Concerning the Irex

By Sonarman Coley Joyce,, 7 May 1999

. . .

You and Rowena never had dinner at my home, but you and I must have been in the same duty section, so when we were obliged to remain on board over the weekend, you used to bring your wife on board for the main meal on Sunday. It was a common practice, and anyone who wanted to bring a guest was welcome to do so just as long as they let the duty cook know ahead of time so there would be enough for everybody.

The happy home I was referring to was the Irex. I didn't get married until after I got out, so that cigar-shaped boat was the best I could do at the time.


Stanley Jackson, to the best of my memory, was from North Dakota. He had been a quartermaster, I believe, and then changed his rate to ET, and was ET1 when I was discharged. I attended a ship's picnic several months after I got out, and someone told me that Stan had made chief. I congratulated him, and he said it really wasn't true. They were just yanking his chain (and mine, too, as it turned out), but he was in his usual jovial mood.

Stanley used to say that when he went home on leave to North Dakota, he'd wear a Commander's uniform. He figured if they saw him in that, they'd really believe he was in the navy. The home folks would ask him what he did on his ship, and he'd say, “Oh, I steer it”. And they'd brush off that answer saying, “G'wan. . .the CAPTAIN steers the ship. Ev'body knows that!” I really enjoyed Stan's sense of humor. More than a bit off center.

Prior to the 1954 overhaul in Portsmouth, the sonar station was in the forward room, port side, right at the after bulkhead. The overhaul changed all that, and I wound up doing my watches in that wonderful little sound shack under the Control Room. I had the great privilege of listening to whales, and dolphins, and drumfish, and many other exotic sounds of the sea long before NOVA and PBS made them more common.

I was unaware of the accident Dutch had on Nautilus. I'm truly sorry to hear he had any difficulty at all. All my memories of him are pleasant, and almost without exception, make me smile as I recall them. Like the time at the Portsmouth Navy Yard that Dutch had somehow caught a healthy seagull (I think it flew into the barge alongside the dry dock and couldn't get out again) and put the bird in Vic Witzke's locker in the barracks. Vic was in town depleting Ernie's stock of Budweiser, and it was late when he got back to his locker. When he opened his locker, the bird exploded out of it after a few hours of subdued imprisonment, and I think the bottom line was that Vic needed an immediate change of skivvies.

I neglected to mention that I had some contact a few years ago with Charlie LoGuidice, who came from Plympton, MA, and besides his radioman duties, was the ship's barber. And a very good one, at that. I was travelling through Abington, MA, one day as supervisor of a large gas service area south of Boston, when I saw a sign over a barn door that said  Irex 482”. The barn was being used as a garage, because this is a normal suburban community, not a farming area. The house next to the barn was quite up to date, and very attractive. I knocked on the door, and asked the lady who answered if the sign was put up by the resident, and she said yes. Subsequent phone calls led to a pleasant lunch not too far from the Brockton court house where Charlie was a Court Officer. Some weeks later I went by the house again and found it had been destroyed by fire. Inquiries at the local fire hdqtrs. told me that no one was hurt in the fire, but they didn't have any info on where Charlie and his family might have gone.

. . .

I have some photographs of Irex that may be of interest to you or to Wally Krupenevich. Entering Monaco harbor, and then tied up inboard of the Bergall inside the harbor. I don't have the ability to send them over the Internet, but if you think they might add to your store of information on the boat, I'd be happy to make copies and send them along. I also have some slides that I took when we arrived in Spain after our most thorough ass-kicking by Mother Nature. The slides show the damage that was done to the superstructure near the bow planes. Hard to believe that it was the weather that did the damage and not a mid-ocean collision. I've watched just about all of  Victory At Sea” and have never seen seas as rough as those we went through in January of '56.

And just as a parting shot...did you know that Torpedoman Krupenevich suffered from chronic sea sickness? As soon as they cast off the #1 line, he was on the Dramamine. I always admired that. I realize that money played a part in his thinking, but I also believed that there was no other place he'd rather be than Irex.

That's about it for now. Thanks again for the website that made all this possible. I particularly enjoyed Mike Richards' article. I remember Mike, and think of his running mate, Bob Foster, once in a while. I used to drive Bob to Boston occasionally when I was going home for a liberty weekend. I'd pick him up at South Station around midnight on Sunday, and the three hour ride to New London was made to feel much shorter as he described his weekend adventures.

My wife and I wish you and your growing family the best of all good things.

Be well,
Coley Joyce

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