This page is designed to be a locastion for Jerome County shipmates to share with one another their memories of shared experiences on the Jerome County covering events, places and fellow shipmates.
Sean Tierney: May 2013: I understand that Captain Ted Fischer may have earned the nickname, “Stern Anchor” on several occasions but the one that I remember occurred on his very first day as CO. We were scheduled for a local op off the Strand and were berthed at the inner most berth at the Mole Pier. This was a very tight spot with not much room to maneuver as we backed out from the pier. As was usual, we were using the “Papa” boat as a pseudo tug to push us away from the pier. We lit off and started to maneuver when things went to “Hell in the proverbial hand basket”. Wind, tide, or whatever kept pushing us where we didn’t want to go. What followed was a combined keystone cops/Chinese fire drill with so many rudder and engine commands given that I’m not sure the the QM got them all in the log accurately. At one point we let go one of the bow anchors even though we were probably less than 100′ from the end of the pier.
Frantically, the Papa boat was pushing as hard as it could with little success and soon was in mortal danger itself of being crushed between the JC and the pier. Eventually the Papa boat had to save itself by seeking refuge under the bow of the “T” behind us.
But the crowning moment came when our stern came in contact with the “T” behind us and our spare stern anchor interlocked with their bow anchor and was ripped from its stanchion and fell into the water. Capt. Fischer finally gained control of the situation and we backed out of the berth without further incident and proceeded for our operation. When we returned that afternoon, there was our anchor on the pier, courtesy of the Base hardhat divers — hence the nickname “Stern Anchor”.
Ted Fischer: May 2013: By the way, I recall CO Fred Bailey’s arrival aboard JC. He had a few pairs of new khaki pants and needed some “tailoring” done. I forget the sailor’s name who handled such matters for us, but I told Fred “he’d do the work for him if he’d like.” Well, turns out the young man took the crotch-to-cuff measurement and used it (accidentally) as the hip-to-cuff measurement!
Fred went somewhat ballistic when he put on the first pair of altered trousers. looked like knee-high knickers! I couldn’t help but burst out laughing, which was most rude of me! Reminded me of a Laurel and Hardy skit! I think Fred couldn’t wait to have me depart the JC permanently, and ASAP, I’m certain!
Dennis Hager: July 2013:When the Jerome County was departing Saigon in September 1965 an incident occurred which was at first frightening but later turned out to be almost humorous? As the ship singled up its mooring lines and moved away from the pier an Army sentry on the pier shouted ”swimmer in the water” and started shooting at the water near the ship. This immediately caused everyone on deck to react as unidentified swimmer could conceivably be involved in planting a mine on the ship. The First Lieutenant, LTJG Harris G. Leroy, grabbed a percussion grenade from a box kept on deck for swimmer defense and tossed it over the side where the sentry had been shooting. As the ship pulled further away from the pier and the smoke cleared, a visual inspection of the side was conducted and it was discovered that what the sentry had seen in the water alongside was just the outflow from one of the overboard discharges which caused bubbles in the water. This was something any sailor would have recognized but the Army sentry had no knowledge of.
Dennis Hager: 2013; About a third of the cargo being transported into Chu Lai in 1966 consisted of palletized beer. This beer had by now become very important to morale and was subject to significant pilfering. Because of this a senior USMC officer now usually met and supervised the offloading at Chu Lai. The first time Jerome delivered a load the USMC officer counted every pallet and discovered we were short one pallet (about 80 cases of beer) and severely berated the 1st LT and the CO. Thereafter we carefully checked the number of pallets being on loaded in Da Nang to insure we had the manifested number. Because of this we discovered that during the rather haphazard loading operations in Da Nang (sometimes directly from Merchant ships at anchor) we might also be given more pallets than on the manifest. This “extra” beer somehow found its way into the ships reefers. Subsequently, when the ship was beached at Chu Lai, “Beer call” was held on the beach for the off watch. The offloading supervisor never questioned this probably assuming it was rationed beer although the Navy did not get a beer ration as the marines did. Beer cargo’s also created problems. Frequently the beer would be loaded directly from Merchant ships in Da Nang Harbor. On a number of occasions when swinging the pallets of beer from the merchant ship to the Jerome County a pallet would be dropped causing a cascade of beer cans. Sometimes this would result in beer all over the deck and running out of the scuppers. On another occasion while at sea en-route to deliver a beer cargo, three crewmen were found drunk in the middle of the palletized cargo. The CO took immediate action and confined them to a hastily improvised brig.
Dennis Hager: July 2013: During a semi-official wardroom farewell party for LCDR Fisher on 15 July 1966 in a hotel in Da Nang a bomb was detonated in a hotel immediately across the street on the same floor and facing the room the party was in. All except Capt Fisher immediately returned to the ship and thereafter there was no liberty in Da Nang.
Dennis Hager: July 2013: The JC went to Yokuska, Japan on the way home in 1966 because the Captain (Fred Bailey) learned that she had never made a port call in Japan. He then requested a shipyard availability in Yokosuka which was granted. But as the ship approached Yokosuka he tabled all of the work orders so the crew could enjoy some R&R in Japan after a hard deployment. It also turned out to be a favorite liberty port for the Captain. He, the officers and crew all had a great time.
Dennis Hager: July 2013: During the yard overhaul in Richmond, CA in 1967 the officers were initially left on-board until cutting and welding torches began to shower their quarters with sparks and smoke. On one occasion I was taking a shower and suddenly had more sparks then water showering me. Capt Bailey then went to bat for us and after considerable back and forth with the repair people both locally and in Washington he was able to get per diem orders cut to enable us to move ashore. Several of us the rented a “snake” ranch in Oakland.