Birthday Away

Birthday Away

By Robert “Okie Bob” Layton

There is a saying in the Navy, that seagoing sailors like to use when one finds himself in trouble with the upper chain of command.

Heavy on the sarcasm, dripping with apathy, and boldly challenging, it went like this:

“What are they going to do—-take my birthday away?”

For it was a common assumption, that your birthday was safe from any punitive action one might incur after a foul up.


I’m here to testify that the US Navy took my birthday away!

Here is how it happened.

In the summer of 1967, I found myself stationed at Naval Air Station Agana Guam. After a brief stint around aircraft, I was shanghai’d to the Weapons Department, where I was tasked to be the Weapons Department yeoman. This assignment came with a requirement of a Top Secret clearance, and with a background investigation. Here is where the rub started.

Now, my Mother had me believing that my birthday was on the 29th of November, and I regarded this to be true for 20 years.

During the course of my background investigation, it was revealed that on my birth certificate, my date of birth was the 28th of November! One day off—how could this be?

I want you all to know that mother swore the 29th was my true birthdate.

She would say, “I ought to know I was there.”

She had all the details about the event:

I was born at 6:36 PM, weighed 8 Lbs 6 oz.

My place of origin was the old Lindsay Memorial hospital, Pauls Valley Oklahoma, which is now the 1st Baptist Church parking lot.

But—yet there it was, in black and white, my official birth certificate, from the state of Oklahoma records my birthday as the 28th of November.

And so it came to pass, that the Naval Investigative Service [NIS] recognized the 28th of November and took my birthday away, granting me a Top Secret clearance.

So now here I am—70 years young, confused as hell, but happy to be on top of the daisies. I guess I’ll count both days.

Thanks Mom, for having me, Love and miss ya.


A Destroyerman’s Creed

A Destroyerman’s Creed

We are Destroyermen!

Ready to sail and always can-do,

the first to arrive and the last to go.

We believe a big-ship man would have trouble filling our shoes.

We like to think we would have no trouble filling his.

We learned the lesson of self-reliance, of pressing the fight with all we’ve got.

By not being afraid of a little rough living, or any tough assignment.

The green-water, open-ocean sailors in the little but mighty combat ship

We are real sailormen, the Destroyermen of the fleet.

We can follow the tracks and ride the backs of the dolphins.

We will be where the action is in every situation.

When things are getting too rough for anyone else,

they’re getting just right for us


Tales of an Asia Sailor – 2nd Anniversary

Tales of an Asia Sailor – 2nd Anniversary

Garland Davis

Monday, November 27 marks two years since I created and began posting the Crap, true and not, that wanders through my mind on Tales of an Asia Sailor. I have tried to post each day. In addition to my own ravings, I have reached out to Shipmates David McAllister, John Petersen, Okie Bob Layton, Captain Jim Barton, Captain John Wallace, Jerry Juliana, Pat Dingle, Jerry Collins, Kurt Stuvengen, and others (if I haven’t mentioned you, it isn’t because I don’t appreciate your participation, it just speaks to my ability to forget almost everything). I have borrowed from renowned Diesel Boat sailor and storyteller “Dex” Armstrong for his view of the diesel submarine world.

The title, Tales of an Asia Sailor, was taken from an association of which I am a proud plank owner and founding member. The Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association is a membership of almost seven hundred sailors who served in Asia during World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, throughout the Cold War, until the present. I am proud to be a founding member of the website and the Facebook group ASIA SAILOR Westpac’rs Association.

Qualifications to join either the website or the Facebook group are simple, you must have pulled at least one liberty as a member of an afloat or ashore unit in Asia. Membership is free; there are no costs or fees to join either entity.

We have conducted five extremely successful reunions in Branson Missouri since forming the Association, and plans are well underway for the sixth reunion scheduled for May 2018 at the Clarion Hotel in Branson. Sea stories abound, and many activities are available. It is the most fun you’ll ever have with your clothes on. Information regarding the reunion can be found here:

I am overwhelmed by the reception of my stories and the Blog. My stories have been viewed by people all over the world, from countries on each of the continents, even Antarctica. I am humbled by the comments from the many readers and the compliments on my inadequate attempts to tell my tales and our stories. During the previous two years, there have been over 275,000 individual viewings of articles. Overwhelmed doesn’t describe my feelings and amazement.

I wish to say Thank You to everyone who follows and reads Tales. I also extend my thanks to each of you who have shared and passed along the link to friends and shipmates.

I created the Blog as a venue for my writing. I didn’t start Tales for personal enrichment. I gain no monetary benefit from Tales and I haven’t permitted any advertising (we get enough of that elsewhere). I pay annually for the site and the domain name and am happy to do so.

Anyone wishing to contact me with a story idea, comment on something I have written, or to inquire about becoming a member of the Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Association can do so at the following e-mail address:

Thanks again and have a great Navy Day Shipmates!


Remembering the Seven Seas Locker Club

We Served Too

by Kim Medders, US Navy, retired


The Seven Seas Locker Club in downtown San Diego was a huge place off Broadway that took up a city block and never closed. You could go there at anytime, day or night, and get your uniform cleaned, pressed or completely tailored, complete with full zippers on each side of your jumper. Don’t forget to get liberty cuffs along with that. Could get your shoes re-soled and have a complete meal. One of the really cool things you could have done there was to get your neckerchief rolled. They had a machine that would perfectly roll it so you wouldn’t look like a boot. At one time, enlisted sailors were not allowed to have civilian clothes on bases or ships. The “7-Seas” provided a very large locker room so you could change into civies and “blend in” to avoid the Shore Patrol.

To new…

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Wet Deck – Go Around

Wet Deck – Go Around

By; John Petersen

We’ve all experienced this. No matter what your rank, or how important you feel you are, no one aboard a US Navy warship holds more sway than the unhappy schlep tasked with stripping and waxing the P-ways after taps. If there is a mere 15 feet between your destination and said unhappy E3, and he has that section taped off, you, my friend, are taking the scenic route of the ship, most likely involving several decks and a good amount of time, only to reach your destination to find that P-way man has finished and the route is now opened for all traffic. Once you’ve finished you business and head to your rack, guess where P-way man is now…

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Tribute to a Friend and Shipmate

Tribute to a Friend and Shipmate

Shipmate…We wish for you fair winds and following seas, deep green water under your bow, your main rifles trained in the posture of peace and a gentle breeze at your stern.

By Jim Graslie (ETCM Retired)


I first met Dave Frank in 1971 at Naval Communications Station Yokosuka Japan when we were both young Third Class Electronics Technicians. We spent many hours running the Honch together while somehow managing to stay out of trouble. It was during this time Dave met his future wife Tomoko who worked at Daiei Department Store in Yokohama. It was thru them I met my future wife Ritsuko who worked with Tomoko. In late 1974 he transferred to the Pre-Comm crew of the USS Tarawa (LHA-1). 1n 1977 I transferred so San Diego and we were able to renew our friendship.


When Dave’s tour on the Tarawa was over he decided to try his hand at civilian life. After a year or so he realized his true calling was to be a Sailor. He re-enlisted for orders to Fleet Training Group Western Pacific in Yokosuka Japan, during his tour at FTG he was advanced to Chief Petty Officer.


From Jack Thomas (ETCM Retired)


My first contact with Dave was at his CPO Initiation while he was trying to pick up an olive from a block of ice with the cheeks of his ass. We shared many a beer over the years. Rest well, my friend. RIP”.

Following his tour at FTGWP he transferred to the USS Lockwood (FF-1064) where he was advanced to Senior Chief Petty Officer. By this time I had returned to Japan and Friday nights at the Chief’s Club were routine for us.

From Phil Massie (STGCM Retired)

“I am forever grateful to have been in Dave’s Mess in onboard the Lockwood. He was Senior Chief at the time, and I was so impressed with his calm, professional even handed manner, and his professional competence. The man knew his stuff. I’m very proud to have been in the same Mess, and to have had Dave as a friend. Lockwood was my first ship as Chief, Dave was an inspiration, really made me understand what the Mess was all about, and how to be a Chief Petty Officer. He treated me as an equal, cutting me with that rye humor when I needed it, but showing all of us what a professional looks like. He wore the Hat, he was one of the best, and I’m proud and thankful of his friendship, and having worked with him. Rest in Peace Dave, thanks a million”.

When his tour on the Lockwood was finished, Dave transferred to Mobile Technical Seven where he was advanced to Master Chief Petty Officer. After completion of that tour he transferred to USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) for what would be his final tour.

In 2000 Dave retired from the Navy and started his second career as the AIRPAC Combat Systems On-Site Rep for the USS Carl Vinson and later the John C. Stennis (CVN-72).

In 2011 Dave retired for a second time. His health started declining shortly thereafter. I last saw him November 19th and was able to say my final farewell. On November 21st Dave received hi final orders, slipped his mooring and joined the Staff of the Supreme Commander. He leaves behind his wife Tomoko, children Christopher and Caroline, a brother and a sister.

On this Thanksgiving I’m thankful to have known him, proud to have had him as a friend, and privileged to call him Shipmate.


Papers tell their life stories

When politicians leave this earth,

Their bodies lie in state,

While thousands note their passing,

And proclaim that they were great.

From the time that they were young,

But the passing of a Sailor

Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution

To the welfare of our land,

Some jerk who breaks his promise

And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow

Who in times of war and strife,

Goes off to serve his country

And offers up his life?

The politician’s stipend

And the style in which he lives,

Are often disproportionate,

To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Sailor,

Who offered up his all,

Is paid off with a medal

And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians

With their compromise and ploys,

Who won for us the freedom

That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,

With your enemies at hand,

Would you really want some cop-out,

With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Sailor

His home, his country, his kin,

Just a common Sailor,

Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Sailor,

And his ranks are growing thin,

But his presence should remind us

We may need his likes again.

For when countries are in conflict,

We find the Sailor’s part,

Is to clean up all the troubles

That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor

While he’s here to hear the praise,

Then, at least, let’s give him homage

At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline

In the paper that might say:




Something to be truly thankful for


Somewhere in the world tomorrow, men and women will be gathered together far away from home.


Some will be keeping a watchful eye for dangerous activity, some will be far below the water’s surface and some will be launching aircraft in support or another mission to preserve freedom. If they are very lucky, they will be treated to a meal something like this:














Starting tonight on submerged submarines everywhere, the cooks and mess…

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Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

Garland Davis

Thanksgiving proclamations were made mostly by church leaders in New England up until 1682, and then by both state and church leaders until after the American Revolution. During the revolutionary period, political influences affected the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. Various proclamations were made by royal governors, John Hancock, General George Washington, and the Continental Congress, each giving thanks to God for events favorable to their causes. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide Thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”

Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states. Because of the ongoing Civil War and the Confederate States of America’s refusal to recognize Lincoln’s authority, a nationwide Thanksgiving date was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s.

A 1948 Thanksgiving Menu from the Naval Training Station Hampton Roads, Va.

Celery Pickles

Cream Asparagus Soup

Cold Ox Tongue

Asparagus Tips Mashed Potatoes

Roast Princess Anne Turkey

Oyster Dressing Giblet Gravy

Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pie Citron Cake

Oranges           Bananas

Mixed Nuts and Raisins

Coffee Cigars

After dinner cigars and cigarettes were provided by the Recreation Fund for the two Thanksgiving Meals that I helped prepare and serve when I was in USS Vesuvius. It was a practice and tradition that fell to the machinations of the non-smokers. When I was leading CS in USS Morton, I proposed cigars, but the XO decided that it wasn’t a good idea.

Depending upon a ship’s operating schedule, the Senior Commissaryman/Mess Management Specialist began planning and ordering specialty items for Thanksgiving dinner as early as the first of October. One of the first items ordered were whole turkeys. Although they used a lot of freezer storage space, I always ordered early because waiting too late would often be met with a “Not in Stock” from the Supply Center or the stores’ ship because everyone was ordering the birds. When I was in USS Midway, we roasted whole turkeys for display and backed up with the boneless turkey. There wasn’t sufficient freezer space. A meal for the carrier at sea would have required about three hundred whole turkeys.

Menus were prepared and sent off to the print shop.

Actual food preparation began as early as a week before the holiday. Extra bread was ordered and dried, or when at sea bread was baked and dried for preparing bread dressing. The stuffing of turkeys is not permitted by Navy Medical procedures. There is a great danger of Salmonella. In 1936, half the crew of a heavy Cruiser was hospitalized because of the foodborne illness. It was attributed to undercooked turkey stuffing.

For two nights before the holiday, the night baker is busy baking pies and bread. Pumpkin pies, Mince pies (I never knew anyone who liked them) along with apple and cherry pies were standard menu items. The afternoon before Thanksgiving found both watches in the galley doing preparations for the next day’s meal.

Breakfast/Brunch was usually served during the morning of the holiday while most of the cooks were concentrating on getting the special meal ready to serve. Enough food was prepared to permit the serving of second and third servings. Thanksgiving meal hours were usually 1500 to 1800.

Thanksgiving was a special day where members of the Food Service Division could highlight their skills and their profession. I was always impressed by the CO’s and XO’s who gave up their Thanksgiving celebrations at home and came to the ship to work on the mess line and help serve the meal.

I wish each and everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.


A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember

By: Garland Davis

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. in Dallas, Texas while riding in a presidential motorcade in Dealey Plaza. Kennedy was riding with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife, Nellie, and was fatally shot by former U.S. Marine[2] Lee Harvey Oswald. A ten-month investigation by the Warren Commission from November 1963 to September 1964 concluded that Oswald acted alone in shooting Kennedy, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial.Kennedy’s death marked the fourth (following that of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and most recent assassination of an American President. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson automatically became President upon Kennedy’s death.

Everyone who was old enough to remember can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. It happened at 12:30 PM CST November 22nd. It is one of two lifetime events that I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when I was told its circumstances. The other was the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. The country went into shock on that day fifty-three years ago. Schools closed. Some companies shut down for a few days. The United States and the world were stunned.

I was half a world away. It was 1:30 AM on the morning of November 23rd in the Western Pacific. I was serving in USS Vesuvius, an ammunition replenishment ship, anchored in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. At 3:00 AM, the crew was awakened and the Commanding Officer made an announcement over the ship’s announcing system. He told us that the president had been killed and as a precautionary measure, the fleet would sortie at first light. The warships would go first and Vesuvius, the oiler USS Cacapon and the stores ship Pollux would follow once the fighting ships had cleared the bay.

At the time, no one knew the circumstances of the assassination. There was speculation that the Soviets may have been involved in reprisal for the Cuban Missile Crisis. The fleet went to sea expecting Soviet Submarines to be waiting. I stood on deck and watched the warships leave. I counted 18 cruisers and destroyers. I can assure you that they went to sea locked and loaded. As soon as we cleared port, the destroyers were lining up to top off their magazines from us and their fuel tanks from the tanker.

Later that day, one of the carriers that had been inbound for Subic Bay, came alongside to top off her stocks of five hundred pound bombs.

We stayed on alert for a week or two and then settled back into routine operations.

A day to remember…


Comments on the ARA San Juan

Plausibly Live

These things are never easy for me and for my Brothers of the ‘Fin. You try to be stoic about it, but really, the idea of fellow submariners trapped under the waves is something that I certainly have nightmares about.

I don’t want to get ahead of things, and news stories such as the missing Argentinean Submarine, ARA San Juan, can move very quickly. Almost as soon as something is said, it is outdated by new information or is confirmed to be something not related. Given those parameters, and because I have been asked to comment, these are my thoughts. They are grim, but not completely without hope.

(1) They are on the bottom. This actually should be obvious, given that if they could have surfaced, they would have. The question as to where that bottom is and how deep it is as yet have no answers. But the ARA…

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