Friday, June 12, 2009

NAVFAC ARGENTIA NEWFOUNDLAND

Once in a while some mongoloid butthead will try tell me I'm not a Veteran because
I didn't dodge bullets while crawling in the mud (or sand).

Not sure what the true definition of Veteran is, but I do know I worked hard for my country for 6 long and satisfying years, and will always cherish those days when I was part of something that was vital to the existance of the good ol' USA.

The only advice I can give to a young person is that if he or she decides to serve then they will NEVER regret it...



This photo was taken sometime in September 1983 just a few months after Barb and I got hitched. I'm in my dungaree work uniform on the way to the Q-Building (Q is for "Quarters") at Naval Facility, Argentia, Newfoundland. Barb snapped this photo from the passenger's seat. I probably just picked her up at work over the Supply Building at the end of the day.
Here's Petty Officer Barb after work. She was an SK3: that's Storekeeper 3rd class.
Gosh Honey, where'd you get those big EYEGLASSES?

During some downtime we would explore the old Base. Here, Barb poses next to an old 5 inch shore-defense gun overlooking Argentia Harbor. Argentia was an important base during WWII, providing Navy escorts to convoys of freighters carrying war materiel and supplies from the USA to our allies in Europe. Nazi submarines sank hundreds of our freighters in those dark days.



This was snapped at the Northeast Arm Camp, a recreation area for Navy squids who needed a little well-deserved R & R...There were rustic cabins there and BBQs every day.
This is my dream boat. This was taken on the shore of Placentia Bay near the Base. I am actively looking for one of these to buy and use on the Chesapeake. Much better than any of the modern boats...and a lot more seaworthy!



Our jobs back then? Well, I consciously cultivate my humility, but setting that aside for a moment I'll break my 24 year silence on the subject. For many years I could not confirm or deny anything about it, but then Uncle Sam declassified that base's mission in the 90's. I'll try to explain it it general terms:

NAVFAC ARG (Naval Facility Argentia) was part of Ocean Systems Atlantic - part of SUBLANTFLT (Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet).
I supervised the Electronics Calibration Lab in the Operations Department.
My Cal Lab calibrated (ensured absolute pin-point accuracy) all the electronic equipment my Oceanographic Technician shipmates used to maintain the then classified SOSUS System arrays that were used to detect, track, and provide targeting intel on all of "Ivan's" (Soviet) nuclear submarines patrolling under the Polar Ice Cap.
[There were NAVFACS all up and down the Atlantic Coast from Keflavik Iceland to Antiqua - all keeping an eye on Ivan's boats.]

That electronic equipment had to be kept as pin-point accurate as possible in order to provide the best targeting data on Ivan's subs, enabling our guys to nuke them all if it came to that. I understand that we were close a few times but by God's Grace we were spared the absolute Hell that a nuclear exchange would usher into our world.

I understand that Ivan still likes hiding under the ice - it's more difficult to get a fix on and reach out to touch him there. The nuclear missiles launched through the ice from those subs could wipe out ALL the cities and strategic targets in the US, including every Army fort, Air Force installation, and Navy Base within 30 minutes if provoked.

The Captain told us our job was "vital" and that a document from our little crew was on President Reagan's desk every morning for his National Security Briefing. Not sure how truthful the Cap'n was there, but that's what he said.

Theoretically Ivan never knew we knew where he was. Practically though, I suspect he knew what we were doing at NAVFAC ARGENTIA. Americans love to brag and St. John's was rife with Soviet Operatives ready to buy a sailor a drink...Navy Intel warned us more than once to beware of strangers drinking "wodka" and buying drinks for service people.
Barb worked her tail off at "ServeMart" and Stock Control our Supply / Logistics Dept. I never had any problem getting Supply support for my Cal Lab.- (thanks Honey!)

NAVFAC ARG was decommissioned in the eighties and turned back over to the Canadians. You can read more about life there at http://www.geocities.com/argentia_ca/index.htm


These days most of this type of intel is gathered by satellites.

Back to the old photo of me driving: We are probably going to check the mail at the post office on the first floor of the Q-Building, go home to our new townhouse in Housing, have supper, then hit the enlisted club. Once in a while the USO would provide some decent entertainment there - usually a rock band from the midwest.



At ARG, we worked hard and played hard.

Off in the distance you can see a supply train on the Canadian National Railroad.

She didn't know it yet but at this point Barb was in her first month of pregnancy with daughter Stephy...

I still have that Casio digital watch you see on my wrist and, and like my wonderful life with Barb, - - it still works fine... just needs batteries now and then.






















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Found this in some old files from a by-gone day...

Next Veterans Day, if you meet an Air Force veteran, don’t ask him,
"Did you fly a jet?"
For crying out loud - not everyone in the Air Force is a pilot...

If you meet an Army or Marine Corps veteran, do not ask him,
"Did you shoot any bad guys?"
Jeez-Louise Budso, not everyone in the Army or Marine Corps is in the Infantry…

If you meet a Navy vet, do not ask him,
"Did you drink a lot of rum?"
Another stereotype! Not all sailors drink rum!
Some like BEER!

Such ignorance…deserves a good ASS-KICKING.

19 comments:

  1. Your site was very cool I lived close to Argentia in the town of Point Verde where the light house is. If you have anymore pics of the area you should post them.

    Alex Greene
    alexgreene77@yahoo.com

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  2. Hi Stephen, I was in the first group of Canadians to go to Arg in October 72. Was there until April 1975. You are right...we worked hard and played hard. And I agree with you, what we did there was important. Glad the secret has been released to the public. I used to tell people/family that I was a clerk typist. Lost interest for them right away.
    Even though we did not serve together, we were all part of the same family of Oyster Trainers.
    cheers and good wishes to you and yours.
    .........Pat Hennessy

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  3. Hi, nice information about Argentia and Navfacs. I used to work at one too. Does anyone know if you can still get on the old base at Arg and explore it any? Especially around the cannon and the old housing area. I would like to visit there but don't want to go if I can't get on the base.
    Rick. (Navfac Kef, Brawdy).

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    Replies
    1. Late 2011 access to wherever you want to go. Both runways, shoreline, Panama Mounts for 155mm guns on the airfield SW corner, magazines on the NW side. In the hills to see Batteries 281 and 282, each originally with 2-6 inch guns. 2 of the 4 are now in WA state. Army HDCP was accessible as were several base end stations overlooking the base. Former SOSUS station in use by ??? and sealed tight. No housing left. Additional base end stations at Black Point and Moll Point are accessible.

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    2. reatta91@hotmail.comOctober 2, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      The base end stations at Black Point and Moll Point, what were they? Gun installations? Were there any others around the area? Know the guns are gone I enjoy hiking/military history and have been exploring the area bit by bit past 15 years. Feel free to email me with any pics/info. Cheers.

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    3. Black Pt-2, Moll Pt-4, Isaac Hd-4, Fox I-2. BES were semi buried concrete structures that contained sighting instruments and their crews. Each would sight a target and relay the azimuth to the plotting room at the gun batteries for a firing solution. Black Pt is the easiest to visit between the road and the ocean.

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  4. Rick,

    There is a facebook group dedicated to Argentia, including a lot of photos and information concerning the state of the place currently.

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  5. I was stationed there from 1976 to 1979. My son was born in St. Johns. Used to do some great fishin up there and got spoiled by it. Lobster delivered to the front door fresh from the traps that morning. Loved the slot machines in the EM club.

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  6. I was also stationed there from 86 to 90, I was the SKC in supply, thanks for your service Barb, and hope I can get some more info from yall... ajnorthern@yahoo.com

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  7. I was stationed there from 85 to 88, I worked in PWD. I love the area and would like to go back there sometime once I retire. Rick M.

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  8. I was stationed there as the only Canadian Medic from Jul 89 to Aug 92. Met & married my now ex-husband(a Newfie in the CF also). Some days I think that I should have keep going out with the US Navy man I had been seeing. LOL

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  9. YN2 Gilbert Rocha Jr
    CPT Gilbert Rocha Jr Ret. US Army Reserve

    I remember you guys. Those were the days. I use to work at the T Bldg then up at Admin my last 9 months or so. Yes, you are a veteran, love the Navy beer joke. I switch over to the army back in 86. I got my commission and retired out after my tour in Afghanistan. I did Desert Storm as a LT Platoon Leader, that was fun.LOL I still got my army email: gilbert.rocha@us.army.mil Drop a line. I still in contact with fellow NAVFACARG vets: KC, Mark Moran, Cindy Prewitt... Take Care Gil

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  10. Our family was stationed there in 1960. I was 12 at the time,and had GREAT!!! time there hiking and fishing. I remember the 5in guns and also took a picture of my best friend in front of one, just like that picture of Barb. I went to Bristol school (on base) and spent many hours at the roller skateing rink. Anybody remember the old silver mines and the wild blueberries that were everywhere? Very good memories.....

    R Vanderford

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  11. I was stationed there as a Ut taking care of the weather inside the T bldg. Got there in July,1964, my wife came up 3 mos. later and our 2nd son was born there( a newf:o)) left for V/N in 1966. I did like it there.

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  12. Arg was actually decommissioned in 1994. I was one of the last postal clerks to serve there. loved it up there but never got to get me moose 'by.

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    Replies
    1. pc,... as we taxied down the runway on the last plane out ( last day of sept 1994) , i could hear the people of arg say thanks, good on ya' & where ya' to?

      po1 yeastedt... base closure team.

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  13. hello everyone, I was stationed at navfac argentia from fall 61 to spring 63. married a girl from harbor buffett. good times at argentia I must say. after 5o years, we are still going strong and live near Hershey, pa. would like to hear from anyone stationed there at those same times. maeawa@gmail.com earl warne soo2

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  14. It was a remarkable tour of duty for me, I often think of my many Argentia Foriegn Legion brothers...I was involved with a local off base church and we competed in the little league on the base. My little newfies kicked ass!!!Played a lot of softball, volleyball, bowled, fished canoed, and was cold often. The moose eluded me too, by! David Sanford ETN3 71-72

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  15. Great job! Many memorable moments for me as well. Thanks!

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