police were to be held there for a while.

The detail was then led to the Presidential Theater to await the Presidents body. President Kennedy arrived at the White House entrance at 4:30 AM Saturday morning. Escorted up the driveway by a United States Marine Corps Guard detail.  My place of duty was the 3rd serviceman in line at the front door when they brought his flag draped casket in, followed by Mrs. Kennedy with still the President’s bloodstains on her pink suit.  The media reported the casket was opened in a private room and Jackie put her wedding ring in with Jack.

Later that Saturday AM, it was a cold, damp rainy day, the President was placed in the East Room for viewing.  This wasn’t for public viewing and I recall only standing one watch in the East Room. Then it was on to the Capitol Rotunda.

The procession slowly carried President Kennedy’s casket up the capitol steps to be placed on the very same catafalque that held President Lincoln’s body 98 years before.  After the pallbearers placed his body on the catafalque, I was assigned the first watch under the rotunda along with the other services. Looking back at it years later, the picture, (myself arrow) gets me nervous even now, knowing that just about every single congressmen and head of state were in the rotunda.  You will notice Jackie and Caroline in the far left, Jackie is holding Caroline’s hand.  President Lyndon Johnson laid a wreath on that first watch. I observed Jackie and Caroline kneeling at the casket on my first watch as well.

You will notice the American flag in its proper place in a holder.  My fellow sailor is holding the Presidential flag and he didn’t get relieved properly.  It was a half hour on watch and two hours off during the daylight hours.  It wasn’t till two hours later that when I passed him he went “ Psssssssss” to draw our attention to his predicament. It wasn’t too noticeable to the general pubic but he was relieved and a proper holder was obtained for the Presidential flag.

The detail was housed in the old Senate chambers just down the hall, looking at the photo, to your left between watches.  Talking with the other services in the chambers, I learned that Mrs. Kennedy had requested that some Green Berets be assigned to the detail.  The guys I had talked to had just gotten back from Vietnam as advisors (1964) and were still on “ the tarmac at their base in NC”, when the MP’s picked them up and whisked them off to D.C.  They hadn’t even greeted their families yet.

Navy uniforms are ironed inside out and then put right side out to be worn. For the funeral detail a rubber ring is worn at the base of the trousers to give it a “stovepipe” appearance when standing up.  Sitting down that puts quite a strain on the 13 buttons that are so famous with the Navy’s dress blue trousers in lieu of a zipper.  To relax the uniform when sitting, one unbuttons the 13 buttons and pulls the jumper over his midsection to cover his skivvies.  While relaxing in the chambers, Mrs. Ethel Kennedy (Bobby’s wife) came to search for a telephone.  No cell phones back in those days guys. Everyone in the other services, being the gentlemen they were, popped to attention.  Well you guessed it, not the Sailors as their trousers would of fell to the floor.

I can tell you this, between watches I had the chance to go outside to observe the public lined up some 22 blocks long to wait the viewing in the Rotunda.  At one point the viewing was to end at midnight but after observing the lines, the Rotunda remained open.  I will never, never forget watching the people go by the casket. There were priests, nuns, policemen, servicemen and women, firefighters, children, wheelchairs and others from all walks of life.  The only sound heard was the sobs from the viewers passing by and when they gasped when we changed from attention to parade rest as it was all in silent commands and must have startled them.

While in the old senate chambers a One Star General came around and asked "What is your name son and where are you from", that is how my parents found out back in Hazel Park, Michigan that I was on the detail as a reporter came to the house and told them I was on TV. That is how Lois found out as well; remember I was whisked away and no phone etc. She thought that looked like me on TV and then my parents and her confirmed it.  After a while I did get a chance to call Lois and she said that Lee Harvey Oswald had been shot and we all asked who the hell is he???

After the viewing in the Rotunda, President Kennedy was taken to church for services before his burial in Arlington.  To this day I do not recall how I got back to our apartment.  I arrived in time to observe the services at Arlington on TV with Lois   I never did get any glimpse of John Jr. but will never forget that beautiful little girl, Caroline, now without a father and so young kneeling at her fathers casket.