Sailors Helping Sailors

Sailors Helping Sailors

By Garland Davis

Hambone’s story and a conversation with him on Facebook Chat about the Petty Officers Club in Yokosuka, also known as the Asshole Locker reminded me of this story.

I was CS1, leading cook in USS Mahopac. I got into a conversation with a CS1, the leading cook in USS Chandler. He was telling me they were getting ready to deploy and he had a problem. The only cook who knew hot to bake bread had transferred. He told me that he had never worked as a baker and didn’t know how to train a cook to do the job.

I started explaining to him the steps in the process for yeast-raised bread and pastry doughs. He was scribbling furiously in a wheel book and asking questions that could only be answered by a hands-on demonstration. We decided that I would come to the Chandler the next evening and hold a class in bread baking.

The next night we mustered in Chandler’s galley. I took the CS1 and two of his cooks through the process of baking yeast raised rolls by actually baking thirty loaves of bread and cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

It being a Friday night, Saturday morning we mustered at the Club where I was treated to many free drinks.

Many times, problems were solved, help was asked for, and received between fellow Petty Officers over a few drinks at the P.O. Club.

With the heightened security these days. I probably couldn’t get past the Quarterdeck of a ship unless I was ship’s company.


Getting Trained and Respect:

Getting Trained and Respect:

By Jim ‘Hambone’ Hampton

I reported to the MacKenzie DD-836 in Yokosuka in Oct 1961. I was told I would be a BT. Didn’t know what it was. Then the CHENG pointed to this little short Mexican and said, he is your boss. He was 5′ 3″ tall. Until I was transferred for Separation in May 65 he was my boss and the meanest SOB I ever met.

I caught him at BT2. Joe (by God) Bibanco was his name. By god, I told you, many things.

Time passes and I am transferred to Sterett in June 1968.

We go back to Yoko, I make BT1 and I walk into the PO Club for a liquid lunch.

There sits old Joe. Now a BT1 back on the MacKenzie from the Blue DD-744.

Joe wanted to take leave. He had a BT2 that was dedicated but not too sharp.

So Joe asked me to meet the guy in the club every day and go over his work list and answer his questions. So I did.

But of course he had a Leslie regulator all torn apart by a BT3 and no one knew how to reassemble it.

So I carry my sorry ass over to the After Fireroom on the Mac after liberty call.

I gave a lesson on how to put new parts in it as I put it back together. I handed it to the BT2 who had twice the amount of time in the Navy as I did. Can you supervise putting it back on the pump I asked? Yes, sir, he responded.

I laughed my ass off. I was 25 then.

But old Joe thanked me and got me drunk.

But the point I am trying to make is.

A former FA had grown up and caught him as First Class.

He was the first person I called when I made Master Chief.

He passed in 2000 from Prostate Cancer. He was buried at sea off the Carrier Stennis.

We remained friends until he died. I think of him often.

Rest Easy Joe


Life in a Steel Pipe

Life in a Steel Pipe

by Bob ‘Dex’ Armstrong

My daughter said, “Dad, it looks like all you did was have fun…” I guess it looks that way to folks who never did what we did for a living. Most people have no idea what life was like inside one of those steel monsters. People always ask… “When you were underwater, could you see out?” They have the idea that submarine duty is like riding a glass bottom boat in Tarpon Springs, Florida… We just enjoyed life and watched fish go scooting by.

Walt Disney caused folks to think like that. In his rendition of the Jules Verne version of submarine service, his boat had a big glass window… Folks sat in big, overstuffed red velvet chairs, smoked imported tobacco, drank sherry, and watched the crew go out some magic hatch and play grab-ass all over the ocean floor. That boys and girls, is pure, unadulterated bullshit… Strictly 20,000 Leagues of Grade A horse manure.

You can’t see out… It’s hot… It stinks… You’re cooped up in less moving around room than you have in your garage. You share your living space with very active, one-inch long, multi-legged wildlife and 80 two-legged critters.

Without stupid activity, life could become unacceptably boring. There were times when life was so uneventful, you could actually hear your toenails growing.

So we did nutty stuff. We spent hours thinking up stupid stuff to do. It was either that, or a trip to the loony bin. When you lived in the North Atlantic, the only circus that came to town was the one you created in your head. We had to manufacture any fun we had.

For example… Only boat sailors will think this is funny… Why? Because they did it. If any submariner tells you he never pulled this one… He’s lying.

When you got some JG or fresh ‘out of the cabbage patch’ lieutenant standing the diving watch… You waited. You waited until he had trimmed the boat. Then by twos and threes, you made your way to the forward room… You waited some more. Then all of you moved by ones… Twos… Until all of you were in the after room. The boat would take on weird angles… The diving officer compensated… The trim manifold operator laughed as he responded to instructions…

“Pump 500 lbs. aft… No, forward… Wait… Make that after trim… Forward trim… Belay my last… Make that zero bubble! More dive on the stern planes… What the hell’s going on? What’s happening??? Boat’s really acting weird…”

It never took long for the COB to get a handle on what was going on.

There was another outbreak of crew lunacy on Requin… Most possibly the best… At the very least, the most memorable.

If you visit the Requin in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she’s sitting out in the river in front of Three Rivers Stadium. If you go through the boat, you will find a little aluminum fish dangling over the control room chart table… Hanging down on a bead chain with the legend ‘ODIN’ die-stamped in the aluminum.

They’ve got tour guides… Non-qual wanna-be fellows who make up answers for John Q. Public to cover what they have not the slightest clue about. There are as many stories about that little fish as there are tour guides.

Here is the straight dope. I was there… I was one of the idiots involved in it and had a front row seat in the “I will shoot the next Viking” major ass chewing.

Stuart was the primary instigator… A major player and father of that aluminum fish. I am not ratting on a fellow shipmate… Far from it. At reunions, Stuart is a celebrity… He starred in a video, signs autographs and I am told, will contract to father children for anyone wishing to have a certified diesel boat maniac in their family tree. Knowing Stu, it would probably fall out of the tree and land on its head. Stuart deserves the credit line on this one.

It was winter… Up north, cold as a witches’ tit… We had rigged in all the brass monkeys. Before we singled up and took in the brow, we got this film, The Vikings. Great flick. Some other boat in SUBRON SIX gave it up, as I recall, because we got orders that didn’t allow time for a movie run.

We showed it the first time, the second day out… Good movie. We then saw it six or seven times in a row. Weird story… If you haven’t seen it, rent the video. Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, and I think Curtis’ wife at the time… Some good lookin’ blonde.

The Vikings were a ratty-ass looking bunch. They did a lot of drinking… Fondled a lot of blonde, blue-eyed women and went to sea on a regular basis. It sounded familiar…

One night, someone announced that we, the crew of the Requin, had to be the spiritual descendents of the Vikings. WHAM!! In that instant, we all became Vikings. Everyone spoke in Scandinavian, Minnesotan, Inger Stevens dialect.

“Ja Sven, you see da cheef? He’s da beeg fella wit da beeg moudt!”

Everybody got into it. The skipper became Ragnar… The exec, Einar… We turned our foul weather jackets inside-out so the brown, hairy looking fake fur stuff was on the outside. We made cardboard horns and stapled them to both sides of our watch caps. When we passed each other going fore and aft, we banged our chests and yelled, “O-O-O-DIN!” (Taken from what they did to greet each other in the film).

In the movie, this old crone, old wrinkled wise woman, gives Tony Curtis this fish made from a ‘falling star’ i.e. meteorite… It was magnetic and was considered to be major magic because it always returned to point north. With this fish always pointing north, the film had Viking ships cutting through pea soup fog and running back and forth between Norway and England like a cross-town bus. Stu went down in the pump room and built us an aluminum fish and die stamped “ODIN” on it.

He hung it from the MC box over the control room chart table… It dangled and swung back and forth. Every time some clown from the after battery would pass through the control room, he would give it a little ‘start swinging’ tap. This eventually drove the Chief of the Boat stark raving nuts! He would foam at the mouth… Get red… Veins would pop out of his neck… Words like, “God save us from these unruly children” and “In the Old Navy, the old man would rake your useless butts over the coals.”

Why did ODIN stay where he was? Simple… The skipper liked it.

As time passed and we became more and more ‘Viking’, the exec put on his “Enough is enough” voice and announced over the 21MC that the crew of Requin had just gotten out of the Viking business… All stop… Don’t answer anymore Viking bells… Over… El stoppo.

Ten minutes later, some idiot tapped into the 21MC and whispered,


The exec lit us up like a Christmas tree. From then on, we looked around for officers before giving each other the silent Odin salute.

When we came in and the exec opened his vertical uniform locker and removed his ‘hit the beach’ hat, it had grown a pair of cardboard horns. It had to be a miracle because the COB used everything but truth serum to get the rats to rat on whoever did it. I think the Chief finally recognized that the leadership of Requin may have pissed Odin off.

All the exec said was,

“You sonuvabitches never comprehend when the game’s over and it’s time to pick up your toys and put them away!”

He was a deep thinker… We had no idea what in the hell the man was trying to communicate… We knew if he was really serious, he wouldn’t be standing topside talking to the OD of the USS Grampus wearing a hat with cardboard horns attached to it.

Life was uneventful so we fought boredom any way we could. Most of the time submarine sailors won.

Forty years later, a group of late middle age bastards stood in the control room and watched Stu, the originator, replace ‘ODIN’… And we yelled, “O-O-O-DIN…” and banged our chests. We were young again and someone in the crew’s mess yelled,

“Jeezus, the idiots are at it again!!”





I found this somewhere on Facebook. Like all writers, I am fascinated by what one can do with words.

Paraprosdokians, are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and frequently humorous. Winston Churchill loved them by the way. Here are a few…………..

1. Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left..

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. They begin the evening news with ‘Good Evening,’ then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

10. Buses stop in bus stations. Trains stop in train stations. On my desk is a workstation.

11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.

12. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.

17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

18. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

19. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

20. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

21. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

22. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

23. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

24. I am neither for nor against apathy.

25. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

26. I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

27. How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

28. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

29. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

30. Always borrow money from a pessimist. They won’t expect it back.

31. Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.

32. A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

33. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

34. Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.


The Fireship

The Fireship

As I walked out one evening upon a night’s career,

I spied a lofty clipper ship and to her I did steer.

She hoisted up her sig-a-nals which I so quickly knew,

And when she saw me bunting up she immediately hove to.

She had a dark and a roving eye, and her hair hung downs in ring-a-lets.

She was a nice girl, a decent girl, but one of the rakish kind.


“Oh sir, won’t you excuse me for staying out so late,

And if my parents heard of this, then sad would be my fate.

My father, he’s a minister, a good and righteous man,

My mother she’s a Methodist; I do the best I can.”

She had a dark and a roving eye, etc.


I eyed that girl both up and down for I’d heard such talk before,

And when she moored herself to me I knew she was a whore.

But still she was a pretty girl; she shyly hung her head.

“I’ll go along with you, my lad,” was what to me she said.


I took her to a tav-er-in and treated her with wine.

Little did I think that she was one of the rakish kind.

I handled her, I dandled her, and much to my surprise,

Turns out she was a fireship rigged up in a disguise.


So up the stairs and into bed I took that maiden fair.

I fired off my carronade into her thatch of hair.

I fired off a broadside until my shot was spent,

Then rammed that fireship’s waterline until my ram was bent.


Then in the morning she was gone, my money was gone too.

My clothes she’d hocked, my watch she stole, my seabag bid adieu.

But she’d left behind a souvenir, I’d have you all to know.

And in nine days, to my surprise, there was fire down below.


So come all you good whaler boys that sail the wintry seas,

And come all you good sailor boys, a warning take by me:

Beware of lofty clipper ships, they’ll be the ruin of you,

For she not only made me walk the plank, she set fire to me mainmast, too.