Proudly serving aboard the USS Savage as a FTG3 from 1965 – 1967 was Steve May. Steve grew
up in Youngstown, Ohio with parents who were both WWII veterans; his father a Sargent and his
mother served as Captain in the Army and a nurse. While his father did not speak much about the
war, Steve says his father is his hero and was active at the invasion of Pearl Harbor, The Battle of
the Bulge, D-Day at Normandy and the liberation of Berlin. Steve hopes to visit Normandy
someday to learn more about the experience of the day and the events that made his dad the hero
that he is. Steve’s younger brother was also in the military and served in Vietnam flying the P3
Orion. Steve’s son served in Desert Storm and his grandson is now considering joining the military.
Steve remembers the choice to serve in the Navy had a lot to do with his father’s influence. Steve
said that his father took him to the Navy Recruiter’s Office when he decided to join the service.
Steve joined the service soon after high school and trained at Fire and Control Technician School
in Bainbridge, MD where he received his Fire Controller Technician Striker naval rating, dealing
with gunfire control systems. Steve remembers boarding the ship in Pearl Harbor and fondly recalls
the crew of the USS Savage as a team with a dedication to purpose. Steve initially boarded the
ship as a Mess Cook for the first three months and remembers how grateful the crew was to have
a new person serving in the galley.
Steve eventually made it back to the Fire Control Team Steve where he was part of gunfire support
with the three-inch guns. He began using the Mark 63 Gun Fire System on the forward end of the
ship and the Mark 51 on the aft end of the ship. He recalls using the computer on the ship, which
in those days was completely an analog style computer. Steve remembers that he stood sonar and
bridge watches as well as Condition 1 watches at the fire control stations.
While serving on the ship, Steve recalls many fond memories. A particular memory he recalls was
a Christmas party on a small island in Viet Nam with just a few people living there. Some
shipmates spent their time water skiing while others enjoyed a pick-up game of baseball or
kickball. The “refreshments”, which was mostly San Miguel Beer, as well as the comradery of his
shipmates allowed everyone to loosen up and enjoy their free time together. While everyone was
enjoying the party, the attendees saw “Frenchie” with a carbine standing watch for the group.
Everyone wondered why he was up on the forecastle “fo’c’sle” of the Captains gig with the
carbine. Steve told them that Frenchie was watching for sharks. Thirty minutes later, Frenchie
started shooting! This of course got everyone’s immediate attention and everyone began to exit
the water immediately, only to have Frenchie announce, “Just kidding!”
He remembered the crew standing for Captain’s Inspection on the upper and lower decks in their
dress whites on Ford Island. Some of the engineers decided at that time to shake all the carbon out
of the stack. Upon doing so, they blew the carbon all over the crew standing there and many of the
crew had very dirty uniforms. The Captain was very upset, but knew it was not the crew’s fault.
He also recalled a time when the engineers were working hard to get the ship’ equipment ready to
go back to Viet Nam, but the ship had some significant engine and pump problems. They just did
not have time to get the ship cleaned properly and make it presentable enough for inspection. Steve
remembers that everyone on the ship ranked E-6 and below worked to clean up the mess, pumping
the grime out via the bilges and doing a lot of painting. Steve remembered when he was done, that
he could not get the diesel fuel off his hands as hard as he tried.
Steve disembarked in May of 1967. After leaving the ship, Steve enrolled in engineering school at
the local university and went to work for the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. He dedicated himself to
school eventually and went on to work as a Draftsman at a local company designing projects for a
facility constructing railroad cars. He worked here from 1968 through 1984. He progressed through
the ranks to become General Foreman and eventually the Plant Engineer over this facility. He
eventually moved to Texas with this company and retired after 35 years.
Steve now spends time with his 10 grand children attending all their sporting and educational
events as well traveling with his wife of 43 years, Patti. He and Patti have recently built their dream house in Argyle, Texas. Steve still communicates with a few former shipmates and truly enjoys recalling his time on the ship. Finally, Steve wants to acknowledge his shipmates who worked in Engineering and how hard they worked, no matter the conditions.
Quoted from Lake Charles Times - November 2019
written by Mike Burkhart, President, USS SAVAGE Reunion Association
[Photos most graciously contributed by Stephen Douglas May]