Shed a Tear and Drink Some Beer

Shed a Tear and Drink Some Beer

By Garland Davis

Well, we were told today

We didn’t know what to say

When they told us that you crossed the bar

We took a walk to clear the head

This old pier is where the walk led

Hard to believe you’re gone

No reason for us to go home

So we’re gonna just sit here

On this broken down old pier

We will watch the ships and sunset disappear

Shed a tear and drink some beer

Seems the good one’s always go ahead

Too soon it is, we had more to say

And now it won’t be said

Sometimes the maker’s plan is hard to understand

Now, today it just don’t make sense

No it just don’t make any sense

So fair winds my friend till we meet again

At the bar on the Green, you’ll wait there

And we’ll remember all that was ours to share

So those left will gather in Branson here

We will watch the sunset disappear

Shed a tear and drink some beer

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Battle of Iwo Jima

Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945) was a major battle in which the United States Marine Corps and Navy landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during World War II.

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Stand By! We’re Gonna Do It Again!

Stand BY!  We’re Gonna Do It Again!

The eighth Annual Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Reunion will be held in Branson, Missouri between 13 -17 May.  Those members of the Website or Facebook group can find all the details in the events tab.

Those who are not members may join the website at www.asiasailor.com.  Asia Sailors who would like to join the Facebook Group contact me at davisg022@hotmail.com or send me a FB message

Requirements for membership in either the website or FB group one must have served ashore or in a forward-deployed ship in Asia or as a minimum have made a Westpac cruise.

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Spring is the season for love.  — Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In the spring an old Asia Sailor’s thoughts turn increasingly to Branson and beer.  Branson is the season for old friends, sea stories and beer through a much too short five days of the Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Reunion.

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Cribbage Boards

LITTLE KNOWN AMERICAN HISTORY!

THE LUCKY CRIBBAGE BOARD!

SUBMARINERS TRADITION!

The Navy has many traditions, the Submarine Force in particular.

These traditions are passed from one generation to the next and held in great honor.

Whether it be the ceremony for crossing the North Pole and becoming a Bluenose or hearing the whistle blow at a retirement ceremony, the Submarine Force is proud of its heritage and the traditions of those that came before them.

But one tradition is rarely talked about outside of the submarine community. It is an honored tradition that has deep ties to the Navy and to one of the Submarine Force’s greatest commanders.

In April of 1943, the USS Wahoo SS-283 was headed out on its fourth war patrol. However, unlike her previous missions, USS Wahoo would be tested by being sent to the shallow waters of the farthest reaches of the Yellow Sea.

This would be the first time a submarine would patrol the area.

Tensions ran high as the crew headed the area. To make them feel more at ease, Commander Dudley “Mush” Morton and his Executive officer Lieutenant Commander Richard “Dick” O’Kane broke out a cribbage board and began to play.

As submarine lore goes, Commander Morton dealt the Lcdr. O’Kane a perfect 29, the highest possible hand one can get in the game.

It had been said that the crew calculated the odds to be one in 216,000.

The crew felt like the hand was a lucky omen.

That night, the USS Wahoo sank two Japanese freighters. Three days later, in another game, Cdr. Morton dealt a 28-point hand. The following day, they sunk two freighters and a third the next day.

Lcdr. O’Kane left the USS Wahoo and took the “Lucky” cribbage board with him. He took command of the USS Tang SS-306, which went on to break the record for most ships sunk in a patrol.

Lcdr. O’Kane would be captured by the Japanese and held until the end of the war.

Sixty years later, the lucky cribbage board would find a home once again on the second submarine named USS Tang SS-563.

Ernestine O’Kane, wife of Richard “Dick” O’Kane sponsored the second USS Tang.

The story of Cdr. Morton’s 29 hand solidified its place in submarine lore and tradition.

The tradition of playing cribbage on board submarines has lived on despite video games and movies as pastime alternatives. It even has been labeled the unofficial game of submariners.

When the second USS Tang was struck from the Naval Register in 1987, the lucky cribbage board was passed on to the USS Kamehameha SSN 642, the oldest commissioned submarine in the force at the time.

Since this trade, the lucky cribbage board has been sent to the oldest commissioned submarine in the Pacific Fleet after the decommissioning of its predecessor.

When the USS Kamehameha was decommissioned in 2002 after 37 years of service, the board was passed onto the USS Parche SSN-683, the most highly decorated vessel in US History.

The USS Parche was decommissioned in 2005 and the board did not reach its next home until 2007, the USS Los Angeles SSN-688.

Upon accepting the board, Commanding Officer, Cdr. Erik Burian said….

“It’s an honor to deploy with O’Kane’s cribbage board. Embarking with a piece of submarine history is a constant reminder of the legacy that we will continue. My crew and I enjoy passing time playing cribbage while not on duty and we are proud that we can carry on the tradition.”

When the USS Los Angeles was decommissioned in 2011, the board was sent to the USS Bremerton SSN-698 where it was kept atop a case of coffee mugs in the wardroom.

The crew used the board often said Cdr. Wes Bringham….“We play on it. We figure he would have wanted us to.”

In April 2018, USS Bremerton left its home port in Pearl Harbor and headed for her namesake city, the final destination before her retirement.

The cribbage board has not yet found a new home that I am aware of it but it will and the tradition will continue.

The cribbage board isn’t simply handed over, but in true Navy fashion, its transfer is honored with a ceremony just as any change of command has seen.

Cribbage is more than just a game to submariners. It is tied to their heritage and the essence of who they are. And with the O’Kane’s cribbage board being kept alive, it serves as a reminder of the greatest of the submariners who came before, the ones that currently serve, and the future.

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“Commence Bomb Run”

“Commence Bomb Run”

By Steve Cover

Somebody asked for stories… This happened in the summer of 1967

Now everybody knows that all war stories are obligated to start with “This Ain’t No S**t”…….

But, this one really is the truth. Back in the late summer of 1967 (Statute of limitations is well past…. I hope) I was a helicopter pilot for a Cav. unit in South Vietnam. It was a few weeks before I qualified as command pilot in our unit flying the UH1-D Huey. About 8 or 10 miles south of our base was a watermelon patch.

Every time we flew past, my command pilot “Igor” would always say we needed to get ourselves a watermelon.

One day, about half of the melons in the field were gone. They were being harvested. That was good enough for Igor. We swooped down on our way back from a mission and landed near the biggest melon in the patch. Our crew chief grabbed the melon and we were off. (Nothing like an armed helicopter for an escape vehicle) Back at base camp we eagerly plugged the melon…. It was still white inside…. (We hadn’t considered that they were picked green so they would ripen up in shipment…. Duh!!) That brought up the problem of what to do with the evidence…. We were sure the “Old Man” would enlarge our afterburner vent with a glowing poker if he found out about our larceny. Well, the solution was obvious. There was a corner of a field just off of Highway 5 that always produced some enemy fire. Although this was in a free fire zone, our usual route through the area bypassed it by a reasonable distance. Command had pretty much decided that one VC shooting at helicopters that were at least a half mile out of range wasn’t much of a threat and therefore there was no need to mount an attack on him as long as he stayed where he was.

That became “The Prime Target”…..

Design of our improvised weapon was discussed for some time (probably 3-4 minutes). We finally came up with the idea of stuffing the purloined watermelon with grenades to “Wipe Out” the lone VC at the corner of the field. We cut three holes in the watermelon, putting a Frag grenade in the center, and a WP on either side it. When the time came to drop our secret weapon, the crew chief would pull the grenade pins, and throw out the “Bomb”. The grenade handles would be held in place until the watermelon burst on impact…. In theory anyway.

That afternoon, we were sent on a recon mission. (I think Igor volunteered for it, but don’t remember). On the way back, we drifted over to the target area. (Back in those days we flew at 1500 Ft AGL because 30 cal tracers would burn out way before they got to our altitude, making hits on a helicopter with small arms an iffy prospect at best.) At 1500 Ft, Igor started our bomb run. The order was given to “Arm The Weapon”….. The pins were pulled…. Naturally, all of the communications on the intercom would have made a B-17 crew proud. As we approached the target the Bombardier (Me) located the stream of tracers and advised the command pilot of the precise (?) location of the source. Igor made a slight course correction, and as we passed over the offending jungle, I hollered “Bombs Away”. The crew chief threw out the watermelon and we started a tight turn so Igor could see the results….. Yep, we hit the jungle…. Not too close to the VC, but we did hit the jungle. A cloud of white smoke rose from the trees showing that our watermelon had shattered as planned when it hit the ground releasing the grenades. The tracers stopped. I doubt that our VC target had ever been shot at before. Unsure of our results, we returned to base. The next day, Igor took us back to the target area….. You guessed it, a line of tracers arced up out of the usual place in the corner of the field. We were our usual 1/2 mile away and safe. Oh well, It was an unusual adventure anyway…. The war went on. And “That Ain’t No S**t”

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Riding the Storm

Riding the Storm

Watching storm Ciara raging outside watching the trees bending with the howling gale-force winds. Listening to the rain lashing the house windows. Seeing the news reports on the TV from the coastal areas of the waves breaking over the sea defences.

It brings back memories of being at sea in similar and often worse weather conditions. Being out on the upper deck, being frozen and soaked to the skin, after being hit by waves breaking over the ship (Being Goffered) gripping onto the guard rails for dear life. Often as conditions worsened the upper deck was placed out of bounds with all hatchways and watertight doors closed up and dogged tight. All loose gear stowed away and secured.

Walking, often staggering, negotiating through the main passageway, being bounced off the bulkheads, climbing ladders and companionways hanging on as the ship rolled violently. Water sloshing around the deck. Water dripping from the overhead airconditioning vents. The noise of the waves thumping and crashing into the ship’s side.

The feeling vertigo-like being in a high-speed lift or elevator as the ship climbed to the crest of a giant wave then dropped violently into the trough before climbing again the next wave, the screaming of the screws (propellers) as they come clear of the water as the ship crested a large wave, the whole ship vibrating as she recovered from each assault of the sea.

The sound of pots and pans, crockery crashing to decks accompanied by the colourful expletives from the Chefs in the gally. Chasing unidentifiable food around those metal trays. The best that the Chefs could knock together in those conditions. Eating one-handed the other hand holding onto the food tray in an attempt to avoid losing your food onto the deck

The constant smell of vomit from those with a more tender constitution (seasick)

The luxury of those few hours of sleep when not on duty or on watch. Being tucked up in your pit (bunk/bed.) With the roll bar up. This to prevent being rudely woken up by being pitched out onto an often waterlogged deck

Eventually coming back into the harbour. Stepping off the gangway and onto solid unmoving ground feeling the strange sensation of the deck not moving under your feet. then trying to walk in a straight line without rolling to the movement of the ship.

Although this to some may sound quite horrific. I miss those times at sea of being cold wet tired and uncomfortable perhaps I’m a bit of a masochist.

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Sand

Sand

By:  Garland Davis

 

I live in a state composed of five main islands and numerous secondary islands and coral atolls.  There are literally thousands of miles of beach in the Hawaiian Islands.  Oahu, the island where I live has over two hundred twenty-five miles of coastline much of it composed of beaches.  I have a confession to make.  I hate fucking sand.  It lies there mocking you,  an almost impassable barrier between the parking lot and the water.

I sometimes look at the sand as I drive past a beach and wonder who the demented mother fucker was who decided he could heat that shit up add a little potash and make an object that you can see through; glass.  And who was the other unwrapped son-of-a-bitch who said, “I think I’ll make this brittle stuff bullet proof.”?  And then there is the asshole who decided to mix it with lime and clay and water and call it concrete.  With as much concrete construction there is one would think they would run out of sand. But no, our beaches abound with the stuff.  The Japanese even import the stuff from Cam Ranh Bay, Viet Nam.  I think the Vietnamese saw them coming.

Many of my shipmates have seen some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  The miles of beach at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.  The only problem there is you have to fight the fucking hermit crabs for a portion of the beach if you want to go surf fishing.  If you are a fisherman, it is some of the best fishing in the world. A fisherman’s paradise.

As much as I admire sand’s miraculous ability to be transformed into useful objects, I am not a great fan of it in its natural state. You step onto that pristine stretch of sand, anywhere in Hawaii, that has been heating in the sun all morning and suddenly your feet are on fire.  There is only one option, hop to the water for instant relief, in a fashion that people with better bodies find amusing.  You know the only option is to dash back across it. As soon as your wet feet or body touch that sand, it adheres as if you were coated in Gorilla glue.  You can’t shake the shit off; you can’t rub it off.  It is stuck to you as if it were a part of your body.

You eventually make it back to the shower head of ice water, generously provided by the state and find that you can’t rinse it off nor can you brush it off.  Now that you are wet again and walk onto the very narrow grassy strip between the sand and the parking lot, the sand that has migrated into the grass immediately becomes part of your body.  You begin to look like a shrimp rolled in cornmeal; ready for frying.

You get back to the area your wife has staked out for your outdoor picnic and defended from Bruddah and his brood.  She tells you to wipe off the sand before you eat.  After you recover from your bout of hysterical laughter, she hands you an egg salad sandwich safely sealed in a Ziploc bag and an unopened soda.  You pop the top of the beverage can, take a large swallow and end up with a mouth full of fucking sand.  You carefully open the sandwich bag and bite into the crunchiest egg salad sandwich possible.

Finally, the miserable fucking day ends.  The SPF 75 sunblock failed about three hours ago.  You are more and more convinced that staying home in your air-conditioned den and drinking beer is a much better non-greasy sunblock than Banana Boat. You are red, hot, uncomfortable, and covered with immovable sand.  You brush, shower under that spray of water piped in from the nearest iceberg to no avail.  All you can do is hope that Irish Spring can handle the shit when you get home.

You give up, load all your picnic paraphernalia into your new car and settle into the driver’s seat.  Suddenly every grain of sand on your body drops off except the few grains lodged right near your rectum.  They are keeping those grains you picked up driving by Waikiki Beach last weekend company.  They give using Charmin the all the joy of using 20 Grit sandpaper. The next time they see the ocean will be when they spread your ashes at sea.  That is if the heat from the cremation doesn’t turn the mother fuckers to glass.

You will wear out two vacuum cleaners vacuuming piles of sand out of that car’s carpet over the next five years and still when you trade it in, the dealer will tell you he can only give you the minimum value because there is so much sand in the carpet.

I think I will whip the next person’s ass that asks me, “Why don’t we go to the beach tomorrow?”

 

 

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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.

 

 

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