I was still working on getting my CPO uniforms
together when we were briefed on the probability of an upcoming Mideast War,
which turned out to be the “Six Day War” of June 5-10, 1967. We were told to
pack and get ready for deployment to Souda Bay, Crete. Before I really
became acquainted with “Chief’s Quarters” aboard ship, we were flown to
Souda Bay on Memorial Day weekend, as the advance party, to prepare an
emergency evacuation site for civilians fleeing the war zone.
During the advance set-up, the six days of the
war, and the evacuation period afterwards, I spent most of my time directing
arriving aircraft to designated parking areas. I ran around in a yellow jeep
with an ARC-27 UHF radio strapped in the back and a big FOLLOW ME sign
across the back end. My radio call sign was “Tallahatchie Portable”.
When the ship returned to Naples in late August
or Early September, I was left in charge of a 15 man Advance Base
I remained in charge of the detachment until my
transfer in November, 1968. The size of the detachment had grown to
approximately 50 men by the time I departed.
One reason for the increase in manpower was
caused by our requirement to maintain twenty four hour, seven day, radio
The reason for that requirement is a “whole ‘nother
story”, among others, that took place during my tour as CPO in Charge of the
Advance Base Detachment. If anyone is interested in those, I may try to put
some more articles together.)
That 24/7 requirement also caused me (the Advance
Base Detachment) to be assigned a permanent radio code name and required a
set of coding/decoding publications to be on hand. I doubt that I will ever
forget that call sign or the one for Tallahatchie County or the VP squadron
out of Rota Spain. We also relayed messages and talked to VP squadron
aircraft out of Sigonella Sicily. Their call sign escapes me at the moment.
I don’t know if those call signs can be put out to the public even today, so
I won’t do it unless someone “in the know” says it’s OK. I don’t know that
anyone else would be interested anyway.
The name I remember best, after my “Boss”, LCDR
Weyrich, is CM1 George Coopmans.
George was my right hand man and second in
command the whole time I was in charge of the detachment. George was one of
the most dedicated, conscientious, reliable sailors I ever met. I also
considered him to be a very close friend, and have thought many times during
the ensuing years how much I regret letting our contact evaporate.
George is first on the left in the picture below,
taken in the galley at Souda Bay. Next, going clockwise, is AK3 Daniels,
back center is unknown, ASC Luter, and yours truly. The guitar neck and hand
showing in lower right corner belong to AT1 Wassom who provided us with
music almost daily before our evening outdoor movie. The person barely
visible at extreme left, holding the beer can, is a third class Air
Controlman whose name I cannot recall.