He was HTFN (Hull Maintenance Technician/Welder, Frank Toro at the time when met. When he arrived we were under mortar and rocket attack as usual. While we were under attack there were 3 C-130's trying to land,( since I was a radioman so I had to monitor the radio in the Gun Pit while we were under attack. Since at the time I was just a RMSN. I also had to fire the .60 cal gun.) So when frank landed on C-130 ahead of his, as the NVA Launched a mortar landed right on the Fuselage and the C-130 blew up, with all hands lost. The plane frank was on pulled up and stayed in the air until we radioed the all clear. We were on the flight runway helping pick up Body parts. when he departed off the plane we had been up over 12-14 hours. he looked around and said what the hell did I stick my foot in. I was in greens and I told him "Welcome to Nam it baby Doesn't get any better than this.") From that time in late 1971 we were inseparable.
Frank was on the PBY's/PBR's since I worked where I did I knew about the classified ops he went on. One time I went down to the pier cause I knew he had been out for a long time.I had a case of beer waiting for him and his crew. As his PBY pulled up there was a body bag on deck. I asked what happened he told me that the Craftmaster was hit with a B-4 rock took his head off. Frank was driving the PBY. He was the only one not wounded.We have been ship mates a long time. (served our time in hell). Monkey Mountain.
I have trouble attending the Vietnam Memorial traveling wall. It takes so much out of me when I try. Many of my brothers in arms are on that wall. Many Times when I am at a sporting event I see the American flag flying I see in my mind when we were under shot and shell and the flag is waiving and everyone of us were doing our job. I start to loose it. Meaning I start to cry a lot!
After this I was Transferred to Military Police Subic Bay Philippines(We had taken our six months R and R There in Jan 72 so we knew we wanted to get stationed there) Frank and I got Guaranteed orders since we had been in Country for 13 months.. (He and I left Nam as 3rd Class's me as a RM3, he as a HT3.(Back in the day when You were in country you left at the next pay grade for being there).
We were on TYPE III Sea Duty at this time was the tour in Subic Bay. (Base Military Security Police), Subic Bay Philippines.1972-1974.We had to complete 8 weeks of Military Police Training in Subic and it was hot as hell during training. We completed our training then started doing our watches. We did 2 months of town patrol and base patrol, 7AM to 7PM . Let me tell something doing the town patrol was hazardous when the fleet was in. I remember that one night we were on the 7pm - 7AM, we had just rolled in the into Olongapao and we had a radio call that some Boatswain mate was starting a fight at one of the rock and roll clubs. I put my glasses in the glove box cause when we got there it took me, frank, RM2 Gonzales, and another BM2 To get the cuffs on. he was 6-4 weighed in at 220lbs. He was made cause at world cause he did not get promoted. Once we got him back to lock up we found this out. I told well you can kiss all that good by now. So that was how it was every night on patrol in Subic Bay Philippines. I will not get into the things we did off duty but we had fun and met many Beautiful Filipino Women.
I was glad to transfer to sea duty. In September 1974 Frank and I went to sea for the first of many Times. I went to PRECOM USS TARAWA LHA-1, west coast and frank went to the USS SARTOGA CV-60. On the east coast, We did not see each other until June 1987.
After this I was transferred to Precomm USS TARAWA LHA-1(Plank owner) my first sea duty was on board from 74-76. As a Radioman 3RD Class I learned a lot with the new communications suite we had the LHA Communications suite, Operator(it was the first Computerized Navy Communications System at sea. I qualled on this While onboard.
Shortly after we commissioned we got sent to westpac earlier than expected because Saigon was due to fall the navy wanted the marines we carried to assist the American Embassy. After we left we went right to the Philippines to take on supplies and fuels. The we left for Cam Rhan Bay. The ship wanted a Navy Radioman to go with the helo's and do security with the marines.(Chief looked at me since I had been over there once, I told him no disrespect Chief but not not but hell no, I left that place in one piece and want to stay that way. One of our RM2's went he came back fine. After everyone was onboard the CO called for all personnel not on watch to help push helo's overboard that were taking from the American Embassy over the side. After some liberty in the Philippines we went back to the states. Then in 1976 I crossed over to USS Pelieu LHA-5) which was going thru precomm, after that did one more westpac, had a great time then got out In July 1977. Since our so called President froze promotions for all active duty.
I Got out but could not find my self so after 11 months out then went to a Navy recruiter in Houston In June 1978 and asked if can I come back in only came in for a two year enlistment. I Did a dumb thing was out so long went to deck division undesignated SN) USS Oklahoma City CG-5 Ships Company.
I Learned a lot about the navy at Sea but I finally got back in the RM rate. My LCPO in 3rd Division knew the LCPO in 7flt staff Radio Shack so Chief made a deal with me square away the aft bosn' locker and he would fix things I was leading Seaman and had to kick some butt the old navy way but got it squared away for annual 3-M material Readiness inspection. So Chief kept his word. (Since I did have an active Security Clearance) so I could go practice typing on a teletype, run fleet broadcast, ship shore Orestes. I ran rings around some of there RM2's and RM3's. After the test TTY test the XO had me transferred to the 7th Fleet Staff Radioshack. After that I took the test in Mar 79 made RM3 then promoted Jul 79. Then it was on ward and up ward.
After that I reenlisted for 6 years in June 1980 I also got a bonus of 12K ( I got extended for 4 four months cause there was no money until new Fiscal year 81). The ship left Yokusuka for decom so I was TAD to NAVCOMSTA Yokusuka, while I was there I ran into a RM1 Ellington who I will run into later on in my career. Gave me a chance to see what the shore duty RM's were doing.
After that I went to RM C-7 School for Communications Center afloat NEC 2313, then attended Morse Code Operator NEC 2306. Then afterwards: I went to the USNS Passumpsic 1981-1982 Home Ported in Subic Bay, Philippines. While onboard I met the lady of my life We got marred On July 27th 1981, we went on our honey moon the Camp John Hay it is in the mountains of Northern Luzon. After 25 days on leave I went back to the Pump'n "P" as we called here we. We supported the Iran hostages we were deployed 122 days. We supported the Battle Groups of the USS MIDWAY CV-41, USS KITTY HAWK CV-63, and USS CORAL SEA. During this deployment I had not been paid for going 2-3 months so me and the Yeoman 1st Class helo'd over to the Coral Sea and the Personnel Disbursing office paid me up to date. At then End of my tour On the Pumppin "P" all the other RM3's that took the test were getting out so I was promoted and made RM2 on the first try on the test. Any way I had 11 years time in service.
So we went to NavFac Guam in Feb 82 - May 84. Emy was pregnant with the oldest Luna when we arrived. She was born 3 months after We were transferred. I was a watch Supervisor over there worked with some good RM's RM1 Moutan, LCPO Cercismo. I worked 2-2-2-80 which means I worked 6 days and got 80 hours off, then did it again. Which all this was going on Luna was crying while I was trying to sleep for watch. But that was life of a watch stander. In Feb 84 Our Youngest Lon II was born.
After my tour in Guam we Went to Navsta Subic Bay Philippines for From May 84-May 87. I worked 12 on 12 off. I enjoyed my tour there. During our tour there Was when The Filipino base workers went on Gate Strike. It was also the same time that Ferdinand Marcos got pitched out of office. We went into a lock down. Marines at the Gate, Security was every where. My family was out in town, so I was worried, I had a call from my wife she was upset cause of all this, I asked a friend of mine BM1 Washington who worked on harbor partol to pick them up on Malikan beach. He did and the base put them in the Navy Lodges so it was convient for us all until the strike was over. This was just a precursor to the Downfall of Marcos. Out Captain and Executive Officer Accompanied with Marines from subic escorted the Marcos Family from Manila, to Nas Cubi then they flew out on a Civilian Aircraft. It was an excitting time. 3 years later, May 87 We departed back to sea duty for the last time. To USS ROANOKE AOR-7
I arrived to USS ROANKOKE AOR-7, June 1987 for my last sea tour. It was very hard sea tour. I walked onboard the Restriction Line half way down the main deck. Most of those on restriction were there cause of drugs. I asked my self what did I stick my foot into. I reported to Radio and man I could not believe the way some of the RM's were dressed. My Chief and 1st Class were good guys. But that was it. Most of these guys were 1st termers. Between me and RM1 Hensley, RM1 Abduallah we had to lay into them Hard. Finally after 6 months they started to come around and understand that theey were still in the navy and would be required to have clean pressed dungrees for quarters. I told them keep a pair for working and Keep a pair for Quarters. chief told them haircuts and shoe shines were being inspected each morning. Thy griped and complained. I told them that this is how the real navy works so get used to it.
In 1990 I got into with my RMC cause he thought he knew more than I about communications at sea. well he told me to get our of radio and do not come back.
So I had an old shipmate who worked in Personnel Who was the LCPO of Admin so I got a ship board transferr to Personnel. I learned a lot about the navy and Got OOD Inport Qualed, got my ESWS Qualed while on south America Cruise. I was a phone talker in DC centeral with Repair 1. I love it, no 12 hour watches, we worked from 0730 - 1200, and 1300-1630. Then after we knocked off we would return at 1900 till 2100. That was our working hours underway. I was working on PQS Entries in Service Records. I was In Charge of all of admin's spaces responsible for Cleanlines. I really learned about the navy while working there. at The end of 1990 it looked like we were going to Persian Gulf I. Well Chief Barnett asked me to come back to Radio. Then I told him RMC no disrespect but I am respected in Personnel I do get any crap from people and I work for a outstanding PNCM. he backs me up on anything I need to get done. So no disrespect I am staying in Personnel. I said I have to go back to work. he kept hasslling me, Master Chief Zargosa told him to back off. So that ended that. While we were in the gulf we were doing unreps every other day. It was a bad time. The night invasion started in Jan 1991 you could stand on the main deck and wach the 16 inchers from the New Jersy and Missouri battle ships shooting off. The missles could be seen a long way off.
well after 1991 when we came back to the states. I called for orders and went on my final shore duty to NCTS SAN DIEGO CA. My detailer wrote it in my orders that if I PNA'd the RM1 Test again I had to put in for Retirement. I extended for 18 months, but if I did not make RM1 agian I was done cause of HYT for 2ND Class. I took the test in march 1992 but PNA'd again. I felt it was time to go the Navy was changing so that it was not the same navy I enlisted into in 1971.
At this time "I went this is it I am done." I had over 20 years and 6 months almost 21. I took my chit to my LPO, LCPO, and my OIC. I told them I am done process me for retirement. So I got it approved. The next time I was over at the command building and I was in front of the Command Master Chief Ellington( I worked for him in Japan for 4 months in 1980) He told me I can get another sea tour. I told him I was done with sea tours, my kids were growing up and I needed to be with them to make sure they grew up right. In October 1992 I recieved my Retirment orders that I was to retire On April 30th 1993. They gave me great cermoney, plus my best friend from nam who was still on active duty we went out the night before my retirement and well let's say I was three sheets into the wind the morning after. As I read my speech I was loosing it and Tears were flowing down my Cheeks. So on April 30th 1993 I said good by to the navy that I loved and respected for 21 years 10 months and 22 days.
Now my children have taken my place on active duty My oldest is a GM2(SW) at the navy weapons school in norfolk. She has going on 9 years in the Navy, she is a mark 19, mark 25, and .50 cal insturctor. According to my neighbors daughter who enlisted last year and went to Gunners Mate school in norfolk she told us, she is an outstanding instructor. I was so proud when I heard that.
My son is a Radio Operator Comm platoon SGT with 1st recon camp pendleton) FYI My son makes the 3rd generation in our family that has been a military communicator, like I tell him it runs in the blood. his grandfather was a navy radioman during world war II at Guadalcanal, (he also served with the corps a lot on Guadancanl. He went back to his ship in late 1942 and his ship USS Mccaley APA-10, it was sunk and my father spent 36 days in a raft. Bougainvillea, Saipain, IWO and Okinawa) He will be shipping over to recruiting duty in Corpus Christi to be near his mother and I
Since I was dischaged/Retired sometimes I miss it but I think about it but all the BS that goes along with it so I am happy. but I always support the Navy and Marine Corps! When I returned I was credited with 15 years 9 months sea duty.
In 1997 I went to work for DOD as a civilian basically doing the same job I did as a Radioman in the navy. I was a Telecommunications Operator. Then in Jan 99 I was promoted to Telecommunicatiosn Lead Operator. In late 2001 we shift to the new comm. system called DMS. So let's say I was transferred to san antonio cause we shut down In Jan 05. after almost a year I put in for a medical retirement cause of my back that I injured in 1975 on the Tarawa. I am toally disabled now have to use a cane to get around outside of the house.
I am proud to have served this great country and have been a part of the BEST NAVY IN THE WHOLE WORLD! 2ND TO NONE!
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