Black Tot Day

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Bullets and Bolos

Bullets and Bolos

A book review…

By Garland Davis

Recently my shipmate Ken Ritter gifted me an e-book written by John R. White, a man who served in the embryotic Philippine Constabulary during the period 1901 through 1915. The book was originally published in 1928 and republished this year.

It was a seminal time in Philippine history. The Philippines had been ceded to the United States by Spain after their defeat in the Spanish-American war. The Spanish had viewed the P.I. as a possession whose purpose was to serve the King of Spain. The Filipino tribesmen were little more than slaves and were basically left to their own pursuits unless a Spanish official wanted their labor, their possessions, or their women.

The Catholic church saw the islands as a land of heathens to be converted to the church. They established churches and monasteries on many of the northern islands. The southern islands were peopled by the Moro tribesmen who practiced a form of Islam and were wont to send the Catholics on to meet their God.

Into this conglomeration of islands and tribal cultures, the United States was determined to bring law and order and a semblance of peace and cooperation among the varying parties.

The author was a junior officer in the Constabulary tasked with recruiting and training Filipinos to act as quasi-soldiers in various areas and islands in the Archipelago. He details the battles against bandits and robbers and operations with the military.

Unlike many writers of the period, he speaks from the authority of many years of living and fighting with and against the locals of the many islands.

Excerpts from the book:

“When account is taken of the fact that there were no American women within a score of miles, and that those of our fellow countrywomen whom we occasionally saw were mostly of that angular variety that devotes itself to pedagogy (teachers), is it to be wondered that the soft charms of Encarnacion, Conchita, Consuela, Aurelia, Paz—the very names of the girls carry a seductive lilt—seemed real and not at all exotic to two youths whose hot young blood was stimulated by climate, food, and drink.”

“In the tropics, there is no spring with balmy breath and bursting buds; no autumn with the first crisp frost to sere leaves and make the garden flowers droop their heads; there is only the quick transition from dust and drought to mud and moisture.”

“I often think that our best and perhaps only reward for Philippine service will be the satisfaction of work well done and friends ‘grappled with hoops fo steel.’”

“The attitude of American women in the islands is natural enough. Fear motivates us all, and the American women, whose charms often faded under the tropical sun, might well fear the seductive little brown women who blended so well ”with the climate and the palms and the white-hot nights'”

“What, I wonder, will be history’s verdict on our action in keeping the overflowing millions of China out of the almost unoccupied land of Canaan at their feet. And what people in history have had the luck of the Filipinos to find a protecting nation apparently willing to sacrifice her own interests and put a dam across all economic and racial currents in order to give them a chance to work out their own salvation, unsubmerged by the Chinese flood to the north? Every Filipino boy and girl should nightly kneel at prayers and say ‘God bless Uncle Sam and keep him generous for all time.’”

The book is a good read and refutes the claims of many around the world that the United States had and has colonial aspirations.

I highly recommend it

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“Raise a glass to you all…”

“Raise a glass to you all…”

Another sea story from Mars.

By Glenn Hendricks

So there we are. Steaming along nicely around 16 knots (70 turns if I recall correctly) middle of the night. I can’t recall but I hadn’t made 3rdyet so this was maybe 1974. Two boilers on line #1 and #2, # 3 is cold and in parts. It’s been a quiet watch and the oncoming guys are in the hole. BTs and MMs exchanging the status, bullshitting and getting ready to get out and hit the rack.

Now the Mars had a combined fire/engine room, the throttle board was in front of the engine and the water drum was forward of the throttle station. Just to set the stage.

I’ve turned the throttles over to my relief and started walking aft and port to the ladder out when a BANG followed by a huge roar from the lower level of the fire rocked the hole. Steam erupted from the fireroom lower level in a shriek I’d never heard before or since. The entire front of boiler #2 was engulfed.

I sprinted back to the throttle board and saw the steam pressure diving, the MMOW told me to trip the SSTGs and I ran over to knock them offline. The lights cut out immediately and all we could hear was that ungodly shriek of steam. In what seemed like a lifetime the emergency diesel started up and we had lights again.

The throttle man told the bridge that we’d had a boiler explosion of some kind. They hit the GQ alarm on the bridge and so we had that damn horn going off in counterpoint to the steam, shouting and swearing. The oncoming EEOW was the BT div chief, he’d gone down to the burner area, the off-going EEOW was the A div MM chief and he held the fort down till the Chief Engineer (Lt. Cmdr. Norr) took over for GQ.

The shriek slowly died away as the main steam went from 600 PSI to zero. As the sound diminished the steam cloud in the lower level dissipated until we could see the BT’s fighting the burner front of #2. We secured everything we could, at this point with no steam it was just a matter of closing valves and restarting a few cooling water pumps. The BTs had a fire hose deployed facing the burner front and nearly all of them were saturated with ND fuel oil. One of the burner plates was sprung and a fuel line had busted soaking everyone within range. The hose was only partially charged, we only had about 20 PSI on the fire main.

A downcomer tube had ruptured in the firebox. It had a splint on the long axis and peeled open for about 10 inches. The superheated steam snuffed the fire immediately, sprung one of the burners and poured all the steam in the system up the stack. #1 boiler was drug offline through the hole and had low water out of sight before they could trip it.

We were dead in the water. No fire main pressure, six inches of fuel sloshing around in the bilges and locked into the engine room. We were at GQ and Repair 5, knowing that we didn’t have fire main pressure dogged the hatches from outside to make sure any problem couldn’t spread.

Mr. Norr was a mustang, had served for about 24 or 25 years by this point I think and as he lit up a Newport he said “smoking lamp is lit’. He sent me up to the ‘sky valve’ on the O3 or O4 level to vent aux steam. Then, methodically directed us in getting the plant back online. He stood there, listening to the reports, cup of coffee in one hand, cig in the other, marking down items with a grease pencil on the board as the BTs put #3 boiler back together, got it lit off and up to pressure in near-record time. He had the electricians swap the loads around so we could get the electric fire pump up and running.

All during this time, the phone talker was reporting semi-panic on the deck. Guns were manned and ready to load, it apparently sounded like a bomb had gone off and people didn’t know what had happened.

Mr. Norr had us bringing steam online at around 400 PSI if I recall correctly, then we had enough steam to get the steam pumps going, then to get one SSTG up on minimum power. Slowly we brought the plant back up on #3 boiler. We were still dead in the water but we had lights, fire main and then the blessed blowers to give us some air.

My dungarees were soaked through with sweat, we all were sopping with it. Our hands shook from the effort and energy we’d expended, I honestly don’t know how long it took us, it felt like a lifetime but probably was a couple of hours at most. Once steam was restored and the lights were on we secured GQ. We had the entire division down in the hole for a while then Mr. Norr sent all but the watchstanders out to get some sleep. It was another hour or more ’til we could make headway.

We gathered at the base of the starboard ladder into our berthing compartment. BT’s were against the hull, the MMS in the racks next to them. We all sat around, smoking and talking in those slightly too shrill, edgy voices, reliving the past couple of hours, high on the jangle of adrenaline burn out.

We were damn lucky, the split could have faced the boiler wall and cut through filling the engine room with superheated steam. That would have been all she wrote. Fire in the bilges would have done for us as well. I asked the MPA (he was Repair 5 leader) later what he’d have done if a fire had started when we were in the hold. He said ‘raise a glass to you all’. He’d have had to keep the hatches closed to save the ship. We knew that.

We’d been in combat and survived. We fought fire and steam and survived. This wasn’t the kind of combat you get ribbons for; the enemy wasn’t wearing a uniform and didn’t use guns or bombs. The enemy was the power we harnessed. We’d made it.

It was at once the most frightening and exhilarating moment of my life to that point.

Eventually, we were able to sleep.

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The First American Legion and the Preparedness Day Bombing of 1916

theleansubmariner

2019 is the Centennial of the American Legion. But did you know that there was another organization that claimed that name first? Not only that, but one of the founders of that earlier group was a Roosevelt too. Only this time, it was Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States of America.

That first organization was founded in the wake of the beginnings of the First World War. In August of 1914, Germany began a conflict which would soon entangle most of Europe and eventually the entire globe either directly or indirectly. This savage war was a conflict that would see the evolution of the warfare in ways no one had even dreamed possible on the day it began.

The old ways of fighting land wars involved large armies massing across from each other and having decisive battles filled with strategic movements and flanking maneuvers. The war that…

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Boot Camp

Boot Camp

By Garland Davis

Fifty-eight year ago, July 20th was my third day in the Navy and my first day in “Boot Camp” at RTC San Diego. I spent the 18th, my 17th birthday, at the Armed Forces Induction Center in Raleigh, NC taking tests, a physical exam, and coughing for the doctor while he held my nuts. I remember wondering what they held while the females were coughing in the other room.

After the tests and physicals were completed for all of us there, they lined us up and an Army Officer came in and completed our enlistment by rendering the oath. Since it was late in the day, we were given vouchers for a seedy hotel (the hookers were probably ashamed to take a John to such a rundown joint) about a block away and told us to report at 0600 the next morning for our records and travel vouchers. We were warned for the first of many times that failure to report when and where ordered by a superior was an offense and we would be severely punished.

The next morning we were given envelopes with our meager records, vouchers for air travel to our respective boot camps’ An olive drab Army bus dropped us at the airport after dropping the soldiers bound for Georgia at the train station. I would fly from Raleigh to Chicago where I would change for a flight to San Diego. There was a long wait in Chicago and a stop in Albuquerque. We finally arrived in San Diego about 2130. We reported to the Shore Patrol booth as instructed and were told to wait for a bus. I grabbed a couple of candy bars from a kiosk and was glad that I did. Breakfast was a long way off.

The bus carried us to RTC. I remember wondering, as we entered the gate what awaited. I had a pretty good idea. I had read the books and seen the movies about boot camps and was prepared. I did push-ups for half a year before enlisting just to be ready. The entire time I was there, no one ever insisted that I do a push up except at PT.

As soon as the doors opened, three or four people were yelling at us to hurry off the bus and line up on the footprints. Another bus came in and they filled out the footprints. Once all the prints in the group had a person on them, a short Chief Petty Officer had us do a left face and told us we were in Company 310, that he was BMC Jones and we would be the best company in San Diego, even if it killed us.

He marched(?) us to an empty barracks full of unmade bunks. He informed us that the place was a shithouse and we were to clean it. Buckets and swabs were distributed and we scrubbed that room. There was a buffer that tried to do bodily harm to us before this geeky looking guy from who Boston finally figured out how to operate it.

About midnight the CC finally admitted that the place was as clean as civilians could get it and pointed to a stack of fart sacks (mattress covers) and blankets, told us to make the bunks and go to sleep. He said, “Reveille is early.” At 0400, he was back, banging on a shitcan with what I would later learn was a foxtail. He chewed our asses out for being scrounges and made us shower. Then we had to clean the barracks again because we had fucked it up.

It was just starting to get light in the east when he marched (?) us to the galley for breakfast. That was the first of many times I heard the term “Nuts to Butts.” I don’t remember what I ate for that first meal. All I had had since Chicago the previous day was a candy bar, I had given the other one to one of the guys who was probably as hungry as I was, so whatever it was I scarfed it up. I remember the coffee was good. I had become a black coffee addict while working the night shift at the original, and at the time, the only Krispy Kreme doughnut facility.

After breakfast, we marched back to the barracks, recovered whatever baggage we had brought with us and went for our haircuts. I had gotten a “Boot Camp” haircut from my ex-Marine barber before I left NC. The guy put me in the chair and ran the clippers over my head. It was his rice bowl, he collected twenty-five cents for each haircut.

Our next stop was Clothing Issue. We went through the line with a seabag, sailors handing us clothing items and yelling for us to move the line. After we had received everything, we were taken to another building, handed a stencil with name and service number and other recruits on their Service Week stenciled the shit out of everything in that bag and the bag itself. After the stenciling was finished, we were made to get naked and dress ourselves in the mothball smelling dungarees. Next stop, carrying that unwieldy bag and our luggage was a place where you could mail the luggage home or donate it to the needy. There was nothing in that old AWOL bag that was worth the cost of mailing it to NC, so I just threw it in the donation bin. All I had left of NC was my wallet and a few pictures.

From there we were marched across the bridge to our barracks for the first three weeks of our training. According to the Chief, they were a shithouse and needed cleaning immediately. We spent the next few days learning the difference between attention, parade rest, at ease, lolly-gagging, and grab-assing. The last two could cause you to run around this big-assed parking lot that he called a “Grinder.” We learned to march and the different movements as well as how to stand in ranks for hours while he dreamed up shit for us to do.

While we were doing all this, we scrubbed all the cotton clothing, because they were dirty, of course. We learned the proper way to fold the clothes and to stow them in the locker. When an inspector found an improperly stowed locker, we all had to rewash our “dirty” clothes and restow the locker. We learned to check each other and make sure all was proper.

Oh hell, I forgot mention Clothes Stops. Our freshly washed clothing had to be tied on the lines with a proper square knot. Nothing as mundane as clothespins. And if the inspector found a knot, other than a square knot, we all had to rewash our clothes because he would cut them all off the line and leave them on the ground.

And we marched, did we ever march. Sometime during all this activity, we were issued 1903 Springfield’s which we hung suspended by clothes stops below the bunk, but if you fucked up for some reason you got to put it inside your fart sack and sleep on it. We learned to march with it, to stack it and to exercise with it. An infraction of the many rules could cause you to run numerous times around the grinder attempting to hold it at high port.

The only time I was individually punished, I was watching an airplane taking off from Lindbergh Field. The Chief made me spend the morning chasing planes as they took off. I had to yell, “Wait for me Sir” as I chased the planes. We were often punished as a group for infractions caused by one person. In the second week, Company 310’s Smoking Lamp was extinguished for the rest of the time we were in Boot. Only if I had taken the opportunity to quit at that time!

We moved off the island to a filthy barracks on the main side which, of course, had to have a field day, though the decks were still wet from the company that had moved out. The first thing after moving was Service week. Company 310 went to the Galley where we washed dishes, pots and pans, scrubbed decks, and helped the cooks. The day at the galley started at 0400 and ended about 2000. Our clothes still needed scrubbing and the barracks turned filthy during the day and had to be cleaned. During that week you went to bed, or as we had learned to say, hit the rack exhausted and awakened tired to the bone.

Some way, we made it through Service Week like the millions who had gone before us and settled into an easier training routine which consisted of classes and practicing for the graduation ceremony.

Somewhere about the sixth or seventh week, I began to wake up feeling good. The classes were easy, the marching was learned muscle memory. I no longer had to think when the Chief gave a command, my body just reacted with the proper move.

The next few weeks are a blur. Everything was routine and mundane. The last week, we received our blues from the tailor and we were marched to the place on the base where we could buy our tickets for home or our next duty station.

The night before Graduation Day, we packed our seabags with everything except the whites we would wear for graduation and the blues we would wear traveling. Somewhere along the way, we had turned in the Springfield’s and the leggings.

I remember Chief Jones shaking my hand and saying, “Good job sailor, perhaps I’ll see you in the fleet.” The moment that I knew I was a sailor

PS: There is so much I’ve forgotten to mention, The leggings, The Duty Belts, The watches, The Chit books, The asshole inspections for dingleberry’s before being permitted in the swimming pool and so much more.

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Seventy Five Years, Who Woulda Thunk It

Seventy-Five Years, Who Woulda Thunk It?

Goals and Milestones

July 18, 2019

Garland Davis

“How swift are the feet of the days of the years of youth”— Mark Twain

More people than ever are living long, healthy lives. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average life expectancy is 78.6 years for men and 81.1 for women. More relevant, however, is that as people grow older, their total life expectancy increases. So, for those who are now 65, the average life expectancy is 83 for men and over 85 for women. And because I’m 75, I’m expected to live past 83. And these are averages, which means that perhaps half of us will live even longer.

Those of us who are still active and healthy at advanced ages–I qualify–discover that we aren’t quite as capable as our younger selves. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t healthy and workable. But I must admit that I’m getting weaker, with diminished eyesight, hearing, taste, touch, and suffering from the ravages of Parkinson’s Disease. The number of active healthy oldsters is large–and increasing.

Fifteen years ago, I bet an insurance company $9,900 in premiums against $150,000 insurance value that I would die before today. I bought a fifteen-year Term Life policy to cover the remaining mortgage on my home in case I died before the mortgage was paid. I either lost the $9,900 or my wife lost $150,000. Either way, the insurance company gets to keep the money.

We each strive to achieve many goals as we move along life’s highway. The Navy and Chief Petty Officer come to mind. When the girl you have fallen in love with accepts your proposal. Earning a bachelor’s degree as a member of the Dean’s List. Being chosen as class Valedictorian although I would be at sea off the coast of Viet Nam when graduation was held. Being instrumental in winning the Edward F. Ney Award, not once but twice. Retiring from the Navy. There are many more that make up the entire list.

I achieved a new milestone this morning. A new personal best. I have lived longer than ever before. I completed another year of life. Tomorrow, July 19, is also another important anniversary. I enlisted in the Navy fifty-eight years ago in 1961.

Today is my seventy-fifth birthday. Many people have lived longer, and many others died much younger. I always thought I would be among the latter. I have ancestors that lived well into their nineties and, as it turned out, I may have lived that long under different circumstances. Hell, I may still make it but, complications of Parkinson’s disease will probably take me before I reach my nineties. I leave no progeny to carry on this line of the Davis clan. I am one of those branches of the tree that ceases to grow and drops off.

I cannot say that it has been an exceptional seventy-five years when compared with the lives and accomplishments of others. Some may think that I squandered opportunities or misused the potential to do much more. But as Sinatra said it in his song, “I Did It My Way.” I consider one of my great achievements something that is given to a very few when measured against the entirety of the population. I served for thirty years and became a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. Life in the Navy and as a Chief Petty Officer showed me that two of the paramount achievements of humanity are the twin concepts of “loyalty” and “duty.”

The psychologists say that humans tend to remember successes, happiness, and pleasure. They conveniently forget or repress failures, sadness, and discomfort. Probably a good thing. It would, no doubt, drive me crazy if I only dwelt on the negatives of my life. Am I proud of all that I did during the past seventy-five years? No, I am not! Am I ashamed of some things that I did? Probably should be, but I just can’t find it. I’ve learned to not worry myself when I make a mistake. Just correct it as best I can and learn from it. Don’t lose any sleep over it. Never blame Garland Davis on anyone but Garland Davis!

I have spent my life reading. Fictions, biographies, histories, religious texts, comics, and comments on toilet walls, the writings of storytellers, scientists, philosophers, clerics, funny page cartoonists, and disgruntled shit house humorists, I have found as much truth in “Calvin and Hobbes” as I did in Plato and Nietzsche. I believe that sin lies only in hurting another person unnecessarily. Other “sins” are invented bovine excrement. Hurting yourself isn’t sinful. It is stupid. In all my reading and discussions with others, I haven’t found any conclusive evidence of life after death, nor have I found evidence of any sort against it. I figure I will know soon enough. I can wait!

Having devoted a large part of the past seventy-five years to an avid interest in history, I have reached the conclusion that any generation which ignores history has no past. Nor does it have a future. College graduates today know less of history than I did as a third-grade student in a 1950’s rural North Carolina country school. It doesn’t bode well for this generation or the country. For some reason, the educational beauracracy equates government-directed public schooling and large amounts of tax money lining their pockets as the be-all and end-all of learning. How’s that working out for the students?

When one reaches my age, that person is considered a wise senior whose advice and insights are valuable. Isn’t it amazing how closely “mature wisdom” resembles tired and lazy? I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the “Old Farts” when I was younger, and I doubt today’s younger generation will listen to what I have to say. But what follows is some advice, some insights, and a few things I have learned.

I tell you; it is a great world because there are girls in it! Sex should be loving, warm and friendly. Otherwise, do it yourself. Masturbation is cheap, clean, convenient, and free of any possibility of wrongdoing–and you don’t have to go home in the cold and dark. But it is lonely as hell. I have found that it is better to copulate than not. Flowers sometimes work well as an aphrodisiac, but experience shows that money always works better. “I came, I saw, she conquered.” (The original Latin was garbled and misinterpreted). I have also learned that all men are not created equal.

Marry above yourself! It will motivate you to become a better man. Marry for love and strive to become the best friend of the girl/woman you take as a bride. For without friendship, love can easily become hate and you may reach my point in life as a bitter old man. The other great accomplishment of my life was marrying the woman I did fifty-three years ago (fifty-four next month). She is a good woman, my best friend—And I love her very much.

Get a dog or two! They will love you and in times of loss they can heal your heart and you will never be lonely. You can learn a lot from how dogs interact with people and other dogs. If you have children, remember the quote from Mr. Peabody, “Every dog should have a boy.” And I add “or a girl.” The time will come when the dog’s life must end. Be a man, hold it in your arms and tell it how great a dog it was when the time comes to send it onward. I have had seven dogs in my life, and I am a better person for knowing them.

Watch as little TV as possible! It will rot your brain. The television networks spent a large part of the 1950s developing the TV industry; pioneering programming ideas and techniques. The effluviant they offer today shows that they learned nothing and have regressed. “The Howdy Doody Show” was a better program than much of the crap they pass off as inspired television programming today. Television has replaced books and the art of reading and has contributed to the dumbing down of humanity. I treasure the years spent in the South China Sea and Asia away from the inane, brain-numbing offerings of the American television industry.

Never say no to beer! Cold beer is always appropriate! The fastest method of chilling a case of beer is four gallons of water, fourteen pounds of ice and about five pounds of salt. Cover the beer with water and ice, stir in the salt and within six minutes you have some perfectly chilled beer. I spent many years as a cook and baker and, believe it or not, this is one of my favorite recipes!

Laugh whenever possible! Look for humor and embrace it. You feel better after a good laugh. The doctors say that laughter is healthy and Reader’s Digest claims that it is the best medicine. Who knows? You too may live to see seventy-five!

Do everything in excess! Take big bites. Drink from the large mug. Enjoy life. Moderation is for clerics, monks, nuns, and the faint of heart. Yield to temptations, you may not get the chance again. Avoid important decisions while tired or hungry. You may regret it.

And you know, in retrospect, my life is, and was, fun. If I had it to live over, I don’t think I would change one thing. Changing it would change me, making me a different person. A person I might not like as well as I do this one.

The Bible says in Psalm 90:10 “The days of our years are threescore years and ten.” Seventy years are all that is promised. I guess that puts the next seventy on me!

I’ll end this diatribe with a quote from another “wise senior” who is no longer with us:

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” —George Carlin

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Me and Y’all

I took a shipmate’s idea and totally fucked up Willie Nelson’s fine song Me and Paul. My apologies Willie.

Me and Y’all

By Garland Davis

It was rocking and rolling sailing

But I’m finally standing upright on the deck

After taking several readings

I’m surprised to find that my mind is a total wreck

 

I guess Subic was the roughest

But I know I have been drunk in them all

We received our education

In the ports of WestPac, me and Y’all

 

Almost busted in Pusan

But for reasons, I’d rather not disclose

But if you stay in a hotel there and leave

Take them with you if you want your clothes

 

And at the Landing in Yokosuka

They refused to let us board the boat at all

They said we were not in uniform

But I believe they like to pick on me and Y’all

 

It was rocking and rolling sailing

But I’m finally standing upright on the deck

After taking several readings

I’m surprised to find that my mind is a total wreck

 

I guess Subic was the roughest

But I know I have been drunk in them all

We received our education

In the ports of WestPac, me and Y’all

 

On a TAD trip to Singapore

We watched the parade on Bugis Street

The show was long and we’re just sitting there

They were pretty and sweet but from the wrong side

 

Well we drank a lot of whiskeys

So I don’t know what went on that night at all

But I do believe they may have kissed us

I guess Singapore ain’t made for me and Y’all

 

It was rocking and rolling sailing

But I’m finally standing upright on the deck

After taking several readings

I’m surprised to find that my mind is a total wreck

 

I guess Subic was the roughest

But I know I have been drunk in them all

We received our education

In the ports of WestPac, me and Y’all

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