Memories of Jim Gill
by Russ Helberg.
Authors Note: I was on the 612. pdp should have most of the stories I wrote about the 612. All of them true by the way. Said he was going to add them to the history of 612. I will send a picture of myself to you as soon as I can get my wife to do it, lol. Not to savvy about these puters yet.
I still have to finish writing about 612, lots of correct memories still in my head. Did not know how lucky I was to have been stationed on one of those little wonders. She was my mother, my lover, my sole salvation, and my teacher in so many ways. My mother as comfort, my lover as thinking alone, my sole salvation as a warm hug to keep me safe, my teacher as no one before or after who showed me what life was all about. Learned a lot from her, and am glad she is still with us.
I would love to see her before I die, but alas I don't think that will ever happen. I'm as poor as you can be, so the money just is not there for that. Wish they would hold a reunion out here so at least I could meet some of my fellow sailors.
Note: Russ your wish was granted! Our 2004 reunion was held in Astoria OR!
I have some stories about Jim that I would like to share with you and others. maybe you might want to put them into the history of 612 as they are true stories. It was in September nineteen sixty two that lightship wal-612 won as far as history is concerned the only "Blue I" a lightship has ever received. after this major event took place Jim gill decided to bring back out to the ship some goodies for a celebration.
On his return from shore leave he had more than one rubber electronics bag brought back aboard ship. In these bags instead of glass tubes were glass bottles of beer, lots of beer. Also he had bourbon, gin, and vodka to go with it. Jim was a firm believer in rewarding a job well done. That weekend we had a barbeque on the fantail. We had a grill on board just for such events. needless to say everyone had fun and Jim made sure no drunken sailors fell overboard.
He also patched phone calls to your loved ones through his ham radio set with the marine operator. These were the kind of things he did that endeared him to his men. it was hard not to love a man like this.
Once when we were in the yards for repair, seems like the coast guard had a shortage of repair items for our ship. so one day Jim and a bunch of us dreamed up a raiding party to go over to treasure island navel ship yard and raid one of their ships. That night we drove over there and slipped aboard one of the navies finest. I don't know how Jim did it but he looked important enough to the guard on duty to be let on board. Boy did we have fun, took everything but the kitchen sink and then some. would sure loved to have seen the look on the skippers face that commanded that ship when those items came up missing. Never did hear anything about it either. It was only a few weeks later we had to moor right next to the very ship we robbed at the fuel docks. It was just a good thing no one recognized us, altogether there was about six of us who boarded her that night.
I WRITE THIS FINAL LETTER TO YOU JAMES GILL IN HOPES THAT I BROUGHT BACK HAPPY MEMORIES WITH MY STORIES OF OUR DAYS TOGETHER ON BOARD LIGHTSHIP 612.
EVEN THOUGH I WAS JUST 17 BACK THEN, GOD GAVE ME A GIFT OF MEMORY TO PASS ON IN LATER LIFE AND I ENJOYED PASSING IT ON TO YOU.
AND NOW THAT YOU HAVE CROSSED THE BAR AND HEADED OUT TO OPEN SEA, I KNOW YOU HAVE THOSE MEMORIES TO CARRY WITH YOU FOR ALL TIME.
I WILL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL TO HAVE SERVED UNDER YOU AND YOU WERE A INSPIRATION TO US ALL.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH SMOOTH SAILING AND A SAFE HARBOR FOREVER.
ALWAYS YOUR FAITHFUL SERVANT AND TRUSTING SHIPMATE,
RUSSELL D. HELBERG, JR
Back Library Lightships Menu Page
© 2009 USCG Lightship Sailors Association International Inc. Larry Ryan, President