Ship's History: 1951-1955
Any contributions are greatly appreciated. Please keep them G-rated.
On 29 March 1951, Stephen Potter was placed back in commission and, after a brief shakedown cruise, sailed on 23 June for the east coast of the United States and duty with the Atlantic Fleet. She arrived at Newport on 11 July and operated with the Atlantic Fleet until 1 April 1953 when she again sailed to the Pacific. Stephen Potter joined the United Nations fleet off the east coast of Korea and operated there until the cessation of hostilities.
After returning to the United States, the destroyer entered the Boston Naval Shipyard and had extensive repairs and alterations performed. On 28 March 1954, she sailed for Guantanamo and refresher training. On 5 January 1955, she sailed for Western Europe and made good will visits to Belgium, Germany, and Norway before arriving back in Newport on 26 May 1955. In April 1956, Stephen Potter was in Long Beach and, on 14 July, operated with Destroyer Squadron 23, out of Kobe, Japan, before returning to the United States in November 1956.
In June 1958, Stephen Potter was again placed out of commission, in reserve, and berthed at Mare Island Calif. She remained there until 1 December 1972 when she was struck from the Navy list. Stephen Potter received 10 battle stars for World War II service.
Charles R. Sagar Jr:
In late '54 after making RM2 I was transferred from Comcortron 14 staff to the Stephen Potter. I must admit that I felt like the luckiest sailor in the navy. After serving almost three years aboard DE's it was like night and day to be aboard a DD. If memory serves me correctly there were two trips to Europe during '55 although my memory leaves much to be desired these days. Sometimes you think about something for so long it becomes fact in your mind. The were so many stories I remember but the best I can recollect was when we joined the fleet in the Med after visiting several ports in northern Europe, we were along side of a carrier (don't remember which one) when a message came from the Commodore stating, (I can remember this message like it was yesterday), "The appearance of your crew is exceeded by only that of the Reluctant. Take immediate steps to get your crew into uniform. The uniform of the day is white hats (we all wore baseball caps or nothing). I took the message from the operator and delivered it myself to the old man on the bridge. He looked at me, read the message, ranted for about five minutes and then disappeared. About five minutes later he came up to the bridge with a cooks hat screaming at the carrier "Here's my _________white hat". To say the least we were all hysterical and steamed away as fast as we could to get back in formation. Needless to say he was the best skipper I'd ever served under and I'm sure the rest of the crew at that time agreed. To prove a point we had the best gunnery crew in the squadron and got 4.0's of just about every exercise.
From Bob Youngblood and others:
There was a story that the Potter was somewhere off North Korea, and had spent large portions of a day trying to destroy a stone bridge with the five inch guns, when a battlewagon signaled an offer to help, fired one salvo, and demolished the bridge. Nobody seems to remember whether the ship was the Iowa, the New Jersey, or the Missouri.
From Bert (Zig) Zittrauer
I remember being on the great ship U.S.S. Stephen Potter when the war(?) with North Korea was over. The Potter set sail around the world, crossed the equator at latitude 00-00, longitude 105.00 on the twentieth of August 1953. We polliwogs then got initiated and became Trusty Shellbacks, but not until after we polliwogs took over the ship. We handcuffed the executive officer to the bow of the ship. There was a Lt (jg) who once announced that Mount Six was manned and ready. We hung an M-1 rifle around his neck and sent him all over the ship saying "Mount six manned and ready." There was a second class radar man who was on the gray-haired side; we put green dye marker in his hair. There was more planned, but the Captain (Thomas A. Eddy) got upset and made us stop. I think we paid for it the next day; I can still feel my behind.
From Jack Wolf:
Itinerary of the goodwill cruise in 1955:
Londonderry (AKA Derry or Derryann)
Antwerp, Belgium, with liberty in Brussels
Stavanger, Norway, with liberty in Sauda, skiing
Plymouth, England, with liberty in London
Cannes, France with liberty in Nice, Monaco, and a soccer game in Antibes;
Naples, Italy with liberty in Rome, Sorrento, Pompeii, and the Isle of Capri; Palermo, Sicily (instead of Genoa, Italy...engineering casualty);
Almeria, Spain, with a party for the local children
From Charles Sagar:
In January of 1955, we steamed out of Newport and headed for the med to link up with the rest of the fleet. On the second night out, one of the strikers came below about 0100 to tell me that one of the transmitters had broken down and they didn't know how to handle it. When I got to the radio shack, I found our young ET trying to determine what was wrong with the TDZ. He said that he had changed everything, but that nothing he did seemed to be working. I looked around for a while and asked if he had checked out the fallopian tubes. He said that he didn't know where they were and couldn't find them on the schematic. I told him that the prints were old and that we had them installed when in Newport. I then asked him if we had any spares: of course, he said no. After a while of thinking things over, I told him to go below and wake up Mr. Sparks so that he could put in an order for new ones, the minute we hit port. When Mr. Sparks came to the radar shack, a little greenish in color, he couldn't believe that I had sent the ET to wake him up with such a ridiculous request. After a lot of hollering and threatening to write me up, he calmed down and left. We all had a good laugh at the ET's expense. Funny thing, though, I would probably do the same thing again today.
Approximately four or five days out, we broke off because of bad weather, and refueled off the coast of the Azores. We then headed for Londonderry, our first stop in Northern Europe. We stayed in Ireland for two weeks. Then off to London, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and then back to Germany.
After leaving Italy, our gyros went bonkers one evening, and we steamed into another vessel, running into a boat boom which was left out. I'm not sure what ship or even what kind of ship it was. The guys on the starboard side had quite a scare. I'm not sure if anyone was injured.
We then headed for Palermo, Sicily to make emergency repairs. After that, I believe we visited one or two more ports, then headed home, arriving sometime in May. Around June, we headed for the Boston shipyard for needed repairs. I visited the Boston Arena ....took the train home on several weekends. We went back to Newport some time in September. I was released on September 15th to the base and hung out there until separated on October 15th.
From Jack Wolf:
As a green ensign, one of my collateral duties was Special Services Officer. Just before leaving for Europe in December of 1954, the Captain thought it appropriate to bring joy to a group of children in a foreign port. The ship was docked in New Bedford at the time, and a bunch of Santa's helpers swarmed through town, buying every toy in sight. It wasn't until the end of the cruise that someone remembered the gifts that had been stowed away. Almeria, Spain was to be the next and final port of call before we headed back to the States. It couldn't have been a more deserving city for such an event. Arrangements were made for a group of youngsters to come aboard for the party and then move on to the town hall where a local radio station was to broadcast the festivities. About two dozen eager volunteers participated; from the cooks who baked a huge cake to the musicians who performed for the local guests. Fun was had by all, especially by the children who had no trouble learning how to use their new skates. They even managed to overcome one small problem; there were no paved streets in Almeria.
From Ron Detert:
Tis a little vague, but I remember when the kids were on the dock. Someone from somewhere on the ship threw a PENCIL out onto the dock for one of the children to have, as they had only slate and chalk in school in this part of Spain at that time. When that child was picking up the pencil, some adult stepped on the child's hand, picked up the pencil, and ran. The child was standing there crying. I felt sorry, and thought "All that, just for a pencil!"
I remember Kristians and Stavanger as ports of call in Norway. Maybe someone more adept at the computer can search for an article in "Stars and Stripes." I kept the paper for a while, but in the course of things, it got lost.
From Wally Cox:
A bunch of us were hitting the bars in Palermo, Sicily, and visited a place that I recall being named "The Snake Pit". It was really crowded and there were no tables available (we were told). I spotted one open in the corner and proceeded to lead the liberty party to it, then plopped down to order. Then the commotion and yelling started! Not understanding Italian, I couldn't figure out what the problem was until someone translated that nobody could sit at Lucky Luciano's table. Being a street kid, I knew who he was and we quickly emptied out the booth. (for those of you who had a sheltered youth, he was a Mafia kingpin who was deported from the U.S. to Sicily in the early 50's)
Foul Weather Experience on the Stephen Potter 1951-1953 The Sinking of the Flying Enterprise
Prepared for the 1999 Ship's Reunion History Larry Paxson BMSN USNR
My duty on the Potter was limited to a short period from 1951 to1953: one cruise to northern Europe, and the Mediterranean and a brief cruise in support of some Arctic operations off Labrador. This certainly does not compare to the experiences of those shipmates who served aboard the Potter in World War II; I didn't even make Korea. I never experienced combat or spent the months at sea that were a part of wartime service. In fact the only time I was ever in harm's way was couple of occasions in the North Atlantic weather. These experiences occurred during the first three months of my service on the Potter.
The first incident occurred shortly after I joined the ship at Guantanamo Bay directly from boot camp in the late fall of 1951. I was assigned to the first division as a Bos'n mate striker. I had finally found a job tailored to my level of competence. At the end of my third week aboard the Potter, we finished underway training exercises at Guantanamo and sailed for our homeport at Newport, RI; my first trip on the open sea and one of the more memorable experiences of my life.
En route to Newport we encountered a hurricane force storm east of Atlantic City. This was my first experience with real weather. In boot camp we had lectures on the World War II typhoon damage in the South Pacific and the hurricane season's Caribbean experiences. One night off Atlantic City I got my first demonstration of what the instructors had been talking about.
I had port lookout on the mid-watch and I was concentrating mostly on not freezing to death. Other than that minor problem I felt full assurance that things were well under control. (You know, just like in the movies.) After a short break to thaw out while I was waiting to resume my watch station, the ship took a violent roll to starboard and STOPPED! --for what seemed like a lifetime. Slowly the roll reversed and the ship righted itself. With some effort we were able to adjust course and exchanged the terror of capsizing during a roll for the fear of disintegrating during a violent yaw. (One of the thoughts that passed through my mind was that maybe I should have had a longer discussion with that Air Force Recruiting sergeant. )
Throughout this period the only thing that really bothered me was the fear of sudden violent death; nevertheless the OD and Captain and the bridge watch appeared "unruffled" bouncing off bulkheads, spilling coffee, hanging on to whatever one hangs onto. Eventually as dawn broke and the sea settled down, things returned to normal. As we passed out of the storm I asked Duane Tyson BM3, a WW II veteran of a few years in the South Pacific "What was that?" Tyson remarked "Well it couldn't have been a typhoon 'cause they only have typhoons in the Pacific, and it couldn't have been a hurricane because it's not hurricane season, so I guess we'll just call it a winter storm". Tyson indicated that if one had the choice between a typhoon, hurricane or and a winter storm, take the typhoon. What ever it was it darn near sank us! I later found out that bridge watch that appeared to be "unruffled" were also scared witless.
Tyson went on to explain things like critical roll angles; how if the ship rolls far enough those big grills on the side of the stacks will slurp up sea water instead of inhaling air for the boilers and how all sorts of bad thing could happen. This lecture was to prove of great advantage on future occasions when we encountered rough weather. I was no longer plagued with an irrational fear of the dangers of storms at sea. I now had an excellent, fact based, educated, understanding of precisely how one could encounter sudden violent death at sea. After a Christmas leave period in Newport we got underway from Newport and joined the carrier task force that was scheduled to relieve the 6th Fleet ships in the Mediterranean. Again we ran into heavy weather. Heavy enough that the carrier exercises were canceled but not the killer weather of the last storm: just a steady stretch of nasty violent winds and rough sea.
About the fourth day of the cruise one of the other destroyers lost a man overboard. We and three other destroyers dropped out of the formation and attempted a rescue. The man was alive and in a life jacket but after four hours of trying every possible means we lost track of him at dusk. (Again thoughts of that Air Force recruiting sergeant came back.)
It was shortly after this that a concurrent series of events were taking place that might have gotten the Potter on the world news and the 50's equivalent of CNN-but it didn't happen that way. We missed a minor walk -on part in one of the more interesting maritime rescue operations of this era --It still plays on the Discovery Channel occasionally- The Sinking of the Isbrandtsen Line ship Flying Enterprise.
At the time of the event we didn't really know all that was happening and for a long time after the events most of the participants didn't know what really happened. All we got was a few days of miserable weather and none of the glory.
It all started a few days before Christmas in 1951. The 6,700 ton Isbrandtsen Line Victory Ship Flying Enterprise left Hamburg Germany with a cargo of 1,300 tons of pig iron and 900 lbs. coffee being transshipped from the German port. A few days later one of the worst storms in years hit the western region of the North Atlantic. Wind speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour - the highest in twenty years - were registered in the Scilly Isles, and on the North Devon cliffs spray reached the British Coast Guard station on cliffs 315 feet high.
On Christmas Eve about 500 miles from the British port of Falmouth the Flying Enterprise suffered structural damage from heavy weather and was forced to heave-to and ride out the storm. On the second day of the storm the ship was broadsided by a huge wave and the cargo shifted. With the ship listing 45° the, Captain Kurt Carlsen sent out an SOS. The USNS ship Golden Eagle and the US freighter Southland were in the immediate area and joined the Flying Enterprise that evening The following morning the passengers and crew were transferred safely but Captain Carlsen remained aboard. The USS Kenneth Weeks was ordered to the scene in order to provide a standby radio link for salvage and rescue operations. The British salvage tug Turmoil got underway from the Lands End Station to take the Flying Enterprise in tow. The Turmoil arrived on 3 January and started attempts attach a towline to the Flying Enterprise.
Shortly thereafter the Weeks, running low on fuel, was relieved by the USS Willard Keith. At this time the 6th fleet relief task force commander was directed to provide two destroyers to relieve the Keith since they were also short on fuel. We got the honor along with the Ellison and were ordered to proceed to the site of the salvage operation.
Captain Carlsen had now been aboard the Flying Enterprise alone for 5 days and the world press had made the salvage operation the story of the week. Any thing the US Navy didn't need was to have one of their destroyers "run out of gas" in front of the whole world so we were directed to proceed to the site at maximum speed.
Unfortunately we were running directly into the same weather front that had hit the Flying Enterprise. The weather decks became impassable; any personnel who had any proclivity for seasickness were completely out of action. Fire and engine room crews couldn't move on the main deck and remained on station. The mess hall was inaccessible, but nobody was eating anyway. The Soup Du Jour was water and the main course was Saltines. A few of the real gourmet diners treated themselves to Sliced Bologna. (A gourmet diner being anyone who hadn't thrown up in the past ten minutes.) The seasickness was such that any attempts to schedule watches was forgotten. If you could stand up you had the watch.
The Turmoil spent two days trying to get a towline to the Flying Enterprise. On the third day one of the crew of the Turmoil jumped aboard the Flying Enterprise and they managed to get the ship in tow. The Turmoil began towing the ship toward Falmouth harbor at about 3-31/2 knots. Falmouth was about 200 miles east of the site and we were about 72 hours from a rendezvous.
On 10 January about 60 miles out of Falmouth the towline parted and the sea conditions got worse. A RAF helicopter made a final rescue attempt but was forced to turn back. The Turmoil then made a pass on the lee side of the Enterprise and was able to safely retrieve the captain and the crewman. A few hours after that the ship sank near the entrance to the English channel a few miles from Falmouth. The Weeks and the Keith proceeded to Plymouth to a huge bacchanalia complete with parades and world press coverage.
I would estimate that we were probably 30 miles short of the rendezvous when the Enterprise went down. We were diverted to Londonderry in Northern Ireland and ploughed through the same weather for a couple more days. The ship's menu didn't change except the Saltines got a little soggier. There were rumors, later proved false, that the chief’s mess also had Ritz crackers.
We arrived in Londonderry late in the evening, instead of a parade we found one open fish and chips shop and an otherwise cold windy closed up town. At least the decks stopped rolling and a few noises were coming from the kitchen. However culinary activity seemed to be limited to debris removal, any big feeding activity seemed well in the future.
We therefore decided to explore the nightlife in the cosmopolitan city of Londonderry .It didn't take long, what bars there were, had long closed for the evening and we dumb Yanks thought that World War II was over. The shooting may have stopped but the austerity and food rationing hadn't. The one restaurant still open had a short menu, eggs and French-fries—catsup included. I think we cleaned out their inventory and retreated to the fish and chips emporium. Later during our stay we discovered English beer -they served it at room temperature! At the time of our visit it didn't make much difference the room temperature was more than cold enough. We stayed in Londonderry for a few days and continued on a "good will" tour of coastal ports in around Europe and the Med.
The throughout the remainder of the cruise we enjoyed good weather. In fact the two storms I experienced in the first three months my naval career on that cruise of the Potter. were the only really bad weather I encountered in my naval career.
This early education in seamanship has had one major benefit; it provided me with lifetime immunity from any interest whatsoever in buying a sailboat, motorboat or one of those yachts parked in marinas that clutter up the miles of shoreline of the entire US coast.
On the occasions where I have felt that touch of nostalgia to return to the sea, I've found that a cruise ship is a reasonable solution. The accommodations are better, the bars are open longer, but the people you meet are not near as interesting as the Potter crew.
(Also, looking back, I'm rather glad I didn't listen to that Air Force Recruiting Sergeant. I still think that AF uniform makes you look like a Greyhound bus driver)
As for the Flying Enterprise, it has maintained its place in history and may have left some questions unanswered to this day. I remembered reading about a salvage operation of the vessel a few years after the sinking. I remember mention of a large amount of cash brought up from the vessel. I had forgotten the details.
When I started to write this brief article I looked up the Isbrandtsen Line. They are still in business on a much smaller scale, in crude oil brokering; the main business was sold or merged. I talked to the grandson of Hans Isbrandtsen the original owner and the founder of the Isbrandtsen Line. The incident of the Flying Enterprise occurred before his time but he remembered it. He also remembered the US dollar currency belonging to the Bank of Switzerland and also there were rumors of some special metal alloys aboard the ship, all "off manifest".
On two previous occasions Isbrandtsen had been involved in unusual activity that indicated possible intelligence connections. For example the Isbrandtsen Flying Arrow was the last ship into Shanghai when the communists took over in 1947. If I recall correctly, the crew threatened mutiny rather than take the ship out past Chinese communist lines. The ship came under fire from a couple of Chiang Kai-shek's gunboats captain and the first mate kept them on station with a couple of Thompson submachine guns. The State Department and the US navy also got involved.
In 1950 the Isbrandtsen Flying Clipper was preparing to load a trainload size cargo of ammunition in South Amboy NJ. The cargo was manifested for Pakistan. At the time the US was supposed to be remaining neutral in the India/Pakistan conflict. The ammunition exploded as it was being loaded on barges for lighterage to the ammunition anchorage. The Flying Clipper was not damaged, but the entire dockside crew was killed.
Both of these incidents could well be coincidental, in those days and for years afterward the CIA and Naval Intelligence operated "proprietary" companies such as Air America and the CAT airlines in the Far East. There were both formal and informal arrangements with US as well as foreign shipping lines. Looking back on the sequence of events in the sinking of the Flying Enterprise there may have been circumstances that we were not aware of.
The possible Isbrandtsen Line intelligence connection is pure speculation on my part. I have a few friends involved research on the history of intelligence operations in that era. We did look into it further and we conducted a reasonable search of recently declassified documents and no further information that has turned up.
In the light of later events I sometimes wonder if there was a further reason for the urgency for our presence on the scene. The merchant marine ships and the salvage tug Turmoil were doing everything possible under the circumstances. Under ordinary circumstances a standby destroyer would be superfluous. The Navy may have only wanted us to standby as a public relations gesture or there may have been other reasons.
From George Silvani - Story about the Famous Tam O'Shanter Hat
One of the best European deployments I ever made was one in which our Tincan, the USS Steven Potter, sailed independently in northern European waters for a few months before joining the seventh fleet in the Mediterranean. We conducted a couple of short anti-submarine exercises with the British and the Norwegian Navies, but most of the time we operated singly to show the flag at a few Scandinavian capitals as well as British, French, and German ports. While on liberty in Glasgow, a few of us noticed young pretty, Scottish lassies wearing colorful tam o'shanters: Brilliant multi-colored, round, flat-top hats with tassels attached in the center. I thought that Helen might like to have a tam; so I purchased one and wore it back to the ship.
A crewman, Petty Officer First Class, Joe Sherry, Electrician Mate First, spotted the hat and immediately offered to buy it from me, but I put him off explaining that I purchased it for my wife. To add a bit of color to the dull, green bulkheads of my cabin, I hung the tam on a porthole wrench. While going through officer's country to make a routine inspection of lights, blowers, and other electrical equipment, Petty Officer Sherry saw the hat. He asked if he could just try it on and look at himself in the mirror. The guy wanted the tam o'shanter so badly that he offered me double the price I paid for it! I wasn't about to make a couple of bucks off a sailor, so casually and in an off-hand manner I said," Go ahead and take the darned thing. It's yours if you wear it at a Captain's inspection some time." Then I proceeded to forget about the tam.
For Captain's personnel inspection, the crew is formed into divisions about the main deck. Carried out properly the inspection can make for an impressive military ceremony. To prepare for inspection sailors spend a lot of time and effort to spruce up their best uniform, spit-shine shoes, get fresh haircuts, and don spotless white hats. An inspection was scheduled. When the crew was mustered and the division officers reported their divisions ready for inspection, the Captain was notified, "Ship's company ready for your inspection, sir." He proceeded down lines of sailors standing at rigid attention. As he passed a man he might adjust a neckerchief or congratulate a sailor wearing a new "crow insignia" on his sleeve that signified a recent promotion in rate. When the inspection party rounded the after 5-inch, 38 gun mount, the "E" division in which Sherry was standing at attention came into view. He was wearing the tam. The chroma of color standing out from the Navy-haze-gray-painted bulkhead, surrounded by dark uniforms and white hats was dazzling. I was stunned! If the Captain were to ask Sherry about his bizarre behavior, and he answered that the Executive Officer told him to wear it at inspection, I would have a lot of explaining to do.
Captain Almgren had a great personality and a fine sense of humor. Noting this strange and unmilitary-like behavior, he must have sensed something was afoot to get some sort of reaction out of him. He proceeded more slowly down the line silently pausing before each man: Scrutinizing each sailor from head to toe, then staring directly in the guy's face to make eye contact before going on to the next one. The Captain didn't vary the routine when he got to Sherry. To Sherry's credit and my relief, he stood silently, rigid, and didn't bat an eye. After the Captain had inspected the last man, he turned to me and said, "George, I am very pleased with the crew. The men presented a sharp military bearing which show the results of their thorough preparation. You may secure from inspection."
I sent the master-at-arms to tell Sherry I wanted to see him in my cabin - presto. When he arrived I asked him, "What in the hell do you think you were doing?" You told me I could keep the tam If I wore at inspection. I had just about given up on the idea Sir, but I laid bets around the ship that I couldn't pay off if I chickened out."
Fast Forward A Half Century
Petty Officer Sherry recently contacted me for a photo to use in an album he is putting together of his shipmates from the USS Steven Potter. What follows are bits of his memory of the tam-o'shanter affair which, from his perspective, are somewhat similar to mine.
"I spotted the tam when you came back aboard wearing it from playing golf. I offered to buy it from you on many occasions, but you were firm in your answer, "No". However, I pestered you so much, I think you decided that this would be a good way to shut me up. This was your idea - not mine - to wear it at inspection. At the time I thought that was the only way to get it from you. I figured no guts, no blue chips. Besides I figured you would forewarn Captain Almgren."
"As I stood in line for the inspection, I waited till the Captain was about four men away. It was then I took off my white hat and replaced it with the tam. I had it in my mind to stand at attention and stare straight ahead. He stopped in front of me and looked me up first, then down. There were beads of sweat on me. He then moved to the next man: No smile, no raised eyebrows, no surprise, no nothing. Phew! The captain never mentioned it to me or any one else I know of. After the inspection I went to you to claim my prize, and thank you for warning the Captain - and you said you didn't. I damned near dropped right there."
The Electrician's Mate First Class, Joe Sherry, still has the tam-o'shanter and has offered to return it to me. I informed him that since he has taken such good care of it for over a half century, it should remain in his keep. Sherry is still attracted to wearing bright colors, however. A shipmate recently e-mailed me a photo of him on a San Francisco street wearing shorts that reveal a pair of socks: One green the other red, to match the Tincan's port and starboard running lights.
AN INCIDENT ON THE USS STEPHEN POTTER JULY 18 (OR THERE ABOUT), 1953
by Remo J Silvestini
There were three major missions undertaken by the Potter during its tour of duty in Korea in 1953. They were Plane Guard duty for the Aircraft Carriers, shore bombardment of North Korea facilities and serving as part of a "screen" for the larger ships in the Task Force. Other individual missions were undertaken by the Potter which have been well chronicled in The Voyages 1945-45 & 1951-58 by Jerry Deiley. He is to be commended for his efforts. On page 9 of "The Voyages" Mr. Deiley tells about a "party that went ashore to find enemy positions" and ended up with shell fragments embedded in the vehicle they were using. The purpose of this narrative is to provide (for historical purposes, I suppose) a more detailed description of the events leading up to the incident, the incident itself, and the events that followed. I was the Gunnery Officer on the Potter at that time and was in the "party" that went ashore.
First off, the location of the bombardment we subjected the North Korean forces to, was referred to as "the bomb line". At night we would steam with the Carrier Task Force and then in the mornings we would leave the formation and take up a position off the coast of North Korea outside of the range of any possible enemy shore battery. We would "lie to", start shooting about 9 AM and continue doing so, as directed by Marine "spotters" ashore, until around 5PM. At that time we would steam back to rejoin the Task Force and the Marine spotters would return to their bases in South Korea. This was our routine day after day, except for Saturdays and Sundays and Holidays. We did not shoot on weekends or on the 4th of July 1953. Outside of the occasional fire of our 5" guns, it was rather boring on the ship during A shore bombardment period. Sun bathing and fishing over the side while on the duty at the "bomb line" was not uncommon.
One day, whether we requested it or it was requested of us, I do not recall, but a shore party from the Potter was formed to go ashore and "spot" our gunfire for the day. In the "party", in addition to myself, was another Officer (Ensign Smith), and possibly a third Officer. I do not recall for sure.
At the US Marine location ashore, we were fitted up with helmets, side arms, and flak jackets and took off, with two Marines in a jeep, to the "front lines" to direct our gunfire for the day. The trip up to the "front" and the shooting for the day was without notable incidence. The return to the Marine Base at the end of the day was when the "fun" began. We were advised by one of the Marines escorting us that one particular open area of the return trip was vulnerable to, and has in the past received, enemy mortar fire.
As we approached this "open vulnerable area", the driver of the jeep sped up appreciably and told us to "keep our heads down". No sooner did we hit the open area that shells started exploding all around us. I don't know how many shells were fired at us or for how long we were under fire but we did clear the area without injury. In fact it was only after we reached the base and laughed and joked about the incident that we notice that the jeep did, in fact, receive some shrapnel.
We returned to the ship none the worse for wear. I don't know if the incident was written up in the Ships Log, but our XO, Lt. Cdr. Bill Arthur was the unofficial ships "publicist" and he made it known to higher Naval Authorities and to the town newspapers of the Ships' Officers involved.
Below is a picture of myself pointing to some of the damage done to the jeep involved.