Page 19 started July
Letters, Random Memories
and Assorted Sea Stories (Cont.)
What's The Buzz .... ?
The long-awaited July 15, 2003 Mooj
Newsletter has just been posted! I won't say it's one of
my best but at least it isn't one of my worst. I came up with
the "joke ad" while watching the Irish Tenors
perform. Most of the letters to The Mooj are fake. And
the rest? Well, it's mostly fake, too.
Erich Weis Comes Aboard!
I would like to be added to your page, My name is Erich Weis,
I worked in RE11, RE00, RA40 from 1998-2002. I heard about the page from a fellow ex-nuke on a camping trip last month. thank
Trevor Lowing Comes Aboard ....
Lowing, Trevor, RM14 1989-1993 firstname.lastname@example.org
|Hey Trevor, I remember ya.
You were but a lowly nub when I was short.
Weighing in on D___y
Of all the entries I've read on this site,
D___y's has been the most emotional. My first reaction was that this guy was just a major
league malcontent. I remember we had a few guys with some serious 'tude back in my day. (Even dabbled with it myself in my early
Then I got to thinking that even angry young men usually have some basis for their rage. What could get
D___y so steaming mad?
Since 9/11 there have been many documentaries and specials about aircraft carriers on TV. I've watched a lot of these. Usually they
devote 75% to the pilots and planes, then throw in some stuff about the captain, a little about the chowdales (whoever coined that
term deserves a medal) and then they show some PC stuff about the women aboard. Never do they mention anything about the poor
slobs working in the engine rooms. I've always thought that the female thing just wouldn't have worked in the 70s. And I wondered
how that's really working out now days. Now I know: Just as I thought.
I currently work in a traditionally male oriented work place. We've had females working in traditionally male jobs for many years.
Most of them work out just fine. More power to them. The number of female pains in the ass is in no greater proportion than the
number of male pains in the ass. However, the female pains in the ass can really take it the extra mile. Try taking on one of the
females for performance problems and see how fast your own butt is in a sling. The good thing about my work situation is that at the
end of the work day everybody gets to go home. Not so on a ship. You are stuck in the same 1100 foot work space / living space for
weeks on end with no going home to blow off steam.
Call me old fashioned, but I think if you can't open the main condenser valves in a reasonable amount of time, can't light off the
SSTG by yourself, can't close the HP feed heater bypass in an emergency, then you don't belong in the engine room. PERIOD! And
as for females who can't perform the more physical jobs taking up the cushier billets which should go to people who have rightfully
earned them, well that sounds like Marxism to me. Isn't that one of the things the military is supposed to fight against? A US Navy
warship powered by 8 nuclear reactors, full of tons of ordinance and millions of gallons of jet fuel, is no place for social engineering.
So how did things get to this sorry state of affairs? If D___y were allowed to talk to the
CO, XO, CAG, RO, or EO and ask them what they really thought about females in traditional male roles aboard Navy ships, and they answered honestly (which they can't or they'd
be thrown out on their asses so fast they'd get nose bleeds), they'd most likely answer that they don't think it's a good idea and
would be glad if the whole thing were scrapped. I fear that D___y is taking on (and no doubt getting in trouble with) the wrong people.
So who's responsible? It's the policy makers and legislators who dream this stuff up and don't have to live with the consequences.
They'll never set foot on a warship except for a VIP tour. And then they'll no doubt ask some carefully
selected people about what they think of the situation. The answer will invariably be something like, "It's great. I don't know how the Navy functioned before we
had females onboard. Everyone loves it." They haven't got a clue, because nobody is allowed to tell them the
truth. (OK, so they probably wouldn't give a rat's ass if they heard the truth anyhow.)
D___y : Hopefully you're not reading this in the brig. Some people have given you some good advice, and it's pretty much the same
advice I'd give you. Your EAOS can't be that far away. Try to roll with the punches and hopefully it'll be over soon. I'm not saying just
spread your cheeks and take it, but there are plenty of ways to let your views be known without exposing yourself to NJP. Most of
all, try to make some good friends and develop some good memories to take with you into civilian life.
(In case the PC police are watching)
PS : Just proof read this and spell checked it. Laughed my ass off when my spell check jumped all over "chowdales."
Arrgh! Weighs In ....
While I haven't been through most of the PC stuff you are having to endure, I was one of the "attitude" types back in my day.
All of my former shipmates would agree in unison of this fact: I hated being in the Navy, and took every opportunity to let
anyone and everyone around me know it. Please don't take what I'm about to say as a lecture or another "old fart trying to tell
me how to live" thing; I am honestly going to let you in on some of the experience that comes from having been there.
Don't let the surrounding BS and nautical madness get your goat! I blew off at officers, chiefs, and my own buddies so often
that people were afraid to be around me, not knowing when to expect another outburst of
expletives and negativity. I even did the unpardonable "F..k you" to an officer once while on watch. When he looked at me in disbelief, and said, "What did you
say?" I came back with, "Excuse me, Sir. F..k you, SIR!" That one nearly cost me my hindquarters. Thinking back now, I
can attest to this: 1. Not one thing I bitched about changed for the better because of my complaints;
2. Nobody wanted to be around me because of my lousy attitude; 3. I was passed over for many good deals and opportunities because I had pissed so many people off (ETMS school, etc);
4. All of the khaki types were gunning for me, waiting to see me hang;
and 5. I deeply regret some of the fool things I did and said, and people I hurt with my crappy outlook on life.
If I could do it all over, I'd try to adopt this attitude... sure, it sucks! But seek out every possible opportunity and option to
take full advantage of your time there. Don't let your loathing of the
BS you must face get to you. The people you wish to see suffer the most will be the ones laughing as you are further tormented by your own attitude, and the inevitable
consequences of being the one complaining and drawing attention to yourself.
I'm sure everyone who served with me is thinking "Is this actually written by Arrgh!, or did someone else write it and tag his
name on it?" I promise you, in 10 years you'll laugh about this stuff, unless you let it eat you up. It nearly got me, but
somehow, I was fortunate enough to survive my own stupidity. Hang with it, man. You'll be better for it. I know this much...
anyone who does a tour in the Navy, particularly on the Big "E", automatically gets a huge one up in my book. I like my job
now, even though I'm just a custodian. You can keep the Nuclear Instrumentation Design Engineering stuff, I have what I need
and go home each day satisfied that I did a good job. I look forward to cleaning toilets, and mowing the lawn, because I like
me, and everyone else seems to like me now too. I smile and say hello to everyone, and they actually want to talk to me,
because I always try to encourage them. Not like when I "had it made" but was miserable. You'd be
surprised what humbling yourself at being content with what you've got will do for your attitude! At least you're not in
Baghdad, getting shot at every day!
KP Chimes in ....
Poor D___y. He probably had no idea that his
letter would touch off such a debate. He probably caught some
sh*t for it, too, when the khakis (who I know look at
this site everyday since I can see where all my hits come from)
caught up with him. I'll add to what Arrgh! says. Only
good things can come from "sticking it out," and bitchin' never changed anything.
It never has and never will. I also apologize to any female nukes on The Big
E who are currently being depicted in a
negative manner. I know there are many out there who do
their job and do their job well. I respect anyone who
can make it through nuke school and prototype. But I also
believe that the engine room of a war ship is no place for social
experiments. It just wouldn't have worked in my time and I can sense
that it doesn't work well now. I would love to hear from any
female nukes on this topic. The first one that writes in will
get a free Mooj minion T-Shirt!
Speaking of Opening Valves ....
Hey, wasn't there an RE that always scrammed the plant during
s/ups because he opened the Yarway valves too fast? He'd yank
them open, cause a surge, then close them, cause a low level, then
-bam- Pretty soon
they forbid him from being anywhere near feed control during a start
Travis Goodwin Comes Aboard .....
Please add me to the list: Travis Goodwin (MM3-MM2), EM14,
Propulsion QA, 1989 Jan - 1992 Oct
Darn, you 8503 guys are everywhere!
I was surfing the net tonight and came across your site.
I was in class 8406 for a bit and then 8503. I went to Idaho for prototype
and flunked out the last week after failing my written final twice. Several
of my buddies went to the Enterprise and I also had Enterprise orders but
they went by the wayside along with my bonus check. I remember Rick Houston,
a dude named Hull, Mark Groseclose, Randy Jestice, Leonard Ravan, several
others whose names I can't remember. I ended up going back to Great Lakes to finish ET school and then went to
Ft. Gordon, GA for SatComm school. It was 4 years before I went to my first
duty station, Gitmo. 2 years there and a 6 year enlistment was up.
Thanks, Mark Romero
Ted Clayton Comes Aboard!
Jesus, Mooj/Paul, what a treasure you got here!
Quick intro, I did MI, S5G, then Groton and the Drum for WestPac '73. Between EM school and MI I did RefTray
with the Constellation for a few months (early '71?). We had a massive engine room fire while tied up in San
I held on for a year on the Drum, but it was crazy, I was crazy, and I took Drug Exemption to bail, and went to
Miramar. While there (did you know that place was some kind of shrink 'skunk works' or something?) I had a
severe motorcycle accident, rattled my gourd good, and took a new tack (up till then, I was bee-line for a
General). I went straight, dropped the booze & drugs, and settled in to finish my tour on the up n' up. No longer
nuke, 'natch. In due course I finished Drug Rehab, and they sent me back off to the fleet ...
... Flew me clean across the Pacific Ocean to Subic and stuck me in E-Div Lighting Shop on the Big E (late '74,
early '75). But I really was cranked out of shape over the Navy environment and my own BS, and things did not
turn out nearly so smoothly as I'd hoped, though I managed to squeak by with an Honorable. Good folks in the
department helped me out. Lot of drama unaccounted for in this quick intro. ;)
So anyway, I'm not an Enterprise nuke, I did subs, and it wasn't very glorious. But it was real, and your website
really brings it back, in living color. Let me know if I could do anything that fits/helps the RxDept, and I'll pitch in.
I found the place searching for technical info and classification status for the S5G prototype in Idaho. There
was some specific technology on the plant that I'd like to study and discuss with others, if it's kosher. The
mag-amp, specifically. Got clues?
Yeah, your site is major real! :)
|Hey, I remember them darn mag
amps. I remember how they taught them to us in
NPS. They used "V" curves and you had to
move them back and forth. Years later when I was
studying electrical engineering no one even heard of a mag
amp. You certainly date yourself when to start talking
about mag amps I guess. The best place to talk
technical with people about S5G is on the
Site. There are about 75 ex-nukes on
there and we talk about everything. I suggest you join
up--if not for technical talk, great stories and thoughts.
Wayne Brewster Comes Aboard!
I was an IC nuke in E division from 1967-1968. Please put my name on the register. Wayne
This is D___y again. Didn't think that I would
get that much response out of people. Surprisingly enough only a few people have come
up to me and mentioned the fact that they saw it. No khaki's though. Yes I am counting down the days to my EAOS.
Glad to see that Mr. Weis has joined the club. Welcome. I know he will have many stories of hate and discontent to follow.
Appreciate everyone's advice and opinions. I have taken it all in. I am trying to just get by but it is hard to sit by and watch all the shit
that happens. When the chiefs are in the office with females having tickling fights (and
I am not just talking about enlisted females) it is really hard to respect your chain of command. I never put up with that shit before the navy. I would have fired my people for that.
Yes I do have an attitude. That may stem from me being one of the older people in division that is just a worthless 2nd. I have
been older than most of my LPO's. Oh well, if people can't take what I have to say then screw them.
I will probably look back and laugh at a lot of stuff that happened but I will never laugh at the favoritism. I am all for a female that can
do her job. The fact is that most of them use their being a female to have their work done for them and then take the credit. There
are some females there that actually do a good job but they are few and far between.
Anyway, I guess that is all for now. I will check back later.
Hello to all,
Just a quick one to say hello to any of you I have not talked to in a while and to let you know that I am having a get together
down here in Norfolk VA.....We have a pig roast every year and this year it is on the 26th of July...Sorry about the short notice but it
seems to be turning into and old RE Big"E" reunion...Me, Doc Boyd, Andy Astelford, Randy Schackett, Mark " Chicken Hawk "
Stohl...and a few more....Wanted to let you know that you are more than welcome if you can make it.....We have room on the floor
and room for tents in the back yard.....If you can make it send me a reply and I will fill you in on the good stuff....If your can't and you
just want to gab at me that is always good to.....Thanks for your time and I will be in
|Man, I wish I could be
there! If nothing else just to "tack" on the
Chicken Hawk's new crow! Have a beer (or two) for
Just read the posting that refers to 'tickling fights'. If what KP says
about khakis from the 'Big E' reading his site is true, then I would
suggest that D___y take on a more cryptic handle.
Might I suggest 'The Informant'?
Tommy Geddings Comes Aboard .....
I heard about your website from one of my guys. I think it
rocks!! I have been aboard Big "E" since June
1999. I many stories to tell and intend on sending them
soon. RE Division has about 50 people now...17 when I
reported. I started out as a RE23 nub, became AWCS, then WCS,
and now Aft Group Supervisor for almost 2 years. I intend
on passing on your website to the division so they to can read about
those who came before us. Hopefully they will send in some
stories and keep you informed when I am gone. If have any
questions, feel free to email me at this address or "email@example.com".
Thanks for your time.
EM1(SW/AW) Tommy R. Geddings
Reactor Electrical Aft Group Supervisor
|Always great to
hear from an RE!
D___y becomes "The Man."
Maybe Joe B is right and I do need a handle change but that
wasn't nice. "the informant". not
cool. I was just stating that I was tired of seeing stuff
at work that shouldn't be going on. do what you want on your
own time. but don't bring that flirting shit to work.
Maintain some form of professionalism. Granted that is
somewhat hypocritical to say being that it is nothin for one guy to
grab another but that is in fun and everyone knows that it isn't
goin to get them in bed together later. of course this is the
new navy. that is a whole other subject and maybe I will
change my handle before i start bashin the fags. maybe
change my handle to "the man".
and to Moody, yes I was one of your BNEQ students. I
remember you. you will never guess who is back in RT as a
student. Steers. can't believe he is back on the pig.
anyway I will keep people posted about events on the pig.
D--, there are many "eyes" looking at this site now. I
recommend you limit your postings to sea stories and
positive things. I don't want this website becoming a
sounding board for all that's wrong with the navy.
Everyone knows it sucks--it always has. Hell, I bet
the guys that sailed with Magellan and Columbus
probably hated the navy too. But, as you can
see, time has a way of softening the edges. Since the
beginning of time it took a
special person to give up the "easy life" to spend
a portion of his (or her) young life in search of
great adventure on the high seas. Take what you can from your experiences and use
that as a building block for your life after the
navy. I guarantee that in ten years you'll only
remember good times and great people. And who knows,
you might have quite a few adventure stories to tell your
John Bilinski Comes Aboard
Bilinski, John, 1992-1996 EM-14,
1998-2003 RM-00, 03,14, RT
How about putting me on your list. I just retired
Schmegma House Pics:
KP, posted some photos of schmegmans and etc. on critthink.
Anybody with more pics I would like you to post them there. In one
picture you can see schoelmans SRB boat. It is listing badly. His
was not the worst reup episode. Anybody remember the mmer type who
paid cash (6k) for a Harley, left the dealer uninsured, and crashed
into a house on the way home, doing 6k worth of damage to the house
and totaling the bike? Im pretty sure his injuries (bodily) were
minor. At least he still had his C
Malaria Pill Mayhem .......
Seems like it's been a while since anyone's contributed a genuine
sea story, so here goes :
In early 1975 we had just pulled into the Indian Ocean on our way
to Mombassa. One morning there was a corpsman at the end of the chow
line dispensing malaria pills. Everybody on the ship got one. An
interesting side effect of the pills they gave us back then is that
a significant percentage of the people taking them got the
"Hershey squirts." Unfortunately, I found myself in the
As is probably still the case, there were nowhere near
enough shitters onboard for an epidemic of this sort. People were
lined up outside the heads waiting to get in. And some of them were
in pretty foul moods. I heard from a reliable source that some
people even resorted to going to the fantail, dropping 'trou,
sticking their butts between the life lines and letting loose. One
thing I personally observed in one head was 2 grown men, with their
pants at their ankles, in a fistfight over a shitter. (Now who's
going to break up that fight?) The powers that be decided that the
following week, on Monday the pills would be given to people with
last names starting with A through E. Tuesday would be F
through K etc. There was still a shitter shortage, but of a much
When we finished our time in the I.O. we stopped in Singapore. As
luck would have it, I had to take my weekly malaria pill the morning
we pulled in. We had to take these little water taxis in to the
pier. Longest hour and a half of my life. I don't know how many of
the readers of this site ever tried to take a dump in Singapore, but
let me tell you : public restrooms there were very scarce in the
70's. And when you did find one, there wasn't actually an American
style sit down toilet either. Rather there was a hole in the floor
and two handholds so you could lean back over the hole. Using these
facilities took some getting used to even in the best of times, but
when you had the screaming runs…. (Well, I don't think I need to
paint you a picture.)
In my search for public facilities, I saw a lot of Singapore that
most people never see . Sometimes I couldn't find a restroom in
time, and I had to resort to going down dark allies or behind
bushes. Once, I made a mad dash down an alley and had to do my
business behind some lettuce crates. I let loose with a particularly
messy explosion on that occasion. When I got done, I heard voices
near by. I looked up and there were 4 or 5 old guys looking just
like Ho Chi Minh and playing Mah Jong who had witnessed the whole
thing. Talk about your "Ugly American."
|What is it about
bathroom humor that makes it so darn funny? After
reading this letter I laughed myself to tears. I can
picture everything "PP" describes as if I was
I remember getting malaria
pills prior to our visit to Mombassa. They were awful
but I don't recall that reaction. Maybe they
refined the side effects by then.
More Malaria Pill Memories ...
I certainly remember the side effects of the
malaria pills. I seem to recall that the LPOs passed them out and
checked you off the list. I took mine, dealt with the bathroom
visits for fear that the disease would be worse than the
Email on the ships...boy that would make actual mail call kind of
a let down! Remember checking the POD for the COD schedule?
Joe, regarding your comments on page 18; it's nice to be
remembered. :( You, Tim and I were in the same section. Laird
was the LPO, Goins was our sea dad. You breezed through quals; Tim
and I finished by hugging the curve. I was married (still am) so
didn't get out too much.
Slugs vs. others:
Several of us in EE-30 worked pretty hard for a long time and got
pretty bad 'tudes about the slugs, the shop, the leadership, and the
navy in general. But we still plugged along. There were a few
guys who only worked on high profile jobs then slid into the shadows
the rest of the time. Then there were those who did nothing. We had
a guy that NEVER qualified as Load Toad. The word was that it
would look bad (for the khakis, no doubt) if a nuke couldn't qualify
his senior watch. They'd have to de-nuke him, etc. So he skated
along for years doing nothing. Though I think we sent him to the
chow hall as a supervisor/section leader.
As for the women, if they can do the job, more
power to them. The standards should be EXACTLY the same. In the
early 90s, San Francisco LOWERED the physical standards for female
firefighters. I don't remember all the details, but do remember
angry fireMEN calling into local talk radio shows about it. Saw a
field on fire across from a storage unit my company had near China
Basin (before Pac Bell Park). There were two firewomen trying
desperately to pull this hose toward the fire and finally had to
move the truck! Too bad the TV cameras weren't there. We used to
speculate if Zippy could get through a scuttle at all, let alone
with an OBA on. I couldn't do it today for sure, but there were some
guys that might have been in trouble if they had to get out in a
hurry...not to mention the guys behind them.
Mag amps? Were there any in the nuke gear? I know
the degaussing system was loaded with 'em.
now that's something I haven't thought about in years.
I remember they spent almost a week teaching us about that
in EMA School. I also recall dozens of questions about
degaussing and movie projectors on the EM2 exam.
I remember taking those
malaria pills for weeks before we were scheduled to hit
Mombassa in '86. Then Mombassa got cancelled because
of our Med Cruise detour. I remember getting sick but
I can't recall specifics. I do know they tasted
awful. We had to take them in front of our DO in the
RE Office. Most put them in their mouth and then spit
them out somewhere else. They were these big pink pills
As Time Goes By ....
I agree with KP that time certainly softens the edges. The other
day I was driving across the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel in
Newport News, VA. I looked over at the shipyard as the sun was
setting over the river, and I tried to recall our first 'Fast
Cruise' on the Ike back in the Spring of 1987. I recall I deeply
resented being able to see my car in the parking lot and not being
able to go home that night. It made no sense to me that we were not
actually at sea but we needed to pretend we were. Anyway, though I
tried I could not muster the feeling of resentment the way it felt
back then when I was just 20 years old. The memories are mostly
positive now because I'm glad that I did 6 years in the Navy. To
'the Man', I did not mean 'Informant' in a negative way toward you
as though you were being a rat or something. I agree that such
egregious violations of professionalism need to be exposed to the
light of day. I just wanted to warn you that once you begin to
expose that stuff you've got to watch your back because peoples’
careers are at stake. So I applaud your effort to expose that stuff,
but keep a low profile. This site may be entering uncharted waters
now that it is getting some stories from current sailors in the new
female-friendly combat Navy/Social Experiment. What would they call
the West Coast leader of that group?-- COMNAVSOCEXPPAC??
Here It Is Gang,
Steamer's long Awaited Tale of The Magic Doggie Head!!!
ok KP ... here's the story. i cut it down as much as i could but this is about it. i remembered so many other happenings while
writing this up ... Twi7g and Rawman stories and the war with that radarman Chief and Nick ...
maybe some other time. anywho ... This was by far my most exciting at sea adventure ...
The Magic Doggie Head
A long story my friends but ... there's about four years of stuff that happened to us in three daze so I'll just put it all out here.
Do you believe in Magic? No ... I'm not talkin' about the Lovin' Spoonful and the song from the '60's ... what I'm talkin' about is a kind of magic that involves spells or beserker events ... a VooDoo kind of happening.
Stuff that messes with your head big time ... the kind of thing that can't be true ... that can't happen ...
that makes no sense ... that isn't possible. Things that you don't want to believe ... that you try not to believe. The kind of thing you refuse to acknowledge IS happening ... even while it is ... the kind of thing that leaves you
shakin' your head and talkin' to yourself. Something that will keep buggin' you for as long as you deny the experience. In the end, you just have to accept that the events did take place, as bizarre and unbelievable as they might be, even tho you can come up
with no rational theory to explain what you have witnessed. THAT kind of Magic.
Don't believe in it, eh? Can't blame you. I didn't either. Even after these many years ... I still don't know what to make of it. Well ... I'll just tell you the story and you can make up your own mind.
The USS Vogelgesang (DD862), 1968, Nofolk, VA. I've just reported aboard a month or so prior ... some fleet
trainin'/sea duty prior to headin' to Sub School and then Nuc School. Give us a little practical
trainin' and experience in the real nav. This is where I first met my good buddy and runnin' mate Nick "Twi7g - the 7 is silent" Twigg. Some of you may have known him in the late 80's on board the E ... ETMC "Massa" Twigg. I've written a little about him in the past here. One very major cool dude.
Now Twigso and I are the new ET nubs in the radar gang. I'm E4 and he's an E3. And it is known that we are nuc bound and that sets us apart from the other guys. You
know how people love to draw those lines and distinctions and see differences between themselves and others and will even make them up if they can't find something obvious. Humans are very strange critters.
So we are at the bottom of the pecking order in the division. Our lead ET is just an E6 ... and the division is run
by a Senior Chief Radarman and he takes great pleasure in screwin' with us ... esp Twigso. So we spent a lot of time chippin' paint and cleaning the aft head while his radarman nubs ... most of them E2's, spent their time "training" ... i.e. ... sittin' round jabberjawin' in CIC. As far as I can see, radarmen were like the nuke EM's of the regular navy. ;) But they weren't total slugs and turned out to be pretty good dudes and the Chief was really the only one who gave us grief. Of course Nick had a way of always besting him in the game of one-up- man-ship and making him look the fool 'cause he had at least 50 IQ points on him. ;) So we were to blame for some of the war but we always had
a good time and a lot of fun doing it. Twigso was always a blast and he made life as enjoyable as possible under the circumstances. He would make me laugh so hard I would cry ... many, many times. I loved it.
So we're gettin' ready to make a 3-4 day transit up to Boston and ... neither of us has ever been to sea and we're excited. Also a little nervous as our lead radar tech is gonna drive his car up there and won't be onboard. So Twi7g and I are it for the radar gang ... it's all ours !!!
Of course we've been trained extensively on the SPS-10 ... the surface search radar, and I've been going to school over on the base for the IFF gear (Identification, Friend or Foe) ... being taught by one of the two guys who designed it !!! That was so cool ... this G12, or whatever, guy taught me some slick things about that system. And it was a good thing as when I came onboard it had been FUBAR ever since it got hosed down with lube oil one day when a hose broke during an unrep ... squirted through a warped watertight door that hadn't been dogged down and completely filled the drawers which were pulled out
at the time. Not only that but they had tried to wash the oil off using the fire system and fog/foam and that had also come into the radar transmitter room and filled them as well. Pretty corrosive stuff and nasty smelling as well. So I had done a complete rebuild of it starting from scratch and learning as I went. And that was my baby ... I had it running like a top. And we knew enough about the SPS-40 air search radar to keep it running. Or so we thought. But still ... we had the whole show on this trip and we took it very seriously.
But this story is mostly about the SPS-10 ... we just called it "The 10" ... the proven old surface search radar that the nav had used for years. Reflex Klystrons, Phantastron tubes ... not a chip in it ... all tubes and cool stuff glowin' and hummin'. Sounded like purring to us and I pretty much lived, and even slept, up there in the transmitter room ... lulled to sleep by the humming and vibrations. I loved being in the
Nav and doing this work ... having my own gear that I was responsible for maintaining and I was one dedicated sailor and tech back in them daze lads!!! Hard to believe. ;) I almost switched from nuc to go to school on ASW and ECM
(that Anti-Sub Warfare and Electronics Countermeasures gear was some pretty cool stuff even way back then.) It may be a good thing the Power's screwed with me on the Big E or I might just have stayed and busted all your nub sea-pup butts along with Massa Twigg in the 80's. ;) hehehe.
Now we had been having trouble with this radar for a month or two ... it would be working fine and then suddenly just stop radiating. But that was the only indication ... it all checked out fine and Twigso and I would go over every single component taking readings and everything was just as it should be ... all the voltages and waveforms were fine but ... it wasn't radiating any RF. We tried everything but to no avail. And we knew this thing inside and out and could actually sit down and draw out the entire schematic from memory. But it did us no good. The only thing that would work was to shut it down, take it off line, and then restart it ... reboot if you will. And then it would work just fine!!!
Maybe for 2 or 3 hours ... or 3 or 4 days or a week and then ... the same thing would happen and it wouldn't be puttin' out squat!!! We were at our wit's end. We replaced anything that was at all suspect and even ended up swapping out the main pulse transformer ... a 20,000 volt monster that measured at least a foot by a foot by a foot and weighed who knows how much. It took us a month to get it shipped to us but that was all we could think of doing ... there wasn't anything else left to tweak. And we got it just before we were to head out. We got 'er in and all fired up and it seemed to be working ... but we both still spent a lot of time just watching how well it was working ... sitting up there in the Combat Information Center (CIC) watching it for hours while we did all our cals on the radar repeaters.
This was when we first encountered the Magic Doggie Head. Nick and I are calibrating some repeaters in CIC and he notices something hanging on one of bulkheads over in a corner. It's a small little toy dog head about the size of a baseball. It's some kind of cloth or felt, yellow with pink floppy ears and bead eyes and is stuffed with straw ... with some of the straw sticking out of the neck ... like it was a complete little dog at one time that somehow had gotten it's head ripped off.
Nick wonders out loud about what it is and some of the radarmen hear him and see us looking at it. One of them shouts, "Hey ... don't mess with that !!!" We ask just what is the deal and a call goes out to one of the older guys, "Hey Ray ... these guys don't know about the Magic Doggie Head!!!" and Raw comes over and sits down. "You gotta be sh**ing me !!! You don't know about The Magic Doggie Head???", he asks incredibly. "Nope ... what it is?" Now I gotta say here that Ray was known as "Rawman" ... something he had about being naked whenever and wherever possible ... including once while driving a car in a demolition derby up in Connecticut. I believed THAT story ... sort of reminds me of KP driving without pants. ;) But I digress.
"Lads," he says, "let me tell you a little sea story." OK ... here it comes we think but we love a good story so we settle down to hear him out. And he begins to tell us the tale of the Magic Doggie Head ... to spin the yarn of how it came to be onboard and of it's significance. It seems that a year or two before, the V'sang was over in the Med and was one of the first ships to get to the USS Bashe when it slipped it's moorings one night in a storm and went onto a reef. So our guys got there, rescued some folks, and salvaged whatever they could. Now I know we had a lot of test equipment and gear that had the name "Bashe" on it so that all seemed to fit and I had heard others talk about it in the past. And it seems that just as the last man was leaving the boat, he looked down and saw this little doggie head awash on the decks. He reached down, picked it up, and brought it with him as he transferred back over to the V'sang. And he had brought it onboard and it had been hanging in this place of honor on our bulkhead ever since ... as a remembrance of that other unfortunate ship. Well cool thought Nick and I but what was the Magic thing about? Ray continued his story ... seems that not long after that, the Vogelgasang was leading a convoy through a dense fog ... out in front using the SPS-10 surface search to guide the convoy along. And for some reason, the guy who had brought the Doggie onboard, for a reason unknown to even him, suddenly heard himself speak these words: "Doggie, Doggie on the wall ... Make The 10 go down." And ... the surface search radar, our "10" stopped radiating.
Just fell out. And no one could figure out what had happened. Well now Twigso and I look at each other and we know we are being had. These suckers know the problems we have been having and are now bustin' our butts with this story. Great !!! We love it and we are noddin' our heads and grinnin' and saying, "Yeah, uh-huh, right. Cool ... what a great story." But they won't give it up and keep on insisting that it's all true. They claim that this has happened many times in the past. These guys are good man and we can appreciate a great gag. OK. Sure. Fine. And now they actually get pissed that we don't believe it and warn us that they are not joking. And they are serious faced and I cannot detect a hint of a glint of puttin' us on in their eyes. I'm thinking these guys are really good. I ask them if I can say "Doggie, Doggie on the wall, fix The 10." but they inform me that it doesn't work that way.
Seems the Magic Doggie is a one-way mutha. They warn me once more to not dis the Doggie. We love it and go along with it and have a good laugh over it back in the shop. What a great story. hehehe.
Comes the morning for getting underway. We have been bustin' butt ensuring everything is working, including The 10 and all the repeaters ... been calibratin' for 24 hours straight. We are up in CIC finishing and someone is using a push broom to sweep up and while sweeping over near the bulkhead, his broom handle accidentally hits the Doggie Head and it falls to the deck. Now this is where I began to wonder just what is going on here. When it hit the deck with a thud, everyone in CIC, and I mean everyone, all 10 or so people ... all together as one ... gasped audibly ... and then there was silence. They all turn and stare as the offender quickly picked up the Doggie Head, dusted him off, and reverently returned him to his place of honor ... to his shrine. And the LOOK on their faces was what surprised me ... there was FEAR!!! I can't to this day understand how they could have all faked that !!! Genuine fear was etched on their faces. And I remember thinking that either there was something to this or they were indeed very, very good at screwing with me. Either way I was up against something formidable.
This is when all the strangeness began to happen. Perhaps it was all just coincidence. I keep hoping so.
OK ... it starts off slow. We are about to transfer power from shore to ship ... you EM types know how this is supposed to go.
It doesn't go so well. We drop the load. Not once. Not twice. Not even three times but we get about 5 or 6 power surges one after another and all of my gear gets slammed on and off with every one of them. All my gear is now offline and hosed !!!
Once we are finally on ships power, Twigso and I start over and redo every cal on every repeater and piece of gear we have.
While we are underway. Grrrrrrrrrr !!!! We don't eat or anything until we have everything back up and working and by then we are coming out of the Chesapeake Bay and heading out to sea.
We are esp concerned about The 10 and we watch it closely on the repeater for a few hours until we are certain that it's doing all right. And then, satisfied all is well, we head down to the shop. It takes us about 3 minutes to get there and when
we walk in the door the phone is ringing and I pick it up and hear ... "This is CIC ... The 10 just went down." And so it begins. Twigso and I go over the whole machine ... and can find nothing wrong ... just as always. We struggle all day with this sucker ... shut it down and restart it and it works just fine. For an hour or two ... just until we start to think it's gonna be all right and try to go get some chow. And then the phone call comes again ... "The 10's down." By now I'm seasick ... we're rolling pretty good and I'm ok as long as I can see why we are moving ... if I step out side and get some air but ... spending time reading prints and tweaking/calibrating or soldering or staring at a repeater ... does me in man. I don't know if you know how it feels but ... once it gets a grip of you it's really hard to shake and I'm sick as a dog. Haven't had any sleep for a day or two and I'm pissed as well !!! I've tried to make it down to the chow hall a number of times but that
doesn't cut it either. The one time I made it past the smell of greasy eggs in the galley down to the chow hall, I found it awash in about 6 inches of water, food, trays, silverware and puke and squids all slidin' across the deck with every roll of the ship. Ain't exactly like an aircraft carrier !!!
Oh yeah ... see ... the reason the ship is rolling around so strangely is that we lost part of a rudder !!! That's right ...it fell off !!! I consider having a talk with the Doggie. But then I think ... boy, how far are these guys gonna go to pull off a joke. Man, they are good !!! I let it go. It could be worse. (Little do I know) ;(
So ... over the next two daze ... during the short periods of time that The 10 was working, I hang out in the shop with two paper bags ... one with popcorn and the other for
... well it was just dry heaves anyway as I couldn't eat. And everything on the bulkhead was swayin' and that didn't help. Here's where my good bud Twigg helps me out. Now he's not sick at all and thinks it's funny as hell that I am. He just keeps laughing and I'm beginning to hate him ... the Four-Eyed-Fat-F**k. ;) So he comes back from chow and says he has taken pity on me and brought me something to eat. OK ... I'll try.
and then shows me what he has ... and opens up a sandwich which is peanut butter and ketchup and sardines!!!! My pal. My buddy. Yeah. I tell him, between retches, that IF I survive, I'm gonna kill his azz. He just laughs and laughs and laughs.
Once more The 10 goes down and we head up there. This time I notice some oil dripping out of a cabinet. I open it up and here I see that big ole 20KV pulse transformer BULGING and leaking oil!!!! It isn't a cube shape anymore but is almost round !!! Look like it's right on the edge of exploding.
That's it. We shut it down for good and give the CO a call. He sends the XO down and we show him what's up. He asks if we can't jury rig it somehow! Ha! Twigso says, "Oh sure, lend me a hairpin and I'll fix it right up" ... and I don't think the XO understood yet as he says, "Well, I used to have a Chief who could jury-rig anything." to which Nick replies, "Send for him." hehehe ;) He did always have a way of cutting to the chase. I guess then the XO got it. The 10 is history.
So ... here we are ... lost a rudder and now we're somewhere in the North Atlantic without any surface search radar.
I recall thinking "What next?" Shouldn't have done that.
OK ... now that I don't have to mess with trying to fix this SPS-10 anymore, I figure I will try to get some badly needed sleep. I'm still sick as a dog and it's all I can do to lie there in that rack swaying back and forth but I am exhausted and finally I slip off into oblivion. For a whole half hour.
Then I suddenly wake up. Something's wrong. There are no sounds and the ship is moving strangely. The battle lanterns come on just as the alarms go off ... "General Quarters, General Quarters. All hands man your battle stations !!! Fire!!! Fire !!! All hands man your battle stations!!!" We are dead in the water, no power, and are on fire !!!! Holy crap !!!! Now what !?!?!?! Am I dead yet ?!?!?!? We have no power at all ... everything is down. Seems some IC board somewhere has blown completely off the bulkhead and the space is on fire. I make it to the radar transmitter room, which is my battle station and Twigso shows up too. We spend an hour or two wondering if we are gonna survive this little cruise and I gotta say I didn't like our chances. I don't feel like going swimming in the N. Atlantic in the dead of night thank you very much.
They get it out and somehow get power back. But all of our gear is messed up and we go about getting what we can back
on line. My IFF is working but the air search radar keeps tripping off line. We finally figure out part of the problem. We are in a fog bank that is so thick that every time the radar antenna comes around to where it is facing the mast, there are big purple arcs !!! and the whole mast and all the rigging is glowing ... sort of a St. Elmos' Fire kind of thing I finger. But it keeps blowing fuses and tripping off line so we end up shutting it down as well. We get word that the sonar is out as well so now we have no way to see where we are going and the fog is so thick you can't see the front gun turret from the bridge and that isn't very far. Now we are doing about 3 knots with a bow watch and fog horns going as we are blind as a bat. I expect any moment to collide with something as we are in some pretty heavily used fishin' grounds.
Then the CO comes on the comm. Says he just got word that the USS Evans, a DD just like us, has just been cut in half by an Aussie aircraft carrier in the thick fog. Found out later it got cut right thru the radar transmitter room and the bow sank with the loss of 70 some people, Great ... that's just what we needed to hear. He asks that we all observe a moment of silence and I catch Nick's eye and know he's thinking the same thing I am ... that damn Magic Doggie Head plans on killing us all. And we are wondering if he did the same to the Bashe. I do notice that I'm no longer seasick ... too damn scared
for that I guess. A rather drastic cure and not one I would recommend. Go with taping an umbashi plum to your navel ... I hear that works.
Well my ole IFF is the only thing working but I need a working radar antenna to find and identify targets. So we jury-rig the air search radar and use it to sync the IFF so we can still use that part of it and the IFF to at least see if something is out there even though we won't know the range. At least we can get some directional info and possibly tell if something is directly in front of us so we don't ram another ship. As long as it's running IFF we should see the tag on the repeaters.
And that seems to work. I'm just hoping the Doggie hasn't fingered out what I did. ;)
Well ... with daylight, the fog finally lifts and we limp on in. I was so happy to be on dry land again and Boston was
great as well !!! People actually lined up to buy us drinks and that was quite a difference from how we had been treated down in Nof**k. ;) No "Dogs and sailors keep off the lawn" signs here. A three day cruise? I think it took three years off my life.
I left the ship a few daze later ... headed to Groton and Sub School and never had to deal with the Magic Doggie Head
again. (so far ... I keep my fingers permanently crossed.) ;-)
Years later, when Twigso was down in Norfolk I tried to talk him into visiting the Vogelgesang to see if the Doggie Head was still there but he wanted nothing to do with it. ;) Can't blame him.
I'm not saying I believe in VooDoo or the Magic Doggie. But then I'm not gonna say I don't either ... last time I did that the mutha almost did me in. ;) (ohhh ... sorry Doggie ... I meant mutha in a very good way) I'm just gonna let sleeping Doggies lie.
Another Steamer Tale (Borrowed from the
Critical Thinking Files):
Disclaimer: I am not going to mention any names here ...
to protect the guilty. ;) I will however say that my mentors, John
Cover and Gary Lawler were NOT on watch this particular morning.
Wasn't the Hippo or Little Bud either. And I don't ever recall
seeing any of them unfit for duty or too messed up to take a watch.
We did some good partying on liberty but they were squared away as
watchstanders and they passed that on to me as well. Not all were
quite so dedicated or conscientious. Also ... I never saw it be
quite this bad again. But this one stands out in my mind ... perhaps
because this was the busting of my cherry ... perhaps it was an
aberration. (However, I have my doubts.) ;) Still ...
the bottom line is ... we were still able to pull it off, and THAT
seems to be the norm. My conclusion: Even when screwed up out of
their minds and functioning at 20% capacity, Nukes seemed to still
be capable of outperforming the vast majority of most people I know.
That has to say something. But then again ... perhaps I harbor some
prejudice. ;) --------
I will never forget my first Olongapo Lightoff. Scared the livin'
beJesus out of me. These things happen like so ... We end an inport
period in the PI and usually sail at about 0700 or so. To do that
... we have to startup whatever reactors we are going to use earlier
that morning. The precrit checks and ECPs are usually done on the
1800-midnight watch and the latching of rods and actual startup take
place on the mid-0600 watch ... having reactors critical and the
plants heated up and ready to steam and get underway by morning.
I remember wondering why they would even allow us liberty the
evening before when we had the mid to 0600 watch but I figured
people knew we would be doing all of this and would refrain from
getting too wasted in town that night. I certainly took it easy and
only had a couple of San Miguels and didn't even approach doing any
steaming that night. Made sense to me.
So I get back early and ease on down into control equipment for the
midwatch. I'm still a nub and not yet qualified but have stood
plenty of training watches on the panel and in control equipment.
That's what I am expecting to do on this night ... RT training ...
latching rods and probably then switching over to do a startup.
We've got both the 4A and 4B to start up as it seems we are always
steaming at sea carrying the other 3 plants and always have to
shutdown and do our maintenance in port. Always seemed so anyway.
;) So I am a bit surprised to find the Control Equipment watch
on his knees in front of the little desk we had there with the
filled logs from the day and a brand new blank set there for the
coming day. I am even more perplexed when I figure out that he can't
tell the difference between the two !!!! He's just staring at them
and mumbling "My mid status ... how am I going to do my
mid-status?" He sees me and grins as he says, "Steinmetz
... what am I gonna do about the mid-status?" I try to explain
that I'm not Steinmetz but Steamer and that I'm his trainee tonight.
(I do believe there was a Steinmetz in one of the other plants.) He
either doesn't hear me or doesn't understand and just looks at me.
And keeps repeating, "My Mid-status ... what about the
mid-status?" OK ... I say, "No problem man, I got ya
covered." And I complete the old logs and start the new ones
... and make the rounds of Control Equipment to take the first set
of readings and check on the status of everything. The whole time
he's crawling around behind me continuing to say, "My
mid-status ... my mid-status!!!" I sit him down where no
one will see him and get him a cup of coffee. Man !!! I'm gonna have
to do this rod latch myself I guess. I've got it down tho ... done
it a bunch of times and anyway ... I've got two Operators over on
the panels and they can talk me over the rough spots. So I get the
lad more coffee, finish my readings and head over to EOS to talk it
over with the RO's. Together we will get through this, right.
Wrong !!! I get over there to find them both nearly as wasted as my
CE watch !!! Holy Jesus, holy Jesus!!! What the ???? At least
they are capable of taking their own readings and filling out the
logs but that's about it. Now I have no idea who the EOW was but he
apparently felt this was SOP as well. No one seems to be
overly concerned. Just me. This being my first Olongapo
Lightoff ... who am I to question how it goes? I just know we have a
lot of bustin' butt to do to get this show on the road. I recheck
the Estimated Critical Position calculations and they are ok ...
I've been made the PO in charge of the ECP logs anyway and am up on
it. At least someone did those right. OK ... the panel
watches I can guide along on the sound powered phones. I head back
over to Control Equipment and get set up to latch rods on the 4A. My
CE watch has calmed down some and is no longer bugging me about his
mid-status every 5 minutes. I assure him it will all be ok ... just
have some more coffee. He does and slumps in a chair. Good. So
... I get all the rods latched ok ... no problems ... I just
talk the RO through it and once that's done I go back over and
relieve the 4A operator. I send him over to CE to take logs and I do
the startup in EOS. As soon as we get critical I have him
relieve me and then to Control Equipment and perform the same
procedure and latch rods on the 4B. By then the 4B operator is
semi-coherent and after talking to him a bit, I figure he's up to
being able to do that startup. And my CE watch is now at least able
to stand and converse so I just go baby-sit him and try to keep him
quiet and out of the way as more folks are beginning to come down
into the plants to relieve the watch and get underway.
Hell of a training watch, eh? You can bet I had them sign off my
qual card!!! We somehow pulled it off but it sure blew my mind and I
swore that I would never, ever come into that plant without being
fully sober and in control of all of my faculties. Had I been the
least bit screwed up that night, I wouldn't have been able to handle
it. I guess it was a good lesson and I never did step into that
plant unfit for duty for my entire tour. It was way too strange as
Alameda Antics (The Dragon Palace,
Lineman Club, and other M-Div Fun)
Upon arrival back to the US after the 74-75
Westpac and still in shock from being torn from our honeykos,
several of us in M-Div had no idea of where to steam in Alameda, as
we got onboard the night before the ship left for the cruise.
After one night, we heard stories from some of the old timers
about this place called the Dragon Palace where there was an
extremely good looking oriental gal. So PP, myself and others
decided to check it out. The girl was as advertised; a petite
Vietnamese women named Jackie (Minh Nguyen actually), who had a
beautiful smile, a warm personality and loved flirting with all her
guys, despite having a boyfriend. For the rest of our naval
careers, the Dragon Palace became our home off the ship.
The Dragon Palace, or DP, or "The Pit,"
was a Chinese restaurant with bar seating and a partitioned dining
area-dining ceased at 10 pm, and party time reigned from then until
2 am. Once we discovered it, more and more M-Div nukes and
several RMs would steam there. The owners, Jenny and Quincy
Quong were great; Jenny tended bar, Quincy did the cooking, and we
did the drinking. After a while more Asian waitresses were
added to keep up with the thirsty mob and we were making the Quong's
rich. Many a paycheck was flushed down the pissers
there. The place turned into an M-Div lounge with the only
women being the waitresses. Occasionally, some local
round eyed women would come in, but only for a micro-second or two,
as the place was filled with laughing, howling, drunken nucs and
they feared for their lives. We'd always laughed at their
facial expressions after they hurried out the front door.
Drinking games were one of our favorite pastimes, 21 aces being the
most fun. You needed 8-10 people and a dice-rolling cup with 7
die, and you rolled counting the ones (aces) only until you got to
21. The person rolling # 7 would name a shot of liquor, #14
had to buy it and # 21 had to drink it. We'd play this for
hours consuming vast quantities of beer in the meantime.
Another Westpac soon came around and we were gone for the usual 7-8
We once again returned home and bee-lined for the
DP of course. A few of us had gotten out, but most of the old gang
was still as were the waitresses we loved. But we needed a
change from the same old routine. I got a hair up my ass one
night and decided to climb a telephone pole that was outside and
around the corner from the front door. I did a solo climb just
to see if I could do it, and sure enough, I did it no
problem-o. So I went back inside and told PP and the others
and they did not believe me. Out we all went so I could show
them and the Lineman's Club was born. Everybody was climbing
the pole! We'd be sitting inside getting buzzed and after a
while it was pole time, the bar would empty for about 15 minutes or
so until everyone had climbed it. As PP observed one
night after the bar had momentarily emptied, the owners and
waitresses had come out to see why everyone kept leaving, and they
saw what looked like ants on a tootsie roll as there were so many of
us on the pole. We all went back in roaring with
laughter. On two occasions the Alameda cops dropped
by while I was on top of the pole with numerous others below
me. The cops were pretty cool back then as all we got for
punishment was a "You have to go back to the ship!"
We'd reply "Yes sir" and start walking towards the base
for a block or until they left and would then proceed to another bar
until the heat was off then back to the DP.
The second time I got caught was most
memorable. After de-pole-ing, I was explaining to one of the
cops that we were just having some fun and didn't mean any harm,
when PP appears out of nowhere (he was relieving himself in an
alley), hands his ID to the cop I was talking to and says
"Excuse me officer, can I get involved in this?" I
had the cop all calmed down before PP showed up, but the cop was
starting to get pissed. I grabbed PP's ID from the cop and
gave it back to PP and pleaded with the agape cop to please ignore
the intrusion by this obviously intoxicated individual.
Fortunately for us, the cop just chewed PP out briefly before giving
us our usual "go back to the ship." And of course we
complied-NOT! Around the block to the Shamrock! To
encourage more members and climbing, one would be awarded an oak
leaf cluster for 10 or more climbs. Plus, after the first
climb, it was mandatory that you had to go to the Lineman's Club, a
bar on E-14th St. in Oakland, and have a beer or two. The bar
had a sign with a lineman on a telephone pole, but alas, it was a
dead bar. Other twists were added to climbing the pole, such
as 'shots at the top' (a shot glass of whatever being passed up
to the man on top), and the less popular 'golden shower from
heaven,' which usually ended the night's climbs. Fortunately
for us all, no one ever fell or got electrocuted.
The night before pulling out was always good for a
laugh or two the next day. We would usually close the DP and
buy extra beer before 2am and continue drinking at some undisclosed
location. One of our favorite spots was "The Sacred
Tree," one of three trees in a field between Atlantic Ave. and
Buena Vista Ave., and almost halfway between Webster St. and the
base. The 3 trees were in a east-west line, 2 were on the east
and west borders and "The Sacred Tree" was smack dab in
the middle. On the eve of Westpac 76-77 we had 20-30 nucs out
there having a ball and making quite a racket. We had no pole
to climb, so many of the lads were climbing the tree, including one
Ltjg MacMillan. Now and then you'd hear a loud crack followed
by a heavy thud or two and cries of pain mixed with laughter as
branches gave way. The party was just starting to get into
full swing when two sets of headlights were coming our way and the
cry from the crow's nest was "Cops!" As the police
cars approached, someone(Ed Kennicott-the Purple Avenger) yelled
"Everybody sit down!" which we promptly did.
The 2 cops came up and one of them says, "Alright guys, what's
going on here?" Someone quickly explained that we were pulling
out and were having a few beers. The cop tells us that someone
in the nearby apartments complained about the noise, and of course,
we had to go back to the ship, and for whoever was in the tree to
get down. Someone yells, "Come on down, chimp!" and
Ltjg. MacMillan climbs down out of the tree, looking rather sheepish
to say the least. We had coaxed him to come along with us and
that it would be fun, but that was the last time he steamed with
us! So on our way 'back to the ship' we all stopped by Ballena
Bay to finish what we started before we went ' back to the
ship.' Some good times were had at that tree, which by the
way, is still standing, thanks to a recent recon by PP
On several occasions, we M-Div types challenged
our RM counterparts to a drinking contest on our home turf, the DP
of course. The RMs stated they'd be there and win handily;
yet, they no-showed once and another time 1 RM showed, and he was a
regular, good 'ol' Paul Burke. But by the time he arrived most
of us had given up and had resumed our normal steaming status.
One non-rate from an AMR, who had earlier been quite anxious to
defeat any RM threat to our drinking consumption superiority, had
passed out and was sprawled over a couple of chairs. Paul was
chatting with PP about the AMR man (one JD Smithers from Oklahoma),
then decides to f__k with JD by saying: "Hey JD, you want a
beer?" JD stirs, then stares at Paul through bleary,
bloodshot eyes and says with authority: "Hell no! I want 5
beers!" The night continued with the usual pole climbing
At the end of our Naval careers, PP, myself, Chief
'Goat' and Larry Zurbrick flew from Clark Air Base to Travis
AFB in Fairfield, CA where we were picked up by the Chief's wife who
drove us to Alameda. Three of us rented a room at the then
Royal Inn instead of checking in at Treasure Island like we were
supposed to do, and bee-lined it to the DP which was rather
quiet. We wore our usual steaming gear from overseas and froze
our asses off in July 78, so we quickly got warmed up with
several doses of anti-freeze. We eventually checked in at TI
and were told we were a day late checking in-so kick us out!
We found out that the DP was going to be closing in Dec. and would
be renovated to become the DD-Dragon Disco, so we made plans to be
there for the final night of the DP, something our buds still on the
ship would miss. When the time came, we closed the DP in
style, getting completely hammered and because of that, PP and I
were late on our first day of work at Chevron Oil Refinery, with
horrendous hangovers; we were late because of a "flat
tire," yeah right !!
PS D----y, the MAN: glad to hear you're
hanging in there!
Steve "Willy" Wilson 4MMR
Palace was back in operation in the latter 80s and I
confess to going there a few times but I don’t recall much
about it. In my day it was mainly a 3 plant hangout. I
do recall one funny DP story though. One night I was
standing watch with a conventional E-Div’r and our talk
turned to places we liked to hangout while in port Alameda.
This E-Div’r admitted to having an affinity for the DP
because of its large Filipino female population. One night
he met a very attractive woman there and asked her to dance.
While they were out on the dance floor he observed a man
sitting at a nearby table glaring at them. "Who’s
that guy?" he finally asked. The woman said, "Oh
he nobody just my stupid husband!" Another time he
"got lucky" and was taking his date back to her
place. When they arrived she said, "Oh we go som'place
else my husband home!" The DP was probably not unique
in this regard. Most of the Webster Street bars were the
same. I’ll never forget watching the Vinson come home from
her 87 cruise and seeing all the wives on the pier. Most
were familiar Webster Street barflies or 'westpac widows' as
we called them.
A KP Letter to his kids:
Some of you may recall that I’ve mentioned before that I write
letters to my children each morning for their reading pleasure when
they are grown up. More than a few "navy" stories litter
those sultry pages and I came across the following one the other
day. It was written about 8 years ago when my memory was more
acute. It describes my very first day at sea. I will post it
as is (without editing) thus saving myself work. I apologize if it
seems a bit personal but I'm too lazy to re work it......
My Very First Day at Sea
I received my orders to the Enterprise when I was
still in NY. On January 12, 1986, while I was completing my time at
prototype, the Enterprise left its homeport in Alameda, CA to embark
on its 12th major overseas deployment. I was given a generous leave
following prototype (about 30 days) and had until the end of
February to report to the ship. I drove from Boston to California
with your Uncle Michael Beaty (an adventure described to you already
in a previous letter) and used up my leave in San Pedro staying with
your Dadaji [Dadaji is Hindi
for grandfather]. I was confused when I finally received my
plane tickets in the mail from my detailer because they had me
flying from Norfolk, Virginia to Diego Garcia. Since the Enterprise
was stationed in Alameda my orders told me to report to NAS Alameda
and be flown from there to wherever the ship was. I quickly called
my pal Kevin Kidder (another Enterprise-bound fellow taking leave in
California) and he too was sent tickets from Virginia to Diego
Garcia. At first I had no idea how I was going to get to Virginia or
where Diego Garcia even was (I thought it was somewhere in the
Caribbean Sea). Kevin and I (and a few others taking leave on the
west coast) called the detailer and were fortunate enough to have
him issue new tickets – this time flying us out of Oakland
International Airport to Clark AFB in the Philippines.
One January 29, 17 days after leaving Alameda,
the Enterprise pulled into Pearl Harbor, HI. While my future
shipmates were hitting the beach I was still in San Pedro enjoying
leave. The Big E (minus me) spent 4 days in Hawaii and then began a
15-day voyage steaming west toward the Philippines. I would meet her
My leave time dwindled away and before I knew it,
it was time to ‘ship out.’ I remember fondly that your Dadaji
took off work that day and drove me to the airport to meet my pals
Kevin Kidder and Joe Carl (an ET headed to the Enterprise, too).
Dadaji and I had a nice long talk and he told me that he was very
proud of me. That was probably the first time he ever said that to
I met my pals Kevin and Joe at the airport and we
flew to Oakland. It was a short flight. When we arrived we rented a
car and checked into a local motel. Together we spent the rest of
the day exploring and getting acquainted with the Alameda/SF area.
That afternoon we drove on NAS Alameda to visit our future home.
While there we drove to the docks and found many ships in port,
including the Carl Vinson, our sister carrier. This was the first
time any of us had seen a carrier and we couldn’t believe how big
it was. The next day we spent sightseeing in SF and then showed up
at the Oakland airport in the evening to check in for a long flight
to Clark AFB. (The plane was a Flying Tigers 747.) I knew many of
the other passengers waiting at the gate since many were classmates
from prototype. They, too, were headed to the Enterprise. We
were all dressed in our Cracker Jack blues. Your Uncle John was
among that crowd. As you know John and I were good friends at
prototype. On that night I met for the first time your Grandma,
Grandpa, Uncle Mark, Uncle James and Aunt Roseann. They had come to
see Uncle John off. Your mom was missing from the lot because she
was away at college in San Diego. When Uncle John introduced me to
his family they had no idea that I would someday be their future
brother/son-in-law! Who knows what they thought of me then.
But we sure know what they think of me now (ha ha ha)!
As luck would have it my good pal Al Huff was
also at the gate and ticketed for the same flight. He was headed to
the Philippines to join the USS Sacramento (also in Subic
Bay). When I first saw Al I was elated because I thought he had
somehow made it through prototype and was headed to the Big E, too
– but, alas, he wasn’t. Al and I sat together for the whole
flight and enjoyed ourselves at the expense of our third row seat
partner – a guy who had no sense of humor. Man, did we
torment that poor fellow.
The first leg of the journey took us from Oakland
to Anchorage, AK, were we were allowed to deplane and walk about the
deserted airport for about an hour (it was about midnight). In the
dead of winter Anchorage looked pretty bleak. Looking out the
windows while inside the airport made me wonder just how cold it was
outside. After the plane was refueled, we re-boarded and then began
the long flight across the Pacific Ocean to Kadina AFB in Okinawa.
We landed many hours later but were not permitted to leave the
airplane (so my only experience to date with Okinawa is one that
includes only a view from a small airplane window). Shortly,
thereafter, we were in the sky again and headed to Clark AFB.
When we finally arrived it was in the middle of
the afternoon. It was hot and humid and most of my pals and I were
miserable because we wearing winter dress blue uniforms (100% wool).
Only Biff Shiver, a future fellow RE, had the good sense to fly
wearing tropical whites, the only uniform worn in the Philippines
all year round. We spent a few hours being treated rather rudely by
the air force and navy folks stationed there. Being in the navy I
was used to that kind of treatment so it didn’t strike me as being
too out of the ordinary. It took us a while to clear customs and
then we were assigned ground transportation to Subic Bay Naval Base.
A revolution was under way in the Philippines at
this particular point in history and the ruthless dictator Ferdinand
Marcos had just been thrown out of office. Martial Law was in effect
and our bus driver was rather reluctant to drive the 45-odd miles
between the airbase and Subic, fearing trouble along the road. I
remember the radio station we were listening to on the bus (as we
waited for a driver to show up) was taken over by some group
(Nationalists, communists or some other combination there-of).
Finally, a driver showed up and we were headed south through the
jungle. I remember as we drove along the nearly deserted highway (I
can still smell the crops burning in the fields) I thought to myself
that it would suck to be captured or killed by whoever was out there
causing all the trouble. All my worries were in vain and we arrived
safely at Subic Bay. When we arrived we were brought straight to the
TPU (transient Personnel unit) and assigned bunks to await transport
to the Enterprise. The Enterprise had been in port Subic from 17 –
24 February and we had just missed her. She had as a result of all
the trouble left port to anchor off the coast to aid in any action
that was required.
There was still plenty of daylight left when we
were finally checked in. Most of us were exhausted after nearly 18
hours of traveling but everyone wanted to go into town. There is
probably no easy way to describe Subic Bay and the town outside the
gate called Olongapo. Olongapo was notorious for prostitutes, booze
and general mayhem. Ever since we were lowly recruits marching at
Great Lakes we were inundated with tales (for the most part true)
about how wild and wonderful Olongapo was. It was squid heaven and
we were finally there! Martial law or no martial law, we wanted to
see if everything that we had heard about was true. An old crusty
1st class, serving some time at TPU, told us that the gates to the
base were open (thus it was possible to go into town) but that it
was very foolish. (The base had been locked down earlier in the day
because of trouble.) Since we were determined to go, the 1st class
gave us some pointers on what not to do and where not to go and then
we were on our way. We walked a few miles to the front gate and then
exited the sanctuary of an American Base in a troubled part of the
world. We crossed the Sh_t River (so called because it was an open
sanitation canal and smelled like …well, you know) and entered
Olongapo – the streets were deserted! We walked about ¼ mile down
Magsaysay (the main road) and then quickly turned around and wisely
head back to the base. There was no fun to be had in the big town
A movie was shown that night in the TPU courtyard
and so I spent my first ever night in the Philippines doing
something down right upright. Never again could I make such a claim.
It was warm and tropical and I remember being extremely excited that
I was going to be on a real navy ship the very next day.
Getting out to the Enterprise was not as easy as
it would seem even though she was only a few miles out to sea. I
have written a few items about this day so I’ll spare you
repeating them here. I will say, however, that it sure was one long,
boring day. We sat around all day in the Cubi Point NAS airport
waiting for a flight out to the Pig. Finally we were flown (via
helicopter) in small groups to the USS Sacramento. The Sacramento
was an oiler attached to the Enterprise Battle Group and was
presumably steaming near the Enterprise. All of our stuff was left
on the aft heli pad and we were free to roam about the ship. My good
friend Al Huff had just checked aboard the Sacramento (you will
recall me mentioning that earlier I hope) and I was lucky enough to
run into him. (He had already been put to work so I didn’t get
much time to chat with him.) To kill time my buddies and I lingered
about on the deck of the Sacramento exchanging stories. This was the
first time in my life that I felt like a real sailor – on a ship
and out to sea! The water off the coast of Subic was light blue and
the green jungles in the background made the view absolutely
While lounging on the deck of the Sacramento,
many of us were thrilled by the adventurous tale relayed to us by a
fellow Enterprise-bound sailor named Mike Hemsworth. Up until that
point in my life I had never met Hemsworth even though he was an
electrician and in the same nuke school class (he was in a different
section I guess). Hemsworth’s tale was the tale of the terror he
experienced the night before when he, too, chanced a trip into
Olongapo City (except he did not return to the base when he should
have like everyone else). He was taken on a wild ride through the
city on the back of a Jeepney (Hemsworth thought the driver was
taking him to be murdered somewhere but the nice fellow was in fact
trying to get him safely back to the base amid gunfire). When
Hemsworth arrived at the base, marines pulled him from the Jeepney
and threw him through the gates, which were then slammed shut behind
him to be locked for good (or at least until the whole Marcos thing
was finally over). Hemsworth, as you know, was a great pal of mine
and we were roommates together in college when we got out of the
Finally, as the sun set over the beautiful
Pacific, we were mustered on the fantail of the Sacramento and
boarded on a chopper (a few at a time) and flown to the Enterprise.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the Big E in the distance.
She got bigger and bigger as we came closer and then finally we
landed on her flight deck. We were quickly escorted out of the
helicopter and off the flightdeck into the bowls of the ship. I had
brought one item above the limit – my guitar. As a result I was
terribly fatigued from lugging my seabag, garment bag and that
guitar up and down stairs, and from helicopter to helicopter, and
then all over the Pig. We were first brought down to the Personnel
Department where we were checked in. As luck would have it I ran
into a pal of mine from boot camp – a kid named Scott Emmison. He
was working in the Personnel office and did his best to make sure I
got off on the right foot. After we were checked in a fellow from RT
(Reactor Training) showed up and took us nukes up to the RT Void
(the place where RT division was ‘headquartered’ at the time).
Again, I had to lug all my personnel belonging up 4 flights of
ladders and then down two. In RT we were assigned berthing and given
a brief indoc. At suppertime one of the guys from RT showed us new
arrivals where the aft mess decks were located and we all ate our
first shipboard meal (I remember I was starving by this time.) While
on the mess decks I saw many old pals wandering by – guys that I
knew in prototype and nuke school. You would have thought I was a
celebrity the way people kept yelling out my name: "Hey Tuli,
what are you doing here?" When we were finished I was so tired
that all I wanted to do was find my rack and sleep – I hadn’t
had a good long sleep in almost 3 days! I forget how I found my rack
(someone obviously had to show me where it was) but when I found it,
I didn’t even bother putting on sheets or unpacking. I just
climbed in and went to sleep. Thus ended my first day on the
sea. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
D___y, i know who you are, i remember...:) for those of you that
knew me, i had one of the biggest attitudes in rx. for those that
didnt, you missed some funny shit.
my 1st contribution will be about my good friend and enemy of a boss em1(probably emc by now).
he was re11 wcs, i was awcs. I had ripped the phone out of the wall in 1 plant by the charging
water day tank. The rms would break it and say they needed a longer cord on it. So i ripped
it out of the wall to make the cord shorter for my rm buddies. I take the phone into 1 swgr and
begin toyin with it. coffman comes down and tells me i am doing it all wrong. I tell him, you
dont know what i am doing, leave me alone. He continues to tell me i am dumb, so eventually i
took the phone and threw it at him. I was at 1 swgr op desk, he was in between the 1swgr ouput
bkr and the rcp bkrs. I missed on purpose, but ended up hitting our nub turkell in the leg.
the phone shattered when it bounced off the floor. coffman picked up the phone and ran to the
RE office to tell on me, homo.
So its not long before i am in the re office explaining to campbell
(i hate you) that if he feels he must write me up, i will be forced to tell the captain about him having me steal wire
and tools from the shipyard. we where in newport news at the time. he said i had no proof, but
my good friend known as the eskimo was also in the shipyard wrong doings and had my back. so
the whole thing was dropped without a peep. i got to keep the phone as a reminder of my
i ended up going to anger management (a/m) on tuesdays cuz of this. a 13 week class i stretch
into 7 months of tuesdays off. a/m was at 9 tuesday morns at nob, we where in newport news,
work started at 7, but i had to go in civilian clothes, so i just wouldnt go in on
tuesdays. it got over at 11, and work ended at 12:30, so i never bothered to go in after either. I would
tell work i had a class, and i would tell the class i had duty, they never checked, so i rid
that pony till we where 2 weeks from leavin the shipyard.
well, this will be the end of my 1st story. i will be sharing more in the weeks to come. so
look forward to "weis vs. the radcon officer" and "weis abusing power in the station office".
maybe even a great weis drunk and naked on watch in the near future.
The Rock of Ages ...
This morning I was looking for a towel in the
linen closet and came across a white mid size thing that was in
tatters. Upon closer investigation I noticed that it was about the
size of the ones we had in the navy. Even closer examination showed
that it had a faded stencil—it was an old navy towel! Wow,
how old can this thing be? I wondered. I then got to thinking and a
flashback floated to the surface of my middle aged mind. I recalled
something I hadn’t thought about in a long time and I couldn’t
help but crack a smile. Remember how you stenciled your name,
SSN, and company number on everything in boot camp? Those "rocks"
that were ASMOed had the shame of crossing out their old company
number and stenciling on a new company number (above the old one). The really stupid Ricks were ASMOed
more than once and
then bounced from the navy. It was rare to see a guy ASMOed
more than twice.
One day toward the end of boot camp a new guy was ASMOed into our
company and we were doing the evening "pass out the laundry"
drill. When someone got this guy’s towel it had his name, SSN
and seven companies crossed out. "Holy sh_t!" said the
Rick holding the towel, "….You mean to tell me that this
idiot's been ASMOed seven times?" The guy admitted that he had
and the barracks erupted into laughter. Since he was only a reservist he
was allowed to slip through the cracks. The poor guy had
been in boot camp for over four months! He had just failed the final
exam (test 4) again and was now one of us for a week while we
prepared for the exam. (This is a no shitter: a
peek at this guy's hard card revealed that he had an ASVAB score of
37. The guy was from an area of the country where they had
limited ASVAB requirements I guess.)
When our company took test 4 there
was something odd afoot in the classroom. The chief administering
the test (his name was Janus) seemed to be in a benevolent mood. It
became painfully obvious to all that he was giving away the answers.
A guy would ask about a certain question and the chief would say,
"Hmmmm, number six. That’s AAAAAAn easy one."
Then another would ask about another question and he’d say,
"Hmmm, number 10. What could that one BBBBBBBBe?"
Pretty soon Ricks all over the room had their hand up to ask about
After the tests were graded our CCs
came running into the class to announce that not only had we all
passed the exam; but that we scored so high that we won all three
academic flags! It was pure bliss! The Rock was ecstatic—he was
finally going to graduate from boot camp!
Then our celebration came to an abrupt end. Some
guy in the company (the APO) told our CCs what happened. His
conscience was bothering him. Our chiefs were now obligated to
tell their supervisor. The sh_t hit the fan fast and within a day we
were ordered to retake the test. The whole company knew who the
snitch was and he was promised a "blanket party." Many an
angry word was spoken that day. The Rock, well, he just looked
sad. He knew he would probably extend his stay in boot camp
for another week.
Chief Janus was the test proctor again but gone
was the joyful air of carefree help. He obviously felt betrayed and
gave us the silent treatment. No help for the Rock this time! After
the test our CCs came in the room with the "black list,"
and the flunkies were ordered to ASMO Central. Each despondent man
stood, gave the APO "that look," hung his head in shame,
and then marched away never to be seen again. It was only when we
were mustered in front of the school house that we realized that the
Rock was still among us. He passed! He had a smile on his face a
mile wide. He was finally going to graduate for real.
I also fondly recall that the Rock got a wee bit
carried away on graduation weekend. He accompanied most of us to Milwaukee
on Saturday and wound up getting rolled by a hooker. I remember seeing
him on the bus headed back to RTC wrapped in a sheet. The hooker not
only stole his wallet but his uniform as well! He didn’t seem to