I came aboard Denebola after reenlisting at Norfolk Naval Base. I had left the Navy thinking that I was ready to whip the world making big bucks, and almost fell flat on my face. Available jobs that matched my skills as a Machinist Mate were almost non-existent, so I decided since I had 90 days to reenlist before I lost my pay grade, I would come back in.


After spending six weeks in a holding company at NOB awaiting orders, I finally received orders to a ship called the USS Denebola AF-56, berthed at pier 4. This ship looked rather small to me, compared to the USS Valley Forge CVS-45 which I had left when I mustered out of the Navy.


I went aboard about 1300 on a Friday afternoon in November, 1958, and was taken down to the Engineering Office for assignment. The Chief Engineer at that time was

Lt. B.C. Amick. He welcomed me aboard and told me that I would be working in the engine room with Francis D. Kuhn, MMI. (I told you his story bye-mail recently).


We made 2-3 Med cruises and conducted local operations until the spring of 1960, when we were sent to the Baltimore Shipbuilding and Drydock Company for a yard overhaul. We were there approximately six months. During that time, I requested, and was granted the opportunity to attend Refrigeration and Air Conditioning school at NOB.


Consequently, when I returned to Denebola, the Chief Engineer placed me in charge of the Cargo Refrigeration Plant to cement my new found skills. I loved it! All the food you could eat anytime you wanted it. It was on the Denebola, that I acquired the nickname of "Mouse" because of my fondness for cheese. We had plenty in the cargo hold. Ice cream was a favorite also. And of course, sometime during replenishment, we dropped a case of steaks and were forced to "survey" them because they were not fit to send over to our customer. Good eating.


I was a crew member until the summer of 1964 when I was transferred to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in North Chicago for duty as a Company Commander and recruit classroom instructor. I tried to get the Captain to rescind my orders, but he told me we were top-heavy with MM1's (by this time, most of the MM2's had made E-6) and beside they were Bureau orders and could not be cancelled. So, very reluctantly, I departed the USS Denebola for further adventures in the Navy.


Submitted by Earl R. Simonin