Navy Stories, USS Oak Hill LSD-7

These pages are non-fiction stories about my short career in the service. In ’63, while a junior in high school in Walla Walla Washington, I decided that I was going to go into the service. By this time in my life, I knew about the GI bill and the assistance you’d get when or if you went to college. My family was always on the ragged edge of bankruptcy so I knew there wouldn’t be any help there. I had a great love of electronics and wanted to get free training the military provided that would help me get an advanced degree when I got out. So I had a plan, even though my public school grades were pretty poor, I figured that I was plenty smart enough for a mere Navy school.

I checked out all the services, including asking my brother about the army since he was on active duty in Germany, and researched a bunch of stuff before deciding on the Navy. Along with the fact that my uncle had been a sailor in WWII, there were several good reasons. First, they had excellent schools. Then, they had pretty good food. Then, they weren’t too uptight like the air force unless you were assigned to a brand new ship. And they weren’t screwed up like the Army. The Marines were out of the running because I didn’t want to be in such a tough spit & polish organization. I was way too laid back for that sort of thing.

I extensively researched my choice over several months, talked to ex-military types and concluded that the Navy would give me the best leg up on a future while giving me an opportunity to travel extensively. Not just to someplace and then park it, but all over the watery world. So, with my parents co-signed permission, I signed up shortly after my 17th birthday, while still in my junior year at high school. In the US Naval Reserve. I choose the reserves because I’d only have two years active duty, then several years where I’d have to spend two weeks on active duty. I had a weekly reserve meeting up at the Walla Walla Airport. There were many WWII buildings up there and the Naval reserve unit occupied an old army barracks. I took the placement test and scored very high so I applied to the Navy’s electronics school and was readily accepted. Of course I’d have to finish high school first. Since I now had a career path, I really started to study and the last quarter of my junior year and my entire senior year were standouts. I got mostly straight ‘A’s with a smattering of ‘B’s. And since I’d been dragging my feet for nearly 2 & 1/2 years, when I had electives I took all those tough classes I hadn’t bothered with earlier, like psych, chemistry, etc. Paid attention, studied, did my homework. Funny how good your grades get when you do that. At the same time, I was doing the navy’s correspondence courses in electronics and in seamanship. Did really well there too. So well, that the nuclear sub program contacted me and really tried to get me to join their nuclear training program. Even sent a nuclear naval officer from the Navy base near Seattle all the way over to Walla Walla to meet with me. But that would have meant signing up for six years (!) active duty. And there was no turning back. If you flunked out of the nuclear school, you still have to serve 6 years active duty. I wanted no part of that! I didn’t really want to be a nuclear engineer either…which is what schooling the Navy wanted me to take. I wanted to be an electronics engineer.

So, after all that hard work from February ’63 when I signed up with the reserves to July ’64 when I graduated High School I discovered how smart I really was, at least for traditional schooling of the time. I found that if I just took the time to study I could easily ace my courses and even some tests. In fact I did ace the final chemistry test the last week of school, only student to do so, and a couple of my psych tests and some Senior English tests. It was funny that with all that hard work from February ’63 onward that in May of ’64, when I went for the only counseling session I had in four years in high school, the counselors first question, as he lifted his head from my transcript was, “So, you’re going to be an auto mechanic I see”, to which I replied, “No, I’m going to be an electronics engineer”. Then he proceeded to insist there was no way I could do that. Jackass. But he was nearly right.

That’s the background to this section of pages. I had such a good time in the Navy that I wanted to share that here on the blog. Just click the links below and when you finish reading, click your browsers back button to return here, or click on the next page listed in the sidebar.

We’ll start with my arrival in May or June of ’65 at the Naval base on Treasure Island in San Francisco harbor. I was already a Seaman since I’d taken those correspondence courses offered back in Walla Walla. I’d come here to attend the Electronics School on the base. There was also a Radar School on the island.

I had attended boot camp in Aug. ’63, then was assigned a ship and took a two week cruise to Hawaii in July of ’64. I can’t remember why they took so long to get me into the Electronics school. I had regular Naval reserve meetings to attend back in Walla Walla so it’s not like they lost me. There is one large possibility, I’d volunteered and requested several times in writing to go to Viet Nam, and at the time, there wasn’t much of a naval presence there. Finding a ship to assign me to could have caused the delay.

These stories are in chronological order beginning with ‘Spring 1965’. Click your ‘Back’ button to return here to select the next story, or use the links in the header above.

Spring 1965

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Psychology of a riot…Summer 1965
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Punishment Deserved Escaped…Mid Summer 1965
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Late Summer – 1965, San Diego shipboard…
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Late Fall – 1965, San Diego Shipboard…

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Late Fall – 1965, we de-port…
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Early Winter – 1965, at sea…
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Still Early Winter – 1965, at sea…

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Winter – 1965, at sea…

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Winter – 1965, at Japan…

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Winter – 1965, More about Japan…

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Winter – 1965, We leave Japan for Vietnam…Part 1…
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Winter – 1965, We leave Japan for Vietnam…Part 2…
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Early 1966, Shipboard in Vietnam…Part 1
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Early 1966, Shipboard in Vietnam…Part 2
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Early 1966, Shipboard in Vietnam…Part 3
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Early 1966, Shipboard in Vietnam…Part 4
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Early 1966, Shipboard in Vietnam…Part 5
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Leaving Viet Nam, Spring ’66

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Heading back to the states – Spring ’66

3 Responses to Navy Stories, USS Oak Hill LSD-7

  1. Donald Powelson says:

    Is that the same LSD 7 that was in Okinawa on D day.
    And if so did it deliver boat pool baker to the Bishi Gawa river?
    and was along side the Nevada when it took a Kami Kasi?

    It might have been, Don. But I was on her in the ’60′s so have only hearsay to go on. What was said was that during WWII, she had a Kami Kasi hit her right in the bridge. Took out the Captain and several other senior officers, all except the Navigator. Since she has an aft con, below the fantail, she was navigated back to safe harbor from the fantail by non-commissioned officers mostly. Not sure how true the story is after all these years…there might have been a brass plack, at least I seem to remember one.

  2. RONNIE B PATTERSON PC-3 says:

    I was one of the last people to depart the USS OAK HILL LSD-7 on Oct. 31, 1969. That was a Friday at 8:30 AM.

    I didn’t hear that she’d been decommissioned until years later. I enjoyed being part of her crew quite a bit. Really loved standing up on the bridge, or down on the bow, during storms.

  3. Would like to hear from anyone who knew my dad David Davison,Jr during WWll////
    from what I was told, he joined the military when he turned 17 and was put on the USS Oak Hill.

    Wow, WWII. Far to long ago for me to know anything about that, Margaret. Sorry. I was on the Oak Hill in the mid 1960’s so there’s not much I can tell you other then that the Oak Hill was originally built to make one trip overseas…never intended to return. It was just luck that she survived WWII at all so that I could walk her decks 20 odd years later. She even suffered a kamikaze attack that wiped out the bridge crew, according to the old salts aboard back when I sailed her. But I’ll leave your comment here in case someone may pass by that remembers anything from WWII. Good luck in your search.

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