Just Commander Dear

 

1955-1958

 

The first time I had the conn while bringing the Mighty Forerunner alongside another ship for refueling, Captain Mullen was nervous as a cat.  We swung wide, aft of the oiler, to come to a parallel course and to try to match their speed while maintaining a proper distance between the two ships.  I, too, was quite nervous

 

LCDR Joe Doak, the XO, in the pilot house, was cool as he could be.  I was standing just outside the pilot house door behind the alidade compass with the Capt. just forward of me.  His concentration fully on the two ship's shifting positions.  Wind and waves toyed with our good intentions.

 

Joe, on the other hand, stood relaxed as could be, just inside the pilot house, swinging an imaginary golf club and occasionally glancing at our progress and position.  Periodically he would indicate I should add or drop "two turns" (rpm) or come right or left a degree or two to maintain our proper position. Soon the Captain was saying, "Now you're getting it!  That's it!  Good work!"

 

I was shouting the orders, but Joe was conning the ship. However, I did learn the technique. Be calm.  No sudden or abrupt moves. Change only in small increments and keep your eyes open.

 

Ace Mullen and Joe Doak were a marvelous combination.  Joe went on to command his own ship, a then new DL, and Ace went to the Squadron Staff.

 

They were two of the finest officers I ever worked for.  I still remember overhearing Ace Mullen's first call to his wife after he had been relieved.  He said, "Well Honey, it's just Commander Mullen now".

 

He really enjoyed being a fine captain and good example to his officers and crew.

 

Dave Reedy Chief Engineer

 

 

A follow up to Lt. Dave Reedy's story:

 

It was really my 1st experience at the helm, as it was Lt Reedys 1st experience at having the conn, while bringing a ship alongside for refueling.

 

The O.D. was Cdr. Joe Doak, the XO, while Skipper ACE Mullen was barking out orders to Lt Dave Reedy and he then to me. I must concur, Cdr. Doak was a very good officer and he and Capt. Mullen did make a great team. Mr. Reedy and I became very good friends after that, which leads me to another story:

 

During August 1956 We docked at Genoa, Italy. Lt Reedy and I went to visit an Orphanage.

 

Our mission was to be a goodwill mission, asking the Mother Superior to visit our ship along with the orphans. It wasn't the easiest to communicate with her but as I remember, Dave spoke some Italian and at least was able to get our offer across to her with some help from a sister who knew some English. She was reluctant at first but then agreed to visit our ship. It’s been many years so some acts may be incorrect but the story is true. The Nuns all had their habits on with these HUGE hats that spread about 4 ft across. All the children were in uniforms and very well mannered. I believe there were about 20 kids and 6 sisters and Mother Superior.

 

Dave Reedy and I met them at the gangplank, the crew had balloons and candy and toys and games for the children. There was one little girl that held back, being a bit shy, I took to her immediately, her name was Angelina, she was 7 years old I believe, Anyway I took her by the hand and got her a balloon and candy etc. and showed her around the ship. We were watched closely by a sister that went with us. It was hard talking to her but our gestures and giggles and laughing made up for it. I asked her if she would write to me and she said yes, she would.

 

The kids had a great time and many wrote notes to the crew thanking us for a wonderful time. I actually discussed adoption of "Angelina" with my wife and Mr. Reedy tried very hard to get this done for me; however the big stumbling block wasn't the language problem but that I wasn't Catholic. For that reason, Angelina stayed at the Home. We wrote to each other for about two years, then she stopped writing and I lost track of her and don't know what ever became of her.

 

Bill Thornley FT2