USS New Orleans LPH-11
The old tub is dead.
But memories live on.
Another day another war game. An easy one. Defend southern California from an Invading Commie Horde ™.
It was the Cold War era and the Commies were the enemy of choice.
Many ships involved in the war game.
I suppose our LPH (landing platform helicopter) was out wandering around amongst the real aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and submarines because we did have weapons that could attack and sink foes.
A LPH is a “gator freighter.” An amphibious assault ship. Yes, it IS a warship but “amphibs” are, generally, a highly-specialized ship-type.
However, the LPH with its ability to deploy attack-type helicopters (helos) and Harrier jump jets did make us a rather potent weapon of mayhem, destruction, etc.
I wonder how much damage the Marines could inflict with their hand-held and crew-served weapons against other ships?
We could haul over 2,000 of those crazed warrior-types along with 667 semi-sane sailors.
New Orleans “moth balled” (in reserve, not used)
A week or so after the war game started, as part of the exercise, we rushed into San Diego harbor to refuel, replenish food and ammunition and other stuff.
A lucky few were granted 4-hour liberty; enough time to rush over to the North Island base enlisted mens club and guzzle a few beers.
I was not one of those few.
But, I was near the brow (gang-plank for you landlubbers but us salty squids never used the gang-plank term) when the ambulances arrived bringing a few of those 4-hour liberty guys back; the ones from our division among the injured.
Onlookers did what they do best; look.
A few of the injured required assistance to get aboard but most walked aboard. Or hobbled.
All showed injuries, bloody noses, scrapes and abrasions.
One of the injured was a semi-friend so I approached him to “get the skinny” (the story behind the event).
“Obbop (my screen name wasn’t used by folks at that time but it works here), we were drinking in the club. Some SEALs came in. (The base we were at was also used by SEALs ; for basic and advanced SEAL training). I admit we got mouthy but I don’t know who threw the first punch.”
“How many SEALs were there?” “Three.”
He continued, telling me that the 11 sailors may not have landed a single decent blow against the SEALs, other than the sailor-thrown initial strike that started the fracas.
“Obbop… those three guys stomped us!!!”
The guy I was talking to was a BIG farm-boy from Illinois who had shown immense natural and labor-created strength while working aboard ship.
I would not state that any of our sailors were wimps; all were fairly “salty” and I believe were more than a match for the average civilian of that era and even tougher when compared to the typical youth of Generations X, Y and Z that followed us Boomers. Various reasons but I believe that, on average, us Boomers were more prone to physical activity than later generations.
Anyway– three SEALs whipped 11 squids.
Not too shabby but not surprising.
Anybody that completes SEAL training is physically fit, very well-trained in rendering an opponent dysfunctional and another very important consideration; self-confident and that, if one fights, to strike hard, quick and often until the foe can not fight back.
If any other group had whipped our guys our returning defeated warriors would have been subjected to at least some ridicule.
But when the word got out that it was the SEALs that whipped them, well, THAT was different.
Foolish for having even started the fight but no shame in being bested by SEALs, even at four-to-one odds in the sailor’s favor.