Sometime in January 1982 I somehow managed to get sent off to the Sinai Peninsula and subsequently learned that I have a really strong dislike of the color terracotta, especially when used in conjunction or as a color for a beret, "Ranger" patrol cap or bush hat....although I have to admit that I have always rather preferred to wear a bush hat or patrol cap.....but not in terracotta.
I managed to swing some leave after my six months was up and my friend Dean (who was doing some time TDY or something at Aviano Air Base, in Italy) wanted to meet up and see another High School friend of ours who was in the Navy and due to pull into Naples Italy, so I figured why not and away I went off to Italy.
Dean met me at yhe airport in Rome (and that's another story), then then a few days later we took the train down to Naples to wait for Rick's ship to pull in and we managed to grab a room at Naval Support Activity Naples temp lodging facility.
So we managed to get in touch with Rick, figure out his duty schedule, the Navy has some interesting ideas......duty section on, while one stands by and the other two party like the world's coming to an end.....
On Rick's last night in port, it was an all out drunk fest, in fact we even went down to the Castle (an actual castle with a moat) and checked out the interesting people working in the drained moat. Not my cup of tea, but still, when a Navy Chief tells you not to go there, well you just got to go see what all the hoopla is all about.
Back to the story.........we end up having to drag Rick back to the dock where the navy liberty boats were picking up and dropping people off, mostly picking up since it was close to midnight and it was all we could do to hold him up, while we waited in line.
Who knew that they had two lines.....one for enlisted and one for officers.......probably a sailor, but it seems we were standing in the wrong line, so we had to go over to another line....a much longer line but at least we got to watch the show.
A group of naval officers came staggering up and one of them was really, really, really drunk and loud......at some point in his loud drunken rant he decides that since there is no Liberty launch there to pick them up he was going to swim back to the ship. Now, I'm thinking this is not going to end well.....the ship (an Aircraft carrier) is way......the heck out there....I mean I can barely make out the rigging lights, so it has to be a few miles out in rough water.
Sure enough the next thing we knew over the side he goes, I'm fairly sure he thought or imagined it was going to be a perfect dive, but it turned out to be more of a really nice belly flop.
Dean: Deke....did that guy just jump into the harbor?
Me: Looks that way to me.
Dean: Cool......want to go watch?
Me: What about Rick?
Dean: Leave him on the bench, but put him face down incase he pukes.
Me: Okay....wait up.
So we end up standing on the dock, watching this drunk officer try to swim towards the open ocean, after bumping into the side of someone's boat he finally gets his bearings or lucks into the right direction towards open water as a liberty launch motors up to let off some officers.
Now I will admit that I joined into the ongoing chant to help lend encouragement to the guy planning on swimming out to sea, especially after the liberty launch kept getting in his way. Although Swim! Swim! Swim! was not really inspiring in my book.
He kept trying to dive under the liberty launch, but well it was more like his ass was floating on top of the water as his upper body tried to go under the water.....funnier than hell.....cause his head would pop back up and he would paddle around and then try to dive again and fail.
The enlisted guys on the launch kept trying to talk him into the boat and managed to pin him in between the dock, the shore and a boat that was anchored there......but he kept swimming around in circles and trying to dive.
I think his bow plane was damaged, because he never managed to dive...more like a face down float.
Now there is a huge crowd of sailors (mostly officers) standing around yelling....some wanted him to go for it, others wanted him to get in the launch, I just stood there thinking wow....big difference in officer material between the Army and the Navy.......Officers in the Army would have been booted for something like this....you know all that West Point crap.....at the very least they would have kept the enlisted way away from it.
Eventually I hear a sober officer yelling at some Marine......
Seems he was under the mis-impression that I was in the Corp.....must have been my military bearing and haircut.....
Me: Who me?
Naval Officer: Yes you....I want you to jump in there and subdue him.
Me: Excuse me?
NO: I said jump in there and grab him.
Me: I said No.....in fact Hell no.....that water is nasty as shit and there is no way in hell that I'm getting into that shit.
The water in the harbor was so nasty dead shit floated in it.......garbage, dead rats, cats, dogs (possibly people), shit, piss and only the good Lord knows what else was in there......I'd heard it was like Shit River in the PI. Once you go in, you go directly to the hospital and there you stay for at least a month or more. Getting all kinds of fluids pumped in and out as well as every shot known to man and some that they make up on the spot.
NO: Listen here Marine, I'm giving you a lawful order......
Me: With absolutel no respect you can kiss my farking ass.....I'm not a Marine and even if I was there is no way in hell I'd go in after some drunk assed officer. If you want him out so bad, grab your balls and go in after him.
NO: Looks over at Dean and says...Sailor....
Dean: I ain't no squid and don't even bother asking.....I don't get paid enough to go into shit like that......
The Navy officer gives us a nasty look then up and yells over to one of the Navy launch operators, he tries to get him to jump in.......that did not happen either.
But the Sailor did manage to get in the launch and grabbed a really long pole and then knocked the living shit out of the officer until he was actually floating face down in the harbor.....at this point I figured he was dead in the water.....or at least breathing water casue he was not attempting to dive or swim away.
They hooked him with a gaff and pulled him to the launch, then pulled him up into the launch then took off towards the Aircraft carrier (at least I believe they did, the launch went out to sea).
Show over and we head back to get Rick.......who is now covered in vomit.....although still breathing.
So we drag him up to the next enlisted launch and try to hand him over to the guys operating the launch.
That was a No Go.....they told us to put him on the launch, so as we were getting him settled in the launch takes off.
Me: Dean.....does the Navy still shanghai people?
Dean: I don't think so.....but I hear the food is pretty good.
Me: You heard that from me.....dick head..........
Dean: So I did......oh well, maybe we can just drop him on the dock and get a ride back.
Me: Or not.....
So we had a nice 30 minute or so ride out to the ship........then they pull up to some kind of floating dock.
Dean: Wow I thought we might have to go up a Jacob's Ladder..........now that's a real let down......
I should point out that Dean was a Pararescueman in the Air Force and liked to hang off ropes and stuff.
Me: Really.....a farking Jacob's ladder? No farking way would these drunken squids getting up a Jacob's ladder......more like they need a farking elevator....maybe an escalator.Truth be told I was thinking maybe it was one of those rope nets they used in WWII....now that would have been interesting.
So we ask the coxswain or cox (okay maybe I pronounced it Cockswain or Cocks) what we were supposed to do with Rick, he told us to take him up the ladder. So we grabbed him and up we went. Must be a Navy thing.....they like to give you nasty looks when you attempt to point out that you are not in the Navy and that you might possibly not really be authorized to be there.
Now this is not something covered in 11B AIT but it seems that you cannot just walk on and off a ship as you would enter and leave your barracks. You must follow certain Navy type procedures.
We get closer to the top of the gangway, we can see the sailors doing a little facing movement and throwing out a salute towards the rear of the ship and as we get closer I see an officer standing there with a brassard that has the letters OOD on it and hear them asking for permission to come aboard. (I'm thinking Officer Of the Day, but it seems it stands for Officer Of the Deck)
For those of you that do not know it is supposed to go something like this: You halt at the gangway, face aft, and salute the ensign. You then turn to the OOD and salute. If you are returning to your own ship, you say, “I request permission to come aboard, sir/ma’am.”The OOD returns both salutes and says, “Come aboard”. I guess if you are trying to get onto someone else's ship there is a whole different thing that goes on......Who knew? Certainly not an Army NCO and an Air Force NCO.
I'd like to think that I managed to pull off a passable salute as well as one towards the OOD and managed to mumble out the request to come aboard, Sir.
Dean: Sir, we need to.....
OOD: Keep moving sailor, you're clogging up the gangway.......
OOD: Move out or I'll see you at Captain's Mast.
At the time I was guessing Captain's Mast dealt with Article 15's or Office Hours.....found out later I was right.
Dean: Yes Sir.
OOD: That's Aye, Aye, Sir!
Dean and me: Aye, Aye, SIR!! and away we went. I am not real sure how long we wandered around that huge assed ship, all we knew was that Rick was an AK4 and worked with Airplanes. But we finally found the section of the ship that the Airdales (it was a fun learning experience....lots of new words and sayings, although a little painful.....never ever step up when going through a hatch.......) bunked in. Once we found them, we managed to get directions to his berthing compartment (sleeping quarters) we then managed to get him to his bunk (we left him in his puke covered clothes) and then started to look for the way off the darn ship. I did ask a Petty Officer if that was Berthing with an "e" or Birthing with an "i".....
I was betting they would set sail before we could figure out where the heck it was that we got on.....but we did manage to make our way back, and grab some chow at the main mess hall as well as the one up front where they served burgers.
I do like Bug Juice......
Getting off was not was easy as getting on......the Navy (and the Marines) were not happy that we did not have the proper passes and then for some reason they were really unhappy that we were not even in the Navy.
Eventually they let us go........but the Master Chief petty officer (Boatswain's mate, I liked the little whistle) that showed up, not in a good mood, decided that it might just be a good idea not to rock the boat so to speak and away we went. Although I am not sure he liked the term we were shanghaied.....the guys on the Liberty launch that took us back did not look real happy to have us on board (we were the only ones on the Liberty launch other than the crew and a couple of Marines in uniform with weapons) it was a long quiet ride back.
Last edited by Laager
on Wed May 16, 2012 11:51 pm, edited 4 times in total.
“Complacency kills. Paranoia is the reason I’m still alive.” If we do happen to make contact, I expect nothing less than gratuitous violence from the lot of ya.