Web Guys's Note - SEA TALES is intended to be a repository of oral history about the USS Magoffin (APA-199). It is not intended to be filled with absolute facts but with stories as they are remembered by crew members and others. There are lots of things about our ship that I learned about at the Lexington reunion. These stories should be saved so that we can all know about them and share them.

If you have a story you want to tell, please click here and mail it to me. If you are having trouble collecting your thoughts or haven't had a lot of experience writing stories - Please send me an e-mail with your phone number and a good time to call. I will take down the story and polish it for you.


Edward Damson, was one of the boat officers during the Okinawa invasion. His family has sent us some excellent artifacts and information - Click here to see this collection


Cliff Clemens, who was one of the boat group commanders and the ships photographer, wrote a personal account of the landing at Okinawa during WW-II for a school group. It is a very interesting read and contains stories about the invasion, a kamakazi attack upon the ship and the sinking of one of our boats. To read this wonderful tale - Click here


I was a 19 year old Marine Lance Corporal with the 3rd Military Police Battalion, which was newly formed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Ca. in 1967 from troops pulled from the staging Battalion in February of that year, just before boarding planes to be transported to Viet Nam. After additional months of training, we were informed that we were to be transported as a battalion by ship to Viet Nam. I remember it was a bright, sunny day as we crossed the Coronado Bridge from San Diego and saw the ship which was to be home for the next 30 or so days. The USS Magoffin. I didn't' quite know how I would handle being on board the ship since the only thing I had ever been on was a ferry but, the first days would tell and I claimed a top berth. If anyone was going to have any "accidents" from sea sickness on anyone, "I" wasn't going to be a victim. Our first stop was Hawaii and we all seemed to have made the trip without any consequential trauma. All of our days aboard ship on the way over was spent doing constant physical training, cleaning and re cleaning our weapons, classes on various subjects, and general quarters, general quarters, general quarters. After a "very" pleasant weekend in Hawaii, we embarked and headed for our second port of call; Subic Bay, the Philippines. There was more of the same as far as training and general quarters is concerned on this next leg of the trip but when we arrived in Subic, all the docks were full so we had to go ashore by landing craft. This became very confusing to me later on when I returned to the ship by cab after a few sloe gin fizzes and was able to board directly. What happened to the landing craft?? After the officer of the deck pointed me in the right direction (twice), I finally made it down to the troop quarters and was able to climb into my berth (after a few unsuccessful tries). I was rudely awakened the next morning by the sounds of hacking and barfing and found we were in a storm. The ship was rocking severely and I was "really" glad I chose a top rack judging by the sight below me. About the 30th of May, we docked in Danang, South Viet Nam, and bid farewell to the USS Magoffin. The fun part of my Viet Nam experience had come to an end.
Anthony Leon Gatling
GySgt USMC/Ret


A new story from Art Corral - I reported onboard the Magoffin in late November 1964 as a SN in the rate of Radioman. I was assigned to the Radio shack and was given Top Secret Clearance, the highest clearance at that time to handle all the communications coming in through radio or crypto machines. I had been onboard for about 3 months and continued to train for the rate of Radioman. At this point I was beginning to learn how to operate the crypto machine and handling top-secret information. In late January of 1965 right before we were scheduled to leave for WESTPAC, I decided I wanted a long weekend to go up the coast to Wilmington, CA to visit with my sister and her family. I put in my request CHIT to get of the ship early Friday. The excuse I used was, "I need to go to the Immigration and Naturalization office in downtown San Diego to see what else I need to do to complete my application process to gain U.S. Citizenship". It was approved by all my superiors without question and off I went straight to Wilmington for a three-day weekend. I had a great time! I returned to the ship very late Sunday night and everything was fine. Monday morning I had the 8:00 A.M. watch in the radio shack. When I rang the bell, RM1 Lloyd said, "What are you doing here? I can't let you in! You are restricted from this area and must report to the chief in the ship's office immediately". I was totally shocked and baffled. I reported to the ship's office and the chief Yeoman (name?) began to get on my case in a very angry way. He yelled, "What in the hell is wrong with you, if we have an audit or investigation you could have had all of us in a great deal of trouble, going all the way up to the Captain". At this point, I still am not aware of what the whole situation is about, so I asked the Chief, "What seems to be the problem, to my knowledge, I have done nothing wrong to get me in trouble, much less other people on the ship". The Chief continued, "YOU ARE NOT A U.S. CITIZEN! (I was born in Mexico and had come into U.S. when I was 8 years of age in 1953). YOU HAVE A TOP SECRET CLEARANCE! You have been handling high priority, secret, and top secret information"! He went on and on chewing me out. My response was, "It's not my fault, I have never hidden anything from anyone. I came into this country legally, attended school, graduated from high school and joined the Navy Reserves. If you check my records it will show that I have never claimed otherwise as far as my citizenship, it is all there in black and white". Well, this just infuriated the Chief even further. He said, "You are not to go anywhere within 50 yards from the radio shack. I am going to put you in the Deck department for the remainder of you stay aboard the Magoffin"! This was totally against all my goals and wishes since I had already spent so much time training towards the rank of RM3. He temporarily assigned me to the Operations compartment to serve as compartment cleaner until further notice. No one in the RM Department came to my rescue, not even the Chief RM. This really upset me! The only shipmates that felt a little compassion for me were the Signalmen who were part of our compartment crew. Luckily three days later we departed to WESTPAC, Hawaii to pick up Marines and take them to Viet Nam. The signalman Chief and SM1 James Morehead came to my rescue by asking Captain R.D. Greer if they could borrow me so that I could help them record messages on the signal bridge since they were undermanned. He said OK. After all the commotion, this was the best thing that could have happened to me. I went up to the signal bridge and the SM Chief, SM1 James Morehead, SM2 John Sims, and SM3 Doug Masters immediately set up training sessions for me. They drilled me over and over on Signalman rate requirements. Their plan the whole time was to keep me on the signal bridge because I could transfer many of the skills already learned as a Radioman. I made SM3 in six months. Then the Radioman Chief came looking for me to try to recruit me back. I told him, "No thanks, where were you six months ago? Every time he would see me, he would try to recruit me. Up until the day before I left the Magoffin he called me to his office and was still insisting that if I shipped over as a Radioman he would help me advance and would also help me acquire my U.S. Citizenship. I declined. The Signalman crew on the Magoffin made my tour of duty so enjoyable and lifelong friendships were created. It's been 40 years since I left the Magoffin in November 1966 and I still think about them a lot and I often wonder what became of them. That is one of the main reasons why I am looking forward to the 12th reunion in April of 2006, hoping to see some of them there. But if not, I hope to see some of my other shipmates there that I also had a great buddy relationship with. By the way, 6 months after I finished my tour on the Mighty Magoo, I acquired my U.S. Citizenship. I continued my affiliation with the U.S. NAVY and retired from the reserves with 22 years of service.


From Bud Church - We had a real good Chief in E div. during our voyage to Japan and Korea in 52. his name was Turner. He was always around when we needed him and wasn't afraid to pitch in and help. He was in the battery locker drilling out some lugs with a hand drill or a drill press, can't remember which when the bit caught in the lug and twisted the wire around his finger and just pulled it off at the first joint. When we heard what happened one of our guys went back to the battery locker and found the finger. Of course we thought it would be funny to put it in a box on some cotton and pass it around the chow line that night. As I remember some guys thought it pretty amusing and a few others lost their appetite. I guess that shows how crazy we were in those days. The guys in sick bay did a good job and Chief Turner's short finger was in good shape by the time we pulled into Japan.


Mr. Green - It was July 1952 and the Magoffin was on its way to the far east. We stopped at Pearl Harbor Hawaii and now we were leaving Hawaii behind. I was up on deck and saw a grasshopper land on one of the cargo booms. I figured he would never make it back to land so I got a jar and captured him. I named him Mr. Green and we kept him in the electric shop. We got lettuce and other things from the cooks to feed him. I always remember one of the cooks would always ask me, " how is Mr. Green today" ? Anyway Mr. Green survived the trip to Japan ,and I let him go as we were coming along side the dock. I was hoping to see him land safely but probably due to his long imprisonment he seemed to lose his strength and went below the dock and into the darkness. I have always wondered if after saving him and getting him all the way to Japan he ended up being a treat for some hungry fish ! Or did he survive and start a whole new life so far from home.
Bud E. Church

It was a dark and cool morning! One dark, cool, quiet, very early Monday morning in April 1966, I returned to the Magoffin from a weekend liberty. I walked down the pier with the typical Boatswains Mate swagger, Cool looking gabardine dress blues, think about the events of the weekend. I climbed the gangway, saluted the quarterdeck, turned to OOD, saluted, requested permission to come aboard. The OOD was a chief Radioman ( I can't remember his name). He granted permission, the turned to the Boatswains mate of the watch, and told him to get a report chit. He informed me that he was going to write me up for being out of uniform. I looked myself over in a hurry. I said come on Chief, I have a chit from the CO to wear these Wellington boots. " I know that, Boats, that's not what I'm writing you up for ". My cuffs were rolled up, so I asked if he was writing me up for my dragons showing. He said " No". I said " Come on Chief, give me a break ". He said " Look Boats, for some one in you position, there is no excuse for not being a good example to the rest of the crew." I asked "what was wrong, and what he wanted me to do, everything looked ok to me." Then he and the Boatswains mate smiled, and said " you don't have enough stripes on your sleeve, you made BM2." I was flabbergasted. I had taken the test, but knew I wouldn't get rated. BM1 Aaron English, had coached me, kept me aboard on liberty night, and made me study. I credit him with the fact that I ever made BM3 and BM2. At quarters that morning, Lt Duncan congratulated me, along with the division, and informed me that I would be leading PO for Boat Group. That division was the greatest group of guys, anyone could serve with. They all worked their asses off, and that in its self made me look good. I want to thank all of those men; enginemen, bowhooks, cox'ns, and officers for all the help and work the put out.
BUCKY BM2 J. L. Earven


Richard Bee Ltjg "B" Div Officer sends this story of a motor explosion at Eniwetok For those of you out there that are not snipes (engineers) this story may be of little interest. For those of you that spent some long hours in the Magoo's Engine room you are going to relate. It was early July '58 and we had been at Eniwetok for a couple of months as an evacuation ship during the 1958 atomic tests. It consisted of weeks of boredom broken up by some of the biggest shows of "fireworks" that we had ever seen. It was the procedure that we had to "light off " the engine room each time there was to be a test and be prepared to get underway if required. That meant a full "underway watch" was set at the 4-8 watch. It was usually pretty routine ,however this day was to be a little different. For those traveling down memory lane, the procedure was to bring up the boilers to pressure, request permission to spin main engines, disengage jacking gear (A mechanical connection to the aft section of the high speed turbine), log events in engine room log, (VERY important) check the light board to see that lights corresponded with the actions(log that) and then Chief Cassidy BTC and I would tell the throttle man to "spin engines". Sounds pretty routine--not that day. There were three of us looking at the rpm indicator when the throttle was opened - but the indicator stayed at  “0”. We had a great throttle man, I don't remember his name, but as soon as the Chief and I shouted to close the throttle he had already taken the action to do so - but it was too late. Later we would learn that the mechanical disconnect between the jacking gear and the high speed turbine had popped back into the "engage" position. As soon as the turbine began to spin, we just became spectators. The little 5 hp  jacking gear motor that sits just to the left of the throttle position started to wind up with a pretty good sound and then tried to become a generator. Some of you can guess the rest; the mica windows shattered, and in no time the little motor became a sea of smoldering, multi colored spaghetti. For you non-snipes, we had just destroyed the jacking gear motor and had no way to cool the turbines down. In short order, the atomic test was canceled and we had to keep steam up for two weeks while a motor was shipped out from Mare Island. As you would imagine it got a little tense when the Brass found out. Oh yes, there was an inquiry and it found the Chief and I were in the clear because everything was properly logged.  We had done everything correctly but there had been other Liberty ships that had similar problems (we found this out later).  The moral of the story--KEEP THOSE LOG ENTRIES CURRENT.

A Marine Remembers I was aboard the "Maggie" two or three times as a Marine in the early 50s for exercises and landings at Okinawa and Iwo Jima. My most remembered trip was November of 1954. I was a short timer who was being "rotated state-side" from Japan but had one more operation to participate in. So I boarded the Magoffin one more time. A few days out of Japan a typhoon changed directions and we were in the middle of it. There were so many sick that anyone still standing got drafted to stand watch, so I bounce around a gun tub from 12-4. It was so rough that it was rumored that there were less than a dozen of those white glass coffee cups left in the mess hall. I know that people fell out of their bunks and were hurt. I know that I have never seen that many people that sick all at once. A south seas pleasure cruise it wasn't. Merle Fountain USMC 1953-1961 

A new bit of Magoffin history from Dwight Sampson CWO-3 USN (Ret)

Thought some of my old ship mates from the 58 WEST-PAC cruise might remember this incident. I have some "senior moments" from time to time so I'm not sure if this occurred while we were on our way to the Persian Gulf with the troops embarked or while we were making those ammo supply runs over to Taiwan. Any way I was a IC1 and part of my duty was to supply and show the movies for the officers, crew and the troops too, if they were aboard. One night when it was dark enough we had set up on the 02 level where the movie projectors were mounted and strung the screen on the forward mast. Most of the enlisted men and troops on board would sit on the main deck and the number two hatch cover.

The movie was well in progress when all of a sudden this blinding white light lit up the entire ship and the deafening roar of airplane engines at mast head height filled the air. You never saw so many guys scrambling for cover and trying to dig holes in a steel deck in your life.

As it turned out, we were in the South China Sea and the Navy liked to keep tabs on all movement of ships in the area. When a blip appeared on their radar screen, they decided to take a closer look. The "Old Magoo", as I recall, didn't have much in the way of air search radar so the P2V had made an undetected run on us and had throttled its engines back until it flipped on the wing mounted 11teen million candle searchlight. We were completely unaware of its presence until way too late.

We were all greatly relived it was one of ours but I think many of the guys needed a change of skives afterward.

Smooth sailing, Dwight A. Sampson {SAM} CWO3 USN-RET


The following letter was sent to Sea Tales by Ed Jenkins who was aboard from commissioning until the end of the war. It is a wonderful recount of the Magoffin's WWII history.

I was member of original crew of the Magoffin. Arrived in Astoria, Oregon just before ship did and was aboard for commissioning (and all the work that was involved). Ship left Nov. 4th, 1944 and went to Seattle area where we were "degaussed". After a couple of days there, we went to Long Beach (where we "hurried up and waited").

At Long Beach, Comdr. Graybill took over as CO from Cdr. McManus. While I note one former Ensign criticizes Cdr. Graybill, but as his Chief Yeoman for well several months, I always found him an excellent officer (one of the best I ever knew) - strict but fair. At all drills I was on the bridge as "Captain's Talker" so had a great view -coming into port, anchoring, G.Q. (including Okinawa)(and a good chance, I think to judge his ship's handling, etc.).

From Long Beach I believe we went to San Diego and spent some time practicing lowering of boats off coast; spent a day or two at Christmas time at Seattle, then to Pearl for a short period; thence to South Pacific. Enroute, as we crossed Equator for first time, Captain turned over the ship for the "ceremonies". Fortunately (for me) I had "done it before a few times) so was able to watch the fun. Someone shot a bunch of pictures, and after the war we were supposed to get copies - mine were lost in mail, but a friend let me take his to show my friends (wish I had made copies).

For a short time Magoffin made a few stops in So. Pacific area - including Noumea and Espiritu Santos. On Mar. 1, 1944, we spent a couple of weeks of rather intensive training - with and without Marines - lowering boats, loading them, etc. in area of the Solomons and Russells. One day (I suppose as a reward for all the work), we anchored in bay off Tulagi and liberty parties were provided with beer (only occasion). CPOs got 6 bottles. Unfortunately someone stole a couple of cases and culprits were never apprehended.

On Mar. 21, 1944, we "passed through the submarine nets" and entered the harbor at Ulithi. I have been surprised to find so few who seem to know about Ulithi.- (as in March 1944) One of the greatest fleets ever assembled were in that harbor which had been created a short time before. I could not believe my eyes as we joined the other ships there: several battle ships, carriers, cruisers, destroyers - all kinds of support vessels. In the days we spent at anchor at Ulithi, we received all our needs for fuel and ammunition (and any repairs needed - including the important ice cream machine), and were soon on our way - to Okinawa.

On Easter morning, April 1, 1944, with other APAs, we moved toward Okinawa, and were at GQ well before dawn - and were able to hear occasional anti-aircraft firing and see explosions on the horizons. As records show, the Magoffin was one of the first to put their Marines ashore, and as there was no opposition on the beach, everything went well. In fact, later in the day, as our ship was off Okinawa, we could easily see the beaches nearest us - and smokestacks of Naha in the distance. It seemed peaceful during the day, but at night (when we and other APAs got underway and circled in the area), the Kamikaze found things more to their liking. I managed to get copies of the ship's log some years after the war and only then was able to appreciate how many times we had been called to our posts at G.Q. - how many times we had actually fired at enemy aircraft....how many rounds were expended! (How little sleep we got!). The logs, (unfortunately) do not tell of the night when the Magoffin helped shoot down 2 Jap planes, but I remember! The first one was simply flying high above us, and (from the bridge), I found it hard to spot it - finally doing so because of the multiple firing directed at it - and just at the moment that plane was hit and began to fall (just above our ship), some alert spotters detected the real threat - (the plane getting all the attention was a decoy) - and the other one was spotted just above the waves - in between other APAs and us. It was amazing (to me) to see how quickly fire was directed at the second plane and I barely had time to see it when it exploded and crashed into the sea., and I suppose all ships were then directed to take evasive action (though I don't actually recall).

After 6 days at Okinawa, the Magoffin and other APAs were ordered from the area, led by the Cruiser Indianapolis. On the first morning we passed close to an aircraft carrier which had suffered severe damage from Kamikaze (those not on duty were told to stand at attention, facing the carrier). Water was pouring from several places in the hull, and hose used to put out fires was strewn around the deck. A couple of sailors were standing on the flight deck (no planes in sight), apparently exhausted and simply watching us pass...and I could not help but think "there, but for the Grace of God...." The carrier was tilted at an angle and in spite of all the damage still flew the flag above her bridge, jury-rigged. A few days later we (and other APAs) made a stop at Guam where we put off some injured military we had carried from Okinawa, and we were then headed for Pearl. By the time was had come to Guam (I got this from the Chief Quartermaster) (we had sailed a total of 18, 926 nautical miles. The Indianapolis left us at Guam - and (I suspect) was probably enroute, alone back to Okinawa when she was sunk by Jap subs (again, we had been lucky).

From Pearl we went to (I think) San Francisco and a couple of other Cal. ports. On Aug. 6, 1945 the Magoffin was at Pt. Heueme, Cal., and we learned that we would be leaving for Pearl the next morning (and well realized that soon we would be part of the invasion forces for the main islands of Japan - something none of us was looking forward to. I had been (though a Reservists) on continual active duty since Oct. 1937, and had not seen my wife and son for over 7 months or my family for 2-1/2 years. With Ch. Boatswain's Mate Blatchford (from Mass., as was I), went on liberty - took bus to Santa Barbara - I made my "last phone call" to my wife, and we returned by bus about midnight. As we walked to the gangway, we were surprised to see quite a few people standing around, and found a newsboy had a special edition of a paper reporting the dropping of the first Atomic Bomb on Japan! We all had to have our own copy - and it seemed all the CPOs were still up - reading and discussing the exciting events!. We sailed for Pearl the following morning and anxiously read everything the radiomen could provide us about events...the second bomb dropped - discussion about Peace - .....and (of all places to be for such an event), the Magoffin was actually sailing INTO PEARL HARBOR as news came of the Japanese Surrender!

I soon learned I had more than enough points to get my discharge. Captain Graybill had been in a number of meetings and asked to see me. He told me that he was able to make a special offer to anyone that he felt the Navy would want to retain, and he said he could have me transferred in rate (chief yeoman) to regular navy, with full credit for time served; 30 days leave immediately. In some ways I was tempted, but (because of the length of time I had not seen my wife and son and parents - and knowing that 30 days would hardly get me home from Pearl!), (and a few other things), I thanked him but decided to "go". and earn my living another way! Actually, I again joined the Naval Reserve a year later (and was called up for a year, with my enlistment (again) extended in 1950-51. By that time I decided I had had enough "wars" and ended my "naval career" (13 years, 9 active). I'm now 89 and have only my memories.

Ed Jenkins (former Chief Yeoman, USNR).

Les Wilson collected "memories" from many Magoffin veterans at the Lexington Reunion.
Click here to read these wonderful quotes.


The following is a letter(s) received from Hamilton (Ham) Mencher who was an Ensign aboard the Magoffin from June 1944 until June 1945. He currently lives in Lima, Peru and his e-mail address is alecaf@terra.com.pe


Ensign Hamilton Mencher served on the Magoffin under Commander M.W. Graybill ( who hated Mencher ) from around June 1944 until around June 1945 after the Okinawa invasion.

Once Mencher was confined to quarters for failing to sign the Captain's Night Order book.

Graybill sentenced him to additionally writing, 1000 times, "I shall not forget to sign the night order book". The 10 days in hack are fondly remembered since Mencher "held court" in his room and received Frank Fedorowsky, Jack Flaherty, and so many other buddies that are now mosses on the tree of my mind.

Mencher saw Bill Kershner on the list of those who served in the 40's. He was a Boatswain in my First Division.

I remember how Graybill used to watch the First Division from his Barber's Chair on the bridge, anxious to find fault with Mencher. He would spring, as besta as a fat man could, from his chair, open all the circuit's on the loudspeaker system and scream "MENCHER LAY UP TO THE BRIDGE".

On one memorable occasion Graybill saw Mencher up forward and shrilled over the loudspeaker " What school did you go to?" and Mencher promptly mouthed the words UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO at the apoplectic Captain. "MENCHER LAY UP TO THE BRIDGE" was immediately screamed out and upon reporting to the bridge Graybill peered evilly at him. "You know, Mencher, that if this were the OLD NAVY, I'd have you court-martialed for silent contempt." Mencher refused to comment and every question that Graybill threw at him got the same answer,"I don't know, sir.", increasing Graybill's fury.

Mencher's promotion to JG was delayed because of Graybill's poor fitness report.

Old Navy man Pappy Felts was First Mate and ever a source of good natured comment and country wit. Hodorowski, my room mate along with Herb Kasten of Cape Girardeau MO, was also ex Regular Navy.

My papers are in a seachest at my First Wife's house or I would have many more names.

We were all a bit mad, I believe. As one shipmate, Bill Yankee, said" I am not paid by the government for being in the Navy, but for having been taken from my home and put on this ship".

Looking back at the occurrences and recalling the anecdotal events,I sometimes wonder if all ships had the same nutty things happen. Frederick Wakeman's novel SHORE LEAVE characterized the type of happening and thinking that went on aboard a flattop, but things were almost the same on the 199.

Commander Graybill, Captain of the APA 199, the USS Magoffin, over compensated for having been passed over for promotion years before and had not WWII come along he might have been renting rowboats in a public park lake, in full dress uniform, dressing down the employee in charge of maintaining the boats for overlooking a toothpick he found under a seat. I think it was in Stockton where I gloated most over one of his misreadings of the situation.

We had tied up alongside another attack Transport which had just come in from a long trip from somewhere and the decks topside were unswept and littered with trash. Three striper Graybill saw it as an opportunity and rushed below to check up on his directory of assignments and found that the captain of the neighboring ship had a number and rank lower than his. As was his custom he ran to the bridge, threw open all the circuits on the loudspeaker system and gloated in his high pitched voice: "NOW HEAR THIS, this is your captain speaking. Our ship is a clean ship. The ship next to us is a trashbin and is a...". He continued to decry the laziness and everything else that came into his mind regarding the crew and the captain. Just about this time a FOUR STRIPER, in DRESS BLUES appeared on the bridge abreast of our Captain and raised his right hand and with his index finger made a few little motions that were easily interpreted. It meant," Hey you, Commander, this is a Captain with four stripes on his sleeve. Get your fat ass over to my bridge immediately. I want to set you right on a few things."

Maybe some of the other crew members of the Magoffin remember the time and labor put in on remaking a kamikaze speedboat over into the Captain's personal boat.

Or just before the invasion of Okinawa, the Chaplain spoke to Pappy Felts, the First Lt., remarking out loud, "Mr. Felts, we haven't seen you at services these past few Sundays." Felts answered "That's right, Chappy, I've been kept pretty busy doing things to try to save my ass and have been kept from thinking about saving my soul".

Being short, and at the time I was assigned to the Magoffin, I must have weighed about a 122 pounds, Pappy Felts was like a giant alongside me. He told me that he was the "little one" of the family, his father being over 6' 6" and powerfully built. His dad worked in a textile mill down south somewhere and he recalled that one time there was a group of northerners that came down to install some new machinery. The Supt. assigned a mill hand to help them and after a few hours the harried little southerner came lamenting to the Supt. " Ah caint work with them there Northerners, all they do is cuss at me and call me names and hassle me. Get somebnody else, not me no more." The Supt looked around and there was Pappy's father quietly doing his work. "Hey, Felts, cumovahyear," he called. Felts walked over and the Supt continued, "I want yuh to take Smitty's place with the Northerners ovuh yonder, installi' thae new equipment." Without questioning Felts went over to where the Northerners were standing looking at the installations and deciding on the next tasks, and introduced himself as a replacement worker. The head of the Northern team greeted him warmly, saying" That other fellow didn't understand that the work we have to do is very exacting and demanding. This whole line of machines has to be exactly and accurately level and in line with all the other machines. It is hard on us and we tend to scream and shout and cuss and fuss, but don't pay any attendion to it, it is just our way." Pappy's dad looked quietly down at the redfaed weating head of the northern team and picked up a ball peen hammer. " See this 2 pound hammer? Well, when someone cusses at me or calls me names I am likely to pick up this hammer and strike him hard just above and between his eyebrows." "But," added the 240 pound speaker," Don't pay it no mind. It's jus' MY way".

Graybill let his Executive Officer handle docking ONLY ONCE and that was in Honolulu when whatever his name was had the helm and ploughed the Good Ship Magoo into the wharf.

Hello to Truxillo, Harlan who I believe came from Louisiana and logically was nicknamed Trux.

Wallace Shropshire may remember who the sailor was from Missouri who was a friend of Harry Truman when Truman ran the County Poorhouse.

Tell me when to stop.

Ham Mencher


Fred Small, Magoffin 50-52 fills us in on the tale about the ship's mascot.

"I'm not sure where Mac came from, but my recollection is that the ship's Boatswain brought him on board. He was a little bitty Chihuahua, about fifteen pounds. While he was the mascot for the whole ship's company; Mac was always on my tail. Over a period of time he sort of adopted me, and I him. Lawson Hornor and I bunked together, and little Mac would sleep in the drawer under my bed.

One day while we were in port, I missed the little critter and later discovered that as he was heading for the gangway, he was crossing the no. 2 hatch, and bingo, down he went. He must have landed on something soft because he suffered no ill effects. From then on he was a bit more careful, however. He was still on board when I was detached, and maybe someone else can report on what happened to him after I left.

I remember the day we were on the beach for recreation, and someone gave Mac a few sips of beer; it was my first time seeing a dog drunk.

A Korea era Marine's perspective -

A few weeks ago I read a comment of a Gunnery Sgt. on his arrival in Kuwait. He said he would miss the amenities of shipboard life - hot showers, hot food and satellite television among them. "But now it's our turn. We have a job to do.

That reminded me of the days that I was shipboard. I was in the reactivation of the 3rd Marines and, in our training; we made amphibious landings in California, Hawaii, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima. We made landings from the USS LENAWEE (APA195), the USS LOGAN (APA 196), the USS CAVALIER (APA 37), the USS CALVERT (APA32), the USS TORTUGU (LSD 26), the USS MOUNTRAIL (APA 213), and the USS MAGOFFIN (APA 199).

First let me tell you about the APA. This is a freighter that was converted to be used as an Attack Transport. It has three holds one forward and two aft and the cargo, carried in these holds, included materials supplies and troops. They filled some of the holds with bunks, five high, and continuous with a path between the rows and an open space at the cover to access the lower decks. On the deck they carried Higgins Boats, (LCVPs) and we debarked by climbing down cargo nets into the Higgins Boats to go ashore. I'm sure that you have seen John Wayne do this a few times.

The designation APA was adapted by the Navy to designate a ship that carried horses when the Marine Corps used horses. These ships were used in WW II so there was no trace of the horses when we got there.

This was the early 50’s so there was no TV and I stayed healthy so the food must have been OK but the hot shower; let me tell you about that. Each hold that housed troops had a head. The sanitation facilities included a trough, like a large rain gutter, that ran down the wall, it had water running in one end and out the other and boards across the trough to seat several people. This worked fine except when someone would light a paper on fire and drop it in, to float down the trough. And now the shower, yes there was a shower, plenty of showers and they didn't need warm water because when you came out of a “Salt Water Shower” you felt just as bad as or worse than you did when you went in. The Navy knew this so they had a plan “B”, this was a head with one shower and one sink up in the bow of the ship that had fresh water, and I think that this head was part of the Brig. This head was open to everyone for 1 hour every other night.

Well I am proud that they are sailing on LHAs and LHDs now and I suppose that in 50 years they will remember that as “The Old Corps”

Dave Tucker
Semper Fi

Web Guy's note - Dave has a wonderful web site which chronical's Item company of the 3rd Marines.
Click here to visit his site
Click here to visit where he tells about the Magoffin.


Going Aground in San Diego or "You can put an APA into left field".

It was a bright sunny Friday afternoon and the Magoffin was headed back to her buoy. We had been out for two days playing "shoot at the sleeve but please don't hit the airplane" and everyone was anxious to get moored, get in to a boat and get ashore.

I was in sickbay, changing in to my liberty uniform, when all the hulabalu started. Sickbay was my home, office, bedroom, and the place where I generally hung out with the rest of "H" division. When the ship's whistle start blowing I wasn't alarmed by the first toot or the second. We were in the channel, heading south toward home, and using the whistle to warm other vessels that we were changing course was annoying but normal.

When whistle blasts numbers three through five sounded, my thought was "Man Overboard"! As a member of the "man overboard crew" I started for my life jacket, helmet and first aid kit while kicking myself for being in dress whites. I was listening for a PA announcement about "man overboard" so I would know if I should head for the port side or starboard side davits. Instead the announcement was "Stand by for collision!" An instant later the ship started to vibrate, shake and buck. In the next instant the ship was shaking like a squirrel who had been grabbed by a mad dog and I could hear an anchor chain running out.

Now, I knew what I was supposed to do for "General Quarters", "Fire", "Man Overboard" and "the 8 o'clock reports" - but I didn't have a clue what I should do for a collision. I grabbed my gear, started for the hatch and almost wound up on the deck. Now, in addition to the violent vibrations, the ship was making a very, very sharp starboard turn. I glanced out of a port hole and couldn't see any shore - just channel.

I then did what you always do when there is confusion and chaos aboard ship - I went out on deck to see what was going on.

The mighty Magoffin was broached just past the San Diego Ferry channel with her bow against the shore and her fantail stuck out where the ferryboats had to go out of their way to get past her. (With lots of whistle blowing on their part, I might add) The bow was practically in left field of a Little League park. There was a game going on but none the pint-sized outfielders were paying attention to what was happening on the field. They all just stood there with their mouths wide open staring up at a huge PA-199 . It didn't take long to find out what had happened. it seems that there were were 4 sculls from the San Diego Rowing club racing abreast northward up the channel. The rowers weren't paying any attention to the ship and the XO, who was playing "Boss for the day", kept thinking that they would give way. They didn't give way so suddenly we had to.

The ships went from 1/3 forward to full reverse in record time. The 1st Division Bosun cut loose the starboard anchor to help slow down the ship and the tug that was following on our starboard side went on a modern version of a "Nantucket sleigh ride". In the aftermath, one of the rowers got smart. He pulled his boat out of the water and sat on the rocks. The second rowed around our port side and while being chased down by the Mike boat that had been dispatched for the mail run. (It was rumored that only thing that prevented over taking and sinking of that scull was the XO screaming over the bull horn "Jaco, don't you dare" about a dozen times. The other two sculls tried to sneak past us by going under the fantail. They were promptly pelted with anything that could be grabbed and thrown.

When things calmed down, the anchor was retrieved and stowed, the tug helped pull us out of the mud, the ball game resumed and the ferry's got their channel back. Even the rowers got turned around and went back to the Boat Club.

As it turned out, we were not all that late for liberty and we certainly had a tale to tell. It isn't every day or every ship that has had the experience of going aground - especially in the San Diego Ferry lanes.

Terry Little (Web Guy)
HM2 USS Magoffin 1962-63


Do you have a story to tell about your Magoffin experiences? Please jot it down and send it to me Web Guy