Sunday, May 10, 2009

I could go on but,, it would bore the livin shit outa most of you,,,

33 years ago today I got off a plane in san deigo and immediately had drill instructors yelling at me,, in the airport fercrissakes! This was the start of my tour in the U.S. Navy.
On Thursday, me and a buddy signed up. On Monday morning we were in boot camp! Do I need to reassure you that it was a wild weekend?
I was on the fast track to trouble back then. It was basically either the military or jail for me and I knew it. Military sounded a tad bit better than jail.
Boot camp in S.D., boiler school in Great Lakes Ill. Firefighting school back in S.D. then off to my first ship the U.S.S Lockwood DE1064 a destroyer escort home ported in Yokosuka Japan.(right in the middle there)

19 years old, in Japan, receiving a paycheck!
On that ship, I managed to vist 17 countries, crossed the equator twice (double shellback), went to ‘Captains Mast’ twice, (ship-board court so to speak, for when you fuck up.) and was qualified as a Fireroom Supervisor by the time I was transferred as a Petty Officer Third Class.
One interesting detail was when we were ‘scrambled’ to an area near Guam to shadow 3 Russian ships. One Kashin class cruiser, and 2 Kirin class guided missile destroyers. Those three ships and us.
We were just to follow them around I guess but we had onboard some Navy Photographers with some impressive gear! (They left their darkroom setup when they left and me and another guy took advantage of it.)
We got close enough that we could yell at each other. Mostly fun shit from both ships tho. But them commie bastards mooned our helo!
I was transferred to the U.S.S. Meyerkord DE 1058 and met the ship in dry-dock at Swan Island Oregon.

Once completing ‘sea trials’, we were sent on a Recruiting cruise up the coast stopping at tiny ports like Belingham Washington, Port Townsend, Everit, campaigning the high schools for recruits.
Then after a short stay back in San Deigo, we were sent back to the sea of Japan.
We stopped I Hawaii before heading on to Guam.
By this time I was due to be discharged and sent back home. I was now a Petty Officer Second Class.
I was flown from Guam back to Travis air base where I found out another buddy was across the bay at Treasure Island. I made the Navy an offer they couldn’t refuse and they discharged me at Treasure Island instead of San Diego.
I laid up drunk there for a week or more before I returned to Denver.

Boiler Technicians had the worst jobs on any ship. The longest hours, worst conditions, 100+ temps in the noisey, oily boiler rooms. Always short staffed having to stand “port and Starboard” watches out to sea. That’s 6 hours on, 6 hours off round the clock for weeks if not months.

If someone got into trouble and was awarded ‘extra duty’ as a punishment, they sent them to the boiler room to spend time with us. True story!
One story stands out while on board the Meyerkord.
The USS Sterrit just returned from an extended tour of the Indian ocean back when the Shaw of Iran was fucking round. They docked in S.D. and rotated a lot of the crew off to new duties. The Sterrit was going into dry-dock and needed to off-load ammo up at Long Beach. They didn’t have enough qualified fireroom supervisors to steam up the coast, so they scoured the other ships for a loaner.
Me, being the only un-married supervisor was chosen. Pack your shit and report to the Sterrit. Fuck,, I had leave approved for that week.
The Sterrit being a completely different class cruiser, I had zero experience with their fireroom.
Once again,, 6 on and 6 off.
They did have a nice dependants cruise with a BBQ on deack. Picked up a bunch of wives and they spent a day with us. Someone should have told them not to wear dresses as it gave us quite a show as they went up and down the ladders!
Then we had a burial at sea. Some retired Marine got sent to Davey Jones locker.
I’m sitting in the fireroom under a vent, and when the slip him over the side they would play TAPS over the 1mc (ships speaker system). All the sudden my entire watch crew hauled ass out of the fireroom leaving me alone and somewhat concerned. Oh fuck,, nothing better go wrong now!
Soon they all came back laughing and shit. Turns out, they all ran to the after shitter and took a piss and flushed! So much for respect for the retired Marine!
But,, back on the Meyerkord, they must have felt sorry for me as I was awarded “Sailor of the Quarter”.
Choice of seat at the nightly movie, head of the line chow privileges, (both for the entire 3 months) 5 days free leave, and a parking spot at whatever pier we were docked at,, but I had no car.

That last photo is the USS Lockwood being scrapped. That's 1A boiler being removed.
The Meyerkord was sold to Tiwan and i believe is still in service.

The Navy set me straight, as much as I could be straightened and I recommend it to this day to any young person.

I am off now to continue with the time honored tradition of drinking beer.

But I will not get drunk.
But if I get drunk, I will not stagger.
But if I stagger, I will not fall.
But if I fall, I will fall in a manner respectful of the U.S Navy Boiler Technician trade.


sandy a said...

that was a cool walk through memory lane! I did notice you have the same smart-aleck look on your face back then that you do now!

Sue said...

Thanks, Barn. Sandy is right, it was definitely easy to pick you out in those old pix. I was living in Bellingham the time you must have been there.

Carole said...

You went to boot camp in South Dakota?

Jesser said...

BTs never showered!
Fortunately they had their own sleeping quarters...