“Auld Lang Syne.”

“Auld Lang Syne.”

Garland Davis

Here I sit looking back and ahead to what is to come in 2017.  It is thought that January is named after the Roman God Janus who had one face looking backward and one looking forward.  It is appropriate for the time of year.  A person looks back at the past with introspection and forward to the future with expectation

Let me take some time to look back over 2016 and the events that affected me:

-I have never kept a New Year’s Resolution. I made two for 2016.  I vowed to start smoking and to gain fifty pounds.  I failed again.  I give up on resolutions.

-I became Seventy-two years old. Who woulda thunk, back in the day, that I would live this long?

-I attended the fourth Asia Sailor Westpac’rs reunion in Branson, MO.  The most fun you can have with your clothes on.

-I celebrated fifty-one years of marriage to a woman I love more than she can know.

-I got tired of driving a stick shift and bought a new car.

-And thanks to the internet and Facebook, I am in touch with so many old and some new friends.

-My Blog turned a year old with over one hundred thousand views in 2016.  Does this qualify me as a writer?

-My Parkinson’s disease didn’t appear to get any worse.  I only fell once, and I lay that at the feet of Coor’s Light, not the PD. Maintaining!

-We all lived through a roller coaster year of expectation and despair.  Yes, I am talking about the elections!

-I miss the Navy just as much or more than I did at this time last year.

 

As for 2017:

-As Doris Day said in her song:  ♫Que Sera Sera♫ (Whatever will be, will be)

-I do know that I will be at the Asia Sailor Westpac’rs reunion in Branson in May.

-All I can do is hope that our new president is good for our country!

-As for the rest, we’ll see!

 

The song that everyone knows as “Auld Lang Syne.” Based on a poem by poet Robert Burns, the lyrics are in Burns’ Scottish-inflected English of the late 18th century.  ‘Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long since,” but can be rendered as “days gone by” or “old times.” The song is asking a question: “Is it right that old acquaintances and old times should be forgotten?”

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?
And days of auld lang syne, my dear,
And days of auld lang syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pu’d the gowans fine.
We’ve wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin’ auld lang syne.
Sin’ auld lang syne, my dear,
Sin’ auld lang syne,
We’ve wandered mony a weary foot,
Sin’ auld ang syne.
We twa hae sported i’ the burn,
From morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin’ auld lang syne.
Sin’ auld lang syne, my dear,
Sin’ auld lang syne.
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And ther’s a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine;
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

 

A more understandable version:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?
And days of auld lang syne, my dear,
And days of auld lang syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

We two have run about the slopes,
And picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
Since auld lang syne    

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine
But seas between us broad have roared
Since auld lang syne

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught
For auld lang syne

Being Asia Sailors, we are all prone to take a right good-will draught from time to time.  If you do so in celebrating the demise of 2016 and to welcome 2017, please do not drive. You may save a life, even your own.

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Thayer Ward

 

Backstory. As the BMD platform, we were actually listed as an Air Force asset, under the command of the MDA (Missile Defense Agency), and when we weren’t doing BMD stuff, we were under MIDPAC (neither 3rd nor 7th fleets). This, in turn, meant we almost always were independent steaming (no attachment to any BG or ESG).

2 weeks after the war games with Japan and Korea had started, we got into the middle of the games (see the previous story). During that second part of the games, we were attached to a BG (can’t remember which carrier). After the games, we stayed with them. They were slated to pull into Hong Kong. However, operational requirements changed, and we detached from them and pulled in 4 days early, for 3 nights.

So now, we pull in. As stated in the previous story, my liberty partner and I had no duty, no liberty restrictions, overnight liberty authorized, all through our stay in Hong Kong. We also got first off the ship for liberty call.

My buddy, Cam, had been there before, but it was my first time. I told him I didn’t want to spend too much money, and didn’t want to pay for a woman, wanted to pick one up in a bar. He agreed. He had a twinkle in his eye and said he had a plan.

We get out of the pier area and start heading into town. Cam took me to the Wan Chai district. He said we could drink for free, then we would head over to Banana Joe’s. I liked the sound of that!

We started walking, and something immediately struck me. On the left side of the road were legitimate businesses: bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. On the right side, the side we were walking, were buildings with curtains covering everything on the first floor. No windows or doors were visible, just curtains.

I was thinking about the oddity of this when, from behind some curtains, a girl comes out and latches onto me, basically dragging me in behind the curtains. I look at Cam, and he smiles at me, nods his head and waves his hand at me to go in. We get in, and it’s a sailor’s paradise. Naked girls dancing on a small stage, girls singing karaoke, girls playing darts, girls drinking. I felt like a kid in Toys ‘R Us (my first time going to a place like this).

The girl immediately brings me to the bar, sets me down, and asks if I want a drink (Jack and Coke) or a shot of Tequila. Took the shot, start it off right! So Cam and I get our drinks. Mama-san immediately comes over and tries to get us to buy a girl a drink or take one to a hotel. We decline and head out. Not there even 5 minutes.

So we start walking, and the next place, the same thing. Girls grabbing us and taking us in, a free drink (sometimes shots, sometimes mixed drinks), mama-san trying to squeeze money out of us, we leave. This went on for a while.

After a number of places, even though I didn’t want to look a gift-horse in the mouth, I had to know, so I asked Cam why we were getting free drinks. He said “They think we’re part of the carrier group that is scheduled to pull in. They’re trying to get us drunk and get us to spend money quickly, in and out so that they can get through as many guys as possible and make the most money.” Well, that made sense. And they were all empty because the BG didn’t pull in.

We continued on, and after a bit, we were feeling really good, not having spent a dime, having some nice stripper dances and managing to cop a little more than a feel. Finally, Cam said, “Okay, I think we’re good, lets head over to Banana Joe’s.” I agreed. But Hong Kong girls were having none of that.

We started walking, and the very next place, a gorgeous 5’1″ Thai girl comes out, most beautiful Asian girl I had ever seen (lived in Hawai’i, so that’s saying something). She latches on, and I look at Cam, and he immediately starts ranting. “No, forget it! We are going to Banana Joe’s! No more of this!”. Immediately after saying that, a gorgeous 5’4″ Vietnamese girl latches onto him and looks with a puppy-dog look. He caved, and we went in.

The girls sat us at the bar, but this one was different. It was a crescent shape, with bar stools, no backing underneath. The girls give us each two drinks, a shot, and a mixed drink. After serving us, they glanced at each other, then dropped down. We unknowingly began to play smiles. Very very nice.

After the girls finish, mama-san comes over and starts talking. “$90 each for the girl and the room for 2 hrs.” I thought this wasn’t a bad deal, but Cam wasn’t having any of that. “No, forget that…” He haggled with mama-san, and talked her down to $90 total for the girls and 2 rooms ALL NIGHT, until noon the next day. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

Cam pays (we had an agreement not to pay for girls, so the cost was on him he said), we leave. The girl I have is having trouble keeping up because she didn’t change her shoes, and she was tired from dancing and whatnot. So I lift her up and put her on my shoulders.

We’re walking along, and I look across the 4 lane road. What do I see? My CO, XO, and almost all the Dept Heads (including my own) sitting at a table outside of a restaurant. So, I walk across two lanes, over the median, and across the other two lanes, with my girl on my shoulders. I grab her legs and walking up to them, start shaking her legs and said, “El Capitan-O, what’s going on-o?”

My DH looks like he was dying of a heart attack, but everyone else, including the CO, was laughing. “Petty Officer Ward, how are you doing?”, he said in his deep, James Earl Jones voice. “I’m doing great sir,” I said, and patting my girl’s legs, I said, “I will be doing a whole lot better real soon!” They all laughed again (even my DH, who now knows he isn’t going to be chewed for this).

The CO said, “Do you have protection Petty Officer Ward?” Now, one of the rules when going on liberty there was that we had to grab condoms. We had a very large, deep box, full of condoms on the Quarterdeck, and the rule to leave was that we had to grab two handfuls. A handful was two hands scooping them up and filling our two front pockets. So I replied to the CO by reaching into my pocket and pulling out a handful. They just laughed again and sent me on my way.

So I get back over to my liberty partner, who is incredulous that I didn’t get chewed right there and then. We walk to the hotel. Getting up to our rooms, they are side-by-side, with my door immediately next to Cam’s.

We get inside, I go in to use the bathroom, and when I come out, she’s watching tv! I think, “My friend did not pay $45 for you so that you can watch tv!” I see what she’s watching, and quickly change my tune. Full, complimentary, unblurred, XXX porn. She flips a channel or two and says “I want to try that!”, and “Ooh, this looks fun!” “And we should do this!” YESSSSSS!!!!

So we’re watching, “warming” each other up, when there was a knock at the door. I go over, naked with the TeePee pole raised fully, and open the door. It’s Cam’s girl. “Umm, your friend fell asleep…”. I peek in, and sure enough, he’s passed out, face-down, wallet still in his pants.

“I got $20 if you want to come join us.” “Sure!” She comes in and starts making out with the other girl. There was a song, “Oh what a night!” Every time I hear it, I am taken back to that night in Hong Kong. The rest of the time there was definitely fun, but not like that night, and no other port has beaten it.

 

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Pre-Hong Kong

Pre-Hong Kong

By:  Thayer Ward

 

After leaving Yokosuka, we got underway for a 4-week play-time with Japanese and Korean forces. Huge war games, included all branches, except the American Coasties. Japanese Coasties played along, though.

We were playing the good guys. We got stuck with a couple Japanese ships (we were the BMD testbed, and Japan was in the process of getting their BMD program off the ground, so we often worked with them). It was boring, turning circles in the ocean, away from the action, for the first 2 weeks. But then we got into it.

If you don’t know about EWS/EWCO, this is an explanation and helps with part of the story. I was a CTT (Cryptologic Technician Technical), the product of old CTTs (the ones that rode subs and aircraft and did all the super secret squirrel stuff) and EWs (Electronic Warfaremen, my old rate before the merger). The primary job of an EW was Anti-Ship Missile Defense, using the SLQ-32 to identify radars, and so identify other units. We did Intel, missile info, identification (only other means outside of IFF and Visual ID, or VID). We are, essentially, the ears of the ship. We also fired chaff/NULKA and did active countermeasures (jamming). We had two watch positions in CIC, EWCO, and EWS. The purpose of the EWCO (Electronic Warfare Console Operator) was to operate the SLQ-32 console, identify radars, talk with the other fleet EWs on radio, fire chaff, and jam. The purpose of the EWS (Electronic Warfare Supervisor) was to assist the EWCO for identification purposes, be in charge of the watch, take over if something happens to the EWCO, correlate track data to what we had on the NTDS consoles (Naval Tactical Data System, allowed everyone in CIC to see the same picture, including radar pictures). NTDS and the SLQ didn’t interface for the most part, so the track-to-radar correlation was a necessity. EWS also talked with everyone else in CIC and gave out info. EWS was the guy everyone in CIC was relying on for identification and tell them what type of missile was inbound and kept track of the big picture to allow the EWCO to focus on his job. There’s a LOT of radars out there.

I was on watch, EWS. We were Blue and Gold watch rotation, so I was on from 0600 to 1800 every day. We’re in the “war zone,” taking people out left and right. For a ship that hadn’t been out of the Pacific since I was onboard, we were kickin’ ass and taking names. Everything is good, until…

The EWCO says “Hey, got something I don’t recognize, and can’t find any info on it.” I come over and take a look. I know it’s an aircraft radar, but not sure what. However, I follow it around, and it correlates to an aircraft. The Japanese had a new Learjet they were using for Coast Guard purposes. We had no info on it, other than it was half-orange, half-white, and said Coast Guard on it. It is playing the bad guy, with a “missile release range” of 20 NM.

This guy makes a beeline for us. Still, no clue what it is. CO is asking what it is, and I can’t answer. Up until now, I had been spot on, but this guy was confusing me. Finally, it gets to 25 NM, and the CO calls me over our internal net and says “make the call EW.” I called hostile. The CO tells the TAO to shoot him down. Our TAO, who is my Dept. Head, objects, but the CO says “DO IT!!” One of the most stressful times of my career.

We “shoot it down,” 22 NM out. Immediately, the TAO comes over and starts chewing me out. “You just shot down a civilian aircraft!” Yeah, coming in at under 1k ft at 500 kts, okay…”We are the new Vincennes, and we will never sail in the Pacific! Your bad judgment embarrassed us!” I was pissed, so I went off on him (LT at the time). We got into a yelling match, and I flipped him the bird, right to his face, with EVERYONE in CIC (Chiefs, officers, enlisted) watching and said: “Well I will see you at mast!” (note that my quotes probably aren’t exact, more like an idea of what was said)

I sat down, stewing, knew I was up the creek. The net is silent (someone hit the switch so that everyone at watch stations outside of CIC heard it). Everyone knows I’m screwed, and no one wants to talk to me because I’d probably fight them…

I felt a hand on me, and I turned around and yelled: “WTF do you want?!?!” I turned pale and apologized immediately. It was the CO. “Petty Officer Ward, calm down, it’s okay son,” he said reassuringly. “We just got a message back from a P-3 in the area. They got a look at the target we just shot down. Half-orange, half-white, had Japanese writing, and said ‘Coast Guard’ in English.”

Vindication! I felt better, even knowing I was going to mast, because I made the right call, and were it real, would have saved our butts. “Don’t worry about your confrontation with OPS, I will deal with it.” “You mean, I’m not going to mast?” “Nooo. You’ve been doing an outstanding job. You were right, and he came over and picked a fight with you. You will be okay.” Man, talk about relief.

OPS subsequently apologized. I shook his hand, but I could see he was pissed about it, and still thought he was right. Fortunately, he left after that deployment, and I didn’t have to deal with him anymore. My DIVO later told me that, not only was I off Liberty risk, but that me and my liberty partner had first off the ship, no duty, and overnight liberty for the 4 nights we would be in Hong Kong. Yeah, good CO for sure.

 

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

I will be taking a few days off for Christmas.  I wish to take this opportunity to wish the thousands of readers of Tales of An Asia Sailor around the world a Merry Christmas.  I’ll be back right after Christmas.

Thank you for reading the stories I publish here.

 

Garland

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A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

Garland Davis

My uncle was a Redneck and a tobacco farmer.  But, the farming was just a front to fool the revenuers.  His primary occupation was as a purveyor of non-tax paid alcohol, otherwise known as moonshine, white likker, and in more recent times, ethanol.  He often conducted protracted quality assurance tests of his product, in other words, he got drunk and stayed drunk for days.

I remember one Christmas when I was eight or nine years old.  I already knew that Santa Claus was a fictional character that children are misled to believe in.  My younger brothers, sister and many of my cousins still thought that Santa Claus broke into their houses on Christmas Eve and left them toys and ugly clothing.

It was a snowy afternoon and evening.  My father and uncles worked for the state highway department and had been called to work operating snow plows scraping snow off the roads and highways.  My family along with two of my aunts and many of my cousins were at our grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve.  We had finished supper, the other kids and I were in the living room playing Monopoly or listening to the radio (this was before anyone I knew had TV). The adults were in the kitchen making Christmas’ cookies and talking when my uncle showed up.

He parked in the front yard and came into the house carrying a shotgun in one hand and a quart fruit jar in the other.  I never knew how to take him.  I don’t know whether he liked kids or not, but he always acted as if he didn’t.  We were all a little afraid of him.  He went into the kitchen and set the shotgun in the corner by the door.  He sat down at the table and asked for a glass and another glass of water.  His method of drinking; he would pour a half glass of whiskey with a glass of water on the side.  It may take an hour, but when he drank, he killed the whiskey and followed it with the water.  Then he would refill the glasses and begin the wait until next time.

After about an hour, he yelled, “Hey all you young’uns git in here!  I brought you some candy.

The younger kids jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I trepidatiously followed.  He had a pile of candy on the table and was handing it out.  My aunts and mother were reminding the kids to say “Thank You” and were smiling at their children.

My uncle suddenly said, “Be quiet, I heered something.”  He jumped up grabbed his shotgun saying, “Hear that?” and went through the door onto the back porch.  Almost immediately the gun fired and then again.  Everyone was wondering what he was shooting at.  I started through the door, but Mom grabbed me and said, “Don’t go out there.”

He comes back through the door and sets the shotgun back in the corner and says, “Well they ain’t gonna be no Sandy Claus this year.  I just run that Sumbitch off.”

Those Santa Claus-believing kids probably suffered mental problems and probably needed therapy for years.

I must have inherited some of the same genes as my uncle.  I thought then and still think it was hilarious.

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T’was the night before Christmas—Navy Style

T’was the night before Christmas—Navy Style

 

Twas the night before Christmas, compartments were still,
the sailors were sleeping, as most sailors will.

The ditty bags hung by the lockers with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The men were all peacefully dreaming in bed
as visions of liberty danced in each head.

The Chief in his skivvies, hopped into his rack,
having just came from town and a quick midnight snack.

When out on the deck there arose such a roar,
I ran to the porthole to find out the score.

I stuck out my head and started to shout,
“Just what in the world is this noise all about?”

A moon made for boon docking showed with a glow.
It was downright cold out, ’bout seven below.

What I saw out there looked like those Mardi Gras floats.
T’was a Captain’s gig drawn by white Navy goats.

In the boat was a man who seemed quiet and moody,
I knew in an instant St. Nick had the duty.

As quickly as Monday his Billy goats came,
he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

“Now Perry, now Farragut, Dewey and Jones,
what’s the matter John Paul, got lead in your bones?

A little to Starb’rd, now hold it up short,
no fluffing off now, or you’ll go on report!”

He was wearing dress “Reds” that fit like a charm.
His hash marks they covered the length of his arm.

The gifts to be issued were all in his pack.
The gedunk was ready to leave on each rack.

His eyes they were watering, his nose caked with ice,
he wiped it with canvas, then sneezed once or twice.

He opened his mouth and started to yawn.
It looked like the Sun coming up with the dawn.

The stump of a pipe, he held tight in his teeth,
and took a small nip from a bottle beneath.

He wasn’t so big, but he must have been strong,
I figured he’d been in SEALs early and long.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old Tar,
Who said “Evenin’ Matey, here have a cigar.”

He filled every sea bag with presents galore,
And left us all leave papers, right by the door.

With “Anchors Aweigh” he climbed back into place,
a broad smile was creeping all over his face.

One look at his watch and he started to frown,
“This mid-watch is certainly getting me down.”

Then out to the breakwater and into the night,
the gig started fading, the landscape was bright.

“Merry Christmas” he said, as he drove on his way,
now I’ll finish my rounds and sack in for the day.”

 

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T’was the Night Before Christmas —WestPac Style

 

T’was the Night Before Christmas —WestPac Style

 

Twas the night before Christmas, And all through the fleet
Just the midwatch was stirring, The rest were asleep
Their boon dockers are strewn, all over the deck
If Santa tripped on them, he might break his neck

The sailors were nestled, All snug in their bunks
And dreaming of PI, And a good three day drunk
The CO in his stateroom, the XO on the bridge
And the Command Master Chief, out raiding the fridge

When up on the foc’sle, I heard something thump
So grabbing my white hat, from my rack I did jump
Up the ladder from berthing, I flew like a flash
Cranked open the hatch, and down the deck dashed

The moon on the haze gray and brasswork did glow
All sparkling and white like a Mt. Fuji snow
And what should I see, though my eyesight seemed dim
But a horse bedecked jeepney, with eight LBFMs

With a little old driver, with a beard long and white
It was old Santa Claus, on his Christmas Eve flight
More rapid than A-18 Hornets they came,
He squeezed all their asses and called them by name

Now, Judith! Now Marites! Now May and Irene!
On Mary! On Anna! On Grace and Aileen!
To the top of the mast, and down to Shaft Alley
Let’s spread Christmas cheer, now rally, girls, rally!

As sea spray before the wild typhoons do fly
With waves so tall they seem to reach to the sky
And so to the flight deck the bright jeepney flew
With a load of Pinays, and St. Nicholas too

Then I heard a sound, so subtle and sweet
The flapping of flip-flops on little brown feet
As I gathered my wits and was looking around
Down the smoke stack, St. Nick and the girls all did bound

He was wearing Bermuda shorts, lei, and some sandals
With a Hawaiian shirt that showed his love handles
He carried a cooler of cold San Magoo
And another of Kirin, (it might have been two)

His eyes they were hidden by mirrored sunglasses
He kissed all the girls and slapped them on their asses
He smiled a sly smile because Santa Claus knew
Just what he could do to cheer up the crew

He fired up his pipe (the smoking lamp was not lit.)
But old Westpac Santa did not give a shit
For though Santa kept track of the naughty and nice
He has been caught breaking the rules once or twice

To each berthing compartment, traversed Santa and team
For each sailor left gifts, (and a few pleasant dreams)
For Santa knew sailors were their own special breed
And he knew how to fill, their specialized needs

The good sailors got mojo, the naughty, balut
But he left San Miguel for the whole fuckin’ crew
Then he called all the girls and hugged them all together
And winking their eyes, up they flew like a feather

They piled in the jeepney, he gave one last whistle
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle
But I heard his voice on the old 1MC
Merry Christmas to all, Commence Holiday Routine!

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