Derick S. Hartshorn

Derick Hartshorn-Boot Camp, Bainbridge, MD-1955

Derick Hartshorn-Conover, NC-2005

It's been 50 years for some of us and long past time to recall friends and acquaintances. If you are a Mineman and served from the 1940's or still  want to share your photos and memories, I'll be happy to post them on this web site.

The U.S. Navy granted me one of my wishes...

photo courtesy of John Hughes
Photo courtesy of John Hughes
I always wanted to live in a gated community!


Between Class 'A' School and Japan, I served at HDU (Harbor Defense Unit, Little Creek) and HECP (Harbor Entrance Control Post, Ft. Story, Virginia. Since I didn't have a camera, I can't show you the great duty I enjoyed at Virginia Beach.

Here's the ship I took to Japan. It wasn't a bad trip.

USNS General C.G. Morton (T-AP 138)
Passing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

I was one of a dozen Navy guys and 2,000+ Army
guys and their dependants to take the 13-day cruise.


First day of school, Sept, 1943
One month before the US Navy Mine Force was inaugurated (10-12-43) - my birthday.

Jan, 1943-Guadalcanal campaign grinds on.
Navy supports occupation of Amchitka, Alaska
US Navy subs kick butt off New Guinea.

Destined for the Navy from an early age.

This is an outline of my naval career:

I went to Boot Camp in Bainbridge, Maryland, October, 1955 and graduated, December, 1955, with a service company.

Boot camp wasn't as difficult as I had expected. We missed mess hall duty and got to harass the incoming recruits as a "service company." I guess Bainbridge is now a shopping mall, or something.

I was approved for Class 'A' School, Mine Warfare, Yorktown, VA. and graduated in 1956 in class 15-56.

Yorktown was a wonderfully historic site but that was about it. Nick's Seafood Restaurant was the place most sailors hung out. Liberty was in Newport News and was a long hitch-hike away.

I was accepted for service as a Mineman Seaman (MNSN) at HDU (Harbor Defense Unit), Little Creek, VA.

Tidewater, Virginia was great and I really enjoyed it--especially the proximity to the beach.

My service there was on small craft. First, there was an obscure 52-foot harbor work boat. We left at 6:00 AM from the dock at Harbor Defense Unit (HDU) at Little Creek, bound to Cape Henry, next to Virginia Beach. There, we assisted in retrieving existing cable in order to attach additional mines on the string. The mines were carried by the illustrious USS YMP-2. These mines were planted across the harbor and were designed to sink any enemy ship or submarine foolish enough to try and penetrate the entrance to Hampton Roads. At Little Creek, I worked aboard the USS YMP-2, a harbor mine planter that was hands down, the ugliest naval craft ever built.

With the work boat, we would plant these humongous, one-ton Mark 18 mines all the way across where the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel is today. The work was at least three miles off-shore so "Ship's Stores" stowed wax paper-wrapped cartons of cigarettes (Pall Malls and Camels) aboard for sale at 90 cents a carton, as soon as we passed the three-mile limit. Not a lot of choice but certainly a bargain.

The mines we planted could be exploded from Harbor Entrance Control Post (HECP) at Ft. Story, Va.. I was later transfered there for the best shore suty one could ask for. When I arrived, I immediately tossed my seabag on an overhead bunk and fetched my bathing suit for a dip in Virginia Beach, 100 yards away from the barracks.

I sometimes hitched a ride off-shore with the Army guys aboard Weasels, Alligators and DUKWs while they were training in the breakers. The rest of the time was spent meeting lovely Tidewater Virginia young ladies who had 'a moose loose in the hoose.' Tough duty, I'll tell 'ya, but somebody had to do it!

I accepted an available position in Yokosuka, Japan as Mine Warfare Technician (MNSN). My other choice of duty was aboard the USS Intrepid (CV-11) maintaining "unconventual weapons." That really didn't sound that great.

The bus took us to the pier at Treasure Island for passage on the USNS General C.G. Morton (T-AP138), outbound for Yokahama, Japan.

President Eisenhower had just sent National Guard troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce school integration. It was a particularly warm autumn. I had just left my sweetheart in Newport News.

I will always remember the beautiful sunset as we passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The sea was calm and we settled back on five-tier bunks for the voyage.

After nine days, I could smell the island of Honshu. It smelled like fertile soil with perhaps a measure of fertilizer. If you've been there, you know what I mean. We tied up 36 hours later. I will always remember the dock crew. They all were wearing getas--what we call 'flip-flops.' We rapidly disembarked. Most of the troops were army, and went directly to their bases around Tokyo. We went to Atsugi air base and boarded a bus for Yokusuka.

I was stationed on Azuma Island (NavOrdFac, a MinePac base in Tokyo Bay). It was about a mile from the Fleet Activities-Yokosuka and the shipways that built some of the ships involved with the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Yokosuka was also about 18 miles from Japan's film capitol of ‘funa, 15miles south of Yokohama, where movie sets are everywhere. Another 10 miles on the train would find you in Tokyo. This was a little high-priced for us since drinks were $1.00 each. A good beer in Yokosuka was •50 (14 cents).

So many pretty girls and so little time! They helped us pass the 'difficult' times and were always ready to listen to what we had to say. Their "tea" drinks were only •100.

Noriko at Bar Night Train

Atsuko (Candy") at Bar Condor


I enjoyed a birthday party with a few buddies, a cake and some libation.

Speedy-san, Otanjobi Omedeto Gozaimasu!
(Happy Birthday Speedy - 10-12-57)

Wells and Troxel with "Skivvy" (Ichiroh Kikuchi),
 Senior member of our Japanese mess crew


Wells, Troxel and me, amid a table full of libations

At that time, Vietnam was still called Indo China and all was quiet there. Our greatest focus at the time was the "Quoymoi-Matsu Crisis" of 1957-58.

My tour of duty in Japan was nothing less than unforgettable. I was in the Utility crew, moving mines and torpedos between the shops and the magazines. I also scraped paint, tested, overhauled and prepared mines for the Nationalist Chinese who planted them between mainland China and Taiwan.

We were supplying mines and other ordnance to the Nationalist Chinese -by the boat-load! Once, I rode shotgun on a USNS LST with a deck load of Mk 36 and Mk 25 mines to Okinawa for trans-shipment to Taiwan.

Some of my duty consisted of driving a Mike-boat (LCM) between the base, (where I bunked) and NavOrdFac on Azuma Island (where I worked). When I wasn't driving the Mike boat, I was hauling mines between the shops where they were inspected and re-painted, back to the reventment bunkers where they were stored. I was also in charge of the tool crib and paint locker for mine assembly and maintenance on Azuma Island. Our chief was Bill Poole.

At noon, I took the boat to the base to pick up the Japanese mess crew. They worked out of the main mess hall at FleetActivitiesYokosuka (FAY) and were responsible for providing our meals. The Japanese Mess Sergeant in charge became a close personal friend and I was privileged to meet his family and friends. We all called him 'Skivvy.' I made Mineman 3rd Class (MN3) but activities during liberty resulted in that stripe being removed. Sighhhh! I was fortunate to get it back just before being discharged.

Suddenly a civilian.

In October, 1959, I was honorably discharged after four years of naval service. At age 21, I found myself in the socio-dynamic city of San Francisco, I enjoyed my newly attained military freedom and civilian life. I accepted a position as 7pm to 7am officer-in-charge of Dean's Yummy Donuts, on the corner of Geary and Jones.  2005 marks the 50th anniversary of my enlistment. My, how time flies.

And now, 50 years later, I have received a promotion. Good friend, Chin Sing sent me a 1st class rating patch. Unfortunately, I don't have a uniform to sew it on as if it would fit, anyway. Regardless, I truly appreciate it and will try to live up to it.


Derick S. Hartshorn - ©2009-present
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