Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

By John Petersen


His smile so big, no doubt meant for Mommy and me,

I know from what Mom told me he’s in a place not so friendly.

A place where what she calls the ‘enemy’ desires to, for their beliefs, kill,
to keep in place their ancient beliefs and preserve their will.

Daddy is there to ensure freedom for all, this I’m old enough to know,

And I know he’ll continue to do this, for all the years coming as I continue to grow.

There comes a knock at the door…

The days of crying, remembrance, what memories I will never let go,
the picture by my nightlight, and in the living room he defends from all foes.

I know my endless tears will never call Daddy back to comfort Mommy and me,

I know that my Daddy stood up for what is right for everyone, you see.

From what I was told, Daddy never even thought of backing away,

He protected his fellow mates as he would Mommy and I any day.

This is my Daddies flag…

Above the fireplace mantle, surrounded by other items and such,
yet perfectly centered, lightly dusted yet otherwise untouched.

Of all things also on the mantle, just to the right, for all to see,
is the catcher’s mitt my Dad gave to me.

I refuse to move it, forbid anyone to try and do so,

I caught my first ball with this mitt from my Dad’s mighty throw.

He will always be here for Mommy and me, my prayers have told me so,

Our Guardian Angel, in the living room so big, smiling, and bold.

images (72).jpg


A Moment in Time on Watch in CIC

A Moment in Time on Watch in CIC

By Pat Dingle

I stood watch on every duty station OI division (Operations Intelligence) had during my nearly four years there. At first, as a 17 year old right out of boot camp, I had upright chart boards and soon wrote backwards. Sound power phones connecting most of us including the bridge and lookouts turned out to be the easiest to master. Radar screen blips and perhaps some of the more involved electronic countermeasure equipment (spying) took much more hands on training. I learned from sr. radarmen, all Petty Officers up to and including Chief Petty Officers, the intricate ways and means of accurately interpreting those little “returns” or objects on the radar screen, each one representing something afloat or flying. For a break and/or to get me out of the way, they’d assign me to to the 07 level as a lookout. During that first West-Pac tour of 1964-65 shortly after reporting aboard everything was so new and exciting to me but soon I did have duty stations that seemed a bit more interesting then others or at least had the potential to be.

download (100).jpg

If I were to now pick one station in CIC to call my own I’d have to say it would be the emergency long range air search radar. We had four radar stations in the “air section” of CIC vs. three in the “surface section”. The watch officers had one of each. Three were side by side and manned for normal routine operations i.e.. our flights, civilian airliners etc. and one radar located eight feet away from the others up on a little pedestal. It was used only for aircraft emergencies and had a radio signal direction finder above the radar screen used to pickup a mayday call and you’d turn the dial to get a bearing on the radio signal. The radio telephone headset there was tuned in to an emergency net used by American pilots, all branches, who were hit by enemy fire or any other emergency. When we left Long Beach in late 1964 not one of us could conceive there would ever be a need for that station hence no special training. Operation Rolling Thunder in Feb.1965 changed all that, slowly at first. We were on station far north of the DMZ for the occasional air strike months before the air war began. War teaches you to get it right the first time.

Another reason I liked the air radars is that you could “see” for hundreds of miles in every direction from the Yorktown, further if the atmospherics were right. So much depended on weather conditions, very frustrating at times. I vividly recall tracking Chinese jets (Chi-Coms) well north of the Chinese/North Vietnam border and North Vietnamese jets flying all around Hanoi daily most of those times we were well north in the Gulf of Tonkin. The air section or “air picture” as we liked to refer to it, would plot most if not all contacts on large upright Plexiglas charts located directly behind the individual radar stations. One chart per station, one seaman per chart connected to the man on the scope via sound powered phones. There was just enough room to squeeze between the chart and the bulkhead. Anyway, the air picture gave us, the two or three CIC watch officers, the Captain on the bridge and the Admiral in the next room the “big picture” as to what and where, course and speed of anything flying while they’re still a long ways out. Everyone is considered a bogey unless/until proven otherwise. Most often that proof would come in the form of IFF (Identification-Friend-or Foe) on all American aircraft. It’s a device on the plane that sends out a signal capable of being picked up by radar. The IFF signal could even be greatly enlarged by the experienced radar operator and the individual code of that aircraft read. We seldom had a need to do that though. They were either ours or theirs and that’s all we wanted or needed to know.


One early morning well north of the DMZ, perhaps 0400 or so, absolutely nothing going on anywhere, I was sitting on the emergency radarscope, radio headset on listening to the low constant static, watching the sweep of the radar antenna going around and around and around, about 360 degrees a minute, drinking coffee and smoking non-filtered camel cigarettes trying my best to stay awake in the dark of CIC when I heard “Mayday, Mayday” loud and clear in my headset. I looked at my screen to a cloudy area over North Vietnam and saw a very faint emergency IFF signal emerge. I immediately marked the spot, read the degree and distance in miles from the Yorktown, shouted out to the entire room “Mayday-Emergency IFF” kicking everyone in gear, reached up to take hold of the voice radio direction finder to tune into the pilot if he can call again to confirm data and all this at once in one sure motion. Those across the room marked the aircraft’s location on charts and waited for each report from me. I too waited what seemed like a very long time, at least a full sweep on my scope. Then I heard the pilot again. I can hear him now as I type this. In what I can only describe as a resigned, almost bored sounding sing-song, high to low voice the pilot calmly broadcast “Mayday mayday mayday……..Mayday mayday mayday……..mayday may……………. That was it. No more sounds, signals or radar returns. He fell from the night sky, crashing into the jungle below and died.

I heard, saw, so many more pilots shot down during those years, some we rescued too. I’ll write about those rescues one day. This story is about but one moment in time on watch in CIC. One that will stay with me forever.

This is the man I’m thinking about this Memorial Day………..


Memorial Day

Memorial Day

By:  Garland Davis

Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, grass, outdoor and nature

Unfortunately, many Americans have come to confuse Memorial Day with Armed Forces Day, where we celebrate those Americans presently serving in the Armed Forces and Veteran’s Day where we celebrate those who have served and are no longer serving.

The Memorial Holiday Weekend is not about the new car or mattress sales.  Nor is it about baseball games or automobile races, picnics or campouts.  It is a day set aside to remember and honor the hundreds of thousands of Americans who gave their lives to the United States while serving in the Armed Forces.  Many Americans have relatives or know someone who lost their life in service to the United States.  A cousin I never knew, was lost flying fighter planes over Italy in WWII.  Another cousin died in Korea attempting to bring the wounded, under his care, to safety. I remember my good friend and shipmate CS2 Ronald Muise who is still at sea in USS Thresher.  Those of us who served in a carrier know of someone who gave his life on the flight deck, “the most dangerous six acres in the world.”  And we all know someone who gave his life in our generation’s war, Viet Nam. Many of us know someone suffering from the ravages of Agent Orange, a person killed in Viet Nam who just hasn’t died yet.

In 1866 a Northern town in New York and a Southern town of Georgia began the practice of memorializing their war dead.  The towns of Waterloo, New York and Columbus, Georgia remembered their lost sons by placing flowers and plants upon their graves.  On May 26, 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation recognizing Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day and became an official holiday in 1971.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed services. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

Our National Cemeteries, on Memorial Day, have nothing to do with the sweep and grandeur of history, nor the gigantic commitment of resources to battles and wars; nor grand strategies and brilliant tactics. They are places where – and the day when – we remember the individual men and women who were killed at Bull Run, and Belleau-Wood, at Iwo Jima, on Omaha Beach, and in Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq and all the other un-locatable places with unpronounceable names where we have too often sent young men and women to fight and, too often, to die.

I’m not saying that you should not celebrate the holiday weekend. Watch the car race, go to the beach, have a cookout, I only ask that you pause for a minute and remember that

Some Gave All

By:  Billy Ray Cyrus

I knew a man, called him Sandy Kane
Few folks even knew his name
But a hero, yes, was he
Left a boy, came back a man
Still many just don’t understand
About the reasons that we are free

I can’t forget the look in his eyes
Or the tears he cries
As he said these words to me

“All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all”

Sandy Kane is no longer here
But his words are oh so clear
As they echo throughout our land
For all his friends who gave us all
Who stood the ground and took the fall
To help their fellow men

Love your country and live with pride
And don’t forget those who died
America can’t you see?

All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the Red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall, yes recall
Some gave all
Some gave all

In Flanders Fields

By:  John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Rights come with Responsibilities – Or Do They?

From a shipmate’s blog.


Memorial Day has been a special event in my family’s life ever since Great Grandfather Mac donned his Grand Army of the Republic Uniform and marched in his first parade.

The men who returned from the War Between the States felt it was their duty and honor to remember the sacrifices of so many men who had died in that horrific war. For those who were fortunate, death came swiftly. For those less fortunate, long suffering in primitive medical conditions, agony lasted months and even years. The men who escaped injury felt that honoring the sacrifice was a continuation of their duty.

Their sons were later called to action for a larger war overseas and within another generation yet another World War. Rach of those wars and the many conflicts since have one thing in common. All of them have helped to preserve an idea called America and the freedom…

View original post 946 more words


The 2017 Asia Sailor’s Westpac’rs Reunion

The 2017 Asia Sailor’s Westpac’rs Reunion

By Garland Davis

When I returned to Honolulu in May of 2016, I didn’t think the reunion could get any better. That goes to show that my thinking was fucked up.

IMG_20170515_1626470_rewind (1).jpg


IMG_20170521_150410_burst_03 (1).jpg.

From looking at these images one would think that all we did was sit around and drink. (We did some of that.) There were many functions available from Shooting with Ski, singing karaoke, attending a stage show, drunk ladies painting, an extemporaneous performance of the Ballad of Subic Bay by the Not Quite Right Quartet, and wheelchair limo rides for people too sleepy to make it to their quarters. A special feature was a dance this author did with a pair of chairs.

Bravo Zulu to all attendees for making the 2017 Asia Sailor Westpac’rs an event to remember.

Make your plans for next year. If experience holds true, 2018 will be even better.





By: Garland Davis

They say the best ships a sailor serves in are his last one and his next one. How many times have you departed a ship feeling the anticipation of something new? A new challenge awaits. Your old ship has become monotonous and a grind and you find yourself glad to put it behind you. Even as your stride lengthens when you walk away, you feel an underlying regret to be leaving. There are men, and, I suppose in our new, ever changing Navy, women with whom you have shared some rough seas and hard times and some of the best of times. You are going to miss them. But this time, you will keep in touch.

But you eventually lose track. As the years and water pass under the keel, you forget names and which ship. You remember the good times. You’ll start a sea story with, “Me and this fucking Radioman, damned if I can remember his name…” all too often. You’ll tell stories about sailors from other ships that you met in the bars and clubs. Guys who know some of the same people you know. You never served together but now you are shipmates.

Finally, you reach the end of your run and retire to a civilian life that you have no fucking conception of. It is more strange to you than boot camp was when you first enlisted. You had seen the movies and TV shows and had some idea of what to expect. Coming into civilian life as an adult, a civilian life that you had only lived in as a kid is a fucking traumatic experience.

It brings to mind to an old joke. A Marine Sergeant Major, the epitome and recruiting poster picture of the perfect Marine reaches retirement. After the retirement ceremony, he dresses in a three-piece suit as a successful civilian does and departs the base. A few months later one of his subordinate Sergeants meets him on the street. He is appalled at the Sergeant Major’s appearance. The once perfect Marine is unshaven, ungroomed, dressed in wrinkled clothing, has shaky hands, and is scurrying along the street looking around as if he had seen a ghost or something was chasing him.

The Sergeant asked, “Sergeant Major, what in the world has happened to you? You were the perfect Marine. What happened to change you?”

The Sergeant Major replies, “You know, there ain’t nobody in fucking charge out here!”

Then there is the story of a thirty-year sailor who retired to a job in manufacturing. The fourth day he reported to work, his boss intercepted him and asked, “Hartman, this is the fourth day you have been late for work. What did they say to you in the Navy when you came into the office ten minutes late every day?”

Hartman said, “They always said, ‘Good morning, Master Chief.’”

But we move on and adapt to civilian life. Those of us lucky enough to live near an old shipmate or another serviceman, Navy, Army, Marine Corps, it really doesn’t matter have a tenuous connection to the past. A spark of the old life is there. Of course, we make civilian friends, but they are not friends on the level that our shipmates and those we called shipmate were.

We often sat around and wondered, “What happened to Old So and So?” But we really had no way of tracking them down. All one could do was reminisce and wonder.

And then came the Information Revolution and the information Superhighway. Some of us embraced it and others had to be dragged kicking and screaming, yelling, “fucking computers.” There was a miraculous web of electrons where we could communicate via e-mail. Later came the social sites. Bulletin boards where those with similar beliefs and experiences could connect. There were search sites where you could search for individuals. Slowly we reconnected with a few people. Then FaceBook exploded on the scene. You could join a group called Tin Can Sailors, or The Majestic and Ancient Order of Shit River and there he was, “Old Shit for Brains”, whom you had spent many hours thinking about, laughing about, and missing. And he knew where one or two other old shipmates were. You slowly reconnected with old shipmates and made friends with others who had been there and did the things you did albeit in different ships or at a slightly different time. It was as if the twenty or thirty years hadn’t passed. You built a group from the old life. You even discovered that one of your old shipmates retired in the next town over, an hour’s drive away.


The military sites and Facebook groups are rife with reunion announcements, places, dates and etc. More and more, old shipmates are driving halfway across the country to spend time with an old shipmate and going to the ships and unit reunions. Telephone plans are such that you can call anywhere in the country at no extra cost. Old sailors call other old sailors across the country and talk as if they lived within blocks of each other.

In 2012/2013, five of us started the Asia Sailor website and Facebook group. I don’t believe any of us served in the same command, but we had served together in Asia at relatively the same time period. I am in Hawaii, one is in the Ozarks, one in Florida, one in California, and our webmaster is in Thailand. Using e-mails and the messaging capability of Facebook, we conceptualized and launched the Asia Sailor Westpac’ers Association website and Facebook group. Each entity has in excess of five hundred members.

Barely four months after launching the website, we held our first annual Westpac’rs reunion in April 2013 at the Clarion Hotel in Branson, MO. For such a quickly planned and put together event, everyone agreed that it was an unqualified success. In May 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 the reunions were repeated with an overwhelming response. Shipmates from as far as Japan have attended expected again this year. Last year we had a shipmate travel from the West Coast of Africa to be with us and he is doing it again this year.

This will be the last regular post in my Blog until May 30th. I leave Honolulu tomorrow evening for Denver and on to Branson.  I am carrying the laptop with me and may occasionally post from the reunion. I will return from my trip with new stories about the reunion, the events and the antics of my shipmates and myself when I resume routine posting.

While I am away I invite you to go through the menus and read earlier posts.  Just click on the red rectangle at the top of the page to find a chronological list of months.  Click on the month to read all postings in that time period.


This was posted earlier in the Blog. It is a poem I wrote after the 2013 reunion:


The Weight of Our Years

By: Garland Davis

For a time, the old men would tell of years and wars past…

Stories and laughter among a forest of empty bottles

scattered in a graceless pack across the table.


Rain filled the darkness outside the window,

and the tables filled with memorabilia abetted the

desperation with which they yearned for those long gone days.


Reluctant to leave the companionship, once again

found for a few days at the spring reunion

and held close in that bitter pall of tomorrow’s leaving.


But, the thrill of our shared derangement, and stories

true and not that evoked both joy at remembering

and sadness, knowing that one cannot go back.


The old men remain, with their lives caving in around them,

crushed by the weight of years and lost among memories and bottles.


Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

download (98).jpg

Good Hearted Woman

♫” She’s a good-hearted woman in love with a sea-going man.”♫

by: Garland Davis

There has been much written about the Navy. About the men, the ships, battles, piers, WestPac, bars, hookers and heaven knows what else. Asiatic sailors spend an inordinate amount of time reflecting on and telling tales about all these things. But, we don’t talk a helluva a lot about those who really loved us. Loving a crazy-assed WestPac sailor took a Good Hearted woman. They are and will always remain among the greatest of God’s creations.

I know you have all seen them waiting on the pier whenever the ship returned to homeport, be it 0200, cold or wet, they would be waiting. Rain…Snow… Hell, alligators could have been falling from the sky and they would have been there. Waiting for what? Waiting for an unshaven, smelly, raggedy-assed idiot who hadn’t showered for three days because of busted evaporators and limited fresh water, hauling a sack of dirty laundry and reeking of sweat and fuel oil.

They couldn’t wait to embrace the smelly guys who poured off the gray behemoth that had just tethered to the pier or out outboard in the nest. Holding a baby their sailor had never seen in one arm and trying to keep track of a three-year-old waving a sign that says “Welcome Home Daddy.” She was an angel in a sundress from the mark-down rack at the Navy Exchange with a smile that dimmed the sun. These girls welcomed you when you came home and stood on that same pier with tears streaming down their face when you left.

Sit back and think about it. That lady in the kitchen doing the dishes was once, the barely out of her teens, girl who married a crazy assed Third Class North American Bluejacket. All he had to offer was E-4 pay and a few bucks sea pay, poor housing in even poorer neighborhoods, long separations and duty every third or fourth day. She put up with him when he showed up late with a couple of shipmates and two cases of beer. She made them sandwiches and made sure they were up and on their way the next morning.

Later when you were at sea, trying to keep up with the carrier in heavy seas, she was at parent-teacher meetings school plays, science fairs, little league games, and dental appointments; without you. She carried them to the emergency room and met with the principle when they got in trouble. She did it all without you when it would have been really great to have you there. When you got orders to Hawaii, she arranged for packing household goods and transporting the dogs all while you were at sea.

They should be eligible for sainthood. Think about it…they married guys who spent a good part of their time away from them. They had to play second fiddle to another lady that he had a love/hate relationship with. She was hard steel and gray and demanded much of him. She dined on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before the allotment check came in. Homemade Christmas and birthday gifts for the kids. Home permanents because the beauty shop cost too much. Unable to visit her Mom and Dad for years because there wasn’t money for travel.

Dude, do you know what a lucky bastard you are. Do you know what it takes for a woman to put up with the bullshit sandwich that a sailor’s wife is handed? Yet they were strong.

Yes they were special ladies who loved us. Welcome home with her arms around your neck. Hell, with the fuel oil smell and the sack of dirty laundry, you couldn’t have paid someone to hold you like that who didn’t love you. They actually ordered see-through pajamas and nighties that would make a stripper blush. Just to welcome you home.

They were our angels. Always will be. There should be a statue on every Navy Base of a beautiful young girl in a J. C. Penny’s bargain dress, holding a toddler in one arm and the hand of grinning snipe in greasy dungarees and a frayed white hat with the other.

download (99).jpg

This is for the ladies. God bless you. You supported us, you loved us, and you put up with us. We were crazy. Had to be to live the life and do the things we did. You were the sanity in our world. You are recognized and honored by all of us who stood topside and watched you as we entered and left port.

Your life was hard; it was a hell of a lot rougher than any starry eyed girl should have to deal with. Your sacrifices and personal hardships will be rewarded in the memories that all faithful and loyal women accumulate and in the deep regard and respect by which you are held by the men who stood on deck and regarded your bargain basement dress as a garment worn by an angel.


Brutus and George Wallace

Brutus and George Wallace

By Cort Willoughby

Okay, here’s another story from my career as a Law Enforcement Officer after I retired from the Navy.

Dispatch sends me on a call at 0515. Always a pain in the rear since shift ends at 0545. You always have your mind on the clock at that time in the shift. We were pulling twelve-hour shifts, four days on and four days off. I enjoyed the schedule as did most of us who worked the road.

A call comes in for me to go to an address on 166th Avenue. They told me the lady had vague complaints. Which I took to mean that she was Bat-shit Crazy. Probably more fucked up than a port-sided football bat. The crazy calls were becoming a specialty of mine. The dispatchers had great fun at my reporting from the scene.

I ease into the drive and lock my PoPo ride. I knock on the door and a lady in her late middle ages opens the door. The aroma of Thanksgiving dinner emanates from the house on this early June morning.

“You cooking turkey, Ma’am?

“Hell yes, you smell it don’t you?

“Yes Ma’am, and I can also smell that fresh dog turd over there by the kitchen table.”

images (71).jpg

“Brutus, you son-of-a-bitch, I told you to stop shitting in the house!”

“Where’s Brutus Ma’am, I don’t see him. Is he a dog or a man?”

“He’s a fucking dog!”

“Sure he is Ma’am.”

“Well, he’s hiding ‘cause he knows I’ll find that pile of shit and whip his ass for shitting in the house.”

Yes Ma’am. Why don’t you take him out a couple of times a day and he won’t have to shit under the table.”

“You here to tell me how to raise a stupid mutt?”

“No Ma’am. You called and dispatch sent me to make sure all is okay. Are you fixing a big dinner for relatives?”

“Do you see any relatives?”

“No Ma’am, only you. I have yet to see Brutus.”

“How that little dog shits a turd like that, I’ll never know.”

“The next time you take him to the Vet, you can ask.”

“Why would I do that for?”

“Well Ma’am, it might answer your questions regarding the size of his turds.”

Hell no! I won’t do it!”

“Yes Ma’am, now what can we do to find out what is wrong and why you called? You have a turkey baking and that’s all. Just curious if it’s related to your calling us!”

download (95).jpg

“Well, it’s that damned George Wallace gang!”

download (96).jpg

“He’s been dead five years or so Ma’am.”

“HaHaHa, He’s got you sucked in like all the others around here. Turkey is done. I’m gonna take it out of the oven. Want to eat some turkey?”

Uh, no, Ma’am. Looks big enough to feed twenty-five people. Is George Wallace the reason you called?”

Oh hell yes he is. Every time I start cooking a turkey, that Bastard shows up with his crew and does all manner of shit.”

“You mean like the dog shit, Ma’am?”

“I don’t know what the hell he thinks he’s gonna get snooping around here.”

Ma’am, what say I have an extra patrol on your residence and you can fly a flag with a turkey on it and we’ll know when to start looking for George Wallace?”

“Well, I figured you wouldn’t do a damned thing either.”

“Thank you, Ma’am. Enjoy that big turkey, teach Brutus some manners and you will be fine.”

“Dispatch, 10-8. No report.