Ex-Midshipman Harold DeMoss recalls a 1956 hitch on the Robbie
Although I have many memories of events aboard a ship during training cruises--it is difficult to remember whether a particular event happened aboard the USS Missouri, or the USS Robinson. On both ships, regular ships personnel had to be off-loaded to accommodate the Midshipmen.
I would guess that perhaps 500 enlisted men went on extended shore leave from the Missouri, and perhaps 50 from the Robinson. Of course that meant that the Midshipmen had to perform all the seagoing duties that the normal ships personnel did. I was on the Robinson the summer of 1956, and the Missouri the summer of 1954. (During one exercise, all four of the Iowa class battleships steamed in formation, the only time in history--Missouri, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Iowa). Since we had displaced regular ships company on the Robinson, we had regular duties during the day, plus the 4-on and 4-off during the 24 hr day. This pattern played hell with your sleep when you had the midwatch.
The Naval ROTC program which had units at perhaps 20 to 30 colleges was to supplement the US Naval Academy in supplying officers to the Navy. The summer training cruises had both ROTC and Naval Academy Midshipmen together with no distinction between them. The training cruises lasted about 2 months, boarding the ships at Norfolk, going to either France, England, or Denmark, then to Gitmo for gun firing practice. I really can't remember what my general quarters station was on the Robinson. I remember sleeping during 5-inch gun firing practice however.
On the Robinson, the uniform of the day was dungarees, whereas whites was the order of the day on the Missouri. On both ships I remember refueling from tankers, transferring personnel from one ship to another--with 20 or 30 Midshipmen pulling on the lines. Of course on the Robinson, with steel decks we only had to sweep and hose down. The O-1 level on the Missouri had a wooden deck, so we had to "holy-stone" the deck. What fun! I did get to polish the plaque on the deck where the Japanese surrender ceremony took place.
All this was a long time ago, and now I look back and wonder--I guess being young, I didn't realize how hard I worked. At 69 years of age now, I couldn't do it.
I don't think this short remembrance adds much to the legacy of the Robinson; every officer and enlisted man had these experiences also. But looking back on it, it was fun.
--- Harold G DeMoss
Editor's Note: Harold was commissioned Ensign in 1957 and flew transports for the Navy until he resigned his commission in 1964, hired on as a pilot with PanAm and retired fully in 1989. He is now an avid researcher of WWII, which lead to his discovery of our Robbie Site.