May 25, 2010

For The Squids

Do you ever feel nostalgic for your Navy service? Do you want to recapture those wonderful years? I don't. I started counting down the days from the time I enlisted. I am not a military type. But for those of you who do want to relive those memories, Ron came up with a way to do it.

How to Simulate Being in the Navy

1. Buy a dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.

1a. Submarines - Black outside; Pea Green inside

2. Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls. Paint them gray.

3. Repaint your entire house every month.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of the bathtub and move the shower head to chest level. When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.

Navy showers. And let's not forget water hours. I remember them well. You could only take showers at designated times.

5. Put lube oil in your humidifier and set it on high.

6. Once a week, blow air up your chimney with a leaf blower and let the wind carry the soot onto your neighbor's house. Ignore his complaints.

Known as blowing the tubes or blowing the stacks. If you were on a ship with diesel engines, like an LST, you did not have this wonderful experience. The snipes (what we called the engineering rates) were notorious for blowing the tubes right after you have swept and swabbed the decks. Assholes.

7. Once a month, take all major appliances apart and reassemble them.

Known as Preventative Maintenance. They had written maintenance measures that you had to follow. You had to sign this off with the PM petty officer. On the Iredell County, I was the PM petty officer for Operations Division. We gundecked a lot of this. I did tear down the power amp of my AN/WRT-2 transmitter and soak the tuning coil in trichloroethane every other month. The radiomen loved the performance of that transmitter. One night, off the coast of Viet Nam, I was able to hit the skips and send traffic to NavCommSta San Francisco. Yeah, I could have sent it to Cam Ranh Bay, the PI, or Guam, but what fun was that. Anyway, Cam Ranh Bay was staffed with assholes. They wouldn't respond to my callups. I would send bells (Teletypes had bells attached to get an operator's attention. I found out later that the operators at the NavCommSta's disconnected them. So what I did was send line feeds. You send enough of them and teletype paper would be all over the deck. Really pissed the operators off. This is what I had to do when sending traffic to Cam Ranh Bay. Of course I wouldn't send my call sign. Then I would wait about five minutes and call them up again. This time they would answer. Assholes.)

8. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.

Navigating through compartments was really fun in heavy weather. There were usually bruises on my forehead.

9. Disassemble and inspect your lawnmower every week.


See number 7 above.

10. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn your water heater temperature up to 200 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they use too much water so no bathing will be allowed.

Another fun thing your shipmates would do to you was wait until you have the water for your shower at just the right temperature. Then they would flush three or for toilets. Your screams could be heard three compartments away. This procedure also worked in barracks. Doesn't shipboard life sound fun so far? But wait. There's more.

11. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling so you can't turn over without getting out and then getting back in.

12. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 3 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say "Sorry, wrong rack."

This would happen at 2330 or 0330 when the messenger of the watch was waking up all the people who had to relieve the watch.

13. Make your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house - dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc. Re-qualify every 6 months.

On small shops like LSD's and LST's, ET's, like me, usually had to stand radar watches. Out in the middle of nowhere, where you wouldn't see another ship the entire watch, this was really boring. On the Iredell County, when the radio gang had a shortage, I volunteered to stand radio watches. That was a lot more fun than boring radar watches. I could piss operators off at Cam Ranh Bay which I did. I was an asshole way back then, just as I am now.

14. Have your neighbor come over each day at 0600, blow a whistle so loud Helen Keller could hear it, and shout "Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and trice up, the smoking lamp is lit in all berthing areas."

15. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she's going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in your back yard at
0800 while she reads it to you.

This was known as Quarters. On the Iredell County, the entire crew, except for the watch, got to stand in formation while this was going on. The Iredell County, even in calm seas, rolled. So you got to see 80 crew members, in formation, by division, roll back and forth in unison to compensate for the roll of the ship.

16. Submit a request chit to your father-in-law requesting permission to leave your house before 1500.

17. Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day, whether it needs it or not. "Now sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms, give the ship a clean sweep down fore and aft, empty all trash cans and butt kits over the fantail (or on the pier, if in port)!"

18. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering the rest.

19. Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, then show a different one.

We actually saw some pretty good movies. A real treat was when we got a double feature of Mission Impossible and Star Trek. This was in the late 60's.

19 a. Show the same movie every night.

20. When your children are in bed, run into their room with a megaphone shouting "Now general quarters, general quarters! All hands man your battle stations!"

21. Make your family's menu a week ahead of time without consulting the pantry or refrigerator.

22. Post a menu on the kitchen door informing your family that they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour. When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs. Make sure you never run out of grits.

23. Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.

And if the flour gets contaminated by weevils use it anyway. Pretend the cooked weevils were nuts. Yum! Apple pie with nuts in the crust.

24. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread. (MidRats)

I do have to say that the MidRats on the Iredell County were pretty good. When we had fried chicken for supper we got the leftovers for MidRats. Also, if you had an in with the baker (which I did, being an Electronics Technician. I'd fix his radio.), who did his baking in the middle of the night, you could get fresh bread right from the oven. Slap some butter on it and it was delicious.

25. Set your alarm clock to go off at random during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to button your top shirt button and tuck your pants into your socks. Run out into the backyard and uncoil the garden hose and put out a simulated fire.

26. Every week or so, throw your cat or dog into the pool and shout "Man overboard, port side!" Rate your family members on how fast they respond.

27. Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don't plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup, "Stove manned and ready." After an hour or so, speak into the cup again "Stove secured." Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoe box.

Sound powered phones. Some folks had to wear them for an entire four hour watch.

28. Make your family turn out all the lights and go to bed at 10 p.m. "Now taps, taps! Lights out! Maintain silence throughout the ship! The smoking lanp os out in all berthing areas." Then immediately have an 18-wheeler crash into your house. (For aircraft carrier sailors.)

Or if you were lucky enough to be on an LST going up the Bassac River in Viet Nam to supply a station ship for PBR's, when you were anchored, you got to listen to patrol ships throwing concussion grenades in the river every twenty minutes to prevent swimmers from putting mines on ships. It's amazing that I was able to tune that out and sleep.

29. Build a fire in a trash can in your garage. Loudly announce to your family, "This is a drill, this is a drill! Fire in hangar bay one!"

30. Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand in front of the podium for 4-hour intervals. Best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.

31. Next time there's a bad thunderstorm in your area, find the biggest horse you can, put a two-inch mattress on his back, strap yourself to it and turn him loose in a barn for six hours. Then get up and go to work.

Try riding out a storm on a flat bottomed boat, like an LST.

32. For snipes: bring your lawn mower into the living room, and run it all day long.

33. Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and let the pot simmer for 5 hours before drinking.

I could never stomach shipboard coffee.

34. Have someone under the age of ten give you a haircut with sheep shears.

35. Sew the back pockets of your jeans onto the front.

36. Add 1/3 cup of diesel fuel to the laundry.

37. Take hourly readings on your electric and water meters.

38. Every couple of weeks, dress up in your best clothes and go to the scummiest part of town. Find the most run down, trashiest bar, and drink beer until you are hammered. Then walk all the way home.

Olongapo (or as we called it, Olongapoopoo) City, Subic Bay, PI. Or Vung Fucking Tau, Viet Nam.

39. Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you'll take them to Disney World for liberty. At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need to get ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house.

Or have a stupid LT(jg) get on the radio, in the clear, so everyone and his kid brother could hear it, and tell the entire fleet that we were going to Hong Kong in two days. That pretty much canceled that trip.

What did you do in the war, GOC? See above.

Posted by denny at May 25, 2010 03:55 PM  
Comments

Ahhhh, Po city.
Cross the Rio Feces and there you was.
Feed baby ducks to the crockagators, drink monkey piss (San Miguel), dine on rat on a stick from your friendly street vendor and keep your cash stash well hidden.
You never really lived until you pulled Shore Patrol at the Po City PD. They had 3 cells. Boys, Girls and bad actors (unisex - or lotsa sex if some chick pissed off the duty cop and got her ass tossed in there.)
Rules for swabs on duty there.
You will ignore what the locals do to the locals. You are only there to pick up US service types.
Was a little tough to ignore the screams.
Send the democRATS over there some night if they want to yell about human rights.

Posted by: Stony on May 25, 2010 05:21 PM

Now you know why I jioned the Air Force. 9-5 and hotel rooms. "Aim High"

Posted by: David Dunn on May 25, 2010 05:21 PM

Can't take credit for this. Got it from some old retired E-9 shipmates of mine . . . several different times.

Just forwarded it 'cause it's so damned true. But I'd still like to go back and do it all over again!

Ron

Posted by: bocopro on May 25, 2010 05:49 PM

However, I WILL take credit for this (mostly 'cause I wrote it):

Checked the mail to see what new surprises I’ll hafta deal with from Mother’s estate (hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, taxes, utilities, insurance, and all that administrivia) and found only a single letter to Reggie from an old, old friend of hers (back around 1961 or so).

The woman magnificently personifies the term unsophisticated: first, Reggie’s name is misspelled, as is Pensacola (“Pencekola”). But since the zip and street number are correct, it got here.

She and I met way back in those days, those hot, humid, sweaty, beer-drinkin, woman-chasin, chest-thumpin, poker-playin, law-evadin, exciting, thrilling, adventuresome, dangerous, bullet-proof, golden days when I knew I was gonna live forever but didn’t much give a damn if I didn’t.
She was dark, skinny, obscene, bawdy, and just a touch on the dusty side. But she was quick. Didn’t know much except how to communicate in about 8 languages, do figures in her head like an idiot-savant, remember names like a Rolodex, and read people like a 70-year veteran parish priest.

And she was fun. Predictable only in her total unpredictability. Whimsical, but startlingly clever. Book ignorant but street wise. And she could produce a string of oaths, curses, participles, adjectives, descriptive nouns, gerunds, and imperative verbs that would make seasoned Bosun’s Mates blush. In English, Spanish, Tagalog, Ilokano, Waray, Chinese, Japanese, and some others I couldn’t identify.
And cook! Man, she could milk my salivaries better’n any French or Italian chef. Everything started with spiced cooking oil, chopped onions, and smashed garlic. Variations then followed wherein tomato, potato, chicken, pork, shrimp, or whatever struck her fancy that day dived into that black-bottomed wok, often followed by string beans, garbanzas, peas, carrots . . . . . . . and everything I watched her cook turned out perfectly. PERFECTLY!

As I recall, she made it all the way thru 6th grade before bailing out to help her dying mother take care of her younger siblings. But she knew who JFK was, and what the USSR was, and what the UN was designed to do, and what had happened in Korea, and how to run a store, and how to manage people.

And she was FUN! Scary, dangerous, brutal, cunning, slightly soiled, perhaps even contaminated, and possibly contagious, but fun to be around. She was Reggie’s friend, or I would have steered a path well clear of her, but the umbrella of my relationship with Reggie protected me, I guess . . . ‘cause I’m still here.

As I saw that name printed in a 6th-grader’s hand in the upper left corner of the envelope, all those images came flooding back . . . all those hot, sweaty days with warm beer and spicy food and all those hotter, sweatier nights with warm bodies and special friends . . . . . and I want to go back there.

I want to go back to those times when we all had flat bellies, and limber backs, and bulletproof vests, living in the Olongapo of old where the law was in the hands of the guy with the biggest revolver or the thickest wad of cash. Where playing certain songs on the jukebox in certain bars caused the barflies to do certain things. Where you could have your safe haven with a Mamasan who’d watch out for you when you got to knee-walkin and word-slurrin and thought you could sing with the band . . . and would take your watch and your cash and put your I.D. in your front right pocket and get you into a jeepney she could trust to get you back to the main gate before curfew. And the next day you could go there and she’d give you back your watch, your camera, your wallet, your money . . . whatever else she thought you’d probably lose before you got back to the safety of the base.

I wanna go back to when I knew how to fix the stuff I was paid to fix, when I knew that B+ was dangerous, and power-supply tubes were friggin hot to the touch and HF transmitters put out thousands of watts, and many of the wires in a radio were #9, or #14, or at the smallest #22.

I wanna go back to when 100 words/minute communication was fast, and everything was installed in 19” racks, and computers were somethin those eggheads at CalTech or MIT played with that’d never catch on.

I wanna go back to greyhounds with bones in their teeth, plowin into deep, even swells in the South China Sea, where those bunks smelled like sweat and the water tasted like diesel, where the sun painted dynamic masterpieces in those towering thunderheads you could still see over the western horizon after the sun was down.

I wanna be able to read without corrective lenses, and drink without worryin about the statins in my liver, and eat like there’s no tomorrow.

Damn, Tina! Why the hell did you have to write that letter!!??!!

Posted by: bocopro on May 25, 2010 05:53 PM

H gave the Navy 22 years, and I know he misses it sometimes.... mainly the being somewhere different, having people actually listen to him, and nearly-mandatory port visits filled with beer and hookers.
He was happier in the Navy than in civilian life, I do know that. Doesn't say much for me, but I don't take it personally.
Maybe I just need to find the boy a dumpster, learn to salute, and start charging for sex.

Posted by: LeeAnn on May 25, 2010 06:05 PM

Dude, you left out the powdered:
eggs, taters, milk

Could there be any shittier chow than what you squids served on your big boats. Thank God & Supply for that big pallet of C-RATS on the hanger deck.

Posted by: Billy Ray in Cowtown on May 25, 2010 07:53 PM

Lucky bastards, you never got to live in a fox hole full of muddy water while eating crappy Meals Refused by Ethiopians, which was still better then marching a mile through the mud for watered down cold chow. Coffee would be about the same, just keep a good edge on your knife so you can slice it thin.

PMCS? Oh what fun! try it in afore mentioned mud, and at night, can't do it during the day, missions ya knaow!

One buddy of mine, A Marine in Nam said he was grateful he never saw combat. Seems it was always a bit darker then pitch black when Charlie come a callin'.

When I was in Germany we had a Barracks rat. his room mate decide to educate him and painted the room battle shit grey. The rat moved out, and actually got a life. The room was still grey when I moved in. I didn't stay there much.

The advantage for sea going sailors was 50% happy marriage, either happy days at sea, or happy days in port. One guy I knew had a wife who met him at every port of call the first few years they were married. She survived 26 years of his carreer, and another 25 after. Or is it 26 now?

Posted by: Jeremy on May 25, 2010 08:12 PM

That is the funniest goddamn thing I have read in a long time.
Past Your Eyes the Jarhead

Posted by: Past Your Eyes on May 25, 2010 08:13 PM

I didn't catch every word, but I just laugh, laugh, laugh...and pity all of you, guys. But I can see how you would miss the youthful time and the chums. Will never understand any woman who would want to become part of that as an equal!

Posted by: Claudia on May 25, 2010 08:44 PM

Aw hell, I only had the opportunity in II Corps as a Special Forces guy to go out to the woods and shoot people. But hell, it was a way to make a living.

I think that you guys had a lot more fun. As I've said before, on my first tour I was shooting adults ('66); on my second tour ('69-'70), we were shooting teenage kids.

Posted by: GeorgeD on May 25, 2010 09:44 PM

"I did tear down the power amp of my AN/WRT-2 transmitter and soak the tuning coil in trichloroethane every other month."

Somewhere in the EPA, a bureaucrat just keeled over from an aneurysm.

Like I care.

Just another Chair Force REMF here, but can appreciate the thoughts behind this post thanks to joint duty with a bunch of squids and jarheads.

Posted by: Grumpy Old Ham on May 25, 2010 10:12 PM

man thats funny ''sleep on the top shelf of your closet''brought back lots of memories SARATOGA 65/67

Posted by: david rhind on May 25, 2010 11:04 PM

Ran into a woman at Barnes & Noble with my Proud Vietnam Veteran Against John Kerry shirt.

She bitched at me, "So, were YOU a Marine machine gunner in Vietnam?"

I said, "Well, yes I was."

She continued, "But did you hump around the jungle for 14 months?"

I answered, "No, I was a helicopter gunner for a 13 month tour."

She really thought she won the debate with, "Hmmmph, helicopter... So, you didn't really see any combat."

I answered, "Fuck you, bitch."

She stormed out.

Posted by: Billy Ray in Cowtown on May 25, 2010 11:04 PM

365 days, 23.5 hours at the bay. Have to go back and find them motels. It was out of the rack, walk a quarter mile to take a shower and walk back in the blowing sand. You were as dirty when you reached the Hootch as you were when you shook the sand out of your rack and left for the shower. Only rained twice a day, once from Midnight til noon, and again from noon til midnight during monsoon season. Korea is hardly worth mentioning except that Playboy mag said it was the best big whorehouse in the world.

Posted by: Scrapiron on May 25, 2010 11:56 PM

Billy Ray Cowtown:

HMM161 call sign "Cattlecall."

You?

Posted by: GrouchyOldCrippleMyself on May 26, 2010 12:08 AM

LMAO Here's another.
40. Let the guy who works the night shift use your bed.

Posted by: Dennis on May 26, 2010 12:46 AM

Sure glad I did Air Force!

Posted by: Alan on May 26, 2010 12:54 AM

USN, Retired. Cryptologic Technician (ET with a fancy clearance.)

Clark Air Base, Philippines, 1970-1972. Angeles City wasn't Po Town, but it was close enough. Still waiting to see if my dick is going to rot off...

Retired 1990, thinking my Navy had turned to shit.

Just started a new job this past January, contractor working for the Navy. I KNOW my Navy has turned to shit.

Posted by: Fawteen on May 26, 2010 05:12 AM

Had a friend who was a Sub-MARE-in-er, & this all seems familiar from his stories..Sometimes I wonder if the REAL reason for the Sub Service was to be the bootleggers for the rest of the Navy...He was in right before the Nukie boats came on line...Diesel Electrics-Good Gawd Amighty...There WERE Giants in those days...

Posted by: Sandy G. on May 26, 2010 07:05 AM

As the mother of a current United States Navy submariner, this is not only funny, BUT sounds eerily similar to life on a submarine (as described by my son) I have seen a version of this that was specifically for submariners and its even more hilarious than this one, although this one is VERY GOOD! Thanks for providing my laugh for the day!

Posted by: Ruth on May 26, 2010 08:58 AM

Whatever your service you gotta be pissed...has any other U.S. President NOT laid the wreath at the Tomb of the Unkowns on Memorial Day since the monument was built?? What a COMMIE prick!

Posted by: Tony K on May 26, 2010 09:06 AM

Your post spurred me to post some pictures of the USS Bowfin. While scrolling through the pics, my 7-year old was looking over my shoulder and told me how much she liked that 'shiny boat with the tiny toilet and the big guns'.

Posted by: Harper on May 26, 2010 09:42 AM

Strategy Page has this joke, as well as many others.

Posted by: Robert on May 26, 2010 09:57 AM

As part of the MRF, we were lucky enough to spend time between missions as guests of the Navy. The racks on those troop ships were close enough to each other that there was no danger of rolling out and hittin' the deck, but that was just sittin' there in the Mekong River, so it might have been more fun at sea. Actually, chow on the ships wasn't bad, compared to C-rats.
Ah, Vung Tau, supposedly one of the best in-country R&R areas. Didn't see much from a hospital bed, but it sure was refreshing to see the beautiful round-eye nurses.
All you squids who ran those landing craft and PBRs, thanks for the taxi service and fire support.
And you guys in the hilly-whopters, the pilots, door-gunners and dust-off men, I'll buy you a beer whenever we meet.

Rob J 11Bravo AlphaCo,4th/47th,9thInfDiv USArmy

Posted by: Inbredredneck on May 26, 2010 10:05 AM

Back in 1996, I was on a NATO Task Force in Constanta, Romania. There was a Navy ship at the Romanian Marine Militaire port. We were allowed a tour of the ship ( can't remember the name ).

Anyway, I've truly always felt lucky that, with sleeping in a 3" deep puddle ( sometimes called a hasty fighting position if it wasn't raining ) while wrapped in a poncho, or sleeping in back of a deuce-and-a-half draped over a bunch of Jerry Cans, or even sleeping in the sand with all the critters...it had to be better than Navy ship bunks.

Posted by: Greg on May 26, 2010 03:41 PM

HMM362 Ugly Angels

Posted by: Billy Ray in Cowtown on May 26, 2010 04:09 PM

Funniest post and best comments I've read for some time, thank you all.

Posted by: nbc on May 26, 2010 05:10 PM

Thanks so much everyone for the great comments and the article. This really made me laugh.
It also made me very grateful for you all.

Posted by: Patsy on May 27, 2010 07:21 AM

Fuckin' spammers....Grrrrr....

Posted by: Sandy G. on May 27, 2010 09:28 AM

Nevermind my last post...Denny took care of 'em ! (grin)

Posted by: Sandy G. on May 27, 2010 05:47 PM

This just confirms the Navy boys had the easiest life.

Posted by: dick on May 28, 2010 08:56 AM

Sandy - I zap them within 24 hours. You should see all the ones my comment spam blocker nails.

Dick - Nope. The USAF had it easier than the Navy. Still does. The only reason I joined the Navy rather than trying to get into the Air Force was the Navy had better technical schools. As a result of my Navy electronics training, I got my job at IBM. 31.5 mostly good years.

Posted by: Denny on May 28, 2010 02:35 PM

Denny, I know. The Air Force is nothing but college (or the corporate world) with high explosives and weekends free.

The Navy did have the best chow I ever had in my time during the service (Coronado Island). Man, it was awesome!

Posted by: dick on May 28, 2010 10:19 PM

Oh Lord, I can daresay that no navy will use you for a recruitment campaign.

Brilliantly funny because of all the truth.

Nice touch with the bell and linefeed keys.

Posted by: pdwalker on May 29, 2010 09:23 AM

tonyK - "...has any other U.S. President NOT laid the wreath at the Tomb of the Unkowns on Memorial Day since the monument was built?? What a COMMIE prick!"

It's better that he doesn't desecrate the ground and embarass our nation yet again.

Posted by: sofa on May 30, 2010 10:09 AM

I'm glad O'bummer didn't lay the wreath. After he's bowed to every royal thug. -After cash 4 clunkers, Japan's Emperor should have bowed to HIM!- He's not fit to be in the same room with our enemy's military.

And that's how I feel about him on a GOOD day!

Posted by: john b on May 30, 2010 11:40 AM

AT-3 USN, '69-'73. My first duty station in Nam was Cam Rahn Bay 1971, I was one of the 'Fabulous Fifty' NAS CUBI PT. DET. CRB RVN. We sold the Army our old S-2's part of the contract was that we maintained them. We were the only squids on the Army base. The amazing thing is that I used to pull the duty to drive out to that NavCommSta to pick up those messages! (might have been after your tour, but still quite a coincidence) It was a beautiful drive, about fifteen miles, one way. The vehicle, a '65 Ford Galaxie station wagon. What color you ask?...why, gray of course. The road ran along the coast, some of the prettiest white sand beach I'd ever seen. I was there for three months. Now the memories are flooding back; one of the Army barracks was blown up, full of guys going home the next day. One of our watch towers caught a rocket.

We closed down NAF CRB, shipped everything back to Cubi Pt. Everything but me... orders to Danang working the flight line (I wasn't trained for this) refueling for carrier groups and dealing with hung ordinance. I remember rocket hits around our barracks, once in awhile, and always at night, I really wasn't trained for this. I tried to tell them "I'm an AT I don't know shit about fuel or bombs". It either sunk in or they found a place for me. They decided to ship me to Saigon. See, they spent a lot of money training me, and my original orders were to a huey squadron, HAL-3 which had packed up and shipped back stateside before I got there (similar to the steak on the menu thing, by the time I got there they were gone). I consider myself lucky, this was an attack squadron working with the PBR's. I was going to be a door gunner/AT. I still haven't figured out where the electronics are on an M60.

Now, the beautiful city of Saigon, "The Pearl of the Orient"...I could write a book. Our barraks was an old hotel in the city. It was like liberty every night. I remember Saigon was at peace. I went just about anywhere I wanted to. Downtown to the movies, to the bars. Just had to be careful of the usual crime. It was probably safer than NY city at the time. The dirty secret is; we won that war. I was all over that country, and I can tell you that in 1971 and 72 the 'war' was winding down and mopping up. The South Vietnamese Army was manning the checkpoints. Things were much like they are in Iraq today. You can thank Kennedy, Kerry and the dumocrats for defunding and quitting. Hollywood, Jane the traitor Fonda, and the evening news pushing their leftist propoganda. I hate to think the democrats would stoop to treason in order to gain power, but how do you think they got Carter elected? They spent the blood of 58,000 patriots to advance their party politics. I still can't believe congress would let those final days happen the way they did, the evacuation of the embassy was a disaster, and total embarrasment. Stay tuned for a replay in Iraq and Afghanistan if the democratic socialists are allowed to continue thier power trip in congress.

Sorry for the digression...where was I?
Saigon; I had some South Vietnamese freinds there, I sometimes wonder what happened to them.

My day job was NAS Cubi Pt. Det. 'White Hat Airlines' Tan Son Nhut, an Air Force base. I was an aircrewman/doorgunner/AT on a CH-46. The AT part meant that I sat in the seat next to the Electronic cabinet. Again, there were fifty of us, must be some magic number in the Navy. We had five birds and traveled all over, picking up bodies (dead and alive), protecting our radar and NavCommStations all throughout the south and along the coast. Here's the second coincidence; we would fly out to an LSD for a couple of days at a time and patrol the coastline. These were the days that we were pulling out rather quickly and the protection for a lot of these sites was leaving, so the duty fell on us. The most memorable trip to an LSD, I call the 'swim party'. Our CO was piloting on that mission and he had some discussion with the captain. They were trying to figure out where the closest BX was. After the discussion we took off on a beer run, brought back a pallet of Budweiser, they opened the bow doors, dropped the ramp, and we went swimming in the South China Sea. I don't think that could happen today. It must have sucked to be on duty that day. My memory is vague at best but I remember how it fealt walking down that ramp into the water and finally diving in...there I am swimming in the middle off the ocean. Treading water and looking back at the ship, I see a few crewmen watching and one in particular stood out, he had an M-1 at the ready...shark watch.

Late '72 we packed up, flew our squadron up to Danang and onto the Midway, floated back to Cubi Pt. Other than the missions out to the LSD's the three days on the Midway covered my entire time at sea in my short Navy career.

After having the opportunity to sample and compare military cuisine. I would rather have an MRE in a foxhole than eat Air Force food, it's why everybody in the Air Force is skinny. The Army is hit and miss average. The best Navy food; NAF Andrews AFB 1970, Thanksgiving on the Midway.

Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

Posted by: Peter Vaitekunas on May 31, 2010 02:23 AM

My Dad flew B-17s in WWII & advised me to go into the Air Force when I was asked to join in 1969. Of course I chose the Navy. My dumb Dad proved brilliant 5 minutes after I came off the bus at Great Lakes to some 6-wk recruit in a P-coat & guard belt yelling that I was in a world of shit.

I couldn't type, so they sent me to Personnel School & on to the smallest oean going vessel in the Navy; an MSO (Minesweeper Ocean.) When the Navy classifies you as ocean going, that means you go where the carriers go, regardless of your boat (yeah I know, but I refused to call that wooden-hulled Packard-engined 173' roller coaster a ship) I knew that the MSO was SUPPOSED to be able to recover from a 360 roll, but they had installed a brass 800 lb spotlight three decks up, destroying the balance. First day at sea, standing in the chow line on the fantail, I looked up to see two huge stacked timber braces going from port to starboard. They weren't suppposed to move, but someone had drawn a vertical pencil line across the two & the two halves of the line moved a good 4 inches back & forth. I had a bad feeling.

My bad feeling was reinforced on the absolute calmest night I ever experienced in 29 months aboard. In the Gulf of Mexico on the west coast of Florida, cutting the corner from Key West to Panama City. It was Sunday morning lake-calm; not even a ripple & the basically unbalanced Sweep was rolling. Now I knew there would be trouble.

I worked in a hot 4x8' office above the engine room with stack gas seeping throuh the deck. I was trying to type on an manual typewriter that would type an entire line in one space on the way up the wave & skip every other letter on the way down. I was normally fine until the waves got to 10 ft when I had to go up on deck for air.

One night off Hatteras (Warning - Sea Story, not a fairy tale) in huge seas, we stuffed a wave & took green water up to the pilot house, ripping a cable reel off the starboard super structure. Lockers broke loose and fell against the racks, gear adrift washed back & forth in the forward sleeping compartment. I had alread been selling Buicks & calling ralph & was prepared to die. The Captain was standing watch on the open bridge with a puke bucket on the compass binnacle.

I managed to get out of my death-bead to find the guys who NEVER got seasick & who reveled in smoking cigars & eating sardines in front of the newbies who weren't feeling well. All of the 7 people except a Senior Chief who had been aboard for what seemed like his entire natural life were sick and moaning in their racks. I managed to gather enough strength to scream at the worst of the lot: "How do you like it asshole? Do you fucking like it!?"

Posted by: Stick on May 31, 2010 11:00 AM

Peter - I was offered AT, FT, or ET. I took ET. I regretted that until I read your post. I was 14 months on an LSD (USS Comstock LSD-19) and 22 months on an LST (USS Iredell County LST-839). The reason that I regretted not going AT was that I got really seasick and I figgered that with AT I would have been on a carrier or had shore duty. By the time I got used to the LSD, they transferred me to an LST. Now that I see your experience, with my luck, that would have happened to me.

I got to go ashore at CRB once and got hammered at the EM club.

Stick - I moaned about being on an LST until I met one of my ET buddies that I served with on the Comstock who was now on an MSO. He gave me a tour of his ship. Holy crap!

On the Iredell County, I had to stand radio watches in the middle of a typhoon. Both of us on watch laid on the floor until one of us had to check the scheds. It was fun typing out the messages as the ship was rocking and the typewriter would slide towards me and away from me. At the end of the watch we had to empty the puke out of the shitcans.

Posted by: Denny on May 31, 2010 12:01 PM

Denny,
You don't know what you missed, There's nothing like sitting on the aft ramp (open) of a CH-46 at 3000 feet, watching for heat seaking missiles.

Actually, you wouldn't have had to worry about it, the duty was strictly volunteer and I was dumb enough to do it. The entire time I was filling out that request chit, the little voice in my head was telling me "remember son, never volunteer for anything"...I chose to ignore it. I was stuck at NAF Andrews and hated it. The chicken shit there was impossible for me. Believe it or not, my original request was for a P-3 squadron that I heard patrolled the Antartic. I just knew I loved to fly.

Nam was a real adventure, I didn't know what I was getting into but it turned out okay. I'm sitting here thinking about all the crazy shit that happened, and I can't decide what to say. I could write all night. Death was always nearby...I cheated it three times over there. The funny thing is, when your in that situation, you don't think about dying. Part of it is being young and invincible, part two is probably adrenaline. When I got stateside is when it really hit me, like now, I'm thinking how lucky I was. Here, I'll give you one;

Flightline Danang, refueling an A-3 tanker, hot fueling (means the engines are running). An A-3 is a top wing with two big ass jet engines hanging off of it with a huge gas tank hung between them. My job: attach the nozzle to the side of the tank (fuselage), turn it on, and fill 'er up. If memory serves me the hose was about 3" and the nozzle was a push on, quarter turn affair with a lever handle ball valve, remember, I wasn't trained for this. I stood there between the fuselage and the engine, starboard. I wasn't alone, my crew chief was in front guiding the pilot and getting him coffee, what else? Another crewman was manning the main valves about fifty feet away, clipboard in hand, reading the meters. He opens his valve and I open my ball valve...remember it's hot fuel the engines are running, everybody has there ear protection. So, I'm standing there between the fuselage and this hot engine, humming a tune, and wondering how the hell I wound up here, and I happened to glance forward toward the the yellow shirt, he's jumping up and down, waving his arms all over the place...I thought he spilled coffee all over himself. No, he's pointing, and very excitedly, at the engine. About the same moment in time I fealt myself getting wet...I look to where he's pointing, right under the engine. The hose had sprung a leak and it was spraying all over me and the engine. I looked at the meter reader and he was frozen in time. I can see his mouth wide open, still to this day. I started doing the cut motion, the hand across the throat thing but he wasn't moving. I wasn't sure what to do, remember, I wasn't trained for this, especially this, a hole in a hose sparaying jet fuel on a hot engine. Now, as I sit here I think I could have run away, but at the time it didn't occur to me. I shut the ball valve and disconnected, thinking at the time that fuel would be somehow be coming out of the nozzle because it was still pressurized, but it didn't. I dragged the loaded hose aft and out from under the engine while the crew chief taxied the plane forward. That was close. The hose lay there in kind of a U shape still spraying, I dragged it as far as I could. My first serious adrenaline rush. I ran over to the meter reader and he's still standing there with his mouth hanging open, frozen. I'm screaming at him, in his face,"shut the fucking valve off". I think he was stoned...I know he was stoned. There was cheap Thai stick everywhere. I didn't know which valve to shut, it was complicated and remember, I wasn't trained for this shit, never fueled a plane in my life. So, I'm cussing him out, for about a minute, until the crew cheif came over. That's all I remember, nothing after that, like taking a shower or walking away, nothing.

Hey Stick,
I was at Great Lakes, Nov.-Jan.'69 I've never been so cold. Maybe we were there at the same time. I do remember my CC's name: Stuchkas, not sure of the spelling, I'm going to look it up. I still have my 'Keel', it's EN-1 Stuchkus, Company 683. Any of that sound familiar?

Posted by: Peter Vaitekunas on June 1, 2010 03:04 AM

Peter - I was at Great Lakes from Oct 28 to Dec 14, 1965. I still have my Keel. My CC was a MM1 and he was an alcoholic. Started off each morning with a shot in his coffee. I can still remember relieving the watch when they asked you the General Orders of the Sentry. When he had the duty he would always say, "Step up and fuck up."

After boot camp, I went to ET School at Great Lakes as well. There was one week in December where the temperature did not get above 0. I lived off base in Waukegan and often had to walk from my place down to the bus stop at Walgreens in Waukegan. Colder than hell. On Sundays, I would walk down to get a paper. When I got back, I would jump in bed with my wife and grab her boobs to warm up my hands. She hated that.

Posted by: Denny on June 1, 2010 02:24 PM

Denny,
And she stayed with you?
She probably didn' hate it as much as you think.

The only good thing about Great Lakes in the winter is that we didn't have to drill outside on the ice. We had to wait for space in a drill hall, so we just didn't drill that much. You know, I don't remember ever standing watch when I was there. I was the company clerk, maybe that had something to do with it. I do remember, clothes stops, hanging laundry outside in sub zero weather, cramming all of us into the drying room for a smoke (punishment), throwing all our whites on the floor because we got a hit during inspection, and making us walk on them all day. The 96(?) count drill with that old M-1.

Now that my mind is going back there, I think I got out of a lot of stuff because of being the clerk. I didn't have to do the damage control training or KP(?). Made up for it later though, got stuck compartment cleaning for a few months in D.C.

I went to AT A school in Memphis.

There I was, minding my own business, when a freind of mine sent me a link to this blog, I was just going to delete it. Now I'm stuck remembering all this stuff, I haven't thought about my navy tour in decades. I really didn't have a 'normal' tour, it was a hell of a tour. Truth be told I wanted to stay in Nam, tried to get back as a contractor but things were winding down pretty fast and I didn't get too far with that idea. Unlike you, I wasn't married and didn't have a relationship (didn't have any of those special handwarmers).

Posted by: Peter Vaitekunas on June 2, 2010 12:19 AM

Peter - She left me July 4, 1967. She wound up marrying the guy who was my best friend in ET school. Funny thing is, I saw the dude in Olangapo City when I pulled Shore patrol duty in 1969. He pretended not to know me. I couldn't figger out why until my mom found out that he was married to her. I guess she told him I was psycho and bat shit crazy (I never laid a hand on her, but she was a pathological liar.) and he was prolly afraid that I would beat the crap out of him with my night stick. Hell, I would have congratulated him and wished him luck. She was good in bed and had big tits. She recently sent me a Facebook friend request. When she divorced me, she went back to her maiden name. I now see that when she divorced him she went back to her maiden name and is living with her father. He has to be in his 90's. He's the only thing I miss from the divorce. I really liked him.

I was the 6th squad leader so during Service Week, I got to stand a watch at the back gate. The 5th Squad leader and I used to go to the drying room to sneak smokes. During Service Week we'd go to one of the empty barracks and smoke there.

Posted by: Denny on June 2, 2010 02:41 PM

Denny,
All women are pathological liars, I think it's a genetic trait, it started in the garden of Eden and they've been refining it ever since. Back in the 'womens lib' 60's they lost all sense of reality and now they have the ability to deny they are doing something during the act of doing it. Come to think of it, Obozo does the same thing, maybe he's really a woman in a suit. That's probably why all the broads voted for him, he acts just like them.

I'm wondering, if a guy dresses like a woman, that's called drag, if a woman dresses to look like a man what do you call that?

Posted by: Peter Vaitekunas on June 3, 2010 01:13 AM

USN-1960-1970
Vietnam 62,65,66,69,&70
62 on a tincan doing (elint)electronic intellengence off the coast of N. Vietnam.
65 & 66 tincan assigned to task force Market Time
patrolling the coastal waters.
69 & 70 River Division 514, PBR boat captain, River Patrol Groups 55&59 naval advisor to VN navy PBR's
even on the canals we had good chow. we made it ourselves. called it river stew. made with c-rats,
fresh vegetables, fish or chickens we traded c-rats for. and lots of hot sauce.

Posted by: glen on June 4, 2010 05:55 PM
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