No Longer My Navy

No Longer My Navy

By Garland Davis

I have done my damndest to try not to complain about things I see happening in today’s Navy. It’s no longer my Navy

Uniform changes carried to the ridiculous, but I can excuse it with, “Makes me no never mind, I don’t have to wear it.” It seems as if there is always someone who wants to do something with the uniforms. A shipmate believes the intent is to move all the services to a single uniform, ala, Canada. From the evidence, I can’t discount what he is saying.

Females in the workspaces. I read that ancient sailors believed women at sea were bad joss. Maybe so, maybe not. I don’t recall anyone saying they couldn’t do the work. But boys and girls will be boys and girls if you get my drift. Since the advent of mixed crews, more than one sickbay has performed maternity services. Do independent duty Corpsman get training in pre and post-natal medicine and in pediatrics?

A lot of training is done by computer courses instead of classrooms with hard-assed PO1’s leading students by the hand and beating the training into their heads. And once the poorly trained sailor reports to a fleet unit, he or she is run through a lengthy indoctrination process with emphasis on drug abuse, training on the touchy-feely subjects expounded by all the LGBTQ nuts and fellow travelers who habituate the higher echelons of the Defense Bureaucracy, liberty policies, and the evils of alcohol. They probably tell them if they play with their privates they will go blind.

Once our sailor finally reaches a work center, the only persons available to carry on his training are Petty Officers who were trained in the same questionable school he just graduated from. The CPO’s, or should I say E-7’s to E-9’s are so busy with collateral duties that they are only seen at Quarters and the LPO’s are busy with paperwork that should be done by the Chiefs.

The last few years have seen CO’s, XO’s and CMC’s being relieved in an unprecedented number. Perhaps their training is as deficient as the young sailors. At some time since I left the Navy, the position of Senior Enlisted Advisor has morphed from a senior enlisted person advising the command on matters that affect the crew to the third position of the command triumvirate. It seems the Command Master Chief is in a de facto leadership position between the Executive Officer and the Department Heads.

A skipper once told me, “Chief it is an ever-changing Navy.” It has changed too much since I retired. The ships are still gray. I can’t vouch for anything else.

Back in the day, we took old ships, worn out in WWII and Korea and fought two wars. There was the cold war where we confronted the Soviets on an almost daily basis with a “Bring it Bitch” attitude and a hot war along the coasts of Vietnam and in the Tonkin Gulf where we took it to them.

A thirty-day gunline/plane guard tour was short. Sixty days and an occasional ninety days were more common. General Quarters and shoot all night. Daily refueling and rearming. Often port and starboard watches. Heat, sweat, water hours, very little variety in the food, and any sleep was a luxury.

Things broke and were repaired with the ingenuity of people who didn’t know that the experts said they couldn’t do what they had just done. We did it and we did it well.

And there was always the comfort of the girls in Subic, Pattaya, Hong Kong, Yokosuka, and Sasebo. They and the cold beer healed us and kept us sane. Perhaps sane isn’t the right word when applied to my shipmates who lived through those memorable days.

Once a year about a hundred of us congregates in Branson, Missouri to tell the stories once again, to laugh, and to mourn those who have gone on. Only the folks who were there can laugh about it now. We laugh. It’s like when a guy zips his foreskin up in his zipper and still must unzip it. You know it hurts like hell, but it is funny.

Doc, Chief Willie, Gunner Willie, Howie, Andy, Parent, et al…I remember those days as I am sure they do. For a time, there we danced the Devil’s polka and pissed against the wind.

We laugh because it hurts too damn much to cry…


American Battlecruiser

American Battlecruiser

By: Garland Davis


The historical HMS Hood and HMS Repulse, the German Scharnhorst and the Japanese Kongo-class were examples of the Battlecruiser. These were warships with heavier guns and armament than traditional cruisers but lighter and faster than the Battle Ships. How many of you know the story of the World War II American Battlecruisers?

USS Alaska (CB-1) was the lead ship of the Alaska class of large cruisers which served with the United States Navy at the end of World War II. She was the first of two ships of her class to be completed, followed only by Guam (CB-2); four other ships were ordered but were not completed before the end of the war. Alaska was the third vessel of the US Navy to be named after what was then the territory of Alaska. She was laid down on 17 December 1941, ten days after the outbreak of war, was launched in August 1943 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, in Camden, New Jersey, and was commissioned in June 1944. She was armed with a main battery of nine 12 in guns in three triple turrets and had a top speed of 33 knots (38 mph).

Due to being commissioned late in the war, Alaska saw relatively limited service. She participated in operations off Iwo Jima and Okinawa during February–July 1945, including providing anti-aircraft defense for various carrier task forces and conducting limited shore bombardment operations. She shot down several Japanese aircraft off Okinawa, including a possible Ohka piloted missile. In July–August 1945 she participated in sweeps for Japanese shipping in the East China and Yellow Seas. After the end of the war, she assisted in the occupation of Korea and transported a contingent of US Army troops back to the United States. She was decommissioned in February 1947 and placed in reserve, where she remained until she was stricken in 1960 and sold for scrapping the following year.

Alaska was authorized under the Fleet Expansion Act on 19 July 1940 and ordered on 9 September.[1] On 17 December 1941 she was laid down at New York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey. She was launched on 15 August 1943, sponsored by the wife of the governor of Alaska, before being fitted out. The ship was completed by June 1944 and was commissioned into the US Navy on 17 June, under the command of Captain Peter K. Fischler.

The ship was 808 feet 6 inches long and with a beam of 91 feet 1 in and a draft of 31 feet 10 in. She displaced 34,253 at full combat load. The ship was powered by four-shaft General Electric geared steam turbines and eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers rated at 150,000 shaft horsepower, generating a top speed of 33 knots. Alaska had a cruising range of 12,000 nautical miles at a speed of 15 knots. She carried four seaplanes, with a pair of steam catapults mounted amidships.

The ship was armed with a main battery of nine 12 inch guns in three triple gun turrets. The secondary batter consisted of twelve 5 inch guns in twin turrets. Two were placed on the centerline firing over the main battery turrets, fore and aft, and the remaining four turrets were placed on the corners of the superstructure. The light anti-aircraft battery consisted of 56 quad-mounted 40mm Bofors guns and 34 single-mounted 20mm Oerlikon guns. A pair of Mk 34 gun directors aided gun laying for the main battery, while two Mk 37 directors controlled the 5-inch guns and a Mk 57 director aided the 40 mm guns. The main armored belt was 9 in thick, while the gun turrets had 12.8 in thick faces. The main armored deck was 4 in hick.[

After her commissioning, Alaska completed a shakedown cruise and on 12 November she left Philadelphia and after a stop at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, transited the Panama Canal and reached San Diego on 12 December. There her gun crews trained for shore bombardment and anti-aircraft fire.

On 8 January 1945, Alaska left California for Hawaii, arriving in Pearl Harbor on 13 January. There she participated in further training and was assigned to Task Group 12.2, which departed for Ulithi on 29 January. The Task Group reached Ulithi on 6 February and was merged into Task Group 58.5, part of Task Force 58, the Fast Carrier Task Force. Task Group 58.5 was assigned to provide anti-aircraft defense for the aircraft carriers; Alaska was assigned to the carriers Enterprise and Saratoga. The fleet sailed for Japan on 10 February to conduct air strikes against Tokyo and the surrounding airfields. The Japanese did not attack the fleet during the operation. Alaska was then transferred to Task Group 58.4 and assigned to support the assault on Iwo Jima. She served in the screen for the carriers off Iwo Jima for nineteen days, after which time she had to return to Ulithi to replenish fuel and supplies.

Alaska remained with TG 58.4 for the Battle of Okinawa. She was assigned to screen the carriers Yorktown and Intrepid; the fleet left Ulithi on 14 March and reached its operational area southeast of Kyushu four days later. The first air strikes on Okinawa began that day and claimed 17 Japanese aircraft destroyed on the ground. Here, Alaska finally saw combat, as the Japanese launched a major air strike on the American fleet. Her anti-aircraft gunners destroyed a kamikaze attempting to crash into Intrepid. Shortly after that, Alaska was warned that American aircraft were in the vicinity. Later that afternoon, Alaska shot down a second Japanese bomber.

The following day, the carrier Franklin was badly damaged by several bomb hits and a kamikaze. Alaska and her sister Guam, two other cruisers, and several destroyers were detached to create Task Group 58.2.9 to escort the crippled Franklin to Ulithi. On the voyage back to port, another Japanese bomber attacked Franklin, though the ships were unable to shoot it down. Gunfire from one of the 5-inch guns accidentally caused flash burns on several men standing nearby; these were the only casualties suffered by her crew during the war. Alaska then took on the role of fighter director; using her anti-air search radar, she vectored fighters to intercept and destroy a Kawasaki Heavy Fighter. On 22 March, the ships reached Ulithi and Alaska was detached to rejoin TG 58.4.[2]

After returning to her unit, Alaska continued to screen for the aircraft carriers off Okinawa. On 27 March she was detached to conduct a bombardment of Minamidaito. She was joined by Guam, two light cruisers, and Destroyer Squadron 47. On the night of 27–28 March, she fired forty-five 12-inch shells and three hundred and fifty-two 5-inch rounds at the island. The ships rejoined TG 58.4 at a refueling point, after which they returned to Okinawa to support the landings when they began on 1 April. On the evening of 11 April, Alaska shot down one Japanese plane, assisted in the destruction of another, and claimed what might have been a piloted rocket-bomb. On 16 April, the ship shot down another three aircraft and assisted with three others. Throughout the rest of the month, her heavy anti-aircraft fire succeeded in driving off Japanese bombers.[2]

Alaska then returned to Ulithi to resupply, arriving on 14 May. She was then assigned to TG 38.4, the reorganized carrier task force. The fleet then returned to Okinawa, where Alaska continued in her anti-aircraft defense role. On 9 June, she and Guam bombarded Oki Daito. TG 38.4 then steamed to San Pedro Bay in Leyte Gulf for rest and maintenance; the ship remained there from 13 June until 13 July, when she was assigned to Cruiser Task Force 95 along with her sister Guam, under the command of Rear Admiral Francis S. Low. On 16 July, Alaska and Guam conducted a sweep into the East China and Yellow Seas to sink Japanese shipping vessels. They had only limited success, however, and returned to the fleet on 23 July. They then joined a major raid, which included three battleships and three escort carriers, into the estuary of the Yangtze River off Shanghai. Again, the operation met with limited success.[9]

In the course of her service during World War II, Alaska was awarded three battle stars. On 30 August Alaska left Okinawa for Japan to participate in the 7th Fleet occupation force. She arrived in Inchon, Korea on 8 September and supported Army operations there until 26 September, when she left for Tsingtao, China, arriving the following day. There, she supported the 6th Marine Division until 13 November, when she returned to Inchon to take on Army soldiers as part of Operation Magic Carpet, the mass repatriation of millions of American servicemen from Asia and Europe. Alaska left Inchon with a contingent of soldiers bound for San Francisco. After reaching San Francisco, she left for the Atlantic, via the Panama Canal, which she transited on 13 December. The ship arrived at the Boston Navy Yard on 18 December, where preparations were made to place the ship in reserve. She left Boston on 1 February 1946 for Bayonne, New Jersey, where she would be berthed in reserve. She arrived there the following day, and on 13 August; she was removed from active service, though she would not be decommissioned until 17 February 1947.

In 1958, the Bureau of Ships prepared two feasibility studies to see if Alaska and Guam were suitable to be converted to guided missile cruisers. The first study involved removing all of the guns for four different missile systems. At $160 million this was seen as too costly, so a second study was conducted. This study left the forward batteries—the two 12″ triple turrets and three of the 5″ dual turrets—in place and added a reduced version of the first plan for the aft. This would have cost $82 million and was still seen as too cost-prohibitive. As a result, the conversion proposal was abandoned, and the ship was instead stricken from the naval registry on 1 June 1960. On 30 June she was sold to the Lipsett Division of Luria Brothers to be broken up for scrap.

A short life for a beautiful class of ship.


The Ex-Lax Diet

The Ex-Lax Diet

By Garland Davis

A shipmate’s post on Facebook about diet and healthy eating reminded me of a story from the ‘70’s.

I was the leading cook in an oiler out of Pearl Harbor. We were pretty much chained to the pier because of the oil shortage and penuriousness of the Carter administration. For want of something to do, the XO decided to punish those persons who placed extreme pressure on the buttons of a dungaree or khaki shirt. He had a weigh-in of selected personnel and informed them they must lose weight to comply with Navy standards.

The Chief HT, to put it bluntly, was morbidly obese. He was the personification of the Jolly Fat Man. Me, being a smartass, I was always joking around with him. I walked into the CPO Mess behind him. He had just returned from a meeting with the XO. He said to me, “Dave, you’re a cook. You know all about calories and shit. What kind of diet do I need to go on to lose some weight?”

About that time the Smartass in me surfaced. I said, “The Ex-Lax Diet.”

HTC asked, “What’s that?”

“Eat two of those little squares of chocolate every four hours and you can eat anything you want. It won’t even slow down as it goes through you,” the Smartass replied.

The Chiefs in the Mess all laughed, realizing that I was just joking.

The following Monday morning HTC was admitted to Tripler Army Hospital for extreme dehydration.

When he returned to the ship, I said, “Man didn’t you know I was joking.”

He said, “Yeah, but it fucking worked. I lost twenty-six pounds!

NOTE: The reason fat folks are jolly folks. They have to be Jolly to keep getting fed. ENDNOTE


Space Cadet Kort (continued…)

Space Cadet Kort (continued…)

By Garland

Space Cadet Kort Willaby was at the Johnston’ Toilet Company, commonly referred to as Johnston Shitters, in St Paul, Minnesota where the space toilet was being developed. He was there to learn the operation and proper cleaning of whatever they produced.

The director of the project was a particular dude who wouldn’t stand for profanity. Instead of “shit” or piss,” “feces,” “urine” or “human waste” were to be used when referring to the products they were attempting to develop a spaceborne disposal for. Kort started using the Klingon word HoH meaning slime, shit, waste when referring to the crap they were working with and it was soon picked up by the entire development team. It wasn’t but a short time before, “be back in a minute, I have to take a HoH” was commonly heard.

One of the first problems they encountered was where to get test material. The director suggested each member of the team collect their own Hoh and bring it to work each day. He even ordered a bunch of Tupperware containers for everyone to use. Often heard was, “How the hell am I supposed to HoH in this little container?” It was a smelly proposition that none of them were enthusiastic about.

Cort remembered having read that Toto Toilets of Japan, known in some circles as Unko Central, used Tofu to test their toilets. Tofu could be acquired in different consistencies from soft to very firm. It pretty much mimicked HoH. (As a matter of fact, some people when served Tofu said, “I ain’t eating this shit!”)

To the Director’s surprise, Tofu worked extremely well and precluded his team members smuggling Tupperware containers of HoH through the tight security around their highly classified project. The Director was so pleased that he sent a glowing letter to Space Command highly praising Kort’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the project.

This letter resulted in a meritorious promotion for Kort to the grade of E-5. (There was controversy among the initial group chosen for the Space Corps. One faction wanted to call their vessels Spacecraft and use the Air Force Officer and Enlisted titles and designations. The other faction wanted to use the term Spaceship and use Navy titles and designators. Until this is settled they will just use pay grade designations.)

Nevertheless, Kort was advanced. More than one Space Corps’ officer was heard to say, “That boy Kort, out there in St. Paul sure knows his shit.”

The civilian management at Johnston Shitt—er—a- the Johnston Toilet Company, not understanding military pay grades gave Kort a corner office, an assistant, and two secretaries.

Kort using the newfound power of his position at Johnston S–Toilets drafted a request to Space Command to have Cadet Suzie transferred to St Paul to assist him.

Cadet Suzie was elated. She had realized the only reason she was chosen for the Space Corps was that she had once been a Barista at Starbucks. She had spent her entire time at Space Corps operating the espresso machine in the Cafe or Coffee Mess, depending upon whether the person was Air Force or Navy inclined.

Kort, as an E-5, began to look much more appealing to Space Cadet Suzie.


Burial at Sea

Burial at Sea

by Lt. Col. George Goodson, USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos , and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.

*The heat, dust, and humidity.

*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.

*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.

*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.

*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.

*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.

*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.

*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland .

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds – 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.”

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?” I replied, “18 months this time.” Jolly breathed, “You must be a slow learner, Colonel.” I smiled.

Jolly said, “Colonel, I’ll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.” Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He’s been in this job two years. He’s packed pretty tight. I’m worried about him.” I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office. “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Officer.” The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.” I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?” Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable. Finally, I said, “Walt, what the hell’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.” I said, “OK Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.


My third or fourth day in Norfolk, I was notified of the death of a 19-year-old Marine This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.

*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.

*Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.

*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.

*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina, about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina, I stopped at a small country store/service station/Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The store owner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John. Good morning Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned. My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper of (address)?

The father looked at me – I was in uniform – and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The store owner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the store owner to his business. He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.” I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk. Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.


Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation….” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.” My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.


Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother’s house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenly the door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen minutes later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.


One morning, as I walked into the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, “You’ve got another one, Colonel.” I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person’s address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman’s Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father’s schedule.

The Business Manager asked, “Is it his son?” I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, “Tom is at home today.” I said, “Don’t call him. I’ll take care of that.” The Business Manager said, “Aye, Aye Sir,” and then explained, “Tom and I were Marines in WWII.”

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, “Is Mr. Smith home?” She smiled pleasantly and responded, “Yes, but he’s eating breakfast now. Can you come back later?” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s important. I need to see him now.”

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, “Tom, it’s for you.”

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, “Jesus Christ man, he’s only been there three weeks!”

Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth……. I never could do that….. and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, “Got it.” and hung up. I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.

Jolly, “Where?”

Me, “Eastern Shore of Maryland. The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam ….”

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back. I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?”

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office, and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?” I said, “Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will.”

My wife, who had been listening said, “Can you do that?” I told her, “I have no idea. But I’m going to break my ass trying.”

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?” General Bowser said, “George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.”

I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.” I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?” The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea. You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed…”

He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on my ass.” I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got the hell out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, “These government caskets are airtight. How do we keep it from floating?”

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.”

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worse for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12″ holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat.”

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplain spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever…

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me out of here. I can’t take this anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well Done, Colonel. Well Done.”

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

‘A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.’

I am honored to pass this on and I hope you feel that way too.




A private banking dynasty has hidden a terrible secret since a family member escaped the Titanic.

On the new “WHY THE TITANIC SANK” revelation/ slander/pack of lies.

By Brion Boyles

Not really a writing “piece”, but a rant in response to a woman trying to hawk yet another “conspiracy” book. She posits that there was confusion over rudder orders, the ship turned into the berg, Captain Smith tried to make for Newfoundland after the collision, etc… and that all surviving crew kept their mouths shut in order to spare the White Star Line bad publicity…Those who are students of RMS TITANIC are about the only ones who’ll find this the least bit interesting…

There are a great many things wrong with the ridiculous tales told by the woman who claims her grandfather, 2nd Officer Lightoller, had some “secret conference” with the rest of TITANIC’s’ surviving officers and conspired to hide culpability in the collision. She claims that she has known since being 10 years old that Lightoller covered up the fact that the helm had been put over the wrong direction due to the use of obsolete (read: sailing or obverse) helm orders, which lead to the collision. She puts forth as well the silly notion that Captain Smith practically drove TITANIC under the waves because White Star Line President Ismay ordered him to continue steaming along after the collision. I say BS.

There were several Officers that survived…3rd Officer Pittman, 4rth Officer Boxhall, 5th Officer Lowe and 2nd Officer Lightoller. That’s HALF the Deck Officers, and a LOT of people to keep a secret to their graves. This is not to mention the helmsman, Hitchens, who would have been the “guilty party” and might go along with a cover-up, but what about the lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee, who also survived? Surely, in order to spare their hides, the lookouts… who came under EXTREME SCRUTINY, PUBLIC OUTRAGE AND SENATE / BRITISH BOARD OF TRADE HEARINGS… would have sung like birds that the ship swung INTO the iceberg AFTER they reported it! That didn’t happen…

Although 1st Officer Murdoch was the Officer of the Watch on the bridge when it happened and was lost in the accident, there was also 6th Officer Moody at the side of the helmsman at the time of the collision and he certainly would have noticed the helm going over in the wrong direction. That was his main job as Junior Officer of the Watch…to back up the Officer of the Watch and ensure his orders were carried out properly. Even so, ALL Officers on the bridge of a ship (I am a retired Navy Quartermaster and Qualified Officer of the Deck) habitually check and confirm that the helm is correct when a steering order is given, and ESPECIALLY in imminent danger of collision!! A ship takes a lot of time to answer helm. You have plenty of time to check, and there are usually helm or rudder position indicators throughout the bridge and on the bridge wings. Even if they hadn’t checked as the helm went over, the slightest pause in the ship’s reaction time would have piqued Murdoch and Moody’s panicked curiosity and caused additional checks. Repeatedly…and then some.

A Quartermaster is no idiot. They usually have been serving on the bridge of various ships a heck of a lot longer than the Officers they answer to. They are usually savvy about everything that happens or IS happening on the bridge. Due to their working environment, they often are a little more intimate with the usually class-conscious Officer ranks. Hitchens would certainly have swung the helm correctly as ordered (“old style” orders or not…this was not the first time either he or Murdoch had to puzzle out a mere course change with standard rudder orders!). However, if Murdoch had given a questionable order to avoid an iceberg on the starboard bow and given the circumstances, Hitchens may have openly questioned it. Certainly 6th Officer Moody would have. Any error would more than likely be corrected in seconds…probably before the wheel had spun more than a turn or two.

Lookout Fleet reported later that the berg was slight on the starboard bow, maybe a point or so. That’s perhaps 11 and a half degrees, folks. ANY turn toward the iceberg, even given her poor handling and response, would have resulted in a bone-breaking head-on collision instead of the scraping, rumbling jar that barely wakened passengers. But, that didn’t happen…

As to the farcical proposition the President of the line Ismay ordered Captain Smith to continue making way, no seaman in his right mind would attempt to load, lower and launch boats full of skittish passengers with even 3 knots on. As the order to clear boats was given early, and to load them within 30-45 minutes of the collision, Titanic wouldn’t have traveled more than a couple of miles, even if she drifted. As it was, Murdoch had rung FULL ASTERN as he ordered the helm hard over and basically brought the ship to a skidding, sliding halt…like a baseball player sliding into home plate. This, incidentally, is what ACTUALLY caused the accident. By ordering his engines reversed, he lost all steering forces acting against the rudder. In fact, TITANIC’s center screw was turbine driven and couldn’t go in reverse if it wanted to…and this was the primary screw that gave TITANIC’s rudder any effect at all. A large vessel requires propeller wash…not “glider action”… to make the rudder effective. By ordering the engines reversed, he rendered the rudder useless. He would have been better off whacking the iceberg with it.

Bruce Ismay was also being ripped apart in the papers and at the Senate/Board of Trade hearings…indeed, for the remaining 30-odd years of his life… for being a coward by taking a seat in a lifeboat. He would have most certainly defended his honor and stated that he tried to save the ship or passengers by ordering Captain Smith to steam on. No such animal occurred, though.

There is some historical confusion/question about the Captain ordering “SLOW AHEAD” (about 5 knots max) after the crash, but I doubt it was for very long even if it were true. No Captain would order ANY speed on a damaged ship after a collision of ANY kind without a full damage report. To do so is insanity and contrary to the common sense of a 2-year-old. For the least reason of not knowing what is now going to fall off!

Lastly, the ship began blowing off steam almost immediately, and the fires were drawn to prevent explosions in the flooding boiler rooms and excess steam from the others. There was steam enough to keep the electric generators going for a while and that was IT, without relighting the fires. In fact, the engine room shut down the ventilation system to save steam. However, most of the fireman had abandoned the flooding boiler rooms, and the rest were soon ordered to go “up top” to man lifeboat crews. Boiler room #6 was flooded right off, #5 within minutes and the rest were shutting the dampers. To make headway, even at “DEAD SLOW” under these conditions, would have sucked the remaining steam out of the boilers in 20 minutes and given TITANIC a very few sea miles before going dead in the water and dark as a coffin within a half hour. Most of the surviving crewmen were, in fact, firemen…and would have reported the engine room asking for propulsion steam after the collision. That didn’t happen, either.

In summary, this “new revelation” is a lame attempt by a woman with a tenuous tie to history trying to make money selling her book to gullible “conspiracy” fools… More holes in it than the TITANIC. Let ’em rest in peace, for crying out loud. Freakin’ cannibal.


Space Cadet Kort

Space Cadet Kort

By Garland

The president’s announcement of the formation of a Space Force excited Kort Willaby. He had been preparing for the eighteen years of his life for the opportunity to go to space. He had spent countless hours watching Star Trek and all the spin-offs. He had watched the Star Wars movies until he knew the dialog. He spoke fluent Klingon and Wookie. He even jacked off to fantasies of a nude Princess Leia or the green alien girl with three tits.

He was bummed out that he would have to join the Air Force first. They would recruit for the Space Force directly from the Air Force. So Kort hustled down to the recruiter to enlist. After a day of testing and physicals, they sent him to a psychiatrist for a mental evaluation. The Pshrink asked him how he felt about his Mommy and if he fantasized about her when he masturbated. Actually, the guy asked a lot of questions about jacking off. Kort kinda figured they did a lot of jacking off in the Air Force because it would be hard to pick up girls with those dorky uniforms.

After finally being accepted, they shipped his ass off to Lackland AFB in Texas where he majored in marching and cleaning urinals. Leaving Lackland they sent him to Iceland where his experience in cleaning urinals and toilets served him well. While there he advanced to Airman E-3. In his new lofty position, he became a working supervisor of two others cleaning latrines all over the base. Cort personally cleaned the CO’s facilities.

When the Air Force announced that they were accepting requests for the Space Force, Kort was among the first to submit his request. Weeks passed and finally, the cut-off date for submission was reached. A board of Colonels and Generals convened in Washington to select the initial members of the United States Space Force.

Kort wasn’t among those selected at first, but at the last minute, they realized that someone had to maintain the heads (They stole this from the Navy because ships have heads and they would be dealing with Space Ships). Kort was the final person selected.

He received orders to the civilian company contracted to develop the equipment and operating and cleaning procedures for the space going toilets. This was a complicated system because when you ‘pinch a loaf’ in the weightlessness of space, it just clings to your ass and floats there and when you took a leak it just puddled up around the end of your dick and floated there. I won’t even go there to explain about diarrhea.

The scientists ended up with an airtight toilet with negative pressure that pulled the waste into a recovery tank where it would be recycled for use as drinking and bathing water. The solid waste was dehydrated to recover the moisture and then jettisoned overboard where it would float forever.

Bath water was also recycled for drinking although Kort had already decided he could drink Space Cadet Suzie’s unrecycled bath water. He did a lot of fantasizing about Cadet Suzie…


Seaman Apprentice Doug Hegdahl

Seaman Apprentice Doug Hegdahl

Taken from War History Online


Man Overboard

20-year-old Doug Hegdahl only wanted to see the world that was why he signed up for the US Navy but then, fate had other plans.

A few months after joining, Doug found himself on the gun line of USS Canberra off North Vietnam. The night of April 6, 1967 saw the cruiser shelling North Vietnam and in a bid to get a clearer view of the bombardment, Doug went above deck and was blown overboard by a 5-inch gun mount blast.

USS CanberraUSS Canberra

He stayed afloat South China Sea for about 12 hours until some Cambodian fishermen spotted him and fished him out of the water. The fishermen who found him treated him kindly but when he was turned over to Vietnamese militiamen, they clubbed him repeatedly with their rifles before taking him to the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison camp.

Meanwhile, his shipmates failed to report him going missing for two days in a bid to cover him. Because their commanding officer was left in the dark about Doug Hegdahl going overboard, nobody looked for him.

The Incredibly Stupid One

Initially, his Vietnamese captors believed Doug Hegdahl to be a commando or an agent as his story about being blown overboard was too far-fetched for them. The US Navy apprentice soon realized the he would be better off if he played the “fool” card so . . . he did.

It took a few days of slapping before he convinced his captors he was nothing but an illiterate, foolish US Navy apprentice who had little value to them. His bumpkin attitude, his youthfulness and his country accent did the trick.

US Navy apprentice Doug hegdahl was only 20 when he entered the Navy in a bid to see the world.US Navy apprentice Doug hegdahl was only 20 when he entered the Navy in a bid to see the world.

When his captors asked him to write anti-US statements, Doug Hegdahl agreed to do so but added that he couldn’t read or write. Seeing him as someone they could manipulate for their own interest, the Vietnamese militiamen assigned someone to teach him how to read.

But after many attempts, they gave up perceiving Hegdahl as a lost cause as he appeared to be too stupid to learn. Ultimately, Dough Hegdahl was given the moniker The Incredibly Stupid One.


It wasn’t long after Doug’s arrival in the prison camp when fellow POWs saw his potential. Not only was he able to play the “fool” card very convincingly, he was also able to do small acts of sabotage. On top of that, Doug Hegdahl had a very impressive memory.

With the help of US Air Force officer and fellow POW, Joe Crecca, Doug Hegdahl was able to memorize the names, other personal information as well as capture dates and methods of capture of some 256 fellow POWs to the tune of the old nursery rhyme Old McDonald Had A Farm.

Among the small acts of sabotage he did was putting small amount of dirt in the gas tanks of five trucks. After he was finished with them, all the five vehicles had to be towed out of the prison compound.

Another prison feat Doug Hegdahl did, as shared by his cellmate and senior officer Lieutenant Commander Richard Stratton, was when he was able to convince his captors he was in need of a new pair of glass. When they did take him to Hanoi for the fitting, the US Navy apprentice went on to memorize the route they took from the prison camp to the city.


Doug Hegdahl was one of the three POWs released from Hanoi on August 5, 1969. Very convinced of his “illiterate fool” act, his captors believed that releasing him – a propaganda move for the North Vietnamese – would do them no harm. On the other hand, fellow POWs – who initially made a pact not to accept early releases – saw a great advantage if Doug Hegdahl was indeed released earlier.

“You are the most junior. You have the names. You know first hand the torture stories behind many of the propaganda pictures and news releases. You know the locations of many of the prisons,” his cellmate Dick Stratton told him.

However, Doug was reluctant to accept the early release his captors were offering him. He feared that coming home early would result in his being dishonored from service. In the end, Stratton had to directly order him to comply with the early release.

Fighting Without Bullets

And how right his fellow POWs were in making Doug Hegdahl an exception to the pact they made about early releases!

The information Doug had etched in his memory with the help of a nursery rhyme proved to be very valuable that Ross Perot sent him to Paris to confront the North Vietnamese Peace Talk Delegation about the fate of those servicemen who went missing in action.

Doug Hegdahl memorized many names of servicemen that the government did not have. Furthermore, he was a firsthand witness of the brutalities that occurred inside the prison camps where the POWs were interred. These brutalities were largely unknown, kept in secret until the US Navy apprentice brought them out to the light.


In the end, Doug Hegdahl fought the Vietnam War but not with bullets. He was able to make a very important strike against the enemy without ever firing a gun.

Post Vietnam War

After returning to the United States, Doug Hegdahl became a Survival School instructor for the US Navy’s SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape]. He teaches in the institution until today.

And of course, he can still memorize the wealth of information he committed to memory some four or five decades ago using the tune of Old McDonald Had A Farm.


Hallmark doesn’t make a card for Sea Daddys. (But maybe they should)


Warning: Some salty language may have snuck past the censors

There was a Navy training film many years ago called “The Lost Sailor”.

The idea behind the film was for Navy leaders to recognize all the things that could go wrong with a young sailor when they first report on board a ship or submarine. The newly arriving boot was probably fresh from school and this was his first assignment at sea. He reports on board and suddenly gets disillusioned when everyone is too busy to pay any attention to him. In fact, the sailor that ultimately takes him to his berthing assignment is a sub-standard sailor who is only available for such duty because he is on restriction. It doesn’t take long for the squared away recruit to turn into a derelict just like his “mentor”. The entire film is based around leaders not letting this kind of thing happen…

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The Restless Wave

The Restless Wave

By CPO1 Jim Hunt CD, (Retired)

Royal Canadian Navy

“When I go down to the ocean

I watch the restless wave

It is nature’s only tombstone

In memory of the brave

Beneath the ocean’s surface

In the dark and silent deep

In God’s hands are the heroes

For whom our hearts still weep

The years have passed so quickly

But my vigil I still keep

They are not dead but resting

In the ocean fast asleep

There are no special markers

In this graveyard far from shore

Just restless waves above them

For now and evermore.”