Vernon Drewa


Vernon Drewa, RM1 -   - 53-54 - Submitted 12/16/05
My boss on the Estes was LCDR Preble. Other than Capt. Jack McCain (Sen John McCain's father), Preble was the best officer under whom I worked.

As you might know, Eniwetok was a busy place. The Estes stood off Eniwetok most times. Though when Romeo was scheduled, we were deployed 30mi distant. As you may know, the circumference of Romeo was mined. I don't recall the exact distance, but was more than 10mi. This in order to hopefully prevent "tidal wave" from traversing the pacific. I was in charge of Crytograpic Maintenance/Repair for Naval shipboard communicaitons. I flew on occasion from the Estes to the Bairoko, then to various "barges" anchored off small Islands.

These were in place for helicopter landings to pick up and deposit civilian contractors, military and scientists. I was aboard the Curtiss on occasion, as well as Parry Island. I recall a number of the TE's (ratings) men on the island. It was a sweat box for them. Their primary mission was teletype communication's. Most communication, intelligence and electronic technicians had Top Secret. Some had Top Secret "Queen" clearance badges. I have mine in a shadow box with other Naval memorabilia.

I took several trips with groups to Japtan Island. Few played softball, other's drank beer while other's roamed the island. I recall vividly the beached Japanese transport that was rusting away on one side of Japtan island. For other recreation, I took 8-10 men swimming. One, a 1st Class Radioman, by the name of Leo Tracy got the idea of making money. His idea was to use "grappling hooks" to drop into the open "mouth" of "Killer Clams." Don't recall that being a bilogical term! These clams were huge, most the size of a number 2 washtub. If one happened to be "snorkling" and put his foot into a clam that was open. He would most likely drown before getting help. We had one such occurance during our stay.

On Eniwetok, at the end of the island where garbage was dumped was a feeding area for sharks. At times, when a feeding frenzy took place, we were able to check out M-1's, fire a few rounds into the melee. Which caused a more fervent feeding frenzy to occur.

I was fortunate in that 95% of my duties involved being in air conditioned spaces. The military photographer's had the coolest location aboard the Estes. The developing/processing center was one deck below the main communication's room. This very large room was one deck below the main deck. Can't relate to the heat as "time heals all". Know however, that it was very hot for most. Particularly those assigned to the Boat pools and who lived on the island.

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