Saturday, March 15, 2014

‘Electronic Magic’

I’m thread’n another yarn but I’ve been busy lately so I figured I’d lace a good story through from a shipmate by the name of Joe DiPietro that goes way back on the USS Chicago CG11 sometime in the 1970’s… It goes a lil’ someth’n like this…

We were sitting around the Forward ET Shop, our feet up on the work benches, telling jokes and trying to figure out new ways to torture the Chief, when the phone rang. It was RM1 Zamora in Main Comm, and he was frantic. They were minutes away from the start of an important communications drill when suddenly a whole bank of radio equipment failed! I was the junior ET3 of the group, so the shop supervisor told me to go see what was up.
With a screwdriver and a few spare fuses in my pocket, I took off. At the door on the ‘O6 I punched in the combination and entered…pandemonium. There were RMs and Zeros bustling about, teletype printers banging away and facsimile machines zipping their pens to and fro. This was normal of course, Main Comm was always pandemonium. I worked my way into the back and among the di-dah’s of Morse and the bleeps of Baudot I found RM1 Zamora.
Zamora spotted me and, without removing the telephone from his ear, pointed towards the wall of radio receivers and RTTY demodulators. "Fix it" he commanded. "OK" I said, and strolled over to the indicated equipment. Sure enough an entire column of equipment, floor to ceiling (oops, I mean deck to overhead), was dead. Well this was a no-brainer for a budding young rocket-scientist like me! I looked down at the air-filter panel on the bottom of the rack and noticed the master switch was turned off. Kicked off, I speculated, by a clumsy RM3.
I decided to have some fun, so I waited until I was sure Zamora was watching. I slowly walked up to the equipment, laid the palms of my hands gently on its face, leaned my head back, closed my eyes and loudly wailed,
And I kicked the damned main switch back on with my steel toe and…
the fans started blowing, panels lit up, lights started flashing, needles started swinging against their meter faces… and Zamora’s jaw dropped. He’d been had. He knew he’d been had, but he couldn’t see how. I quickly slipped out, an insufferably smug look on my face, before he could figure out what I did.
Later, I got the standard lecture from ET1 Candage, about how I should not intentionally embarrass first class petty officers. But I was too young to pay much heed.
Ahhhh… we mock the thing we are to be!
… When I read this I couldn’t help thinking of Morical… Nagel… or Carpenter pull’n this on RM1 Dunn back in the day on the ol’ Rainier!!!


  1. It was always great to put a little magic into life onboard when the fix was so simple and everyone else was on edge and so frustrated during exercises trying not to look so dumb! (_: FBI

  2. You Shoes had a really odd sense of humor.
    So refreshing at times!

  3. Bravo! Well played!!!

  4. Get er DONE! Great Yarn!

  5. As Duty Electrician I got called to the bridge on e dark night. They were practicing zig-zag courses and for some reason the "sinous course clock" was inop. After a few minutes delicately probing the face of the Helm station I flipped the On/Off switch to the On position and declared the equipment back in operation. From that point on the Engi9neering Officer of the Watch always asked if they had checked the (spelled) "o-n / o-f-f" switch positions before he would dispatch the duty electrician

  6. We had a Chief FC who was legendary at troubleshooting and repairing the MK-56 Fire Control System. While others struggled for hours vainly troubleshooting and attempting to repair this system , this CPO always seemed to get it up and running. One day I asked him his secret. Because I had done him a favor, he agreed if I wouldn't tell anyone else. His troubleshooting technique: Go into the equipment room, and dim the lights. Replace the tubes that weren't glowing. Read the paper, and relax for the next hour or two - and pronounce the system "miraculously repaired". Worked for me!!!!

  7. Was the RM1 Ron Zamora by any chance? I worked with him in 73 and 74 at SSC San Diego. He was getting ready to retire and move to Arizona. Dennis Didier

    1. That would be RM-1 Felix Zamora, I have him in my '78 CG-11 cruise book.

  8. sounds like my favorite fix "PFM" pure frickin' magic

  9. Nagel? Did he come to you off CVN70? Was he nicknamed "Bigfoot"?