The Navy and me - my first ship

Although my time aboard the  USS Norris (DDE-859) was short, my memories of it are long. I arrived straight out of MM-A school and was assigned to the Forward Engine Room (right after mess-cooking.) Who remembers initiation rites - being sent after "relative bearing grease" and 30 yards of "water-line"? When my religious persuasion became known, Allie christened me "Jesus Christ" and from then on I was know as "J.C.". In spite of this mild hazing, the FER crew was a great bunch with Roth, Berry, Chopak, Cupples, Morgan, and my self-appointed "sea daddy" John Patrick Freeborn, III, to watch over me. 

Not satisfied with mid-rats, we snipes raided the hanger-deck spud lockers and baked potatoes around the steam turbine throttle piping.

From Halifax, to Cuba, to Bermuda, and the virgin Islands - what an education for a young innocent straight from high school. Remember the dances at the "Y" in Newport? Walks on the cliff walk? Saving the Buttercup at DC school?

Then it happened. We were in Boston for a refit, and the word came down - liberty and leave canceled - button up and get ready to get underway. We arrived in Cuban waters in time to escort the Russian ships taking away the missiles. Popping our heads out of the engine room, we noticed most of all, "Hey, them Ruskies got women on their ships!" (a tale I've told often). Today my wife is a classical piano teacher from Russia. How the times have changed!

After Cuba, it was off to the Canary Islands on station while John Glen orbited overhead. We steamed much of the trip on only one boiler. Man, was the Engineer, Lt. Keys I think, nervous! I think it was the only time we had extended water-hours - during which more than once we took showers on deck in squalls. I left the Norris just before the Med trip to go to Nuclear Power School.  

The U.S.S. Norris Newsletter is published by , 11 Bethany Forest Drive, Dagsboro, DE 19939, Phone 302-541-0685. The crew list can be found at

This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2017/02/24 at 01:22 and has been accessed 9290 times at 37 hits per month.