XO’s I and CO’s Mast
By: Garland Davis
The first CO’s mast that I ever attended was in USS Vesuvius as a newly minted CS3 and the accused’s immediate supervisor. There were two people to be seen at Mast that morning, both for unauthorized absence. The first miscreant was brought before the Captain. He made the excuse that he had forgotten to set his alarm and had overslept. The CO awarded him two weeks’ restriction to the ship.
My cook striker was brought in and stated the he drank too much the previous night and somewhere he had lost his neckerchief. He stated that he would have made it to the ship on time, but the Marines at the gate held him up hassling him about an improper uniform. The CO thought for a minute then asked me, the Chief, and the Division Officer about his performance. After our replies, he dismissed the charges and said, “Son, the next time you go drinking, take better care of your uniform items.”
Yes, there was a time in the Navy when drinking too much could be used as a credible reason and wasn’t held against miscreants at Mast!
In Midway, XO’s Investigation was conducted aft on the first deck, just aft of the legal office. There was a large space just forward where witnesses and divisional representatives gathered and waited for their miscreant to be called. There was usually quite a crowd and the wait could be protracted. I was there with Red, an airdale AECS, waiting for our dirtbags to be summoned. I usually attended because as Assistant Food Service Officer, I was rewarded with attending for each Cook and Mess Cook who was summoned. Red and I were bullshitting when a brand new Ensign approached. He introduced himself and informed us he was the newest addition to B Division. He was seeking advice on how to conduct himself as he had never before attended one of these functions.
Red immediately says, “Sir, the XO has to make a decision whether the person you are going with is guilty. To do this, he needs as much detailed information as you can give him.”
I jumped in and seconded Red’s recommendation.
In actuality, the XO didn’t want any bullshit. He just wanted to hear “good Guy, who messed up” or “dirtbag whom the Navy would be better without.” He had forty or fifty sailors to process and just didn’t have a lot of time.
The Ensign’s criminal was called before ours. He was almost shaking as he went in to the function. He was shaking when he came out. He told me and Red. “I don’t know what happened. I was giving the XO the information about the FN and suddenly he told me to shut up and sent the FN to mast. I don’t understand.”
Red says, “Sir, I’m glad I’m not you. The XO hates you.”
Another time, another XO “I”. Red and I together again. The same Ensign comes over and says, “I hope this doesn’t take too long today. I’ve got paperwork to do before entering Yokosuka tomorrow. It is going to be good to get back to Japan.”
“Pisses me off”, says Red.
“Why?” questions the Ensign.
“Cause we don’t get our sea pay when we are in port.” goes Red.
The Ensign says, “Of course you draw sea pay while you are attached to the ship whether you are in port or at sea.”
“Me and Dave don’t believe we can morally accept sea pay unless the ship is actually at sea. They pay us the sea pay for inport days and we return it to the Disbursing Officer,” Red says.
“Really, that’s amazing.” From the Ensign.
“Let me explain our theory of Sea Duty,” Says Red. “The earth is seventy-five percent water; if you spend your first twenty-five years ashore then you owe seventy-five years’ sea duty.
Later that evening we are in the CPO Mess having coffee when BTC Mudge comes in, pours a cup, sits down and says, “Will you two clowns stop fuckin’ with my Ensign, I am trying to train him and you are fucking him up. Right now he is in awe of Chiefs and for some reason thinks the two of you have your shit together.”
“Mudge, anything we can do to improve your world is our goal in life.” I said.
Captain Owens was CO of Midway. Mast was usually held in a ready room. Divisional Representatives could take a seat and observe until their “Dirt Bag” was called for punishment. One particular mast, the first three cases were called and their Division Officers, Division Chiefs, and Petty Officers lauded their men as outstanding examples of the North American Blue Jacket.
After the third one was adjudicated, Captain Owens told the CMAA to hold the next one for a moment. He clutched the podium, glared at us and said, “All right gentlemen, let’s knock this shit off. If these were such sterling characters they wouldn’t be up here this morning.” ********************************* There was another time we were gathered in a ready room, again, with Captain Owens. The first case took about thirty minutes and the second one was dragging on. At the rate it was going, we would be there most of the day. After finally clearing the second case, Captain Owens told the CMAA to wait a minute, looked at everyone and said, “I can’t take any more of this today. Dismissed.”
Another time we were gathered in a ready room for Mast. Again with Captain Owens. The accused was a BTFR. He is brought in front of the CO and is joined by the Division Officer, his Chief and a BT1. The charges are read, and the FN’s statement given. The Division Officer told the CO that the FN was one of the division’s poorest performers. The Chief reiterated the DO’s statement.
The PO1, when asked about the offender exclaimed, “Look at him, just look at him, he’s a scrounge.”
We all saw a clean, neatly dressed sailor in a perfect uniform. The BT1, almost dancing around pointing out various items, goes on, “Those are my pants, the hat, shirt and shoes are borrowed. He doesn’t have any skivvies and I had to buy the socks. I bribed the SH1 to get him a haircut and threatened him with bodily harm if he didn’t take a shower. I thought about letting him come up here as he was, but I was too ashamed that someone in my division was that fucked up, sir.”
The CO asks the BT1, “What do you think we should do with him BT1?”
Shit can him, Captain,” replies the BT.
And it was done.
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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.