Our Members Spot
Light page highlights a particular Concord sailor
and shares their memories while stationed aboard.
Our reason for choosing a sailor each quarter to
be recognized here is to offer a unique contribution to our association a particular member brings. All of our sailors are
special people and each has a unique story but this quarter we have chosen Tom Pappanastasiou. Tom contributed great photos of his time on our ship and his
memories below as well: Thanks Pappy:)
Tom Pappanastasiou RM2 70-72
our "Spring 2021" SLM
Feel free to click on each picture for a larger view :)
I enlisted in the Navy and entered boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center August 1968. After
completing basic training I reported back to Great Lakes for Basic Electricity and Electronics School and then to Naval Training
Center, Bainbridge, MD for Radioman “A” School. In April of 1969 I reported to NavComSta Kevflavik,
Iceland. Mess cooked at the transmitter station for 60 days and then TAD to work at the Fleet Weather Facility,
earned my RM3, was a shift super, FWF Sailor of the Month a couple of times and awarded Sailor of the Quarter Naval Station
Keflavik. I reported to USS Concord June 1970, a few days before the Med Cruise as an RM3, but had earned my promotion
to RM2. I was separated from Concord on August 8, 1972.
I was assigned to the Operations Division, Communications. I think RMCM Kaufman was Chief Radioman when I reported on board and RMCS Johnson was Chief Radioman when I
left (or vice versa)? I think I recall a LTJG Oberdorf as the Ops Officer…not sure.
There were many friendly
characters in the OPS compartment, RMs, ETs, SMs, RDs. At one time or another I am sure we went ashore together. I
remember RMs Andersen, Baxter, Mirkes, Supernault, Devlin, Decker, Lieberman, Leasure, Hutchison and the Fuller Twins and
ET Waechter. I recall SMs Yankle, Davis and Teddy Baer. Looking at my 70-72 pictures I recognize many
faces but the names escape my memory. I do recall great liberties in Palma, Malaga, Naples, Athens, Cannes, Barcelona,
Rhodes, and Malta and back in the USA Virginia Beach. The beach in Torremolinos, Spain and the Oklahoma Bar in Palma Mallorca. I
remember having a good time on the beach in GITMO and then in Ft Lauderdale on the way back which brings back memories. I
also have some memories of an Ops Department barbecue and picnic in a pavilion at Little Creek Amphibious base. Between
deployments in 1971 myself and three radioman buddies shared an apartment in Oceanside.
There were two Med Cruises, the first was June 70 and extended
to early March 71 because of the Lebanese crisis (9/2/70 Sixth Fleet units were put on alert on 3 September
1970 because of rising tensions in the region. On 6 September, the PFLP hijacked civilian airliners and took them to Dawson
Field. Fighting soon broke out between Jordanian and Palestinian forces. Two CVs and the Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group
(MARG) were in the Eastern Mediterranean. Following Syrian intervention on 18 September, CVA Kennedy and elements of the 8th
Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) were ordered form the East Coast to the Mediterranean. On the 19th, troops in Germany and
CONUS (82nd Airborne Division) were alerted for movement. By 24 September, all Syrian forces were out of Jordanian territory
and, by 5 October, only one carrier was on station in the Eastern Mediterranean) and then Sep 71 – Mar 72. Somewhere
in there a trip to GITMO for training with a stop on the way back to Norfolk in Ft. Lauderdale for liberty. I must
have been on leave because I missed the cruise to Glasgow, Scotland.
Life on the Concord was a great experience. Our mission to keep
the Sixth Fleet in supplies and food gave everyone purpose and responsibility. It was a real learning and life
changing experience. We worked, we had fun, we got to know new shipmates from many walks of life. I
don’t have any lifelong friends from Concord but many pleasant and life long memories with good friends. I
think we were on our way back to Norfolk late winter 72 when we hit a pretty heavy storm, high winds and 40-50’ seas…we
were really bouncing around. I recall shipmates were pretty sick and I remember being in Radar and seeing our course
plotted as a 60-mile circle for over a day.
While anchored in Piraeus, Greece with most of the Sixth Fleet, I was able to spend 3 days with
my Aunt Angeliki (my father’s sister) and my cousins George and Katarini who lived in the suburbs of Athens.
During my time on Concord there were two
Comm Center Chiefs. I recall the first as being pretty easy going and well liked. When he moved
on my recollection is that our new Chief was stricter…I guess you would say more NAVY. My memory is vague
but on the 71-72 Med cruise there was a little Comm crew push back and the need for the Chief one day to call an all-hands
Comm Center meeting at 1500. I had come off the midnight to 0800 watch, hit the rack and got up, I thought in time
for the meeting. Unbeknownst to me, my watch had stopped. I leisurely shaved and showered and found
my way to Comm to find that I was 45 minutes late for the meeting. My relations with the Chief weren’t so
hot anyway and this put him over the edge. After the meeting he pulled me back into the transmitter space and read
me the riot act. He lifted my CommCenter responsibilities and shipped me TAD off to the Ship’s MAA who apparently
soon became aware of my seemingly uncooperative nature and shipped me back post haste. So Chief assigned me the
job of Ops Compartment House Maid? For the next month or so I sorted laundry, swabbed and buffed floors, cleaned
the head, etc. Made a real difference. Long story short. We are in port Naples on liberty
and Concord is ordered underway immediately for an emergency (The one where we met the SUB to pick up the corpse of the expired
chief). Still ashore we were ordered to the Naples airport to be picked up by one of Concord’s Chinook Helos. When
back on Concord we were shorthanded in Comm Center because some crew were still ashore. RM2 Mirkes ordered be back
on the Comm watch. Chief was not happy, but let it stand for the rest of the cruise.
Being in CommCenter we were immediately aware
of Navy NEWS. This was the ZUMWALT era and once the “Z” messages started coming it was pretty remarkable
to see the Navy virtually change overnight. Longer hair, beards, civilian clothes for overseas liberty are the
ones I remember. This was a huge change that some of our career senior enlisted and officers found hard to embrace. I
remember reporting back to Concord, after spending 8 weeks away for Project Transition training at AC & R “C”
school at Naval Station Norfolk, for my separation on August 8, 1972. Concord was in the yards at Portsmouth. On
my way out of the Yeoman’s office as a “civilian” I literally ran into the Chief MAA. He immediately
ranted and raved and ordered, “get this Long Hair off my ship.” I enjoyed my time on Concord and the
friendships I made, but this day I was more than happy to oblige.
These days I am retired, live with my wife Chris of 48 years and our 7 year old Pit Mix Petey who is the most walked dog in
King of Prussia Pennsylvania. Three adult kids all married and 9 grandkids age 7 to 23.
If you know of a member that you would like to recognize as "Spotlighted" or have input
your self that you wish to nominate, contact the webmaster below with the name and reason.