When I first went aboard the Bordelon in March or April of 1956, I was a designated striker, just out of Machinery Repairman "A" School and assigned to the "A" Gang with the Enginemen.  I was assigned watches as a Messenger of the Watch in the forward engine room (Main Control).

 

I believe the Busy Bee was assigned to radar picket duty off the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas. One of the first weeks after I boarded her we went out and caught heavy seas (at least I thought they were) off the coast of Cape Hatteras

 

On the second day I had to take the temperature readings in the forward reefers area of the bow, about three or four decks below.  The smell of partially-eaten, rotting fruit, thrown into the moisture-laden angle irons was overpowering, added to my already queasy stomach.  I barely finished my rounds and returned to the engine room only to bring up the contents of my stomach ---- not once ---- but numerous times ---- to the point where I was so weak that I was relieved of my duties and carried out, up the ladder in a wire basket stretcher, to my bunk in the berthing space just forward of after steering.  There I remained, being fed oranges and saltines by sympathetic unknown shipmates, until Friday when we returned to Norfolk.

 

While the Bordelon was coming up the river to our pier, I was on the fantail, getting my first breathe of fresh air in three days.  There I met another young fireman apprentice who admitted that he too had been deathly ill for the last three days.  His name was Wilbert Dennis Dickman from Sandusky, Ohio.  I too was from Ohio, but farther east, from a suburb south of Cleveland.  We had a common bond and were friends until my first enlistment was up in '59.

 

Dickie, as I called him, and I corresponded for a while and then we just lost touch with each other.  Over forty or forty-five years later, just a few years ago, I checked the internet and found his telephone number.  He was still in Sandusky.  Elated, I called his number and his wife answered.  I identified myself and there was a silence.  Then, in what I sounded like a cool, if not cold voice, she told me that, "Wil passed away earlier this year."  I offered my condolences and not knowing what else to say, said goodbye and we hung up.

 

I had waited too long and missed out on the chance to reminisce with an old friend by just a few months. 

 

Thanks to guys like you I have been able to get in contact with a few old shipmates and I have even visited another Gearing-class destroyer, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, which is part of a naval display of vessels a few miles away in Fall River, Massachusetts.  Just walking through the Kennedy or sitting down and thinking about old times is refreshing.  I even saw the 881 in a video presentation featuring the Kennedy in the after compartment of the Kennedy that was a former berthing space for "A" Gang.  The area where my infamous bunk is gone though, but not the memories.

 

Rudy Sanda - 1956