VC-5 det 31 Officers
USS Coral Sea (CVA 43)

The two pictures below of the officers in VC-5 det 31 were taken in the wardroom of the USS Coral Sea at Thanksgiving dinner, 25 November 1954, while at sea in the eastern Mediterranean. LT Garrett White and LTJG Kenneth Wooster had come aboard just three days earlier as replacements for LT Leon Grover and LTJG Garth Garreau, who had been killed on 8 November.

Bob Williams and others of Det 31
Left foreground: hands and arm of LTJG Richard M. Smith; LT Robert B. Williams; hands of LT Garrett White
Far side of table from left: CDR Irving G. Peters; LCDR Jonathan J. Crowder; RELE Alfred B. Hughes; LTJG Kenneth Wooster; LTJG Curt H. Kretzshmann; LTJG Walter E. Ruel; North American Aviation representative Roy Spradlin [sp?]; hands and arm of LT Robert C. Hendrickson

J. J. Crowder and others of Det 31
Left foreground: LCDR Jonathan J. Crowder; hands of RELE Alfred B. Hughes
Far side of table from left: LT Robert C. Hendrickson; LTJG Richard M. Smith; LT Robert B. Williams; LT Garrett White; LT Frederick H. Gralow; LT James Lynch; back of CDR Irving G. Peters


The signs of the times include the black stewards and the pigeonholes for napkins. No paper napkins were used, but in order to decrease the amount of laundry, the cloth napkins were used more than once. Each officer had his own pigeonhole, and the napkins were changed at regular intervals. After each meal, one would roll up his napkin neatly and return it to his assigned pigeonhole for use at the next meal. The dress blue uniforms were not usual for dinner. As I recall, the more common garb was a navy blue woolen CPO shirt with black necktie and collar insignia or else aviation greens for those who owned them.

On the Coral Sea the wardroom was on the 2 level, the deck just below the hangar deck. It was well astern, sitting pretty much over the screws of the ship. At evening meals, when flight operations were either over for the day or at least paused, the admiral would order flank speed. This caused intense vibration. Dishes and other utensils would "walk" off the table, forcing us to pay attention and continually to move things toward the center to keep them from falling off the edge. When aboard I thought that it was a temporary problem with one of the four screws. This is apparently not the case. For more on the shaking see the file at the USS Coral Sea website.

The officers visible at other tables in the wardroom were either "blackshoes" from the ship's company or members of the carrier air group CVG-10. I think that the air group included VF-11, VF-62, VF-103, and VA-104, flying F2H-4s, F2H-2s, F9F-6s, and AD-6s, respectively.

Detachment 31 left the USS Coral Sea on 9 December 1954, as the ship was preparing to return to CONUS. We went back to Port Lyautey. Some, but not all of us, became a part of Detachment 36 and flew aboard USS Randolph on 12 December 1954.

Go to my Navy File on my old web site.

Kenneth Jennings Wooster
27 Abdallah Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045-3302
(607) 753-3558
File created: September 24, 2003.
File modified: September 24, 2003; December 19, 2003.