Ode to a Matelot

Guzz is sailors name for Plymouth. Reggy is a member of the Regulation branch (RN Police)

Ode to a Matelot

By Unknown

I was drinking in a Bar when a girl caught my eye

She had a ring through her nose and a tatt on her thigh.

I asked her name and she said “I’m called Gwen”

She smelt like a horse and she danced like a wren.

She said “Come on Jack are you game for a laff”

So we jumped in a fast black and went back to her gaff.

Her house was in Torpoint and on the front door

Was a crest from each ship that had been there before.

I said to her “Gwen that’s impressive to see”

As it looked like she’d been on twelve more ships than me.

It smelt like the mess after a good run ashore

With lanyards and cap Tallies all over the floor.

She walked to the window and sat on the ledge

I slid my hand in her knicks and felt meat and two veg

I tried to get out but she got hold of my leg

It was then I knew Gwen was an ex killick Reg.

I ran out of the door and into the street

With my kecks round my ankles and nowt on me feet.

Thank God I’d escaped and gave praise to the Lord

Got big eats, a taxi and went back onboard.

So if you’re ever in Guzz and bump into Gwen

Just remember she’s really a Reggy called Ben.

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Snipe’s Lament

Snipe’s Lament

author unknown

Now each of us from time to time has gazed upon the sea.

And watched the warships pulling out, to keep this country free.

And most of us have read a book or heard a lusty tale.

About the men who sail these ships, through lightning, wind, and hail.

But there’s a place within each ship, that legend fails to reach.

It’s down below the waterline, it takes a living toll

A hot metal living hell that sailors call the “HOLE.”

It houses engines run by steam that make the shafts go ’round.

A place of fire and noise and heat that beats your spirits down.

Where boilers like a hellish heart, with blood of angry steam

Are of molded gods without remorse are nightmares in a dream.

Whose threat that from the first roar, is life living doubt,

That any minute would with scorn, escape and crush you out.

Where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in hell,

As ordered from above somewhere, they answer every bell.

The men who keep the fires lit, and make the engine run.

Are strangers to the world of night and rarely see the sun.

They have no time for man or God, no tolerance for fear,

Their aspect pays no living thing, the tribute of a tear.

For there’s not much that men can do, that these men haven’t done.

Beneath the decks, deep in the holes, to make the engines run.

And every hour of every day, they keep their watch in hell,

For if the fires ever fail, their ship’s a useless shell.

When ships converge to have a war, upon an angry sea,

The men below just grimly smile, at what their fate might be.

They’re locked in below like men fore doomed, who hear no battle cry,

It’s well assumed that if they’re hit, the men below will die.

For every day’s a war down there when the gauges all read red,

Twelve hundred pounds of superheated steam can kill you mighty dead.

So if you ever write their sons, or try to tell their tale,

the very words would make you hear, a fired furnace wail.

These men of steel the Public never gets to know

So little’s heard about the Place that sailors call the hole.

But I can sing about the place, and try to make you see

The hardened life of men down there, cause one of them is me.

I’ve seen these sweat-soaked heroes fight, in superheated air.

To keep their ship alive and right, though no one knows they’re there.

And thus they’ll fight for ages on, til steamships sail no more,

Amid the boiler’s mighty heat and turbines hellish roar.

So when you see a ship pull out to meet a warship foe.

Remember faintly, if you can, the men who sail below.

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1976 Bicentennial

1976 Bicentennial

By Jack Thomas

1976 was a special year. It was the Bicentennial of our great nation, of course, but it was also a very special year for me. I was stationed at Mobile Technical Unit SEVEN, MOTU-7, in Yokosuka and had been there since mid-74. I was an ETCM and was the first senior Tech Rep in Westpac on a new Radar based system. I was a regular underway rider aboard MIDWAY whenever they got underway and I also enjoyed underway periods aboard OKLAHOMA City and PARSONS as well as several other platforms.

1976 started with a notification by my wife that she was pregnant with our first, and as fate would have it, our only child. She had confirmed this with her Japanese doctor so I hooked her up with Gynecology at USNH on the base. They informed me that the Estimated Delivery Date (EDD) was 4 July, 1976, a Bicentennial baby. I was also the president of the CPO Club advisory board and a regular at the CPO Club Stag Bar. My wife was a regular in the slot machine room and at bingo once a week and we bath were regulars at the weekend floor show/band night in the CPO Club Ballroom. Basically, our lives were tied to the CPO Club and to a few gin mills on the Honch that I had been frequenting since my first trip to Yokosuka in early ’62.

Needless to say the announcement of the upcoming birth started the ball rolling in the CPO Club and several “Anchor Pools” were started to guess the arrival minute on the upcoming Birth Certificate. We all know that America’s Day Starts in Guam, and depending on what was going on in the birth department there. it was possible that our baby girl would be the first American born in the new Centennial. In the meantime, preps were underway for the Fourth. There was even a red, white and blue American flag painted pickup truck driving around the local area.

Just prior to the Fourth Russia launched a new Warship and it got underway from Vladivostok. CINCPACFLT looked at the CASREP readiness of the ships in Yokosuka and determined that PARSONS was the most ready so they got underway on the Fourth to bird-dog the Russian ship. Fate also stepped in and the Bicentennial baby arrival fell through. My wife went into labor the afternoon of 5 July and the baby was born in the wee hours of the morning on 6 July. The staff at USNH threw me out of the delivery room because I was making my wife “nervous”. On the 5th the MIDWAY threw a big blast at Thew Gym, catered by the CPO Club and the manager, assisted by one of his duty managers, managed to spirit some food and several Olympia beers from the party and delivered them to the waiting room for us to enjoy while I waited.

Things slowed down for about a month and then my parents visited from Minot, North Dakota to see us and their new Granddaughter. My father was a WWII Army vet and he had been on Okinawa when the war ended. He was an MP and was staging to be in the first Japan invasion forces. The surrender changed his role and he was on the second plane of MPs that landed at Atsugi prior to MacArthur’s arrival. He stayed in Japan for six months as part of the Occupation forces. I took leave during their stay and we took the Bullet train to Kyoto, visited Mt Fuji and Lake Hakone and all that touristy stuff. On 16 August, as part of a CPO Club group, we attended the first NFL game in Japan, a game between the St Louis Football Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers. A few days later I drove them to Haneda for their flight back to Seattle.

On 18 August, my birthday, two US Army officers were killed in the Korea DMZ while clearing some trees and a general recall went out to all ships. I was ln the process of driving my parents to Haneda and when I returned I went to the CPO Club to get a haircut prior to checking in off leave. I was told my unit had been trying to contact me so I went over there post haste. I was told to go home and pack a bag, put it under my desk and prepare to get underway. The entire base in Yokosuka was on alert and SRF, Port Ops, NSD and smaller support units were fully manned and preparing for an emergency sortie of all fleet units. All of MOTU-7 personnel were working Combat Systems on the ships. About 0230 we had fixed as many problems that we could fix without more parts so our Officer In Charge went down to the Oklahoma City to brief COMSEVENTHFLT. He made it as far as the Command Center and was told the Admiral was asleep and he could brief the CDO. He snapped to attention and told the CDR that his unit had been working on the ships since the recall went out and every Combat Systems casualty that could be fixed without additional stateside parts was repaired. All his troops had bags packed and were standing by to embark and get underway. Then he did an abrupt about face and left the command center. The CDO said “Who the Hell was that?” When told that he was the OIC of Mobile Technical Unit SEVEN he said. “Well, I’m sure glad someone in this port is ready”. As it turned out, nobody got underway, it was left to the diplomats, but it sure illustrated how much could be accomplished in a WESTPAC Port.

The only other significant event that happened that summer was the inaugural Pioneer Bowl in Tokyo in mid-September, a college football game between Grambling State and Morgan State. For the life of me I don’t remember a thing about the game. What I do remember was the awesome performance of the Grambling State Marching Band prior to the game and at halftime.

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Non Sibi

Non Sibi

By Captain M. W. Newman ’71, USN (Ret.)

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The old salts say that the two best ships in the Navy are your last ship and your next ship, but you never forget your first ship. My first ship was USS GOLDSBOROUGH (DDG 20), out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She had something less than a stellar reputation within the Pineapple Fleet, and her sailors liked it that way. They spoke with pride of the day, in-port Pearl, when a torpedo was fired into the Navy Exchange Mobile Canteen. On liberty, GOLDSBOROUGH sailors had an attitude. They could bitch about the ship all day long; but let some sailor off another ship say one disparaging word, and all hell broke loose. GOLDSBOROUGH was, in many ways, a junkyard dog; and all who sailed in her loved her for it.

We often referred to our ship as DDG 20.5 because for several years, GOLDSBOROUGH was on a deployment rotation with USS COCHRANE (DDG 21). When one would come home from Vietnam, she would crossdeck all of her gun ammunition and spare parts, half her Gunner’s Mates and half her Boilermen to the other who then would leave for WestPac. GOLDSBOROUGH made seven cruises to Vietnam in the eight and one half years between November 1964 and May 1973. On her third cruise she fired over 10,000 rounds of Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) while avoiding over 800 rounds of hostile fire. I don’t know who was counting the incoming. The ship and its crew were awarded a Navy Unit Commendation. I was onboard for WestPac numbers six and seven between August 1971 and May 1973. On my second cruise, we also fired over 10,000 rounds of NGFS and were awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation. Nobody counted the hostile fire except for the one round that hit us the night of 19 December 1972.

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Before the ship left on cruise, I had been relieved as DCA by Fast Ed Snyder and was designated to become the Navigator after ASW Air Controller School in San Diego. I was thrilled to be going to the mainland and missing the long transit to WestPac. However, about the time I got to my school, the news reported that Secretary of State Kissinger was in Paris negotiating with the North Vietnamese. I realized that peace could break out at any moment, and I still didn’t have any hero medals! As soon as the school was over, I dashed up to Travis AFB for a flight to the Philippines. From there, I hoped to get out to my ship on the gunline. At Travis, I fell in with a First Lieutenant of Marines with orders to be XO of the Marine Detachment in the carrier MIDWAY. We had all manner of adventures working our way across the Pacific, but that’s another story.

I was lowered onto the fantail of GOLDSBOROUGH from a helo in early November. The ship had already been in several gun battles with North Vietnamese shore batteries because President Nixon had ordered a resumption of Linebacker Operations. These ops involved air and naval bombardment of targets in the north to encourage/pressure the Communist to negotiate in good faith at the Paris Peace Talks.

Relieving as Navigator, my General Quarters station was now on the bridge where I had a great view of all the goings on. During my first cruise, we had received only random fire from the beach and never had the chance to engage the shooter. Now we were conducting multi-ship raids along the coast of North Vietnam, and the enemy had all manner of gun emplacements defending the very same places we wanted to blow up. Our raids always took place at night. We would form up with one or more destroyers just before dark, steam north at high speed until we were abreast of our target. On signal, we would turn together toward the beach, charge in as close as we dared for fear of running aground, turn again parallel to the beach, unmasking all gun mounts, and cut our speed in half. All ships would fire on their designated target(s) and any shore batteries that might try to engage us, then declare victory and withdraw at high speed to deep water.

My first night raid, I was thrilled with the light show from the beach. The muzzle-flashes and tracers were as good as any Fourth of July spectacular. The next night, they started shooting as soon as we turned toward the beach; and we drove well into their range before we got to our next turn point. When the near-misses started to splash water on the pilothouse windows and shrapnel began to ping off the bulkheads, I suddenly realized these guys were trying to kill ME! I lost all concern for hero medals, and began to think maybe I would be better off with Fast Eddie down in DC Central where I had spent the first cruise. Then I learned that the snipes were listening to the concussion of the close-aboard shell bursts against the ship’s sides, BELOW the waterline. This was more adventure than I had bargained for, but we kept doing it almost every night.

On the evening of 19 December 1972, we left our holding area with the destroyers HOEL and SHELTON heading for an area further north than we had ever been before. Our targets were on a bay, and we would have to pass a small island at the entrance to the bay going in and coming out. The enemy gun emplacements were on that island. We slipped by them on the way in, but they were wide awake when we tried to slip back out. GOLDSBOROUGH was the closest ship to the island so the NVA gunners concentrated their fire on us. We had all four boilers on the line and were doing over thirty knots. Shells were splashing all around us, and the Captain kept ordering course changes to drive through the last splash. I never knew if that was standard procedure for such situations, but I would have preferred for him to just run a straight line and get us the hell out of there as fast as possible.

Suddenly, we heard a shell burst and felt a slight shudder through the deck. The report came up from weapons control that we had been hit in the after part of the ship around mount 52. Damage Control Central reported fires in the Repair III area but had lost communications with the repair locker. Repair V, in the center section of the ship, was sending investigators out to locate the damage and to assist Repair III as required.

After what seemed like an eternity, the picture started to clear up. We had been hit by a large caliber shell. It had struck the top of mount 52 and put a significant crease in the gun shield before it hit the deck just forward of the mount and exploded. A five foot hole was blown in the 0-1 level deck inflicting heavy damage to the after chiefs’ berthing compartment directly below. Tragically, the lounge area of that berthing was where the Repair III locker leader set up his command post. The explosion killed Senior Chief Hull Technician Donald A. Dix, BM1 Robert M. Dow, mortally wounded HT2 Gary L. Boyce and severely injured HT2 Gordon Sundby. Despite his wounds, Petty Officer Sundby rallied the surviving members of his repair locker and extinguished the fires and isolated the damaged electrical circuits with the help of Repair V.

As we continued to run south at full speed, a helo from one of the carriers came over to medivac Petty Officers Boyce and Sundby. With some dramatic airmanship, they were lifted up from the 0-1 level deck between mount 52 and the missile launcher. The pilot actually steadied himself by resting one of his main landing gear wheels on the damaged gun shield of MT-52. Petty Officer Boyce was taken on to the Air Force Hospital at Clark Field where he died of his wounds. Petty Officer Sundby stayed on the carrier where he met up with his brother and received his Purple Heart Medal from the Secretary of the Navy who happened to be passing by for a visit. He did eventually get back to the ship, and we were all happy to see him again. My good friend Jim Lloyd had the gruesome task of putting Senior Chief Dix and Petty Officer Dow into body-bags and storing them in the freezers. It was a long night for everyone.

As the sun was coming up, we entered Da Nang harbor and anchored. The HT’s welded a two-inch thick metal patch over the gaping hole in the 0-1 level aft, and we got under way again as soon as they finished. What we did not know was that on the same night we were hit, the Air Force lost a B-52 over Hanoi so we made the evening news back home. This caused much concern for many of our loved ones including my mother and my future bride, Miss Nancy Poteet. It would be over a week before I got ashore in Sasebo, Japan to call them and tell them I was unhurt.

We joined up with the destroyers RICHARD E. KRAUS and HENRY B. TUCKER after leaving Da Nang, and the three of us conducted more raids on the 21st and 22nd of December. Finally, on Christmas Eve, we detached and headed for the repair facility in Sasebo. That Christmas at sea was a sober and solemn occasion for all of us who were thankful just to be alive. We arrived in Sasebo on the 28th and stayed through the first week of January 1973. Several wives had flown out from Hawaii so New Year’s Eve was a most festive event at the Sasebo Officers’ Club, The Town Club. We almost lost Piggy Lloyd in a freak fire ax incident, but that’s another story.

By 11 January, we were back on station just north of the DMZ engaging targets along the coast. We resumed night raids on the 13th, 18th, 19th and 25th of January with the destroyers RATHBURNE and KING. On the afternoon of Saturday, 27 January, we were waiting in our holding area for nightfall when we would head north to restrike the area where we had been hit on 19 December. The day was rainy and overcast, and everyone was quietly making preparations for the night’s work. I was on watch on the bridge when the Captain and XO came into the pilothouse and asked the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch to pipe “attention all hands” on the 1MC announcing system. The Captain then took the microphone and told us all that a cease fire had been agreed to in Paris, effective 08:00 Sunday, 28 January. Our raid for that night was cancelled, and we were to move out to sea and rendezvous with the carrier battle group.

I was overcome with relief and joy. I truly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I tried my best not to do either until the Captain and XO had left the bridge, then the entire watch team did lots of both. Minutes later, the clouds literally parted; and we were treated to the most magnificent sunset I had ever seen before or since.

The war was essentially over for us after that. We had a change of command in Manila in February, went to Singapore and crossed The Line in March and then did some more NGFS in the Mekong Delta area (from anchor!). We went back to Japan in April and arrived in Pearl Harbor in May.

The ship’s crest for USS GOLDSBOROUGH was the family coat of arms from Rear Admiral Louis Malesherbes Goldsborough, a Union Navy hero. It showed a pelican sitting on a shield with the family motto on a scroll beneath, “Non Sibi.” A large, solid brass ship’s crest was mounted on the door to the Captain’s in-port cabin. It was the responsibility of the wardroom mess cooks to keep the crest highly polished, and they never failed in that duty. One morning many weeks after 19 December, the new CO, Commander (later Vice Admiral) Walter T. Piotti, came out of his cabin to find a mess cook hard at work on the crest. As it happened, this young sailor had reported aboard just before 19 December and had experienced everything. He greeted the Captain and requested permission to ask a question. Captain Piotti said, “Sure.” The sailor asked, “Does ‘Non Sibi’ really mean ‘no shit.’” The Captain gave him the only answer a GOLDSBOROUGH sailor could ever give, “You bet your sweet ass it does!”

P.S. USS GOLDSBOROUGH had a long and illustrious career after I detached in July 1974. She was finally decommissioned and stricken from the naval record on 29 April 1993. She was sold to the Royal Australian Navy as a parts hulk for their fleet of guided missile destroyers.

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Ocean Creatures or Seafood Terms

Ocean Creatures or Seafood Terms

By: Garland Davis

People often ask me to explain terms to them due to my expertise in things culinary. This should clear up questions about sea creatures

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Crawfish or Crayfish – Water Bug

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Shrimp – Larger Water Bug

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Lobster – Big Fucking Water Bug

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Crab – Water Spider

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King Crab – Big Fucking Water Spider

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Crabs (Pubic Louse) – caught by fooling around with Hairy Clams

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Fish – Big Fish Food

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Big Fish – Bigger Fish Food

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Oysters – Snot in a Shell

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Octopus – Eight-Armed Sea Monster

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Giant Octopus – Big Fucking Eight-Armed Sea Monster

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Squid – Ten-Armed Sea Monster-Sometimes disguises itself as onion rings.

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Giant Squid – Big fucking Ten-Armed Sea Monster

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Clam – Comes in two varieties. Bearded and clean shaven. Unfortunately, we are unable to show the difference between the two

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Veterans Day

Veterans Day

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In 1921, an unknown World War I American soldier was buried in Arlington National

Cemetery. This site, on a hillside overlooking the Potomac River and the city of

Washington, D.C., became the focal point of reverence for America’s veterans.

Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where an unknown soldier

was buried in each nation’s highest place of honor (in England, Westminster Abbey; in

France, the Arc de Triomphe). These memorial gestures all took place on November 11,

giving universal recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m.,

November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The day became

known as “Armistice Day.”

Armistice Day officially received its name in America in 1926 through a Congressional

resolution. It became a national holiday 12 years later by similar Congressional action. If

the idealistic hope had been realized that World War I was “the War to end all wars,”

November 11 might still be called Armistice Day. But only a few years after the holiday

was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Sixteen and one-half million Americans took

part. Four hundred seven thousand of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

Armistice Day Changed To Honor All Veterans

The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham, Alabama, in

1947. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized “National Veterans Day,”

which included a parade and other festivities, to honor all veterans. The event was held

on November 11, then designated Armistice Day. Later, U.S. Representative Edward Rees of Kansas proposed a bill that would change Armistice Day to Veterans Day. In

1954, Congress passed the bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming

November 11 as Veterans Day. Raymond Weeks received the Presidential Citizens

Medal from President Reagan in November 1982. Weeks’ local parade and ceremonies

are now an annual event celebrated nationwide.

On Memorial Day 1958, two more unidentified American war dead were brought from

overseas and interred in the plaza beside the unknown soldier of World War I. One was

killed in World War II, the other in the Korean War. In 1984, an unknown serviceman

from the Vietnam War was placed alongside the others. The remains from Vietnam

were exhumed May 14, 1998, identified as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie,

and removed for burial. To honor these men, symbolic of all Americans who gave their

lives in all wars, an Army honor guard, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), keeps day

and night vigil.

A law passed in 1968 changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the

fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a

date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned

the observance to its traditional date.

National Ceremonies Held at Arlington National Cemetery

The focal point for official, national ceremonies for Veterans Day continues to be the

memorial amphitheater built around the Tomb of the Unknowns. At 11 a.m. on

November 11, a combined color guard representing all military services executes

“Present Arms” at the tomb. The nation’s tribute to its war dead is symbolized by the

laying of a presidential wreath. The bugler plays “taps.” The rest of the ceremony takes

place in the amphitheater.

Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington and elsewhere are coordinated by the

President’s Veterans Day National Committee. Chaired by the Secretary of Veterans

Affairs, the committee represents national veterans organizations.

Governors of many states and U.S. territories appoint Veterans Day chairpersons who,

in cooperation with the National Committee and the Department of Defense, arrange

and promote local ceremonies.

Lest we forget.

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…you might be a sailor

…you might be a sailor.

By Garland Davis

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If you submitted a chit for early liberty yet have no money or any place to go…you might be a sailor.

If you constantly complain about the galley food yet continually beg the cooks for seconds…you might be a sailor.

If you have visited Naples, Barcelona, Yokohama, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. and the only sights you saw were bars and cat houses…you might be a sailor.

If you supported your shipmate so he could finish his beer and then carried his drunk ass back to the ship…you might be a sailor.

If you have the ability to sleep any place, any time…you might be a sailor.

If you carry your cigarettes in your sock…you might be a sailor.

If you complain and bitch about your ship yet are willing to fight anyone else who does so…you might be a sailor.

If you carry a wheel book in your left rear pocket…you might be a sailor.

If you have screws tattooed on your ass cheeks…you might be a sailor.

If you have pissed in the bilges or down the pit sword sounding tube during General Quarters…you might be a sailor.

If that old grandmother walking down the street was once the first LBFM you fell in love with…you might be a sailor.

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If you have ever opened a San Miguel beer with your teeth…you might be a sailor.

If you are more familiar with cities in the Far East than you are with your hometown…you might be a sailor.

If you think getting a date with a girl is as simple as buying a couple of drinks and paying her Bar Pine…you might be a sailor.

If you believe in the concept that “Shit flows downhill” …you might be a sailor.

If you have ever been in the Westerner in Nasty City or Gussie L’amour’s in Honolulu trolling for Westpac Widows…you might be a sailor.

If you have ever played the game of Smiles at Marilyn’s in Subic City…you are an Asia Sailor.

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