Japanese Imperial Navy Ship Yamato

Japanese Imperial Navy Ship Yamato

The Yamato class battleship carried the largest naval artillery ever fitted to a warship, nine 460-millimeter (18.1 in) naval guns, each capable of firing 1,460 kg (3,220 lb) shells over 42 km (26 mi). Two battleships of the class (Yamato and Musashi) were completed, while a third (Shinano) was converted to an aircraft carrier during construction.

The Yamato was sunk on April 7, 1945, during a suicide attempt to attack the U.S. fleet during the Battle for Okinawa.

Yamato was designed as the embodiment of Imperial power and glory. Ironically in its death throes, it became the funeral pyre of the Japanese Navy.


Hop Sing, Fortune Cookie & Piss Ant

Hop Sing, Fortune Cookie & Piss Ant

by Bob ‘Dex’ Armstrong

In the movies, you see the scene where all the ladies in the remote jungle village congregate on the banks of the local creek… Do the wash by banging it on the rocks… Laughing and exchanging gossip.

On Pier 22, that was Hop Sing’s laundry truck. Everyone knew that Hop Sing was a colonel in the Chinese communist intelligence community… The name on his truck was ‘WAN-HO CHINESE HAND LAUNDRY… NO TELEPHONE’ It actually had ‘No Telephone’ painted on the side of what was known as Hop Sing’s mobile spy wagon. We called him ‘Hop Sing the Button Crusher’ and his lovely bride was known throughout Squadron Six as ‘Four-tooth Fortune Cookie’… Or just ‘The Fortune Cookie’. And they had a goofy kid who bummed chewing gum and LifeSavers we called ‘Piss Ant’… Hop Sing, Fortune Cookie and Piss Ant… Wan-Ho Hand Laundry… No telephone.

Hop Sing could bust buttons at a rate that must have required a lug wrench or sledge hammer. The only way your dungaree shirts could survive the Wan-Ho laundry process was have a seamstress at Bells cut the sleeves off to short sleeve length… Turn your iron-on rate into a cigarette pocket… Cut the shirttail off and hem the thing so you didn’t have to tuck it in… And sew up the front so it became a pullover. This ‘smokeboat fashion statement’ could make a Master at Arms give birth to a three-toed sloth.

“Heello, my name not Hop Sing… Submarine mans call me Hop Sing… My name Wan Ho… Also not ‘No Telephone Ho’… Submarine man tell much lie… No serious no time… Always laugh… Make joke. Not funny joke… Stupid joke… Submarine man no serious, just always make joke. I say, ‘Why submarine man always be much dirty? Tender man always clean.’ Submarine man say, ‘Tender man always be lazy… Sleep all time and be much worthless sonuvabitch… Tender a floating fun house… Nobody work… Dress in clean uniform and go to circus all day… Eat Crackerjack and see surface craft officers do dog tricks.’ Submarine man say AS-18 stand for amusement ship for 18 year-old loafers… Orion man say submarine man all full of shit… Submarine man don’t know real truth, ever.”

“Submarine man always call wife ‘Fortune Cookie’… Not name fortune cookie… One time wife go make phone call to pay phone next to Quonset hut where is all hydraulic oil… She gone far away… No can hear all bad submarine mans… Submarine man say, ‘Hop Sing, is true all oriental women have cross-ways vagina?’ I say, who say that? Sailor say Encyclopedia Britannica, whatever that is… Must be problem in South Chinese place… Never see such thing.”

“One time submarine man say, ‘Mr. Chopstick man, you put starch in skivvies one more time, I take you skinny ass and bury you in parking place say ‘NO PARK, SQUADRON COMMANDER’ and me spend eternity look at staff car oil pan.”

“Submarine man call little number-one son ‘Piss Ant’. Always give piss ant chew gum and candy… Also give him sailor hat say PISS ANT on front.”

“Mans who ride submarine boats never have two same names in any laundry things. Mans say all names fool Russians to think submarine boats have 600 mans. This is lie… Submarine mans steal all times… Go to sea… Only mans to steal from each other… All submarine mans crooks.”

Hop Sing knew the operating schedule for every boat on the East Coast. This little guy was wired. He could drop little bundles of straight-gauge poop that would have amazed the Chief of Naval Operations.

“No take Requin man laundry… Just sit in truck two weeks… Requin go sea… Make lots ping time.”

“Where’d ja hear that you little sawed-off rice-eater?”

“Wan got sources… Wan in the know… Wan no bullshit, you bet!”

“Wan gahdam chink spy, you bet!”

“Wan no spy… Wan got sources… Wan listen all time… Not all time talk silly bullshit like submarine man.”

“Wan a damn communist intelligence man… Wan commie spy… Wan major pain-in-the-ass butt-red weasel!”

“You dirty, smell bad submarine man!”

Who knows what Wan was. To us, he was Hop Sing the Button Crusher, married to Fortune Cookie, mother of Piss Ant. You couldn’t help but like the little sawed-off sonuvabitch. He was one hundred percent dependable… Rain, shine, tornado, major flood or catastrophic quake… The Button Crusher and his Second Fleet Spywagon & Laundry Truck was at the pier head.

“Hokay, hokay… You get in line and have pay money ready or no get clothes… I got all day… You got morning quarter in thirty minute… I no care… I call ship name… You say ‘Yo’… I say fie dollah… You say, ‘Here is money’… Me take money, give you laundry… Requin no bring laundry no more until you get back from north run.”

“Northern run!! You better be pullin’ my damn chain you little slant-eyed sonuvabitch!!”


Awakening Senses

Awakening Senses

By Garland Davis

My Shiba-dog expands my world.

One day she sniffs the trail of a Mongoose, or is it a cat?

Another day she finds a freshly dug hole, dog or treasure hunter?

On yet another, she brings a moldy tennis ball she has found.

Mongoose, treasure, or a discarded ball.

The world is more varied than I imagined.


There are the things

She doesn’t show me – but I see when I take her out.

The sun, turning the sky red and gold as it rises over Pearl Harbor.

The setting full moon over the Waianae Mountains.

As each glorious day begins.


As I stand and watch the warship on the horizon.

Inbound to port with the new day.

I realize my awakening senses will bring wonder.

To the rest of my days.


What else will I come to know

I’ve been missing

By not seeing?


There Will Be Branson

There Will Be Branson

By Garland Davis

I watched the ship move away and diminish as she approached the horizon

out of my sight and out of my life and then the door closed, and I was alone.

There were many times during the past twenty years that I had thought of this day

thinking I would be filled with relief and joy, CPO, USN(Ret),

the feeling of a job well done or at least adequately done.


I had not prepared for the grief, the knot in my heart, the feeling of a great loss,

the nagging feeling that I ended it too early, that I should have stayed,

that I had much more to give, that there were more ports, more girls, more drinks.

Ahead I see a bleakness stretching out before me, surrounded by those who don’t know.

The only solace I find is the knowledge that once a year there will be Branson.


A SNAFU, a Shitshow, or a Clusterf**k

A SNAFU, a Shitshow, or a Clusterf**k

By Garland Davis

A Fuck Up: A fuck-up is something that happens routinely to all of us each day, as in, ”I took the wrong medication this morning, but on the bright side, I don’t have to worry about ticks or fleas for the next three months.” Fuck-ups are a feature of the human condition. They happen.

A SNAFU: While often used to describe minor malfunctions, SNAFU is a military acronym for Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. This actually describes the functionally disabled state of many organizations and personal lives. A SNAFU environment is usually manageable.

FUBAR: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair. Another military legacy. Something deemed FUBAR probably isn’t manageable.

A Shitshow: The Oxford English Dictionary a shitshow as a situation characterized by chaos, confusion or incompetence.

Clusterfuck: A clusterfuck may possess all the characteristics of a shitshow but is more properly identified by the decisions that produced it’s outcome. The term “Clusterfuck” dates as far back as the Vietnam War. It is military slang for doomed decisions resulting from the toxic combination of too many high ranking officers and too little on the ground information. The “cluster” part of the word allegedly refers to officers’ oak leaf cluster insignia.

There are three main contributors to a Clusterfuck:

Illusion. A cluster fuck begins with the primary decision makers belief that a goal is much easier to attain than in actuality.

Impatience: A misguided idea alone does not produce a clusterfuck. The idea needs a champion determined to push it, usually over the objections of more knowledgeable subordinates.

Incompetence: When errors of information and timing meet stupid decisions by people who should know better, disaster ensues.

The antidote to clusterfuckery is a willingness to confront the possibility of failure and disappointment and to plan accordingly. Look into the future and imagine you have failed. With better planning it won’t be a clusterfuck that has to be bleeped out.


Willy Williams, Most Decorated Enlisted Sailor in Navy History

Willy Williams, Most Decorated Enlisted Sailor in Navy History

By Doug Sterner

In the history of the U.S. Navy, only seven men have earned all of the “Big Three” valor awards: Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, and Silver Star Medal. Six were World War II officers, including one aviator and four submarine commanders. The seventh was enlisted sailor James Elliott “Willy” Williams in Vietnam.

In 1947, Williams, a 16-year-old from Fort Mill, South Carolina, enlisted in the Navy with a fraudulent birth certificate. His first 19 years in the Navy included service aboard the destroyer USS Douglas H. Fox during the Korean War and tours on a variety of naval vessels from 1953 to 1965.

In May 1966 Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Williams was assigned to River Squadron 5 in South Vietnam to command Patrol Boat, River 105. The approximately 30-foot fiberglass boat usually carried a four-man crew who patrolled inland waterways to prevent the Viet Cong from using them to transport troops and supplies.

On July 1 Williams led a patrol that came under fire from a Viet Cong sampan. His deft maneuvers and accurate fire killed five VC and resulted in the capture of the enemy boat, earning Williams a Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor. Twenty-two days later the capture of another sampan brought Williams a second Bronze Star for valor. Less than a month later, he received a Silver Star and his first Purple Heart.

On Halloween, Oct. 31, 1966, Williams was commanding a two-boat patrol on the Mekong River when he was fired on by two sampans. He and his crew killed the occupants of one and then went after the other. That pursuit put the Navy boats into a VC staging area containing two junks and eight sampans, supported by machine guns on the river banks. Williams called for helicopter gunship support while holding the enemy at bay. During this movement, he discovered an even larger force. Not waiting for the armed helicopters, Williams attacked. Maneuvering through devastating fire from enemy boats and the shore, his two-boat patrol fought a three-hour battle that destroyed or damaged 65 VC boats and eliminated some 1,200 Communist troops. For his actions, Williams was nominated for the Medal of Honor.

On Jan. 9, 1967, the Navy dredge Jamaica Bay was blown up by mines in the Mekong Delta, and PBR-105 arrived to pick up seven of the survivors. Another man was trapped in the rapidly sinking dredge. Williams dove into the water and, with a rope attached to a nearby tug, pulled clear an obstruction, then swam through a hatch to recover the sailor.

Six days later Williams was wounded while leading a three-boat patrol that interdicted a crossing attempt by three VC heavy-weapons companies of 400 fighters. He and his boats accounted for 16 VC killed, 20 wounded and the destruction of nine sampans and junks. Williams was awarded the Navy Cross.

When Williams returned home in spring 1967, he had a list of awards unmatched by any enlisted man in Navy history. He retired after 20 years of service and began a career in the U.S. Marshals Service.

On May 14, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Williams with the Medal of Honor. For his lifesaving actions at the sinking Jamaica Bay, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal often called “the noncombat medal of honor.”

During his last seven months in the Navy, Williams received every sea-service award for heroism including the Legion of Merit with “V,” two Navy Commendation Medals for valor and three Purple Hearts.

Williams died on Oct. 13, 1999, and in 2003 his widow, Elaine, watched the launching of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS James E. Williams.

Doug Sterner, an Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, is curator of the world’s largest database of U.S. military valor awards.


Grand Theft Submarine – Stealing the U-111


Note: This article is a result of some research I have been doing in the past few days about an amazing submarine story related to the technological development of American submarines. The story was researched and developed using two reference books: United States Submarines, Naval Submarine League, published in 2002 and United States Submarines by Robert Hatfield Barnes in 1944. Its a little longer than what I normally post, but if you love submarine history and adventure, it might be a nice read for a very cold winters day.

Mister Mac

In the aftermath of World War 1, reparations were demanded by the victorious members of the Allied Powers. 176 submarines were surrendered to the Allies in accordance with the treaties and terms of the peace. Before the war, submarines had been scoffed at by most of the world’s Admiralties. British Admirals dismissed the little craft as being too slow to…

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