Jim Ostrich - SBU-13




Jim Ostrich, Operations Officer at SBU-13


06-20-07     Jim Ostrich     * The Water Buffalo's on Fire.............. Remember when we were boatless and I got us involved in shooting at the Camp Pendleton Ranges over drill weekends. One of those trips up I think we were towing a Water Buffalo behind the Deuce and a Half and the chase vehicle pulled alongside on I-5 N and was yelling something inaudible. The 3 of us in the cab finally figured out what they were yelling...."The Water Buffalo is ON FIRE".... I guess the brakes had locked up and we were dragging it along until the drums heated up the brakes and they caught on fire.

 * Hey sir, I think you ran that small car off the FWY with that lane change....... Not having 5 seconds of driving in a 3 axle truck, Senior Chief Ski and I went down to SPECWAR motor pool to "check out" some vehicles for our Camp Pendleton "Summer Camp". Remember Camp Schlongmaster? Well I had no idea how to drive a Deuce and a Half. Senior Chief didn't either, so as a fast thinking SELRES with a 30 second old GOVT Driver's License that I had YN3 Peterson "issue" to me, I went out to the truck and looked around... darn... no key visible.... so I went back into the office and said. Hey its been a "while" since I have driven the deuce can you just go over how to start it again...

Well we finally loaded up our tents all the guys and head out over the bridge and up I-5 to Camp Pendleton. Everyone in back was looking aft and looking at all the females in vehicles when someone poked their head under the canvas into the cab and was yelling something (it was impossible to hear). Ski was riding shotgun, I was driving, not sure who was in the middle. Anyway the word passed to me was: Hey sir, on that last lane change you ran some little car off the freeway into the iceplant....yikes .....

 * Camp Schlongmaster / IBS Beach Ops ......Remember when we had SBU-12 take us up to Camp Pendleton, conducted abandon ship drills and paddled the IBS's to the beach, to RON around the camp fire.... eating MRE's etc.

 * Tear Gas Training....... While at Camp P: Ski and I were trying to fill up the "training sked" when we decided to hold chem warfare training. We had some CS gas canisters, no gas masks and needed a place to hold the training. We found some Marines in "52 Area" that said we could use their "gas house". How long do you needed for sir?, they asked?

About 5-10 min for each group I said. The Marines said, We keep the Marines in the gas house PT'ing for at least 30 min, you Navy guys can only hack 5 minutes? We don't give our Navy guys gas masks, do the Marines? The SGT immediately tossed us the keys, grinning from ear to ear, with a good luck sir! Well it was probably a bad idea as our guys were scratching out their eyes, writhing in pain and foaming at the mouth. I forget who, maybe Doc, said, Sir I think the guys are dying?!?!?

 * Evanowski - Hit by a Grenade...... Range ops at Camp Pendleton again. I forgot who was shooting the Mk 19 Grenade launcher, but the MK19 tilted muzzle down when you were firing it, vs muzzle up, so the rounds walked IN toward you vs walking down range. Well since the Mk 19 had a slow rate of fire, once we all heard the rounds exploding and walking back in, I wondered how many rounds were in the air. No way to stop them. I think Lt Lipovsek and I were Range Safety Officers, when all of a sudden we hear: I'm hit, I'm hit and OS2 Evanowski goes down behind the firing line. Holy crap we killed somebody. Doc runs over and patches him up. Thank goodness he was wearing a flack jacket and helmet, or we would have been at Mast before the sun set. Next day (Sunday at Quarters) OS2 is wearing some kind of combat bandage as big as his neck, so everyone will ask "What the hell happened to you" and he can reply "Oh I was hit by a grenade".

 * Ammo Truck Fuel Explosion: I will never forget LT Bill Gray calling my back at "The Compound" and informing me that they had needed fuel in the ammo truck and they swore they thought it took MOGAS, as if was OD but a commercial stake truck. Unfortunately, when they started it up it exploded and shot flame out the exhaust pipe. He had them open the hood and confirm it had spark plugs....nope it didn't... it was a diesel..... ;-(

 * Lt Garn yacht club Sea Fox drag races...... Northern Hawk.... Our task was to play aggressors against SBU-11 up in the Puget Sound Area. We were to launch 2 Sea Foxes in the channel and they were to forward deploy and set up for some ambush /op. Less than 30 min after the boats were in the water the 1MC blares out LCDR Ostrich to the Captain's Cabin. Yes, we were in trouble already, and the Ft Fisher hadn't even tied up yet.......

Reports were the LT Garn was hauling ass (no where were just our OP'ing according to him later on) thru a civilian marina and destroyed many expensive sail boats etc etc etc.

 * The Big Bang....... I will let then LT Bauer tell this one, when the SEALs (I think out w/ LT Garn again ;-) were suppose to set of some C-4 explosion as part of a night OP on an island up on Northern Hawk. Well at the appropriate time the sky lit up like Hiroshima, there was an explosion that rivaled Mt St Helen's explosion. What was that????? How much C-4 did you guys set off. All we had..... I think was the response.

 * Secret Agent Man / SWCL Rat Patrol Ops in... SBU'11's skipper wanted to see how good his new FURUNO radars were against us (the bad guys) so we were suppose to ambush them if we could on an op. Details were sketchy and Puget Sound was huge so we sent in our "off duty boat crew" Lt Garn et al to buy beers for the off duty SBU -11 guys and get them to spill the plans.

We had the 2 Sea Foxes tied up at the Coast Guard pier across the channel and hourly we would "come up" on top of the breakwater and do a comm check and see if Lt Garn was able to get the plan and pass it on to us. His call sign was "SECRET AGENT MAN". He did get the plans and we did jump SBU-11 and the SEALS (LT Stankowitz) and we shot the crap out of them. They were all pissed off that we had ruined their attack on NAS Whidbey Island and they were going to put us on report etc etc. I remember telling LT Stan in his IBS that he couldn't put us on report.... He said "Why the hell not?" and I replied "Because you are all dead!"

 * Firefight abeam the Seattle Ferry...... On the way across the bay (we were slinking along next to the Puget Sound Ferry) we saw a couple of PBR's crossing the channel and couldn't help but shoot the crap out of them (and they us) there are probably a lot of people on the ferry that had no idea what was going on thru the windows!

 * Mini would be lost....... We can let then LT Andy tell the story of the sinking Mini ATC up at Northern Hawk

 * Ramming the Star of India....... Lt Andy.... Some of the PB Shifters would stick or hang up when changing from FWD to NEUTRAL to REVERSE. One day one of the PB's was practicing docking down at Grape Street pier (as it was cooler to be driving the boat with all the tourists watching vs. at NAB) and the throttles stuck sending the boat running down the length of the pier. Word got back to me at the Unit that the PB had rammed the Star of India.......

 * SBU 11 SFO Ops ---- EMCS Reyes Das Boot rewiring..... We had a 4 crew AT, with 2 crews taking up the PB's to SBU-11 and two crews returning them to NAB. All crews would be their at SBU-11 for a week to OP the boats. It was my first "solo" underway since qualifying. Senior Chief Reyes was on my crew, and no one had much experience at operating the boat. I remember we had no electrical power, no radios / comms etc and he spent the night down below ala Das Boot trying to get the power working again. He did but I don't remember how.

 * SBU 11 ---- Ooops we (almost) shot up a Coast Guard Cutter. underway...... One one of our same AT patrols we OP'd w/ no running lights and were trying to keep the SBU-11 guys from sneaking into the Bay at night (wasn't everything done at night) anyway we patrolled from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island. I remember seeing somebody hauling ass on radar so we moved in to blast them, and as we pulled up with all the .50's and M60's trained at the target boat, I noticed a BIG STRIPE across the bow and started yelling don't fire I think its the Coast Guard (it was).

 * Admiral Richards Grounding (almost).... in Morro Bay.... On the way back to NAB from SBU-11 LCDR Richards (later Admiral) and I (a LTjg) were arguing over who was going to drive it in to Morro Bay (neither of us had every been there) when he pulled rank and won. On the way in (he was driving) we start to feel a shudder as the boat was grounding (mud hopefully) and we backed off. Our Engineman, suited up and went over the side to report no damage (whew).

 * Santa Barbara Trip / LST on the beach..........Kill Japs....... I think ET2 Jeff Hunter, YN3 Peterson, and Mosely our Engineer? went up to Santa Barbara for the weekend to give the public rides. A storm was hitting San Diego all week and blew an LST up onto the Silver Strand right outside NAB. I had called the CO and talked my way into letting us all still go (seas were high) and we got the crap kicked out of us for 13 hours from SD to SB. Everyone was sick and when we finally tied up I got a case a beer at the store on the pier and we all drank it on the boat. I think it was legal. We ended up giving rides to the public and this guy in a walker tries to make it down the pier.

Being the OIC I tell the group we can't get that guy on the boat safely, but they tell me he is the President of the SB Navy League and we have to take him. I think YN3 Petersen or Jeff Hunter was there and I told them to wedge the guy in his walker between the chart table and the radar scope. Seas were still high and once we got out of the breakwater we would be pounding into the seas pretty hard. We idle out to the breakwater and then go to full throttle on all three engines across the sand bar and into the swells slamming the bow into the sea and taking water over the pilot house. Our passenger starts yelling out: Kill Japs, Kill Japs... I guess he was a WWII Vet and having flashbacks.

 * Lt Higgs PB Fire.......... We were halfway between SD and SCI when LT Higgs' boat start to trail smoke, lots of smoke. Realizing that SELRES couldn't be trusted the Active Guys would monitor our boat to boat frequencies back at NAB. I called LT Higgs and asked him what was going on as he was now DIW and smoking heavily. He reports he is having an "Engineering Circumstance" vs reporting that he was ON FIRE! So the Actives would ground us all from ever operating again. So I turned towards his muster all our guys with all the firefighting equipment that we could bring on deck and proceeded towards them. Maybe it was GMC Norris who had his head out the pilot house window and could see the XO (Lcdr Measel) on LT Higgs boat (on fire) yelling to us. I am thinking he is saying, glad you are hear, or save us Obie Wan something heroic anyway, but when I ask what the XO is saying, over the roar of the engines, our crew tells me, Mr Ostrich, he is saying you need to have your jacket zipped up on a 45 degree angle..........

 * Gunshoots at SCI....... We are headed out to SCI and someone spots a sailboard w/o a mast on the horizon. Maybe we can rescue the boat. We come alongside and its been at sea for a LONG time. Lots a barnacles etc etc. So we take it in tow and decide hey why not shoot at it, vs shooting at the water. Good idea. Sounds like more realistic training. So we get to SCI drop off the boat and shoot the crap out of it w/ 20mm, .50cal and M60's etc etc.. So what happens? Does it sink like the Titanic or any other good boat? No we blast it into a MILLION pieces of floating foam which litter the sea all around us. Oopps.....

Well we still have mortar rounds to shoot off...... SM3 Lipe enters the pilot house with a stiff leg. With all that is going on he might think I won't notice but I ask him what is wrong w/ your leg. Nothing sir is the answer. Hey what is that in your pant leg? Oh sir, its a dud mortar round, I was going to stow it below and take it home later..................... Yikes.... .Ok now we are out of mortar rounds... Hey sir, Can we shoot the star shells someone asks, .... Sure go ahead........ Well we are out of Star Shells so we are going to head back to Wilson Cove for the night when we hear BEAVER control reporting a vessel in distress off SCI. Holy cow we can be hero's -----write down the position --- got it ---- lets plot it quick --- we do --- there is a Torpedo Retriever coming out of Wilson Cove to rescue the vessel in distress. Let's get there FIRST..... so I look at the Torpedo Retriever now coming around the island, the vessel's reported distress position and our position. I don't see the vessel in distress which should be right next us.... .Hmmmmm..... Well lets wait the TR is almost next to us. So they hail the vessel in distress but there is no answer its only them and us, so I call them up. Are you alright they ask us? Sure where is the vessel in distress. They say its US....Haven't you been shooting off start shells for an hour? Look at all the debris in the water? Oooops in trouble again.

 * Speaking of Star Shells. LT Garn once again is out on some sort of OP where the signal was to fire green or some kind of star shells as a signal. Of course who can tell the color of the shells in the dark until you fire them. So they shoot of RED STAR SHELLS off Point Loma, until the Coast Guard help comes out to see what is going on.. More trips to explain to the Active guys we really do know what we are doing but some times......Shit Happens.......

 * Yes, and then there was my missing car..............


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