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Under Way - The River Raider Blog
Monday, 7 September 2009
Updates! Updates! Updates!
Now Playing: Tom F
Topic: Updates

Apologies to Pat McCann, Ken Draskovic and Sean for being such a laggard in getting pics posted to the River Raider page. I'm working on it this afternoon and we should have some new posts up shortly.

 I've gone back to work at my old job (Alcoa) as a contractor after a five month lay off and I got a job offer for a job in DC with Uncle Sam. I'm going for the DC job as it's the best fit for me and it's a great job!

 My time is limited, but It's a rainy labor day...I have a cup of coffee and a few hours to help out!



Posted by pa2/Panama2Hot at 1:40 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 29 July 2009
A Snipe Recollects!
Now Playing: Tom Formby ('93-'96)
Topic: Raider Stories

Medium Boat:


I served in Panama 1993-1996 and served on the LCM 8519 for just over a year. I went to PLDC at Ft. Sherman and then transitioned to the LCU 1669, USAV Marseilles. While in the medium boat I think we pulled 7 or 8 Sherman cycles in a row…not bad duty. The 1669 was a good boat, but since I’m an engineer most of my memories are associated with mechanical issues (Outside of fish stories that is).  


In medium boat I remember making several trips to Puerto Piña on the 8519 (2-3?) and at least one trip on the 8552 with Nelson Etrada and Sean Kelly. One of those trips to Piña included my reading MobyDick throughout the entire 16 hour trip from Rodman while sitting in a bulldozer and only getting up to check the engine room every hour or so. I made at least one trip to Piña on the 1669, but it was not eventful except for the fishing.

Heavy Boat: 

Heavy boat was a time of dry season runs and fishing as we generally started trolling once we cleared the causeway on our way out of Panama. The 1600’s sailed up the West coast to Costa Rica, Honduras or El Salvador during the dry season and we got Hazardous Fire Pay (HFP) when we entered the Gulf of Fonseca. San Lorenzo in Hondo and La Union in El Sal were our ports of call, but we did go to some others with names long forgotten. A 1600 is a good heavy boat to be on because it has to stop every 3.5 days for fuel so we were never at sea very long.


My first mission on the 1669 was a rescue mission that we did when an Ecuadorian freighter went down off of the east coast of Panama. Got the call at about 2:00 AM and we were underway by 5:30 AM. We searched a few days and finally found the captain and radio man floating on the bottom of a cap sized life raft. That they didn’t know how to right a life raft speaks volumes about the safety standards on that ship. We took the sun burned men back to Fort Sherman and the Panamanian authorities took over.


Suriname Mission:

We made a trip on the 1669 along with the 1667 to Paramaribo, Suriname in mid 1995 which according to the medal that I got said we went 3600 nautical miles. That’s no small feat in a 144 foot flat bottom boat! We had the sea smashing on our port bow most of the way to Suriname and it took its toll on the crew and the vessel. Our ramp dogs were getting ripped out by the pounding and we ended up using the cargo tie downs to keep ramp attached. We stopped in Santa Marta Columbia to secure the ramp and trade medics as our medic was quite ill with sea sickness…were referring to him as the “floor mat” before he left. I’ve never experienced sea sickness and from what I’ve seen of it, I realize that I’m particularly blessed!


We got the ramp fixed in Aruba and stopped in Port of Spain, Trinadad & Tobago before arriving in Paramaribo. It was long trip from Panama to Suriname and back again...but it was a good trip. I had a couple of inexperienced engineers to work with (Fernandez, Koch and Flemming) and they kept waking me up when the head got clogged. The LCU 1600’s had macerators that chopped up the “dark matter” before pumping it to a chemical holding tank. I got tired of being the only one that knew how to unclog the system which involved pumping extremely low pressure water from a garden hose into the line. If too much water pressure was applied, the “dark matter” would be blown out the wrong side. The end result being a head covered in ‘dark matter” and a serious mess. I told the guys that I was finished showing them the process and they needed to do it on their own. I’ve never seen such an explosion of human waste since that day. The sheepish looks and brown spotted head had me in stitches!!! No way was I touching that crap! I did advise them to use a lot of bleach and rubber gloves as they cleaned up the newly decorated head. Funny how we never had any issues with the head after that!


The Worst: 


The worst ever was when the bow ramp winch on the 1669 broke while in the Pearl Islands. The ramp winch on a 1600 (Boston class) consists of an inner hub that grabs an outer sleeve. In technical terms, the stuff that helped keep the two parts winding the ramp cable up and letting it back out turned into a soup sandwich. I can’t remember how many hours it took us to crank that ramp up manually, but it had to be at least eight hours from start to finish. It was such a draining experience that once we got the ramp up and secure, Skip (Mr. Loupatty) had us all sleep that night with an anchor watch. We were so tired that we could barely walk. The hub and sleeve of the winch had to be welded into a solid piece, but it worked fine after that.


Posted by pa2/Panama2Hot at 2:59 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 July 2009 3:07 PM EDT
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Waterborne Creed
Now Playing: Vicki Fleming ('88 to '86)
Topic: Raider Stories

The following Waterborne Creed was going around Ft. Davis in the 80's! The author is not known...Anyone want to pony up as the author?

Just a little north of Columbia
Ft. Davis is the spot
Where I'm doomed to spend my time
In the land that God forgot
Down in the land of down pour
Down where the men get blue
Right on the border of nowhere
Thousands of miles from you
I sweat and drink and sail
It's more than I can stand
I'm not what you call a convict
I'm a defender of the land
Some people know I'm living
Some don't give a damn
Though at home I am forgotten
I belong to Uncle Sam
I'm a soldier in the army
Earning my monthly pay
Guarding people with millions
For a buck and half a day
When I get to heaven
St. Peter's gonna yell
"Oh Lord, this man's from Panama
He's spent his time in HELL!!"


Posted by pa2/Panama2Hot at 2:28 PM EDT
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Monday, 20 July 2009
Thanks Tom
Mood:  a-ok
Name: "Sean Kelly"
Home Page:


We all need to put our hands together for Tom Formby for without him this site would not be growing.  Thanks Tom!


Posted by pa2/Panama2Hot at 5:09 PM EDT
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A Couple of Tales from Thomas Kirkpatrick - '74-'77
Now Playing: Thom K
Topic: Raider Stories

After we lost the best company commander and first sergeant I've ever worked with, I was asked to give a hand to SGT Levi Browning, our PLL NCO.  We were to prepare for another IG inspection.  Now if you know SGT Browning, you know he's good at what he does and that he's a good-ole boy from Texas.  Our new C.O., CPT Fehrenbach, was facing a tough transition to commanding a boat company, given that he came from the Infantry, didn't know diddly about boats in particular or the Transportation Corps in general.  Add to this the palpable resentment throughout the 1097th at the relief of CPT Cartwright and 1SGT Ekern, both of whom were really first rate people.  Suffice to say there were numerous problems for the new captain.  So, the time comes for the company-level inspections of all areas prior to the IG's visit.  After tightening a few things up at the PLL shed at dock 45, we lined up and came to attention.  The good captain looked around at the parts stored there, took a brief look at the books, and then addressed SGT Browning, "You're doing an excellent job here, SGT Browning."  Browning thanked the captain, and then as the captain turned to leave asked, "Captain, you know the old one about leading a horse to water?"  CPT Fehrenbach indicated that he knew it.  SGT Browning then said, "Why, I bet you could make that horse drink, sir."  "How's that, SGT Browning?" asked our new CO.  "Why sir, you'd put his muzzle in the trough, and reach around the other end and suck on his ass, sir." 

Being a newly-minted E-5, I was briefly shocked to the core and then had to exert super-human self control to stifle the laughter welling up within me.  I almost succeeded.  Almost. 

Here's one more:  Very late one night, Danny Horvath and a few of us were returning from a visit to the Colombian "Embassy" and other parts of Colon.  It was at least 2:30 in the morning.  We're looking and feeling our very best after this "diplomatic mission."  As we approach the barracks at Ft. Davis, we slowly began to notice that there seemed to be an unusual amount of traffic on base.  Military traffic, too.  Then we noticed that a lot of buildings had a lot of lights on.  Still more curious.  Finally it dawned on us that there was some kind of alert going on.  Oh, shit, we thought.  Better get it in gear, fast.  We hit the ground-floor door at a dead run.  Taking the stairs two or more at a time, I decided to cut through the Day Room to get to the stairwell on the other side of the building as it was closer to my room.  And uniform.  And other gear.  I hit the Day Room door at about mach 1.6, and as I passed through the Day Room I noticed several strange officers.  As I passed them at a dead run I said, "Good morning, sirs!"  I heard later that I was the source of a fair bit of amusement for them, as CPT Fehrenbach had been standing directly behind the door I had opened with no little amount of force.  The good captain was propelled bodily into and over the CQ's desk, ass over tea kettle.  I never noticed a thing.    To be completely fair to the CO, he never said a thing about it.  At least not to me.  When I ETS'd in December of that year, he provided me with a very good letter of recommendation. 


Posted by pa2/Panama2Hot at 10:59 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 30 June 2009
River Raiders Reunion 10 OCT 2009
Now Playing: Tom F
Topic: Reunion

RAIDERS REUNION UPDATE!!! The older you get, the better you was!!!

Come to the 1097th River Raiders Reunion on October 10, 2009 t Newport News Park shelter #17/ The festivities begin nlt 11:00am. All Raiders are welcome, new and old alike. There is a campground at Newport News Park as well as a a few hotels close by.

As of 30 June 2009 there are about 40 former Raiders attending!

Keith Morrison needs a headcount for the chow. The price is $10 each or $20 couple/family.
E-mail Keith

Posted by pa2/Panama2Hot at 9:45 PM EDT
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Haze Gray and Under Way
Now Playing: Tom Formby
Topic: New Blog

Hello Raiders, 

We're launching a blog so that we can keep everyone updated regarding River Raider events, personal updates and stories or looking up old friends. If you'd like to post to the blog, share some pics and stories, or update your profile just reach out:E-mail Sean or E-mail Tom.

There a couple of things happening in the second half of 2009:

  • River Raiders Reunion - Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 10-11) 2009.
    • Location is Newport News, VA-Details coming soon!
  • River Raiders T-Shirts - We should have some more information regarding "updated" t-shirts based on the traditional logo on the Raider website.
  • Photo Posting Function - We're working on creating the function of posting photo albums so that anyone can post pictures and stories.

 This is the place to get updates and post your comments or questions! We want this to be a community and welcome input from all of the River Raiders. 

Cheers, Tom




Posted by pa2/Panama2Hot at 1:54 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 June 2009 1:56 PM EDT
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