MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
“I had just finished my shower and gotten into bed when I heard the general quarters alarm going off,” former Senior Chief Petty Officer Francis Bolds Sr., said. “I jumped up to see what was going on and had my foot almost in the door when I felt the ship violently rock.”
Bolds said what he did not know was part of the USS Genesee engine was blown up by a 122mm mortar round and not completely going through that door probably saved his life.
“There were explosions all around the ship and several guys were injured, one was killed. The attack took place at 11:16 p.m. on April 22, 1968, during the Vietnam War,” he said.
Bolds, a resident of Charleston, S.C., was visiting Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Oct. 21, as part of a USS Genesee reunion and base tour. Eight former sailors, six of whom served together in Vietnam, gathered for a weekend-long reunion with their former company commander, retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alan Pendleton.
Bolds, 84, served during World War II in the South Pacific from 1943 - 1946 and in Vietnam from 1963 - 1968.
“These guys, especially my former Executive Officer, Lieutenant Bartley Costello, still take really good care of me and ensure that wherever they gather, I’m there too,” he said. “It makes me feel good to know they think so well of me after all of these years. They always thank me for looking after them while we were on the ship together.”
Costello served with Bolds aboard the USS Genesee from 1966 - 1969 and said he views him as “God’s face here on earth.”
“When I first reported aboard the USS Genesee as a new naval officer, Bolds was my senior enlisted man,” he said. “Over the next two years we were together on a daily basis and even though our backgrounds were totally different, our values were identical.”
Costello said he learned quickly that the young men on the ship revered the chief, who, even handedly and without any ego involved, pushed them very hard to learn and perform their duties.
“These young men grew up under his watch and he was a father figure to these young sailors,” Costello said. “Simply put, he helped me become a better man too, and is one of my heroes.”
After retiring from the Navy in 1973, Bolds went to work for the next 20 years for Goer Manufacturing Company in Charleston, S.C.
“When I retired from Goer in 1993, I began volunteering at the Ralph H. Johnson VA (Veterans Association) Medical Center in my hometown to give back to other veterans like myself,” he said. “I love farming and am very active in my church teaching Sunday school. God and the military have been good to me and I love giving back.”