‘WELCOME ABOARD”

 

Sent to us by Frank Roche 67-69

 

          Pennsylvania in January (cold, really cold) and I am about to leave for Hawaii.  Mom is crying, dad is consoling her, sister is happy as a lark because she still has my car (1957 baby blue Chevy---loaded).   She sold it while I was in WestPac which almost caused me to go AWOL.  Anyway off I go.  Wilkes-Barre to Chicago to Los Angeles and finally Hawaii.  Getting off the plane in Honolulu (hot, really hot) in dress blues was like walking into a Pittsburgh steel mill.  I catch a cab with two other sailors coming off leave and we arrive at Main Gate Pearl Harbor.  I ask the gate guard for directions to the USS Wilhoite.  After checking he directs me to Charlie Pier.  So off I go with full seabag and extra duffle bag (you seem to accumulate a lot more stuff than they issue you in boot camp) in hand looking for the USS Wilhoite (my first ship).  With sweat pouring off me like Niagara Falls I finally spot her at Charlie Pier.  In my 2 ˝ years aboard the Wilhoite she never again was tied up at Charlie.  Bravo Pier, always Bravo.  But that day in the heat she’s over at Charlie.

 

        As I walk down the pier and get closer the crew starts right in.  “Boot arriving, boot arriving.”  I’m thinking hey I just spent a year in the Great Lakes mess cooking and I’m an E-3. After saluting the flag and the Officer of the Deck (I knew that much) I was given permission to come aboard.   The OOD then sent me to the personnel department to be assigned.  I ended up in First Division where LTJC Huml was my Department Head.  However, there were no spots available in the first division berthing compartment.  I spent the next 3 months living out of my seabag (no locks available) with the Engineering  Department.  I will be forever grateful to FN Henry Hafer who let me share his locker for my personal belongings.  Henry was the first of many, many good friends and shipmates I got to meet aboard the Wilhoite.  Henry passed away a few years ago but I’ll always remember he was the first to say “WELCOME ABOARD.”