USS Lawrence DDG-4
Message Board

Jan. 25, 2016

TM3 Baker 1985 to 1986  Unitas.... yeah baby!

Gary Baker

Oct. 13, 2013

The USS Lawrence DDG-4 was my first ship after I passed my Mk 47 Mod 8 computer "C: school in Great Lakes. I scored high grades and could have picked a variety of different ships in different locations. Yes, I actually picked the USS Lawrence. It wasn't long after I arrived that we went to Port Jefferson, NY. That was awesome.

The REF-TRA to the Caribbean to before NGFS Naval Gunfire Support and do other weapons and engineering tasks before we would be ready to make the Persian Gulf cruise. Remember all the times pulling in Gitmo? The pier feared us. We had a good crew. The CO and XO were great. We had no liberty stops on our way. One for Haifa Israel was cancelled possible due to the Hezbullah terrorist attack in Beirut Lebanon October 23rd 1983 that killed 241 US Marines and sailors.

We had eight US Marines in our our ship with their M-16 rifles and Stinger surface to air missiles. It a was tough loss. My wife Christine had a horrible miscarriage when were were by Port Said, Egypt going into the Red Sea. Fire control technician guns were short and had no Chief. I wish I would have just had one week to comfort her. I also lost my Golden Lab puppy back in Buffalo, NY in an accident. It was real tough for me.

I was a third class Petty Officer at the time and a computer tech that cross trained on our AN/SPG-53 Foxtrot radar and other Mk 68 Mod 4 system components. A war between Iran and Iraq was going on from 1980 and lasted till 1988. On Feb. 28th 1984 our ship was confronted by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. We gave them every warning possible and we have our radar locked on target, gun mounts ready to fire and live missiles on the rail. One more attempt would be tried before we opened fire. .50 caliber tracer fire was shot in the front of an Iranian aircraft that harassed us daily. They got the message and ran off with their tail between their legs. I received a Buffalo News article that told of the incident that could have started a war. "Tensions rise in the Persian Gulf as US navy warship fires at Iranians."UPI and AP".

We had some liberty stops in the UAE, Karachi, Pakistan and Bahrain. I bought leather goods, onyx and other local goods. I had to concentrate on my job, but I was worried about my wife back home. I remember Craig Bernat, who was work center sup, Scott Chausee, Jim Tav, P.O. Knox, my Polish brother Steve Rutkowski, Ebner, the lovable Bob Smith, Ray. L. seaman John Vick who I heard later became chief. It was hot and nasty in the Gulf. We would later make a UNITAS XXVII cruise around South America that was beautiful and it made up for the horror of the Persian Gulf.

I made FC1(SW) and would later be a Navy Instructor and from there my last command was in San Diego on the USS Cook FF-1083. I was ready to become Chief. Having shore duty during the first Gulf War and being an early candidate with one-tenth less CPO promotions is what I think held up up until I was all but sure to maker CPO still as an early candidate. I also had an LDO package ready to go and would have became an officer or Chief warrant officer, but as usually bad luck would come calling and I was injured badly on active duty.

Everyone remembers their first ship good or bad. Just like the start of the "Tale of Two Cities" It was the best of time and it was the worst of times, but I made it out alive along with my crew of the USS Lawrence during some very tough times. I miss the guys and wish I was well enough to make a reunion that Craig Bernat holds every year for our ship. Tin can sailors are a group of very tough men. Only the sailors who ever served on a destroyer would know what I mean.

Take care all,
James Ziolkowski
Buffalo, NY
former FC1(SW)

Beer party.

Beer barge.

James Ziolkowsk in Pakistan.

James Ziolkowsk with a camel.

Dec. 19, 2011

Any crew members from 1980n to 1985 out there, anyone from the AE&R shops?

Joe  Forsythe, EM2
U.S.S. Lawrence (DDG-4)
1980  to 1985

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Page published Feb. 25, 2007