1968 - 1970
site is wonderful and sure does bring back a lot of memories. My name is Bob
Hickman. I was a watch officer (Ensign, then LTJG) at the NAVFAC from 12/68 thru
06/70. Those were interesting and turbulent times. I haven't noticed too many
names on your site that correspond to my tour of duty nestled in the Bosom of
Mae West. There seem to be a lot
from the 40's, 50's, and early 60's - and then a lot from mid 70's and beyond
(when the NAVFAC was the only thing left).
someone else has already pointed out, the BOQ (the Argentia Hilton) dates from
1957, when it was home to all of the "zoomies" (a term of endearment
to me, not derision) flying the early warning radar flights over the deep blue
Atlantic. When I arrived (12/68, after a brief stay at Fleet SONAR
School in Key West) the BOQ was largely empty! There were only a few
dozen bachelor officers, representing the NAVFAC, the Naval Station, the
NAVCOMSTA, and a VP detachment (VP-8 or VP-11 if memory serves).
The bachelor officers occupied levels 3 and 4 of the building, with the
upper levels (5 thru 10) being mostly empty.
spite of our low numbers we had a good time at the BOQ. The BOQ Bar (on the 2nd
level) was a favorite hangout, run by Mr. Tommy Griffin (aka "Professor
Tommy"). George (who has been mentioned by several others) was also a
favorite barkeep, but at the time he usually worked at the O-Club down at the
bottom of the hill (which apparently became the O and Chief's Club later, after
6/70). The 2nd level of the BOQ
also housed the closed officers mess, which served some really good food
(especially a big breakfast after a long mid-watch at the NAVFAC).
the Spring of 1970 (after a major base reduction announcement) big changes were
in the works. The Enlisted bachelors moved from the Atlantic Charter Barracks to
the BOQ (now the BQ and everything else building). The closed officers mess
became the chow hall for all hands, and the infirmary moved to the BQ building
from the North Side. The bachelor officers who remained moved up to the 10th
floor at that time, and (sadly) Tommy's BOQ bar became history - but not before
we had a proper Irish Wake for the facility.
of my contemporaries at the NAVFAC included:
- CDR Earl J. Eckert
OPS, then XO - John T. McMahon
Research Officer - Mike Stoddard, then Gary Christ
Electronics Officer - Mike Taylor
Other OWO's and CDO's - Emmett P. Bonner, David M. Parish, William T. Pool, J.J. (Bud) Ohara, Mike Basedow, Bris Rogers, Mike Kinney, Roy Ryan
"Pro's from Dover" in my watch section included - OT1 Frank Harwood,
OT2 Phil Blauvelt, OT2 Lou Haskins, OT3 Winfred Ross, and others whose names
escape me. I saw Phil & Lou at the IUSSCAA 50th anniversary celebration (for
"The System") in Norfolk in September of 2004 - what a hoot!
CO of the Naval Station (the guy who signed my Argentia Foreign Legion
Certificate) was Captain Cornelius McCarthy.
of the real old timers (40's and 50's) may not have a clue what a NAVFAC is.
Suffice it to say that our mission
was similar to that of the VW Squadrons, but the medium was different (and quite
classified up until the early 90's). I'd like to invite those folks (and NAVFAC
veterans who are unaware of the site) to go visit ( www.iusscaa.org ) and learn
about what was going on (see the history link at that site).
There are also lots of pictures at the site, including some Argentia
contributions from me. I'll never forget when the access road to the TCH was
finally paved (summer of 1969)!
family has a bit of history relative to Argentia (and Newfoundland). My Dad (Russel
R. Hickman) retired as a CWO3 from the USCG in 1966. He made a few calls at
Argentia during and after WW2, serving on (amongst others) USS Millidgeville
(PF-94), USCGC Tampa (WPG-48), and USCGC Travis (WPC-153). From what Dad tells
me, I'm part Newfoundlander - apparently his Grandfather (or Great Grandfather)
emigrated to Maine from Newfoundland. I guess that explains all the Hickman's in
the Newfoundland phone book, and the Hickman Motors Chevy dealer in St. Johns).
hope someday to visit the rock again, but fully realizing that going back (in
space) doesn't take you back in time. As others have said, the implosion of the
"Q" was a sad event!
Bob Hickman ( email@example.com )