Saturday, March 28, 2015

‘Missing Ship’s Movement’

Remember pulling the lines in and taking her out, when you got the last line across…

“Underway… Shift Colors!”

Here I go again plunging butt nekkid into the ol’ fountain of youth... just’a shuffl’n through them old memories that were steam pressed and government issued when we journeyed the high seas! I also remember, if you were fifteen minutes early you were on time… and usually forty-five minutes ahead of anything of any consequence!! Made me ponder through some ol’ cobwebs about a fella I once knew on the ol’ Baglady!!!

Missing ship’s movement was a serious crime in the Ol’ Canoe Club! One they would hog tie and haul you up into the rafters just to soak you in gasoline and light you off using your doo-dah as a wick!! Yours truly always made it back in time for the early morning drunk parade known as line handlers ‘cause I valued my doo-dah too much… but there was one Sea & Anchor Detail we were missing a team member!!!

Yep…I can still remember it like yesterday! Pat Rachal rollicking all happy-go-lucky up the pier when suddenly he sees the brow lifted at the end of the pier!! He says he was down by the quay wall say’n his last family goodbyes before gett’n underway! For all I knew he woke up at some house of horizontal refreshment drunk as a waltz’n piss ant in the dirt… oh wait a minute, that probably would’a been me or one of my other runningmates!!! 

I asked Pat exactly what happened on that fateful morn… and this is what he had to say…  

“Nothing in my life could prepare me for that feeling I got that day! You know… that lost sinking feeling in your gut like it’s gonna fall through your asshole!?!”

“Yeah Pat, I bet you were having about as much fun as pissing on spark plugs at that moment!”  

“Yeah, I guess you could say I had that ol’ pucker factor going on you’d been talking about!”

 “Ha-Ha… I remember that look on your face as you’d realized the ship was pull’n away from the pier… you looked about as confused as a fart in a perfume factory!”

“Well as it was, the ship had been on a pretty strange schedule! We had a new Skipper who was increasing the OP Tempo and we seemed to be up and down the West Coast like a damn Yo-Yo!! If it weren’t Gun Fire Support off San Clemente it was Port Visits as south as Mexico and as North as Vancouver!!!”

“Hell, I didn’t mind being haze grey and underway! At that point in our careers if were weren’t on watch or doing heads-n-beds then we were watch’n movies, play’n bones, or read’n nekkid gurly magazines with the pullout pin-ups!! That’s how I remember it!!!”

“Ha-Ha… yes, I suppose you would! Anyway, we’d pulled in under the bridge that Friday and I was about as excited as a ten year old all sugared up on a sleep over!

It was a duty day and I was due a favor from the ol’ Section Leader, I got the Pier Watch so I could hang out and mingle with my wife!! The only problem beings I also had the same watch on the 04-08 rotation and ya know you gotta love the pier SOPA… their watch relief was always late!!!”

“OH Man… that had to suck!”

“Yeah, and to top it off… they announced the night before that we’d be getting underway early on Monday morning as was usually the case! Man, we couldn’t be more unlucky if we’d fallen in a barrel of cigars and came out with a handful of turds!! It’s like if you made plans in advance, you could pretty much expect those plans to be questioned… changed… and ultimately cancelled for the needs of the Navy!!!”

“Well you know what they say, ‘When your day is going well… chances are you ain’t pay’n attention!”

“In good fashion come Monday, my family and I left early that morning to beat the mile long military convoy to get on base and make it to the pier promptly so I could give my heartfelt goodbyes and all! Strolling down the pier feeling a little sad… I looked up briefly only to see the tug alongside with the hawser running to the ship with the crane holding the brow up into the air!! That’s when I got that pucker factor feeling mentioned above!!!”

“Ha-Ha-Ha… Oh Boy, we didn’t think you had a corn dog’s chance in a hog trough to make it onboard! We couldn’t help but deride you and give you a bunch’a shit!!”  

“Yeah, you were and incorrigible bunch of bastards… about as subtle as a gynecologist wearing a gas mask!”

 “AAAH… the splendid fun of confronting danger!”

“Anyway, once I saw the ship was pulling away I bolted like a rat up a drain pipe trying to make it to the crane! After a dash at the crane and a few explicative remarks, the crane operator was not so inclined to lower the brow!! With adrenaline rushing I stopped and looked at the ship… I must have had that ‘whore in church caught with the old man’s wife’ look on my face!!!” 

“Yeah, I was gonna say you looked like an unwanted prick in a room full of hookers but I like your analogy as well!” 

Well, I figured the ship about eight feet away and a good flying leap I might be able to make the jump! I picked up my man parts and started off as my shipmates were all hoot’n and holler’n while pointing to my salvation as there was one of them Yokohama Fender like camels between the ship and the pier!! I took that flying leap and bounced off the Yokohama like a trampoline just managing to grab a chock with one hand and a lifeline with the other!!!”  

“Yeah, I remember I was part of the topside gang that pulled you up before your sorry ass went into the briny deep!”

 "I’d like to say I grabbed that line and scaled the side of the ship like an Adam West like ‘Batman’ or ‘Spiderman’ but if it weren’t for my shipmates pulling me up from the chocks I might not of made it! I was hanging there like a piñata completely depending on you guys!! You never let me down!!!”

“Hey, that’s what shipmates are for… right?!?” 

“After the corpsman checked me over and the Chief in charge of line handlers gave me that…’you dumb son-of-a-bitch’ look I was just glad to be aboard! The Skipper and XO were both looking down at all the congratulatory ass grabbing and ‘Good Gaming’ going on with a few high fives and such noticing my ball cap floating away into the San Diego Harbor!! I thought I might of escaped Skippy’s Mast but it didn’t work out as planned!!!”

“You know that ol’ saying… ‘It was time to bargain like a gypsy and pay like a gentleman!” 

“I had been to Skippy’s Mast twice during my enlistment, but this one was my favorite if you can say that! I remember asking FC1 Hodges…

“If you have any influence with the executive operations of a report chit… can you get them to take it easy on me?” 

“… The last thing I wanted to do was buttheads with the Skipper or tap dance with the chain of command like a bunch’a disagreeable skunks!” 

“I bet the Skipper was madder than a mosquito in a maniquin factory!” 

“Oh he was… he didn’t consider my rather unorthodox arrival onto his ship to be in good faith! And the ol’ man never minced words as he had a knack for asking questions that just pulled away the bullshit and made you think!”

“I’ll bet while you stood there in front of the Skipper you felt like that ‘whore’ everyone gossips about at the family reunion!”  

Something like that… Nevertheless my wife had to visit me onboard for a couple of weeks! Funny, those were good memories too!!  

“Well you ol’ Codger… if it was even legal, I’m sure one or two of your shipmates would’a gladly stood your restriction for you on a night or two…!” 

“With that being said… I don’t know if I ever thanked my mates proper! If any of you ol’ salty bastards are reading this… Thank You!! It was the Worst of Times and the Best of Times… because of people like you!!!”  

Aaah Hell Pat… Stop being so Sappy… you’re gonna get somebody all teary eyed! That’s what shipmates do!!!” 

“Last thing… I recorded this story and stashed it in a sea chest! You know, that cardboard box in the garage with the medals, ribbons, swords, rugs, Ball Caps, cruise jackets, Shellback and Golden Dragon papers, CIWS & Harpoon patches and Zippo lighters… Just to let you know!!!”  

Yep… Every Sailor who know the ol’ rascal Rachal love the Son-of-a-Gun! Nothing like Shipmates… Nothing like Shipmates!!!




  1. Bunch of us got left behind in Hong Kong when the Prairie pulled out on emergency deployment. They said hunker down at the Embassy but none of us did. Had a full night of fun and drinks, boarded the Zelima next a.m. and they stuck us in a reefer room for the 2 day cruise to Pratas Reef. Frostbite in SE Asia in August.

  2. I was snuggled up to my sweetie at a movie house in Olongapo when my buddy came in and told me we had to get back to the ship because she was leaving out early. Boy was I pizzzzed at him. I had a perfectly good excuse to be left behind in Subic, and he decides to do a good deed and come drag me home. Thanks pal.

  3. I had a similar story - the USS Lockwood was leaving San Diego and one of the deck apes from 2nd division was running down the pier as the lines were being pulled in. The guys on sea and anchor detail kept feeding out one line as their wayward shipmate shimmed across the line monkey style. I kept looking at the capstan as they paid out the line looking for the end - but he made it. Everyone on the ship cheered as he was pulled aboard. The skipper was very easy on him as his heroic effort prevented him from committing a mortal sin for any crackerjack.

  4. Actually I was staying behind for dental work but still had to report to the baglady and told to stand on the pier until she pulled out....i started walking past the gate on the pier and there I see Pat sitting in his car with the family saying goodbye like he was early!...Hehehehe i yelled at him Dude..your late...she's that white boy ran like jesse owens down the pier and scrambled up the side of the ship.....I will never forget his face that morning.....too funny