Brer Rabbit or Throw Me In That Briar Patch
By: Robert “Okie Bob” Layton
It was late 1970 I had about four months left on my shore duty. In my squadron was a second class aviation metalsmith by the name of James Hare AMS2. With a name like Hare sailors naturally nicknamed him “Rabbit.”
Hare had come to the squadron out of the fleet and was yearning to get back. Every day, all day he would go on and on about liberty in Westpac, in particular, the PI [Philippine Islands] and Subic Bay.
A single bachelor Rabbit was hankering for that Po city liberty. He would make statements like “Man if I could just get back to the PI I would never leave” He had tried to terminate his shore duty but was not able to do so. The Rabbit was stuck in the states an unhappy sailor!
I had transferred to VF-194 in March 1971, and we were now underway headed for Vietnam. About a week before our departure AMS2 Hare checked into our squadron. He had managed to reenlist and get orders on the next Carrier headed west VF-194 USS Oriskany.
Rabbit was assigned to Airframes and shared the same space as my shop, Power plants. Having served with him for two years, I was weary of his stories of the PI.
Rabbit was wound-up about the expectation of returning to the PI and was bending anyone’s ear about the rewards of liberty in the PI. He tried to wrangle a slot onto the beach Det [detachment] at Cubi Point, but being new to the squadron that was not going to happen.
We pulled into Cubi Point, tied up to the pier, liberty call sounded. Rabbit was first in line to go ashore. I remember how the sailors in the shop were all kidding him about returning to the PI.
“Hey Rabbit what you going to do in Olongapo” someone would ask
“I’m going to run amuck drink beer and chase women” he loudly declared
“Just throw me in that Brier-Patch” he vociferously announced” Lifting a page from Uncle Remus folklore, Rabbit was ingenious and conniving more like Brer Fox
A few days later we pulled out and headed for the Tonkin Gulf minus one AMS2 James ‘Rabbit” Hare, Rabbit had missed ships movement and was AWOL.
The opinion was Rabbit more than likely got drunk and overslept. He would report into the Beach Det in Cubi and catch a COD flight out in a day or so we all thought.
30 days later when we pulled back in—still no Rabbit. After a short in port, back to the gulf we returned.
Once back out at sea, We discovered that Rabbit had come aboard the ship late at night while in port gone to the Ready room where the beach Det checks were kept. He told the Petty officer on duty he was part of the Beach Det and needed his check which he gave him; Rabbit went back ashore, and we pulled out. Rabbit was still in that Brier-patch!
We did another line period pulled back into Cubi by this time Rabbit was out of everyone’s mind no one gave him any thought.
Well, that rascally Rabbit did it again! While in port Hare came on the ship and picked up another paycheck! Everyone was amused at the sheer audacity Rabbit displayed in getting funded while being AWOL
Back at sea, the senior squadron duty officer was holding training for the assistant duty officers [enlisted E-5’s] on how to catch a Rabbit!
For the 3rd time, we pulled in. The trap was set for the Rabbit. I guess by that time the Brierpatch was growing its own carrots for we never seen AMS2 James “Rabbit” Hare again.
I often wonder if Rabbit is still hopping around in the PI?
“Please, Br’er Fox, don’t fling me in dat brier-patch,”