Save Kawishiwi: June 5, 2007
I read the story on the "Former Sailor Dreams of Saving His Old Ship". I personally know Vern Bouwman, as he organized the 2005 Kawishwi reunion in San Francisco, and he did a GREAT job of it, too. Many former Kawishiwi crew members have the highest of respect for Vern, and of course, all of us love our old ship, USS Kawishiwi, or the "K", as many of us know her.
When all the crew members that attended the 2005 reunion sailed up to Suisin Bay on the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, to view the "K" and many other ships there, you could've heard a pin drop, as seeing these old "Warriors", was a sad event. When I looked at the "K" on that day, without a person on it, I was reminded of the action packed days whe the ship was in service, with a complement of approx. 300 sailors, getting up early in the morning, or late at night, for underway replenishments of different ships out at sea, which could last 4-5hours, or more, depending on how many ships we would refuel. We all hope that you might be able to help us with this cause, and please forward this email to Sen. Murray. Saving one ship means a lot to many, either directly or indirectly.
I served on Kawishiwi from 1960-1962, and my job was as a Radarman. I now live in Tucson, Arizona, but still relive the times I spent on Kawishiwi, on a daily basis. There has to be something that can be done with this ship, as it is still useful in many ways; we cannot allow this or many other ships, to just rust away, and then be towed out to sea and sunk. SAVE THE KAWISHIWI!!
Douglas, Arizona is Hector's home town; He lived on 19th Street. He had a cowboy star as a near neighbor; the WMA Hall of Fame Member of 1997, Stan Jones; who lived on 15th Street. Stan was author of "Ghost Riders in the Sky"; a favorite song of Hector's. View Stan Jones history. Read "HECTORS MEMORIES". A cousin in WWII.
2011 note: There was an old Army Air Corps Base just outside of Douglas when I was a child. The location is now called the Bisbee/Douglas Int'l Airport,since the govt. left after WWII ended. You can see the runways are still there and the outline of building foundations that were in use during it's heyday. There are actually about 3-4 original plane hangars still in use. Those are visible between the prison and the runways to the west. I worked at the Douglas prison back in 1990/1991. I dop't know how good the old runways are mantained, but they are long enough to accomodate any modern planes. The airport is still used, but mainly by small planes.
While still in High School, Hector was a member of the Naval Reserve Unit in Douglas, AZ.
Went on active duty, after graduation. Hector reported to the Receiving Station in San Diego. He requested Radar School and was sent to Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay and received twenty weeks training in Radar. Upon graduation, he was assigned to and reported on board USS Kawishiwi AO-146 in Pearl Harbor, her home port. He served under Captains Joyce Seymour and L.R. Vasey. During his time on Kawishiwi, Hector was on two deployments to West Pac. He attained the rank of Radarman 2 during his time of service and on June of 1962 he was discharged and returned home to Arizona.
Currently Hector works around the yard, does a lot of walking for exercise and watches a lot of sports.
John Strom is an old school buddy of mine who lives in Calif. and is a retired Sherrif's Deputy- I haven't seen him in 47 yrs. He was in the Air Force and after he was discharged hired on with the L.A. Sherrif's Dept.; he had the luck(?) of having to be involved in the control of the famous "Watts" riots in the early 60's in L.A. He lives in the Victorville area of Calif., out in the desert, and is an outdoorsman- he likes to go four wheeling in a jeep he has. John has a younger brother, Larry Strom, who has a great blogspot about growing up in Douglas, Az., our hometown. Check another site out by Paul Nichols; it's http://douglasaz.blogspot.com Larry sure made it good as far as good memories about growing up in Douglas. Larry now lives in Prescott, Az. and is a motorcycle enthusiast.
In Douglas, 15th takes you out to the east part of town where the high school, a middle school, and an elementary school is at. After 15th extends past the Municipal airport, it changes names and it becomes "Geronimo Trail". this takes you all the way to the New Mexico border (all dirt road once you leave Douglas). About 15 miles after you leave Douglas on this road, you hit the old John Slaughter Ranch(Cochise County Sheriff back in the 1800's). It is now a museum. When I was a kid, my buddies and I would go about 5-6 miles east of Douglas on this road, and then we would go in off the road; we would find arrowheads,cavalry buttons,indian grinding bowls, etc. This was because in the old days, the Apache Chief Geronimo lived in the Chiricahua Mountains with his tribe, just north of Douglas, and when the cavalry would chase him, he would run south into Mexico, which is right across from Douglas, and the cavalry woukd have to stop at the border.
I have a friend who still lives in Douglas who was more of an outdoorsman than me, and he had a footlocker filled with arrowheads, cavalry buttons,silverware with the govt. intials stamped into it, grinding stones, and even human skulls(maybe indian or cavalry) that he would find while out in the desert, and all of this he had in his bedroom, locked securely- his brother had the same thing. This friend now has an old antique shop in Douglas named "The Rustic". Geronimo is buried in Oklahoma,where he was put on a reservation after he was captured, but the Arizona Apaches have been trying forever to bring him back to Ariz. to be buried in the land he loved. The other Apache Chief, Cochise, who was also a Chiricahua Apache, like Geronimo, died while free, but no one to this day knows where his body is buried. The cavalry could never capture him 'cause he had a place in the Dragoon Mountains, just north of Tombstone, where he and his warriors would hide and this was/is called Cochise Stronghold(very rugged and steep cliffs). Many stories exist on how/where he died, and where his warriors buried him, but they're all theory.The one that makes more sense to me is one where they say that when he died, his warriors buried him in the valley between Tombstone and the Dragoon Mts.(about 15 miles apart) and that after they buried him, they then ran hundreds of horses back and forth over his grave, so that even after they stopped the horses from running, even the warriors that had just burried him could not tell where the spot was. There is so much history in Cochise County it's unbelievable.
Calvary Cemetery is where Stan Jones is buried. One of the small roads in the cemetery is named after him,as is another one for Marty Robbins, who would visit Douglas many times, as he had a sister who lived there.
John Slaughter died Feb. 16, 1922 (81) buried in Calvary Cemetery, Douglas, Arizona (Cochise County, Arizona Sheriff 1886).
Then there is the Gadsden Ghost.
Toilets in Japan when I was on the "K": Up to date houses had inside toilets, but it was just an outhouse inside the house. There were no sewer lines, so every once in a while, " Binjo Cleaners" had to come in and scoop up all the crap from the bottom of the hole. They were two man teams, and one guy would drop down into all the crap with waist high rubber boots and a bucket and shovel. He would then put all the crap into a bucket, and his buddy topside would pull out the bucket with a rope attached, take it outside, and dump it in an open sewer drain that ran in the neighborhoods, with water constantly running to take the sewage to a sewage plant. It was a smelly sight all the time; the partners would take turns dropping down into the toilets to clean them out. How good the pay was I never knew.
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