The American Legion began after World War I in order to help Veterans.  The mission of the Legion is to asset Veterans from all eras and conflicts.  Check out the American Legion at their website… just click on the logo above.

The Sooty Albatross
A common sight aboard the Tracer while at sea were groups of Albatross trailing behind the ship, sailing gracefully above the wake.  The albatross was almost always there, however, they had a tendency to disappear during really ferocious weather and then mysteriously reappear when things had calmed down.  I believe they ride out storms on the surface of the broiling sea, although, I’m no expert on the Albatross, I’m only relating what I remember. 

The Brown or Sooty Albatross

Once, while we were on picket, an albatross picking through the ship’s garbage in our wake managed to hook  itself on one of our fishing lines.  We pulled the creature in and a mess-cook named Greenwald attempted to remove the hook and free the bird. This particular albatross had a estimated eight foot long wing span.   It took the mess cook several tries, but after taking a good beating from those four-foot long wings Greenwald managed to free the hook. Then we simply chased the bird up into the air and it flew off, hopefully, none the worse for wear.

Midway Island
At the height of WWII in the Pacific Midway Island was the focal point of one of the most important battles of the War.  We won!  Old time sailors who had spent time on Midway Island, which in those days (1960’s) contained a Navy Base, tended not  to be fond of the Albatross or Gooney Birds as they were called.  Midway, located in the center of the Pacific Ocean, is a breeding ground for the sea birds.

More photos from the 1960's:

The two photos below show two enlisted men.  The photo on the left is of an unknown enlisted sailor raising a signal flag for some reason.  Perhaps this was one of the days when the Tracer sent a line over to another vessel.  The signal flag warned other ships in the area that the Tracer was involved in tandem operations with a sister ship.  On the right is a photo of Richard Archletta a seaman in the Deck Division.  Archeletta is on lookout watch on the Flying Bridge.  This was a day when the Captain had transferred the bridge watch to the Flying Bridge because the weather was so good. 


Below (left) is Roland Phillips who was a gunner’s mate striker at the time the photo was taken.  Phillips was quite proud to be a gunner’s mate and was responsible for the crossed cannons logo (just below his hand) on the tool locker on Gun Mount 32.  Here he is posing beside his artwork.  Even Scotty (first class gunner’s mate, who was quite straight-laced) liked the crossed cannons.  Scotty was the leading P.O. in the Gunnery Division at the time of the crossed cannon artwork.  The photo was taken while the ship was heading out to a long boring picket and the Golden Gate Bridge is visible in the foreground to the right of Phillips’ shoulder.  The photo on the right shows the Golden Gate Bridge looming in the foreground.  The photo was obviously taken on a day when it was overcast (not unusual for San Francisco).  The name of the sailor seen from the back is unknown.



The two photos below are of:  on the left, going under the Golden Gate Bridge.  The USS Tracer went under the bridge many times in the course of her life.  All who sailed aboard her were familiar with the under side of the bridge.  The photo on the right shows the bridge in the foreground as the tracer is coming in.  The sailor with the earphones on is named Davis, a deck division sailor. here he is shown standing at his station while coming into  port.  These tow photos were probably taken around the same time.  The photo showing Davis with the earphones was taken first then about one half hour later the photo of the underside of the bridge was taken.


The two photos below are of the bow of the USS Tracer under way.  Remember, the Tracer was a converted Liberty Ship, that is: Liberty Ships were freighters used during WWII for ferrying freight across the Atlantic Ocean.  These are excellent photos and show amazing detail after fifty years.  The great feature here is the king post.  On Liberty ships, king posts are upright pairs of masts (upside down “U” shaped masts) with cargo-handling devices attached; horizontal booms pointing upward at forty-five degree angles which can be manipulated out over the pier in order to lift cargo onto the ship and down into the open hatches.  On a cargo vessel king posts are designed solely for handling cargo and are most often located in front of the hatch. On the Tracer the king posts were still there but the spars that were used for getting cargo on board are gone.  The forward King post on the Tracer is a U shaped mast that dominates the photos.  To the left at the bottom is the open hatchway that led down into the Deck Division berthing space areas.  If you are able, it is interesting to magnify these photos and look at the details.



I was on the bridge one day when a group of Deck Division sailors were working forward.  A boatswain’s mate named, Corona, sent a young sailor named, Simpson, up the king post forward of the bridge. (see the two photos just above, the king post is the tall center mast.  There are two supports, one on each side, with a catwalk running between)  Simpson was up there for hours when finally someone noticed he wasn’t painting; he was pushed against the center mast with his hands locked around it in a bear hug.  Corona called up to him ordering him to get his gear and come down, but Simpson ignored him.  After a while Corona called up to him again but still Simpson did not reply.  Finally Corona climbed up the ladder and went over to Simpson.  Simpson was frozen up there, his arms locked around the center mast, terrified.  It took Corona something like a half hour just to coach the frightened seaman over to the ladder on the port side support post.  Then Corona went down on the first few rungs, and with his arms forming a safety belt around Simpson, brought the terrified sailor down the ladder a step or two at a time.

                                           Back to the Crew                                                   Go to Nov 1963