Unauthorized Absence

Unauthorized Absence

By Garland Davis

Ike was a Commissaryman, a career Third Class. He had fifteen years in and could retire in another six years. It’s not tha he wasn’t ambitious. He had made Second once, had even took the test for First, but had been busted to third before the results came back.

I was the night baker and Ike was a Watch Captain on one of the Galley watches. We had nothing in common. Ike was in his thirties and I was a seventeen-year-old kid, just out of boot camp. He was my friend for a while. I sometimes went drinking with Ike. He knew places where the bartenders weren’t interested in checking my ID card.

After the ship deployed, he took me under his wing and taught me the ropes in Westpac. He introduced me to the world of dive bars and the PI Wedding Night with the meter running.

After we returned to Port Chicago, the Chief closed the Bakeshop and bought bakery products from a civilian bakery. I was moved to Ike’s watch so the other cook could go on leave.

As cooks, we didn’t stand duty in a duty section. We could go ashore every night if we desired. I usually stayed aboard when Ike and I had to cook breakfast the next morning. Usually, it was me doing the cooking while tried to beat a hangover or sober up napping in the bread room before the Chief arrived.

A couple of weeks after I moved to the galley Ike went UA. We had breakfast the next morning and I decided to stay aboard. I was saving money to go home. I had orders to a Navy school and could get thirty days’ leave before reporting. Ike borrowed ten bucks from me and left with BM3 Pico for the Bank Club.

I cooked breakfast and dinner by myself the next day. No Ike! Actually, he and Pico were gone for 21 days.

When they reported back to the ship Ike told me that he and Pico had caught a ride to Oakland. They drank up all the money they had and mugged a drunk sailor to get money to pay their fare back to the ship. He told me a cop was chasing them and they ran into a rail yard and hid in a boxcar.

The train started and didn’t stop or slow down enough for them to get off until somewhere in Montana. He said they worked odd jobs to get drinking money and bus fare back.

I made third the day Ike was busted to Seaman and sentenced to thirty days in a Red Line Brig. I transferred before he returned to the ship.

I sometimes wonder whatever became of Ike.