1967 Engineering Division B’Day Parties (Dec)
Submitted by Amos Abney, BT2 – B Divn. 1966-70
The Offical US Navy photograph depicts a B Division crewmembers’ birthday celebration for December 1967 during Roosevelt’s 1967-1968 Med cruise.
This account is my recollection after some 42 years and as I have retold the story more than several times it may contain some sea story elements. Anyone with a better memory please should feel free to correct or add to this account.
My first inkling something was going on was 6:00 AM on a Sunday in November or December of 67. The berthing compartment lights were turned on, reveille was held. We were told holiday routine was cancelled for B Division and to “go to work”. We unhappily arrived at 1-Alpha for Sunday work and got the explanation for the change of plans. The MPA was not happy with B Division performance and attributed it to poor morale. We would be working seven days a week until morale improved. Apparently this was not the complete answer to our morale problem. What was needed was a birthday party complete with cake and pictures. Dungarees would not be appropriate for this occasion, blues would be needed. The B division group with December birthdays was taken to the front of the soup and sandwich line on the forward mess deck. The menu that day was hot dogs, tomato soup, and bug juice to drink. I don’t know if the MPA thought we liked sandwiches and soup better or the party just didn’t rate the main meal and aft mess deck space. Anyway we were the only crewmen required to dress for our meal that day. As the picture shows we lined up on the forward mess deck for our picture and had cake, then changed into dungarees and went back to work.. Attendance was perfect given the choice of birthday party or a write up. The December attendees were given a picture of the event. The deal was sweetened for the January birthday group to include an FDR belt buckle from the Ships Store. The program must have worked as it stopped after two or three months. I must admit to being a skeptic and a little critical at the time but looking at the official picture brings a smile.
Some of the names in the picture:
BT-3 Ernie Erickson 1-Alpha and Oil Shack far right second row
BT-3 Amos Abney 1-Alpha back row, 5th from the right
BT-3 Jim Fangler 1-Alpha back row, 7th from the right
BT-1 F. Bernard 1-Charlie front row center
LTJG Virgil Clark front row left side
Click on photo to enlarge
A followup submitted by Rudy Sobina, BT3 – B Divn. 1967-68
Going through my photo collection I also found a similar official photo that was stamped on the back to note that it was the “Engineering” get together for the December 1967 birthdays…..with Engineering Officer CDR. Stusnick. Photo date being 3 December 1967 (the day after my 21st Birthday)….. I was a December birthday and in “B-Division” but somehow only got invited to the “Engineering” party. Maybe they were getting selective and wanted to keep this to a minimum as the moral may have been better over in the “Oil Shack” where I worked. Reading the story from Abney I have cause to believe that someone was trying to make things better in “B-Div” overall but it might not have been working too well…..
These two photos may go nice together as they tell a similar story and complement each other…..I also remember being “told” to appear and to do so in “Dress Blues”…..somehow the “B-Div” gang mentioned by Abney managed to skate a bit by being permitted to dress in their working blues. I can also remember that we were fed a “steak” dinner that evening…..not the best cut though as any steak we ever received was always a bit chewy! With the Commander sitting with us I also have to assume that they decided against the usual hotdog and tomato soup Abney and the gang had to eat! We did luck out there alright….the one thing missing here is the activity that I recall going on behind the photographer. We were on the mess decks as we sat for the photo and ate our meal. Going on all around us was the normal ships routine and all were in their working dungs! We did standout and we did get a good bit of ribbing from our shipmates after all was said and done. I don’t think the whole thing took more than 30 minutes as most as some us were on watch when this took place (I was one of them) and we had to hurry back to change clothes and get back to work. The shipmate that stood in for me from one of the other duty sections wasn’t happy to have added at least another hour of watch to his day. Wish I knew who that was now as I’d send him a bottle of wine!
Click on image to enlarge.