About the Author
Capt. Andy with memorabilia in the attic in 2012.
Capt. Andy Fosina
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Life Aboard the USS Rich
After enlisting into the Navy, Captain Andy’s first two deployments took place on the USS Rich, where he held the position of First Lieutenant and the electronics materials officer in August of 1965. “That job was mostly following up on people doing maintenance, getting spare parts, and working with the crew members that you had assigned to you as electronics techs. The days were long, but a lot of fun,” said Captain Andy. Once November of 1965 hit, Captain Andy assumed the duties as navigator of the ship.
Back in the 1960s, there was no electronic means of navigation, so the day would start very early for Captain Andy. “I would get up before dawn to look at the morning stars. I went out on deck with my quartermaster and we would look through the sextons, which is an instrument used to determine the angle between the stars and the horizon, and gather all of our calculations to find out where the ship was. I would then have to take the ‘sun-line’, in which we would have to record when the sun was at its highest point and that would help verify what latitude the ship was at,” said Captain Andy. In the evening, he would have to go back out onto the flight deck and observe the stars in ‘nautical twilight,’ in which the sky was covered in a deep blue tone, embellished with tints of deep orange and yellow from the fading sun. “You would have to take the same calculations again and plot everything out so that you had a fix for the night before you went to bed. That is if you got to go to bed,” said Captain Andy.
Captain Andy continued to bear the duties as navigator through the second deployment on the USS Rich, which took place from May of 1966 to September of 1966. In between the first and second deployments, he married Barbra Ann Grove of New Rochelle, New York in April of 1966. “During my first deployment on the Rich, the ship made port in Beirut, Lebanon where I actually bought our wedding rings. One night while we were there, the Executive Officer of the ship mentioned wedding rings to me and offered to take me into the city. I ended up buying our 18 karat wedding rings for only ten dollars a piece,” said Captain Andy with a proud smile. ◊
A Year in Vietnam After attending various schools in preparation for his next tour, Captain Andy held the position of Harbor Patrol Maintenance and Security Officer from June of 1967 to July of 1968, where he was stationed in DeNang, Vietnam. At the time, his wife and newborn son, Andrew Jr., relocated back to their hometown of New Rochelle, New York. “Probably one of the most exciting things that had happened was when I was the Harbor Patrol and Security Officer. Some nights I would go out on patrols with the guys and we patrolled the northern end of the harbor and looked for any movement. The northern side is what we called Indian Country, which was kinda a no-man’s-land. We didn’t have any radar up there and we did everything in a darkened condition, as did all of the navy ships that came in and out of the harbor. The most exciting thing that ever happened up there that I will never forget was when we patrolling one night, all of a sudden it sounded like the world was coming to an end. The Saint Paul Cruiser had come into the harbor and was firing over our heads into the lands with their eight-inch guns. So we were downstream of those guns and the noise was absolutely horrendous,” explained Captain Andy. Also while Captain Andy was the commander of the harbor security patrol boats, his team intercepted and destroyed three sampans, which were carrying escaping North Vietnamese soldiers on January 31, 1968. A headline marked the Standard-Star of New Rochelle, stating: “Lt. Fosina’s Patrol Boat Destroys Foe’s Sampans.” As reported in The Standard-Star, “Lt. Fosina commanded the 45-foot picket boat, which had been on patrol since Jan. 30. Late that evening and two and a half miles south of the [Denang River] bridge, the picket boat took nine rounds of unknown mortar fire from an island on the east side of the river, sustaining minor shrapnel damage. At midnight Marine units conducted a sweep, leaving the LCPL on patrol by the bridge. Lt. Fosina’s picket boat took the area under fire with its twin .50-calibers. At 4 a.m., the boat received word from the Marines that three small sampans were moving north, carrying enemy troops trying to escape the sweep. The boat intercepted the sampans at a bend in the river. The sampans were taken under fire by Lt. Fosina’s boat with machine guns and grenade launchers.” ◊
JANE GREGORSKI, freshman, is an aspiring photojournalist majoring in English with minors in journalism and sociology. Because her dad was a captain in the Navy, Jane moved between Jacksonville, Fla., and Chesapeake, Va., throughout her childhood, until settling in Chesapeake eight years ago. After finishing her four years in college, she hopes to attend graduate school at Boston University. Jane is an avid music lover, beach goer, and culinary enthusiast, who enjoys spending her free time with friends, and traveling to New York to visit her family.
After being stationed in DaNang, Vietnam for a year, Captain Andy packed his bags and headed back to the United States to become the Assistant Flag Secretary for the US Atlantic Fleet in Little Creek, Virginia. He was then promoted to Lieutenant and sent to the USS Forrest Sherman in Newport, Rhode Island to perform various duties before attending the United States Navy Destroyer School in January of 1970. During this time, his family also moved to Virginia Beach and was welcomed with the birth of their daughter Katherine, born in May of 1971 in Portsmouth Naval Hospital.
“At this point in time, I was truly considering getting out of the Navy Reserves because it was so difficult being away from my family. However, Captain Leslie Senlon who was my Commanding Officer on the USS Rich convinced me to stay in the Navy and become a full time officer. So with his help, I was augmented into the US Navy with a regular commission,” said Captain Andy.
Once he finished Destroyer School, he was sent to serve on the USS Joseph Hewes, first as a training officer from July of 1970 to March of 1971, then as the Operations Officers from March of 1971 to August of 1972. “When I was the Operations Officer on the Staff at Amphibious Group 2 towards the end of my career, I would get to work at six in the morning and stay there till 7 or 8 o’clock at night.
The operations department is responsible for the 35/36 ships of that fleet. We were responsible for the scheduling and coordination with the Marines, planning exercises, and that sort of stuff. So those were sure busy days,” explained Captain Andy. He then went on to serve as the Operations Officer for the USS Spiegel Grove from 1974 to 1976, and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander as well.
A few years later, Captain Andy was sent to serve as the Executive Officer of the USS Sumter, which deployed to the Barents Sea and Mediterranean from September of 1978 to May of 1980. “When I was XO, I essentially was responsible for the daily workings of the ship. You are in there before everyone else in the morning and usually stay till everyone else is gone and you know, cleaning, birthing the ship when it pulled into port, inspections, training sessions, just everything. You know both underway and in port, the XO is responsible for it all,” he said.
However for Captain Andy, the most enjoyable deployment was when he was the Commanding Officer of the USS Fairfax from June of 1983 to November of 1985, in which he gained the titled of Captain.
“This was probably the most significant tour for me. I took command of the Fairfax in June of 1983 and the Change of Command was held in Spain. The tour lasted 30 months, which is quite lengthly compared to most Commanding Officer tours that generally only last 20 months and was actually during the height of the Cold War. During this tour, we deployed around South America and to West Africa to fulfill the humanitarian efforts that we were assigned to complete. In addition to that, the ship was invited to do many events in ports such as Key West and Fort Lauderdale. We were also invited to attend Fleet Week up in New York City in 1985, so there were a lot of fun times spent on that ship.” ◊
"A Story Worth Remembering"
by Jane Gregorski
—“To me when you are an officer in the Navy, you are constantly in the training mode. You are always teaching the younger people, so you have to start off with having trust and faith in other people and teach them the ropes."