Four old WWII salts offer well-wishes to new Little Rock
Ahoy shipmates of LCS-9. We are so sorry to have missed your commissioning at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. We four WWII Navy veterans who served aboard destroyer escorts, the predecessor of your spectacular littoral combat ship, missed the boat, so to speak, due to the deadline for tickets. Our Destroyer Escort Sailor’s Association, Buffalo chapter, has been an integral part of the Naval Park for 40 years. Our last ceremony was two years ago when, sadly, our original membership of 180 DE sailors had dwindled to just we four old salts standing. However, we are still checking on our WWII museum below deck on the cruiser.
For Gunner’s Mate Stan Marek, Bosun’s Mate Dan Kosliki, Machinist’s Mate Don McHenry and me, Radioman Fran Lucca, the Little Rock crew and we four old salts missed out on a wonderful learning experience ... a remarkable face-to-face history lesson.
As a radioman, I communicated in Morse code, dits and dahs, unheard of in today’s Navy with its high-tech digital system. When our ship hit 18 knots trying to catch up with our slow-moving Atlantic convoy, the shake, rattle and roll was unbearable. The LCS can sail in some 14 feet of water, ideal for operating near island shorelines. In the Pacific, our DE was picked to sail up a river in the Philippines to help liberate a village in Borongan, Samar. Larger warships could not navigate those waters. It’s a shame we ancient mariners couldn’t have swapped sea stories with today’s 21st-century navigators of the high seas.
My surviving shipmates and I pray that the good Lord above blesses the Little Rock and its crew, and forever keeps her from harm.
Captain, Buffalo DESA 4