Every night we were out everyone got into a big riot with the local honcharicans and the police. And our SPs were fighting right alongside of our guys with their night sticks. The worst night was the last one, in a bar a big free-for-all broke out.
The honcharicans were using lead balls tied to a piece of line, and swinging it around their heads. One of our SPs, Scotty Casper, a Navy Airdale from Hinston, NC, got a couple of teeth knocked out, but not before he went to work on some heads with his stick.
Our Supply Officer, Mr. Quinliven from Texas took a nightstick away from a cop and went to work. In all, about 5 or 6 of our guys got their heads staved in, a few with broken noses, broken teeth, or just plain beat up by bouncers during the 3 days we were there.
The funniest part of it all was Mr. Bowman, a new boot Ensign. Any bar he went in he would go around and place everyone ready for attack. It was like he had a battlefield problem. He should have gone in the Army.
The whole time we were there we had one guy who never came back from liberty. The last day we had two guys AWOL and we were sailing at 10:00.
Seaman Morgan had been missing for 3 days, but our 2nd class cook - Robinson - just missed coming back. He‘d gotten orders the day before, so he went out celebrating and never made it back.
We ended up getting underway about 11:00 and headed for Baltimore, via Norfolk to unload what little ammunition we had.
11 April 7 May 1969 Lourenco Marques, Mozambique to Baltimore, Maryland Via Norfolk, Virginia
11 April to 27 April 1969
We headed out to sea, and it was nice and calm. About 2 hours out we got a message from the American Embassy in Lourenco Marques saying Robinson was there but still no Morgan.
One of our Navy HC-4 helicopters went in and got Robinson, and we were on our way again.
We left with all six engines on the line and the ship was shaking and shuddering. As we neared Cape Horn it started getting rough, and continued until we got around it and well into the Atlantic. It took three days to make the turn.
My orders came in during all this time, and I‘m going to the Chokeberry at Cape Hatteras. It‘s real good duty, I‘ll get subsistence pay, pro-pay for being Engineering Officer, and still get sea pay. Chokeberry is a 65-foot harbor tug. Its job is to perform search and rescue, and work small aids to navigation. It‘s only 5-years old. It‘s going to take some getting used to after being on here for 2-1/2 years.
We‘ve been making pretty good time and our arrival in Baltimore was set at May 4th. Well that lasted about 3 or 4 days. We‘ve been running low on L/O (lube oil) and had to secure two engines.