By: Garland Davis
I was LCPO of S-2 Division in Midway when MS2 Kelly reported. The Division Officer and I decided to assign him to S-5 Division (wardroom). We felt the pace in the crew’s galleys would be a bit much for him. MS2 Kelly was fifty-four years old. He had just re-enlisted in the Navy.
Later, I became friendly with him. His story or as much as he was willing to tell. He was a CS1 with sixteen years active duty when he took an honorable discharge. (I never asked why and he never volunteered. I always figured that a woman was involved somewhere.) I also do not know how he was able to re-enlist after sixteen years as a civilian and at an age where most sailors were retired. He may have been a Reserve just coming back on active duty. About a year after reporting to Midway he was advanced to MS1.
He was a very positive asset to the S-5 Division. He was assigned as LPO of the After Wardroom (The Dirty Shirt Locker) where Airedale officers in flight suits or flight deck clothing and Snipes in coveralls were relegated. God forbid they offend one of the Prima Donnas in the main Wardroom by appearing in anything other than a proper uniform of the day. Kelly was a personable, easy going person who was extremely well liked by the patrons of the Dirty Shirt Locker.
Kelly, living up to his Irish heritage, liked the occasional beer or fourteen. He wore false teeth and when in his cups, his upper plate rattled around a bit. I remember being in one of the upscale clubs on Magsaysay Avenue and running into Kelly in the head. While he was taking a leak, he sneezed and his teeth flew into the piss trough. He dug them out, rinsed with water that the head boy provided, wiped them on his shirt and popped them back in his mouth.
Another time and another upscale joint, we bumped into a couple of the ship’s dentists. They asked Kelly how his liberty was going. He told them fine, but that he had a toothache. One of the doctors asked to see the tooth. Kelly popped his upper plate out, pointed to one of the teeth and said, “That sunuvabitch right there.”
Kelly was a loner when ashore. Especially in Yokosuka. There was a small out-of-the-way bar that he patronized. I do not remember the name, but I could go right to it or the place it once was. It was on my way to Shiori Station. I would often stop and have a beer. Kelly was usually there. The owner/Mama-san was Kelly’s age. They became good friends and eventually married.
Kelly retired from the Midway with his twenty years completed.
Many of you know Kelly. After retiring, he worked as bartender at the Yokosuka Fleet Reserve Club for many years. Every time I visited Japan, I always made it a point to stop in the FRA to have a few and see him.
Kelly is another in the long line of characters I encountered over my thirty-year career that I am proud to call shipmate.