Photo: GMCS Gus Uhler 1933 - 1972
Photo Credit: Tom Hill
Audio: * Navy Hymn (requires update of 'Quicktime' for browser if not working properly)
The below epitaph was written by a fellow Towers shipmate and friend of GMCS Uhler; GMGC Thomas L. Weaver.
Epitaph for GMCS Gordon (Gus) Uhler:
His name was Gus and he was the Senior Chief Gunners Mate on board Towers from 1966 to 1969. Gus was in charge of the 5"54 gun mounts.
Gordon (Gus) Uhler was born in Upper State New York in 1933 and died off the gun-line in June of 1972. Gus made two WestPac cruises onboard Towers and had over 20 years in the Navy when he died. Senior Chief Uhler believed in one thing when it came to his Guns and that was to make all firing missions no matter what. That was what killed Gus Uhler.
There were many tales about Gus Uhler, but two have stuck in my mind over the years.
Towers was tied up next to another DDG in San Diego over the weekend. Towers was leaving port on Monday for a competitive firing exercise of their 5"54 guns. Gus Uhler had one gun down. Because of lack of spare parts. During the weekend, late at night, Chief Uhler was caught red-handed attempting to acquire the spare parts he needed from the gun off the ship next to the Towers. Chief Uhler was taken off the ship by base security and the Captain (Captain Carter) of the Towers was called at home to come to the base to get his Chief Gunners Mate. After the Captain managed to pick up his Chief from base security, Gus Uhler made the comment to his Captain that the Towers was getting underway on Monday for a gun shoot with a gun down. But the other DDG was not and didn't need their gun. The Captain's answer to his Chief, went like this, "I understand that Chief, but how about next time that you do this, you don't get caught".
The next tale about Gus Uhler happened in Subic Bay on the way to the Gun Line. Captain Carter wanted an extra 50 Cal machine gun for the Bridge. He sent his Senior Chief Gus Uhler to the Ammo Depot to pick one up. On the way back from the Ammo Depot to the ship with a 50 Cal machine gun on his shoulder, Chief Uhler decided to stop at the Chief's Club for a beer. At the hat check room in the Chief's Club, Gus lays this machine gun on the counter and asks the hat check girl to check it in, while he gets a beer. You should have seen the look on that girl's face.
That was Gus Uhler, living life to the fullest, but deadly serious when it came to his guns.
Gus Uhler was stationed at the Photo Lab at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. in 1972. Gus had less than two months remaining before he was retiring from the Navy.
In May of 1972, the ships on the gun-line with 5"54 Gun Mounts were suffering a lack of Senior Petty Officers for the guns. The call went out to all shore stations to send any 5"54 Gunners Mates to the ships on the Gun Line for 90 days TAD.
Gus Uhler had 60 days remaining before he retired, so he was orderd to go on 60 days TAD to the Gun Line.
When Gus got to WestPac, he was ordered to the USS Stoddert (DDG-22). On the gun-line, firing a fire support mission with Mount 51 (Mount 52 was down because of an earlier casualty), Mount 51 had a misfire with a "hot" gun. Gus Uhler knew that the firing lock (firing pin) got fouled after firing a number of NATO ammunition, so with cooling procedural going on, Gus Uhler made a decision to remove the firing lock. Upon doing so, air got to the hot powder case, and the powder case exploded. The blast from the explosion went up into the gun mount because of water being flushed down the gun barrel for cooling. Two men were killed and two men injured. One of the injured was Gus Uhler with over 70% of his body burned.
After several transfers at sea, Gus Uhler died from his injuries. I was on a ship that day, off the coast of Vietnam, and when I got the word that Gus had died, I cried, for not only losing a fellow Gunners Mate, I also lost a good friend.
Gus left behind a loving wife and four children, three sons and one daughter under the age of twelve. Gus died with less than 30 days before his retirement.
But the story of Gus Uhler did not end with his death. In 1986, I was working for a defense contractor at the Gunners Mate School in Great Lakes, IL., a young lad came down to where I was working and introduced himself as Uhler (I forgot his first name). He was the number two son of Gus and he was going to GM A school.
I do not know if young Uhler is sill in the Navy.
Thomas L. Weaver
Navy Hymn midi file credited to Bob Sorem; website at http://www.tc.umn.edu/~sorem002/index.html