Yosemite Ship Saga – Blog Article by Dick Wibom, MM2/c

This article originally appeared on our previous USS Yosemite Association website. It’s now republished for your reading pleasure on our new website.

writing of Dick Wibom for Yosemite Ship SagaThe entire Yosemite Ship Saga story was captured and presented back on the new USS Yosemite Association Website

The Saga of the USS Yosemite AD19 – from Tampa to New York City is a collection of stories by Richard G. Wibom derived from journals he kept while stationed aboard the Yosemite as a Second Class Machinist Mate, “A” Division, USNR, during the early days of 1944 to 1946. *

“I would like to dedicate these sea stories to those who served so well on the ‘Mighty Y’ during those war years. I would also like to dedicate this to the Yosemite reunion committee and especially to ‘Smokey’, who inspired me to try and recall some of those unforgettable times.”

Dick Wibom signature

Luck of the Draw
At the conclusion of our service school for refrigeration at the Carrier Corporation in Syracuse, New York, we had a drawing from the Chief’s hat for our new ship assignments. I drew the troop transport “American Legend” in San Francisco. Another classmate came up to me and asked me to trade assignments because he had a close friend on that ship. The Chief said it was okay because our orders would not be prepared to the next day. I didn’t know if I had made a mistake giving up my draw, but the shipyard in Tampa’s warm sunshine really swayed my decision. I hoped that the USS Yosemite would carry me through WWII.

The following morning, all 30 of us machinists mates said our good-bye’s and got our orders. Within twenty-four hours, I left Syracuse in the middle of a blinding snowstorm. The next big stop was when the train pulled into New York’s City’s Grand Central Station. I was really lost. When I finally found my train, it was about to leave, eight tracks away in a mass of sailors, soldiers, and relatives. I got aboard and was advised that no seats were available. The conductor said to about six of us in the same situation, “You sailors stay put, and I’ll see what I can do”. After about ten minutes, he returned and said that there was a vacancy in a club car. Wow, a club car! This was traveling first class, private quarters. I had a great trip, arriving in Tampa the following morning. I took a cab to the shipyard office, and the Navy gave me a bunk in the barracks with some of the USS Serria AD-18 crew. The next morning, I reported to Yosemite Headquarters, and they wanted to know what I was going to do. The ship was not ready for a crew. Finally, I was given a twenty-four hour gate pass from and to the Navy Yard and assigned as an office orderly, another name for a Beetle Bailey. My job was to open the mail, clean toilets, sort records, sweep floors and run errands. On most days, I started at 8:00 AM and was done by 11:00 AM. One day they told me to go over and see how the Yosemite was coming along.

First View Of The Yosemite
After being relieved of my morning duty at the office, I walked through the gates with my pass in hand and into the shipyard where the Yosemite was under construction. I couldn’t believe how BIG she looked and wondered how in the world could they have her ready to go “down the ways” by May. Only the hull and the ship’s big cranes looked anything like being ready. Smoke, noise, and an endless trail of people and parts were going up and down the gangways. The Serria was nearby and looked almost ready. I hadn’t gone aboard the Yosemite, but I was sure it would be a mess. Most of the steel plates I could see were rusted, hoses from the dock spurted steam, and everything look in disarray. Wow!

To read the next episode, click on Yosemite Ship Saga – Part 2