Rating Traits III

Rating Traits III

By Garland Davis

Ocean Systems Technician (OT): A Chief at the club in Yokosuka told me that these people hang out in a cave at CFAY and spend their career looking at squiggly lines on burnt paper. He thought it might be some kind of voodoo ritual.

Jerry Juliana is the only one of these dudes I ever met. As far as I know, he may be the only one that exists. I once asked him what they did. He said if he told me, he would have to kill me. Actually, all he said was, “Imagine a Sonarman with superpowers who worships at the feet of the god Per Diem.”

The closest I could determine OT’s are the ugly progeny of an immoral “hook up” by a Sonarman and an Airdale. They have airplanes and go on Dets. Dets is short for detachment. Look in one’s blank eyes to see the real meaning of detachment.

OT’s Dets are something like cruises and deployments that we real sailors make. The reason they use airplanes is so they can get to the good liberty ports and get some pussy before all us good looking fleet sailors get there.

Gunner’s Mate (GM): Often referred to as Cannon Cockers of Muzzle Fuckers, GM’s maintain the ship’s noisemakers and fireworks. As soon as a Snipe or a hardworking cook want to have a smoke on the foc’sle, they ring that fucking bell and swing the gun mount back and forth. They seldom, if ever, fire the damned thing but every time we get near an ammunition ship they load ammunition. Maybe they are eating it or snorting the gunpowder.

During sailing days, many gunners started their careers as powder boys, which meant they brought the powder charges from the magazines to the guns. It is said that the renowned British Admiral Horatio Nelson began his career as a powder boy in a Ship of the line.

Missile Technician (MT): I don’t know much about these guys except they hang out in missile houses and do hundreds of daily PMS checks. So, I’ll tell you a couple of stories about them;

It was a lazy Sunday morning and whoever had the duty in the forward missile house was doing firing system checks. The way I understand it is there are a couple of blue missiles with internal electronics that are run out and the firing circuit is energized. Feedback from the missiles on the rail tell if firing would have been successful had there been a real, or white missile on the rail. The forward missile house requested permission from the bridge to conduct firing checks. The Captain, who was relaxing in his chair suddenly jumped up screaming, “Belay missile checks!” There were two white missiles on the rail!

I ended up with an MT2 as a permanent Mess Deck Master at Arms.

We did a four missile firing exercise while in the IO. Afterward, Chief Missile Tech came into the mess and said, “I would rather fire a missile than jump my old lady.”

His wife met the ship when we returned to Yokosuka. Let’s just say that she would have at least garnered Honorable Mention at any Ugly Party I ever attended. Chief BT left the mess, went to the Oil Shack and called the mess on the sound-powered phone asked for the MTC and told him, “I would rather jump burners than jump your old lady!”

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The Oil King

The Oil King

By Garland Davis

Oil King: The MM or BT selected for this position must display unique qualities. He must be capable of understanding liquid measures greater than the amount of that in a 50¢ picture of beer at the Club Alliance. He must also understand and be able to do arithmetical calculations as they relate to large quantities of petroleum products, feed water, and potable water. The part that really stretches the imagination, he must possess the ability to learn and perform complicated chemical tests of said liquids to ascertain purity. He must plan for refueling operations to know how much fuel is required and into which tanks to allocate it. During refueling, he is busier than a three-legged cat with diarrhea digging holes to shit in.

Things go wrong!

I was serving in an Ocean Going Tug during the late sixties. Ships this small didn’t have a Supply Corps Officer. Supply consisted of a Storekeeper, two Commissarymen, and one Steward. One of the officers was assigned collateral duty as Supply Officer. I was the senior Petty Officer in Supply. My first two years aboard, the Bos’n was the Supply Officer who pretty much let supply run itself. After he left, a brand new Ensign who had no conception of his primary Communication Officer’s job was assigned collateral duty as Supply Officer and decided to make his mark there.

The Ensign decided the Mess Decks needed retiling. I am sure you all remember, in those days, you either had a putrid green tile or a red and black checkerboard pattern. He arranged through SRF for the job to be done. Against our recommendations, he picked a white tile made by a Japanese company from a catalog at SRF.

NOTE: This was before the days when the flammability of habitability space equipment and fixtures was a big concern. END NOTE

The day after our new white mess deck was laid, we were taking Diesel from a Yard Oiler (YO). We were moored to the pier and the YO to our outboard side. The tank was located under the Mess Decks with the sounding tube amidships on the after bulkhead. The EN1 was taking soundings and yelling out the door to the YO. The Warrant machinist stopped to see how it was going. Just long enough to distract EN1, and we had a gusher of diesel through the sounding tube into the mess deck. All in all, enough to cover the deck.

When we started to clean it up, we discovered the fuel oil had degraded the tile. It was no longer tile but a gooey substance resembling hot Mozzarella cheese on a pizza and came away like big wads of bubblegum. It took all night to get it all scraped up and the metal deck cleaned.

Two days later the EN1 and I, assisted by an FN and a mess cook laid a red and black checkerboard.

The Ensign wanted to believe that EN1 had ruined his beautiful white tile deliberately.

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Mess Deck Master at Arms

Mess Deck Master at Arms

By Garland Davis

Mess Deck Master at Arms: The perfect MDMAA is a psychotic son of a bitch who is so eaten up with OCD that his folks had to toilet train him at gunpoint and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks. He needs the psychotic demeanor to abuse the mess cooks to do their work and the crew to maintain order in the mess line and the mess decks. Presenting a willingness to commit violence on anyone who pisses him off is beneficial. There are so many details to pay attention to that the OCD condition is extremely helpful. The ability to not care what others think is a necessary trait because everyone hates his guts.

The XO hates him because the Mess Decks and scullery never meet his expectations of cleanliness and sanitation. The mess cooks hate him because he is a hard taskmaster who insists the work be done correctly.. The crew hates him because he won’t let them grab-ass or yell in the mess line, because he won’t let them delay after eating and forces them to give up their seats to others waiting to eat, because he won’t let them hang out in the Mess Decks or use the tables to do paperwork between meals. The CMAA hates him because he can’t control him like he does the other Neanderthal thugs in the MAA Force.

It is a frustrating duty. Anyone going fore or aft must pass through the mess decks. The entrance to an engineering space is in the mess deck and as soon as the deck is stripped and fresh wax laid, while waiting for it to dry every fucking engineer on the ship has to go into and out of that space and everyone aft must go forward and vice versa. The ladder down to supply is in the aft port side of the mess decks and everyone else just has to get to supply. And, of course, they cannot wait until the wax is dry.

The best MDMAA’s usually come from Deck, Weapons, and Engineering Departments. Not so much from the other departments.

The best MDMAA I ever saw was a BM1. He was large enough to create fear in everyone. I saw the XO back off and take another route instead of walking on BM1’s clean deck. He maintained silence in the mess line. If you weren’t talking to the food server, you kept your mouth shut. His solution to someone jacking his jaws in the line was to bounce the malefactor off the bulkhead, two or three times.

I always took a couple of hours to counsel Petty Officers assigned to MDMAA. I tried to make sure they understood that it was probably the only job, short of Command Master Chief, they would have that was a pure leadership position. I also made sure they understood that after three months I would submit a special evaluation on their performance that could be a crucial factor in their future promotions.

I have had Chiefs and Division Officers pissed at me because I gave a poor leadership rating to “one of their best” PO1’s. I’ll not piss anyone off here by telling you the ratings.

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“HEY CHIEF!”

“HEY CHIEF!”

By M S Heeney, Captain, USN-R

You there. You with the brassy new anchors! We’re calling in your debts! You OWE. You owe a lot of people. And now it’s PAYBACK time!

You owe that Chief at boot camp. He chewed your butt, he screamed at your stupidity. He saw in you the potential to BE SOMEONE SPECIAL; and, he badgered you to the point of tears to show you that he saw it.

You owe that Chief from another command who dragged you back to your bunk the night you figured you could drink beer faster than those guys could brew it. He did it because you were in his Navy.

When you were at the end of your first enlistment, there was that gnarled old Chief. Remember him? The dude who had been passed over for Chief umpteen times before he made it; and then, only after two tours in the war zone and taking that piece in the leg? And you thought how weird he was because he talked with you about how great the Navy had been to him? And there he was at two in the morning, patiently waiting until you got the frigging gear back together and he could tell you a couple more things for you to consider, and he never quite made it home to his family that night.

You owe him.

You owe that other Chief, for that time the Old Man had you on the carpet for some screw-up – and, boy was he mad – and it looked like your ten years in the Navy was down the tubes. And Chief (What the heck was his name, anyway?) really got into it with Captain Fang, insisting that you were a damned good sailor; he saved your buns. And the Old Man took particular pains to ignore the Chief from then on for arguing with him. The Chief, he never mentioned it to you or got on your case; he had done it just because he was your Chief.

And your buddy from two duty stations ago. A First Class Petty Officer, just like you, remember how he spent hours with you and the chief’s course took so you could understand some obscure but important stuff and get your multiple so you would at least get selection board eligible? The list came out this time and he wasn’t picked, but the section he drummed into your head you aced so well on the exam that you squeezed him out.

Him you owe a lot!

You owe those petty officers and those officers who always (well usually) gave you the benefit of the doubt at evaluation time. You never saw it, but they spent a lot of time at their desks writing evals, searching for the good in you, and taking the time to write a thoughtful, meaningful and believable report on you. They faithfully documented the effort you put into your Navy and your career. They put their reputations on the line when they pronounced you worthy of promotion. So you got promoted and promoted and promoted.

Finally to Chief.

An era in your life has ended and a new one has begun. You can’t ever go back. You are a Chief now and you will always be a Chief. You will get admiration and respect. You will be paying for that admiration and respect from now on!

And, the strange thing is, although you’ve worked your tail off for the Navy, the job in front of you is like nothing you have ever faced before. You have to prove yourself worthy of the respect given you. You must prove yourself in ALL things now – every day. You must demand more of yourself now than anyone has ever demanded from you before.

You must consistently justify your pride in being a Chief. You must make your colleagues in khaki proud of your being a Chief. You must endure proving those folks who believed in you that their beliefs were warranted. You owe them. The debt is called. Now you payback !

YOU must do the things that Chiefs must do. You must not only do those things without being told – you must think up those things. You alone must realize, analyze, prioritize, improvise, exercise and supervise.

YOU are that Chief in boot camp. YOU are that Chief who saves sailors from their own folly. YOU are that Chief who is willing to risk his tail for just treatment of his sailors. And YOU are the Chief who must see to it that your people become the best that they can be.

YOU OWE IT.

YOU are the Chief who now must spend extra hours at home on evaluations and on lesson plans and technical material that makes your head reel – just because YOU are the Chief. YOU are the Chief to whom your sailors turn for the answers; to whom your officers turn for results, and to whom your Captain turns for the wisdom of experiences like but not like his own.

YOU OWE IT.

You owe your seniors. You owe it to your juniors. You owe it to the Navy and to your country. Most importantly, you owe it to every individual who has ever become a Chief.

And you will always be paying this debt that you owe, for you CANNOT EVER pay it off. The ledger will NEVER be even, for you must pay the debt not just to the people you owe, but to the new sailors and the new officers, streams of them, all looking up to you – the Chief.

YOU must see to it that they end up owing you, yet you must not ever collect.

You must do these things for one reason only; You are a Chief. You will always be a Chief. You now must change the lives of others.

You are the best of the best of the best. And so you must always be nothing less than that.

You must pay what you owe forever, but no one will ask you to do it.

No one should have to ask.

YOU ARE THE CHIEF!

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Rating Traits II

Rating Traits II

By Garland Davis

Hospital Corpsman (HM): Doc’s must possess the ability to gaze (some probably desire to) upon male genitalia. They have the ridiculous idea that you can cure everything but the clap with something called an APC (All Purpose Capsule). Actually, it means Aspirin, Phenacetin, and Caffeine. As if a sailor needed more caffeine. They drink so much coffee that they are “eat up” with the shit as it is. Most of the Doc’s I met were good guys. Go over and get drunk with you and invite you to suck oxygen the next morning to help allay the hangover. It is a comfort to a sailor to know that there is someone aboard who can “fix your dick” when needed.

Shipfitter Pipes (SFP): This is a rate that no longer exists. These guys installed and fixed piping. If you have ever been anywhere on a ship you see fucking pipes everywhere. But their primary duty was plumbing and turd chasing. They were slightly more evolved and upright than BT’s, but their knuckles would sometimes come in contact with the deck. They shuffled around with their badge of office, a plunger over their shoulder. The lowly turd chaser you looked down on active duty is now the Roto-Rooter franchisee who charged your wife $400 plus tax to root that humongous turd you dropped which caused the toilet to back up and overflow this morning.

Interior Communication Electrician (IC): ICFA means “I can’t fix anything” and ICFN “I can’t fix nothing.” They manage the vast sound powered phone system throughout the ship. Or I guess I should say mismanage. They conscientiously “tag out” sound-powered phone circuits before working on them.

Sonar Technician (ST): These guys spend their time listening at nothing hoping to hear something or else, they are staring at a screen full of green lines looking for a “waterfall.” They become addicted to porn from spending so much time listening to whales, sea otters. and dolphins fucking.

Radarmen (RD) now Operation’s Specialists (OS). The primary requirement for old time Radarmen was dyslexia. The ability to read and write backward. And if not standing behind a piece of plexiglass they are sitting at a weird TV watching a line going round and round and getting all excited about pieces of potato chip he sneezed onto the TV. They were slobs at sea. The lights were never turned on in CIC and the place accumulates trash and dirt. It usually takes an entire inport period to shovel all the shit out of there.

Radioman (RM): Sometimes referred to as radio girls because they were so delicate. This came from the sub-zero air conditioning in their spaces. They claimed it was because the equipment was delicate, but those of us sweating our ass off in engineering spaces and in the galley knew it was because they were a bunch of pussies.

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Rating Traits

Rating Traits

By Garland Davis

Boatswain’s Mate (BM): Has a skewed view of his greatness bordering on a full blown mental disorder. Carries an $80 knife in a $20 case on a DC’d belt that he rescued from a dumpster. Still has his Bootcamp boondockers which are now colored a combination of Red Lead and Haze Gray with highlights of Zinc Chromate. Can tie a granny knot to perfection every time. When he is not chipping and painting something he is polishing his little silver whistle. He is quick to tell you that in the Navy only Boatswain’s Mates and shitbirds whistle.

Quartermaster (QM): Has a permanent degeneration in vertebrae C4 and C5 from looking up at the stars and a permanent squint from trying to get a sunline. He needs a straight edge to draw a line. He gets highly upset when someone refers to one of his charts as a map. Must have a stopwatch to set a fucking clock.

Signalmen (SM): Were into texting long before it became the in thing with millennials and Gen Xers. Unfortunately, the only comparable civilian occupation that they are qualified for is washerwoman’s assistant hanging garments on a clothesline. The biggest drawback with them is they are fucking winos whom you rarely find them sober enough to do these things.

Storekeeper (SK): The predominant trait among Storekeepers is the ability to say “Sorry but the OPTAR is gone and there is no money” or “That item is not in stock” or “You’ll have to rewrite all these requisitions, they are filled out incorrectly” or “I know that part is on board, but I just can’t find it” all with a straight Face.

Disbursing Clerk (DK) Their primary trait is a Filipino accent so strong that no one can understand what they are saying and after an inquiry one walks away knowing less than he did when he went to Disbursing. In their favor, if they like you, they can rush a travel Claim through in only six weeks.

Commissarymen (CS): Extremely good looking young men with a rudimentary training in Chemistry and demonstrates the ability to turn food to shit without running it through the human body. They are able to deny extra portions to starving sailors while exhibiting a sleek well-fed demeanor themselves.

Boiler Technician (BT): These guys are borderline pyromaniacs who just want to start fires. They understand just enough meteorology to ascertain when the wind is blowing toward the Quarterdeck before blowing tubes. They are terrified of black smoke. They wear thick soled boondockers to ensure that their knuckles don’t drag on the deckplates. They are past masters at theft will steal anything they think is edible.

Machinist Mate (MM): Just enough more evolved than BT’s that the can learn to use wrenches. A large part of their training is to memorize and understand the meaning of “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey. To make sure they know left from right, many of them wear red nail polish on their left hands. They are always begging or stealing coffee for cumshaw. They always seem to want valve tuned up or some shit like that.

Aviation Machinist Mate R (ADR): No longer a rating. Their primary task was fan repair. You know those big fans on the old WWII airplanes. The purpose of those fans was to keep the pilot cool. When that fan stopped, the pilots really started to sweat. ADR’s can make a pretty decent Bloody Mary if you put money into their donation jar.

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