A Character I Knew
By: Garland Davis
This is the story of a character whom I bumped to from time to time in WestPac. Many of you know him, but I will not use his name in this story so as not to embarrass his family if one of them should come across it. As I tell of certain events in this missive, I am sure some of you will know who I am talking about. I’ll just call him JP for the purpose of this Narrative.
I first met JP at Fiddler’s Green in Sasebo in the early sixties. A group of us were sitting on an outdoor patio drinking beer and shooting the shit. I was a brand new PO3 and, if memory serves, JP was a PO2. We sat there and watched a Japanese Papa-san push his bicycle up the hill to the club. He parked his bike near the patio and took a tool box from its mounting and proceeded into the club. Probably there to repair something.
JP went in through to the back door to the kitchen and came back with a slab of butter and greased the brake system on Papa-san’s bicycle. Later after a few more beers, Papa-san came out of the club and remounted his tool box, climbed aboard and started down the hill. He was moving faster and faster, you could see him gripping the brake handles. He resembled Evel Knevel as he jumped the benjo ditch at the bottom of the hill. We were all laughing, JP the hardest.
A few years later JP was in Yokosuka and married to a Japanese girl. His wife had a friend who was shacked up with a sailor. The girl became pregnant and the lowlife abandoned her. JP and his wife agreed to adopt the baby after she gave birth.
The girl was living with JP and his wife just prior to having the baby. The night she went into labor, he took the pregnant girl and his wife’s ID and checked her into the Yokosuka Naval Hospital as his wife. She had the baby and as far as the world knows, his wife had that baby. JP registered him as a foreign American birth.
JP Jr. was a few months old and three or four of us were at JP’s house drinking beer. Japanese houses, in those days, weren’t heated. JP had an oil heater in the corner that provided some relief, but people usually stayed bundled up, even indoors. JP’s wife told him she was going shopping and to watch little JP and left. Later when JP heard her returning, he said, “Watch this.”
He opened the oven door and put Baby JP’s little carrier into the oven and closed the door. The wife come in looks around and asks, “Where is the baby?”
“He was cold, so I put him in the oven to get warm.”
She let out a scream and tore the oven door open. Little JP was there smiling at her. She yelled, “JP, you sonbitch. Why you do this stuff?”
JP was in stitches laughing.
I went off to San Diego for a tour of shore duty. I got caught in one of the “No Homesteaders” movements that cropped up from time to time. I think there was a contingent in the Bureau who thought we were having too much fun.
After leaving San Diego, I was ordered into an old DD homeported in Pearl Harbor as a CS1 and made CSC shortly afterward. JP was an MMC and leading MM in a DDG in the same squadron as my ship. A story that I believe is still making the rounds. JP’s ship was undergoing an Engineering inspection of one kind or another. He was EEOW when one of the inspection team said to him, “Chief, you have just lost fires in the boilers, what action are you going to take?”
JP replied, “Put on a fresh pot of coffee.”
“What, why?” asked the inspector.
“If we’ve got an engineering casualty, I am going to have a lot of company. The CO, the XO, the Chief Engineer, the MPA, the Damage Control Officer and every other mother fucking officer who can find their way down here are going to be in the way. I figure they can have a cup of coffee while they critique my efforts to handle the casualty.
Later in WestPac, the ships were moored at Alava Pier in Subic. My ship was outboard JP’s ship. It was about 1400 and a group of we Chiefs was headed to the club. We crossed to the DDG quarterdeck to find JP as OOD. We waited for a while shooting the breeze with him until the CPO shuttle came down the pier. We caught the van and were off.
We were starting our second beer when JP came walking in. He grabbed a beer and pulled up a chair. Someone said, “JP, I thought you had the quarterdeck.”
“I do,” he replied, “The shuttle van came along and stopped and I just walked out and caught it.”
We hustled his ass back to the ship. No one ever knew he was missing.
The last time I saw JP was a couple years later in Pearl. He came into the CPO club with little JP. He said he was babysitting. One of the waitresses was cooing over the kid. JP said, “You think he is cute. He is hung like a horse. Show her your dick Jr.”
A short time after that I finally was able to get orders back to Japan and lost track of JP.
Just one of the many characters spawned by the Seventh Fleet and WestPac.