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USS Sampson Story Board Video
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USS Teaberry AN-34 in the South Pacific.
Sample of WWII Navy net tenders I burned
on two separate boards (see below).

"When we were installing a torpedo net across the entrance to the PT Base at Dos Woendi island south of Biak. We had a storeroom full of spam and ate it for morning chow, noon chow and sometimes evening chow." 

Plank Owner
and Life member in good standing  NAVetsUSA 
George S Cates
Ret 1943-1973
P.O. Box 288
Bergman, AR 72615-0288

George S. Cates, JOC, USN, Retired

       Navy's Biography as best he remembers
        (compiled 8 April 2000) with updates as his memory improves)

First entered the U. S. Navy in March 1943 at the age of 16 with parental consent. Enlisted at Miami, Florida and reported for basic training- NTC Bainbridge, Maryland.

Upon reporting (it was at the height of WWII) I was bunked down in the gymnasium with what seem a thousand other recruits. His first day was processing, shots, knot tying (never understood that). Marched with what seemed 2,000 to a mess hall for chow. (what the hell had I gotten my self into, I thought). Morning chow wasn't so bad --- SOS on toast - later found out what that stood for! The other meals were pretty good, but why all the marching!!! 2"" day, yep here we go again, marched down to Port Deposit and a little boating exercise on the Susquehanna River. "What was I going to do, row myself to the war?" I thought. Never saw so many rowboats. I was seated with what seem like a dozen other recruits on the starboard side. In the stern was this Coxswain with a big cone shape thing he shouted commands. Untied from the pier we drifted out into the river channel and the command was given, 'Row, row, row, row, row!n Hell didn't he know any other words? Pretty soon the command was given LLUp oars!" With all my strength I could mustered I uplifted the oar only to have it slip out of my hands and right back into the Susquehanna River and the current could be seen taking that oar towards the Atlantic Ocean. "Hey you, what the hell do you think you are doing?" came (I knew he had other words.) well, there were a few that weren't so pleasant. I felt helpless now --- sitting there without an oar, able to be a part of what propelled this boat about the river. A few of the other recruits laughed aloud, but that Coxswain didn't think it was very funny at all.

I honestly felt I'd be court marshaled or face a firing squad, but that didn't happen as I wasn't at NTC Bainbridge long enough for either to happen. My 3" day was a little walk through a gas chamber (what a terrible ordeal that was) --- my eyes even to date still burn from that horrible gas exposed too. Then off to the pistol range and firing the .45 caliber, that thing weighed a ton. Don't recall ever hitting a target, as it always seemed to fire when I began to raise it and I learned, you don't pull the trigger as you raise a gun. On my 4" day I was awoken early and marched to a recreational hall (some recreation we was about to have), as names were called but and that individual whose name was called, went to an area designated by a letter in the alphabet. There stood a Navy Chief- gad he was big! In all eight names were called out of which I was one. We then were marched to an awaiting train (later found out they called this a troop train). We stayed right with the Chief as he very bluntly told us to keep our eyes and ears on him at all times. He carried with him the large brown envelopes with our orders. You didn't dare ask where we were heading as he, beforehand told us not to ask questions. My thoughts quickly went back to that lost oar --- was the eight of us heading to a place where a firing squad was waiting?

It was dusk when we board that train and seated in a not too bad pullman car which I learned later is where we bunked down. What seemed like eternity soon turned into reality, we were actually beginning to move. We knew not our destination. but it didn)t really matter as a rumor soon came forth we were heading south. But, how far south would we be going? We stopped at someplace and let off hundreds of sailors to a place I later learned was Norfolk, Virginia. The next day the train backed into a place called Naval Station Charleston, South Carolina and we disembarked the train. The eight of us were told to fall in (here we go again, more marching) and marched what seemed three miles to a barrack and assigned the top Boor A welcoming com mittee was there to welcome us to the USS Teaberry (AN-34) ship's company. (To Be Continued)

          Duty Stations During My 30 Year Navy Career

  • USS Teaberry (AN-34) 1943-1946
  • Maine National Air Guard, Augusta, ME 1947-1949
  • ORG Surface Division 8-49 USNR, Tulsa, OK 1949-1955
  • USS Saratoga (CVA-60) 1955- (Plank Owner)
  • USS Albany (CA-123) 1957
  • JO "A" School, NTC Great Lakes, IL 1956
  • NAS Kingsville, TX 1956-1958
  • NAS Corpus Christi, TX 1958-1959
  • COMDESFLOT THREE, Long Beach, CA 1959
  • Flag flew in: USS Frontier, USS Bryce Canyon, USS Hamel, USS King,
  • USS OklahomaCity and USS Topeka during my tenure.
  • FHTNC, Great Lakes, IL 1960
  • NAS Chase Field, Beeville, TX 1963
  • Defense Information School, Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN 1967
  • USNS Keflavik, Icleand 1967
  • USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) 1969
  • NAMTRAGRU Headquarters, NAS Memphis, TN 1969
  • COMONE, Boston, MA 1969-1973

Actually served on 28 navy ships during my career, however, most of these were TAD assignments doing various articles on varied subjects. Also, flew with VP squadrons that were deployed to Iceland where on one patrol I earned my "Blue Nose Certificate". Too have been across the equator four times and each time had my butt smacked; the fourth time I didn't as I made damn sure I had my previous certificate in my records. Lesson learned!

After retirement in May 1973, went to work for Globe Albany (textiles) which later became Tex Tech Industries (world-wide) as a Quality Control Specialist. Departed that scene in '78. Employed the next 12 years in U.S. Government as a Civil Service supply tech with the Polaris Missile Facility, Atlantic, Goose Creek, SC (four years, supply tech at USNS Portsmouth, NH, Pan American Services, Ft. Hauchuca, Sierra Vista, AZ and a echnical writer at the US Army Yuma Proving Grounds, Yuma, AZ retiring August 1991.

Above dates may not honestly be true dates as this old salt doesn't remember dates too well, let alone his own birth date.

Updates to come as they become available.

Chief George Cates and his wife Marilyn at Sampson, NY WWII Navy Museum
Holding  two 1x8x6 foot boards with Navy net tenders (7 on each board, see blowup above) 

Ed, Thanks and too it was a sincere pleasure meeting you today. We all had a great visit and tour.
I'm still so impressed with dedicated ex-military personnel who keep alive what WWII military personnel gave during WWII.  Too, even the memories of the Korean Conflict and Vietnam and I'm sure Desert Storm and our ongoing wars today.  I'm only sending one photo with this, that of me and you with the two boards with images of WWII Navy net tenders and one gate tender. My wife Marilyn took the picture, but guess we should've had the flash active as to perhaps eliminate the shadows.  And too, wish we could've included a photo of her along with us ---- my goof up! (Not to worry Chief I did get a picture of you and your lovely wife Marilyn ~ ed)

    Now, your suggestion of me doing a woodburning of the ships Sampson was a good one and I'll go to NavSource.org for hopefully photos and get cracken on that project.  No big rush, but will give it a priority and if you would, please keep after that nice lady (I gave her my business card with my email address). She said she would get in touch, but keep on her until she does, as there will be the time I'll need a shipping address.  Then too, I might just work it in on another trip up and make the presentation. Too, I'll send up the photo of the USS Teaberry (AN-34) and one of me that can be posted along with the one noted today of the USS Butternut (AN-9).  Then too, that might be posted as I didn't pass through the gates of Sampson . . . but who cares!!!!

    Thanks for check on the dues as I didn't recall paying that far ahead as I'll be 80 come Nov. 28th this year then want to become a Life Member.  Frankly Ed, I never, ever thought I'd live to see the age of 35 and retirement from the Navy. BUT, life is good!!!  I've outlived my father, my oldest brother and my two youngest, so the almighty one above is looking out for Ol' George.

    I'll most likely and most assuredly will write up a photo story of visiting former NTC Sampson to include in our travel diary (Volume 2) which has over 300 pages now.  I JPEG these pages using PrintShop V.11 and when I include it in an email it can be printed out with no problem --- well that is the email with the story can be printed out, then trimmed to cut off the other not wanted stuff. And too, I if requested can put all photos taken on a CD and mail it for whatever purpose the other end may desire or do with the CD.  Just might be one or two photos that could be used.

    I might just include Don to receive this email and I'm sure you wouldn't mind.  Don does such a dedicated service keeping us retirees and vets abreast of what's happening in Washington.  I forward his messages to many of my ex-military friends as well as letting them know about NAVETSUSA, encouraging if they are not a member now, please check the website out.  And too, you've done one heck of dedicated service too in founding such a worthwhile organization. And also, I really should continue my story, but isn't there a limitation on the number of pages one can have.  You know I'm a very winded journalist and don't know when to quite ---- just look here and too, Marilyn calls me an old wind bag.  Well live with her is an adventure and a little humor when I miss call the name of a town --- let's see, oh when approaching Ovid, the only name that came to mind was Ovary --- perhaps I've misspelled it, but you laughed didn't you???

Best wishes and thanks for a wonderful and memorable tour.

Sometimes, I make misteaks, but even at
that, no one should critter size me - rite???

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