This no-shitter told by an old veteran shipmate happened moons ago aboard the USS Lyman K. Swenson in Korea, during the winter of 1951…
There were two individuals onboard from Omaha, Nebraska! Their names were Salami and Hamm. I shit you not!! There’s still evidence of them if you check the Omaha phone book!!!
We spent 55 long days out there in Task Force 77 without even seeing land! Morale was lousy, provisions were low, while eating powdered milk, powdered eggs and dehydrated spuds!! The weather was lousy, we were port & starboard and always at darken ship!!!
We did have 8MM movies on the messdecks, but they’d all been seen six times or more! The Ships Store was out of cigarettes and the only way things could have been worse is if the damned laundry had broken down or they’d ordered salt water showers!!!
There was a lot of frustration and resentment building amongst us enlisted types when each evening the Officers Stewards would make this enormous platter of sandwiche! They’d leave them in the Officers Pantry just outside of the Wardroom!! This resentment wasn’t tempered by the fact that the officers paid for their own food out of their food and clothing allowance!!!
Well it started slowly… a sandwich here and a sandwich there! Someone pretty ballsy was slipping in there and ripping off some of those sandwiches!! So the zeros on the 4 to 8 weren’t getting their sandwiches!! It took a while, but they finally put two & two together!!!
On this particular night, the Executive Officer had staked out in the Wardroom lying in wait! About half way through the midwatch, Hamm and Salami made their move!! The Torpedo Deck was almost completely covered with 40 MM ammo cans, with just a narrow trail running fore and aft!! You could only hope to find your way through them if you were lucky!!!
It was absolutely black that night with an overcast and no moon! Hamm and Salami were standing their watch on the 40MM Quad Mount Aft!! Forward past the stacks and past the Torpedo tubes they laid in wait under the hatch!!!
Past the Radio Shack and into the Officers Pantry slid Hamm while Salami was standing lookout at the hatch aft of the Radio Shack! Well, Hamm had no more than picked up the tray of sandwiches when he heard the Wardroom door open Ham and the XO met in the door of the Pantry!! Hamm brushed past the XO and turned left headed for the Torpedo deck with the XO right on his ass screaming…
"Halt!! Halt!! Damn you, stop right there! You're under arrest!"
Of course Hamm was on his way through the 40MM ammo cans with that tray of sandwiches and the XO started banging his shins on those ammo cans! You could hear him going off…
“Oh Shit… Ouch… Damnit!”
He never got far and never got a good look at Hamm either! The only evidence they found the next day was a tray somewhere behind the aft stack and a few wax papers strewn about!! Let me tell you that Hamm was the A #1Ship's Hero for a long while and is still a hero of mine today!! Hamm get in touch and I’ll come to Omaha and buy you a sandwich!! The XO never did find out who the thief was… even til’ now!!!