The 509th Composite Group

Discussion about this unit and its history
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:19 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:54 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Denton Texas
Back in 1967 I was selected to be a member of the Commissioning Crew of the USS Parsons DDG-33. At the time, I was more worried about surviving Vietnam, than the history of my new ship's namesake. Later, I went to Vietnam, (not on the Parsons) in 1973 was released to Reserve Duty.
I have been a Ham Radio Operator since 1958, my hobby served me well at sea and Vietnam. I was very popular, because I was the guy who made "Phone Patches" so my Comrades could visit with loved ones back home.
Now I will connect all this to the crew of the Enola Gay.
I lived in Wichita Falls Texas, and was active in the Navy Reserve and community activities, including serving on the committee for the Iwo Jima Reunion, held there every February. Besides the heroes of that epic battle, the living crew members of the Enola Gay came too.
This is where I met Paul, Tom, Dutch, and Dick. At first, Paul was hard to know, but when he found out that I was a Ham Radio Operator and that I served on the USS Parsons, we became good friends. It turned out Paul was a Ham too, his call Sign was K4ZVZ. We spent hours in the hotel bar talking Ham Radio.
One night, during one of our bar visits, I shared in passing that I was a "Plank Owner" on the USS Parsons. Paul ask what I knew about ADM William S. Parsons. I had to admit, very little. Paul laughed and said, "I have a story for you."
For the next few hours, Paul shared the story of "Deak" Parsons and his connection to the Enola Gay. For those of you who don't know the story, Deak made it possible for the "Bomb" to go off. You see, in the early morning hours of August 6, 1945, the crew was going through the pre-flight, when orders came down, they couldn't arm the bomb on the ground, because B-29s had a bad habit of crashing on takeoff and no one wanted the Bomb to go off on Tinian Island. The decision was made to have CAPT Deak Parsons join the crew. Parsons was a nuclear weapons officer with the Manhatten project. Parsons was ordered to fly the mission, so he could arm the bomb in flight. I was blown away, Paul just said there was a Sailor on the Enola Gay, and I was a "Plank Owner" on the ship named in honor and memory of him.
Armed with this new information about the Enola Gay's mission, I was able to win many friendly bets with my brothers in the Air Force (and some Sailors).
Every year, I looked forward to renewing my friendship with Paul, Tom, Dutch and Dick. As the years went by, first Tom, then Dick, and painfully Paul, received their "Final Orders." Today only Dutch remains with us. Sadly, I have not seen him in several years.
I have severe health issues from Agent Orange received in Vietnam. My wife Vicki and I are visiting Warner Robins Georgia, where 3 of our 6 kids, 5 of our 10 grand kids and 2 great grand kids are due shortly. We came here to say Good Bye, then head home to Texas. It turned out I just missed Dutch, he was here yesterday, and I didn't know about it. Wish I could have seen him one more time.
Fair Winds and Following Seas,
E.A. "Rex" King III

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:00 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:51 am
Posts: 23
There was a "sailor" on the Nagasaki mission, too. LCDR Frederick Ashworth who had the same role as Parsons in arming the bomb. The navy actually played a major role in both the Manhattan Project and the dropping of both atomic bombs. Both men stayed in the service after the war and continued their involvement with nuclear weapons. Parsons more then Ashworth.
Joseph Papalia
509th Historian

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