The Guam Bomb(s)

The Guam Bomb(s)

By John Petersen

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Having heroically graduated from basic training at RTC San Diego, my first set of official orders sent me to MM ‘A’ school in Great Lakes. I eagerly (and, having a good amount of mechanical skills already under my belt) took in the wonders of cutting flange gaskets out of kraft paper and fitting pre-cut 1/4″ graphite packing into an obviously well used and aged valve. (I.E., I found all the bars within a 30-mile radius of the base). About halfway through this rigorous course of instruction, I found myself facing a rather rotund, Aunty Mae type female at the personnel office, who was issuing my next set of orders. I read with anticipation where I would spend the next chapter of my (then) young life. Now, I joined the Navy as an avenue to get away from the dreary life I had been living, and I will attest that with these orders, Uncle Sam served up! I was to report to USS Proteus AS-19, home port Apra Harbor, Guam, M.I. (If one looks at a world map on a wall in any given building, the island of Guam looks like something a fly dropped in the middle of the Pacific). But I digress…

One of the first things I became aware of upon my arrival on this island paradise was the need for transportation. Now, once the Chief (or the LPO, or ALPO, or whoever the level of authority was bestowed upon for that day), gave the all clear for us to hit the beach, the scramble to hit the shower, douse oneself in anything Old Spice or Aqua Velva related, and ensconce ourselves in our best ‘whatever’ civvies we could squeeze into the sacred storage spaces that we were graciously afforded held, was akin to a Chinese fire drill. We did everything we had to do to get to that liberty bus, the white, late 50’s era school bus that was the portal to a life beyond movie call at 1900. This scramble lasted about two days for me. I wanted my own wheels.

Around my second week on island, I found myself at a used car lot in Agana. Drooled over the finer selections, all shiny and loaded with options and whatever; I headed for the bargain basement area. After some time, this still wet behind the ears sailor signed his life away for a 76 Mazda Cosmo, yellow on brown, with the wonder Wankel straight six and a four-speed. The yellow of the paint scheme was rapidly being consumed by the brown (which was more of a ruddy hue, read: rust). What held the chrome window trim in place while the car was not moving was anybody’s guess, let alone while it was moving (I’m guessing the set speed limit anywhere on island was 35 mph may have helped..). All the glass was, surprisingly, intact, and even better, both windows on either side actually worked, and, also surprisingly, so did the AC, at least up to the 1/3 mark. The hood never popped up on its own, even if the lever was pulled. Had to do a Fonzerreli on it . The only way to open the passenger side door was to reach between the door panel and the frame of the door and pull up on the wire within. But, all the dash lights worked, the Clarion stereo and cassette and all the speakers were top notch, and that fuckin’ Wonder Wankel rotary engine and 4-speed was a combo to be reckoned with! I could not kill that engine, no matter how hard I tried. The thing was bulletproof, and lasted the three years I drove it. The first of (at that time unknowingly) my two and sorta 1/2 rust bucket Guam Bombs. I left Guam for the first time in late 84…

Fast forward to 1988. New orders, USS San Jose AFS-7, Apra Harbor, Guam M.I. (yes, I actually asked for the orders, I fell in love with Guam first time around. The detailer thought I was off whatever meds I may have been on). This segment holds two parts.

Not entirely my ride, but that of a close friend of mine, a 78 white 4 door Datsun B-210. Yet another run of the mill, white over ruddy brown, bulletproof 4 banger/ 4-speed rust bucket. This vehicle, affectionately dubbed the USS Enterpoop, took us everywhere never failed us. Lead driver (he fronted $300 of the total $500 of the cost of the car, I coughed up the other $200), was MM3 CJ Porting. This fella was as big as the car itself. The only person he allowed to pilot this vessel other than himself was yours truly, but with some resilience, as he knew I had a penchant for speed shifting. An 88 Datsun B-210 4 door sedan was not, obviously, meant for showing off. A months leave, and March 89 is upon us…

Newly married. Blushing bride and 18-month-old step-daughter are now on the island, the Joser is back from deployment. Now, the wife and just-add-ring family landed on Guam a week before the ship deployed, they stayed with some close friends, and she set forth to procure housing, boonie furniture, cable, etc., while I was dutifully performing seemingly endless UNREPS. One other item my bride took upon herself while I was away was to acquire a mode of transportation. (As a side note, she was left in charge of the aforementioned USS Enterpoop. She did not know how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission. This car suffered…). Where she found it, I do not know, but somewhere on the island of Guam was a 1977 Ford LTD 4-door for sale. Primer gray, with what was left of a maroon vinyl top and that awful blood red interior. Trans slipped, needed a timig chain, left rear window precisely cut from plex-i-glass (yet, strangely, rolled up and down electrically). She even had an aftermarket stereo installed, with extra multiple speakers. Picture a 5’2″ woman behind the wheel of a late 70’s land yacht, with a toddler standing on the seat next to her, stereo blasting some Bee Gee’s tune, on Guam. Yep, that was my bride!

Guam Bombs were (or maybe, still are?) the saviors of the transportation needy on that idyllic island. When the liberty bus that unceremoniously dumped one off at the GovGuam building across from McDonalds on Marine Drive just didn’t cut it…


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