A Trip in the history of the
USS Windham County
In late 1969, after the Marine Corps Birthday of Nov 10, but before Christmas, Marine Air Support Squadron – 2 embarked aboard the Windham County for a scheduled seven day trip from Da Nang to Iwakuni. Almost immediately out of port, the ship ran into a storm that resulted in an average speed of 3.5 knots for the first 5 days. About every three hours, the ship’s loudspeaker would announce, “Stand by for heavy rolls as ship comes about.” The ship would do a 180 and for 30 minutes crew members would tighten down the dogs on the forward hatches. Then, “Stand by for heavy rolls as ship comes about.” and we would be on our way again for 2-3 hours. Clearly, all embark troops where having trouble with seasickness as well as many of the sailors.
I was happy to lie in my bunk for the most part… the nausea holding the hunger at bay. I tried to get to the galley a couple of times, but as I would approach and catch the aroma, it would send me scurrying back to the bunk. I once even decided that the best thing to do would be to go to the fantail and get rid of everything, thinking that would make it better. Arriving at the fantail and feeling for all the world like throwing up, I found I couldn’t… but the nausea continued.
As the ship approached Taiwan, things smoothed out a bit and we thought our troubles were behind us… not so. When we got into the Strait of Japan, we were in a cross current and the ship began to roll at about 45 degrees. It was funny at first, with all kinds of crap flying all over the compartments. Once everything was lashed down, we realized the only way we were going to get any sleep was to lash ourselves to the bunk posts. You literally could not stay in your bunk unless you lashed your arm to the bunk post with your web belt.
It all finally ended over 14 days after departure. I’ve been on many a sea deployment since, but none will ever compare to the U.S.S. Windham County in 1969.