Back IN MEMORY OF OUR MASCOT,
While our ship was at port in Colon, Panama, in November 1944, a mangy, almost hairless, flea-infested, frightened little piece of canine flesh was noticed following the Captain and a motor mack along the dock leading to our ship. Both the Captain and motor mack appeared to be inebriated. They manipulated this mangy dog up the gang plank of LST 793. It seemed to take an hour to accomplish this boarding, according to Noble Roberts, who witnessed the incident from the bridge during his mid-to-four signal watch. Others aboard who were watching the ship as the "liberty gang" returned from a night on the town understood why the Captain and machinist mate were reluctant to pick up the dog and bring him aboard. The puppy was dirty, scrawny, laden with sores and had hardly any hair.
Noble Roberts recalls that after he hit the sack at about 4:00 a.m. there was a loud commotion in the "head" next to his compartment. The motor mack had the dog wrapped in a towel. He was giving the dog a shower. He had forgotten to take off his shoes, hat and dress blues.
Bob Hutchinson recalls taking "Seaweed" to the Sick Bay, where they shaved all his hair off and dusted him with DDT powder. Seaweed had experienced his last flea since he had no chance of being infested again at sea.
Noble Roberts remembers playing checkers daily with one of the officers mess stewards and learned that Seaweed was getting special care by orders of the Captain. After a diet of steak and anything else he cared for, Seaweed transformed into a nice looking dog. His bones no longer protruded and his hair grew out luxuriously. He was so well fed, says Bob Hutchinson, that he remembers cooking a steak for him and he just walked away. Bob can't remember whether he ate the steak. Another incident Bob remembers was when we tied up to another ship and Seaweed became acquainted with a cute little female dog mascot from another ship. The other ship shoved off and Seaweed, unaware of this, ran and jumped over the side of the ship, not realizing the other ship had left. The Captain ordered a small boat over the side and Seaweed was retrieved. Another incident took place between the States and Hawaii. This was a place where planes pulled an aerial target so the ships could have target practice. We were all on deck with everyone in his gun position. Seaweed knew something was going on and was standing around waiting for the excitement to begin. When the big guns started firing, Seaweed took off and we found him as far down below deck as he could get. He managed to navigate down the ladders. Hutch recalls he didn't blame Seaweed because the concussion bothered him also.
Someone suggested the name Seaweed for him and that was the name he knew for himself until he died. The name U.S.S. Seaweed was painted on both the starboard and port sides of the "COM" after the dog's name. The Navy allowed only numbers on ships ... not names or designations. The name was painted out very quickly when the word came down.
Seaweed knew the ship better than most crew members and could go just about anywhere except the engine rooms and conning tower. On more than one occasion he attempted to climb the ladder to the conning tower. He had a perfect understanding when we were approaching land or anchorage. When we were preparing to anchor, he would go directly to the LCVP being lowered. If we were making a beach landing, he would be on the lower tank deck near the bow doors. On one occasion there were eight LSTs tied side by side. He had full access to all the ships but knew exactly where his ship was.
Noble Roberts recalls, "When the war was over and we were heading back home, Captain Miller sent for me to come to his stateroom. He asked me if I would take Seaweed back to the farm with me and give him a good home. The thought of Seaweed being my very own dog thrilled me beyond imagination. Immediately the dog and I began to build a deep love and understanding for each other that lasted until his death."
"I built a shipping crate with lumber and nails from the ship's carpenter shop. When I put him in the crate in Lake Charles to ship him to Arkansas, he became very frightened and emotional. On the farm he became accustomed to the horses, mules, tractors, trucks, cows and hogs. My five-year-old brother, Mack, and Seaweed became inseparable and built a love and devotion for each other that couldn't be explained."
"In the early spring of 1948 Seaweed was missing. We searched for him for days. Sadly we had given up finding him."
"The Arkansas and Mississippi rivers were rising rapidly, filling up the bayous and low places behind the levee. I saddled my horse to ride and locate five old sows and pigs I had running on a high ridge behind the levee. When I approached it my little horse pricked up her ears. To my amazement, I caught a vision of Seaweed wandering aimlessly around in circles on that ridge. Immediately I jumped off my horse, got her in the water, caught her by the tail and let her drag me to the other side. When I called for Seaweed, he couldn't come to me. Seaweed was blind. We fed him, doctored him and loved him. Three days later he died. Mack and I built a little box, dug a deep hole by the big cottonwood tree at the top of the hill. There we buried a beautiful little dog that had given so much love and pleasure to so many people."
Written by Ken Culver with the help of Noble Roberts and Bob Hutchinson.
Photo furnished by Captain Eugene Leavitt. 4-5-86
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