Memories from SM3 Temple- 1967-70

We got this email from Spanky Temple in January 2003. It's a true classic and full of interesting memories and insights into a time long ago and how it affected us all forever...



From: podgy@pacbell.net
To: Wmartinfreeman@aol.com

Hey Bill!

I was killing time yesterday and by accident stumbled upon the web page. It is incredible. It brought back a wealth of fond memories. I e-mailed McAvoy, Swede and Ragle last night and got e-mailed back this morning. You did a great job on the site.
I wanted to let you know I have a ton of pictures from my stint on the Rainier. I also have a plaque SM-5 Olsen and I designed for Capt. Sanderson(sp). I also have a mint condition Rainier zippo lighter and photos of the flag we made for the H.M.S. Hobart. I also have a 8x10 glossy of the Rainier unrepping the U.S,S, Constellation and a Destroyer at the same time(color). I also have a very nice picture of You, me,Ed Manion and Rick Schieble on x-mas eve 1969 in the mess decks. Great picture. I also have some great stories ie; The time in Subic we were pulling away from the pier to hit the line and we suddenly stopped, went to GQ. and waited while the Explosive Demolition team tracked down a trip wire in number two hole that led to a phosphorous grenade in the nose of a 500 lb. bomb. It was only luck that one of the gunners mates found the wire during our exiting the pier inspections. I was on the bridge and we had to send multiple messages to all ships in the area. It was a very frightening and busy day. I remember SM-2 Ragle doing an outstanding job that day and me earning my SM-3 rank.
The time the ship almost sank at the pier in Alemeda I was the duty SM and Lt. McAvoy was the OD. It got real busy when the shit hit. It took forever to get the signalman on the Constellation to answer up and send over thier Damage Control crew. Trying to stand on the deck at that angel and send flaghoist and light was quite a feat. It was caused by a not too popular Bm-2 named Patton.(real name) He took it upon himself to transfer water from the flood tanks without notifying the OD. He was the same BM who started a midnight transfer of bombs from port to starboard while underway off the coast of Khna Bey north Vietnam and the ship took a tremendous list to the starboard side. I was on the bridge when Capt. Sanderson called him up to the bridge that night and told him to re-deploy all the bombs and report to him when he finished. He chewed and ridiculed him in front of the entire bridge crew and put him in for an immediate transfer on our next load out in Subic. I also remember the big Naval Intelligence bust on the ship while at Bethleham re-work. All libery was cancelled at 4:00 P.M. and all hands were told to remain topside while a team of black coats went through every locker on the ship. They confiscated alchohol, various drugs, stolen equiptment and slush fund books. We were all called down to the galley and interviewed by a black coat one at a time. Almost 50 men were taken off the ship and given immediate discharges or arrested pending court martial trials.
I also remember, while we were there, we had to paint the deep tanks in number 2 hole. All of number two division got high and terribly sick on the paint fumes.(no ventillation-typical Navy proceedure. We were all out of our minds from the fumes and were given non-work status for the next two days. I also remember at ORI in San Diego we were on the sled shoot for gunnery practice. Rene Brandy and I manned the port gun( I directed the side movement of the gun barrel and Rene fired). We were at our zenith to the left and as we fired the gun the Gun Capt., BM-2 Jim Byron, said hold fire. It was too late and we looked to see the U.S.S. Misspillion AO in our path. We did not hit it, but we had some angziety waiting to see the shell splash. Ed Manion was on the starboard gun mount and actually hit the sled that day with a shot. A first for the tug pulling the sled. They were not amused with the incident. Ed later said that they used there own co-ordinates and not the ones from fire control.
I also remember the line trip we helped in searching for survivors when an Australian LPH cut the bow off a U.S. Destroyer during flight ops off of Tiger Island. We helped search all night, but there were no survivors. 70 men died that night.
My most vivid memory was the night, while on SM watch, Manion, Aulenta, Ragle and I kept watch on a firefight on shore and saw a chopper drop a night flare and the next chopper through the light took a direct hit. We could not believe what we had just witnessed. I believe Leonard Layne QM-3 and the entire bridge crew came out to ask what had just happened. I remember writing it up the signal logbook. Brought the dangers of the war home that night. There had to be atleast 16 men on that chopper. God I can't believe all these thoughts come flooding back. I also have a diary of every unrep we did during our last line trip in 1970 with personal thoughts about going home.
Well enough of the stories. A little bio on the last 32 years. I married a girl I met in CA before being discharged August 28, 1970. We have a great life and a 14 year old son we are very proud of. I graduated from California State University Hayward and got a teaching credential and a Masters Degree in Art/Art History. I have been teaching Computer Graphics, Advanced Art and Mural design at El Cerrito Ca. for 25 years. I am an artist and have exhibited all over the U.S.. I have completed several murals in the bay area. I just finished my largest project to date, a Veterans Memorial for the City of El Cerrito. It is a walk around garden with a 3 1/2 ton granite boulder inscribed with the words " A Greatful City Honors it's Veterans- Past, Present and Future. It took about two years to finish the project. I will mail you a photo if you like.
My students often look at my photo albums and can't believe we all so young doing what we did. I sometime guest speak to the history students when they study Vietnam. I am only one of two teachers who served during the war. The town I teach in is next to Berkeley, Ca. so you can imagine it took years before I felt comfortable in talking about the war. If wasn't until 1983 that I admitted to my colleages that I had served in Vietnam. They were fooled by my foot-long braided queue (ponytail) I grew to fit in. It was hard to fit in college and my career with a war background. The WORLD was not an accomodating society when I returned. I used to tell people I did not serve during the war, it was easier that way. Some day I will tell you what it was like going to college in CA during the 1970's.

Comm- Signal Bridge- Manned and Ready !
I hope I have not rambled on too much, but it was a breath of fresh air to stumble onto your site. It is nice to see that people have recognized the hard work, grueling life style, and deprevation from loved ones we who served on the Rainier endured. Those days surely shaped me into the man I am today. Thank you again Bill for your hard work. Let me know if I can be of help adding to the site. I can't wait for my students to log on.
Steven Temple
179 Sunrise Way
Vallejo, Ca.
707-553-801

Thanks for the Memories, Spanky. Spanky is the Author of "We Deliver-You Fire" the definitive book about Rainier in Vietnam. I wrote back to tell him I was in the boot group that came aboard Rainier shortly after that big drug bust- there were about twelve of us all at once. Wow. (-webmaster)
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