USS Whitehurst Logo by: Pat Stephens, Webmaster, DESA

 Bill E. Bryan Communications Officer
onboard, 1956-1957

Howdy from Montana: Flip, your email really made my day. I had recognized your name on one of the ship's rosters. I didn't know that the Whitehurst had a website until I went on the website looking at all of the different classes of Navy ships and found the website through "The Enemy Below" connection. I remember all of you radiomen very well and many of the other men aboard, especially in the Operations Department. I Also came aboard in April 1956, the day before we departed Apra Harbor, Guam for Pearl Harbor. I can remember that one of the most stressful times of our WestPac cruise was when we were Enroute to Australia. You and Dempsey were standing port and starboard CW watches after we no longer could pick up the RATT signal from Pearl Harbor or Guam. After a period of time we transferred the guard to Radio Canberra after I found a paragraph in one of the Operations manuals that allowed it. Captain Smith wasn't very happy about doing it, but it worked out O. K.  It was hard to leave the ship in September 1957, after all that we went through together. From there I flew via USAF MATS to San Francisco, thence to Montana, was married on 7 October and traveled back to Pearl Harbor where I served with the U. S. Naval Communications Station, Pearl Harbor for the next 18 months until my release from active duty on 29 March 1969. About one year later, they moved  NAVCOMMSTA PEARL to Wahiawa up in the pineapple fields, probably because the transmissions would be more reliable at the higher altitude. There were several notable events during the last part of my Naval service; The first one was the biggest air/sea search in the history of the Hawaiian Sea Frontier for a Pan Am Boeing Stratocruiser that went down east of Hawaii. All they ever found was a few suitcases. I had flown back to Hawaii on one just like it a month earlier. This was similar to the movie "The High and the Mighty" with John Wayne, only with a tragic ending. Next, I worked a deal to go out on the "USS Ranger (CVA 61) as a Communications observer for three days during their ORI with FLTTRAGRU PEARL HARBOR. The highlight was one day of continuous air operations. Ranger was the first super carrier in the Pacific Fleet (the third in the Forrestal (CVA 59) class). All of the early carriers have been decommissioned (leaving only nuclear powered CVN's in the fleet today. Later I was privileged to go out on the SSK Bashaw for one day while they practiced emergency drills. Another day while off duty I was present at the pearl Harbor submarine docks to welcome The USS Nautilus (SS 571) prior to departing Pearl Harbor for the first submerged transit under the North Pole. She copied the Pearl Harbor 19 KCS low frequency broadcast. On one of my days off the AEC dropped the last atomic bomb (to my knowledge) to be detonated in the pacific (at Johnson Island-400 miles away) There were no point to point communications for several hours afterwards. The last event that I will mention begins with a message from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to CINCPAC, CINCPACFLT and  COMMANDER HAWAIIAN SEA FRONTIER directing the U. S. Marines to land in LEBANON the next day. Back in Montana I operated the Big Sky Gondola Ski Lifts for several seasons beginning in November 1990 and ending in March 2005. During April through October of the same years I was employed on Ted Turner's Flying D Ranch at Gallatin Gateway, MT. I am interested to know where you live. I have a brother Hayes R. Bryan that lives in Anacortes, Washington. Max, I also enjoyed  your email and appreciate all that you did to help me connect with the USS Whitehurst (DE 634). I will send you some more information regarding other crew members next week. Until then I have a busy schedule thanks to the most severe hailstorm ever recorded in Bozeman. Thanks for listening. May God bless you and all of the other service members of the USS Whitehurst (DE 634) !!!!
Sincerely, Bill Bryan

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