by Karl Kittel
This is a series of stories told by Hans Karl Kittel to his son, Robert. Mr. Kittel was born in 1909 and could very well be the oldest surviving shipmate of the USS Gregory. He first served on the Battleship Texas as a gunners mate. After serving on a few more BB's he went to cooks and bakers school. His first destroyer was an old four stacker, the USS Gilmer. Just before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor he left the Gilmer and went to the USS Helm, a Gridley class destroyer. During World War II he served mostly on various Pacific Islands setting up camps and feeding the marines. He was promoted to Chief during the war. From W.W.II until the Korean War he was in charge of various mess halls. He served aboard the USS Gregory during the Korean Patrols as Chief Commissary Steward.
I forgot the exact date and for that matter even the year however it was around 1952 or 53. We were in Japan re-provisioning the Gregory and being a real Tin Can sailor, cook and now Commissary steward I knew what it took. I remember being on patrol and the other destroyers in our squadron 17 would run out or be down to beans three times a day. I was constantly having to give our provisions to the other stewards. They would come along side and ask why we (Gregory) still had fresh vegetables and meats. Most of these other stewards hadn't ever packed a destroyer and just didn't know how to keep their crews fed. They would ask me and I would tell them, "Hell I skin the franks and Baloney so we can pack more on board. Actually I would pack food where ever I could even packing cold cuts between the beef carcasses.
Leaving Japan I had about 12 thousand pounds of fresh potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbages all in crates stored under tarps on the Galley deck. We had problems with the Gregory handling. She kept healing over and not righting herself. For three days old Willy Deventer our Exec tried everything. They checked the fuel and water tanks thinking that we missed one and had an empty. Nothing could be found but the Gregory kept laying down and not coming back up. About the third day Deventer is on the bridge and looks back and sees the tarps and asks what's under them. Deventer went back pulled up a corner, looked, ran back to the bridge and screamed over the PA, "get that G.D. Steward up here right now". It seems that my 12,000 Lbs of potatoes had changed the center or gravity on the Gregory and kept her from riding right.
We formed a work party and stored everything in the uptakes. Well that wasn't good either because the heat caused everything to spoil fast and we had to kick it over the side. I will never forget standing there with Deventer and him pointing back to those tarps covering those 12,000 lbs of potatoes.
I wanted to say a few words about William "Willy" Deventer our Exec. Willy was a regular guy and a regular navy guy. Most of the time he acted like an enlisted man because he could get along with or talk to anyone. Willy used to come into the Chiefs quarters and sit, drink coffee and argue with us for hours. Willy was a very intelligent man, worked in Washington and one point with the Atomic commission I believe. He pissed someone off and was back in the real navy. Anyway I couldn't think of a better person to be on board with than Exec Willy Deventer.
We had a LTJG supply officer on board while I was on the Gregory. His name was Pilsbury and he was from the Pilsbury flour family. I won't go into the details but we just didn't get along. We were always fighting about this or that. Pilsbury was transferred off while I was still with the Gregory. I remember when his orders came and the guys came running to me the night before to show me his orders. The next day Pilsbury came into chiefs quarters and waved his transfer in my face telling me that "I guess your happy now". well I explained, "yes I saw your orders last night". He just stood there red faced, turned around and stomped off. He was replaced by a new LTJG Schroeder I think his name was. Anyway he was real good guy and got along with everyone.