In Memoriam: Claude "Red" Gambrell
Claude Bruce “Red” Gambrell, 81, of Olney, died May 5, 2012, at Brinton Woods Health Care Center in Sykesville.
Born March 17, 1931, in Abbeville, S.C., he was the son of the late Claude Edward and Mary Bruce Gambrell. He was predeceased by wife Dona Jean Gambrell.
He spent all of his professional life as a naval communicator and was a specialist in global and strategic communications systems. He participated in Operations Castle, Wigwam and Redwing nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in 1954, 1955 and 1956. He retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer from the U.S. Navy in 1968 and from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in 1992.
He is survived by his two children, David M. Gambrell and wife, Madonna, and Bruce Gambrell, as well as two grandchildren, all of Crownsville. Also surviving are his sister, Joan Hartley and husband, Richard, of Crossville, Tenn., and life-long friend, Phyllis Schultz of Westminster.
Funeral service will take place at 2 p.m. today at Burrier-Queen Funeral Home & Crematory, PA, 1212 W. Old Liberty Road, Winfield (beside South Carroll High School). Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
Dona's Death Notice
I am using this means to inform all my friends and shipmates that my wife, Dona,
passed away this morning about 7:15 a.m.
Diagnosis: Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and emphysema (COPD).
Cremation is being handles by a local funeral home. She requested that her cremated ashes be spread at a favorite spot in the Shenandoah valley. This will take place at some time in the future.
Everything is under control. I am proceeding in accordance with her wishes.
Red's Professional Career
I'm not trying to be egotistical. I was asked to write this info by Rob Flory, so I wrote it off-the-cuff without a helluva lot of thought. It brings back some good flashbacks of some good experiences and good times ........ and good shipmates.
In a message dated 10/10/2006 7:04:36 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Redgamb writes:
Tell me about your service, and your hamming too.
Well, let's see.
I entered the Navy in 1947 and went to boot camp and radio school at USNTC San Diego.
My first ship was an fleet oiler, the USS Canisteo (AO-99) homeported in Norfolk. I was one of three RM's and we copied the NSS (Washington) Fox Broadcast which in those days was sent at 18 wpm. Our receivers were RAK/RAL's, and the, then, new RBA and RBC's and the transmitters in the radio shack were a TBM or TBL, TAJ, a TCS and a TBS on the bridge for ship to ship comms.
My next ship was the USS E-PCS 1426 which was a converted wooden hull sub chaser that was converted and use as the research vessel (ship) for the Naval Research Lab in Belleview, D.C. Our home port was at NRl and we tied up to a pier on the Potomac River. I was the only radioman. RBA, RBB, RBC receivers, a TDE transmitter, a TCS, and a marine corps or army UHF multi frequency transceiver that I don't think I ever used. We did a lot of Chesapeake Bay ops and operated in and out of Bermuda a few times.
Mostly sonar research.
In 1950 I went to shore duty and was stationed at the Main Navy Building in Washington where I worked as a NSS Fox Broadcast operator, sending the CW Fox broadcasts to the fleet. I later went over to the Pentagon to work in the CNO message center.
In 1953, I was transferred to Mare Island shipyard to commission a former SS Liberty ship, the USS George Eastman (YAG-39). Most of the equipment in the radio room was of the commercial variety, plus a TCS, RBB and RBC receiver. Most of the maritime equipment was built by McCay Radio or RCA. The navy had taken the George Eastman and the Granville S. Hall out of the maritime mothball fleet to be used in the Atomic Bomb tests at Bikini atoll in 1954 and 1955. The ships were overhauled and equipped to be operated by remote control from a control room surrounded by water in the no. 2 cargo hold (hole). We would sail into the radiation fallout from the atomic bomb blasts to test the newly designed washdown systems installed on the main decks and outside the superstructure. We were protected from the radiation and fall out by the water that surrounded the control room in the middle of no 2 cargo hold. Later, this system was installed on all ships. It was quite an experience to say the least.
Between shots, while the ships were being decontaminated, we lived in tents on Parry Island at Eniwetok. This was the good life because the contractor for the Atomic Energy Commission, Holmes and Narver, Inc., ran the island for their cadre of workmen and provided great food, a commissary for health, comfort and the all important cigarettes and beer & whiskey allotments!
The sad part of this excursion was that some of the crew, mostly snipes,
ended up with different forms of cancer from the radiation they received.
Luckily, I have not had that problem so far.
In late 1956 I went to the Service School Command at Great Lakes, Ill where I was an instructor in the Electronics Technician School where I taught Electronic Countermeasures. While there I was given the opportunity to sit-thru and monitor the first 16 weeks of the basic Electronics Technician course, thus learning the basics of electron theory.
In the Spring of 1959 I was transferred to the USS Parle (DE-708), but I was only there for a few months before I had orders to attend the Advanced Radioman School (RM"B") at USNTC, Bainbridge, Md. This was essentially the whole course of the 16-week ET "A" school , plus a bit more.
I graduated from RM"B" school in January 1960, went to a crypto school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and from there I reported to the
commissioning crew of the USS Long Beach (CGN-9) at the Bethlehem Shipyard at Quincy, Mass. The Long Beach was the first nuclear powered guided missile cruiser and had a all-aluminum hull. The whole 05-level of the ship was dedicated to the communications suite and it was a communicator's delight. It contained lots of the latest and greatest comm and crypto equipment. We had a radio gang of almost 100 radiomen, about 16 of us being RM"B" school graduates. As far as I know, this was the first and only ship where the radiomen were responsible not only for the operation but also the maintenance of all the radio equipments. I was the leading CPO of the radio gang.
From the Long Beach, I was transferred to the USS Newport News (CA-148)
as the leading radioman with the plan that I would eventually become the leading radioman of COMSECONDFLT. The Newport News was the flagship of C2F. In time I was transferred from the NN to the Staff of C2F and became the leading chief of over 100, both staff and ship, radiomen. This was a real exciting and challenging job whenever we had fleet exercises, and most particular during the Cuban Blockade. It was truly a battle of the airways to keep all the various circuits terminated with the NavCommStas and the ships of the task force(s).
In 1964, I was transferred to RM"B" school at Bainbridge where I assumed the job of Chief Instructor. A year later, in October 1965 I was selected as to become a Warrant Officer in the first class of the NEW warrant officer program. After attending knife&fork school at Newport, Rhode Island I went to NAVCOMMSTA HONO where I became the Receivers Officer and, later, the Technical Control Officer.
In October 1968, I reverted to my permanent rating of Master Chief Radioman and retired to civilian life.
In civilian life, I worked at the Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. for the next 23 years. I started out as a Navy communication systems analyst where I worked mostly in the realm of Strategic Communications systems involving Fleet Ballistic Submarines,
Strategic Command and Control and other related systems.
I gave up the ghost in 1992 and have been resting ever since!
I hope this is the info you wanted me to relate. It's written pretty much off-the-cuff and I haven't attempted to cover all the bases.
As for hamming. I have not been very active for several years. When I was active I was a member of the Potomac Valley Radio Club and involved with contesting. My favorite mode of operation is still CW and most of my ham radio experiences have been ragchewing on the bands. I still have a bug sitting here and I send to myself every once in a while.
Have you seen the nice TBL at the Historical Electronics Museum in Baltimore?
No. but I will make a point of visiting the museum. Do you know the address or location? There is the Navy Cryptographic Museum located near the NSA at Ft. Meade, Md., but I have yet to visit there. I understand they have all the old crypto equipments on display.
Now it's your turn, Rob. Tell me about your service and ham experiences and about your civilian endeavors, too.
I will be sending you a bunch of messages separately that you may be interested in. Most of it is recent emails between former shipmates of mine regarding various subjects related to communications.
There is also an organization in SDIEGO - Veteran Communicators - that you may be interested.
In a message dated 10/12/2006 12:37:13 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Interesting biographic material. May I use it in a web page?
If you wish. I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job of it. It was written off the cuff without and real thought or editing.
I'd Rather Be Flying!
In the forum "I'd Rather Be Flying," Red helped me extensively on "The Colonel's BBS" and web site "The Kunnel's Korner." His contributions were many and now lost to time and memory. However, here are a few you might want to review:
- Boeing F4B-4 'The Fabled Four'
- Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
- Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
How Red and I became friends...
Long ago in a far away galaxy... The Old Kunnel was privileged to operate a Bulletin Board System on a small network known as the "GT Power Network." One of his frequent visitors was Red Gambrell who first joined as a result of his being a fellow GT NetWork SysOP. I sponsored the "I'd Rather Be Flying" forum area one the Colonel's BBS that carried over into my present web site, The Kunnel's Korner. Red and I met in person as a result of the forum at a "walk around" to the Smitsonian Silver Hill aviation restoration unit [now at Dulles International Airport.] During the many years of our SysOp and Web Site associations, Red sent me many contributions to my aviation pages. I cherish them highly.
"Today In History" was a feature of my old Bulletin Board System, the Colonel's BBS. The
Ol'Kunnel hopes that it will prove popular with you, too. Enjoy!
Daily Christian teachings follow the Bulletin as "Manna: God's Bread." Both are a carry-over from The Colonel's BBS, and I invite you to read them both daily, if you can.
In deference to my work at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps near Washington, D.C., I established this Bulletin Board System (BBS) to help the Marine Reserve Component learn computer network conferencing in my off-time. The Colonel's BBS ran from August 4, 1988 until ceasing operations in December, 1996. It originally ran on the GT Power Network but, the advent of InterNet and the World Wide Web soon showed me that the day of the hobby networks was at an end. [As an aside, some say that the ubiquitous 'blogger' has taken the place of the BBS but, I doubt that, don't you?] So, here we are endeavoring to provide you the same fun and service on the Web.^¿^
The Ol'Kunnel (who cannot read music or play by ear) first arranged some tunes for the GT Power Network using ANSI characters. The program he used was by a fellow on the GTPN that was really a gem of a music writer. As the "GT Net" was a group of Bulletin Board System operators using ANSI graphics at the time, the Kunnel coded tunes in the ANSI format for a get-together being held in North Carolina where GT Power Sysops abounded. Since moving the Internet in 1997, the Kunnel worked up a version in the MIDI format with respect to those old friends in North Carolina. There are no longer any BBS operators but there still is "Carolina In The Morning." I have lost count of the music pages I have now in the Kunnel's juke box but, you more than welcome to sample some or all of them.
In conclusion, I look forward to many more years of friendship with you. Certainly this is the ultimate reason for my carrying on so long in networking. A labor of love for me and my friends.
Bob Clarke a.k.a. the ol'Kunnel....
Please Use The Teleporter To Find Your Way Around...