Don Ellwood (QMCS)

 
 
This is a picture of Don Ellwood in 1983.
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When I was discharged fron the Regular Navy in July 1956 completing 9 years of Active duty aboard 1 aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge and six destroyers, I was a QM1 preparing to take my QMC exam, but was prevented from doing so by a NROTC Ensign who had no idea of Regular Navy service. In January 1958, in Long Beach, CA, I saw a notice that the Naval Reserves were looking for former Navy men to join the Reserves and can remain at the rate they were discharged. I signed up for 4 years, and 9 months later passed my QMC exam. My first ship was the USS Marsh, DE-699. In October 1960, I asked for & got 3 months of Temporary active duty at the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station near my home. About a couple of weeks later, in the Berlin, Germany crisis, the Marsh was activated and with its Reserve crew, sent on active duty. Upon completion of TempAcDu, I was assigned to a surface unit until in May 1962, I joined the Reserve crew of the USS Reedbird (MSCO-51 We started doing all of the minesweeping exercises required with a great Reserve crew of 3 Lieutnants and about 30 enlisted. This went on until we lost our ship to another Reserve unit in Tacoma, WA. In its place we were given the USS Cormorant (MSCO-122) in January 1964. Again with the same crew & officers, we not only did our mine sweeping exercises, but got a chance to anchor in Avalon Bay, Catalina Island on Saturday nights for liberty. Our C.O. is now a LCDR. In September 1967, I asked to be reassigned due to a friction with another CPO. After a period of duty with 2 other surface units, one of which was a harbor defense unit called Inshore Underseas Warfare Unit, I was ready to volunteer for the Navy units in Vietnam, so I asked to be assigned to the iver Patrol Boats but the Navy said they had enough regular Navy volunteers. So on March 1972, I asked to be transferred to the USS Pledge MSO-492. It was a good ship with a skeleton Regular Navy crew and us Reserves. By this time, I am a Senior Chief QM. From then on it was more rigerous training in mine sweeping off the Southern Calif. coast line even up by the Santa Barbara Islands. I was the Navigator when we Reserves were aboard. The USS Constant was our companion during these times. Eventually, the former C.O. of the Reedbird who served with is now a CDR and the Mine Div. Commander who chose the Pledge as his Flag ship. One time while minesweeping off the Santa Barbara Islands, I noticed by bearings that our Mine sweep gear was in danger of running aground in shallow waters and immediately sounded an alarm to the C.O. and we narrowly missed it. During my 5 years aboard the Pledge, I was recommended to the Board of Master Chief QM's but due to no vacancies or only one opening that year, I never was promoted. In June 1977, I asked to be transferred to a surface unit. In July 1980, a large LKA was given to the Long Beach Reserve center, the USS Mobile. I was assigned to her at that time. Being on a amphibous assult cargo ship was quite differant from minesweeping, believe me. I stayed aboard for 2 years wherein we made a trip to Acapoco, Mexico before I left in June 1982. My company transferred me to Bakersfield,CA for work. It was there that I was assigned to the Reserve unit that was the Blue crew for the Frigate USS O'Callahan stationed in San Diego,CA In Bakersfield, I was the unit's Career Counseler as I had gone to the Navy's Career Counselers school in San Diego previously. In early 1983, the Naval Reserve started downsizing and with 34 years service and a 1 1/2 year to go in my enlistment, was retired in May 1983.

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