Leaving in the Morning

Leaving in the Morning

By Garland Davis

Walking along among the lights of Magsaysay Drive

Me and Mercy making our way toward the night

I can hear the songs from the entertainers, the girls

Begging sailors inside

Watching the summer sun slowly fall from sight

There’s a warm wind from over the bay

Filling the streets with the smell of Subic

Mercy pushes her hand into my hand

Said she likes the feel of her hand in mine

In the morning, the ship is leaving, making way to the Gunline

Tonight, I’m sure we’ll be just fine

For the time left together

And I know for tonight she will be mine

The band is playing in the country bar

I laid out the cash for a couple of drinks

And while we are dancing, she wraps her arms around me

And I can feel her arms and body pulling me in

While we sway to the music

She tells me she loves me

And I laugh because I know it isn’t true

But, our time together draws to an end tonight

And, Mercy, there’s so much I want to do with you.


The Front Porch,

The Front Porch,

By Garland Davis

Where I grew up in rural North Carolina almost every house had a front porch. In winter it was a place to store firewood and during nicer weather, it was a place to congregate and talk about the events of the day. It was a place where neighbors could congregate and share the news. I learned many things just sitting and listening to the adults.

In the evenings after the days work and the after supper, yeah, I said supper, chores were finished. Dinner was what you ate at midday. The grown-ups would bring the chairs from the house and congregate around the open window where the radio could be heard. They would talk and tell stories, pausing occasionally to listen to a joke by Jack Benny or to a tense section of the Lone Ranger when Tonto was dangling over a cliff.

Although, people were sitting and talking their hands were not idle, especially when the garden came in. I remember snapping and stringing beans tor my Mama and Granny to can the next day. Once, a fellow, coming back from down east gave my dad three bushels of peaches. We peeled peaches, it seemed forever.

It was also a place tos sip a little shine on Saturday nights and “make music.” An uncle with his fiddle, my dad semi-proficient with the five-string banjo, and a fellow with a guitar, as well as a teenager who played guitar and sang. (he went on to make a life in Country Music). He even had a hit song, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.”

But the people who used the front porch most in the spring, summer, and fall were the oldsters. You could drive through the country and almost every house has an old man, old woman, or one of each sitting on the porch watching the traffic go by. They waved (what we called, “thowed up their hand”) to every car that passed. Looking back on it, the only contact they had with the outside was the people in those cars. I realize they were just sitting there waiting to die. You don’t see them on the porches or in public these days. They are in Senior Citizen’s Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, or whatever fancy name they can come up with in order to charge more to warehouse unwanted oldsters.

There is still a front porch of sorts for those of us who are old and not as physically able to do a hell of a lot. We sit alone in a room connected to hundreds of people we do not know but we call them “friends.” Officially I have 1643 friends this morning. I probably have met and know a hundred of them. My “front porch” has a twenty-seven-inch screen, the latest iteration of Windows, two terabytes of something I do not understand. It is my window to the world where I write serious political commentaries and other crap that wanders through my mind. I, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, try my warped sense of humor on others.

We can write to each other and actually talk face to face, though hundreds and thousands of miles apart. I have recently discovered that some of us can get together in group calls and talk, tell sea stories, laugh at the antics we engaged in during a younger day, and yes even partake of our favorite libation.

So, if you run across me somewhere out there in the ether, “Thow Up Your Hand.” Perhaps we will both live a little longer.


First Warship Named For a Female

First Warship Named For a Female

Thanks to Peter Yeschenko

USS Higbee DD-806

USS Higbee DD-806 was a Gearing-class destroyer in the US Navy during WWII.

She was the first US warship named for a female member of the U.S. Navy, being named for Chief Nurse Lenah S. Higbee, a pioneering Navy nurse who served as Superintendent of the US Navy Nurse Corps during World War I.

Lenah Higbee completed nurses’ training at the New York Postgraduate Hospital in 1899 and entered private practice soon thereafter.

She took postgraduate training at Fordham Hospital, New York in 1908 and in October 1908, she joined the newly-established US Navy Nurse Corps as one of its first twenty members.

These nurses, who came to be called “The Sacred Twenty”, were the first women to formally serve as members of the Navy.

She was promoted to Chief Nurse in 1909. Lenah Higbee became chief nurse at Norfolk Naval Hospital in April 1909.

In January 1911, Mrs. Higbee (she was the widow of Lieutenant Colonel John Henley Higbee, USMC) became the second Superintendent of the Nurse Corps.

For her achievements in leading the Corps through the First World War, Chief Nurse Higbee was awarded the Navy Cross, the first living woman to receive that medal.

She resigned from the position of Superintendent and retired from the Navy on 23 November 1922.

Chief Nurse Lenah H. Higbee died at Winter Park, Florida, on 10 January 1941 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day

As has been said many times, this is NOT a happy holiday. It’s not really to sell appliances, tires, cars, linens, or anything else.

Grill out, if you can, and if you must, but keep in mind that you can do that because somebody paid the price of admission for you.

A very small percentage of Americans have worn the uniform, gone to war, and didn’t return…and the rest of us have to thank them every day because we live free. Raise one in tribute, please.


A Sailor

A Sailor

Again thanks to Paul Reuter and Peter T Yeschenko

you had to be one to understand. SAILOR

· A Sailor will walk 10 miles in a freezing rain to get a beer but complain about standing a 4 hour quarterdeck watch on a beautiful, balmy spring day.

· A Sailor will lie and cheat to get off the ship early and then will have no idea where he wants to go.

· Sailors are territorial. They have their assigned spaces to clean and maintain. Woe betide the shipmate who tracks through a freshly swabbed deck.

· Sailors constantly complain about the food on the mess decks while concurrently going back for second or third helpings.

· Some Sailors have taken literally the old t-shirt saying that they should “Join the Navy. Sail to distant ports. Catch embarrassing, exotic diseases.”

· After a long sea deployment, Sailors realizes how much they miss being at sea. After getting out of the Navy, they consider taking a cruise and visiting some of their past favorite ports. Of course they’ll have to pony up better than $5,000 for the privilege. To think, Uncle Sam actually had to pay Sailors to visit those same ports while they were in.

· Sailors can spend two years on a ship and never visit every nook and cranny or even every major space aboard.

· Campari (Italian liqueur considered an aperitif) and soda taken in the warm Spanish sun is an excellent hangover remedy.

· E-5 is the almost perfect military pay grade. Too senior to catch the crap details, too junior to be blamed if things go awry.

· Never be first, never be last and never volunteer for anything. And everyone knows what NAVY stands for = Never Again Volunteer yourself.

· Almost every port has a “gut.” An area teeming with cheap bars, easy women and parties. Kind of like Bourbon St., but with foreign currency.

· If the Guardia Civil tell you to “Alto,” you’d best alto, right now. Same goes for the Carabinieri, gendarmes and other assorted police forces. You could easily find yourself in that port’s hoosegow or shot.

· Contrary to popular belief, Chief Petty Officers do not walk on water. They walk just above it. That’s only the “BLACK SHOES“. The “Airdales” – or “Brown Shoes” – think they fly, but that’s a myth.

· Sad but true, when visiting even the most exotic ports of call, some Sailors only see the inside of the nearest pub.

· Also under the category of sad but true, that lithe, sultry Mediterranean/Asian beauty you spent those wonderful three days with and have dreamed about ever since, is almost certainly a grandmother now and buying her clothes from Omar the Tent maker.

· A Sailor can, and will, sleep anywhere, anytime.

· Do not eat Mafunga or Balut ever!

· Yes, it’s true, it does flow downhill.

· In the traditional “crackerjack” uniform you were recognized as a member of United States Navy, no matter what port you were in.

· Most Sailors won’t disrespect a shipmate’s mother. On the other hand, it’s not wise to tell them you have a good looking sister.

· Sailors and Marines will generally fight one another, and fight together against all comers.

· If you can at all help it, never tell anyone that you are seasick.

· Check the rear dungaree pockets of a Sailor. Right pocket a wallet. Left pocket a book.

· The Sailor who seemed to get away with doing the least, always seemed to be first in the pay line and the chow line.

· General Quarters drills and the need to evacuate one’s bowels often seem to coincide.

· Speaking of which, when the need arises, the nearest head is always the one which is secured for cleaning.

· Four people you never screw with: the doc, the cook, the disbursing clerk and the ship’s barber.

· In the summer, all deck seamen wanted to be Signalmen. In the winter they wanted to be Radiomen.

· Do snipes ever get the grease and oil off their hands?

· Never play a drinking game which involves the loser paying for all the drinks.

· There are only two good ships: the one you came from and the one you’re going to.

· Whites, coming from the cleaners, clean, pressed and starched, last that way about 30 microseconds after donning them. The Navy dress white uniform is a natural dirt magnet.

· Sweat pumps operate in direct proportion to the seniority of the official visiting.

· Skill, daring and science will always win out over horsesh*t, superstition and luck.

· We train in peace so that in time of war the greater damage will be upon our enemies and not upon ourselves.

· “Pride and professionalism” trumps “Fun and zest” any day.

· The shrill call of a bosun’s pipe still puts a chill down my spine.

· Three biggest lies in the Navy: We’re happy to be here; This is not an inspection; We’re here to help.

· Everything goes in the log.

· Rule 1: The Chief is always right. Rule 2: When in doubt refer to Rule 1.

· A wet napkin under your tray keeps the tray from sliding on the mess deck table in rough seas, keeping at least one hand free to hold on to your beverage. (Maybe on a carrier. On a Tin Can, one hand holds the tray level with the drink on it with one hand while eating with the other.)

· Never walk between the projector and the movie screen after the movie has started.

· A guy who doesn’t share a care package from home is no shipmate.

· But…if I had to do it all over again, I would. Twice.

· When I sleep, I often dream I am back at sea.

· Good shipmates are friends forever.




1. Buy a steel dumpster, paint it gray inside and out, and live in it for six months.

2. Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls.

3. Repaint your entire house every month using gray paint.

4. Renovate your bathroom. Lower all showerheads to four and one-half feet off the deck.

5. When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.

6. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn water heater temperature up to 300 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn water heater off.

7. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they used too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed.

8. Put 5W-20 lube oil in your humidifier, instead of water, and set it on high.

9. Leave your lawn mower running in your living room 24 hours a day to maintain proper ambient noise level.

10. Once a month, disassemble all your major appliances and electric garden tools, inspect them and then reassemble them. Do this every week with your lawnmower, weed whacker and other gasoline powered tools.

11. Once a week blow compressed air up through your chimney, making sure the wind carries the soot across and onto your neighbor’s house. Laugh at him when he curses you.

12. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors, so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.

13. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can’t turn over without getting out and then getting back in.

14. Have a fluorescent lamp installed on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books.

15. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 4 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say “Sorry, wrong rack.”

16. Make each member your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house i.e., dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.

17. Find the dumbest guy in the neighborhood and make him your boss for the next two years.

18. Have your neighbor come over each day at 5 am, blow a whistle so loud Helen Keller could hear it, and shout “Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and trice up.”

19. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she’s going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in your back yard at 0600 (6 A.M.) while she reads it to you.

20. Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day, whether it needs it or not.

21. Have your neighbor collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering it to you.

22. Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, and then show a different one.

23. When your children are in bed, run into their room with a megaphone shouting that your home is under attack and ordering them to their battle stations.

24. Post a menu on the kitchen door informing your family that they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour. When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.

25. Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.

26. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread.

27. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to button your top shirt button and tuck your pants into your socks. Run out into the back yard and uncoil the garden hose.

28. Every week or so, throw your cat or dog into the pool and shout, “Man overboard port side!” Rate your family members on how fast they respond.

29. Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don’t plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup “Stove manned and ready.” After an hour or so, speak into the cup again “Stove secured.” Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoebox.

30. Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4-hour intervals. This is best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.

31. When there is a thunderstorm in your area, get a wobbly rocking chair, sit in it and rock as hard as you can until you become nauseous. Make sure to have a supply of stale crackers in your shirt pocket.

32. Buy a trash compactor but only use it once a week. Store up garbage in your bathtub.

33. Invite at least 375 people, most of whom you don’t really like, to come and live with you for about 6 months.

34. Lock-wire the lug nuts on your car wheels.

35. Start your car and let it run for 4 hours before going anywhere, to ensure the engine is properly “lit off”.

36. Walk around your car for 4 hours checking the tire pressure every 15 minutes.

37. Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking.

38. Have the paperboy give you a haircut with sheep shears.

39. Submit a request form to your father-in-law, asking if it’s OK for you to leave your house before 1500 (3 PM).

40. Take a two-week vacation visiting the Far East, and call it “world travel”.

41. Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to Disney World for “liberty.” At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been canceled because they need to get ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house.

42. Needle gun the aluminum siding on your house after your neighbors have gone to bed.

Now, who’s ready to go back to sea?


The Battle of Ramree Island

The Battle of Ramree Island

Thanks to Paul Reuter and Peter T Yeschenko



In 1942, during WWII, the Japanese Imperial Army captured Ramree Island off the Burma coast, 70 miles south of Akyab, now known as Sittwe.

Since Ramree was strategically important, the Allies wanted to retake the island and establish airbases to support the mainland campaign.

In 1945, an attack on the island was launched.

After a bloody face-off, British troops managed to drive nearly 1,000 Japanese soldiers into the dense mangrove swamp that covered some 10 miles of Ramree.

The defeated Japanese soldiers ignored all appeals by the British to surrender, and instead abandoned their base and entered the swamp.

It was after this that one of the oddest incidents in the history of warfare occurred.

Many of the Japanese troops succumbed to tropical diseases carried by swarms of mosquitoes, and various poisonous spiders, snakes, and scorpions found in the marsh.

Lack of drinking water and the constant threat of starvation were problems as well. Despite these numerous hazards, one danger stood out as the greatest…


Unknown to the Imperial Japanese Army, the mangrove swamps of Ramree Island were home to an unknown number of the largest reptilian predator in the world – the saltwater crocodile.

These reptiles can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh 2,000 pounds, with many being known to eat animals as big as Indian water buffalo. Even a mid-size saltwater crocodile could easily kill a full-grown adult human.

One night British soldiers reported hearing panicked screams and gunfire coming from within the darkness of the swamp.

They didn’t know what exactly was causing the terrified shouts they heard, it was as if the Japanese troops were being ravaged by some evil menace.

The soldiers were viciously and mercilessly attacked by the crocodiles.

There is a long history of saltwater crocodiles attacking humans who wander into their habitats, and ultimately only 520 out of 1000 Japanese soldiers managed to survive the Ramree swamps.

Some of the Japanese soldiers were so badly injured and mauled that they were later captured by the British forces.

The Battle of Ramree Island is not well known due to it not being one of the Second World War’s most significant skirmishes.


What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

By Garland Davis

I became a cook striker in 1962 at NAS Lemoore, Calif. There was a CS2 who worked at the Main Galley named Yokum. There was a cS2 at the Branch Galley named Yoakum. They were known as ‘Mammy’ Yokum and ‘Pappy’ Yoakum.

A Deck Department Leading Seaman named Smith in USS Vesuvius during the ‘62 cruise got into a fight with some sailors from USS Cacapon and whipped about three of them. At CO’s mast, when the Captain asked what happened he replied, “Captain, they were bad-mouthing the Vesuvius and I put some Itai’s on their asses.” He became known as ‘Itai’ Smith.

I served in an Oceangoing Tug with a 44 man crew. The oldest crewmember was an RM1 who was 31. He was known as ‘Pops.’

I knew two twin brothers in San Diego who were named Duty. They were known as ‘Jury’ Duty and ‘Extra’ Duty.

There was a fellow named Jury who became ‘Hung’ Jury.

Jim ‘Hambone’ Hampton told me of a girl he recruited named Sherlock who became ‘No Shit’ Sherlock

I had an MS2 who was from a Deep South state. His middle name, I believe, was supposed to have been Alfred but whoever wrote in on his Birth Certificate spelled it Alfurd. He became known as ‘Furd.’

I had a friend named Muise who was known as ‘Moose.’ He is on perpetual patrol in USS Thresher.

There was a Senior Chief named Hauxhurst who could fart any time he wanted. We called him ‘Windy.’

My baby brother reported as a BM2 to First Lieutenant’s Division at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. The Chief asked his name. He said, “Ray Salmons.” The Chief said you look like a ‘Moon Pie’ to me. He became a Yokosuka and Subic legend as ‘Moon Pie.’

There was a QM named Rudder who carried the name ‘Left Full’ Rudder.

I served with a SM2 whose Japanese girlfriend had a Chihuahua dog. He went to her house after having a few at the PO Club. The dog was barking at him, so he got on his hands and knees and growled at the animal. The little bug-eyed bastard cut his face up. Fourteen stitches. We called him ‘Dog’ after that.

I had an MS3 named White who was African American and an MS3 named Black who was Caucasian. Of course, they were called ‘Whitey’ and ‘Blackie.’ They were overheard using their nicknames greeting each other by an Airdale officer who put them on report for creating a racial incident.

Then there were nicknames that went with a person’s rating:

SM – ‘Flags’; ‘Skivvy Waver’;

BM – ‘Boats’

SH – ‘Skivvy Dipper’

CS/MS – ‘Cookie’; Stewburner’; ‘Gut Robber’; ‘Doughhead’

GM – ‘Muzzle Fucker’; ‘Guns’

RM – ‘Sparks’; ‘Radio Girls’

HM – ‘Peter Machinist’; ‘Dick Smith’; ‘Nurse’; ‘Chancre Mechanic’; ‘Pecker Checker’; and of course, ‘Doc.’

I am sure you can add many other names.


USS Sterett

USS Sterett

The first Sterett, DD-27 (1910 -1919)

The first USS Sterett was a three stack, modified Paulding class destroyer, often referred to as “flivvers”.

She was 293 feet long with a 26-foot beam and 16-foot draft. DD-27 displaced 742 tons. Her oil-fired 12,000 shp (shaft horsepower) power plant consisted of four boilers driving twin screws via steam turbines. DD-27 had a top speed of 29.5 knots and carried a crew of four officers and 82 enlisted men. DD-27 was armed with five three-inch guns, three .50 caliber machine guns and six 18-inch torpedo tubes.

Her distinctive three funnels distinguished her from the rest of the four funnel destroyers of the time.

USS Sterett DD-407 

Sterett DD-407 was one of ten ships of the Benham class, the last of the 1500 ton destroyer classes. The class was a Gibbs and Cox design and the ten ships were constructed at six different shipyards, the Sterett being the only one built at the Charleston Navy Yard. Her keel was laid on December 2, 1936, and she was launched on October 27, 1938. Commissioning was August 15, 1939, with Lt. Cdr. Atherton Macondray her first C.O.She had a length of 341 feet, a beam of 35 feet 6 inches and a mean draft of 11 feet. The three Babcock and Wilcox boilers had uptakes leading to a single stack and powered Westinghouse steam turbines developing 50,000 shaft horsepower for the two screws. With a 483-ton fuel oil capacity, she had a cruising range of 8,730 nautical miles at 12 knots. The original main battery configuration was four 5″/38 dual purpose guns in the new base ring mounts (vs. pedestal mounts) with the forward mounts in gunhouses and the after open mounts. Sixteen torpedo tubes in four quad mounts were amidships, two on each side. The torpedos were the 21″ Mk15 and could be used for surface contacts only. The anti-aircraft battery consisted of four .50 caliber Browning machine guns arranged with two forward of the bridge and two atop the after deckhouse. The anti-submarine battery was two roll-off depth-charge racks mounted on the fantail with a complement of five 600 pound charges each.

Her initial complement was 175 crew and nine officers.

At war’s end, her complement was 235 crew and 16 officers.

USS Sterett DLG-31/CG-31

STERETT earned nine battle stars for her service off the coast of Vietnam.

On 30 June 1975, STERETT was reclassified as a guided-missile cruiser—CG-31. In October of that year, STERETT was deployed to the Western Pacific serving in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin. During this 8 month deployment, STERETT visited the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Okinawa, Korea, and Japan. STERETT completed the WESTPAC tour in May or 1976 and returned to San Diego. The remainder of 1976 and the first part of 1977 were spent on operations in the SOCAL area.

DDG-104 The fourth US Navy ship named in honor of Andrew Sterett

The Four Sterett’s

Painting by Dale Byhre