NOF Whidbey Island, Washington

 

Standing, L to R: Gunner Lindstrom, Ray Cobis, unk, Jones, Knight, Box (deceased), Adams, Kiber (deceased), Maddocks, "Bo" Bellamy, Nolan, Basy, Petit (deceased), Brinkley (deceased?). Kneeling: Sing, Tripp, Dougan, Unk, Unk, Unk

I believe "Stubs" Brinkley was killed in a car wreck not long after he retired at Whidbey. When he retired they had a 2-year-old child & one or two other young kids. James Lamar Box died in Leland, MS, 1935-1993? See "TAPS" for Kibe & Joe Petit [Don Jones]

While at NAS, Whidbey Island, I learned many things about mines & A/C-mining that have remained with me. We had lots of MNSNs at the mine shop, so training was paramount. After every advancement exam, everyone was encouraged to remember & record as many multiple-choice test questions as possible, plus the answers. If there were any new items, they were added to a growing list which contained hundreds of questions & the right answers. Oftentimes, while asking these questions to several individuals, the correct answer would be provided after just a few words of the question was read aloud. Each week we would also be assiged a certain Mk & Mod inert mine to draw the parts for & assemble, plus make an operational test to see if you had done it right. Our senior PO's & Chiefs spent many hours in the classroom teaching us how to do square root & how to transpose the mine spacing formula (D = TS over 0.6). 
 
Manning the "Rake-stations" off-base during A/C mining practice missions, usually in Puget Sound, were days out in the fresh air & away from the mine shop. On the way there & back, sometimes we could count a dozen or so Chinese Ring-Neck pheasants that had been raised & released on the island. Most of the early drops and most accurate were by slow-poke P2-V "Neptunes" & P-5M seaplanes. Multiple telescopic alidade bearing readings from three widely separated posts were used to plot the accuracy of the mine plants. Practice bombs filled with water or sand (WSF) with spotting charges were used to simulate mines. A likeable MN2 manned the centermost post where the radar reflector & radio were located. He plotted the "mine" drops on a chart after he received inputs from two other spotters. Then he usually passed the results to the pilots. P2 & P-5M drops were usually within 50 yards left or right and 50 yards over or under. Sometimes the pilots would make a second run-in and try to do better than their first effort. Ordnance readiness inspection (ORI) drops were held in Oak Harbor. There were no radio communications during the ORI-drops and all the planes dropped on one pass through the mining range. You knew the planes were due to drop sometime between say 0900-1200. It was an awesome & exciting sight to suddenly see an approaching formation of A/C flying low & dropping WSFs with spotting charges. But on the first A3D jet drop, things went sour. The pilot/TACCO started his string too late & the MN2 thought the last bomblet might hit the building he was in, so he ran outside. The A3D dropped the last one into the sand dunes alongside him & the building. The MN2 dug it up, wrapped a yellow ribbon around it & took it to the squadron's CO. I heard that didn't go over too well. A3D's didn't use WSF's, it was a blue tear-drop shaped probable cast-iron bomb with a tail-ring containing fins & a spotting charge in a central tube.
 
One day while leaving the base we saw the fire department responding to a possible plane crash where lots of black smoke could be seen among some trees. On the way back to the mine shop, we happened to pass by the firehouse where 10 burned bodies from a P2V's crew lay on the concrete. They were covered in white sheets. It was a sight, I wish I had never seen. A PO2 from the crew was the only survivor.
 
One day we helped load drill mines aboard several P-5M seaplanes. Back then, it was a chore to raise mines, by a hand-crank, to load stations behind the engines. The mines were to be dropped near San Diego, CA. One of the P-5M's accidentally dropped their mines well-short of the intended drop site. Someone said after the drop controls were armed, a crewman fell against the panel & pickled all of the mines at once.
 
On a short TDY, to a mine shop on the far side of Puget Sound, several of us saw our first Mk 57 mine. It was inert & it had been sub-launched without the "stop-bolt" being retracted. What a mess. The stop-bolt had ripped a gash in the explosive section from the HAS-well to the tail-fins. While there, I found out that I had made third class. I was so happy, the long hours of memorizing those possible test questions must have paid off. And it wasn't long until I made second. By then I had gained my confidence back & I was sure I hadn't made a mistake by reenlisting for six years. But, two years in Japan lay ahead of me. What would that be like, I wondered.
 
Don Jones, MNCM, USN Retired
PO Box 36
Sherwood, TN 37376-0036  


Back row L to R:  Chin Sing, Willy Roebuck, unk,  Feldman, Johnson (?).
Front row let to right:  Ron Ferry, Dougan.  Can anyone name the rest? 

In 1960 at Whidbey Island, the OinC (Gunner Lindstrom) transferred without a relief. The next in charge,  (Chief "Fingers" Brinkly) retired without a relief, and that left (yours truly, Chin Sing MN1)  as in charge of the mine shop.  I like to think of my self as the acting OinC  After I left and went to the nuclear weapons program, Chief Chipman took over the mine shop.  
 


Send Photos and help us share your memories with your fellow shipmates.


 

BACK TO MINEMAN MEMORIES

Derick S. Hartshorn - 2009-present
Last Modified: