• Welcome to ScubaBoard

  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

The very first recovery. A little graphic

Discussion in 'Ideas and Stories' started by Gary D., May 9, 2004.

  1. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    4,367
    45
    0
    It was late at night on November 23,1966 when a simple refueling went so horribly wrong.

    I was on board a Fletcher Class Destroyer. These are small, fast warships ships with a crew averaging around 200 so everyone knows everyone.

    Seas were a little rough for refueling with swells in the 10-20’ area as we steamed along the starboard side of an oilier which is over 3 times our size.

    The oilier sent us a cable over to attach to our gin pole. A rope is normally used so if something happens it will part where a cable won’t.

    We were well into the refueling and replenishment of supplies when all hell broke loose. It was tough on the helmsmen trying to stay on course due to the heavy seas but for some reason the ships turned 10 degrees away from each other. The cable didn’t part and ripped the gin pole right out of the deck along with two of the three supporting cables. The pole went over our port side before the cable parted freeing the two ships.

    The one remaining gin pole cable kept the pole alongside the ship but it had pinned one sailor’s leg under it. By some miracle he didn’t lose his leg. (We went to school together).

    Several more were injured as cables, pipes and hoses separated covering the topside decks with Navy crude oil. Heavy seas and oiled decks do not mix well at all.

    Being the ships rescue swimmer I was on the 0-1 deck (one above the main deck) just watching for the unusual, which never seemed to happen. But that night, in a few seconds, my life changed forever as the unusual did in fact happen.

    Someone yelled, “MAN OVERBOARD” and at about the same time I saw him. I went in off the second deck and swam for him with everything I had. I was in between two ships steaming at around 10 knots and about 30 feet apart. I didn’t ever think that oilier would get past me even though it did in just a few seconds. Man is awfully small in that position.

    It seemed like I was swimming for hours when I got to the seaman. I was totally exhausted when I was finally able to grab him and roll him over. He was floating face down. I kept talking to him telling him he was going to be ok as we bobbed up and down in the black heavy sea. But when the search light from a second destroyer lit us up I lost every meal I had eaten in the last 6 months. My body tightened up like I had been hit by a freight train. I had never gasped for air like that before and I don’t know if I yelled anything or not. In my arms was a young seaman that had not been out of boot camp a year yet and here I was, not yet 20, holding his lifeless body. There was no doubt about him being dead and I had never seen anything like that before that wasn’t on a movie screen. The entire side of his head was gone where the cable had hit him and I was looking into an empty shull. He had died instantly.

    An officer also went overboard and the second destroyer picked him up. He was severely injured but survived and was able to stay in the Navy as did everyone else involved.

    It was a tragic accident on a cold November night, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a storm that put me on the path to being a PSD.

    This incident doesn’t bother me at all but I will never forget about it. I have no idea where my life would be today had that night not gone as it did. It’s just a shame that so many were injured and a young man barley old enough to vote had to die that night.

    The first one kind of ingrains itself in you and may change your life for better or for worse. I was lucky as my life changed for the better.

    Gary D.
     
  2. Nay

    Nay Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Orange County, CA
    473
    3
    0
    Wow. that's an amazing story.

    Last month in Orange County, Ca a 16 year old girl who was training to be a pool likfe gaurd saved a 9 year old boys life six hours after finishing a CPR class. She was hanging out at her apartment pool when someone saw a kid face down in the water. She kept her head and saved the kid's life.

    I'll be taking my Rescue Diver class this fall and hope that I never have to use the ki of skills either you or that girl did. But where would you be if did need them and didn't have them?

    Do you mind if I ask a dumb sounding question? How did it change your life and was it immediate or does it continue to change you today or that changes have just stuck?

    thanks for the post
     
  3. crispos

    crispos Instructor, Scuba

    547
    0
    0
    Poor guy. He died because someone else screwed up and used use ropes rather than cables?

    Good story Gary. What are you doing in Idaho?
     
  4. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    4,367
    45
    0
    I can only guess why they used cable because I never found out why. But I suspect they did it because it was so rough that night and a rope may not of been strong enough.

    Got the living daylights scared out of me that night but for some weird reason I liked it and have stayed with it.

    Came up to Idaho to visit a friend in 1976. While Wobbles was visiting I was out running around and bought a house. A few weeks later here we were. Still in the same house. About the best decision we ever made.

    Gary D.
     
  5. Kriterian

    Kriterian Solo Diver

    760
    0
    16
    I've been meaning to ask this but I didn't want to be too nosey. What's a Wobbles?

    At first I thought it was a doggy, but now it sounds like a wife. :eyebrow:
     
  6. cool_hardware52

    cool_hardware52 Dive Equipment Manufacturer

    7,582
    1,782
    113
    Gary, what a story. Too many forget the sacrafices made every day in the service of our Country. Thank you.


    BTW You don't have to explain why you live in Post Falls. I have a friend with a House on the river in Post Falls. He invited me up for a few days and I had to fight an over powering urge to buy a house and never leave........

    Regards,




    Tobin George
     
  7. DennisW

    DennisW Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sebastian, FL
    3,711
    29
    0
    Wobbles is Gary's wonderful wife. Whom I've never had the chance to meet although I would surely like to. I've dove with Gary several times. One day, I'll have to visit him in Idaho, or better yet, he and Beth have an open invitation to stay at my house in Williamsburg, should they ever want to see the historic part of the country.
     
  8. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    4,367
    45
    0
    Thanks Dennis.

    Wobbles is my wife who has MS and didn't start diving until after she had to retire due to MS problems. She is very upbeat about it and we joke about it a lot. You have to to survive.

    The license plate on our van and the name of our dive boat are WOBBLES. She did it, not me. She says that's the way she walks so it fits.

    We are very active with MS and here is an article the Press did on us yesterday.
    http://www.cdapress.com/articles/2004/08/01/news/news03.txt

    Hey cool_hardware52, were you here during our Nutsville summers. They are very nice except for the people with more bucks than brains when it comes to boating. Where at on the river?

    Gary D.
     
  9. jkennedy

    jkennedy Barracuda

    272
    0
    0
    Gary that was a wonderful story. Thank you for your service........From an ol Bosun Mate your piped aboard.
     
  10. Kriterian

    Kriterian Solo Diver

    760
    0
    16
    Thanks for the info, didn't mean to pry. I'm glad you both have a sense of humor, that's all that keeps us together most times.

    You should take him up on that Williamsburg offer, I travel up there from NC occasionally. Busch Gardens is a must of course, but the city itself is very historic too.
     

Share This Page