Red Moore

When i began writing this, i thought i previously had written about the Hawkins’ liberty week in Ocho Rios. i could not find it, so i have included it here. i apologize to those who may have read about those infamous three days. This is a tribute to Red Moore. My story is intertwined with Red’s. He was a good man.

i had lost his name, thought it might have been Johnson. Then, another file folder being cleaned out revealed his actual name in three brief lines on a yellowed sheet of notebook paper. i finally had the name  of the guy i had thought about on and off for about for a half-century. It is sad i could not recall his name correctly.

Red Moore.

Boiler Tender First Class Petty Officer Red Moore. i never knew his real first name. And he would have frowned on anyone renaming his rate to “boiler technician.” He was a boiler tender and his fireroom was his church.

USS Hawkins (DD-873).

i was the First Lieutenant and then the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer in the Weapons Department throughout my near two years on board. Red was, obviously, in the Engineering Department. i had sort of a realization who he was and not much more until an early April (i think) liberty port call in 1969.

He remains, after my near twenty-three years of my Navy service, one of my fondest memories. After that fateful weekend, we were friends as well as shipmates. Red Moore was a sailor’s sailor, old style.

And that man knew more about the Hawk than anyone, anytime, not to mention how well he knew how Navy destroyer life was supposed to be lived.

Red reported aboard from boot camp either in late 1950 or early 1951. Red was a fireman apprentice. The Hawkins had been commissioned in 1945 as a straight stick Gearing class destroyer. In the spring of 1949, she was reclassified from a “DD” to “DDR,” the designation for a radar picket destroyer, meaning the DDR’s had a single 3″/50 caliber gun mount removed from the 01 level aft for additional radar equipment. That  year, she also moved from the Pacific Fleet with a home port of San Diego to the Atlantic Fleet and her new home port of Newport, Rhode Island. That is where Red reported on board.

In 1960, her homeport was moved down the coast to Mayport, Florida (Jacksonville). Four years later, she went into the Boston Naval Shipyard to be converted to a FRAM I destroyer (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) in 1964 removing the forward Mount 52 gun mount and added ASROC. After the conversion and being relabeled as a “DD,” not a “DDR.” she remained in Newport, her home port a second time around. i joined her in,Malaga, Spain in late April 1968 as she was concluding another Mediterranean deployment.

i include the Hawk’s history here only because Red Moore was aboard that entire time tending his boilers.

When we completed an overhaul in January, 1969, we went to Guantanamo Bay for “refresher training” aimed at getting us ready and certified for Navy operations (many stories here). After about six weeks of the intense, 0400 to 2200 work days for me, with one of two days liberty in Guantanamo (yippee!) each weekend, the entire ship’s company was ready for a liberty weekend somewhere else.

Friday morning, i arose at 0430 to check the material condition of my Third Division spaces, stopping in the wardroom for a cup of coffee, running to the bridge to relieve as the junior officer of the deck for Sea Detail,  participating in the “low visibility” exercise simulated by taping old navigational charts  on the ports of the bridge, wandering from the bridge to ASW plot to the forward mount and back to the bridge in training exercises, i returned to the bridge to resume JOOD duties as we returned to GITMO to drop off our training team. Reversing course, we headed for liberty. Oh boy!

At the conclusion of sea detail, the CO, Commander Max Lasell, called me over to the captain’s chair on the starboard side of the bridge/pilot house. We had had a turnover that week with a department head and another OOD rotating off the ship.  The captain told me he was qualifying me as the fourth OOD because, he said, i had enough sense to call him at any time i was in doubt about the ship’s location, condition, or safe navigation.

It was about 1800 when we secured from Sea Detail. i had a quick bite at the end of the wardroom mess, worked up the plans for our Monday morning exercises when we returned to GTMO, and lay down for about two hours. After all, this new OOD was assigned the midwatch. i stood the four hour watch, hit the rack at 0400, got up 45 minutes later to be the sea detail JOOD for mooring in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We tied up to the copper mining pier about 0800. Then the fun began.

As ASW officer, i was also the “MWR ” (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) officer and as such had to immediately report to the quarterdeck and meet the tour coordinators from Ocho Rios and gather the information about entertainment and attractions in the area. This took about an hour to arrange all and get the word out to the crew. i had decided i needed rest and was headed to my stateroom for a “NORP” (Naval Officer’s Rest Period) when someone told me i had pulled Shore Patrol Officer duty. As such, i needed to take a tour of the area with the local police to identify the potential trouble spots and determine how our half-dozen shore patrol crew would be deployed. Before liberty call, i was accompanied by the senior enlisted shore patrol petty officer. It was Red Moore.

The story of that day is below, but to continue with my lovely liberty, i was eager for the duty to end, so i could get some sleep before having about six hours of liberty on Sunday before we sailed. Addressing several problems that arose with my division folks kept me up until about 0230. i hit the rack then. Heaven…i thought.

Ninety minutes later, the messenger woke me up.  A copper ship had arrived and our pier space was needed. We set the Sea and Anchor detail and moved to an anchorage. This episode took about three hours. Blessed sleep awaited. Then Ralph Clark, the senior watch officer came to me with an apology. He had not advised Rob DeWitt, the relieving shore patrol officer, he had the Sunday duty, and Rob, being a bright boy, had spent the night in a room at the Playboy Club. Ralph couldn’t get in touch with Rob, so i would have to stand shore patrol duty that day as well. Red Moore had been relieved by another first class and the rest of my “liberty” in Ocho Rios was spent chasing drunks.

i returned to the ship at 1330. We set sea detail at 1500, and got underway, securing Sea Detail at 1730. After being relieved, i went to the wardroom evening mess and retired to my stateroom. But this junior OOD had been assigned the evening watch (2000-2400). i awoke after just over an hour of sleep and headed to the bridge. After the watch, i returned to the wardroom for midrats (midnight rations, and man, you just can’t miss midrats if you are a sea dog), once more finding my rack, this time around 0030. Ahh, such  pleasure.

However, we had to set Sea Detail at 0400, and i had to check condition Yoke in my spaces before that. So i was up at 0315, checked my spaces, and reported to the bridge. We arrived at Gitmo at 0630, picked up the trainers, and headed back to sea.

On our liberty weekend, i had about ten hours sleep over the three days and no liberty for our “liberty” weekend.

But you know what? It was worth it to be able to tell this tale and spend a day of duty with BT1 Red Moore. Red made my job as shore patrol officer a piece of cake. He knew sailors and knew where they would go to get in trouble, what kind of trouble they could find, and how to take care of it. He kept me aware but pretty much took charge. He was fun to watch in action.

In the late afternoon, one of our patrols came back to our SP station at a downtown police precinct and reported one hotspot was out in the jungle. Apparently, a clearing had been made and a big tent structure had been converted to a dance hall, complete with a bar. There were a number of huts nearby. The number of prostitutes normally around Ocho Rios was very small. But a bunch of these ladies of the night had been picked up in  the capital of Kingston and bussed across the island, a bit over 50 miles, and deposited at this party town in the jungle. Sailors, being sailors, had flocked there.

Around 2200, Red and i decided we should check out the place as liberty was expiring. It wasn’t expiring at fantasyland. It was hopping there. The band was playing loud with a driving beat, the bar was doing a brisk business, and women and men filled the place dancing.

When several of the sailors spotted the lieutenant junior grade in uniform, they came over to talk. One was my second class torpedoman. They were trying to buy me a drink, but i kept declining. One of the women asked me to dance. i declined her as well. Then as the group and i were chatting, i felt something between my legs. The spurned dancing lady had her hand on my crotch from behind me. As gently as i could, i removed her hand and with Red walked to the other side of the dance area. There some drunk decided he didn’t like officers and decided to take me on. He confronted me and was about a foot from my face shouting profanity. i tried to think how i could reason with a drunk and if we had enough shore patrol to wrestle him down and get him back to the ship.

Red stepped between us, told the belligerent drunk to calm down. Even though drunk, the sailor knew not to mess with Red Moore. Red ushered me to our truck, and we left. As Red was driving away, i said, “Moore, i appreciate what you did back there, but i could have handled him if he tried to hit me.”

“Oh, Mr. Jewell,” Red replied, “I wasn’t worried about him hitting you. I was worried you might hit him.” He continued, “That would have caused more trouble in so many ways we don’t even want to think about.”

He was right.

After that liberty weekend, BT1 Moore and i spent more time together. We would meet on the weather decks when he had come out of the forward fire room and i had come down from a bridge watch or perhaps during the workday, and just chat, learning about each other.

About nine or ten months later, BT1 Red Moore left the USS Hawkins after 18 years of service on one destroyer. He was planning on retiring in Arizona, his home, after completing his 20 years of active duty. For what we Navy folk refer to as our “Twilight Tour,” Red had been granted his request to spend his last two years as a recruiter in Phoenix, i believe.

Before i left the Hawkins just before Christmas of that year, i learned Red had been killed in an automobile wreck in West Texas on his way to his new duty station.

i had a bunch of enlisted folks who greatly helped me along the way. In my formative tour, BMC Jones, an SPCM whose last name i cannot recall, BM2 Carrier, and the entire sonar gang, ASROC gunner’s mates, and torpedo men were invaluable in teaching me how to be a good officer.

Red Moore was a master of boilers, the Navy Way, and life.  i wish i could have a beer with him right now.

1 thought on “Red Moore

  1. Good story, Jim. We all have lots of”Red Moores” in our lives. So have a drink to him and appreciate the memory.

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