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U. S. Coast Guard Aviation Machinist Mate School
Coast Guard Air Station San Diego, 1946
By Lieutenant Colonel Ted Allan Morris, United States Air Force (Retired)


I was one of sixteen class members in the first postwar CG Aviation Machinist Mate School.  The school was at Coast Guard Air Station (CGAS) San Diego.  The station CO was CDR O. B. MacDiarmid.  Aviation Chief Machinist Mate (ACMM) Felix P. MacNeil, a really great chief, operated the school.  Our class ran for 20 weeks, February through May 1946.

Students attended Formal classroom sessions each workday morning.  During the afternoon we were assigned to different maintenance activities, PBM, JRF and J4F, and shops such as machine, spark plug, propeller, sheet metal, etc., for on-hand instructions.

CDR MacDiarmid also had us placed into regular duty sections in which we stood watches and performed routine duties along with the regular air station personnel.  CDR MacDiarmid reasoned we were there to learn all the facets of Coast Guard Aviation, not just to be mechanics of sorts.

While serving in the PSM section we students also flew as student crew members.  On my second PBM flight, CDR Mac was the PPC (Patrol Plane Commander).  It was to be my job to rig the anchor and catch the mooring buoy at the completion of the mission.

We landed in the seadrome landing area in the center of San Diego Harbor.  As CDR Mac did his normal high speed taxi to the CGAS mooring area and seaplane ramp, I requested permission to open the bow hatch and rig For mooring.  CDR Mac answered back, "I'll let you know when to rig!" I didn't think now was the time to explain that this would be my first effort at this task.  Finally, over the intercom came the order, "Rig for mooring..." I opened the hatch, swung out the davit and anchor, and as I reached for the mooring hook and line I saw the mooring buoy slide by.  I grabbed the intercom and informed everyone, "I missed the buoy!"

"Damn it," CDR Mac came back immediately, "a SPAR (women reserve) could have caught that buoy!"

To which I yelled back, "You son-of-a-bitch, you didn't give me time to get rigged."

Believing at that time that my future in Coast Guard aviation had just ended, I could almost hear each crew member saying, "Thank God I didn't say that!"

Over the intercom CDR Mac's reply was remarkably mild.  "Morris, I'm coming around again.  Get that buoy!"

I assure you, I got the buoy on that approach.

CDR MacDiarmid never said a word to me about this incident.  I had really met one of Coast Guard Aviation's giants.


While students in the First 1946 postwar class at Aviation Machinist Mate School, CGAS San Diego, we were to beach a PBM-5.  The Patrol Plane Commander (PPC) was the CO, CDR 0. B. MacDiarmid.  CDR R. R. Johnson, a contemporary of CDR Mac, was the air station XO.  The two often chided one another on their Flying abilities and other rivalries.

This night CDR Mac was returning with a medevac emergency so emphasis was placed on beaching the PBM as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately there was an extremely low tide.

The PBM was moored to the buoy.  The beaching crew assisted the aircrew install the beaching gear and had turned the aircraft into position to tow it up the seaplane ramp.  It was necessary to attach a rather heavy wire cable to the rear aircraft mooring attachment, after which the shore end was attached to a caterpillar tractor capable of pulling the 30-ton aircraft out of the water and up the seaplane ramp.

Ashore, the beaching chief ACMM Seager was busy talking with CDR R. R. Johnson who had come to "supervise" CDR Mac's beaching.  We, the students, were having difficulty standing on the very slippery ramp in seaweed growth exposed by the low tide, trying to attach the wire cable.

The crew member on the caterpillar, AMM1 Griffy, yelled to Chief Seeger asking if he was far enough down the ramp.

Chief Seager yelled back, "I'll tell you when it's far enough."

When AMM1 Griffy next called, "Hey, Chief, is this far enough?", he was up to his neck in water at the end of the seaplane ramp, large amounts of bubbles pouring up from a completely submerged caterpillar tractor!  Everything had slid down the slippery ramp, narrowly missing the students who were trying to attach the wire cable to the tractor.

It was now necessary to take the crash boat alongside the PBM to remove the medico and a very irritated CDR MacDiarmid.  After several hours we recovered the caterpillar and were finally able to beach the PBM.

I don't recall CDR Johnson "supervising" any more of CDR Mac's beachings.


USCG Aviation Machinist Mate School, CGAS San Diego, 1946
Author is standing, 2nd from left (by roundel)
Rear (L to R):  Heft, Morris, Sirocco, Hill, Felix P. McNeil, Hummel, Brown, ???
Front (L to R):  Lewis, Johnson, Knowlton, Widner (killed), ???, ???, Nelson, ???

Copyright 2000 by Ted A. Morris