Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Do You Own Any Foreign Property'

Serving as a Navy recruiter in Tulsa, Oklahoma…  I found a young man who met all the requirements and was ready to enlist! I explained the importance of being truthful on the application, and he began filling out his paper work!! But when he got to the question…

"Do you own any foreign property or have any foreign financial interests?"

… He looked up at me with a worried expression!

"Well,"      … he confessed… 

 "I do own a Toyota."

We enlisted him the next day!!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

‘A Glance At The Past’

It’s been some 27 years!  A warm November late afternoon, Pier Four, San Diego… treading ever so slightly as I made my way aboard!! The recollections grow strong, with every sight, sound and smell the impression still colorful and sharp in those old cerebral memory banks!!!

Up the pier, I hesitated and glared at the numbers painted on the hull! ‘1069’ emblazoned in black, and what do you know, it was my new forwarding address, my new home away from home! I know… we’ve all ‘been there, done that'... We all share those little moments, those flashbacks, déjà vu of the past!! We’re all linked together like a band of idiots reminiscing the greatest time of our lives!!!

Up the brow to the Quarterdeck I climbed, not sure what to expect, almost afraid of what was coming next!  

“This is it!”

… I remember thinking…

“This is my first ship… the real Navy!”

The enormity of it all, the beauty of the water and the Ensign flapping in the wind just before colors!!  I had images of the South Pacific in the warm night air and the little brown island gals doing what they do at night!! Of course that’s what all Crackerjacks dream about… Right?!?

On the Quarterdeck I saluted and dropped my Seabag as the Officer Of the Deck introduced himself and the ship! It wasn’t long before the Duty Master-At-Arms (MAA) whose credentials were looking like an orangutan, retrieved me and paraded me forward up port side!! I recall walking by the motor whale boat and dodging the greasy cables attached to the booms!! The smell is still lingering in my olfactory as the memories rush through the belfry of my brain!!  The scent on its own was like no other!!!

Can you imagine the conversation… the banter… the comradery we all shared in those days?!?

“So we got ourselves a new Cabin Boy I see… the Skipper’s gonna be giddy I’m sure!”

“I ain’t no gauddamned Cabin Boy!”

“Relax handsome… we’re all shipmates around here… It’s the Navy way!”

So was my first introduction to ship’s company onboard the ol’ Baglady! Walking into the skin of the ship up by the ASROC Launcher Room the Rover met up with us…

“Aaah, a booter! What’s your rate?”

“I’m Firecontrol…”

“OOOH we got a new Sea Bitch in Second Division! Welcome aboard Shippy!”

… And that was the ‘Hoz’ … later to become a dear friend onboard!!!

Down the ladderwell we went two decks to my new rack in Supply Berthing as there was no space in Weapons at the time! I can still remember the cramped space and dank smell down below!! We dropped off my things and headed up a deck and aft portside down the green tile of the passageway!!! 

Several frames aft we turned inboard and down the P-way to midship turned right and through a hatch into the Messdecks! Thinking back I can hear the jaunts and jokes in the background bouncing off bulkheads…

“Rhotey, You don’t need seconds? You’re fat as fuck… I can hear the saturated fat falling off your fat ass as we speak!”

“Man, you’re like a canker sore… a canker sore that just won’t go away!”

“Oh man… get something to cover up that weeping vagina! It’s emitting a smell something fierce… I think I’m gonna throw up!”

“Aaah Fuck You!”

“HaHa… Fuck You Too!”

Yeah, a hundred thousand sea stories and a hundred thousand lines of bullshit had echoed the angle irons and overheads! Truths and half-truths… and one hundred percent full of bull shit!! I can still hear the clanging of the silverware and tin plates and the steam from the galley… anyone remember?!?

From there we strolled aft of the Messdecks passed the hatch going down to Engineering Berthing! Just passing the Chief’s Mess and the scullery, we headed to the MAA Shack!! That’s where the MAA issued my bedding and instructions for the next morning!!!

Then back from which I came to make my rack and discover the ship! Once up the ladderwell, forward portside and there was the Crew’s Lounge!!  There was a few of the crew… mostly duty section, their dungarees dirty and mangy as they rested on their laurels from a hard day’s work!!!

 Grinning to myself, I stood by the hatch watching my new shipmates milling around bitching about what’s not on the lobotomy box waiting to greet whoever or whatever…

“Look, it’s a fucking mutant dwarf standing in the doorway!”

“Hey, the little fucker’s built like a midget tank!”

“Don’t look at me like that… I’ll knock that smile right off…!”

“Hey, leave him alone… he’s a newbie! He doesn’t know the ropes yet!”

“Aaaaah man! I shit myself so bad your dead relatives will smell it!”   

“EEEWWW FUUU…!”    “AAAAH Gross!”

… or something of that effect! At least that’s how I remember it!! These were some of my first memories on the ol’ Baglady!! A jumble of senses and emotions just knock’n the rust off and kick’n up dust in my brain… Funny, Sad, Scary, Exciting… all rolled up into a nice tight bundle!!!

You ol’ Salts remember… You were there!!!

Friday, October 9, 2015

‘Old Gringo Down In Mexico’

I gotta funny message from a friend I’ve made over the last few years… a fellow seagoing mariner who’s an expat retired several times over!!!

He messages me…

“Hey Chief, what do you do with a baby Pelican?”

I was taken back just a bit! Was this some kind of riddle… a joke?!? Is this Ol’ Seadog try’n to test my Salt… wants to see how much he can knock of me shoulder boards?!? I mean… What ‘DO’ you do with a baby Pelican!?!

“This ain’t no shit! A Baby Pelican flew into my office window and he’s just hang’n out!”

I reckon it’s just the kind a thing to suspect from such an ol’ Swabbie!

“Have you observed any of them nature shows about the birds that stick their neck out like a periscope and pumps its head up & down and warbles wildly flapping it’s wings like an epileptic with feathers trying to get the lady bird’s attention?  You should try it! Report back and tell me what happens!!!”

“Uh-Uh… Ain’t gonna do that!!!”

Yeah… I’ve gotten to know this Shipmate over time, though we’ve never cordially met! We have something in common… we like to reminisce of the ol’ gin mills, dens of sin, strip joints, short time alley stand-ups, and questionable no shit adventures inflated over the years through our alcohol altered egos!! Someday we’ll have to find an agreeably unruly bar full of second hand smoke and beer stench, where people are allowed to speak their minds & a few dirty words as well, and with a…

“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor...”

… toss some suds and no shitters like it ain’t nobody’s business!!!

He seems somewhat of a freelancer, a Jack of All Trades who did this for that, that for this and the other for a while... and commonly becomes bored!  He retired from the ol’ Canoe Club a Warrant after a couple of decades, became a professional Ship’s Master Mariner, then retired from that gig and moved on… ending up somewhere in Mexico!! What the hell… Everyone ends up somewhere!!!

With the honesty of an overgrown Boy Scout and the slyness of a snake, he exclaims in so many words…

“Life is like a jar of jalapeños… what you do today may burn your ass tomorrow!”

Yeah, he’s salty to the gills… and he’s got charts of memories... lots of them!!!

So why don’t you work for the Government no more?”

“It’s all a bunch’a alphabetical soup like the ATF… Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms should be the name of a convenience store… not a gauddamned government agency!”

Sometimes the subject of politics comes up…

"Any sufficiently advanced government bureaucracy is about as vague as a good looking ‘Benny Boy’ in a room full of Honey-Koes!”

Yeah, he’s smart, tough, sane, been around, corrupt, and personally repellent as a rabid raccoon!!!

Every time I think of Mexico anywhere outside of the Baja Peninsula I get this idea of some vieja dama peering at images of the Virgin of Guadalupe in her coffee! Asked what he takes in his…

“Caffeine and hate… and sometimes whiskey… yeah, skip the caffeine, just whiskey!”

I imagine him living in a casa next to the beach on a winding dirt road with more hole than road leading to it!

“Well you must think I live amongst the barefoot, loincloth wearing, living in stick hut kind of place that give Australian Aborigines the willies!”

“Well, I don’t think it sounds too bad as long as the women run around butt nekkit!”

“I sure as hell can say one thing… It gets hotter than a Whore House on Dollar day around here at times!”

He traded in the hustle and bustle of the psychoanalysis and scams of the pseudo doctors, the raging feminists, race racketeers, and damn fool wars for the more erotic Mamacitas south of the border with the tequila fests and Ciasta nests of good old Mexico!! He could be living it up in Fort Lauderdale driving a Corvette in male-menopause red with awesome gadgets… but that just ain’t him!!!

“The bad thing about retirement… I must get three hundred emails a day for Viagra, or some ancient Chinese secret to make mine taller, stronger, or faster than a speeding bullet… like I need that… what the hell! So why did you retire…?!?”

“You know, I got tired of all the gauddamned babysitting! Since when did I become an expert on therapy… Like I’m a gauddamned psychotherapist now?!? All that touchy feely bullshit was driving me insane!”

“Yeah, I hear you… most of the leadership these days don’t have the knowledge or experience to run a Shriner’s Convention!”

“Yeah, I refused to become one of them passive psychotic transvestites of today’s Canoe Cabaret!”

I could tell we were on the same page! You know… we put people in charge who have barely achieved vertebras… hence the term, ‘No Backbone!’

“Yep, When I retired from as a Ships Master I had come to the realization I was working for an institution where most of the leadership should have been institutionalized… and retired here in Mexico!”

“So when do you think you’ll ever move back stateside?”

“That'll happen any day now, I suppose! Most likely, about a day after lions, tigers & cougars start eating there vegetables!”

Yeah, he’s an unsung, rode-hard-and-put-away-wet champion of sea going crusty bastards... Stubborn as twenty mules wired in parallel!!

“I probably qualify for every mental disorder in the book!  Borderline Personality Disorder, Avoidance Disorder, Relationship Disorder, Social Anxiety disorder, and Just-About-Everything Under The Sun Disorder!! Besides, most Gringos come to Mexico to retire and die… well hell, that’s not the plan but that’s what happens!! It sure beats the hell out of wasting away in that rat race of an institution up north we call the US of A, living in wretched boredom waiting to die is no way to exist!!!”

Why the hell else would he live in Mexico?!? To get the hell away from all that Political Correctness we’re so gauddamned proud of up here!!!

Yeah, He’s not real tactful in what he says and probably won’t win any popularity contests anytime soon! But he’s as entertaining and thought provoking as I’ll ever get anywhere around here!! He’s the kind of shipmate that lets it all hang out rather you agree with him or not… and that my friends is the way it ought to be!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

‘You know You’ve Been In The Navy Too Long When…’

You refer to the family car as the "liberty boat".

You refer to the drive-through at McDonald's as an "UNREP".

Your wife says she has PMS and you ask her if she verified her MRC.

You do not let your kids leave the ship (home) without a collared shirt.

You take hourly readings on your refrigerator and oven.

You refer to your wife as the "Berthing P. O."

Your son falls off the front porch and you call away "man overboard".

You consider closing up the house for the night as "setting condition Zebra".

You call your back porch the "Fantail".

When you change the oil in your car you hang a "Danger Tag" on the ignition.

When you're finished changing the oil in your car, you sign the "13 week file".

You call the operator for a phone check.

When your smoke detector goes off, you don an OBA.

Your children get in trouble and you give them "NJP".

You refer to the upstairs of your house as the "01 Level".

Your car's fifth gear is also known as "Ahead Flank".

Your clogged sink has a "trouble call number" assigned to it.

Your wife "tapes off" the kitchen to mop the floor.

You issue your children "liberty cards".

When you walk out the front door, you feel obligated to put on a hat.

When the mailman arrives, you muster the Bravo working party on the front steps.

You're proud of your son for raising his biology grade from a "Delta to a Bravo".

The baby sitter has to get her "qual card" signed off before she watches the kids.

You have a compulsion to sleep on the top shelf of your closet.

You walk around with your stereo headphones on and mumble all secure.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

'The 1MC'

Anyone out there ever heard about this little mythological yarn about the 1MC?!?
In port, tied up to a pier…
"Sweepahs, Sweepahs start ya brooms! Sweep down all lower decks, laddas, and passageways! Empty all shit cans ovah da fantail."
… A very deliberate pause…
"Delay dat woyd on shit cans, empty all shit cans on da pier!"
… Another pause, as he was obviously reading something written by the OOD…
"Delay dat woyd on shit cans, empty all trash receptacles into the containas provided on the pier!"
… This was another from the same fella but different day…
"Now all hands rig for genrahl visit’n! All hands is reminded to watch der language, we got cunt aboard."
… Another very measured pause…
Delay dat woyd on genrahl visit’n! We got lady visitas onboard so watch da mouths!”
I’d heard that story a dozen or more times in my years, never witnessed such a thing but there were some doozies over the 1MC at times! And we’ve all heard about the Infamous…
Attention All Hands… The Roach Coach is Making Its Approach!”
… or …
"Secure the Sun… Now station the moon!"
… or …
"Seaman Stains report to Laundry"
Yes there was always fun to be had ball all! You could even ‘REM Brantd’ report to the Paint Locker… if need be!! And some were as mundane and unintentional as…
“There are men working aloft! Do not Ratate or Rodiate any electronic equipment while men are working aloft!”
Hell I even screwed up once and realizing my miscue…
Oh Shit… OOPs!!!”
That got me relieved with a courtesy midwatch if you know what I mean! It was like buzzards circling a dying horse!! I got the butt chewing of a life time from the OOD, CDO, Section Leader as well as my very own Chief for such an embarrassment!!!
“Son, you’re a gauddamned idiot! You’d forget your balls if they weren’t hemmed up in your scrotum!”
But I suppose the most entertaining story I’d ever heard was onboard the USS America CV-66! Don’t know how much is pure unadulterated bullshit & how much is fact but it was a pretty good source amongst the denizens of old salty no shit ‘Sea Stories!!’  
Now we all know that whoever handles the 1MC as the Petty Officer of the Watch (POOW) had better have a pretty damned good handle of his shack… you know with all the phone calls, the growler, the chatter, and dozens of words they need to pass! I suppose in one particular instance this POOW had his hands full and a bit off his guard when the OOD let him know the Skipper was heading up the pier!! The POOW for whatever reason had his messenger pass the word the Skipper was coming so guess what the messenger does?!?
“Ding-Ding, Ding-Ding, Captain’s Coming – Captain’s Coming!”
… Yeah, he said the Skipper just looked up to the sky as to say…
“Why Me Lord?!?”
But the best one yet… when a new POOW had just taken the watch as a breakfast chow relief, and this fella mind you was still pretty wet behind the ears! The OOD let him know the Skipper was heading inbound…
“Ding-Ding, Ding-Ding, Captain America Arriving!”
As the story goes, the Skipper lowered his head and turned around to head back down the pier and gave the Quarterdeck a second chance to get it right!!!
Yet I yield to today’s reality… as around 94’ or there abouts the wimmins were finding their way onboard most ships and many of the ‘Pass the Word’ placards and posted instructions were being revamped for such the occasion!  And as the morning came and the word was passed, instead of the age old…
“Sweepers, Sweepers, Man your Brooms!”
… We got the…
Sweepers, Sweepers, Start your Brooms!”
And all across the fleet you had a bunch of smartasses yanking the imaginary rip cord of the proverbial leaf blower doing their damnedest to start those sons-a-bitches!!!
Whatever kind of look we were going for… I think we missed the bus on that one! Not too many women cared we called it ‘man’ anything… but I regress!! So… what are some of the greatest 1MC goofs my shipmates have heard over the years?!?
I know they’re out there!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

'The Famous Toilet Paper Letter'

The following letter is a prime example of bureaucracy at its best!   It was written and sent in 1942 by the CO of the USS Skipjack in an effort to get a re-supply of a most important commodity!!  It did ultimately result in the desired delivery!!! 
 Lt. Cmdr Coe was CO of the USS Skipjack when he wrote his famous "toilet paper" letter to the Mare Island Supply Office.
June 11, 1942
        From: Commanding Officer
          To: Supply Officer
                     Navy Yard, Mare Island, California
         Via: Commander Submarines, Southwest Pacific
   Subject: Toilet Paper
Reference: (a) USS HOLLAND (5148) USS SKIPJACK req. 70-42 of 30 July 1941.
             (b) SO NYMI Canceled invoice No. 272836
Enclosure: (1) Copy of cancelled Invoice
                  (2) Sample of material requested.
1.This vessel submitted a requisition for 150 rolls of toilet paper on July 30, 1941, to USS HOLLAND. The material was ordered by HOLLAND from the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, for delivery to USS SKIPJACK.
2. The Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, on November 26, 1941, cancelled Mare Island Invoice No. 272836 with the stamped notation "Cancelled---cannot identify." This cancelled invoice was received by SKIPJACK on June 10, 1942.
3. During the 11 ¾ months elapsing from the time of ordering the toilet paper and the present date, the SKIPJACK personnel, despite their best efforts to await delivery of subject material, have been unable to wait on numerous occasions, and the situation is now quite acute, especially during depth charge attack by the "back-stabbers."
4. Enclosure (2) is a sample of the desired material provided for the information of the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island. The Commanding Officer, USS SKIPJACK cannot help but wonder what is being used in Mare Island in place of this unidentifiable material, once well known to this command.
5. SKIPJACK personnel during this period have become accustomed to use of "ersatz," i.e., the vast amount of incoming non-essential paper work, and in so doing feel that the wish of the Bureau of Ships for the reduction of paper work is being complied with, thus effectively killing two birds with one stone.
6. It is believed by this command that the stamped notation "cannot identify" was possible error, and that this is simply a case of shortage of strategic war material, the SKIPJACK probably being low on the priority list.
7. In order to cooperate in our war effort at a small local sacrifice, the SKIPJACK desires no further action be taken until the end of the current war, which has created a situation aptly described as "war is hell."
J.W. Coe
Here is the rest of the story:
The letter was given to the Yeoman, telling him to type it up. Once typed and upon reflection, the Yeoman went looking for help in the form of the XO. The XO shared it with the CDO and they proceeded to the CO's cabin and asked if he really wanted it sent. His reply…
 "I wrote it, didn't I?"
As a side note, twelve days later, on June 22, 1942 J.W. Coe was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on the S-39.
The ‘toilet paper’ letter reached Mare Island Supply Depot. A member of that office remembers that all officers in the Supply Department "had to stand at attention for three days because of that letter." By then, the letter had been copied and was spreading throughout the fleet and even to the President's son who was aboard the USS Wasp.
As the boat came in from her next patrol, Jim and crew saw toilet-paper streamers blowing from the lights along the pier and pyramids of toilet paper stacked seven feet high on the dock. Two men were carrying a long dowel with toilet paper rolls on it with yards of paper streaming behind them as a band played coming up after the roll holders. Band members wore toilet paper neckties in place of their Navy neckerchiefs. The wind-section had toilet paper pushed up inside their instruments and when they blew, white streamers unfurled from trumpets and horns.
As was the custom for returning boats to be greeted at the pier with cases of fresh fruit/veggies and ice cream, the Skipjack was first greeted thereafter with her own distinctive tribute-cartons and cartons of toilet paper.
This letter became famous in submarine history books and found its way to the movie ("Operation Petticoat"), and eventually coming to rest (copy) at the Navy Supply School at Pensacola, Florida. There, it still hangs on the wall under a banner that reads…
"Don't let this happen to you!"
Even John Roosevelt insured his father got a copy of the letter!!!
The original is now at the Bowfin Museum in Hawaii…