I don’t want to tack-weld this yarn together… but memories oxidize & rust and this account goes way back to my days on the ol’ Baglady, so if I don’t get it 100% right… it was all those late nights of iniquity, I promise! Now the Baglady was a ship where everybody seemed to know everyone else!! We were a rag-tag bunch of fellas probably something culpable to McHale’s Navy!!!
Now put that group of seagoing misfits in the PI and see what happens! A naturally sheltered harbor, Subic had been the Navy's Westpac crown jewel since the turn of the century, with ship services & dry docks, an air field and enough room for the whole seventh fleet at once!! It was also hot enough to incubate a dozen chickens from under your armpits!! In the land of Milk & Honey… all attributed to the ‘LBFMs’, men seldom got drunker to pick up easy women and prove their manhood!! With so much to do in Subic it still bewilders me to this day why any young man would do what my boy Douggy did!!!
Fan rooms were a common place to smoke the ol’ wacky weed in the years before piss tests! And yes, that habitual tradition carried on well into the years after ‘Operation Golden Flow’ came to be!! But some fools never bothered to check where the fan exhaust went!! That’s when a couple of Crackerjacks were discovered smoking in the fan room!!!
First off… vents travel all around the ship and there’s no telling where the scent may end up! If you’re gonna be a pothead, you need to close those damned vents or block them up!! If your vent doesn’t have a switch or lever, throw a wet towel over it!!!
There was one story I’d heard of a sailor who made sure the fan room exhaust went outside the skin of the ship… only to find out later the exhaust was over a refueling station and the ship was alongside for Unreps, bathing the Bos’n in charge as well as twenty or so line handlers with that warm smell of colitis rising up through the air!!!
Well… This was one classic case where the Seadog in question was smoking the ganja in a fan room which fed air to the Electronic Warfare Shop! It was a pretty laid-back evening in the PI!! I was out in the town chasing the Honey-Koes when this happened so I got wind of it through second hand smoke if you know what I mean!!!
Somewhere abouts 2000 Hours the EW1 was on duty hanging out in his shack when the shit literally hit the fan! He scowled and sniffed until he zeroed in on the overhead ventilation duct!! Yep, the smell was unmistakable… and since he owned that fan room he knew exactly where to catch the culprit!!!
At that point EW1 was as pissed as a fart in a vacuum cleaner… and after sitting in his shop breathing in the incense he probably felt like one too! He was about to make himself known… as welcome as a hole in a lifeboat to whomever it was in his fan room stink’n up the joint like a skunk in heat!!
♫♪ “Ooooh that smell… the smell of cannabis all around you!” ♫♪
… That’s all he could think about touting his way out to the weather decks!!!
EW1 moved with intent as he headed out! He knew it was coming from the 03 level, portside fan room!! For inspection purposes it was the EW crew’s property and responsibility!!!
First he grabbed the dogg’n wrench, and after little thought gave it a quick knock…
“Open up in there!”
… with that he got no answer! Again…
“Come on out… I know you’re in there!”
… this went on a few minutes! Finally…
“Here’s a hint, if we don’t answer the first few times, what makes you think the next few are going to get us to come out?”
… This got EW1 pretty hot under the collar!
“I said get your asses out here or I’m coming in!”
… To which some moron replied…
“My Mom said never talk to strangers and since you're really strange.... I guess that means I can't talk to you… Ha-Ha-Ha!”
That was it… with his head pressed against the bulkhead he wrestled with the dogging wrench! He said he could hear murmuring coming from the space! As the dogs receded, he slowly swung the hatch open, held his breath and poked his head in!! That smoky compartment revealed a couple of young characters encircled with the bouquet of sinsemilla!!!
There was a dead silence, so dead you could hear mice pissing on cotton or was that cotton mouth… or something… anyway! Once the smoke cleared EW1 said he could see a couple of bleary eyed idiots in the back look’n like they just walked out of a forest fire!! When asked what they thought they were doing in ‘his’ fan room they all wondered together in unison and harmony… coming away empty!!!
Apparently Douggy didn’t bother to put down the doobie attached to his hand as tenaciously as panicked barnacles!
“Put that shit down… and keep rolling your eyes at me! Maybe you’ll find a gauddamned brain back there!”
Clearly disappointed, we knew he was a goner as soon as word got around… ain’t nobody gonna be forgiven in that instance!
“Douggy, what the hell got into you? That idea didn’t seem any sillier than bathing in used motor oil!”
“It wasn’t my idea… Seaman ‘Such-n-Such’ had some Thai Stick and offered to share!”
“So you had to be weak and go along with it?”
“Now, remember, I’m a sailor who’s always ready to oblige a shipmate, so without question I felt I had to oblige!”
“But there’s so much to do here… why take the chance?”
“Well I was on duty, and I figured what the hell… you only live once, and most people don’t even do that!”
“I hope it was worth it!”
“WoW… let me tell you! I took a hit off that Thai Stick and I swear I was on a rocket ship to Pluto! Within an hour the Tooth Fairy strapped a rocket booster to my ass and launched me into outer space!! I now fully understand what ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ was all about!”
… Shaking my Head…
“I was feeling no pain! I took one step and went two miles....taking a stroll through the ship after words was a real adventure...something like a maze in a psychedelic art museum or riding one of them funhouse rides at the carnival!”
Look’n yonder at the hillside overlooking Olongapo…
“Wow man… all the plants are so green you’d think they had batteries in them!”
“So what are you gonna do now… work at some factory making bowling trophies or recycling old beer cans?”
“Beats sitt’n here year after year in this inescapable hull of haze grey and unspeakable monotony while some low-voltage idiot rambles on about that which would drive a garden slug to suicide!”
To a young sailor… if it ain’t worth doing, then it’s worth doing to wild excess! Most of us were nothing but riff-raff… some salvageable, some just not worth a damn!! Almost all were involved in smuggling back from liberty of some degree… hell I even found a bag of weed stuffed in a CO2 nozzle!!!
And Shipmates, that ‘Ain’t No Shit! That’s also why they nicknamed the ‘Good Conduct Medal’ the ‘I Ain’t Got Caught Yet Medal’!! Those were crazy days, yes they were… !!!