By Garland Davis
We had been in the Indian Ocean for over sixty days when a helicopter from the supply ship dropped a pallet of beer on the flight deck. Many of us were hoping for the high Alcohol By Volume percentage of Australian beer that rumor had it was sometimes provided but what we got was Bud Light or as some called it Butt Wipe. But what the hell. Beer is beer.
Shortly afterward, the Supply Officer came to me and told me to plan on a ‘Steel Beach Beer Day’ on Sunday. He asked me to prepare a menu and be prepared to present it to the XO the next morning. I knew the XO would want Steak and Lobster. My argument for hamburgers and hot dogs would be that we just can’t afford Steak and Lobster. Pretty sure the Supply Officer would walk the tightrope and not really support either side. But I did win and get my way. You can’t spend money you don’t have.
It was a busy couple of days in the galley, preparing potato salad and other cookout dishes and baking all the extra hamburger and hot dog buns that would be needed while still serving the scheduled meals
When ‘Beer Day’ arrived the Boatswain’s Mates got the two grills broke out and set up while a couple of my mess cooks carried charcoal, paper plates, and other items to the flight deck.
We lighted the charcoal at 1000. The cookout would run from 1100 until 1700. The Chief Master at Arms and his minions carried, iced down, and guarded the beer ready for the 1100 start time. The previous day each crew member had been issued a chit which he could exchange for two opened cans of beer. At the time he received it, his right hand would be marked with indelible marker. The CMAA was determined that no one would get more than two beers on his watch.
Once the topsiders, putting on a suck show for the XO, took over the grilling duties, I got in line for my two beers. BT1 was a couple of places ahead of me.
He received his two cans and waited until I got mine. We walked away from the crowd. As I took a hit on one of my beers, he was standing there looking from one hand to the other.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
He said, “Chief Dave I am trying to decide on whether to sip these and enjoy them or slam ’em for maximum effect!”