|Keith had just completed his first year at U.C.L.A. as a U.S. Navy Midshipman in the "Regular" NROTC program. This young California boy from a small northern valley town traveled to the east coast for a summer training cruise aboard a Navy destroyer.|
He would sail out of Norfolk, Virginia, on the
(DDE-871), a full size destroyer converted for anti-submarine escort duty (second gun turret removed and replaced with "hedgehog" launcher).
Other ships in this cruise included destroyers, destroyer escorts,
a full size cruiser and support ships. Keith's ship would cruise across the Atlantic, through the Azores Islands, over the top of Great Britain with ports of call of Oslo,
Norway, and Stockholm, Sweden. (Other ships from our group would visit
Scotland and Denmark.) Leaving Scandinavia, the group sailed through the English Channel, back out in to the Atlantic, by the Azores again and down in to the Caribbean.
The last stop would be a few days at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before limping back in to Norfolk (a depth charge exercise
off the coast of Florida put one screw out of commission).
Midshipman Wheeler 1954
Images of Keith's old Zippo lighter purchased onboard the Damato. If memory serves correctly, the ship's logo had to be changed and no more of these lighters could be made. Someone had gotten in to trouble for using Disney's Donald Duck without permission in this great logo (Donald is holding a submarine in one hand while beating it with a "hedgehog" held in the other). Anyone with more information on this vague recollection, please contact Keith.
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