“Pappy”

BOSUN WHISTLE - BOATSWAIN'S CALL

By Garland Davis

He never knew if his father had a hell of a sense on humor or if he was pissed when his ninth son was born and he had really wanted a girl this time. His dad named him John Jean Ivan.  Jean is French and Ivan is Russian for John.  So, in essence, his name was John John John! Everyone called him Ivan,

Ivan had been assigned to a unit in Pearl Harbor that had heroically saved a large number of injured sailors while being credited with shooting down a number of the attacking planes during the attack, for which many of them, including Ivan were awarded the Navy Cross. .  A congressman from one member’s district had added an amendment to legislation authorizing the building of ships a provision that would promote each member of the unit one paygrade.  Each individual was listed in the amendment by name. With a stroke of his pen FDR made BM2 Ivan bullet proof. It would take an act of congress to reduce him to a paygrade lower than BM2.  Afterward he refused to take advancement exams.

After the war, Ivan left the active Navy while remaining in the Reserves. He went active during the Korean Conflict and was tasked with helping move ships from “Mothballs” to active status. After Korea, while working for the State of California Ivan qualified himself as a San Francisco Bay Harbor Pilot.

After three years as a pilot, as he put it, “My dick took control of my thinking and I got married.”  A number of years later, he learned that while he was spending long hours piloting ships into and out of the various Bay port facilities, she was piloting lovers into her bed.  He filed for divorce and, of course, a California judge awarded her half of everything including fifty percent of his salary, until such time as she remarried.

Ivan immediately resigned his six-figure position as a harbor pilot and reenlisted in the Regular Navy.  His pay was $240 per month with a $6 clothing allowance. He was assigned to an Ammunition ship homeported at Port Chicago, on the Sacramento River.

By this time, he was in his forties and the young sailors that worked for him nicknamed him “Pappy.”  He became Pappy John or Pappy Ivan to everyone in the ship.

Pappy stood Duty Master at Arms in one of the duty sections.  I was working in the Bakeshop, just below the Quarterdeck, the Saturday afternoon Pappy’s wife came aboard searching for him.  He was in the mess decks, and someone told him that his old lady was on the Quarterdeck.  The word was passed, “Petty Officer Ivan to the Quarterdeck.”  He ignored it. The same word was passed again and again he ignored it.  Finally, they passed, “Duty master at Arms lay to the Quarterdeck.”  This one he couldn’t ignore.

He reluctantly climbed the ladder to the Quarterdeck and the harridan he had been married to immediately started, “Ivan the judge said you have to pay me three thousand dollars a month.  You haven’t paid it.  I need money!”

Pappy replied, “The judge said I have to pay half my income.  I am a Second Class Petty Officer in the Navy, and I gave you half my pay.  If you need any more money than that go Fuck for it!”

We left for WestPac shortly after that.  Pappy swapped to a homeported ship in Yokosuka.  I heard that he eventually retired there, married the Mama-San of a bar, and spent his golden years elbow polishing the bar in the Asshole Locker at the Yokosuka Petty Officer’s Club.

The last time I saw Pappy was in the old FRA Club in Yoko.  We had a couple of beers and he declared, “You ain’t too bad for a fucking Doughhead,”

Just one of the characters of a Westpac’rs life…

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