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Thomas G. Burley, Jr., oral history interview, February 6, 1995

Date: Feb. 06 1995 | Identifier: OH0148
Captain Burley comments briefly on his background in Pennsylvania and his experiences at the U.S. Naval Academy. He discusses duty on the USS MARYLAND prior to and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, commissioning of the USS IOWA and its tour to Argentia, passage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard the IOWA to the Teheran Conference, task force duty in the Pacific, and assignment to the USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN. Postwar commentary reflects participation of the LAKE CHAMPLAIN in "Operation Magic Carpet" (transporting troops from the war zones); reactivating of the USS BLUE; duty in the USS LEONARD F. MASON during the Korean War, operating out of Japan in anti-submarine warfare; command of the USS BAUSELL; stateside assignments; the Tonkin Gulf incident; Cuban Missile Crisis; and command of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #148
Captain Thomas G. Burley, Jr. USN (Ret.)
February 6, 1995
Interview #1

Donald R. Lennon:

If you will, begin with your background.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

I was born in Chester, Pennsylvania. I am the youngest child and I have two sisters. I went to local schools through high school there. I graduated from Chester High School in 1935. I was not an athlete. I was not an outstanding student and had difficulties just studying and managing to get passing grades. I graduated at a strange time of year, in February. Our school was on an A and B system: first grade, 1A and 1B, 2A and 2B, and so on. You normally started in September, which I did, and I would normally have been in the A group and then the B group and so on, but I was pushed up a half a grade in the fourth grade and that put me in the February sequence.

Anyway, I graduated in February of 1935. I wasn't prepared to go to college right away, so I got a job working for a department store in Philadelphia, which is about a half an hour train ride from Chester. I worked in the department store until that summer. I was trying to get an appointment to the Naval Academy through my congressman, but he had already given out his appointments. I got maybe fourth or fifth alternate.



Donald R. Lennon:

What had interested you in attending the Academy?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Well, I think the thing that triggered it was that my sisters had been dating midshipmen. When the midshipmen had leave, they would come and visit my sisters. They were invited down to the Naval Academy for hops, and I guess I was impressed with the young guys in uniform, so I thought I might try it. I had my dad talk to our congressman to see if he could give me an appointment, but like I said, he already had them obligated. In that part of Pennsylvania, appointments were not on a competitive basis. In my opinion, it was based on who had contributed to the congressman's campaign. He did send me to see if I was physically qualified. He had me go to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. I took a physical and I had some minor problems. I think my heartbeat was high, but I was pretty nervous and that probably caused it. So the doctor said, “If you come back another time, I'm sure you'll qualify.”

Anyway, I didn't get the appointment, so I didn't bother to try the physical again. In the meantime, I managed to get a scholarship with the help of my father. My father was a ward heeler as a Republican, so he had a friend who was a state senator who had access to three universities and colleges in Pennsylvania where he could grant scholarships. They were not strictly based on scholastic standing. My father got in touch with him. He said, “Well, I can give your son a scholarship to Penn State College as it was called then, Temple, or the University of Pennsylvania.”

I couldn't afford to go away to college. I had to go where I could commute, either to Temple or Penn. I chose Penn. I went to Penn for a year and enrolled in the college for basic liberal arts. I took English, math, and the basics, such as history, with the idea that I would try the Naval Academy again next year. This would give me some basis for



the kind of studies that I would have at the Naval Academy. I spent a year at the university, but I didn't excel as a student. As I mentioned, I am not a student, but I got passing grades. I didn't make the appointment again. I was about a fourth or fifth alternate. I decided to go back to Penn, but I switched from the college over to the Wharton School and enrolled in an industrial relations curriculum.

That summer, I was told that the top appointee failed for one reason or another and it got down to me. I was going to be given the appointment. He had me get the physical exam, but I did not qualify due to my college grades and one high school grade. They were just barely passing, and they wouldn't accept me. This was late in the summer and they had already given the entrance exams for that year. My future classmates were already enrolled and undergoing plebe summer. So I never went to the Cochran and Bryan School in Annapolis, but my father talked to Lieutenant Commander Cochran and told him, “My son is trying to get into the Academy and apparently he's having difficulties.”

Lieutenant Commander Cochran said, “Let me go over and talk to the admissions people about it.” So, he went over there and they said, “Well, if he can go to summer session some place, take a college algebra course and a U.S. history course to improve his grades (the history grade was in high school, and the college algebra was at Penn), then we might reconsider him.”

I checked around to see where those courses might be taught at a university or college somewhere nearby and I finally found them at the University of Virginia. So I went to the University of Virginia just for the summer. I took those two courses, and I got good grades in them because I concentrated on them. Those were sent to the Naval



Academy. They accepted me, and I entered the Naval Academy two days before the regular academic year started.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were probably the last one to come into the class.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Well, I was close to it. I think one other classmate, Bill Jones, came in about the same time I did. I don't know what his delays were. Fortunately, the second year I was at Penn, I enrolled in an Army ROTC program, so I had some of the basics of “close order drill” and “the manual of arms,” although they were not as precise in training of this sort there as they were at the Naval Academy.

When I checked in the Naval Academy, I was put in a room, temporarily, with two guys who came out of the Fleet, classmates of mine, both dead now. They helped me get all my clothes stenciled and got me all squared away. I went down to sickbay and got shots in the arm and the complete indoctrination. They said it was time to go out to formation. I guess this was the second day that I was there. The second classman who was assigned to me to get me started found out that I had one year of ROTC at the University of Pennsylvania, so he said, “You know the basic squad movements?”

I said, “Yes.”

He put me with my regular platoon or squad. That day, we went out on the parade ground and they had it all set up for a Fox Movietone filming for news and the classmates had been practicing some special exercises out on the parade ground, which I hadn't experienced. I was able to march along and do the manual of arms and that sort of thing, but then they got all spread out in not a military formation and they began doing exercises with their rifles. You know, up over their head and down and different movements that



weren't normally done. Well, I hadn't experienced this, so I was just following the man ahead of me to see what he was doing.

In the meantime, they were up on a scaffolding thing taking pictures and movies of us. Well, one of the exercises was the rifle going up like this behind and then up and down the front, and then up and then down, and I brought it up and knocked my cap off and it fell on the ground. I laid my rifle down and reached to pick up my cap and the second classman said, “Who in the hell is that?” He was really upset and yelled “Out!” He yanked me out of there and put me on the awkward squad. That lasted only a short time because, as I said, I did know the basics of squad formations and so on.

So I was kind of behind. I didn't have a regular roommate. Everybody was all paired up. The two fellows who took care of me the first couple of days I was there were already in a two-man room. There was nobody left and no room to put me in with anyone else. So, I wound up in a room all by myself, which was kind of tough. That lasted my plebe year. I befriended the two classmates next door to me and, eventually, I joined them for the balance of my time there. Then we picked up another chap that lost his roommate to academics, so we wound up in a four-man room in the First Battalion.

I had difficulties with academics my first year and my youngster year, too. At Christmas time, I was unsat either in math or physics, but certainly in math. I had to stay there for Christmas vacation to take special tutoring with a professor who was assigned to do that. Anyway, I managed to get through it.

Donald R. Lennon:

There were quite a few of you who stayed for Christmas that year, weren't there?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes. For instance, my roommate was from Utah and couldn't afford to go home.



Donald R. Lennon:

Who were your roommates?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

My roommates at that time were Ross Spencer and Bob Schreier. Schreier was from Syracuse and the other chap we picked up when I joined the group was Milton Silverman. He was from Colorado. The four of us stayed together until we graduated.

I just had a routine time. I didn't participate in any athletics. I did play battalion lacrosse. I went out for crew, tried it and didn't like it, so I quit.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you do much sailing on the Chesapeake?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

No. We had a sailing club, but I didn't become a member of that. I should have. I only did the routine sailing that we did as part of our training. I didn't become a sailor.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you run into much harassment during the plebe year?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, I did. We were still getting “pinged” on by upperclassmen. I enjoyed that. I was able to kind of play the game with them. The first classmen, the Class of 1938, were a pretty good bunch of guys. They liked to play games with you, and if you could reciprocate in some form or fashion, that didn't upset them. It was kind of a challenge back and forth. But there were some mean guys among the second classmen, the Class of 1939. They were in the same battalion I was in and even their classmates knew these guys. There were only one or two of them that I can recall.

Donald R. Lennon:

Any particular incidents that stick in your mind?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Well, I recall one. This guy had a friend at the other end of the table, a classmate probably or an underclassman. Anyway, he had me get down under the table and crawl all the way down and try not to disturb anybody or be detected. I had to get down and set this particular guy's shoelaces on fire with a set of matches. I got caught and I got a pitcher of milk thrown on me.



They were pretty free with all kinds of pranks during our plebe year. There was one commissioned officer on duty and he would maybe be at one end of the mess hall, and at the other end there would be a midshipman duty officer. At the end where the midshipmen officers were, they got away with all kinds of stuff.

Donald R. Lennon:

They just ignored everything?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes. They got away with things that were non-reg. That was at the older mess hall that had a lot of marble stanchions, tile stanchions, and the acoustics in there were pretty bad because of that. When you were at the end of the table where you didn't have the commissioned officer, the upper classmen could really get away with a lot of crazy things. As a matter of fact, the first classmen, when they knew where the commissioned officer was going to be, let's say for breakfast, some of them would come down to the mess hall in their robes, just walk down. They didn't march down or anything. The first classmen could get away with that. When we were first classmen, you never could do anything like that. They did all kind of crazy things. They'd throw cereal boxes trying to hit someone in particular. The midshipmen officers who were maybe four stripers or three stripers were at a table in the middle.

I guess we can move on to graduation time. I'm sure you are aware that we were moved up because of the war in Europe and we graduated in February. The normal routine was that a few would apply for the Marine Corps. At our time, you couldn't apply for aviation or submarine duty. The only choice you had was combatant ships.

In our class we had twenty-three eye unsats. They were not going to give them their commissions right away and see if they could improve their eyesight for qualifying. When my assignment came up . . . they had asked for volunteers, prior to knowing about



the eye unsats, who might wish to remain at the Academy as instructors. They were going to take in ninety-day ensigns and train them at the Naval Academy. One of the opportunities was as an ordnance instructor. I volunteered to be an ordnance instructor, and I would remain there for ninety days to a year to instruct midshipmen that would be coming in under a ninety-day program. The eye unsats were elected to do that, because they had to check on their eyes later anyway. So, I got my ship assignment and I got the battleship MARYLAND along with four other classmates.

The MARYLAND was then in Hawaii and was scheduled to return to the States for an overhaul in Bremerton Navy Yard. So, the five of us going to the MARYLAND were ordered to report to San Pedro. I went to San Pedro and the ship was on its way back. We waited there, I don't know, maybe four or five days, when the ship came into Long Beach and then we boarded and the ship went from there to Bremerton. So, our first five months at sea we spent in the Navy yard. We enjoyed it and we had a lot of fun.

Upon completion of our Navy yard overhaul, we returned to Long Beach and then sailed to Pearl from there. We got out to Pearl around August. We were operating in and out of Pearl Harbor and, of course, we were in port with all the other battleships in the Pacific Fleet on December the seventh. I was ashore in the Moana Hotel. We had been to a dance there the night before, Saturday night. On Sunday morning, when the Japs attacked, they alerted everybody in the hotel. Almost everyone in the hotel was probably military and they woke everybody up and said to get back to their commands. I got back to the MARYLAND and, by that time, several ships had been hit.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you have a car?



Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

With our ensign salaries? There were six of us staying in a two-man bedroom at the hotel, sleeping on the floor or on the sofa or whatever we could find. One of the chaps was a Reserve officer. He had a car and drove us. We all went back to the base together. We got back there quite fast and, as a matter of fact, we were back before the second wave hit.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you didn't hear anything of the initial bombardment?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

No. I was not aboard.

Donald R. Lennon:

I mean, you couldn't hear it?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

They just said, “Get back to your commands.” Driving back, I remember the older Reserve officer who was driving the car saw these big billows of black smoke going up and he said, “Boy, they must have bombed the Fleet.”

I said, “Oh no. That can't be. They must have hit oil tanks or something with black smoke like that,” but I was wrong. When I got back, I think the ARIZONA had been hit, but I am not sure. I was in engineering in the M Division, in main control, main engines. When I got back aboard, I had to fight my way to get down to my battlestation, which was in main control. I was down there with the chief engineer and we were trying to get underway, but the OKLAHOMA had sunk alongside of us and had us wedged in there and we couldn't get out. We tried. We hadn't sustained any damage at that point. Maybe we had, but I wasn't aware of it.

We lost one officer and two men and an aviator. The aviator, of course, was not aboard ship. He was over at Ford Island in a floatplane. He took off and, I guess, was shot down or crashed. I don't know which. Anyway, we lost him. The one officer on board that we lost was a young ensign and his battlestation was up in Secondary Forward



Control of secondary battery. A bomb hit on the forecastle between the anchor chains, and a piece of shrapnel flew up there and hit him right in the throat and killed him instantly. That didn't create much damage to the ship, however.

Donald R. Lennon:

Seeing what was happening to the CALIFORNIA and the ARIZONA, did you have some misgivings about going down to the bowels of the ship?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, I did, but I figured, you know, we had armored decks and we would be protected.

Donald R. Lennon:

There probably wasn't any time to think about it.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Well, that's true. That's true. They couldn't get a torpedo into us because the OKLAHOMA protected us from that and there was not enough water on the other side to drop a torpedo. We were very close to Ford Island. The Japanese knew that they were going to be dropping bombs on armored-decked ships, battleships, and they didn't have armor piercing bombs per se, I learned later, but they did have armor piercing gun projectiles for their big guns. They ingeniously conceived a way to put a nose cone and a tailpiece on these projectiles and they dropped those. The nose cone and the tail vane made it drop like a bomb. If they dropped it as a projectile, it would probably just tumble. It was not very accurate. One of those came down right off of our bow, very close to the ship. Because it was an armor-piercing projectile, it had a delayed fuse in it, so it went down. When it hit the surface of the water, that activated the delayed fuse and then it blew, exploding about fifteen feet under the surface of the water. It blew a hole in the bow of our ship and flooded where the air compressors were located. We had two sailors stationed in there as their battlestation. They were drowned. That crippled us a little bit, but eventually we were able to get out of there with the help of a tug.



We got over to the repair dock at the shipyard, where they put a temporary patch on the bow. We were going to sail back to the States with the TENNESSEE and the PENNSYLVANIA. The CALIFORNIA and the WEST VIRGINIA had sunk, the NEVADA had run aground, and the ARIZONA had blown up. The PENNSYLVANIA was in drydock and I think she came out unscathed. There was a bomb dropped in the drydock area, but it hit the. . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

One hit the SHAW.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Right. The CASSIN and DOWNES were in there, if I'm not mistaken. Maybe it was the SHAW.

Donald R. Lennon:

The SHAW was in there because it is the one that exploded. That famous picture of the explosion was of the SHAW.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Okay. They put the PENNSYLVANIA back together and, in the meantime, patched us up. Then we had one other problem. We lost our air compressors. They were all flooded in that compartment, and replacing them was too big of a job. The impetus was for us to get underway. They had already realized that it was too late to try to catch up with the Japanese attack force. It was determined that they had turned tail and headed back home towards Japan. The MARYLAND, the TENNESSEE, and the PENNSYLVANIA sailed back to the States. There might have been a cruiser or two with us. I do not remember exactly when we sailed, but I know that it was before Christmas. It took time to patch us up and put the PENNSYLVANIA back together. I don't know that the TENNESSEE needed anything.

The MARYLAND arrived off of Bremerton. The others probably went to San Francisco or Long Beach. We were going to the yard to get some more work done on us



and some antiaircraft weapons put on. We had three-inch fifties on there. They weren't too effective. That was the only anti-aircraft battery we had at that time, but then we got into Bremerton Navy Yard and the U.S. Navy dreamed up some four-barreled guns called 1.1s. They were a mechanical monstrosity. You'd fire them, there would be a few bursts, but then they would break down. They were water-cooled guns and they were very complex and you couldn't keep the darn things firing. They would just break. It was a poor design. Later they were replaced by forty-millimeters. Anyway, we were primarily in there to get our anti-aircraft batteries up there and, of course, repair the air compressor system. The primary purpose of the air compressor system was to provide air cylinders on the big guns, the sixteen-inch guns. The counter recoil system had to be charged and we wouldn't have been able to fire the guns without those repairs.

Anyway, we spent some time in the shipyard, and then they sent us down to San Francisco. We operated out of San Francisco with a midnight liberty. That was great. You couldn't buy anything in San Francisco. The people would meet you on the street and invite you home for dinner or you'd run into a bar for a drink and you couldn't pay for a darn thing. They were very patriotic people and very friendly.

The fight on Midway was pending, and we were alerted to that. I say we, the Navy was. I don't think I knew what was going on. We got underway from San Francisco with the TENNESSEE and the PENNSYLVANIA and some cruisers. We were steaming way off the Aleutians in fog. We couldn't see a darn thing. I don't think we had gotten radar on board yet. In order to steam around in the fog, we used a towing spar. You towed it about a thousand or five hundred yards behind you. It threw up a big spray. The ship behind you could see that spray and would move based on it. I later learned that



while we were there a reported Japanese invasion force was headed up that way the same time as the one that was going to attack Midway. We were there as an intercepting force. We never ran into anything. Meanwhile, the Battle of Midway took place and, of course, we know the results of that. Then, since we never encountered anything, we eventually headed back to San Francisco.

Donald R. Lennon:

I read they were carrying troops to Kiska.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

The Japanese? They might have been. I don't know. There was just an intelligence report to indicate that there was a Japanese surface force headed toward the Aleutians. We were there to intercept them although we didn't have any specific intelligence as to precisely where they were.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was your assignment?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

I was still, at that time, in engineering, M Division, and I was still an ensign. Let's see now, I went on the MARYLAND in 1941 and left it in 1942. We operated out of Pearl after we left San Francisco. When we five ensigns went on board before Pearl Harbor, we were supposed to be assigned to one area for about six months and we had to take training courses. Two of us, Pete Bachelor and myself, were in the engineering department. Of the other three, one was in fire control and one was in turret divisions. No, two were in turret divisions. So, three were in gunnery and two of us were in engineering. I don't believe any of us were in communications. The idea was to rotate you about every six months to train you in all the various kinds of functions aboard ship. Of course, the war interrupted that program.

I got transferred up to the Sixth Division, which is the anti-aircraft division. I was assigned assistant director officer up there. We left Pearl and were moving west to



support landing operations and things like that on those island campaigns. We were in Fiji, Nandi. The harbor there was nice, with quite a few ships; carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, auxiliary types, a bunch of ships getting formed up and replenished and ready to go to support some landing operation. I'm not sure which one it would be at that time, but this would have been in the middle of 1942. The Battle of Midway had already taken place.

I got a set of orders that ordered me back to new construction as part of the commissioning crew of the USS IOWA. It was out of the blue. I wasn't expecting any orders. I had just made JG and I just barely got a suit of blue stripes, but I left the ship at Nandi and flew back to Con Western Sea Frontier in San Francisco and then they reordered us across the country to where we were supposed to go, whatever ship. The IOWA was building in Brooklyn and the captain, the exec, and the crew was all assigned. By the time I got to the ship, which was in December, I made lieutenant, full lieutenant. I only got the JG stripes on one set of uniforms. I made JG in June of 1942 and in December of 1942, I made full lieutenant.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now the NORTH CAROLINA and the WASHINGTON were at Brooklyn just before and the IOWA was next in line behind them.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Right. There was the SOUTH DAKOTA, the NORTH CAROLINA. I think the NORTH CAROLINA and WASHINGTON were a pair, and then the SOUTH DAKOTA, MASSACHUSETTS, ALABAMA, and one other were four ships in the same class. Then the IOWA class came along. There were four of those. We were the first one, the IOWA. I was a fourth division officer as a lieutenant and got the portside five-inch anti-aircraft battery. When we did our shakedown, they sent us up to . . . I'm trying to think. . . .



Donald R. Lennon:

Let's pick up from there.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

We were on the IOWA. And after commissioning it, we were sent up to operate out of Newfoundland. The German battleship BISMARCK was still on the loose and the British were responsible for tracking her down. As a matter of a fact, I guess in an earlier engagement, the BISMARCK sunk the HOOD and seriously damaged one of the new battleships, the KING GEORGE, or something like that. The British weren't doing so well. Anyway, we would have been a match for them. We had excellent fire and gun control and probably with our sixteen-inch guns, we had as much range if not more range than the BISMARCK had.

We were just operating in and out of Newfoundland keeping our training skills up, doing gunnery exercises and things like that. We got underway one time to go out for our usual week at sea with training. When we got to sea, we were told we weren't coming back to Newfoundland and were headed for Norfolk. So, we went into Norfolk and they didn't put us alongside of a dock. They had us anchored out in the Chesapeake Bay there and a big old repair barge was brought out and put alongside of us. I didn't know what was going on, but I had a young lieutenant working for me. He was one of my JOs. He had been in the White House before he came to the IOWA and he served under Captain McRay who was the Naval aide at the time, to Roosevelt. He was a pretty bright lad and when he saw some of this work going on he knew what was happening. They were putting an elevator in the bridge structure and we were going to get Roosevelt on board. It wasn't made known then, but he guessed that that was what was going to happen, because he had been around Roosevelt enough to know that he was in a wheelchair.

Donald R. Lennon:

He liked to go aboard ships, too.



Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes. He didn't like to fly, if he could avoid it. What we were going to do was take him to the Tehran Conference, you know, across the sea and into Iran; through Gibraltar and to Iran and then park in there and put him ashore there. Then he went from there to the Tehran Conference. Then we would pick him up later, after the conference was over. So, we immediately left the Mediterranean area.

Donald R. Lennon:

Before you get over there, anymore comments about him coming aboard?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes. It was pretty tricky. He came aboard with all of his entourage, all the top military officers of all the services: Hap Arnold, Admiral Leahy, all the top seniors, and then the senior Secret Service Agent. It was interesting. As we were cruising along, each night in the wardroom one of these officers would come down and brief us. They'd tell us what was going on, the knowledge they had, you know. It was pretty interesting.

Donald R. Lennon:

Where did he stay? In the Admiral's quarters?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

He had the Admiral's cabin up above. We didn't have an admiral on board. There was a staff Admiral's cabin on the ship and he was given that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you all see anything of him?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Only occasionally. He would come out. They were still trying not to reveal to the public that he was a wheelchair case. He couldn't walk without help. Any pictures that were taken of him, if he was standing, his son or somebody was alongside of him, you know, like they were just standing there talking to him when really they were holding him up. He was leaning on them. That was pretty closely held, the fact that he had polio and was not able to walk without assistance. Anyway, we didn't see much of him.

A very unusual incident happened on the way. We had three destroyers escorting us. We were going to be traveling at high speed. We were going to be going at twenty-



five knots. The destroyers would run out of fuel after about twenty-four hours or thirty-six hours at that speed. They'd need refueling and we weren't going to slow down to refuel them. So, another three came out of San Juan or someplace like that. They had steamed out slowly and met us at a rendezvous point, and then the three destroyers from Norfolk were able to return back to Norfolk, because of the slower speed. We picked up three new ones and they took us two thirds of the way or another third, and then a third group came from somewhere else, picked us up and took us the rest of the way. Actually, they really were no protection from any submarine warfare, because at that speed, their sonar listening was useless. We were traveling at a high speed to make us a more difficult submarine target.

Donald R. Lennon:

It would have been very difficult for the submarines if you were going full speed to zero in on you anyway.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Anyway, we had the escorts. They could have provided some air defense if we had needed that. Although I don't know if that was anticipated. The second set of destroyers, one of them was a PORTERFIELD-class, and the one we were exercising at GQ [General Quarters]. The President was probably up on the deck above observing things and we were simulating the destroyers as a target for the gunnery exercise. They were doing the same with us. They were using us as a target and they were going to shoot torpedoes at us.

Donald R. Lennon:

This wasn't while the President was aboard?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, it was. It was while he was aboard. All of these high-powered officials were aboard. On the destroyer, they simulated a failure to fire by director fire and they said, “Fire by precaution.” The chief down on the torpedo tube was going to do exactly like he



was supposed to do. He hit the thing with a mallet or something and the damn torpedo fired. It headed toward us. Fortunately, he came up on voice radio, the skipper of the destroyer, and said, “I fired a torpedo. It's headed toward you.” So, we watched. We were at GQ, so we watched. We could see the wake as it approached and it went astern of us. We probably increased speed to avoid the damn thing. That was a pretty exciting incident.

Anyway, we got the President over there and then we put him in a French frigate, which came out along the side. It had a phony smoke stack. The elevator was inside that smoke stack. We got him across the gangway and they rigged that ship, I guess, to take care of him. Then, they went on into Iran. We didn't actually go into the port. We were anchored out somewhere, I guess.

They sent us over to Recife, Brazil. I don't know why they picked that place, but it was far enough away that we would be out of range of any enemy air.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, they put Roosevelt on a French frigate and carried him through the Mediterranean?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

No, they took him right into Iran. We were anchored just off there. I don't know whether they had no docking space for us or what, or maybe they purposely wanted to do it that way. By the time we got over there . . . we had an unusual experience there. I didn't go ashore there, because we were only in there two nights, and one night, I guess, I had duty. The sailors that got ashore there encountered things called “monkey rats.” They were little tiny monkeys. They were like little pets. They thought these things were great. I guess peddlers were selling them all along the streets. They'd start coming back aboard with those things. The Officer of the Deck stopped those that he could see and



said, “You can't bring those animals aboard.” Some of them, found out from their buddies that they couldn't bring them aboard, so they would stick them in their pants leg or inside their shirt or something like that. We had to conduct a locker search all over the ship for the next few days after we left there to try and get these little monkeys off the ship. You know, that's something that just happened.

Then, we were ordered back to Casablanca and that's where we picked up the President. He came out in another French ship, I think. We got him aboard and then we headed on back to Norfolk. Then, just before we arrived at Hampton Roads, the President addressed us. They assembled the crew aft and then they put the President up on top of a gun turret or something that was quite high and he addressed the crew. He talked about his having been at this conference. He couldn't reveal the specifics of it, but he was indicating that things were looking good for us. Therefore, the crew did get a chance to see him.

By that time, the NEW JERSEY, which was built, I think, in Norfolk, was finishing her shakedown, so the NEW JERSEY and the IOWA, which were compatible ships because they had the same characteristics and could operate together, were ordered to the Pacific to join in the Island Hopping Campaign out there. To go through the Canal . . . our beam was designed to permit us to get through the canal, but a few little davits and other little fixtures and things were welded on the side of the ship, and we had to cut all of those off, because as we came up the locks, the sides of the ship were scraping the sides of the locks. We could just barely fit through there. Before we actually entered the locks we should have figured we'd have to cut the gadgets and things off the side of the ship.



Donald R. Lennon:

What about an aircraft carrier; can they get through?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Not with their angled deck, they can't. At that time, they were all straight decks and they could get through.

We went on out and Spruance came aboard, Admiral Spruance, and we left Pearl to give us a little exposure, to test out fire control and things like that. They ordered us, just the NEW JERSEY, the IOWA, and three destroyers, out to the Marshall Islands. We went to Milli Atoll, which was still in the hands of the Japanese. Our main forces had gone past it. They weren't worried about it. It was no threat. But they sent us down there to do some practice with our guns. We were not going to use full charge on those sixteen-inch guns; we were going to use a reduced charge in order to reduce the wear and tear on the guns. So that meant we had to get in closer in order to hit the atoll. There were some targets there. They shot back at us and hit us with a small caliber, maybe a four-inch gun or something like that. No projectile hit above the waterline--I was at sky aft--and that thing hit just maybe ten or fifteen yards forward of my station but much lower, in the side of the ship. Pieces of shrapnel flew up and we found a piece of a nickel, a U.S. nickel, that had blown up and landed on our deck just below my gun director. So they were using whatever they could for scrap to put shrapnel in their projectiles. So they did hit us and we fired back at it and hit the gun.

Donald R. Lennon:

If you could have used full firepower, you could probably just about have blown that atoll away.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Oh, well yeah. But this was just kind of a warming-up drill so to speak. A realistic one, as I say, since we got hit. The NEW JERSEY, however, didn't get hit at all.



Donald R. Lennon:

Curiosity: Did they move the elevator?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, that was taken out. They took that out. I forgot to mention that.

Then we went on to join the fast carrier task forces out there and participate in operations. We were always at sea with the carriers. They would send air strikes in to wherever landing was going to take place and they never used us for any shore bombardment. We just stayed with carriers and provided anti-aircraft defense for them in a big circle of destroyers around for anti-submarine protection. I was a lieutenant, as I mentioned earlier. We did these island campaigns. We did Hollandia in New Guinea. As I said, we were always at sea where the landing operations were going on and we would provide air support. The carriers went in when we were with the task force. We never really got to see much.

There were times when we would be threatened by air attack and as a matter of fact, we did undergo a couple of air attacks before I left that ship. One of them was at nighttime. The carriers had night-fighters on board and I remember this one incident. A snooper plane was flying over us and probably reporting our position to some Japanese Naval Command somewhere. Usually, you could figure when one of those snooper planes caught you, because the next morning--if you were within range of Japanese air forces--you were going to be subjected to an air attack. They were hot to get to the carriers. So, we launched the night-fighters--or the carriers did--and the carriers had the plane on their radar scopes or the fighter director. They directed those night-fighters to bring them around on the tail of this Jap plane that was flying just about overhead. They just opened up fire and shot that thing down. We could see it burst into flame. It was



right over top of us. This really affected the night-fighters' capability, with the ship directing the aircraft.

We got out of there after four or five of those support operations and having been subject to a couple of air attacks. Mainly, they were detected early enough that the carriers would catch them by air patrol and they'd be vectored out and intercepted. Unless the attacking force was overwhelming in numbers, they would probably shoot down most of them before they got into gun range, but some of them would get through and then the destroyers. . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

Which carriers were you with?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Probably, the LEXINGTON. No, not the LEXINGTON. They would change. I guess the FRANKLIN was one of them and maybe the BENNINGTON. I really don't remember precisely. They were all ESSEX-class. There were some times that we had some of the CVLs with us, the smaller ones. It was one of those big circular formations and you maybe had two or three carriers in the middle of that thing. There may have been another one, another group of carriers, maybe fifteen, twenty miles away from us.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did they have them ringed by battleships and destroyers?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Battleships and cruisers would be in any part of it in a specific location of the formation. It was an easily maneuvered formation, because in this thing, everybody just stayed put. You maneuvered the whole thing. You didn't have to change position or anything. You just had to change course, all with turn signals, and you can maneuver that thing in any direction. They would go into the wind and land and launch aircraft, so nobody had to go running around changing station. Unlike later, when I was in Korea, we wouldn't have a full circular screen. You maybe had a bentline screen out in front. Every



time you changed course, that screen had to reorient, which took a lot of maneuvering in the nighttime. That became pretty hectic.

Anyway, I got orders from that ship, let's see, in 1944. I went aboard and joined in 1942 and then in 1944, I left it. I left it in Ulithi, where I think we were for one of those regular R&R stops between engagements. I was ordered back to San Francisco, to COM 13 or COM 12. Then he reassigned me. He would just alert the Bureau that you were there . . . and there were a bunch of us like that that were gun officers. We got ordered back for different ships out there and we all seemed to end up in San Francisco for a reassignment from that point. They would then go back to the Bureau and learn where officers were needed with specific capabilities.

I got ordered from there to the LAKE CHAMPLAIN, an aircraft carrier, CV-39, being built in Norfolk. I was in the gunnery department aboard that ship. Well, after I got aboard, I got promoted to lieutenant commander. I was in a five-inch battery aboard the carrier. The ship had just been completed in Norfolk.

The war in Europe ended while this happened, but the war in Japan was still going on. We had gone down to Guantanamo to shakedown and did all our carrier qualifications, all the underway training we had to get down there. We came back to Norfolk to load stores, supplies, aircraft and everything when the war in Japan ended. Here we were a brand new ESSEX-class carrier with no place to go. They took the air group off and sent them over to Oceania, I guess.

The captain was a pretty ambitious guy and well liked by the crew. His name was Logan Ramsey and he had had command of a smaller carrier. They were doing anti-submarine warfare in the Atlantic and were successful. I think his group sunk a couple of



submarines. He checked with the CNO about maybe having the ship visit some ports up and down the coast and open it up to visitors. During the war, public visiting aboard ships was not allowed. So they sent us up to Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Anyway, we would get alongside of the dock and the ship would be open for visits. We had one type of aircraft on board, just to show them what type of aircraft we carried at that time. So, we were doing that routine, having public visitors aboard and when that mission was accomplished or completed, we were directed to become part of a thing called, “Magic Carpet.”

There were thousands of Army troops in Europe that had to be brought back to the States and our transports and what not were not sufficient in numbers to bring them all back. So, here was a nice big ship, so we took passengers. The aircraft had already been taken off, so they came aboard and put five-tier-high bunks all the way through the whole hangar deck, except for one section where they had the movie screen and chairs for movies. We were able to transport five thousand troops in addition to our own crew. Of course, all the air group was gone and all the aviator billets were cut down, so we just had seamen aboard, the gunnery department and deck divisions, communications, and so on. We didn't have all that aircraft repair, maintenance, and ordnance people. They weren't on board anymore. So, there was room for troop officers to sleep in the officer's quarters and that kind of thing.

Anyway, we went to England into Portsmouth, took a bunch of troops on there and brought them back. Then we made a trip to Naples and did the same thing there. We made two trips to Naples, but each time, the first two runs anyway, the captain was anxious to get these boys home before Christmas. He opened up the ship so they could



go anywhere they wanted to on the ship, up and down the engine rooms, everywhere. Since we had no aircraft on board, when the weather was pretty good, they were up on the flight deck playing touch football and having a great old time. He opened up the suggestion box to them and then he'd get on the horn at night and he'd say, “Well, I've got a note here from somebody,” saying can we do such and such a thing or can we look at that or can we do that? He'd say, “You can do it. We'll arrange for you to do that.” So, he made it comfortable for them.

We came back in about four days. When they went over, it probably took them eight or ten, or maybe more days stuck below in the hull of a transport or something, not a very pleasant trip. The mess line was going continuously. By the time you fed all these guys plus our own crew, it just never stopped. By the time you'd get done feeding them for breakfast, it was time to start taking them to lunch. There were movies going constantly in the hangar all day long. They could just stay there and watch movies if they wanted to.

The captain was set on beating the QUEEN MARY's crossing record. The QUEEN MARY would sail from New York to Southampton or Plymouth . . . I'm not sure. Anyway, we were not going to New York. We were going to go into Norfolk. So, the points of arrival and departure were different than what the QUEENMARY's was, but the sustained speed . . . we broke her speed record in miles per hour--knots. We ran into some rough seas when we came out of England down to Southampton, but the captain didn't want to slow down and he kept checking with the first lieutenant and others on the ship to see if we were suffering any damage. We finally hit a wave that really crippled



the hangar deck. It dropped it about six inches, because he didn't slow down. You just can't fight the seas.

We were making thirty-two knots. We were going our maximum. Finally, screwing around doing this, he got a message from the Chief of Naval Operations saying that he appreciated wanting to get the troops back promptly and recognized that, but you're burning fuel at too fast a rate, most inefficient and costly. So, he was directed to slow down.

Donald R. Lennon:

Who was the captain?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

That was Captain Logan Ramsey. He was an aviator. Then we got through with those Magic Carpet runs. Since the war was over, they didn't need all these carriers, so they directed us to go into the Reserve Fleet and put it out of commission. I got stuck staying aboard and inactivating all the guns, the forty-millimeters and five-inch batteries, and all that stuff. Humidified igloos were put over the forty-millimeter mounts. The twenties were all taken apart and stored below deck. It was a long operation. We were part of the Reserve Fleet. A small maintenance crew was kept on board. As the crew kept being reduced, we were inactivating the equipment. The engineers were doing it all below the decks and everybody, the navigators, everybody had equipment that they had to inactivate or preserve some way or another. The crew was gradually diminishing down to just a very small nucleus and I was in that small nucleus with the gunnery department. As matter of fact, I wound up as the gunnery officer. I had a warrant and myself and a handful of gunners mates to finish up the job.

I got ordered to my first shore duty from there in August of 1946. The war was over and I was ordered to State College. It later became Penn State University, but then it



was State College. I was an ROTC instructor. There's nothing special to talk about there. You're just training midshipmen and I was teaching the ordnance course. They had a four-striper as our CO and a commander as exec. There were about three instructors, one Marine officer and a couple of Navy officers. While I was there, I got married and I spent a little over two years there. I left there in November of 1948. I was a lieutenant commander.

I was ordered to the USS BLUE, DD-744, which was in San Diego. It was in the Reserve Fleet. It had just been put out of commission not too long before along with three other destroyers and they were all in the San Diego Reserve Fleet. They were going to put us back in commission, testing the theory that the ships inactivated in the Reserve Fleet could be made ready with a full crew. In thirty days they should be able to be put back in commission and be fully operational.

Well, the idea was good and it might have worked if they'd given us a crew, but they gave us the officers and no men. There was a shortage of sailors, I guess, at the time. We only had some men from the Reserve Fleet. They would come on a borrowed basis to help us do something. We started to prepare the equipment as best we could, you know, taking cocoons off and cleaning all the carbon and stuff off the guns, activating the engineering compartments, all the systems throughout the ship.

We never could do it in thirty days, because there was not a full crew. Then there were things like publications and Navy regs and all that stuff that we didn't have. Reserve ships are no longer on the distribution list, so we had to activate . . . all that kind of thing. It took some doing. We had a skipper. I was the exec. We had about nine or ten officers. Nothing to do with no crew around, we went to all the schools throughout



the San Diego area, the training schools, submarine schools, navigation schools, and radar schools, all the different schools there were. We were the most educated group of ships in the Fleet. It took us maybe two or three months before we finally got underway.

They ordered us to Hunter's Point to go through the Navy yard up there and they put the most modern sonar gear on us, the most modern fire control radars, you know, all the new stuff that was available, communication equipment and so on. It was about maybe a two-or three-month overhaul period. I guess, maybe four months. Then we were ordered back down to San Diego and they put us right back in the Reserve Fleet again.

The Secretary of Defense at the time, I forget who he was now, but he was the guy that really cut back severely. I guess the political pressures were heavy to cut spending since we weren't in war anymore.

Donald R. Lennon:

This is still 1948?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

That's right, it took one year. It was actually, forty-nine. So, we put the ship out of commission. The skippers were all ordered off to other commands except one who was kept there as the commodore, so to speak. The rest of the execs were fleeted up to be the captains who put the ship in mothballs. So we were right back there, working with the same Fleet people we'd just left to put the ships out of commission.

I got orders as executive officer of the LEONARD F. MASON, DD-852, which was home-ported in San Diego and operated out of San Diego. I reported there in February of 1950 and we operated out of San Diego, doing training there. We were part of a destroyer division, DESDIV 32, I think. We also had a yard period at Mare Island to



update and do some maintenance on the ship. Then we deployed to WESPAC and the Korean War popped up. So, we became involved in operations there.

The destroyers were rotated around out there. There was a time when we were up on the bombardment line. We were in Wonsan Harbor or one of the harbors there and we would take shots at anything we saw moving on the beach. We might get some counter-battery fire and we'd try to knock those out if we could. While some destroyers were out doing that, others were out operating with the carriers as submarine screening for them. Others were down operating on the Formosa patrol--Formosa Straits and Taiwan--and occasionally, one or two would get into Hong Kong for a little R&R. So, they rotated us around. We were sent back to Japan and became a nucleus-training group for anti-submarine warfare and we would work with small carriers in the Badogng Strait and one other one, I forget. We worked with our admiral and those aviators and we would be the destroyers that would do the anti-submarine work.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, the Korean War was considered primarily a ground war, so the Navy was not. . . .

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

We had carriers up there and they were doing air strikes in support of the ground troops. We got a plane shot down occasionally over there. Anyway, while we were working with this anti-submarine group operating out of Yokosuka, Japan, we would be out training, doing ASW exercises. We had submarines to work with, our own submarines of course, and we would do all these anti-submarine warfare things. We were doing some operations at night and a plane was launched off the carrier. We were doing plane-guard duty back on this corner. At this stage of the game, helicopters didn't fly at



night. As a matter of fact, I don't even think they were using helicopters for plane guard duty then.

Years later, they did, [use helicopters] in addition to having a destroyer sit back there, in case a pilot went down. They were doing night operations and a plane was launched and he went in the “drink.” We had to pull up and work in the dark with our searchlights on, but we got the guy. We got him out of there, rescued him, and got him back to the carrier. That was a hectic operation at night.

Anyway, I had a commodore on board. I had a division flagship and he wrote me up for the next thing above [Legion of Merit]. We got bucked down to a Bronze Star for that operation and some other operations. He lumped several things that we did. When we were out bombarding with a cruiser up off the shores of Northern Korea, we were shooting at counter battery fire. Anyway, he wrote me up for a Legion of Merit, but it got bucked down to a Bronze Star.

I got along well with him. He was a nice guy. We were in port somewhere and later on we got down to Hong Kong. When he was getting ready to go ashore--he enjoyed liberty like everybody else--he had his steward come down and say to me that the commodore said, "I invite you to go ashore with me.” So, we'd go ashore and go to a bar or restaurant or something like that and have a drink. It was very nice.

We operated out of Taiwan for a while, just two destroyers were in there. One was out on patrol. There were anti-submarine patrols going on between Taiwan and the coast of China. We kept getting echoes on some damn thing that was sunk down there. I don't know what it was. Every ship that went out there on that tour would get it maybe for about two or three days. Then we'd go into Hong Kong for maybe two or three days



and then come back on patrol out there, and then on over into Kaisung, the southern port of Taiwan. Everyone that had that anti-submarine war patrol out there would pick up this thing on their sonars. It was in the same location and because of the currents or something, it would appear to be moving, when I guess it really wasn't. Anyway, we'd all try to depth charge the damn thing, whatever it was, and it really was not a submarine.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now did the North Koreans have much in the way of submarines?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

No, I don't think so. We were primarily escorting carriers up there for anti-aircraft. They did have aircraft. No, we really didn't anticipate any submarine activity. I don't think they had any. I'm not aware of it. Anyway, the LEONARD F. MASON . . . I went aboard that ship in February of 1950 and left it in August of 1951. I got command of my own destroyer the BAUSELL, DD-845 in September of 1951.

I was confused back there with the LEONARD F. MASON. I was mixing it up with the BAUSELL. I should have been looking at my notes a little more carefully. That was the ship I had the division commander on with me and that's when I was operating with the carrier off of Japan and did that rescue. It was not on the LEONARD F.MASON. I'm sorry about that. I went aboard the BAUSELL in September of 1951. At that time I think I was one of the first of my classmates to get command of a destroyer, if not, then nearly the first one. The skipper of the LEONARDF. MASON was out of the Class of 1938. He was a real good skipper and he trained me very well. I had no destroyer duty at all, just that little bit.

Donald R. Lennon:

What were you, “Exec O?”

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

I was “Exec O,” yes. He taught me to take the ship alongside for underway replenishment and all those kind of things. As a matter of fact, one of the skippers in that



division (back to the LEONARD F. MASON now briefly) got a severe case of bursitis and was unable to command his ship. It was another ship in our division. The division commander sent him ashore. He had to go to the hospital, he was in such pain. My skipper found out about it and he sent a message over. He said, “We want you to have my exec. He's qualified to command. He's available if you need him to command that ship.”

The Division Commander said, “Appreciate it,” then he realized he had been a skipper himself, so he said, “I'm on the ship. I'll just take it myself.” That was really nice of my skipper being willing to let me go off the ship and take over another ship, but he recognized that it would have been a feather in my cap to have a command like that. He trained me very well, because I had no destroyer experience up until the little bit I had on the BLUE, which didn't amount to much of anything. So, I always thought very highly of him. We had a good ship and a good crew and he was a well-liked skipper. The Korean War was still going on when I had the BAUSELL, so I was involved in operations in the Korean War.

An amusing incident . . . movements were classified, but when we had our time to go into Hong Kong in the BAUSELL, there was a little flag on our mooring buoy that said, “Welcome, BAUSELL.” It was Mary Sue, a Chinese woman, who had a crew of other Chinese women, and they would paint the side of your ship for no price. You would have to provide the paint, but they would paint the side of your ship and do a perfect job. They cut that line in just as good as any Navy yard ever would and all they wanted was the food leftover from each meal. The galleys would prepare enough food for everybody and a lot of sailors would go ashore or something and there was always



food left over. We would give them the food and then provide the paint. They would paint the side of the ship. You would get it painted in about one day and a real good job, too. I don't know how the hell she knew I was coming in at that buoy, because ship movements were classified. I guess a previous ship that had been in there had said the BAUSELL is coming in here.

So, we were moored in Hong Kong and the commodore went to call on the commodore of Hong Kong, a senior British naval officer there, as a matter of protocol. He invited me to go with him. The executive officer asked me, “Skipper, what do you want to do about these Hong Kong merchants? We know from previous ships, their experience, that they come alongside and they're going to want to sell stuff to your crew. As a matter of fact, some ships let them come on board where they can set their shops up aboard the ship.” The commodore said, “It's up to you whatever you want to do about that.”

So, I said, “Okay, but keep them from the midship's aft, none of them down below deck, anywhere.”

Donald R. Lennon:

So, they were allowed to come set up shop on the ship?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes. When we came back, I thought I was on a street in Hong Kong. They had rugs and shirts and suits and all kinds of frick and frack, all the way around the top deck, from the one side, all the way around the stern and back up the other side. They were selling to sailors that couldn't get ashore for whatever reason. They could order suits. They could buy stuff, most of it junk. I couldn't recognize the damn ship.

Donald R. Lennon:

Here you have a crew of Chinese women painting your ship. . . .

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, well, they were over the side. They were no trouble.



Donald R. Lennon:

All the vendors. . . .

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Well, if you didn't let them on board, they were going to be hovering in small boats all around the ship, trying to get the sailors, you know, holding things up for the sailors to buy. It was easier to let them come aboard as long as they behaved themselves and they did.

We left there and turned back to San Diego, which was our homeport, and in November of 1952, I got orders to shore duty again. This time I was ordered to Operational Development Force in Norfolk. I was a commander at the time and I checked in there in January of 1953. OPDEVFOR was a testing and evaluation activity and they would test various weapons systems and any kind of new gadgets coming down the pipe. They had certain ships assigned to them and they had a lot of technical personnel, experts in their field and all kinds of warfare activity.

If there was a weapons system or some kind of device or gadget that the dreamers in the Pentagon or the Bureau of Ordnance, or whatever, dreamed up and they wanted to get it tested, they would turn it over to OPDEVFOR. OPDEVFOR would put it in a ship or put it in use, test it out, and then make a report back. That was primarily what I was out there for, but we were also in the process at this time of reviewing our tactical publications. They set up a group of people to review various tactical publications by the Fleets, the Pacific Fleet and the Atlantic Fleet.

They were going to put us in the Pentagon, but there was a policy going around at the time to cut down on the number of people at the Pentagon, to get them out of there. So, they formed this outfit. They created this outfit called Tactical Review Group and put them in OPDEVFOR. It would be convenient to anything that they tested and came up



with--tactical instructions for its use or operations. We could just crank it into what we were doing. We would get these Fleet reviews from the Atlantic and the Pacific Fleets on a particular tactical publication that we were using, and the British and other allied forces were using these same things. We weren't getting their comments, but we were getting them from our own Fleet. You'd be surprised that the Pacific Fleet would come and make a recommendation on such and such a thing, and the Atlantic Fleet, something directly opposite. So, we had to mesh that thing out some way or another to figure out what to put in the publications. We did this for a couple years. I was in the surface operations part. We had anti-submarine, aviators, supply types, and whatever else you needed; whatever else you could think of that would have some expertise in reviewing these reviews on tactical publications.

That was my second shore duty and it was very pleasant. I was increasing my family size and enjoying the shore duty. (Back in San Diego, when I was at sea, my wife would be alone for about six months at a time.)

In 1955, I got orders to report to Commander in Chief Pacific [CINPAC] at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I reported out there with my family, which had now increased to four daughters, in December of 1955. My youngest daughter was three months old and just barely qualified to travel on a Navy transport. We had to go to San Francisco and we sailed from there on a Navy transport, the GENERAL HAYES. We arrived in Hawaii and my immediate superior was there to meet us, you know, and welcome us to Hawaii with leis and all that stuff. So, we really looked forward to being in Hawaii.

The job there . . . I was in the Navy section. Admiral Stumpf was CINCPAC at the time. It was a joint staff. You have Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps all



mixed in there. Our branch, the foreign aid branch, was headed up by an Army colonel. We had a couple of Navy commanders, another Army colonel and a major, an Air Force major, and a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. I was a commander and my immediate boss was a commander. What we did was review the MAG programs. We had MAGS in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan. We had a thing in Indonesia and a phony one in Cambodia. It was Army, but they were in civilian clothes. They weren't supposed to have one in there, but there were troops in there in Cambodia as ground forces.

The only Navy elements primarily were in Taiwan. They had a couple of destroyers that we gave them, and the Philippines had a small Navy. I don't know if we had anything in South Korea. We had some dealings with Japan. They had a Japanese Self-Defense Force, so they were restricted in what they had. These countries would submit a program of things that they needed, you know, in the way of weapons and all kinds of stuff. We would go over those programs to see whether they were warranted. The MAG's responsibility was to see if those pieces of equipment went to the right place where they'd be utilized right now.

A lot of black market stuff would go on. We'd send out certain things that they wanted and we'd approve that they could have it, and then they would peddle it for the black market. The MAGs are supposed to prevent that and also train the troops. So, the majority of it was Army. There was some air. I think Thailand had a small air force and Taiwan did, too. The Philippines may have had a small air force that didn't amount to a hill of beans. We had all services involved. That was what I was doing at CINCPAC.



I left there in 1958 and had orders to join the Commander Carrier Division 5 staff, a West Coast carrier division. They were home ported in San Diego. I reported in February of 1958 and they were in Hong Kong. They were wrapping up a deployment. There were four carrier divisions in the Pacific, two home-ported in San Francisco and two at San Diego: Carrier Divisions 1, 5, 7, and 3. We were Carrier Division 5. We were headed up by an admiral, and the captain was chief of staff. Then we had an ASW officer, a surface operations officer; a tactical weapons officer; an air officer; a planning staff; communications; a flag secretary; and so on. We had maybe ten or twelve officers and a handful of enlisted men.

We would go out and conduct operations, training operations, that involved a whole lot of other people up and down the coast. Then we would deploy to the Pacific and be out there for six months. During the time we were out there, our admiral would wind up being the head of Task Force 77. It was part of the Seventh Fleet. When we were CTF 77, we had to run off operation orders and conduct training while we were out there. Wherever there was a flap or anything going on, we'd be set to go do something about it if anything was needed.

The whole time we were operating out there, there were targets in Russia that our aircraft could strike, and we had certain positions where we had to be within that spot. That was our launch point. We could be within maybe, six hours distance from the launch point, but we had to get close to that point. Then their strike plan was laid out from that point and their particular targets. I don't know what the targets were, but we had information, our people, who'd tell what those targets might be, and we were prepared to do that. That was one of our primary missions out there; otherwise, training



all the time and to show the flag. We'd been to all the different ports around there. Occasionally, the ship would have to go in for repairs and they would flop us over to another ship--the flag.

As a matter of fact, we had been deployed and we were back in the San Diego area when they sent us up to Foreign Ships in Victoria, a Canadian port up north. The queen was going to be there and there was going to be a big review. Canadian ships, British ships, would sail by, and us. I don't think there was anything else in the Pacific, but they sent us up there in the BENNINGTON, a carrier. That was the first time a carrier had been in there. It's not that big a port. We were able to be dockside. The Canadians really opened everything for us. They set up parties and a lot of dances and all kinds of things. It was a lot of fun.

While we were there--we had all our files and everything in the BENNINGTON--and then there was a flap, the Tonkin Gulf thing came along. We were ordered to immediately disembark from the BENNINGTON and get our fannies down to San Diego, go aboard the LEXINGTON and sail in a matter of two days or something like that. So, we had to pack all those files and things. They sent a couple of planes up there for us and they flew us all back down to San Diego and we went aboard the LEXINGTON. We walked in there and they were finishing loading stores and provisions. We sailed the next day. In a matter of two days, we had sailed on the LEXINGTON with our carrier division to go out to beef up the WESPAC forces. It was the early beginnings of the Vietnam thing.

In the meantime, when there was no flap going on, we would have a schedule of what we'd be doing, who we'd be training with for various operations, and operation



orders we would do while we were out there. Then, when we would come back to San Diego, we'd probably be directed to set up an operations order for training things involving shore forces and whatever. They were always doing these kinds of things to keep you trained up.

I got ordered from that. I got there in February of 1958 and I left in October of 1959. I got orders into Op 43, the Chief of Naval Operations staff at the Pentagon. Op 43 is the ship's material and readiness. We were responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of ships and trying to modernize some ships. We went through a FRAM program with destroyers, trying to update them, and we'd monitor all that stuff. It was not a very exciting job. It put me at home, however, and it was not a pressure job. Some Pentagon jobs . . . you have to be in there practically all the time. So, it was kind of an easy job.

In the meantime, I got selected for captain at just about the time I left the carrier division staff. I was captain at the Pentagon from November of 1959 until June of 1962 in the ship's material and readiness section. Then I got ordered to sea again as commanding officer of the GREAT SITKIN, an ammunition ship, AE-15, located in New York.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was it?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

The GREAT SITKIN. Ammunition ships . . . a good many were named after volcanoes or mountains. There's the VESUVIUS and the MT. BAKER and I can't think of any others. Anyway, this was an old C2 cargo hull. I had never had any experience in an ammunition ship. There were guys smoking all over the ship! The exec said, “No problem, Captain.” We had on board and were carrying any kind of weapon you could think of. We were operating out of New York. I would take a pilot on board and he



would get me out to the sea buoy. Then he'd jump off on the pilot boat and stay on a pilot ship out there until they brought another ship in. We operated off of New England. We had operating areas up there. We would go out there and do gunfire exercises, training exercises, towing exercises, and working out at the kinds of things we were supposed to do to keep the crew trained. On most combatant ships, your main force is your gunnery crew. On this ship, our key guys were the winch operators for underway replenishment. Those guys had to keep the lines working properly. When we were transmitting projectiles to wherever, we'd send them over to the ship.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now, in most combatant ships then, even when they're doing exercises, they don't load all their ammo. Most of their ammo is in port.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

They do if there's an opportunity for them to do that. If they're deployed somewhere, they set up an underway replenishment. If they have to get fuel, stores, and ammunition, then there's always an ammo ship available in that Underway Replenishment Group. Mainly, they needed oil, so there'd be two tankers or three sometimes. That was on the Pacific side. On the Atlantic side, I only got involved in underway replacements occasionally. The ship had just come back from a deployment over in the Mediterranean. They would have done an awful lot of underway replacement over there, because there were a lot of ships in the Sixth Fleet. Down the coast, we'd only get involved when there was some big training operation going on with forces that were operating out of Norfolk or out of Mayport or something like that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Didn't you all need to train?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, we did. Well, occasionally, if I saw another ship out there in the training area, I'd signal them and say, “Do you want to practice coming alongside and I'll just



transfer some dummy stuff to you?” I just promoted myself, because I didn't have anything else to do. Occasionally, the captain would say, “Yes, I'd like to do that.” So, I would establish a base course. We had to be careful. Our training area up there was out of any shipping lanes, but occasionally there would be coastal steamers or something in the area, and as we would get settled down to have a ship come alongside, all of a sudden some damn merchant ship would be crossing our path. We had to be alert to something like that. Otherwise, it worked out pretty good.

Then, I would go down to Earl, New Jersey, to take on some ammunition that I needed, perhaps, or turn in some stuff that should be obsolete because it was getting old or whatever. We turned it in and got new stuff. I carried everything on it. I had five holds and one of them was special weapons, you know. I was the only one allowed to go down there, and there were two trained people I had on board that were qualified to go with me. We had to go down and check that stuff periodically. We couldn't take any matches down there, no lighters, no nothing. We had to check in on a log when we went down into that hold and we never could go down there alone. There always had to be two people.

When I had command of that ship, I used to come home on weekends. I'd drive down from New York to here. We lived in this house at the time. The exec lived on the ship; he wasn't married. I was home one weekend and he called me on a Sunday. He said, “Captain, we've got orders to get underway tomorrow morning. You had better get up here.” In the meantime, in the news, the Russians were reported to be putting missiles in Cuba. The President was being confronted with the situation and “what the hell to do



about it?” They set up that blockade around Cuba to stop merchant ships that looked like they were carrying missiles.

Combatant ships were set up there to do that, you know, cruisers and destroyers and, I guess, there were some aircraft carriers involved, too. Then the ASWs were involved. I don't know why they were involved. There were Russian submarines in the Atlantic, but we weren't at war.

I got underway Monday morning and had to join up with some other service force ships, an oiler and a supply ship. We sailed on down to the Cuban area. There were ships scattered all around. We would go steaming along and check with them to see if they needed anything. Most of the time, they didn't need any ammunition. They weren't shooting at anything. What they were doing . . . they were training with their small arms. They had to get boarding parties trained up and they probably hadn't had a weapon in their hands in a long time, some of the sailors. So, they wanted small arms. They wanted thirty-caliber and forty-five-caliber stuff. They were training their boarding party to be prepared to go aboard with sidearms, if they were going to stop a ship, you know, go aboard to check to see what were carrying.

I was down there with my ammunition ship. I had a consignment of Marine weapons that were controlled by the commandant of the Marine Corps. It was primarily the small stuff that the ships were wanting for the small arms stuff, the thirty-caliber and the forty-five-caliber stuff, but it was consigned to the Marine Corps. I couldn't touch it unless the Marine Corps released it. So, I sent a message to the commandant of the Marine Corps and said, “I'm down here with this thing in Cuba, and the ships are asking for small arms ammunition. I have it on board, but it's consigned to you. Do I have



permission to issue some of it? I'll replace it as soon as I get back into port.” He authorized me to issue the stuff to some of the ships that needed small arms. Other than that, I was delivering mail to them or they wanted ice cream or toilet paper.

Donald R. Lennon:

More or less, an exercise for you.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

That was the upshot of it. I never did get in any shooting war, of course. The missile flap was concluded. They released the ships to go back to their homeports or wherever they were supposed to go, but they kept one carrier, one oiler, one ammo ship, and one division of destroyers down there just in case something else might occur. I was designated to stay down there.

We got into Guantanamo. We'd been into San Juan, and they had given me one port visit at Ochos Rios in Jamaica, which I'd never heard of before. But I had no information about the place. I sent my navigator to shore at Guantanamo to see if he could dig up anything about the depth of the water. The charts were not too good. Anyway, submarines had been in there and it was supposed to be a good liberty port. It happened to be excellent. We were in there for a couple of nights. I had to anchor out. We couldn't get alongside of a dock, so we had to go to shore in boats, but no problem. We got into Guantanamo for some R&R. Finally, they sent us back to our homeport in New York.

Donald R. Lennon:

How long were you down there after the crisis? In December, as I remember?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, we came back before Christmas. We went through an overhaul up in the New York area. That was an interesting thing. The BUPERS people controlled this and they put out bids. Some old guy with a bicycle shop (I guess that's about all he had) put in a little bid and he got the bid to do the repair work. He couldn't do the bottom work,



so they put me in a drydock in Hoboken and they did my bottom work, repainted, and did the hull work. Then, I had to move the ship over to this rickety old pier in Brooklyn. The damn thing was older than I was. I don't think it had been used in years. It was the only thing he could get a hold of. He had no place, just a machine shop--I mean a van with tools and things in it. He had skilled workers--or presumed to be skilled workers--who he hired.

Donald R. Lennon:

They gave him a contract?

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Yes, they gave him a contract. He rented this pier space and the first time the QUEEN ELIZABETH went out, she went a little bit fast and created a wake and damaged the pier. He would bring a truck alongside on the dock and come aboard with his people. They would take machinery, motors, and things like that, take them off the ship, and go over to the New York area to get them repaired. It was quite a job. Normally, I would have had my men observing the work being done. They could maybe have learned something from the guys that were repairing those things, but it was scattered all over the area. It was not a very satisfactory “ordeal.” In the meantime, they were doing other things on board the ship, you know, that needed repairing or whatever. That was quite an experience.

Eventually, we went down to Mayport for an operation down there and coming back from that, I went into Yorktown to take on some ammo. They ordered my relief and we had a change of command while we were heading into Yorktown. I left the ship there and I had orders to go to the Bureau of Naval Personnel. I reported there in August of 1963 and departed in June of 1965. I was assigned to PersF, which is personnel performance. I had PersF 3, which is enlisted personnel performance. That responsibility



was the review of enlisted records of services of those that had been court-martialed or had run into some difficulty, you know, alcoholics, or those who over-leave a lot. They would be court-martialed or given a less than dishonorable discharge.

They or their parents would write to their congressman about what the Navy was doing to them. The congressman's office would write our office and say, “I have to respond to a Mrs. so and so. She says that her son has been charged improperly with this thing or that.” We'd get the records out and draft a letter, which had to be signed off by my boss. I would initial it to be signed off by my boss to go back to the congressman, giving him an answer, so that he could use that answer. We did a lot of that.

Then there was review of records. If someone got a bad conduct discharge or unsuitability and they were fighting it and they had a lawyer or somebody, we had to respond to those kinds of things. We always had the information, but they were hoping to get it corrected. It was not a very pleasant kind of a job as far as what you had to deal with. It wasn't difficult, but you felt sorry for some of the guys. While I was in that job, that's when John F. Kennedy died. That was quite a shock to everybody, of course.

I left there in June of 1965 and was ordered to the commanding officer of the Naval ROTC unit at the University of Colorado, of course, ranked as captain. There, in addition to training midshipmen, I trained both regular and contract-type students. The regulars would get commissioned into the regular Navy. The contract students would get commissioned into the Reserves as ensigns or as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

In addition to the midshipmen students I had, the Navy had come up with a Navy enlisted scientific education program. These were bright sailors who had maybe a year of college or who were pretty bright as evidenced by their records. They would apply for



this NESP program. If they were selected, they were sent to a college, where they could get a degree, usually in engineering. They were in the Naval Enlisted Scientific Program, NESPs (the acronym), and I had about forty or fifty of them under my wing. Somehow they were having difficulty with education, and I would get some of my bright midshipmen to tutor these guys in the particular subject the mishipmen were good at. That helped. Sometimes it was the other way around. I'd have a NESP that was bright in something and could help a midshipman who was struggling. It was just a matter of nurturing them and helping them get along if they were failing or having difficulty in their scholastic aptitude.

In addition to the NESPs, I had about twenty-five nurses. These were lieutenants and lieutenant commanders. They were RNs, but they had no college degree. The Navy came up with a program to provide an opportunity for them to get a college degree in nursing. The nursing program, at least at the University of Colorado, was a long hard road. It was usually about a five-year curriculum. A bright student could probably accomplish it in four years, but an average student would probably take five years to get through. It was difficult. So, I had them under my supervision as far as their fitness reports and if they had any problems or anything. They were pretty much on their own, but they had to report to somebody, so I had that responsibility. Other than that, it was purely a training program. It was at a time in the sixties when the military wasn't looked on with very much favor, particularly in colleges. ROTC units were beginning to be discontinued. My guys would be out there marching and some of the students would throw things at them and tease them, it was just the beginning. When I got relieved, the next guy probably had more of that than I did. You know, it was Vietnam time.



Donald R. Lennon:

Late sixties were probably more of a problem than the mid-sixties.

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Other than that, I found it a very satisfying job. I enjoyed it and my oldest daughters went to the University of Colorado, graduated from there.

Since I didn't make the admiral list, they ordered me to commanding officer of the Naval station in New York, in Brooklyn. Going from Colorado to Brooklyn was quite a transition. It turned out to be quite an interesting job. I reported in there in August of 1968 and I left there in June of 1970, not quite two years, almost two. It was an interesting assignment. I had responsibility for the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which had been shut down. It was no longer in operation, but the yard was still there and there were facilities still in operation in there. There were properties that were leased out to other companies who went in there and used the storerooms. Also, there was a metal-bending outfit that went in there to make metal things. Eventually, while I was still there, Sea Land went in there to build ships. I had quarters in there. I had several admirals living in quarters there, plus officers on my staff and several other commands. COM 3 had people in there and there were Coast Guard people in there. The quarters had to be maintained.

I also had responsibility for what used to be Mitchell Field, which was under the Air Force, but there were quarters out there that the Air Force hadn't built, so I had responsibility for maintenance of those quarters. That was kind of a headache. People always complaining. My money kept getting cut back. It was my first experience working with public works. I was aware of them, but I never had anything to do with them. They're civil engineer types and they were involved in that sort of stuff. I had assistant officers to help me with this. I had the responsibility of maintenance of all those places.



Then there was an old millionaire's residence out in Port Washington that used to belong to . . . I can't remember the name of the family now . . . but the Navy had taken it over sometime during the war and made it into a training station for a particular kind of radar school. The Navy just kind of hung onto this property. It didn't have anything else in there. It was all shut down, but I had a caretaker out there to make sure that no fires or anything occurred. We had responsibility for the property. It was a nice piece of property. It was right on the East River. I used to know the name of the family that owned it, but I can't remember.

Also, we were a personnel-processing place for men going out of the service. They'd have maybe four or five months left to do. They would order them to my station and then we would process them out of the service or maybe try to get them to re-enlist. Sometimes they did. I had a whole personnel staff just to do that. I also had a lawyer, because there were times that we were involved with court-martial cases. You know, when some command had a sailor that needed to be tried or something like that, they would order them to us and we'd have to set up a court-martial and process them. It was a complete personnel-processing activity.

I had an Officer's Club there, which was still in the Navy yard. Apparently, when the shipyard was in operation, they issued memberships to that club to people who really weren't authorized to use it. We had an orchestra in there Friday and Saturday nights. There were some Reserve officers in the area who were legally entitled to use it, but the majority of the people that came into that club just had some kind of a card that indicated that they belonged, but they had nothing to do with the Navy. They had been issued a



card by some activity. Anyway, we didn't have enough officers around there to support a club, so it would have folded if those other people hadn't come there and kept it going.

I didn't work for the commandant. He did report on me or I had to report to him, but my real reporting senior was COMSERVLANT. They had put the Naval stations under the service force.

I left there. I had about a year left to do for my thirty years and I prevailed upon them to send me to Washington, where I had a home in the area. I became a member of the personnel review boards. It was this special board they had set up down there for people like myself who had a little bit of time left or were in between jobs or something like that. They had to put us someplace. We sat on boards and we reviewed enlisted and officer records. We were occasionally put on a promotion board, to review records for promotion. We had medical and disciplinary separations that we reviewed . . . if there was somebody that had gotten a bad conduct discharge and they were contesting it and they wanted to get it re-reviewed. We would sit on those boards to do that. If it involved a WAVE officer, then there would have to be a WAVE on the board. If it involved the medical corps, there would have to be a doctor on the board. If it had anything to do with a medical discharge that they were questioning, we had to have doctors on the board. Usually, there were three or four officers on the board and a lawyer. We were right in the Navy annex and the Bureau of Personnel, which had their offices there. That's where I wound up my career.

Donald R. Lennon:

You finished up in 1971

Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

Right.

Donald R. Lennon:

After you retired, you got involved in what?



Thomas G. Burley, Jr.:

After I retired, I got a job with an industry association. Washington is loaded with associations for all kinds of things. This one was concerned with the defense of our country. National Security Industrial Association is what it was called. We had corporate members, company members, and they had committees that we set up. We had research and engineering. We had an anti-submarine warfare committee. We had a procurement committee that was broken down into a whole lot of other subcommittees. We had logistics management committees--anything to do with the major defense industries selling something to the government. We would provide the go-between between the two. We would get the government guys to sit around the table with these guys from the industries in these various areas and they would confront each other with their problems. You know, “Why can't you build this for us and make it at this cost and whatnot?” So, these committees would work these things out, or try to. We just provided the liaison for it. I did that for fifteen years. It was fun. We went to conferences and symposiums and things like that and had committee meetings in our headquarters. They are still in operation down in Washington, doing the same thing.

Donald R. Lennon:

Very good.

[End of Interview]

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