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I was a helicopter pilot with HC-4 out of Lakehurst, NJ. On Wednesday, October 6, 1965 I was on temporary duty at Norfolk when NAS Norfolk got a distress call from the duty officer at Atlantic Fleet. The USS Compass Island had a medical emergency. A CPO was seriously ill and needed immediate med-evac to Norfolk. My fellow pilot, Bob McCauley, and I took off in our Kaman UH-2B. We had no idea what type ship the Compass Island was, whether it had a flight deck and what they had for radios. It was night. It was raining. We got a bearing and distance from Norfolk. We had a course and speed for the ship which was West. They were coming to meet us. When we were almost to the intended location we had no radio contact with the ship. We descended down to 500 feet. Somebody on the ship had a good idea and they shined a really big spotlight straight up. We soon saw a glow in the distance. Then it became a light beam.

We anticipated hoisting the patient to our helicopter. Then we flew over the ship and saw that tiny flight deck and lots of space forward of the flight deck. There was all kinds of room. We landed and the crew passed us a Stokes litter with the Chief all wrapped up in blankets. Our door closed and the Chief was in a warm cabin. We didn't know your standard procedures, but we did know you had no jet fuel aboard. We checked that there were no tie-down chains attached to our helicopter and took off for Norfolk. The time on deck was less than a minute.

In such situations it is tempting to go flat out, full speed to get there as soon as possible, but that burns a lot of fuel. You don't want to run out of fuel five miles off the beach. We flew at maximum range power settings until we had it made, then kicked it into high gear. We landed with the low fuel light on. An ambulance was waiting and the Chief survived his medical emergency. I have no idea what the Chief's name was. I'm not sure what his emergency was; appendicitis., pneumonia? Don't know.

I was researching something on HC-4 last night and saw the USS Compass Island in my logbook. That flight MAY have been the longest distance rescue by a UH-2B at the time. We had two external fuel tanks and we were topped off when we left Norfolk. The local Kaman Tech Rep heard about our rescue of your Chief and Kaman Aircraft Corp. awarded our crew the Winged K which is for saving a life with a Kaman helicopter.

I went on to fly 556 missions with HA(L)-3 in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

I just Googled USS Compass Island, got this E-mail address and hope this one incident contributes to your ship's history. Island.html

Have a fine Navy day!

///, ////
\ /, / >./ For those that have fought for it,
\ /, _/ /. Freedom has a flavor the protected
\_ /_/ /. will never know.
\__/_ <
/<<< \_\_ Roger W. Ek
/,)^>>_._ \ Seawolf 25 VHPA 3377
(/ \\ /\\\ Gentleman Flyer of the Delta
// ```` China Post #1, AL, In Exile VVAK
====((`===== OWLS Molon Labe

Hi Frank -
     I was on board the CI from May, 1963 to May, 1965.  I was on the deck force as a Seaman, went into the Navigation Division and became a QM3 and ultimately, after leaving the ship, a QM2.  When I reported aboard, there was a Captain Ball just prior to Captain Jones who is not listed.  I'm not sure of the dates - I'm sure it is in the record somewhere.  I experienced Captains Ball, Jones and Chimek - all great leaders and men - while in N Division.
     Your site is incredible!  Thanks so much for creating it!  If I can help recall anything during the years of 1963-65, I'd be glad to.  There was a time when the sea was at a dead calm when three whales hit us - one on the bow, one amidships and one through the screw.  The ship vibrated badly all the way back to the Brooklyn Navy Yard - where she immediately went in to drydock!  There was another time that a large bird of some type - nowhere near land - that sat on one of the yardarms and literally attacked the lookouts at night for a few nights.  Then disappeared.  Strange happenings!   
Tom Gould
I served on the CI from '61-64. Left as ETR3. Was in the Special Projects division. I remember Capt. George C. Ball since he went on to be Undersecretary of State under Nixon. I remember the Polaris Missile testing from Cape Canaveral where we all took hundreds of pictures and then the MA confiscated our cameras! I remember being off Cube when the blockade was declared and we steamed to Bermuda and waited out the time. You have the rescue of the Curlew, any pictures? I was one of the guys who hauled the Curlew's crew over the side from the cargo net. I donated (along with several others) some clothes to those guys. They promised all of us free cruises on the Curlew if we ever made it to the Bahamas. As for the picture of the model kit, I never saw any missile launchers or guns on board the entire time I was a crew member. I think that kit is bogus or at least not during my time.

I have so many fond memories ( and a few not so fond) of my time there. If it hadn't been for Chief Joe Love taking an interest in me I would never have made my crow. He and Chief Pennington were not typical of Navy Chiefs, they actually had an interest in the SP division crew. The computers and GPS devices were state-of-the-art then, today, my cell phone has more intelligence than the NAVDAC computer! I remember "loosing" a bathythermagraph off the fantail winch, having to wake the chief at 0200. He was pissed and told me to be more careful. I said I would be and promptly went back to the fantail and hooked up the spare, which I promptly wrapped around the boom and it flew into the sea. When I re-woke him at 0300 he was speechless. For the next 3 months I was Chiefs Mess Cook! I keep in touch with two of my shipmates, Mike Meyers (who is a heart transplant recipient) and Ken Wollmer who lives here in the Phoenix area.

The CI days represent one of the best times in my life. the ship was a good feeder and a great place to learn. My only complaint would be that rarely went anywhere except to sea for 90 days and then back to Brooklyn. Puerto Rico, New Orleans, and Bermuda were the only ports in 3.5 years. If any of my shipmates would like to get in touch they can reach me at

Frank. I trust this will get to you, please post it on the comment site. I was proud to serve on the CI, and to this day, 44 years later, I can see her steaming out to sea with me standing on the pier with my discharge papers and watching "my home" sail away!.


Roger Schindler (ETR3) '61 - 64

My name is Joe Hughes...served aboard CI 67-71....I have a few photo's, not a lot...would love to hear from some of the old guy's.
Joe Hughes
Police Department
Polygraph Supervisor


I came across your page on the Compass Island.   I was on board 1973 to 1974 in the ET group.  Not sure if I have the cruise book that you are looking for.  When I was onboard we did cruises along the eastern seaboard mostly.  I lived in Manhattan and rode my bike to the ship each day from East 61st Street.  I was the guy who started to bike craze onboard and after bringing my bike on several trips everyone was buying them and keeping them onboard.  Once they saw that I could beat them all into town when we docked that was the beginning of it all.

I have attached a picture of me getting my crow on the Compass Island.  The other one is of the Compass Island next to the Brooklyn – Super Tanker that was being build in the old Brooklyn Navy yard.  I remember this because we had freak wind storm come up and the Brooklyn start to break away from her dock and was headed for the CI.  With the help of some tugs and additional line they were able to get her back to her dock.

If you have any information on the guys that were onboard when I was I would really appreciate it.

Best Regards,

Gary D. Smith

Hey Frank...also I ran into Capt Mace in Hattiesburg MS after he retired. He was working at the USM Post Office on campus. We had a good conversation about Gitmo days and our visit to Montserrat in 76 I believe. That picture that I sent of the two sailors sitting around were taken at Montserrat. that volcano in the background has errupted since then and they said that it did a lot of damage, but the time has passed and it is probably grown back. It was a beautiful island.

Let me hear from you sometime and send some pictures that you might have of your days on the CI.

Jakie Brent

Thank you all for your service.
Joe D'Ambrozio

----- Original Message -----
From: Jakie Brent
Date: Sunday, May 25, 2008 8:44 am
To: Frank Cox , Harold Wes Dillard , Bill Dexter , Chuck Bodiford , "Claudio N. Nunez" , Darrell Crafton , Dave Meados , Joe D'Ambrozio , Joseph Dattoli , "Lyle E. Jones" , Michael J Veraldi , Ralph DaSilva 

> Hey you guys! Just wanted ya'll too know that I was thinking of
> ya'll the day before the Holiday..Let's remember all who have
> served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom's that
> alot of times we neglect and disrespect what they have done for
> us. And thank you all for the sacrifices that each of you have
> made for our country.
> Jakie/Bill
Hey you guys! Just wanted ya'll too know that I was thinking of ya'll the day before the Holiday..Let's remember all who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom's that alot of times we neglect and disrespect what they have done for us. And thank you all for the sacrifices that each of you have made for our country.
I served aboard the CI from November of 1972 until August of 1974. I was an electronics technician assigned to the Ops Division. Worked on the Loran Alpha gear and the old R390 radio receivers for the most part. Stood radar watches when the ship was underway.
My last big cruise with the CI was in April of 1974. We left Charleston, steamed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, then across the pond to Bergen, Norway, where we were tied up for some time calibrating equipment. Then it was on to Rota, Spain, and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands before returning to Charleston.
I have the original commissioning booklet for the CI, circa 1956, which indicates that the ship made a far east cruise as merchantman and then was laid up in reserve by the Maritime Administration until the navy acquired her and refitted her as the Compass Island.
I've read Scorpion Down, which details the CI's role in the search for the submarine lost off the Azores back in 1967. I also understand that the CI helped in the hunt for the Thresher.
There's a blurb on the Web regarding the CI's rescue of the schooner Curlew in November of 1962 off Bermuda. If you google Compass Island and Curlew, you should find it.
Like what you're doing with the CI page.
Wade Fowler

Frank, I served on the CI from 72 to 74. Started out in Deck, ran the ship's store, and ended up as Deck Yeoman. Your website has lots of info on the CI. Recent posting on Military,Com has the CI being cut up in June. I have some pictures from cruise and cruise book from APR 74 toJUL 74 cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Bergen, Norway, Rota, Spain, and Los Palmos, Canary Islands. My E-Mail address is

Sincerely, Robert McGee

I served on the CI from June 1966- March 1970.  I have been trying for years to find a cruise book made during that period.  I know there was one made of a European Cruise we made in 1967. 
 Could you possible be of any assistance to me? 
By the way, there is a new book out about the Scorpion and it covers the role of the CI.  I don't know the title yet; however a friend of mine that was there with me has a copy. If you are interested please let me know

John Davis.


I have alot of photos, I just have to dig them up. I will scan them and send then to you. Great job on the site . I will stay in touch.

Joe Kristofik DC3 / HT3


MM2 Moe Goodell remember me left CI for the Sierra in 75.. Moe

Maurice Goodell

Frank, it looks like she could use a paint job. It looked better when we were aboard.
Thanks for the pictures.
Craig Simpson