USS Sea Cat SS-399
Reunions History Sailing List Photos Ships Store Home Guestbook Taps

Sea Stories and Other Stuff

Our thanks go out to Calvin “Frank the Crank” Mencken for preserving this newspaper article". 
 

This is a retyped article of the 1966 article in the Key West newspaper.  

Seacat Comes Home 

The USS Seacat tied up at pier 3 at the Naval Station at 1:00 p.m. yesterday, as scheduled, after an absence of almost four months.
The Key West based submarine was met by a cheering, hand-waving, crowd of happy wives and children, gaily dressed in yellow and Junkanoos band playing and singing “Yellow Bird”.
The “Yellow Bird” theme has become a tradition with the Seacat since a visit to Ocho Rios, Jamaica several years ago.

Local people serenaded the ship at its departure and crew members felt they should reciprocate with a song of their own. The only number the majority of them knew was “Yellow Bird” and this is what they sang.
The Seacat now has a special Yellow bird flag and as she came into the harbor it was flying from a periscope. Officers and crew lining the deck wore yellow baseball caps and crew members’ families sported yellow raiment in observance of the legend. 

Lt. Cmdr. G.D. Ellis, Jr., and his officers and men wore broad grins of pleasure at returning home after more than 18,000 miles of steaming while attached to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Foreign travel is interesting, they said, but it’s mighty good to be home!

 


This is the photo that accompanied the above article - This is the best we could do with the newspaper photo but hopefully it will bring back memories to those that were there.
 

 

This is a retyped article of the 1968 “Meow News” Pages 6, 7 and 10.

(Courtesy of “Frank the Crank” Mencken)

 

Page Six 

The Creighton Progressive Award 

As an incentive to our dinky non-quals an award has been proposed to inspire them to greatly achievements. Fittingly called “The Creighton Progressive Award”, It will have the appearance of an 8 x 16 inch cinder block with a suitable brass name plaque screwed on to register the name of lucky recipient. Awards will be made to each non-qual who succeeds in getting more than six weeks behind. Winners will have the privilege of displaying there awards on their bunks. A consolation award to runner-ups is being considered to be known as the “Jack Hensley I-lost-my-Book Award”. It will consist of what appears to be a pair of dirty dungarees tied to a long handle screw driver. 

Editorial

 

During the past five good will visits to San Juan by the sea, the lovable Sea Cat has established a remarkable, lasting impression on the islands lovely young fille de fores; particularly of the Club Rivera, Old City Bar social set. Competition among our top lovers was heated and close in their quest for the favors of the shy cultured maidens who plied their modest trade and sold records of endurance were shattered and greatly surprised. Some of our top performers really gave their all both in energy and finances to insure that they’d leave San Juan a much richer place than they’d found it. 

There was one noticeable thing we could improve on however in our social conduct ashore, when and if we return later in the summer. Just a simple gentlemanly gesture that certainly would not go un-noticed. The enthusiasm greeting the returning hero back to the club after a speedy sojourn to the Hotel Royal to do his act has been impressive. The applause, the congratulations, the round of drinks bought, etc, were all well and good for the lover’s ego, but there has been little or no recognition for the lovely young thing who made the moment of joy possible. 

Now it’s not the easiest job in the world trying to demurely can some sot out of fifteen dollars when his alcohol sodden brain is wandering all over creation and especially when he has to borrow the money on three pay days in the future; and there is the painstaking ordeal of trying to please the half hammered slob who usually forgets what it was he wanted to do in the first place once he decides to what he forgot. 

Next time if we first give the little lady a bit of applause or some little meaningful recognition it would improve our good sportsman image, over public relations and maybe even reduce the gold out flow to say 8 and 5 for a quick trick.

 

Page Seven

Springboard 1968 – Infamous Quotes 

 

  1. We can hack it!
  2. Other than that, how were the operations!
  3. This morning we have in commission!
  4. These fish are set not to hit.
  5. Where are the stern planes now?
  6. Your stills are simplest machines onboard.
  7. Don’t let go of the bar, we may fall off the world.
  8. This RIVERIA sure beats the Med!
  9. I am so a LT(jg)!
  10. He’s the only guy I know who had to have penicillin for frost bite.
  11. Get off my stabilizer and find yourself another movie screen!
  12. She has the personality of a wet bed sheet.
  13. I think she works on TV, “Lost in Face”.
  14. Now when I was on Ronquil---- .
  15. I said dance – what do you mean ten and 5?
  16. 58 feet, head valve shut.
  17. Has anyone seen my ID card?
  18. Sir, can the restricted men go to the dungarees bar?
  19. She looks like a tooth pick with most of the wood gone.
  20. Be advised your unit attacked nymph.
  21. Last one in’s a NUKE.
  22. What time is it? I’ve got to go catch a fish.
  23. When I get a cold sore – we always go back.
  24. I regret to inform you the stills are still.
  25. There’s an engineman stuck in a what?
  26. Charge batteries and air, collect condensate.
  27. That can’t possibly turn!
  28. Arkie McGuire.
  29. How many units do you have in the water??
  30. Wanna see the flick, Capn?
  31. A NUKE is a guy who they won’t let go to sea as an Ensign.
  32. Advise harbor control, it’s been over 24 hours since we’ve shifted berths.
  33. Let’s go over and have just one, then come back.
  34. Who needs stern planes?
  35. We expect to be alongside all weekend.
  36. Let’s have ham for a change.

Guess who has orders to Moscow…???

 

Page Ten 

Sad News 

An undertaker’s hearse, returning from a funeral was stranded on Washington, DC’s Capital beltway. The driver had managed to pull off the road and used a nearby call box to summon aid.

A few minutes later a mechanic arrived. He raised the hood and inspected the engine. Then he turned to the undertaker, folded his hands and bowed his head.

“I’m sorry to tell you,” he intoned solemnly, “that your battery has just passed away”. 

Can you Image

 

  1. The XO and Mr. Pendleton with Beatle haircuts.
  2. TEX married to a gal with a PHD!
  3. Mencken wearing skivvies!
  4. Sea Cat making water.
  5. Manley with a clean T-shirt!
  6. Thomas with a good conduct medal.
  7. Lt Vallance as a C.O.
  8. BANIQUED shaving!
  9. Gus as an instructor at IC “B” school with Bright as a student!
  10. A Transfer.

 

 

Just beyond the bridges
Key West is the spot
Where there’s sun and water
That even God Forgot. 

Us on the submarine Sea Cat
Us gallant boys in the blue
Out here on the water
We’re thinking dear of you. 

In the smoke and heat we work
Eating bread and stew
We’re not classified as criminals
But as defenders of you. 

Steaming along at 150
Earning our measly pay
Guarding others millions
At a back and half a day. 

Here’s a hint for you draft dodgers
From us take this que
Don’t enlist or burn you draft card
Just let the draft get you. 

So do your two years happily
Pounding your feet in the sand
They’ll think you’re all heroes
And for you they’ll have a band. 

But when we reach those Pearly gates
We’ll hear St. Peter yell
Come in you Sea Cat Sailors
You’ve spent your time in Hell. 

Snorkel Snake

 

 

Sea Stories by Gil Frydell

Number Three Periscope
by Gil Frydell, USS Sea Cat, SS-399

The USS SEA CAT(SS399) spent most of her resting hours in Key West during the years I was assigned to help keep her effectively operational. Of course, most of our training time was spent in the waters not far from the island many of us knew as North Cuba. After all, Key West is closer to Cuba than to the real mainland of Florida. Climaxing a Zundapp motorcycle ride from NLON via my Ohio home to Key West, I reported for duty during the summer of 1958. That southbound jaunt was quite a story in itself, as I carried a full seabag and more on the little 2OOcc two-stroke machine. Although this fourth duty assignment was but a stepping stone toward my eventual nuclear submarine duty, my time aboard the SS399 was probably the most meaningful part of my naval career. This ET completed sub school in New London directly after finishing Electronics Technician Class "A" school at Great Lakes.

I expected to find myself working on electronic equipment right away, but I soon found out that further training was going to be required before that would be likely. I learned how to operate the GDU long before I knew the distance between torpedo tubes 6 and 7 was more than a couple feet. I must admit it was quite a while before I got my sea legs and really bit into working toward getting my dolphins. Nonetheless, I did eventually make it to that point.

I don't remember just when this event transpired, but I believe it was during the period while I was still trying to get qualified, for I am sure I was on the helm during much of the activities that day. That day? Just what is it we're talking about, anyway? Just what was so special about that day?

Well, among the events of that day was the fact that the Base Commanding Officer's wife chose that day to take her ride in a U.S. submarine. That day was to find us playing Sea Cat and Mouse with one or two surface ships. I don't know which ships they were or whether they were Navy or Coast Guard types, but you remember what some of those skimmers were like during your boat's games. That day was also the culmination of some somewhat covert activities of a nameless (even if I knew their names) group of submarine sailors.

The aforementioned covert activities took place over an unknown period of perhaps but a few days. I think the whole operation (concept, design, manufacture, and rigging) might have been performed while we were in Gitmo. If that were the true case, the work was really top notch for so short a time. After all, how long should it take to make an accurate full size replica of the top ten feet or so of a periscope? Don’t forget to figure in the time to work out the launching method without any opportunities to experiment. Someone might have considered trying to get the skipper to take the boat out for a short jaunt to make a couple practice dives so they could know their launching method would be foolproof. Actually, I kinda think good ole Captain J.J. just might have been willing to help with that task -- unofficially, of course.

It really could have been that the whole scheme was born back at our home port. Maybe somebody started carving the stick a year before that day. I didn't know about things like that -- at least I did not know on that day.

It seems the #3 Scope launching setup was already rigged before we got word the Admiral's wife had picked that day for her venture into the undersea world. The idea of her checking out the conditions inside a giant pipe bobbing around under the briny really wasn't something any of the crew had been looking forward to, of course, but we knew it would be happening soon, nonetheless.

Quite some time after entering our operation area, we commenced to let the surface skimmers try to find Sea Cat with their PDCs. I'm not sure, but I think they might have found us after another day or so. You see, our diving officers didn't always rely on such things as the sinuous course clock. I recall many times when I was told to steer my own course, and who knows what a 22-year-old ETRSN might want to do with "his" submarine. Oh, I was warned in plenty of time if I got too close to the edge of our assigned area. Sea Cat had a really good crew any day, but on that day, our boat was really special.

After a moderate period of feeble attempts to dunk us for good, we made it certain they could see us, and after they were headed our way, we proceeded to release good old #3 Periscope. The model was rigged to release after #2 periscope was extended a certain approximate number of feet.

As accurate a plot as possible was kept so we might be able to retrieve the unit prior to returning to the ammunition pier (where visiting submarines berthed at Gitmo in those days) for the night.

One thing we certainly could not have predicted, however, was that on that day, two separate Navy pilots saw an unidentified submarine very close to the base. I never learned just where this "other" sub was supposed to have been spotted. I also don't know whether an actual submarine had been seen -- or if it might have just been a periscope that brought about the forthcoming orders to the Navy vessels there in Guantanamo Bay that day. At any rate, there was an order issued for all U.S. submarines (I think there was only one other boat at Gitmo at that time.) to return directly to port. If I'm not mistaken, all ships but those heavies at anchor were sent to search the area -- to try to find the Russian (?) submarine. Could either of those Navy pilot sightings have involved a certain experimental effort arranged by some actively naughty U.S. submarine sailors?

Because we were ordered to return to port, we couldn't try to find the scope while en route home. I guess our guest’s presence made the possibility even more difficult, too. Well, if we could have planned this whole episode as an attempt to get a chance to spend the afternoon lounging aboard our private theater barge back at the ammunition pier while a whole bunch of surface sailors were running all over the waves trying to find a ten-foot-long chunk of wood, I would say we did a pretty good job. We submariners always have been specialists at getting things done our way.

I have often wondered whether Sea Cat's #3 Periscope was ever found -- and if so, just where, when, and by whom. I asked a certain sailor serving at Gitmo about three decades later if he could dig up any scoop about this incident, but he was unable to come up any information at all ... and I'm sure if there were any scuttlebutt about it, his sources would have brought it to the surface.

My hope is that this might become enjoyable reading for some folks who might never have seen the interior of a diesel submarine except on paper -- and for some guys who really have some similar memories of their days aboard those best-in-the-business submarines.

(c) Gil Frydell 1998

 

Down Ladder !
by Gil Frydell, USS Sea Cat, SS-399

Of course, we submariners all remember the routine of yelling "Down ladder!" before climbing or sliding down the ladder from conn to control or to or from somewhere else. That warning -- after you had verified the course was clear -- gave you the right of way. It probably didn’t take any of us long to absorb such things into our systems so we knew what to do for certain specific situations.

If you weren’t mindful of the rules, you could have found yourself almost all the way down the ladder into the after battery from topside just as one of the mess cooks swung a wet swab your way. Or you might find yourself stepping into a bucket of some oily mess one of the enginemen was about to haul up topside. I’m sure some such things had occurred on the U.S.S. Sea Cat (SS399), a fleet snorkel submarine based in Key West, Florida.

Also, it is noteworthy to let non-dolphin wearers realize that the world of submarining is really the tight fit camaraderie of men of different ages and backgrounds. Our skipper, Cdr. J.J. Kelley, was of course the skipper, a well-engineered and educated man capable of leading our combined forces through the undersea realm, effectively fighting any declared enemy of our country. He was also a good friend, who – for instance – regularly joined together with some of the crew at the local hot rod club. A year after I would later leave the Sea Cat, he again proved to be a loyal guardian of maintenance of the integrity of my personal offering to the Navy in a way certainly far above any normal expectation. All in all, virtually every submarine commanding officer aligns with his crew: not just above the men.

This Sea Cat sailor was about to move down into the control room from the conning tower one day while we were underway. I peered down intently into control for a few seconds to be sure the way was clear. Then I yelled the commanding phrase, "Down ladder!" as I planted my shoes on the edge of the ladder and slid straight down . . . till I was sitting directly on the Captain’s head!

The skipper happened to be sitting on the stool affixed to the aft port leg of the control room table directly over the compass, and as the boat rolled one way, his stool swung over till he was directly beneath me. I climbed up a mite, then I continued down into the control room. The Captain’s eyes met mine directly, and he calmly said to me, "Frydell, I’ll bet that’s the farthest you’ve had the Captain’s head up your ass since you’ve been on the boat!"

After we both snickered a mite, I continued on to my intended destination, thinking to myself, "Boy, I sure am glad I’m not on a tin can! I’d probably be on report now."

Ó Gil Frydell

 

 

Sea Stories from the Internet

Are you true Navy Blue and Gold?

Me and Willy were lollygagging by the scuttlebutt after being aloft to boy-butter up the antennas and were just perched on a bollard eyeballing a couple of bilge rats and flangeheads using crescent hammers to pack monkey sh*t around a fitting on a handybilly.

All of a sudden the dicksmith started hard-assing one of the deck apes for lifting his pogey bait. The pecker-checker was a sewer pipe sailor and the deckape was a gator. Maybe being black shoes on a bird farm surrounded by a gaggle of cans didn't set right with either of those gobs.

The deck ape ran through the nearest hatch and dogged it tight because he knew the penis machinist was going to lay below, catch him between decks and punch him in the snot locker. He'd probably wind up on the binnacle list but Doc would find a way to gundeck the paper or give it the deep six to keep himself above board.

We heard the skivvywaver announce over the bitch box that the breadburners had creamed foreskins on toast and SOS ready on the mess decks, so we cut and run to avoid the clusterf**k when the twidgets and cannon cockers knew chow was on.

We were balls to the wall for the barn and everyone was preparing to hit the beach as soon as we doubled-up and threw the brow over. I had a ditty bag full of fufu juice that I was gonna spread on thick for the bar hogs with those sweet bosnias. Sure beats the hell out of brown bagging. Might even hit the Acey-Deucy club and try to hook up with a WESTPAC widow. They were always leaving snail trails on the dance floor on amateur night.

If you understand this, you're true Blue and Gold!

 

 Now, For you Land Lubbers OR those of you who may have forgotten . .

lollygagging------goofing off
 scuttlebutt-------drinking fountain

 aloft-------------up in the superstructure of a ship
 boy butter--------light tan grease or silicone grease - for antennas and masts.

 bollard-----------metal mushroom on a pier or deck to secure mooring lines.
 bilge rats--------Engineering ratings

 flangeheads-------Enginemen
 crescent hammers--Cresent wrenches

 handybilly--------P500 submersible pump
 dicksmith---------Hospital Corpsman

 hard-assing-------Giving someone a hard time verbally
 deck ape----------Personnel assigned to the deck gang, usually Boatswain Mates

 pogey bait--------any sweet stuff like candy, etc....(bought in the ge-dunk)
 ge-dunk-----------ships store, place to buy pogey bait

 sewer pipe--------submarine
 gator-------------Ships of the amphibious force

 blackshoes--------Non-aviation ratings
 bird farm---------Aircraft Carrier

 cans--------------Destroyers
 gobs--------------sailors

 hatch-------------doors, entrances through a bulkhead
 bulkhead----------wall

 dogged it---------activate a handle that puts the locks into place
 penis machinist---Hospital Corpsman

 lay below---------to go to a lower level of the ship...below the weather decks
 snot locker-------nose

 binnacle list-----Medical department list of personnel in a no duty or light duty status
 Gundeck-----------to falsify a record

 deep six----------to throw overboard
 skivvywavers------Signalmen

 breadburners------cooks [or stewburners or gut-robbers]
 clusterfuck-------self-explanatory [Chinese fire drill, to those less PC]

 twidgets----------men who work in electronics fields
 cannon cockers----Gunnersmates

 balls to the wall ---full speed ahead
 barn--------------home port

 hit the beach-----go on liberty
 doubled up--------moored securely to the pier

 brow--------------walkway from ship to shore
 ditty bag---------small canvas bag issued by sailors to keep incidentals in

 fufu juice--------cologne
 bar hogs----------young/old ladies who frequent sailor bars

 bosnias-----------Big old standard navy issue asses
 brown bagging-----refers to married sailors who live off the ship while in

 port and bring lunch in a brown bag
 acey-duecy club---Club for E5s and E6s (1st and 2nd class Petty Officers)

 westpac widow-----women whose husbands are at sea
 amateur night-----payday night

 

 

The Submariner
Reprinted from the Submarine Squadron Four Decommissioning booklet.

Only a submariner realizes to what great extent an entire ship depends on him as an individual. To a landman this is not understandable, and sometimes it is even difficult for us to comprehend, but it is so!

A submarine at sea is a different world in herself, and in consideration of the protracted and distant operations of submarines, the Navy must place responsibility and trust in the hands of those who take such trips to sea.

In each submarine there are men who, in the hour of emergency or peril at sea, can turn to each other. The men are ultimately responsible to themselves and each other for all aspects of operation of their submarine. They are the crew. They are the ship.

This is perhaps the most difficult and demanding assignment in the Navy. There is not an instant during his tour as a submariner that he can escape the grasp of responsibility. His privileges in view of his obligations are almost ludicrously small, nevertheless, it is the spur which has given the Navy its greatest mariners - the men of the Submarine Service.

It is a duty which most richly deserves the proud and time-honored title of....
Submariner.


 

 

The Submariner
COMSUBLANT ARTICLE
 

Only a submariner realizes to what great extent and entire ship depends on him
as an individual. To a landsman this is not understandable, and sometimes it is

even difficult for us to comprehend, but it is so!
A submarine at sea is a different world in herself, and in consideration of the

protracted and distant operations of submarines, the Navy must place
responsibility and trust in the hands of those who take ships to sea.

In each submarine there are men who, in the hour of emergency or peril at sea,
can turn to each other. These men are ultimately responsible to themselves and

each to the other for all aspects of operation of their submarine. They are the
crew. They are the ship.

This is perhaps the most difficult and demanding assignment in the Navy. There
is not an instant during his tour as a submariner that he can escape the grasp

of responsibility. His privileges in view of his obligations are almost
ludicrously small, nevertheless, it is the spur which has given the Navy its

greatest mariners - the men of the Submarine Service.

 

 

"Eternal Father, Strong to Save": The Navy Hymn

The song known to United States Navy men and women as the "Navy Hymn," is a musical benediction that long has had a special appeal to seafaring men, particularly in the American Navy and the Royal Navies of the British Commonwealth and which, in more recent years, has become a part of French naval tradition.

The original words were written as a hymn by a schoolmaster and clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. William Whiting. Rev. Whiting (1825-1878) resided on the English coast near the sea and had once survived a furious storm in the Mediterranean. His experiences inspired him to pen the ode, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." In the following year, 1861, the words were adapted to music by another English clergyman, the Rev. John B. Dykes (1823-1876) , who had originally written the music as "Melita" (ancient name for the Mediterranean island of Malta). Rev. Dykes' name may be recognized as that of the composer given credit for the music to many other well-known hymns, including "Holy, Holy, Holy," "Lead, Kindly Light," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and "Nearer, My God to Thee."

In the United States, in 1879 the late Rear Adm. Charles Jackson Train, an 1865 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis was a lieutenant commander stationed at the Academy in charge of the Midshipman Choir. In that year, Lt. Comdr. Train inaugurated the present practice of concluding each Sunday's Divine Services at the Academy with the singing of the first verse of this hymn.

The hymn, entitled "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," is found in most Protestant Hymnals. It can be more easily located in these hymnals by consulting the "Index to First Lines" under "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." The words have been changed several times since the original hymn by Rev. Whiting was first published in 1860-61. One will find that the verses as now published differ from the original primarily in the choice of one or two words in several lines of each verse. However, inasmuch as it is not known whether the original words are now available in a hymnal, those original words are given below:

Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid'st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked'st on the foaming deep,
and calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee,
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

It will be noted that in the Hymnal (1940) of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the second and third verses of the hymn are different from those second and third verses published elsewhere. These substitutions give recognition to changing aspects of our culture, particularly the advent of additional modes of transportation -- the automobile and the airplane. The Episcopal second and third verses are:

O Christ, the Lord of hill and plain
O'er which our traffic runs amain,
by mountain pass or valley low,
Wherever Lord thy brethren go;
Protect them by Thy guardian hand
From every peril on the land.

O Spirit, Whom the Father send
To spread abroad the Firmament;
O wind of heaven, by Thy Might,
Save all who dare the eagle's flight;
And keep them by Thy watchful care
From every peril in the air.

The Presbyterian Church, USA, likewise has added a new verse which recognizes the advent of the field of aviation. The best information available indicates that this new verse to "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" appeared in 1943 in a little booklet then entitled, " A book of Worship and Devotion for the Armed Forces," published by the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church, USA. All indications are that this new verse can be traced back to a completely separate hymn, "Lord, Guard and Guide the Men Who Fly," written by Mary C.D. Hamilton in 1915, during the First World War. From this hymn, the first verse and the last two lines to the fourth verse were taken to form this new verse to "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." This new verse, as appearing in the little Presbyterian booklet, is as follows:

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly,
Through the great spaces of the sky;
Be with them traversing the air,
In darkening storms or sunshine fair.
O God, protect the men who fly,
Through lonely ways beneath the sky.

Apparently, during or shortly after World War II, someone in the Navy familiar with the words above adapted this verse for choral rendition. The adaptation changed a word or two here and there and substituted two new fifth and six lines. What some might call the "Naval Aviation version" is a follows:

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces in the sky,
Be with them always in the air,
In dark'ning storms or sunlight fair.
O, Hear us when we lift our prayer,
For those in peril in the air.

This version, together with the original first verse are the verses sung by the men and women of the Navy, particularly those in Naval Aviation.

The tune of "Melita," to which Rev. Dykes adapted the words of "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" in 1861, is, of course, a very moving and inspiring melody. Research indicates that the above additions and alterations to Rev. Whiting's original ode are not the only changes that have been or will be made to the hymn. From time to time, individuals have been and will be inspired to write verses other than those which are indicated in this brief background.

Here are some current alternates:

Eternal Father, grant, we pray
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength, and skill
Their land to serve, thy law fulfill;
Be thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
--J.E. Seim, 1966

Lord, stand beside the men who build
And give them courage, strength, and skill.
O grant them peace of heart and mind,
And comfort loved ones left behind.
Lord, hear our prayer for all Seabees,
Where'er they be on land or sea.
--R.J. Dietrich, 1960

Lord God, our power evermore,
Who arm doth reach the ocean floor,
Dive with our men beneath the sea;
Traverse the depths protectively.
O hear us when we pray, and keep
them safe from peril in the deep.
--David B. Miller, 1965

O God, protect the women who,
in service, faith in thee renew;
O guide devoted hands of skill
And bless their work within thy will;
Inspire their lives that they may be
Examples fair on land and sea.
-- Lines 1-4, Merle E. Strickland, 1972,
and adapted by James D. Shannon, 1973.
Lines 5-6, Beatrice M. Truitt, 1948

Creator, Father, who dost show
Thy splendor in the ice and snow,
Bless those who toil in summer light
And through the cold Antarctic night,
As they thy frozen wonders learn;
Bless those who wait for their return.
-- L.E. Vogel, 1965

Eternal Father, Lord of hosts,
Watch o'er the men who guard our coasts.
Protect them from the raging seas
And give them light and life and peace.
Grant them from thy great throne above
The shield and shelter of thy love.
-- Author and date unknown

Eternal Father, King of birth,
Who didst create the heaven and earth,
And bid the planets and the sun
Their own appointed orbits run;
O hear us when we seek they grace
For those who soar through outer space.
-- J.E. Volonte, 1961

Creator, Father, who first breathed
In us the life that we received,
By power of they breath restore
The ill, and men with wounds of war.
Bless those who give their healing care,
That life and laughter all may share
-- Galen H. Meyer, 1969
Adapted by James D. Shannon, 1970

God, who dost still the restless foam,
Protect the ones we love at home.
Provide that they should always be
By thine own grace both safe and free.
O Father, hear us when we pray
For those we love so far away.
-- Hugh Taylor, date unknown

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly
And those who on the ocean ply;
Be with our troops upon the land,
And all who for their country stand:
Be with these guardians day and night
And may their trust be in they might.
-- author unknown, about 1955

O Father, King of earth and sea,
We dedicate this ship to thee.
In faith we send her on her way;
In faith to thee we humbly pray:
O hear from heaven our sailor's cry
And watch and guard her from on high!
-- Author and date unknown

And when at length her course is run,
Her work for home and country done,
Of all the souls that in her sailed
Let not one life in thee have failed;
But hear from heaven our sailor's cry,
And grant eternal life on high!
-- Author and date unknown

Text extracted from a publication of the Bureau of Naval Personnel

This hymn is often used at funerals for personnel who served in or were associated with the Navy. Eternal Father was the favorite hymn of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was sung at his funeral at Hyde Park, New York in April 1945. Roosevelt had served as Secretary of the Navy. This hymn was also played as President John F. Kennedy's body was carried up the steps of the capitol to lie in state.

-----

Submarine verses of the Navy Hymn

"Bless those who serve beneath the deep,
Through lonely hours their vigil keep.
May peace their mission ever be,
Protect each one we ask of thee.
Bless those at home who wait and pray,
For their return by night and day."

- Rev. Gale Williamson

And David Miller's verse
(See above)

 

 

The Submariner by Dr. Joyce Brothers

 

The tragic loss of the submarine Thresher and 129 men had a special kind of impact on the nation....a special kind of sadness, mixed with universal admiration for the men who choose this type of work.

 

One could not mention the Thresher without observing, in the same breath how utterly final and alone the end is when a ship dies at the bottom of the sea......and what a remarkable specimen of man it must be who accepts such a risk.  Most of us might be moved to conclude, too, that a tragedy of this kind would have a damaging effect on the morale of the other men in the submarine service and tend to discourage future enlistment.  Actually, there is not evidence that this is so.  What is it then that lures men to careers in which they spend so much of their time in cramped quarters, under great psychological stress, with danger lurking all about them?

 

Bond Among Them

Togetherness is an overworked term, but in no other branch of our military service is it given such full meaning as in the so-called "silent service."  In an undersea craft, each man is totally dependent upon the skill of every other man in the crew, not only for top performance but for actual survival.  Each knows that his life depends on the others and because this is so, there is a bond among them that both challenges and comforts them.  All of this gives the submariner a special feeling of pride, because he is indeed a member of an elite corps.  The risks, then, are an inspiration rather than a deterrent.

 

The challenge of masculinity is another factor, which attracts men to serve on submarines.  It certainly is a test of a man's prowess and power to know he can qualify for this highly selective service.  However, it should be emphasized that this desire to prove masculinity is not pathological, as it might be in certain daredevil pursuits, such as driving a motorcycle through a flaming hoop.

 

Emotionally Healthy

There is nothing daredevil's about motivations of the man who decides to dedicate his life to the submarine service.  He does, indeed, take pride in demonstrating that he is quite a man, but he does not do so to practice a form of foolhardy brinkmanship, to see how close he can get to failure and still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.  On the contrary, the aim in the submarine service is to battle danger, to minimize the risk, to take every measure to make certain that safety rather danger, is maintained at all times.  Are the men in the submarine service braver than those in other pursuits where the possibility of sudden tragedy is constant?  The glib answer would be to say they are. It is more accurate, from a psychological point of view, to say they are not necessarily braver, but that they are men who have a little more insight into themselves and their capabilities.  They know themselves a little better than the next man.  This has to be so with men who have a healthy reason to volunteer for a risk.  They are generally a cut healthier emotionally than others of the similar age and background because of their willingness to push themselves a little bit farther and not settle for an easier kind of existence.  We all have tremendous capabilities but are rarely straining at the upper level of what we can do, these men are.  The country can be proud and grateful that so many of its sound, young, eager men care enough about their own stature in life and the welfare of their country to pool their skills and match them collectively against the power of the sea.

 

 

 

A Submariner
(Author Unknown)

    

   Who heard the message and answered the call
  To break away from the old mainstream and live our lives on a submarine.  

  Sub School gave us the chance to pass the test
  To declare that we were The Best of the Best.

  When we left New London with orders in hand
  We all headed out on different courses for distant, faraway lands.

  Some went East coast some went West
  But no matter where you ended up, your first boat's the best.

   You reported on board not knowing what to think
  But now you're known to all as a nub and a dink.

   You learn about Tradition and learn about Pride,
  You learn about Honor and the men who have died,

   You learn about the heritage that's been passed on to you
  Because now you're considered one of the crew.

   You study that boat from bow to stern
  From the conning tower to the bilges, it's your duty to learn

  Where and what makes that boat go, how it operates and in what direction  it flows
  How to charge those batteries and keep them alive or how to rig the boat  for dive

   Draw those systems fore and aft, blow the shitters, Check the draft
  These are duties that you must glean when you live your life on a  submarine

   When you've learned all there is to know about your boat
  You show 'em you know it, by your walk through vote

   You go before the Qual Board, card in hand
  Where they question and grill you to beat the band

   And when you think you can take no more
  They tell you to wait just outside the door.

   For what seems like eons, Time stands still
  And when they call you in, you feel quite ill!

   But they congratulate you for doing so good
  And welcome you into their Brotherhood.

   Right of passage declares that you must drink your "fish".
  And the tacking on process is not something you wish

   But you wear those dolphins on your chest with pride
  Because down deep in your heart, you know you're Qualified.

   It seems like yesterday, it seems like a dream
  That I truly lived on a submarine

   Most Boats are gone, a memory of time
  I wonder what happened to that crew of mine?

   The Old Boats that are left, are all museums
  And even if you rode 'em, you have to pay admission to see 'em.

   So here's to us, those that remember
  Who rode the boats out in all kinds of weather

   To those past, present and even the future
  To those young, hardy lads who still love adventure

   So let's lift our glasses and have a toast
  To the memory of those daring young sailors and their undersea boats.

  A Submariner

 

 

 

WHEN HULL NUMBERS WERE OUR ADDRESSES 
  
 by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong
  
  
 
 After the evening meal, when the messcooks were washing and stacking dishes
and the guys in the duty section were desperately trying to find three more
guys for a card game, I used to climb topside.
 
 We always kept a couple of empty MEK cans tucked in the superstructure. In
the 1950's, empty five-gallon cans were 'topside furniture'.
 
 God designed the E-3 butt to fit the bottom of empty 5 gallon cans. They
could be padded with a folded up foulweather jacket and made comfortable enough
to park your butt on and listen to five or six innings of a ballgame or waste
an hour or so in totally forgettable conversation with the topside watch.
 
 If things got so damn boring and you started to hear your toenails grow or
found yourself watching a spider build a web between your dungaree pant leg and
a line locker lid, you could break suction with the paint can and take a
stroll on the pier, or go steal stuff off the Orion. USS Orion (AS-18).
 
 It was customary to wander down by the dumpsters. The dumpsters served a
purpose similar to waterholes on the Serengeti Plains in
Africa. It was the
location where all the SubRon Six loose animals gathered at sundown.
 
 Every boat's messcooks hauled their garbage buckets out for dumping, to
catch a smoke or two and exchange the verbal bullshit that passed for squadron
news.
 
 "Hey Dago. What the hell happened to Old Tangle Toes?"
 
 "Sumbitch went nuke on us."
 
 "No shit?"
 
 "No shit. Up and went nuke. Bastard tossed his gear on the gahdam George
Washington."
 
 "What the hell is the George Washington? I thought subs were supposed to be
named for fish or denizens of the deep?"
 
 "Not nukes. You can name nukes after guys on folding money. Small town
barbers, the days of the week, animals in commercials or Mexican motorcycle parts."
 
 "Why did he wanna go nuke on us?"
 
 "Said it was a smart career move."
 
 "Somebody musta put him up to it. The sonuvabitch didn't have enough sense
to figure that out for himself."
 
 "I remember when the idiot wuz gonna buy a damn Oldsmobile that came with
payments bigger than his gahdam pay rate."
 
 "Yeah. He'll do great in the nuke navy."
 
 "How's your sister?"
 
 "Pregnant as hell."
 
 "Pregnant. How'n the hell did she get pregnant?"
 
 "Usual way. Girls in Ohio haven't figured out the relationship between Ford
backseat action and childbirth."
 
 "She gonna keep it?"
 
 "I doubt it."
 
 "Anybody here off the Cubera?"
 
 "Yeah, whatcha need?"
 
 "Nuthin', just wanted to know what went on over there this afternoon."
 
 "Some kid was selected for OCS. Knife and Fork School. Good kid. Deserved
it."
 
 It was the nightly gathering of the fraternal order of the SubRon 6 Pier
Rats. Men in faded shirts, soft dungarees and frayed raghats sharing smokes and
swapping bullshit in what would become a lifetime of friendship.
 
 From time to time a shrill Bosun's pipe would sound out on the tender.
 
 "Orion arriving."
 
 Or.
 
 "Orion departing."
 
 Or.
 
 "Change into the uniform of the day."
 
 Changing into the uniform of the day to the men who rode the old smokeboats
in the nests outboard the Orion was simple. You took the Marlboro tucked
behind your right ear and switched it to behind your left ear.
 
 "The Navy mobile canteen truck is on the pier. Attention, the mobile canteen
truck is on the pier."
 
 Ah, the Navy Mobile Canteen Truck. They made hamburger patties that were
tougher than the heel on a lumberjacks's boot. On a hot day, the mayonnaise was
rancid, potato chips went limp and all the candy bars went soft. But the
sonuvabitch was the only game in town. And, when you were an E-3, it was the only
gahdam thing in the United States Navy that came to you, instead of you going to
it.
 
 Standing in line at the roach coach, I saw my first commercial beef jerky.
'Uncle Jack's Genuine Smoky Mountain Beef Jerky'. Did'ja ever see an Egyptian
mummy with the wrapping peeled off? Looks just like Uncle Jack's Jerky. Two
cellophane packs of King Tut hide would get you through a four hour topside
watch. A little fact you missed if you went to the Naval Academy. Guys off the
Argonaut called 'em Navajo Knee Scabs.
 
 The roach coach had bald tires. Never understood that. Damn Navy was buying
great big monster ships at ten gazillion bucks a pop and the damn geedunk
wagon was hauling stuff on baloney skin tires. Later I figured out why.
 
 No guys wearing heavy duty shoulder boards were ever out there pushing and
shoving in line, yelling,
 
 "Hey Horsefly, you gonna take all damn day?"
 
 "Hey dumbass, when you order a gahdam cheeseburger you don't have to say.
'That's with cheese', you idiot."
 
 Yep, never heard that Second Class, whatever he was, yell,
 
 "Admiral wants a Doctor Death Special with fries and a Yoo-Hoo."
 
 Naw, it was just raghats with salt stained armpits in any line I was ever in
on pier 22. Most of us were driving bald tires on our cars so the roach coach
just fit right in.
 
 Women used to visit the pier. In those days nobody worried about a bunch of
camel jockeys with differed dental work turning up to blow your ass up, so on
balmy summer nights, women used to turn up strolling the pier. Usually with
some lucky bastard in tow.
 
 Watching women was called simply 'Out checking your traps'. It was simple,
cheap and harmless. Well, not so harmless if you slipped up and layed a wolf
whistle on a four-striper's daughter or said, "Nice tits for an over the hill
honey." within earshot of the Force Commander's wife. Do that once and you might
find yourself shoveling ballast on a New York garbage barge.
 
 Each SubRon Six boat had at least six semi-pro non-rated tit evaluators. You
could find them topside with their worthless butts parked on empty stores
crates judging every set of tits roaming the pier.
 
 "Now there's a set of nines."
 
 "Naw, back in Cleveland those wouldn't even get her an eight."
 
 "Okay. Settle for an eight point two."
 
 Old Chief's used to catch you and your fellow E-3 idiots with your worthless
butts perched on big iron bollards.
 
 "Son, sittin' on cold metal will give you a bad case of hemorrhoids."
 
 "Sure Chief."
 
 Folks, Chiefs no speak with forked tongue. Took damn near 50 years, but my
previously paid for package finally arrived. I must've ordered the jumbo
economy size. The Pier 22 whoppers. But back to women ogling, sometimes some really
good-looking woman would come up to you and say,
 
 "Do you know where I could find Charley Turner? He serves aboard the USS
So-In-So and does something with electricity."
 
 "No Ma'am. Me and my buddy here just got in. We've been underwater for the
last year and a half and most of the guys we knew before we shoved off either
died, went nuke, wangled a shore duty billet or married a nympho barmaid and
moved to Chicago."
 
 (Adrian Stuke, my forever running mate, lied a lot. But, he made them smile
and that was step one in the Stuke method outlined in his international best
seller, Earning Dolphins and Getting in Goodlooking Women's Pants.)
 
 "Excuse me sailor, do you know where I could find Capt. Whatchmacallit on
Com Dink Doo Lant Staff?"
 
 "No sir, just got in from playing 36 holes with CinCLant and waiting for a
ride to the airport to take me to a chess tournament in Indianapolis. One of
those guys in that Canteen Truck line might be able to help you. I think they
live here."
 
 You had to be nineteen with everything you owned in the entire world crammed
in three homesteaded side lockers in an After Battery or stuffed in a dented
upright locker in Bells Locker club, to find bullshitting wandering visitors,
totally amusing.
 
 Hanging around the dumpster allowed you to find out what movies were being
shown on what boat that evening. It was a messcook's job to know what movie was
being shown on his boat and what the night baker would be turning out about
0100 that night. The latter info was critical if you were standing a 12-4
topside that night.
 
 "Wooooo-weee-ooogh"
 
 "The Orion will be starting SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS starring Natille Wood, on
the boatdeck in ten minutes."
 
 "Wooooo-weee-ooogh"
 
 Watching a film on the Orion's boatdeck was a lot like attending a gahdam
kiddie matinee in Chinatown. You couldn't hear a damn thing because every
sonuvabich was a comedian and there were no officers or CPOs.
 
 The officers preferred to watch them in the air-conditioned wardroom with
stewards bringing them little silver plated dishes of ice cream and refilling
their coffee cups.
 
 The Chiefs preferred going ashore, drinking combustible liquids and removing
lingerie from ladies who really looked scary after the sun came up.
 
 So the nightly movie on the Orion's' boat deck was always a kind of idiots
free for all.
 
 Somewhere around 2100 the 'Goddess Of The Main Induction' put the Pier to
bed. The officers were home getting wrapped around their second scotch. The
bluejackets were watching movies, working on quals, wrapped up in some
correspondence course or playing cards.
 
 The drunks started rolling in about midnight and assigned personnel
reporting aboard started arriving along with the bread truck and doughnut man.
 
 During the night, especially when the bastards were blasting the gahdam
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel or it was one of those godawful high humidity summer
nights, I used to get up. Grab two cups of that stronger than King Kong coffee
(One for me and one for the Topside Watch) and head topside.
 
 I would spell him while he dropped down in the bear trap and took a leak
through the limber holes next to the impulse flasks.
 
 We were young. Being a Smokeboat Boatsailor was a young mans game or a
Lifers's way of life. Squadron Six was the Briar Patch where a lot of us paid our
National obligation dues and grew from boyhood to the men we became. Looking
back. they were damn fine days.

 

 

WISDOM - FROM THE MILITARY MANUAL

"A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you
least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left
of your unit." - Army's magazine of preventive maintenance.
------------------------------------------------------
"Aim towards the Enemy." - Instruction printed on US Rocket Launcher
------------------------------------------------------
" When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend. - U.S.
Marine Corps
------------------------------------------------------
"Cluster bombing from B-52s are very, very accurate. The bombs are
guaranteed to always hit the ground." - USAF Ammo Troop
------------------------------------------------------
"If the enemy is in range, so are you." - Infantry Journal
-----------------------------------------------------
"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you
just bombed." - U.S. Air Force Manual
------------------------------------------------------
"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never
encountered automatic weapons." - General Macarthur
-----------------------------------------------------
"Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo." - Infantry
Journal
------------------------------------------------------
"You, you, and you ... Panic. The rest of you, come with me." - U.S.
Mar ine Corp Gunnery Sgt.
------------------------------------------------------
"Tracers work both ways." - U.S. Army Ordnance
- -----------------------------------------------------
"Five second fuses only last three seconds." - Infantry Journal
-------------------------------------------------------
"Don't ever be the first, don't ever be the last, and don't ever
volunteer to do anything." - U.S. Navy Swabbie
---------------------------------------------------
"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid." - David
Hackworth
-------------------------------------------------------
"If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush." -
Infantry Journal
- --------------------------------------------------------
"No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection." - Joe Gay
------------------------------------------------------
"Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once."
------------------------------------------------------
"Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do." - Unknown
Marine Recruit
-------------------------------------------------------
"Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you." - Your
Buddies
-------------------------------------------------------
"If you see a bomb technician running, follow him." - USAF Ammo
Troop
------------------------------------------ -------------
"Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death , I Shall Fear No Evil.
For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing." - At the entrance to the old
SR-71 operating base Kadena , Japan
-------------------------------------------------------
"You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3." - Paul F.
Crickmore (test pilot)
-------------------------------------------------------
"The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire."
------------------------- ------------------------------
"Blue water Navy truism: There are more planes in the ocean than
submarines in the sky." - From an old carrier sailor
------------------------------------------------------
"If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably
a helicopter -- and therefore, unsafe."
-------------------------------------------------------
"When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have
enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash."
-------------------------------------------------------
"Without ammunition, the USAF would be just another expensive flying
club."
-------------------------------------------------------
"What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots?
If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, .... The
pilot dies."
-------------------------------------------------------
"Never trade luck for skill."
-------------------------------------------------------
The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in a
viation are: "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" And "Oh S...!"
------------------------------------------------------
"Progress in airline flying: now a flight attendant can get a pilot
pregnant."
-------------------------------------------------------
"Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to
successfully complete the flight."
-------------------------------------------------------
"A smooth landing is mostly luck; two in a row is all luck; three in
a row is prevarication."
-------------------------------------------------------
"I remember when sex was safe and flying was dangerous."
---------------------------------------------------------
"Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up
there!"
-------------------------------------------------------
"Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to
a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything
about it."
--------------------------------------------------------
"The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just
barely kill you." - Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)
-------------------------------------------------------
"There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime." -
Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970
---------------------------------------------------------
"If something hasn't broken on your helicopter , it's about to."
---------------------------------------------------------
"You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full
power to taxi to the terminal."
----------------------------------------------------------

As the test pilot climbs out of the experimental aircraft, having
torn off the wings and tail in the crash landing, the crash truck
arrives, the rescuer sees a bloodied pilot and asks "What
happened?".

The pilot's reply: "I don't know, I just got here myself!" -
Attributed to Ray Crandell (Lockheed test pilot)

 

 

The SEABAG


 
 
 
Sweet memories........You guys that owned a seabag with “backpack” straps, sailed on ships with air conditioning, and had heads with “stalls”, and a locker bigger than 2’ x 2’ x 14” deep, underneath the bottom canvas rack, can’t really appreciate living out of a Seabag. There was a time when everything you owned had to fit in your sea bag. Remember those nasty rascals? Fully packed, one of the suckers weighed more than the poor devil hauling it. The damn things weighed a ton and some idiot with an off-center sense of humor sewed a carry handle on it to help you haul it. Hell, you could bolt a handle on a Greyhound bus but it wouldn’t make the damn thing portable. The Army, Marines and Air Force got footlockers and we got a big ole’ canvas bag.
After you warped your spine jackassing the goofy thing through a bus or train station, sat on it waiting for connecting transportation and made folks mad because it was too damn big to fit in any overhead rack on any bus, train and airplane ever made, the contents looked like hell. All your gear appeared to have come from bums who slept on park benches.

 

Traveling with a sea bag was something left over from the “Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum” sailing ship days. Sailors used to sleep in hammocks. So you stowed your issue in a big canvas bag and lashed your hammock to it , hoisted it on your shoulder and in effect moved your entire home and complete inventory of earthly possessions from ship to ship. I wouldn’t say you traveled light because with one strap it was a one-shoulder load that could torque your skeletal frame and bust your ankles. It was like hauling a dead linebacker. They wasted a lot of time in boot camp telling you how to pack one of the suckers. There was an officially sanctioned method of organization that you forgot after ten minutes on the other side of the gate at Alameda or Cape May. You got rid of a lot of issue gear when you went to the SHIP. Did you ever know a sailor who had a raincoat? A flat hat? One of those nut hugger knit swimsuits? How bout those roll your own neckerchiefs… The ones the girls in a good tailor shop would cut down and sew into a ‘greasy snake’ for two bucks?
Within six months, every coastie was down to one set of dress blues, port and starboard undress blues and whites, a couple of white hats, boots, shoes, assorted skivvies a pea coat and three sets of bleached out dungarees. The rest of your original issue was either in the pea coat locker, lucky bag or had been reduced to wipe down rags in the paint locker. Underway ships were not ships that allowed vast accumulation of private gear.


Hobos who lived in discarded refrigerator crates could amass greater loads of pack rat crap than fleet sailors. The confines of a canvas back rack, side locker and a couple of bunk bags did not allow one to live a Donald Trump existence. Space and the going pay scale combined to make us envy the lifestyle of a mud hut Ethiopian. We were the global equivalents of nomadic Mongols without ponies to haul our stuff

And after the rigid routine of boot camp we learned the skill of random compression packing known by mothers world-wide as ‘cramming’. It is amazing what you can jam in to a space no bigger than a breadbox if you pull a watch cap over a boot and push it in with your foot. Of course, it looks kinda weird when you pull it out but they never hold fashion shows at sea and wrinkles added character to a salty appearance. There was a four-hundred mile gap between the images on recruiting posters and the actual appearance of sailors at sea. It was not without justifiable reason that we were called the hooligans. We operated on the premise that if ‘ Cleanliness was next to Godliness’, we must be next to the other end of that spectrum… We looked like our clothing had been pressed with a waffle iron and packed by a bulldozer. But what in the hell did they expect from a bunch of jerks that lived in the crews hole of a 255 ft pregnant bathtub. After awhile you got used to it… You got used to everything you owned picking up and retaining that distinctive aroma...You got used to old ladies on busses taking a couple of wrinkled nose sniffs of your pea coat then getting up and finding another seat…


Do they still issue sea bags? Can you still make five bucks sitting up half the night drawing a ships picture on the side of one of the damn things with black and white marking pens that drive old master-at-arms into a ‘rig for heart attack’ frenzy? Make their faces red.. The veins on their neck bulge out… And yell, “What in God’s name is that all over your sea bag?”
“Artwork, Chief… It’s like the work of Michelangelo...My ship… Great huh?”
“Looks like some damn comic book...”


Here was a man with cobras tattooed on his arms… A skull with a dagger through one eye and a ribbon reading ‘ DEATH BEFORE SHORE DUTY’ on his shoulder… Crossed anchors with ‘Gitmo Bay 1945’ on the other shoulder… An eagle on his chest and a full blown Chinese dragon peeking out between the cheeks of his butt If anyone was an authority on stuff that looked like a comic book, it had to be this E-7 sucker. Sometimes I look at all the crap stacked in my garage, close my eyes and smile, remembering a time when everything I owned could be crammed into a canvas bag.

 

Milan L. Raidor
Keeper of Odd Knowledge

 

 

 

 

Website designed and maintained by Gene McLeod
Contact us at
webmaster@ussseacat.com