Captain’s Mast Afloat
By Garland Davis
RM1 Jernigan (I know, he wouldn’t mind me using his real name for this story) was my friend. I was a twenty-three old kid, way too young to be a First Class Petty Officer and Claude was a thirty-five old First Class Radioman looking forward to retirement in a couple of years. What the hell, the best way I can explain our friendship, I was a cook and he liked to eat. I’ll tell the story the way he told it to me.
“It was 1949 and I was on a Fletcher Class Tin Can rocking and rolling between Taiwan and China. We had been doing the Formosa Straits patrol for a month before we were relieved. After we took on chow from a stores ship and fuel from a tanker, we departed the area for five days in Hong Kong.
The day we pulled in to Hong Kong was a good day for me. I made RM3 for the first time that day, I had a forty-eight, duty the third day, another forty-eight, and almost three paydays in my pocket.
After the first two days, I stood a duty day and then had another forty-eight. I got my days mixed up and missed ship’s movement. As soon as I realized it, I turned my self into the Station ship which was getting underway that morning.
I rode them for a couple of days until we rendezvoused with my ship and I was high lined across. As soon as I stepped on deck and started taking off the life jacket so it could be sent back across, the word was passed over the 1MC, ‘RMSN Jernigan lay to the bridge.’
That was all the formality of my C.O.’s Mast and the first time I made and lost Third…
…but not the last time.”