USS Skagit Family Gram
1967 WestPac Cruise
Greetings From Sasebo, Japan
Since I last wrote, many things have happened which may be of interest to you.
We found it necessary to remain here in Japan for installation of a new fifteen ton propeller. The work has taken longer than expected, but it has progressed smoothly and will soon be completed. The old propeller had developed several fatigue cracks and needed to be replaced.
Our Deck force has been busy painting the ship and doing general repair work. The Engineering department has really "turned to" on improving safety features throughout the ship. In time of
an emergency or actual battle, proper safety features are a must, and it is important that we keep SKAGIT up to par in this area.
A more effective training program has been instituted whereby every man is exposed to,or enrolled in continued training. This training is conducted by competent leading petty officers with officer supervision and covers a wide area from naval law to the proper maintenance of a manual typewriter. In addition, men who were not graduated from high school have been encouraged to complete what we call General Educational and Development tests, which are accepted by most states as the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Every morning in port we have conducted an "all hands" physical fitness program. The crew musters alongside the dry-dock to do push-ups, jumping jacks, and other leg and arm-building exercises~ This is a concentrated effort by all hands, and has been widely accepted by everyone. Aside from doing our callisthenics each morning our "Vic Tanny's" (shipboard gym) now has more people working out than ever before. The men deserve your support for a continued effort along both physical and mental lines.
When our workload permits, we play inter-divisional softball games on a nearby Japanese softball field. In Japan baseball is also a national favorite, and many of our games have attracted crowds of Japanese shipyard workers. Our playing has also exposed some previously undiscovered softball talent on board, and the ship's varsity team will undoubtedly be the better because of this.
In late July we held an "all hands" ship's party at a very nice Japanese hotel just outside Sasebo. We held it on two consecutive nights to insure that those men in the duty section, who had to remain on board the first night, could have the opportunity of attending the second night. Of course, one of the three sections was able to attend both nights, and they thought the two parties were a great idea. There was a nice swimming pool on the patio just adjacent to the banquet room, and many men took advantage of this added attraction.
When the last rains generated by Typhoon Billie reached Sasebo, world headlines were made by the devastating results that followed. Water was polluted, hundreds of people were left homeless, many died, and the call went out for help. l am proud to say the men in SKAGIT dug into their pockets, just before payday, gave most generously to the flood relief fund in Sasebo.
One morning the Naval Hospital here in Sasebo called for emergency donors of a particular type of blood. Within minutes there were many SKAGIT men who responded and willingly gave a pint of their blood so that a young mother might live. I later found out that of all the ships in the harbor, SKAGIT was the first one to respond.
On the 16th of July, four of our men were promoted to petty officer status. We were very pleased with and proud of their outstanding accomplishment. I am forwarding appropriate notices of their achievements to their hometown newspapers so that their friends will be able to share this news. I have also written personal letters to their immediate families.
Last week the bi-annual advancement in rating examinations were given throughout the Navy. Approximately thirty percent of our crew participated. I am hopeful that each one will become a new SKAGIT petty officer in November.
Sightseeing in Japan has been excellent. Some of our personnel have gone as far as Tokyo, and returned saying it is as western as any city in the United States. They were very impressed with its size. The ship sponsored two trips to Nagasaki, where the second atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. Apparently very few Americans visit the city, for the people of Nagasaki were the ones, taking pictures of us, rather than the other way around.
Our stay here in Sasebo will soon come to a close. I am enclosing a map so that you may follow the route of SKAGIT through the Western Pacific. Keep the letters from home coming, as you have done so wonderfully so far. Again, I appreciate knowing that you are enjoying our family-grams, and you can be assured that as time permits they will be coming your way.
W. A. Mackey
Captain U. S. Navy