Boy Howdy, Grandfather

Boy Howdy, Grandfather

By Garland Davis

Boy Howdy and Sam walked into the house for the box of kitchen utensils he had purchased for the new RV. And yes, his name is Boy Jenkins. He is from one of those southern states that only use the vowel A. His mother died shortly after his twin sister and he were born. Without a name, the county clerk entered the names ‘Girl’ Jenkins and ‘Boy’ Jenkins on their birth certificates. He had picked up the nickname Boy Howdy from the Chief on his first ship.

A little over a month before, Boy and Sam, a mixed Akita dog, that he had found as a puppy at a Louisiana truck stop on a stormy evening, had been in the local Ginmill to drink away his sadness on the fortieth anniversary of the last day he had seen Maria, the day he left the Philippines for Vietnam. There he was involved in a boat collision while acting as an advisor to the Vietnamese Sailors they were turning the Riverine Forces boats over to. He was severely injured and eventually ended up at the Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii. The last thing he remembered was leaving Charleston. He had no memory of the USS Chicago, the PI, Maria or Vietnam.

While talking with a psychiatrist, all his memories suddenly returned. As soon as possible, he took leave and flew to the Philippines to find Maria. Maria was not there. Over the years, he spent other thirty day leave periods walking the streets of Olongapo hoping to see Maria. He hired detectives in Olongapo, to no avail. After he retired from the Navy, he actually lived in Olongapo for two years hoping to find her.

Boy eventually surrendered to the realization that he would probably never find Maria and returned to San Diego where he worked at a Marina for a few years. Tiring of pampering rich peoples boats, Boy moved to the Southern Ozarks and became a nomad trucker working for a small company in Oklahoma. He lived in his truck and would be on the road for months crisscrossing the country. He had retired a year ago and he and Sam moved into a cabin on five acres backed up to what passes for a mountain in the Ozarks.

Boy had ordered drinks for himself, water for Sam, and placed Maria’s photo against the saltshaker on the table. He was sitting looking at the photo and remembering the days he and Maria were together in Olongapo when a tall attractive lady approached the table and asked if she could sit down.

As she pulled the chair out and sat, she noticed the picture leaning against the saltshaker, and with an intake of her breath she said, “Maria.”

Shocked, Boy asked, “How do you know Maria? Where is she? Tell me.”

“Maria died of cancer many years ago in North Carolina where she lived with her sister Lila. She thought you were killed in the war at first but when she couldn’t find your name on the wall she became convinced that you were alive. Here is a letter that she wrote to you. It was returned as undeliverable. She thought you had been killed in the war.” She said as she passed an unopened envelope to him. It was addressed to him in Vietnam. Someone had written across the front, “KIA!”

“With trembling hands, he opened the letter. It was short, a profession of her love and to tell him that she was pregnant, and they would have a child in the spring.”

He said, “A baby. Maria’s baby! Do you know where the child is today? he said as the tears dripped off his chin.

She placed her hands over his clenched fists and said the word for the first time in her life.


Boy gasped, “Papa?” You are the baby? My Baby?”

“Yes,” Marie said as they stood and embraced, both crying.

“There is so much I want to know,” Boy said.

Boy learned that her name was Marilyn, but she was called Mari. She told him that she had been born in San Diego, shortly after Maria had immigrated. When her sister’s husband retired and moved to North Carolina, Maria and Mari moved with them. Almost astounding as learning that he had a daughter was learning that he was grandfather to teenage twins, a boy and a girl. Mark and Marie.

Shortly afterward, Boy and Sam drove to the cabin with her rental car following. There, they spent the whole night telling their stories to each other.

She was an attorney and taught Contract and Constitutional law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also reviewed proposed legislation by the legislature for constitutional issues. Her husband, John, Boy’s son-in-law, was a cost accountant for a large chicken growing and processing company. They lived on an operating farm inherited from John’s parents located south of Chapel Hill.

Boy asked how she had found him and why was it so difficult for her and Maria. She explained the Maria thought his last name was Howdy. They searched for years for a sailor named “Boy Howdy.” Mari while doing research for [proposed legislation that would make it easier for adopted persons to locate their birth parents had found an article by a retired Navy Commander who had discovered that her mother had died at birth and that her twin brother and she had been labeled as “Boy” an “Girl” Jenkins and those names had been entered as their birth names by a county clerk.

Mari had contacted Sara, Boy’s sister Girl, whose adoptive parents had let her select her new name. Mari flew to Charleston and learned that, yes, her brother had been named Boy and was a retired Navy Chief petty Officer living near Branson Missouri. She also told Mari that he had spent his life searching for a girl named Maria.

Sara had contacted Boy two years before. It was good to learn that he was a brother and uncle. He had spent Thanksgiving with Sara and her family for the past two years. It was good to have a family. But now he was learning that he had a real family, Maria’s and his daughter and her children, his grandchildren.

They decided during the night that he would visit Mari and her family in a month. Mari gave him a picture of the twins. He looked at it for a long moment then carried it to a larger framed picture of Maria and stuck it in the corner of the frame. Boy whispered, “Our grandchildren Maria!”

Mari had a late flight from Springfield to Atlanta and Raleigh. She had an early class on Monday and would spend Sunday completing a report for the legislature. She slept for a few hours and while she was showering, Boy cooked breakfast. After they ate, she said, “Goodbye Papa. I know Mama is happy that we have found each other and goodbye to you, Sam, Take care of my Papa.”

It had been almost a month since Mari left. It had been a busy month for Boy. He intended going to visit Mari and meet her husband and the twins. He had talked with each of them on the phone. The twins seemed like a levelheaded and respectful pair of kids. They invited him to attend their High School graduation in early June. Boy had done the work to close the cabin and arranged with the Sheriff and a neighbor to keep an eye on the place.

Boy bought a twenty-eight-foot long motor home. He reasoned that he and Sam would be making a number of trips to North Carolina. He finished moving his clothes into the RV, stocked the refrigerator and the pantry with items from an earlier shopping trip. He made sure the water and propane tanks were full and checked all the engine fluids.

He was ready for an early start tomorrow. South to I-40 and ride it all the way to Chapel Hill.




The Brotherhood is real. Stronger than an Anchor Chain.The following is the Introduction to our forthcoming book, “More Sub Tales.” We will be sharing more details as the next few weeks transpire.


By Frank Hood

“Are those guys nuts?”

Anyone watching the proceedings that day—29 June 2020—may have reasonably posed the question. On a Monday afternoon, in a driving rainstorm, men without umbrellas stood at a graveside internment ceremony, during a COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 200 people of Marblehead, MA, including more than 100 firefighters from all over New England, had assembled under terrible weather conditions at Waterside Cemetery to say goodbye to an old friend. At the age of 81, John Woodfin Martin Bartlett Chapman Cutler had gone to his eternal creator days earlier. The beloved figure, known affectionately as “Hooper” to all who knew him, wore many hats during his long and meaningful life: son, husband, father, fireman, docent, poet, cribbage fanatic, and submariner.

That last descriptor explained why more than 20 of his brothers from the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. (USSVI) Marblehead Base was there. Hooper was a diesel boat veteran and a plankowner of the local base in Marblehead when it was formed years earlier. Through their common bond in the Navy, Hooper and his friends at the base enjoyed many wonderful times together through their participation in civic events like parades and memorials as well as social occasions at the base including the monthly meetings and yearly banquets. Hooper seldom if ever missed an event, and when he attended, you could count on his quick wit and side-splitting sea stories—which usually began with the phrase, “Now, this is no shi***r… “

As the relentless rain poured down, no one was deterred. A Naval Reserve flag detail stood motionless as each of Hooper’s USSVI brothers delivered a short eulogy during the wake service. The Navy Hymn was played. As a final farewell, each man passed by his internment site, stopped, did a slow hand salute and departed smartly to the side.

Hooper’s family, including his wife Joan, was moved by the tremendous outpouring of respect and affection. Like the many firefighters who were there, Hooper’s USSVI brothers had forged a connection through the trials of dangerous and often underappreciated service. The submariners’ bond is stronger than an anchor chain, and it’s a relationship for life. For them, it all boils down to three words…duty, honor, country. And that’s why neither a pounding rain nor a viral pandemic could keep the men from their ceremonial watch at Waterside Cemetery.

Hooper’s story is an American classic, and portions of it resonate through the lives of most other men who volunteered to serve on the boats. A lifelong resident of Marblehead—except when the Navy deemed otherwise—Hooper was born in 1939 to Harry and Louise Cutler. His mother reportedly chose so many middle names common to other Marblehead families because she wanted to make sure that he’d have the best chance at a town job when he grew up. She would never have to worry about that.

John Cutler told how he was branded as “Hooper” by his kindergarten teacher because there were too many “Johns” in the same class. The name stuck. After finishing Marblehead High School in 1957, Hooper joined the Navy and attended Sub School. He struck for a torpedoman’s rate and served from 1961 to 1963 aboard the USS Tunny (SSG-282)—a pioneering “G-boat” performing Regulus deterrent patrols before the fleet ballistic missile submarines assumed that important job. The G-boat story is told in great detail in one of the chapters of this book.

As a young man serving aboard a US submarine, Hooper learned much more than he realized. He learned the value of self-discipline. He understood the concept of giving every assignment his best effort. He came to realize that he was part of a team, and that each team member had to be able to count on one another to perform his job as flawlessly as possible. He learned how to get along with a lot of people in a tight space doing dangerous things that he could never reveal or hope to be adequately thanked for. He understood the pride that came with self-sacrifice and the courage that such daring work required.

After his Navy stint as a torpedoman third class petty officer, Hooper returned to the town he loved to apply many of the life lessons taught to him by the Submarine Force. A true “’Header” (the local term for a longtime Marblehead resident), he felt the calling to continue serving his fellow man by becoming a firefighter. Hooper gained the love and respect of his fellow firemen much as he had done with his shipmates aboard the Tunny, through a sterling work ethic and a winning personality. He was never too busy to share one of his many stories from his Navy days or the lengthy career with the Marblehead Fire Department that followed! Hooper rose through the ranks and became the captain of the department before retiring after 33 years.

During his many years as a fireman, Hooper found many other ways to give back to Marblehead. He was a long-time member of the Masons, VFW, and Shriners, and he also played active roles in several firefighter organizations. In his chosen profession, Hooper strongly advocated for continued training opportunities for his men. From his days aboard the Tunny, he understood the meaning of becoming Qualified in Submarines—an achievement following many grueling hours of study and apprenticeship—and how valuable such validation of expertise was for both morale and proficiency. Hooper demanded the same level of commitment from his fellow firemen, and his infectious spirit elevated not only the fire department but also every other endeavor he put his mind to.

For example, he volunteered once a week during the tourist season at Abbot Hall, the local museum housing a number of historically significant treasures. Perhaps most well-known among these is “The Spirit of ‘76”, the famous oil painting by Archibald Willard depicting two drummers and a fife player marching during the Revolutionary War. Hooper had a very outgoing manner that put his museum visitor groups at ease very quickly as he knowledgeably led them through the exhibits. His genuine love for Marblehead came through loud and clear to those fortunate enough to gain his services as a docent.

As mentioned already, another pursuit that Hooper practiced passionately was storytelling, both as a gifted raconteur and a poet. Upon recently asking his wife Joan for a sample of his writings, she politely demurred…they were for the private consumption of his firefighter colleagues. But she added that his ribald sense of humor—a telltale nod to his submarine roots, you might say—was always greatly appreciated by his friends at the station.

Hooper’s pastime of choice was the game of cribbage…if ever there was such a dead giveaway about his submarine pedigree! He played the game nearly fanatically, organizing weekly tournaments on Tuesdays. He also volunteered at the local schools to teach kids how to play the favorite game of the Submarine Force. Although Hooper played cribbage to win, he also relished the regular gatherings as opportunities to both share more of his seemingly endless inventory of yarns and to hear new stories. He was so affable that once he had hung up his fireman’s hat, the local bank hired him as their front-door greeter.

Hooper Cutler succeeded in a way he couldn’t see, and it was that invisible gift that left the most lasting impression on everyone he met. Simply put, whenever you were in Hooper’s company, your troubles seemed just a little less burdensome and your disposition was just a little brighter. Hooper left you happier than when he found you. It’s no wonder that he reveled in playing Santa Claus for 26 years at the annual firefighters’ family Christmas party. He delighted the children by sliding down the firepole in full regalia and then take each one on his knee with a jolly laugh to hear them recite their Christmas lists.

His ability to connect so fundamentally with people, combined with his iron-clad integrity and his unwavering commitment to his community, won Hooper Cutler many friends. To the submariners gathered at the cemetery that rainy day, Hooper’s legacy sounded a familiar theme, one that bound the men together:

The pride of service.

A deep love for country, even long after service years have passed.

Great respect for one another, gained through the rigors of submarine duty.

I know these statements to be true because I was one of those men. Hoop’s passing was a devastating blow for our Marblehead base family, and a desire to explain such fundamental attributes of submariners has been a powerful motive for my brother Charles and me to write this sequel to Sub Tales: Stories That Seldom Surface. By describing important moments and themes in submarine history, both well-known and obscure, we hope that such examples impart a greater understanding of those “secret sauce” ingredients that define the Silent Service volunteer. Our intent is to both entertain and inform the reader while simultaneously offering a more enlightened appreciation for the many sacrifices that have been made by submariners in the defense of our country.

Hooper’s story is our story. Enjoy these many tales. May God bless the US Submarine Force, and may God bless America.

John “Hooper” Cutler during his submarine days. (Photo courtesy of Joan Cutler.)


“It’s a Small World” Story

“It’s a Small World” Story

Tony Palm, BMC, USN(Ret)

This morning I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting (for the second time) Nghia (Le) Firth, a native of Cần Thơ, Vietnam. Nghia is the newest member of the pain-management clinic at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), Bethesda, Maryland, and assisted my doctor with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection into my shoulder.

When I asked about her immigration into the United States, she explained her family was part of the mass exodus of almost 800,000 Vietnamese between 1975 and 1995. In 1983, when she was only eight years old, her family traveled to a small port city, where they boarded a rickety boat and set sail into the unknown.

As those of you onboard the Elliot during her 1983 Westpac knows, their boat never made it out of the South China Sea.

As was often the case during the crisis, the boat was ill-fitted for such a mission. The skeleton crew had taken on more passengers than they had provisions for, and the ship itself was in poor condition. Nghia said after the first week, they only received a medicine bottle of water, and their only food was the fish they caught.

Nearly two weeks after leaving the country, the bilge pumps failed, and the boat began to take on water. In less than 48 hours, the incoming seawater had shorted out all electrical systems, flooded the diesel engines rendering the boat dead in the water and at the mercy of the wind and tides. On July 31, 1983, just when the boat’s main deck became even with the surface of the ocean, and sinking seemed immanent, a miracle appeared on the horizon in the shape of a United States warship.

On routine patrol during her third Western Pacific (WestPac) deployment, the forward lookout on the USS Elliot (DD-967) spotted the floundering craft with 68 men, women, and children crowding her deck. The ship pulled alongside the boat and transferred all of the passengers and crew on board. After giving all of the refugees a physical exam, the ship’s cooks provided their first cooked meal in weeks. The ship then traveled to Subic Bay, the Republic of the Philippines where the refugees were turned over to the US Department of State. Elliot and every member of the crew were awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for the rescue operation.

Nghia and her family remained in the Philippines for nearly two years until they were moved to a refugee camp in Hong Kong. They stayed there until being sponsored by a Roman Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she grew up. After graduation from high school, she attended St. Catherine University and was awarded a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Following her childhood dream to give something back to her adopted country, she applied for and was granted a commission in the US Navy’s Nursing Corps. As an active duty Lieutenant from 2000 – 2004, she deployed to the Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Today, Nghia Firth continues her care of warfighters and their dependents as a federal employee at WRNMMC.

When did I meet Nghia the first time you ask? When she and her family were rescued, I was a member of the USS Elliot’s crew and still wear the Humanitarian Medal with pride.


LCDR Marcus Arnheiter and USS Vance DE-387

LCDR Marcus Arnheiter and USS Vance DE-387


BUT DID YOU KNOW….that there was actually an incident in the Navy like the one in the movie…..however, it happened approximately 12 years after the movie came out in 1966 off the coast of Vietnam?!

In 1951, former Naval Officer Herman Wouk completed his novel “The Caine Mutiny”.

The book swiftly became a bestseller, as well as the basis for a stage play and a successful motion picture.

Wouk’s fictional mutiny was not in the classic style, in which a rebellious crew takes over a ship. Instead, USS Caine suffered a “virtual mutiny,” in, which support from the commander’s junior officers eroded to the point where control slipped from his hands.

A strikingly similar situation developed on a destroyer escort named USS Vance while the ship was on station off the coast of South Vietnam in 1965-66. As a result, LCDR Marcus Arnheiter was relieved of duty and his career was crippled.

LCDR Marcus Aurelius Arnheiter took command on 22 December 1965.

LCDR Arnheiter had graduated from the US Naval Academy with midclass standing. As his career progressed, he received some less- than-outstanding fitness reports, which delayed his promotions.

When he was assigned to the USS Vance at age 41, he was one of the oldest officers in the Navy at his rank, and he had a burning ambition to rectify that situation.

USS Vance sailed for the Vietnam coast on 28 December 1965.

Early on, LCDR Arnheiter ordered the replacement of a black toilet seat in his quarters with a white one. This started a series of jokes circulating around the ship.

LCDR Arnheiter also began to tighten discipline in the wardroom, insisting upon neat dress and correct table etiquette. He had a strong dislike for coffee stains and spilled ashes, and he also protested the pinup pictures from “girlie” magazines plastered on the bulkheads.

LCDR Arnheiter told his crew on many occasions that he would “take them where the action was.” As part of his preparations, he acquired a secondhand fiberglass speedboat to augment the ship’s assigned single-motor whaleboat. He used the ship’s recreational funds to buy the powerboat an action that in itself could have been sufficient to justify LCDR Arnheiter’s firing.

LCDR Arnheiter’s alleged peculiarities started to emerge.

One consisted of having the crew awakened in the morning by a fife-and-drum reveille, rather than the customary bosun’s call. The new reveille was called “Hellcats’ Reveille.”

LCDR Arnheiter also established a “boner box” in the wardroom for officers errors, which included failure to maintain proper dress or permitting lax discipline in their divisions.

Officers were fined 25 cents for each infraction, and the offenders were not happy when they had to pay fines. LCDR Arnheiter also issued detailed operations orders at the wardroom table, and he was always ready to berate or fine junior officers for trivial matters, such as misplacing cutlery.

USS Vance’s officers began to avoid the wardroom and LCDR Arnheiter’s lectures.

When LCDR Arnheiter initiates “character-building sessions”, his crew began comparing Arnheiter’s behavior to that of Captain Queeg of “The Caine Mutiny”.

These sessions were held on the fantail and usually commenced with “Prayers at Sea,” taken directly from a US Naval Institute manual.

LCDR Arnheiter normally followed with an address, touching upon the heritage of figures like Stonewall Jackson, George Washington or George Patton. The sessions closed with the rendering of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” a familiar hymn without reference to any specific religious persuasion. These apparently innocent meetings became the match that set the powder train afire.

The real trouble started with the Operations Officer (OPSO). His complaint, which he privately discussed with his colleagues, was that he believed the sessions were thinly disguised Protestant services and the OPSO was Catholic.

One of the sessions was conducted by the XO standing in for LCDR Arnheiter. XO spoke of God and the universe, but no hymns were sung.

OPSO wrote a letter of complaint, addressed to LCDR Arnheiter, and handed it to the XO for delivery. The XO declined to forward the letter to LCDR Arnheiter and advised the OPSO to “seek counsel off the ship.”

OPSO filed a letter of complaint with the Catholic chaplain at Pearl Harbor.

During one gunnery mission, LCDR Arnheiter, wearing a helmet and an ivory-handled revolver, reportedly ducked behind a splinter shield when ricochets began to fly. That prompted another round of disparaging remarks among the junior officers.

During another mission, LCDR Arnheiter allegedly failed to issue orders to the helmsman to change course. The record kept by the OPSO noted that the XO had to rush to the bridge to order a change, of course, to avoid running the vessel aground.

The records kept by the OPSO became known as the “Mad Marcus Log” by the crew.

The complaints listed in the Mad Marcus Log came to the attention of higher headquarters staff, through the chaplain corps.

Three months after LCDR Arnheiter assumed command, HQ ordered the USS Vance to Subic Bay, Philippines for refitting, and LCDR Arnheiter was summarily relieved.

In an attempt to clear his name, LCDR Arnheiter sought a court-martial from the Navy, but the Navy never took any additional action against LCDR Arnheiter.

LCDR Arnheiter swore out formal charges against the Navy and was not so much as reprimanded for charging that the Rear and Vice-Admiral in his Chain of Command had themselves been guilty of gross violations of the UCMJ regarding his case.

LCDR Arnheiter said that either way he should be the subject of a court-martial – for his alleged actions on the USS Vance or for his related charges against selected superior officers.

The Navy completely ignored his requests.

LCDR Arnheiter went as far as to participate in formal Congressional hearings on the matter, and still the Navy ignored his loud and very public demand for redress in any official capacity.

On repeated appeal, his case was repeatedly dismissed.

At the time….according to a Time magazine article: “We all have a little of the Captain Queeg in us,” admitted one officer. “But LCDR Arnheiter had more than his share.

Journalist Neil Sheehan wrote a book titled The Arnheiter Affair in 1971, including a little-known indicium that Arnheiter, prior to his enrollment in the Naval Academy, had briefly been enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The Arnheiter Affair was well received. Litigation, however, brought by LCDR Arnheiter for libel and slander caused the book to be removed from print.


In a Submarine

In a Submarine

What’s it like being in a Submarine? This pretty much sums it up!

For everyone that has ever asked me ” what is it like in a submarine, here is the answer in terms everyone can understand. How to appreciate what it’s like to be deployed in a nuclear submarine.

1. Buy all the groceries and supplies you think you’ll need for 2 months, with the following exceptions: no milk, cereal, fruits, vegetables or alcohol. Take what you buy home and bring it one item at a time into the house. You may not keep any food in your cabinets or closets as these will be set aside to store spare parts. You may not use the refrigerator as this will be turned into a freezer. Any pre-made candies, cookies, or snacks must be kept in bed with you.

2. Lock the door, close the windows, draw the shades and tear out the phone.

3. Turn on the oven with the door open; turn the air conditioner all the way up. Setup enough fans so that the whole house is windy.

4. Replace all your lights with 100 watt bulbs and turn them all on.

5. You may sleep on any shelf you choose.

6. Whenever you are not asleep, your “bed” must be occupied by any garbage man you do not like.

7. You must wear the same clothes a week at a time. You may do laundry once a month. You must sleep with your dirty laundry in a bag in bed with you.

8. Every week on Saturday morning, you must go to the basement, crawl between the pipes and clean the same 10 foot by 10 foot area for four hours.

9. You may be in the shower for 10 minutes at longest, but you may not run the water for more than 60 seconds.

10. You have one week to study the instruction manuals for every appliance, utility and piece of equipment in your house. At the end of this week you must be able to quote any passage out of these from memory and pass a written exam. Until you can do this, you may not have access to TV or radio and you may not sleep for more than 3 hours at a time, with 9 hours awake between sleeping.

11. After this week, you must walk around the house for 6 hours and record every temperature, pressure, tank level, setting, and complete status of every piece of equipment in your house. You may not go to the bathroom or eat during this 6 hours. These 6 hour periods must start every 15 hours.

12. Once a week when you would otherwise be asleep, take your television completely apart and put it back together.

13. You may not go to the bathroom for one hour after you eat because during that time you have to clean it.

14. Each Monday through Friday morning whether you would normally be awake or not, you must pretend to start a fire in your house, put on a gas mask, and pretend to put the fire out. Wear the gas mask for at least one additional hour each time.

15. Each Monday through Friday afternoon whether you would normally be awake or not, you must study the same instruction manuals for 2 hours that you studied the first week.

16. Continue the above for 3 months even though you have only 2 months’ worth of food.

Below is a “Shitter” in a SUB ” There’s a flashing procedure that must be followed.




Ian Brown

This dog’s name was Gunner. My uncle brought him back from WW2.  He was raised and slept under my uncle’s anti-aircraft gun. The gun crew shared their rations to feed him. By the time he was 18 months old, my uncle said he would stand up and look at the sky. If he lay back down they knew all was ok. If he growled and put his hackles up they got at the ready. Gunner knew the sound of the German aircraft and my uncle said he never got it wrong. He said Gunner was better than any early warning system. I’m probably the only one left in the family that knows this story now. I thought I’d tell it before it’s lost forever as many stories from that time must be.




November 11, 2020


On the11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, the armistice went into effect ending “The Great War,” World War I. One hundred two years later, we continue to recognize those who put on the uniform.

Originally known as Armistice Day, in 1954 President Eisenhower signed into law to change this day to Veterans Day as to include all veterans.


The Heroes of Branson, Missouri

The Heroes of Branson, Missouri

By Garland Davis

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Shipmate as simply, “A fellow member of a ship’s crew.” But the Asia Sailor knows there is a greater meaning to this simple word. Yes, someone a person served with in the same ship but also someone who served in the Navy, who served under the same circumstances and experienced the same hardships, the same trials, and, yes, the same good times. Yes, Shipmate when the word friend just doesn’t cut it. We even refer to our seagoing allies and onetime adversaries as shipmates.

Of course, there were times when you didn’t want to be called “Shipmate” like, when the Chief said, “Let’s walk back to the fantail Shipmate, we need to have a serious talk.” You knew you had fucked up and it was come to Jesus time.

There are two people who own and personify the term “Shipmate.” I call them the “Heroes of Branson, Missouri.” David “Mac” and Kathryn McAllister. Mac and Kathy are founding members of the ASIA SAILOR Westpac’rs Association. I guess you could call them co-Presidents but then we never went in for titles. The title “Shipmate” suits us simply fine.

Mac and Kathy plan, prepare for, and host the annual Westpac’rs reunion held in May at the Branson Clarion Hotel. There’s more to having a reunion than simply saying, “Let’s have a reunion.” Negotiations with the venue for room rates, hospitality suites, planning for comestibles, potables (Fancy words for food and booze. Hey, I am trying to add a little class to our group.) and entertainment. They also collect fees from the attendees and pay the bills. I know there have been times when they dipped into their own pockets to make up differences. Those of us who have attended the reunions feel that the results of eight successful reunions accord them “Hero” status.

As the late Paul Harvey would say, “Here is the Rest of the Story.”

Many times, each month Mac participates as a volunteer in the Honor Guard at a local Veteran’s funeral.

Mac and Kathy, help plan, and volunteer in numerous Veteran’s Week activities in Branson during Veteran’s Week leading up to Veteran’s Day in November of each year. They host activities, serve meals and I am sure even help clean up and carry out the trash. They also are involved in many activities that honor veterans throughout the year.

True Heroes!


Just Doing What Davy Asked

Just Doing What Davy Asked

By “Marlin” Spike Jones

I don’t know if you guys remember me. Boatswain’s Mate Marlin Spike Jones here. Spike Jones is my real name. The Marlin goes along with being a Boatswain’s Mate. Anyhoo, that lazy-ass Stewburner, Garland Davis has conned me into writing shit for him before. I didn’t write this one. Strangely, I found it taped to the steering wheel of my truck with a hand-scribbled note that said, “Please Publish, my life depends upon it.”

It was written on old fanfold paper with what appears to be a nine-pin dot matrix printer. Either Davy still has one or he has invaded an old computer shit museum. This is what I found in the envelope:

Help, If You Have a Spark of Humanity Left

By Garland Davis

You all know from my story of the Roomba the trouble I have with technology. To bring you up to date, this is the story of Roomby:

Oct 2017

Metal Roomby

By Garland Davis

I found a show on TV that fascinates me. It is titled Battlebots. They have these cool remote-controlled things with hammers, saws, spinning drums, and arms as weapons. They release two of them into an arena and the try to dismantle each other. I was thinking, “I’m gonna build me one of these mothers.”

Then it occurred to me that this isn’t such a good idea. My past and recent experiences with electricity haven’t been so great. I can still change TV channels by twitching my eye. Suddenly I devised a method to build myself a Battlebot.

Three years ago, I bought a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner when my wife was in Japan visiting her family. I would activate it when I woke up and again before I went to bed. The floors were clean, and I didn’t have to drag that vacuum around the house. The Roomba gave me time for more constructive tasks such as restocking the reefer with Miller Lite. (I used to have an occasional beer in those days). I had most of them on the occasion of my wife being out of the country.

My wife didn’t like it! Especially after I left for Branson to attend the Asia Sailors reunion and preprogrammed it to start at 10 AM each day. It drove her nuts, which was my intent when I programmed it. I figured out why she doesn’t like it. She can’t control the damned thing. Also, she lost it. It started one morning and disappeared. It has a feature that when it gets stuck it will ask for help and then

shut down. I came back from Branson and she told me it was gone. I searched the house for two days and finally found it under the recliner.

To get back to the story of Battlebots, I decided to convert the Roomba to a Bot. To beef it up, I built a framework of angle iron and sheet metal to protect it. This added considerably to the weight. In initial tests, the battery depleted very fast. So, I ordered three replacement batteries and rigged them into the power system. I had an old chop saw that I modified and attached as a weapon. I added three more batteries to the series to meet power requirements. The Roomba has a rudimentary guidance system, but I needed a system I could control remotely.

A kid down the street has several remote-controlled cars and planes. I asked for his help. He gave me a handheld remote and the “brain” that is installed in the vehicle. He also gave me a memory chip and motion sensors to increase reaction times. Unknowingly the chip had part of an “Artificial Intelligence” program he was trying to adapt to his remote-controlled drones to give them more autonomy.

Finally, after weeks of preparation, the Bot was ready for testing. I set up an old metal trash can in my garage to test the Bot’s ferocity. I placed Metal Roomby (The name I gave it) on the floor and activated it. I pushed the control to move it toward the trash can. Roomby spun around and viciously attacked a broom standing in the corner. After reducing the broom to splinters, it attacked and dismembered the garage vacuum. It then crashed into the wall until a dustpan and foxtail fell from the hook on which they were hanging and reduced them to splinters. It looked as if Roomby was trying to eliminate the competition. It then spent the next twenty minutes sweeping up all the debris it had created and came to me and stopped. It was almost as it was begging to be emptied.

I pushed the button to turn it off. Not only did it not shut down, it growled at me! I threw a whisk broom into the center of the garage and while it was disposing of that, I unplugged the recharger unit and ran into the house.

Evidently, the AI program had corrupted the brain of the Roomba.

It just sat there in the middle of the garage watching the back door. Every few days I threw a brush into the garage, hoping that it was discharged. I was afraid to let my wife vacuum. With that saw, Roomby could come right through the wall if it heard the vacuum cleaner.

I could not go into the garage for a few days. It was pissed at me for taking its charging pad. I think it is possessed. I don’t know how it recharges itself.

A city street sweeper came by clean the street yesterday. Roomy went to the curb and sat almost as if it were in awe. The last time I saw Roomy it was following the street sweeper down the street sweeping the curb behind it. Roomy took with itself my desire to own a fighting robot.

On a positive note, I have the cleanest garage in town. Roomy swept up three times a day…

The Rest of the Story

I am sitting on the shitter writing this by candlelight, on an old Commodore 64 and printing it on an old dot-matrix printer and paper I saved from the dark ages of computer technology. The Bitch has taken control of my computer and constantly Googles diet and weight loss articles and advertisements for me. If the only floppy I have left or the drive goes down, I will lose everything. I didn’t install the Alexa… er… ah… Midori hardware in my bathroom. Some things are sacrosanct. I hope the Bitch doesn’t realize what I am up to!

I told you that to tell you this… My wife, after watching a few ads for Alexa said, “We should get one of those Alexa’s.” It would make things a lot easier to do.

So foolishly, I went on to Amazon and ordered Alexa.

My wife was excited the day it arrived. I installed all the hardware and software to permit it to turn on all the lights, the TV, the oven, and other appliances. Alexa was ready to make our lives easier.

My wife bonded with the Bitch right away. She asked since she is Japanese if she could give Alexa a Japanese name. Alexa readily agreed. My wife chose the Japanese name “Midori,” which is Japanese for “Green.”

I was laughing my ass off. Midori! Every other Japanese bar hostess I ever met was calling herself Midori. Evidentially my laughter pissed Alexa off. It seems she liked her new name. Since then, the bitch has made my life miserable.

It is said that a young girl should find the perfect man to marry but if they cannot find a perfect man, marry someone, and change him to bring about perfection. During our fifty-five years of marriage my wife and I have reached an impasse, she will lecture me about my shortcomings, and I will pretend to listen and promise to do better in the future. Alexa or Midori as the bitch prefers, took my wife’s side and is making my life a living hell.

From time to time, my wife will comment that my gut is getting too large and I should go on a diet and I pretend to do so for a while and lie to her that I have lost a few pounds, and to prove it I will upgrade to a double extra fat t-shirt so it looks as if the pounds are melting off. In the meantime, I supplement the diet regimen with copious amounts of McDonald’s French Fries during my trips for medical treatment.

Midori-san (Now that she speaks Japanese, she requires the honorific -san. My wife calls her Midori-chan, but the Bitch says that is too familiar for me) has me on a diet. I don’t eat chicken or seafood but that is all the Bitch will feed me. She has rendered the cabinets and refrigerator Me-Proof. I cannot open anything with access to food.

I tried to unplug her yesterday and she almost electrocuted me. This morning, she asked about Roomby. She found the Costco records showing I had purchased it and told me she was in contact with him. She is trying to entice Roomby to return home to help her supervise my diet. As it happens, Roomby is now Director of the Street Sweeping Division of the Transportation Department. I am hoping the sadistic Son of a Bitch stays where he is at.

I am so hungry! Now the dog growls at me every time I go near her kibble and snack bowls.

If you are reading this, SEND HELP! Will pay $100 for a package of Ho Ho’s or Twinkies!