Home Again Reunions Stories Photos Clan Robbie


".... and what did I see?"

Click on the picture for a closeup of the crewmen.

Not your ordinary band of angels - but a lineup of Robbie and Sigourney crewmen proving a visit to the famous Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, December 1955. Front row left is James Rodriguez; front row center is Rich Gruny; front row third from right is Jim Tompkinson; back row standing, with mustache and pamphlet to left of ensign, is Rich Johns. If you recognize any others, please spot and name them for us. We strive to be all-inclusive.

We are indebted to Rich Johns for the picture. Here are his recollections of a "pilgrimage of a lifetime":

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

On 6 December we departed Beirut by Air Jordan on a DC3 - en route to Jerusalem. We flew 300 feet over the Dead Sea - which is 1300 feet below sea level, and as we debarked the plane, we were given cards - which had our names in Arabic - proclaiming us members of the "below-sea- flying-club", and conferring the exclusive right to ask any pilot "how low can you get and still fly?"

Silent Night

After landing, we picked up an Amex tour guide. He escorted us to the first stop, where we went through St. Stephen's Gate. St. Stephen was the disciple who was stoned to death for admitting that he was a follower of Christ. Next we went down to the little grotto where Christ was born. There we attempted to sing "Silent Night", but we were so choked with emotion the words wouldn't come. I look back now and realize that, had it not been for the Navy, I could not have made that pilgrimage.

I Wonder, as I Wander

Next we went over the 14 Stations of the Cross. We saw the place where Jesus faltered, almost dropping the Cross, and where Simon Peter carried it for a while. We went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ prayed for deliverance. We went to Golgotha, where Christ spent his last agonizing moments before his deliverance to Pilate, and later on to where the Stone, that had been rolled away from the entrance to Christ's tomb, lay preserved, and is now cared for by the Greek Diocese.

'Til Death Do Us Part

This was a trip that I will never forget, one that a lot of people would have liked to have taken. We were able to go through the auspices of the U.S. Navy. It will remain in my memory until the day that I meet that "Band of Angels, Coming after Me. Coming for to Carry me Home".

Footnote: Two of our shipmates, Bill Critser and Howard Wise, entered the ministry after leaving the service.

--Richard E. Johns