Courage? I could never describe myself that way could you?

theleansubmariner

Recently, I made the decision to run for a local office. I figured after a lot of time of scrubbing shitters and shooting garbage out of the TDU, I would be a perfect candidate. Bilge diving seemed to also fit the bill so I filled out my paperwork to compete for a Township Supervisor.  Not a glamorous job by any means. In fact, not a well paying one. Everyone learns your phone number and you find out quickly how mean you are for not fixing evey single pothole.

But I chose to serve. After all those years sitting on the sidelines complaining, it was kind of payback time. The race was nice and clean up until recently. Then the current supervisor woke up one morning and decided that he liked his paycheck as Roadmaster. Its a lot of money. So despite losing in the primary to both the Democratic and…

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Taking a Break

Taking a Break

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am going to take a sabbatical from Tales of an Asia Sailor through the Holidays. I will begin the fourth year of the blog in January of 2020.

I appreciate each and every one of you who have read the crap I write and the stories written by my shipmates.

There are more than a thousand posts on Tales. Click on the three lines in the red rectangle at the top of the page then click on a particular month to see posts published during that month.

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Back Out There

Back Out There

By Garland Davis

Running around in these new civilian clothes

Uncomfortable to say the least

Running out of patience, rather I was wearing dungarees

In my dreams I watch them steaming past

Numbers on their bows their identify

I can wish one would slow and take me aboard

Cause in this life ashore only the cars pass

The day is done, would that I could hear “Sweepers”

Meanwhile at sea

Darken ship, red lights are on, the movie soon

Supper is finished; mess deck secured

I see, Sun sinking out low over the bow

Playing games in the Mess and smoking cigarettes

Whiskey waits in another port

Funny the things you thought you’d never miss

In this strange, crazy civilian world

I miss the dolphin escort at the bow

I miss the rush of the flying fish as they flee

I miss being somebody everyone knows there

Everybody knows each other

I miss those Tin Can days

Walking the decks and passageways

The sound of the sonar’s song

Oh, I wish I could go back

Well, I found a girl out there; but we don’t fit in here

It seems so hard to breathe in this civilian world

I need to be where I can see that great Western Ocean

One of these days I’ll pack up and take her back out there

Navy, my world for so many years

Why did it have to end so soon

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UNSUNG HERO

REMEMBERING ONE OF OUR UNSUNG HEROES!

NAVY STEWARD MATE 2ND CLASS (StM2c) MILES S. BURKE!

StM2c Burke reported aboard the destroyer, USS Bush DD-528 on May 26, 1944.

In the segregated US Navy of World War II, Black-American men like StM2c Burke all had general duties as Steward’s Mates or Officers Cooks when serving aboard ship.

They were part of the Supply Division, reporting through the ship’s Supply Officer. Their job was to attend to the officer’s quarters and in the wardroom.

StM2c Burke was a big, strong man with a lot of heart. His battle station was below deck, as part of the number 5 5-inch gun handling room team.

StM2c Burke hoisted the heavy projectiles from one of the ship’s 5-inch magazines to those in the handling room.

Many of StM2c shipmates believed he had all the physical attributes to make him the perfect Sailor for the job. In addition, he had the mental, emotional and moral strength to handle the situations they got into without breaking down when the ship needed him the most.

He never complained about the hard work…he worked all alone and he never asked to be relieved even for a short period of time.

USS Bush was operating as a radar picket ship off Okinawa on 6 April 1945 and had splashed at least one plane when she was hit and subsequently sunk by three Japanese kamikazes.

At 1515, the first plane hit at the deck level on the starboard side between number one and two stacks causing its bomb or torpedo to explode in the forward engine room.

Although damage was sustained the ship was not believed to be in severe danger and tugs were requested.

The USS Colhoun was closing in to assist when she was hit by a suicide plane and was so severely damaged that she had to be sunk by another Navy ship.

At 1725, a second kamikaze crashed into the port side of the USS Bush’s main deck between the stacks, starting a large fire and nearly severing the ship.

When his team in the handling room were ordered to come topside, StM2c Burke LPO, SKD2c Aguilar had a hard time convincing him that the order meant him also, he did not want to leave his post.

Once topside, former Assistant Gunnery Officer Ltjg Lubin remembering seeing StM2c Burke go down into the afire engine spaces at least 3 or 4 times to bring up one burned snipe each time.

The Ltjg Lubin noticed that Stm2c Burke’s feet were bleeding and wasn’t wearing any shoes. Being as big as he was, and the deck hatches down to engine spaces as small as they were, the Ltjg Lubin didn’t know how he managed to get through the hatches.

At 1745, a third Kamikaze crashed into the port side just above the main deck. Some of the ship’s ammunition caught fire and began to explode.

Although it was believed that she would break amidships, it was thought that both halves would be salvageable. However, an unusually heavy swell rocked the ship, and the USS Bush began to cave in amidships.

Other swells followed, and the ship was abandoned by her 227 survivors including StM2c Burke. just before she folded and sank. 87 of her crew were lost.

The Commanding Officer, Commander Westholm of the USS Bush, recommended that StM2c Burke receive the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

The medal was awarded for lifesaving heroism at great risk to one’s own life.

In Commander Westholm’s letter of recommendation, he observed the following regarding StM2c Burke’s actions:

“BURKE’s battle station was in the lower magazine of 5″ gun #5. When his gun became inoperative he came topside and aided in the care and moving of the wounded. He did this in the face of the repeated air attacks on the ship. When forced to abandon ship he remained calm and was a source of constant encouragement to his shipmates. For a period of five hours in the water and on a raft, he supported two men unable to swim and who had lost their strength and one of which was without a life jacket, thus saving their lives. When alongside the rescue vessel he assisted in getting those who did not possess their strength aboard.”

In addition to the medal and citation, Petty Officer Burke was advanced to Steward’s Mate 1st Class “for meritorious performance of duty while in action against the enemy.”

StM1c Burker survived the war but what happened to him after his Navy career is unknown.

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Asia Sailors and Shipmates

Asia Sailors and Shipmates

By Garland Davis

Here’s to the boys who went to sea in old worn-out steel vessels out on the Pacific Rim. They smoked cigarettes and sometimes something else, drank beer and whiskey and cohabitated with the girls. They fought a hot war while facing off an enemy in a cold war.

They built relationships stronger than any friendship. They were Shipmates. Fifty and sixty years have passed, and they still greet each other as they did in those long-ago days. And meeting a Shipmate they haven’t seen in decades brings tears to their eyes.

They talk of generations delineated by birthdate, Silent, Boomer, X, and Z. Tom Brokaw wrote a book, The Greatest Generation that brought to life the extraordinary stories of a generation who won WWII, which gave new meaning to courage, sacrifice, and honor. I don’t think you can categorize the Asia Sailor into a specific generation. I like to believe that members of today’s Greatest Generation still ply the seas to keep the peace and fight the countries battles.

Here’s to the coffee drinkers, those still waking up before dawn, because that’s what we do. They listened to Johnny Cash, Elvis. Conway, Creedence, The Stones, Lennon, Kyu Sakamoto, Hikaru Nishida, Ayumi Ishida.

Here’s to the best of the best, those few that are left, to those you call when you don’t know what to do, which way to turn, or how to fix something. To the thinkers, the ones that just don’t know how to give up. To the ones who give so freely of themselves. To the committed.

Their shoulders are stooped now. They’ve carried so much for so long. Their hair is gray, their steps come slower, the time left to them is short.

Here’s to Asia Sailors and my Shipmates.

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1/2 boy 1/2 man… the Sailors Edition

He is me, and I am him. We are one. If he’s lucky, he is the Asia Sailor.

Purloined from the US Navy Vets page.

1/2 boy 1/2 man… the Sailors Edition

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father’s, but he has never collected unemployment either.

He’s a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and waves break over the bow.

He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk. He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can tie a double bowline on a bight or can start a P250 pump with a Peri Jet Eductor in 30 seconds… and can plug and patch a ruptured salt water feed in half that time in the dark. He can describe the fire fighting techniques for every class of fire in effective detail, and can don a Scott Air Pack and operate a firehose effectively when he must.

He can answer a bearing order either at the helm or from aft steering and can apply first aid like a professional. He can secure any aircraft or equipment or cargo to the deck while the ship lurches and rolls with the fury of the sea crashing all around him.

He can keep the slack out of a phone and distance line until he is told to stop, or stand vigilant and firm against waves and wind until he is relieved of his watch.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity. He is self-sufficient.

He has two sets of uniforms underway: one for watch and the other for work. He keeps one eye on the horizon for contacts and the other on his shipmates to ensure they remain on the right side of the life rails.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to square away his rack or polish his boots. He cleans his spaces for daily inspections, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you’re thirsty, he’ll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He’ll even share his back and lean into you while you’re on the nozzle in the midst of battling a raging fire.

He has learned to use his hands to tame the sea and the sea has become his home. When injured, he bleeds one part blood and one part sea water.

He will save his ship and crew before his own life, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to’ square-away’ those around him who haven’t bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Sailor, and his brethren have sailed the globe to keep this country free since 1775.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

Today’s Navy offers the same opportunities to women to carry forward the same honored tradition of sailing and flying into harm’s way, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so.

As you go to bed tonight, picture this shot.

A short lull on the fantail, the green flash, and a picture of loved ones pulled from their pocket.

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Surrender, September 2, 1945

Surrender, September 2, 1945

More than two weeks had passed since the Japanese laid down their arms and declared they would no longer fight the Allies in the Pacific.

The US and the other Allies organized a ceremony in which Japanese representatives would sign an Instrument of Surrender, formally marking the end of World War II.

The site chosen for the ceremony was Tokyo Bay.

By 2 September 1945, more than 200 Allied ships were moored in the bay, eagerly awaiting the moment that would finally bring the hostilities in the Pacific to a close.

Among the ships was USS Missouri BB-63, an American battleship launched after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Perhaps because it was named for his home state, President Truman decided that USS Missouri would host the surrender ceremony.

It was one of the most important events ever to take place aboard an American ship.

As Officer of the Deck on the morning of the ceremony, USS Missouri’s navigator, Lieutenant Commander James L. Starnes, played a major role in ensuring it went off without a hitch.

Although he had only joined the Navy a year prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, Lcdr. Starnes found himself responsible for the logistics of the somewhat complicated ceremony. Considering the magnitude of the event, with the entire world watching and listening, the pressure was high.

As Starnes quickly found, organizing an event of such importance wasn’t going to be simple. One of his decisions, to have attendees wearing formal military attire, was overturned by General Douglas MacArthur. Starnes recalled MacArthur saying, “We fought them in our khaki uniforms, and we’ll accept their surrender in our khaki uniforms.”

Lcdr. Starnes worked alongside the USS Missouri’s Captain and the Admiral’s staff to embark and disembark nearly two hundred correspondents and photographers from all over the world.

He also helped ferry the Allied and Japanese officials who were to participate in the ceremony on what came to be known as the Surrender Deck of the USS Missouri.

The importance of the ceremony wasn’t taken lightly, and rehearsals were held to pinpoint the time it would take the Japanese delegates to arrive on the surrender deck from their smaller boat.

This became more complicated when it was determined that Japan’s foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, would take part in the signing.

Shigemitsu had lost a leg several years prior, and walked on an artificial limb. In order to estimate the amount of time he would require, Sailors strapped mop handles to their legs and simulated his walk.

Clouds hovered over Tokyo Bay on the morning of the ceremony and cast a gray shadow over the momentous occasion.

That didn’t dampen the mood off the coast of Tokyo, however, as representatives from the US, the UK and the other Allied nations, and Japan gathered for the historic moment.

As Officer of the Deck, it was Lcdr. Starnes who greeted the arriving dignitaries.

As the Japanese came aboard USS Missouri, there wasn’t a sense of animosity between the former adversaries.

As Lcdr, Starnes recalled…..

“This was peacetime. It was a very formal, very dignified ceremony.”

The event unfolded with only minor hitches: one delegation signed the document on the wrong line, and the flyover of more than 450 planes was delayed until just as the Japanese were disembarking. When it was over, the world was once again at peace.

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