"I was a Petty Officer Second Class. I was actually stationed at N.A.S. Point Mugu as part of the Pacific Missile Test Center. I was what the Navy calls an AME, which is Navy speak for Aviation Structural Mechanic Aviators Survival Support Equipment Technician. I worked on aircraft ejection seats and cockpit air conditioning and pressurization and oxygen systems. I also took care of the missile liquid cooling systems for the AIM-54 missile, the ones that would, unfortunately, be the ones responsible for the the destruction of "the little ship" as I called her. I went aboard the U.S.S. Savage to salvage any equipment that might be of use to the AME Shop at N.A.S. Point Mugu. I went through most all of the spaces with a flashlight and a lot of 21 year old bullet proof mentality. What struck me most was when I was in one of the engineering spaces, I saw the color image of Pop Eye on one of the valve covers of one of the engines and I believe Olive Oyle and I think one of Wimpy. There also was the quarter deck podium with the ships emblem on it in the engineering space. The U.S.S. Savage was only one of the ships that I went on, that were tied up at the surface targets department pier at the Naval Station Port Hueneme. The other ship that I remember was the U.S.S. Porterfield a Fletcher class destroyer. The one that has always stuck in my memory, was the U.S.S. Savage. I have often wondered why "the little ship" stood out to me, it was just something that struck me as I walked her decks, she seemed to have a life about her, even though she was dark and quiet. She just seemed so darned proud sitting there at the pier, "the little ship" still prepared to do her duty, even in the final one that she would be asked to perform for the Navy and her country. After I separated from the U.S.N. I would check on the inter-net about "the little ship" and for years there was nothing, then a picture of her officers in blue uniform, but nothing was known about the picture and there was no re-union association. Then just a while ago, when I contacted you, was there this great site about "the little ship". I admit I hadn't checked in quiet a while but given that it was Memorial Day I thought I would check. I am glad that she is remembered, it always seemed important to me that she should be. I was able to salvage some mess trays from one of her store rooms, that went to a local Boy Scout troop in Oxnard, California. I had wanted to "salvage the quarter deck podium and one of the engine valve covers, the one with Pop Eye on it, but I couldn't justify to my shop Chief the expenditure of man hours and use of personnel, it has bothered me that I couldn't save them, it would have been nice for the personnel that had served on her if they could have had them. I am sorry even today that I couldn't have saved something from "the little ship". The mess trays did however make it to the Boys Scouts. Well, that's the recollections I have of the U.S.S. Savage, I hope they are of interest to her shipmates."
William "Bill" Shaw
09 July, 2006
"I wish that I did have some pictures of the U.S.S. Savage, but all I had at the time was a U.S. Navy flashlight and a U.S. Navy toolbox and usually only one helper with me. The Surface Targets Department at Port Hueneme may have pictures of her, or can tell you who to contact in the Navy, because all of the sinkings are well photographed. They also place camera's onboard to photograph the actual hits from an onboard prospective. I'm sure some of the photos are probably classified, but some, I'm sure, are not. They also used to take "before and after" photos of the ships, to document the various levels of damage, I'm afraid you might find some of those photos heart rending, I know I did. One of the things that the Navy did to the ships was to purge all of the fuel tanks and open up all the voids to make sure that there was no contaminants. They would also take all of the ships existing paper work, i.e. all blueprints with mods to that particular ship, her supply records and her daily deck logs and just dump them into the voids, to go with her to the bottom. I spent many hours reading deck logs about some of the ships and what they had gone through, if my Chief had found out he'd probably chewed me up one side and down the other. I don't remember a lot of the particulars now, but I think too that that is what probably caused the U.S.S. Savage to stick in my mind. I remember one destroyer, I can't remember her name, was commissioned in early 1945 and hit by kamakazi, repaired, and then put in mothballs. She remained in mothballs until she was opened up to be used as a target. She had only about eight months of actual usage, it was just heart rending. Most of the ships I would think of as just hull numbers. At first when I went aboard the U.S.S. Savage, I thought of her as a hull number too, but after about fifteen minutes on board her, I knew there was something different about "the little ship". It was as if she wanted you to know who she was, the podium with her seal on it, the painted images on her engine's valve covers, she seemed brighter on the inside than the "others", she just stood out. A ship that has had it's power and recirculating air systems shut off and has been closed for a long time and then opened, is dark and dank and very, very silent on the inside. If you turn off your flashlight, it's so dark you literally can't see your hand in front of your face. The Savage had her "dark" spaces, but she also had a lot of spaces that had light coming in, that too, I think, made her stand out. I remember that in the "others" the mess decks were all dark and quiet, but hers were light, from light coming in through her ports, she was just "different". I don't know if any of this means a whole lot to you, but, well, I just thought I'd share some of my memories of her and you asked about pictures, so maybe I gave you a possible source for some."
William "Bill" Shaw
10 July, 2006
[Many thanks to Bill for sharing his "Savage" memories. They are very much appreciated.]
"I served aboard many ships during my career, and all have been memorable for one reason or another. I joined the reserves in my 11th year of High School (Marshalltown Iowa) and went to Boot Camp and aboard the USS Farmington during the summer of 58. After Graduation, I went to ET ”A” School in Great Lakes then shipped into the Regular Navy. To get to Pearl Harbor and the Savage, I sailed aboard a flat bottom mud scow, call the USS Vernon County. That was two weeks of being Sea Sick 90% of the time. Needless to say I was wondering what I got myself into. A couple of days after arrival at PH, I was selected to help tie up the Savage and go aboard (in undress whites yet). This was in May of 60 and I left for Shore Duty in San Diego in September of 62. I shipped over in 64 and went aboard the USS Oklahoma City CLG-5, and headed for WestPac to take over as the 7th Fleet Flag Ship. I volunteered to go in country Viet Nam, and served on PBR’s in the Bassic River for a year. That is another story in itself. Shore Duty here in Bremerton, and then went aboard the USS Nashville as part of the Pre-Commissioning Crew. The ship was home ported in Norfolk Va. I made several cruise’s on her that included the Caribbean Ready Group, Mediterranean, North Atlantic Cruise (Middies on Board, and I was the CMAA, Lots of fun). Visited many Ports of Call, two week leave in Italy with my wife, Shore Patrol CPO in Athens (lots of fun with drunken Marines, and Sailors).
"It was nice to see a photo of my father leaning over the starboard wing of the bridge as they were maneuvering the ship. Very few of him exist and all of mine were destroyed in hurricane Wilma here in Key West a few years ago. I was underway aboard the ship in 1968 for the "Tora! Tora! Tora!" filming and I have my own anecdotes to share with you regarding that experience.
...Long after she was decommissioned, I myself was serving aboard USS TARAWA (LHA-1) in San Diego. We had gone to drydock in Long Beach and from the flight deck I could see three unusual sights: "The Love Boat" departing from across the harbor at San Pedro....and on a distant outer mole with restricted access: the submarine painted pink being filmed in the then-TV show "Operation Petticoat..and just beyond her the SAVAGE was moored unmistakably as her hull number 386 had not been painted out....a familiar sighting of an old friend who had seen better days but was still proudly afloat. I did not try to go aboard as it was a restricted area although I surely would have liked to.
...I was 13 years old when my father was the captain of the SAVAGE and I was aboard the ship on many, many occasions and I recall the tiny Ship's Library quite well and going aboard always that unique smell that accompanied her ....a mixture of Navy Special Fuel Oil, fresh paint, and live steam that will always be etched in my memory.
Back to West Coast for ET ”B” School at T.I. San Fran. Assigned Instructor Duty there, and help move the School to San Diego Naval Station. For my last Cruise, I had a choice between Staff Duty with Carrier Group 1 (Bird Farms), or go aboard the “Best in the West” USS Towers DDG-9. NOTE: The Detailer turned out to be a former Ship Mate and had already cut orders to the Towers, knowing very well what I would pick. She is a Charles Adams Class DDG, known to be Clean, Fast, and very dangerous to the enemy. She along with her sister ships have quite a history in the Western Pacific, especially during the Viet Nam era. The USS Turner Joy, a Bremerton attraction, is basically the same Hull and lay out. A lot of DDG’s were converted from the same class as the Turner Joy. Others were from the same class as the famous BLDG 3 in PH. This was the name we gave the John S. McCain DL-3, also converted to a DDG.
Although this a brief history of my career, I could probable fill a book, about the fine ships I served on, the CO's I served under, Capt Penniston for example, and the men I worked for, worked with, and Supervised. I joined the Navy with Two goals in mind, and that was to retired off a Ship, which turned out to be the USS Towers, and to make Chief, which happened in Oct. 67. I had made these goals when I retired in June of 80. I had fun, visited a lot of countries, and most importantly, made a lot of life time friends.
I was selected as Savage of the Month in Feb. 62 and still have the Flag that was given to me."
[Thomas Schmidt, ETR3 05/1960 - 10/1962. Added 23 January, 2009 - many thanks Tom for these memories.]
Joseph S. Buggy,III
DOD: 22 Mar 2019
...At that time, I was learning how to scuba dive and the unofficial ship's diver, I believe he was a machinist's mate 3rd class, and I know his last name was Shoppe (pronounced Shop-E) was my dive buddy for the class as my dad had sent him to get certified as well. He took good care of me as his classmate and I have thought of him often over the years and wondered what became of him but I see no record of him on the website. Maybe some of the guys might know.
...I still have a SAVAGE enameled belt buckle, one of the long ones, in perfect condition. Although it is my habit to wear military-style web belts daily I would never put any wear and tear on it. The least I can do is send you a nice photo of it for your memorabilia section if you would like.
...By the way, there was a "60 Minutes" segment on the SAVAGE regarding the controversial use (at that time) for participation In "Tora! Tora! Tora!" at that time and at some point I will try to contact them on the possibility of locating that footage as it was filmed aboard the ship with Mike Wallace interviewing my dad and another junior officer.
...I am 51 years old now and I want to thank you for keeping alive some of my favorite memories. Please feel free to disseminate and share my message with the crew if you choose and you have my permission to include my email address."
[contributed by Joseph S. Buggy, III, son Captain Joseph S. Buggy - September 1968 - October 1969. Added 23 January, 2009 - Joe, these memories are priceless, many thanks.]
Dear Fellow Savage Shipmates:
My name is Ron Bobbitt. I was on board the Savage from 1964 to 1966. I came aboard an SK2 and left an SK1, I worked under Tom Berens in S-1 Division. Our Supply Officer was LTJG Dooley.
When I first came aboard, we were deploying in 30 day increments: 30 days in Pearl Harbor an d 30 days operating in the North Pacific. Our prime duty was to "listen-in" on the Russians while we monitored them from the "Dew-Line" (Distant Early Warning System). While on station, all we did was "drill holes" in the Pacific day after day, which was very tedious and boring. We had to manufacture things to do to keep from going crazy. We had movies every night, and if the water was extremely rough (which was regularly), we had movies on the mess deck during the day also. We had plenty of "Casino Nights" to lose some money (where else are you going to spend it)? A lot of times, it was too rough to "turn to," so we would just hold on as best we could and play cards, and at night we would use our "bunk straps" and try to catch a couple of hours of "Z's."
The evaporators were not the best in the fleet either, 50 percent of the time, we had to drink "bug
juice" out of paper cups and eat "horse you-know-what" on paper plates. We would sometimes go without showers and just wash our faces and brush our teeth with fresh water. And when we did get to take showers, of course, we only had two minutes to perform a real quick: wet down, soap down, and rinse off. And of course all your buddies were timing you! Once we were on station, we were rarely left unscheduled.
I know of only twice that we had to leave our station and both times were for medical emergencies for crew members who were hurt pretty bad. If we needed parts, an airplane would parachute them down to us and we would grapple them out of the water. We went "dead-in-the-water" more than once and those were scary, especially in the middle of the night when everything was silent. It didn't take us long to get topside!
We had made our last deployment and the Savage was going to be scrapped in Viejo, California. We all had orders except for the skeleton crew, who were going to ride her to the Mainland. We were all happy and looking forward to our new ships. Then, the Maddux Crisis happened and all of our orders were cancelled. Off we went to Vietnam to serve in Operation Game Warden, which meant that we cruised along the coast-line in search of arms and munitions and shore bombardment. We had to stop, board, and search any suspected junks that the Vietnamese Navy identified. Most of the junks carried entire families who lived on board their tiny boats. The night boarding was the most nerve-wracking. We would come along side of the junks and tie them up alongside the fantail whether they wanted to or not, and then board and search them. After we boarded, and if they were "clean," we would give them a 50 pound bag of rice as a gesture of good will, but they had been told by the VC that it was poison, and when we were gone we would watch them in our binoculars throw it over the side. We also did a lot of shore bombardment along the coast line. We were told after our bombardments what damage we did. We were told that we killed many VC and did major damage because of our bombardment accuracy. We would do this hour after hour and pretty soon, you got used to the "teeth banging" noise and could get some sleep. One time, a guy opened the hatch to the aft 5" 52 mount, and after a couple of rounds, all the mirrors in the aft head were shattered! He sure caught hell!!
We pulled into Subic Bay many times and we all looked forward to our next trip. How can you forget the: Monkey Meat Hot Dogs and BBQ monkey on a stick; Lumpia, and San Miguel Beer in Olongapo? A retired U. S. Navy Cook called "Duck" owned a bar in Olongapo called "The Seaman's Inn," he sold the coldest and cheapest San Miguel Beer in Olongapo. Unspeakable things for "non-sailors" went on inside this place! I being a "regulation sailor," was a regular fixture, just to keep other sailors out of trouble, of course! The "East-End" Club wasn't too shabby either!
I have many fond memories while on board the Savage and wish that I could be there to reminisce some more with you face-to-face. But, I know that you guys will "carry-on" and will be swapping "sea-stories" and telling many, many lies into the wee hours of the night. Please feel free to writer to me anytime. I want to thank you for allowing me to share some memories with you. I'll be thinking of you and wish you all "fair winds and following seas."
1964 - 1966