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Scott Cruse, BM1 - U.S. Naval Station Rodman, Panama Canal


0-02-07 Scott Cruse BM1{sw} ret 

Let me introduce myself, my name is Scott Cruse and I am a retired BM1{sw} who was stationed at U.S. Naval Station Rodman Panama Canal CZ from 1982 to 1988. I was attached to HPU as a Boat Crew member and upper gunner of PCF6 , then Boat Capt of PCF6 and later we became SBU 26. I have numerous photos of all of the crafts from PBR and PCF to when we got the MkIII and all of the smaller crafts we had along with various transits and jungle ops.
 

We use to go to Honduras, to cross train with Hondurans sailors and some of the guys were down there for 4 to 5 months during all of the action in mid 80 living in tent city, I got to go to most of the outer islands for humanitarian support. We did everything including Canal Security, training visiting Doctors to prep them for jungle living, working with abc kids supporting them, and we worked with the 3rd of the 7th SF supporting them in operations. were required to go to Jungle school and pass it
 
The boats {i.e. PBR and PCF}{ now the 18' and the Ramos Raiders might have came from a SBU not sure} they had came from Navy salvage like Little Creek and had to be re outfitted {HPU was started around late 70, I had a Craft master I worked for in 1980 who just came from there to ACU-2}  and the MK IV came brand new, guys went up to Texas to inspect them before they were barged down to us. People got orders into Panama to crew them I do not think any SBU crews came from other sites but I am not sure. we were only allowed so many personnel when we were HPU and when they started talking that we were going to become a SBU, then more our personnel staffing grew. I had a good friend Juan Acosta who was a Boat Captain for one of the PCF then he transferred over to the International school as a instructor and he was 1 of the first guys ordered to HPU{his wife was the yeoman for the 2 star at NNAVSOUTHCOM}.
 
a friend of mine OSCS{ he was a OS1 when he was there} Clarence Purvis was attached to Commsta over at Howard and his wife ENC Jane Purvis was my Engineman for the PCF and the modified Mike 6 when we would do salvage work [yes we salvage a couple of items 1. a Army Chinook which I still have a piece of it on a placard in my office and 2. parts of a CH-130 which crashed on the mountain which was on Rodman} and when we would have to go and run our side scan sonar in the canal
 
A list of guys I remember
BM1 Jerome Little {BMCM ret now}
BMCS Fortier {Ret}
GMGCM Ray Bob Stewart [ret}
BMC Sam Greene {ret}
BM1 Kelly Webb {BMCM ret now}
QM1 Nash
GMG 2 Turner {GMGCS ret now}
FN Manny Perez { lost track of him he was Panamanian}
FN Danny B
EM2
EN2 Donald Richardson {ENCS ret now}
QMC Juan Acosta {ret}
EM1 Juan Morales
EN3 Brent Stoker
ENC Anthony Laconte  
EN2 John Thompson {aka Loppa head}
GMG1 John Matthews
Lt Jeffery Ashby { he went into reserves and made Captain}{ he use to be a Navy jet pilot who blew out his ear drums}
LTJG Finley { no one can forget him, during jungle school while we were on a sneak and peek, he was trying to knock some orchard out of a tree and fell into black thorn}
CWO2 Nash{ biggest blow hart I every met, more so then Ray Bob got kicked out of the Navy 2 weeks before he was to retire for sleeping with some E-3 and his wife caught them}
CDR Hollaway SBU CO {SEAL}
CDR Fitzpatrick CO of International school {SEAL}
LT Michael Walsh {SEAL} {also known as the credit card kid for what he did in Grenada}{ they used it in Heart break ridge movie}
these are all I can think of right now but if I talk to my buddy and his wife, we together will come up with more names
 
Boats we had
2 PCF MK 1
1 PCF MK 2
2 PBR MK 1
1 PBR MK 2
1 PBR MK 3 { never left the skid it was on later gave to international school}
1 18' Boston Whaler with 360 degree rolling track for guns
2 24' Ramos Raiders with 360 degree rolling track
3 68' Sea Specter's
5 8 man Rubber Rafts with 100 horse Merc engines
NAVSTA had
1 50 LCPL { converted into deep sea fishing boat}
1 50 LCM-6 { converted into a pushing boat/ escort/ salvage boat}
Later we got PCF 9 for a tow array platform {PCF MK2}

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I also remember a time when we were escorting a plutonium ship through the locks and the Panamanians decided at that time to strike just as we were at the top of the lock at Pedro Miguel. LT Ashby was the OIC on that trip and he called back to SOUTHCOM for instructions a we had a no nonsense 2 star at SOUTHCOM and we received a message via radio asking us if we were lock and loaded, which we replied Roger, He began to tell us to inform the Panamanian Dock Master that if they did not open the gate in 5 minutes then we were going to start shooting, now picture 1 PCF MKII with twin 50 above 40mm mid ship, 60 mid ship and 80 mortar with piggyback 50 on top of it and 3 PBR with same armament pointing at you all at once. I never seen the gates open so fast and there was never anymore trouble after that time.
 
Here's another 1 for you
 
We are over by Fort Sherman doing exercises with some ABC kids and some visiting Doctors, I am crew member of PCF 9 at that time with good ole Sam the Man Greene as boat Captain. We are nudged up bow first into this tight area hiding from everyone watching a path we know that the group is going to be using so we can radio the ambushers to be ready. we had this newby Ensign onboard and the howler monkeys are driving him insane. we keep telling him to keep it down as we are trying to get a sight of the visiting group. he finally could not take it anymore and throws a apple up into the tree to scare them away, well they quieted down and he looks up to see if they are gone, 1 of them throws something back at him {I bet you can figure out what it threw} and it hits the Ensign right in the face.
 
OK Last story
 
I am kind of a smart A$$ and we had this Butter bar from the Army come down to our site to see the boats, well my PCF is the only one at the pier and guess who gets to give him a tour. Well we get back to the aft of the boat and he see's the 81 mortar with the 50 on top of it and he would like to know how we can shoot a mortar from the back of a boat. well being the wise A$$ that I am, I start telling him that we get a new shipment of E-1 every month because we keep making them tread water holding up spotting stick aft of the boat and either they drown or they get eaten by sharks. well he goes back to his HQ and informs General Galvin who was SOUTHCOM at the time that we are a bunch of Psychos and should be locked up. I get a call from the CO of the HPU wanting to know what the Hell I told that 1LT. {now let me tell you this, I was real good friends with General Galvin because every time he wanted to go deep sea fishing, I would take him out in the NAVSTA fishing boat} anyway, the Skipper tells me that General Galvin knew that it was me giving the 1LT a tour just by hearing the story and ask the skipper to please tell me that it was real funny but please take it easy the next time on his officers. "I never gave another tour after that" 

Well one more last story. . .
 

This is a reenactment of when the Under Secretary of the Navy and his wife came down in 85 to visit the Naval Station and I had to take them out on the USN fishing boat for a tour of the canal. While coming into the piers {I had to dock the boat by turning it around and backing into the slip and we had to dock real close to the pier in the first slip}.. I made my turn, my lefts throttle stuck open and I lost my rudder control. I yelled to hold and brace for collision, when we hit the pier, the UNSECNAV’s wife went elbows over teakettles because she was not holding onto anything. At the time I, my career flashed before my eyes as my crew was helping her up but the UNSECNAV just came up and said great job {and under his breath he said to me maybe next time she will listen}.


Ramos Raiders were 20ft Boston Whalers with a 360 degree rolling track which we could mount a 2 50 cal machinegun, 2 M60 machineguns, 1 50 cal and 1 60 cal or a numerous variations of weapons along with our personnel weapons. Our Mascot River Rat drawn by GMGCM Ray Bob Stewart}. Somewhere I have a female version of this picture.

 

Mk VI jumping another ones wake on the eastern side

 

A group of us went to Fort Sherman and participated in a modified Jungle school for 2 weeks. Following is a list of the people in my group {sorry I can not remember everyone name or last name}: Top row left to Right LTJG Flannery, GMG2 ?, BM1 Scott Cruse, ENFN Danny G, BM2 Terry B Bottom Row EN2 Don W, GMG2 Greg Matthews, EMC ?, EN2 Don Richardson, Sn Monty ?

ENC Anthony Laconte and myself riding around in a MkI out in the Canal {checking out a engine repair, and if you believe that one, then “I have a bridge for sale” HPU RATon M-60 on PCF security for the DOCs PCF Top Gunner Radio Comms in PCF note HPU Patch and Cammie Beret!!

 
Kelly Webb and his Raiders along side PBR in Canal Lock

Rats in the waterfall Night watch on PCF watching UH-60 during Dog and pony show ramo raider on step HPU Rats ready for the fun to begin

Ramo Raiders on gunrun during dog and pony show Qatching island burn durning dog and pony show Inside PCF MKII Ramo Raider Surfs the wake
 
Extraction of Army Rangers by PCF
 

PBR wake jumping disturbing the reader on canopy HPU 18' whaler in Honduras being guided onto boat trailer
 
HPU Rats fun at jungle school, HM2 Speedy Gonzales repelling
 
Jungle School grad Scot Cruse's Certificate Panama Station Decal

HPU escorts Nuke Sub thru Panama Canal HPU security HTV of Nuke Sub thru locks of Panama. HPU MTT arrives in Honduras  SCPO Stewart in Charge also identified Tony Laconte Ramo Raider on PCFs wake
 
PCF and two PBRMKII in Canal locks  HPU crew indentified Scot Cruse in PCF Gun tub, Doorway BMCS Fortier, outside PBR near M-60 BM2 Mike Watkins, guy kneeling ENC Tony Laconte, guy sitting in middle PBR gun mount Danny Lear
 

BM1 Kelly Webb and his Ramo Raider Ramo Raider on step Ramo Raider Patrol HPU Ramo Raider, note weapons rail system HPU 18'whaler in Honduras note unusal spotlight set up with shades