The Time of Our Lives

The Time of Our Lives

By Garland Davis

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Old Charlie Dickens was talking about the French revolution, but everything he said in the quote can very easily apply to a brief tick of the universal clock, a period of about forty of our years. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have lived during the ‘60’s, ‘70’s, and ‘80’s. Serving in the American Navy, in the Far East was the cherry on the sundae.

We were young and hadn’t learned that there were things we could not do. We were fighting two wars. A cold war, that often reached a point that could have boiled over. We and our ships were often involved in those moments when things could have gotten out of hand. We were involved in a hot war where we spent interminable days drifting off the coast of Vietnam shooting at unseen targets and unaware of any damage we did. The days were long and hot, the food was passable most of the time and a full night’s sleep was a rare luxury.

The anticipation of the cold beer and warm girls waiting in the next port was the one thing that permitted us to retain a modicum of sanity or else caused our incurable insanity. The jury is still out on that one. Tell a civilian who never served and probably has never traveled more than two states over, a tale of a liberty in Subic or Pattaya. He won’t believe such events happened and will tell you if it is true you are crazy.

I have a brother who spent a few years in the Army. He was a Corpsman with a psychiatric ward MOS. He was stationed at Long Binh, the largest Army base in Vietnam. He worked in the Psych Ward at the hospital there. I was stationed in USS Mahopac in Japan. He came to visit me on his R&R. I took him to the Yokohama Seaside Club on Sunday morning for what we called “Vespers.” There were eight to ten of us sitting at a round table drinking and telling sea stories. After about three hours of this, we left. As we were walking home he said, “If half the shit I heard this morning is true, we are kicking guys out of the Army who aren’t half as crazy as you fuckers are.”

Asia has always fascinated sailors from the Anjin, Will Adams, Commodore Perry’s crews, Admiral Dewey’s sailors, the men of the China Fleet, the pre-WWII fleet in the Philippines and those of us in the post-war era.

It was a place where young boys could grow up almost overnight. Those laws regarding underage drinking existing in the various countries were ignored for the American Bluejacket. The sailors had money and would spend more in one liberty that the average monthly wage in many of the places we visited. The girls naturally gravitated to the sailors. The sailors could provide money to live, to buy pretty things, they were exciting and fun to be with. And the sailors came to love the girls. Many of us married Asian girls and brought them home with us or some just stayed in Asia.

The times that haunt our memories came to an end with the rising economy of Japan, the return of Hong Kong to China, and the eruption of Mount Pinatubo which ended our presence in the sailor’s paradise, Subic Bay.

The French writer Jean Larteguy calls it a Yellow Fever. Asia and its various lifestyles is a fever that we never overcame.

Would I do it again? As some sailor so fittingly put it, “Fucking A Ditty Bag!”

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MILITARY OLD AND NEW

MILITARY OLD AND NEW

1945 – NCOs had a typewriter on their desks for doing daily reports.

2016 – everyone has Internet access and a computer, and they wonder why no work is getting done.

1945 – we painted pictures of girls on airplanes to remind us of home.

2016 – they put the real thing in the cockpit.

1945 – your girlfriend was at home praying you would return alive.

2016 – she is in the same trench praying your condom worked.

1945 – if you got drunk off duty your mates would take you back to the barracks to sleep it off.

2016 – if you get drunk they slap you in rehab and ruin your career.

1945 – you were taught to aim at your enemy and shoot him.

2016- you spray 500 bullets into the brush, don’t hit anything, and retreat because you’re out of ammo.

1945 – canteens were made of steel, and you could heat tea or hot chocolate in them.

2016 – canteens are made of plastic, you can’t heat anything in them, and they always taste like plastic.

1945 – officers were professional soldiers first and they commanded respect.

2016 – officers are politicians first and beg not to be given a wedgie.

1945 – they collected enemy intelligence and analyzed it.

2016 – they collect your pee and analyze it.

1945 – if you didn’t act right, the Sergeant Major put you in the brig until you straightened up.

2016 – if you don’t act right, they start a paper trail that follows you forever.

1945 – medals were awarded to heroes who saved lives at the risk of their own.

2016 – medals are awarded to people who work at headquarters.

1945 – you slept in barracks like a soldier.

2016 – you sleep in a dormitory like a school kid.

1945 – you ate in a mess hall, which was free, and you could have all the food you wanted.

2016 – you eat in a dining facility, every slice of bread or pad of butter costs, and you better not take too much.

1945 – we defeated powerful countries like Germany and Japan.

2016 – we come up short against Iraq and Afghanistan.

1945 – if you wanted to relax, you went to the rec. center, played pool, smoked and drank beer.

2016 – you go to the community center, and you can play pool.

1945 – if you wanted beer and conversation you went to the wet canteen.

2016 – the beer will cost you $5.75, membership is forced, and someone is watching how much you drink.

1945 – the Canteen had bargains for soldiers who didn’t make much money.

2016 – you can get better and cheaper merchandise at K-mart.

1945 – we could recognize the enemy by their Nazi helmets.

2016 – we are wearing the Nazi helmets.

1945 – we called the enemy names like “Krauts” and “Japs” because we didn’t like them.

2016 – we call the enemy the “opposing force” or “aggressor” because we don’t want to offend them.

1945 – victory was declared when the enemy was defeated and all his things were broken.

2016 – we haven’t a clue as to what victory is or what it takes to achieve it.

1945 – a commander would put his butt on the line to protect his people.

2016 – a commander will put his people on the line to protect his butt.

1945 – wars were planned and run by generals who knew how to fight and win.

2016- wars are planned by politicians who haven’t a clue about fighting or winning.

1945 – we were fighting for freedom, and the country was committed to winning.

2016 – we don’t know what we’re fighting for, and the government is committed to social programs and political correctness.

1945 – all you could think about was getting out and becoming a civilian again.

2016 – all you can think about is getting out and becoming a civilian again.

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D-Day – June 6 1944

D-Day – June 6 1944

The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armored divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled, using specialized tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold which the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.

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Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8)

 

Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8)

 

 

Over the weekend I read two stories in my local mini-paper that had me asking the question: When did “fairness” – as defined by somebody – become a necessity to civilized society? Not in the sense of basic fairness, life, liberty, and property, but in the obsession with EVERYTHING MUST be “fair” to the utmost degree possible and even then, we must continue to “work” to make it even more fair.

Seventy-six years ago, it wasn’t fair that the Imperial Japanese Navy outnumbered and outgunned the US Navy. It “wasn’t fair” that Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) aboard USS Hornet (CV-8) was forced to fly in obsolete death traps in a hopeless attack that had no chance of success.

It wasn’t “fair” when VT-8 soared into oblivion. Today we recall not just their sacrifice, but the very meaning of the word. And the realization that without their sacrifice, the rest of that day would not have gone as it did. — Dave Bowman

Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) was a United States Navy squadron of World War II torpedo bombers. VT-8 was assigned initially to the air group of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, joining Hornet shortly after her commissioning in October 1941.

VT-8’s first and best-known combat mission came during the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Flying obsolete Douglas TBD Devastators, all of Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron’s fifteen planes were shot down during their unescorted torpedo attack on Japanese aircraft carriers. The squadron failed to damage any Japanese carriers or destroy enemy aircraft.

Only one member of VT-8 who flew from Hornet on that day survived in the action, Ensign George Gay. Ensign Gay was rescued the day following the battle. Torpedo 8 was afterwards awarded the American Presidential Unit Citation.

A list of the fallen:

  • Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron
  • Lieutenant Raymond A. Moore
  • Lieutenant James C. Owens Jr.
  • Lieutenant, junior grade George M. Campbell
  • Lieutenant, junior grade John P. Gray
  • Lieutenant, junior grade Jeff D. Woodson
  • Ensign William W. Abercrombie
  • Ensign William W. Creamer
  • Ensign Harold J. Ellison
  • Ensign William R. Evans
  • Ensign Henry R. Kenyon
  • Ensign Ulvert M. Moore
  • Ensign Grant W. Teats
  • Robert B. Miles, Aviation Pilot 1st Class
  • Horace F. Dobbs, Chief Radioman
  • Amelio Maffei, Radioman 1st Class
  • Tom H. Pettry, Radioman 1st Class
  • Otway D. Creasy Jr., Radioman 2nd Class
  • Ross H. Bibb Jr., Radioman 2nd Class
  • Darwin L. Clark, Radioman 2nd Class
  • Ronald J. Fisher, Radioman 2nd Class
  • Hollis Martin, Radioman 2nd Class
  • Bernerd P. Phelps Radioman 2nd Class
  • Aswell L. Picou, Seaman 2nd Class
  • Francis S. Polston, Seaman 2nd Class
  • Max A. Calkins, Radioman 3rd Class
  • George A. Field, Radioman 3rd Class
  • Robert K. Huntington, Radioman 3rd Class
  • William F. Sawhill, Radioman 3rd Class
  • J.D. Manning, Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class / turret gunner in Ensign Earnest’s plane (noted above).
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USS Frank E. Evans

USS Frank E. Evans

USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, was named in honor of Brigadier General Frank Evans, USMC, a leader of the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. She served in late World War II and the Korean War, and Vietnam War before being cut in half in a collision with HMAS Melbourne in 1969

June 3, 1969, USS Frank E. Evans (DD 754) collided with the Australian Aircraft Carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21) and was cut in half. The forward section of USS Frank E. Evans (DD 754) sank in 1100 fathoms of water within two minutes.

Seventy-four lives were lost. USS Frank E. Evans (DD 754) was struck from the Navy Register in 1969.

ENSIGN ALAN HERBERT ARMSTRONG

SEAMAN JAMES ROBERT BAKER

YEOMAN THIRD CLASS ANDREW JAMES BOTTO

RADARMAN THIRD CLASS THOMAS BELUE BOX

ELECTRONICS TECHNICIAN THIRD CLASS JAMES FRANKLIN BRADLEY

ENSIGN ROBERT GEORGE BRANDON

SEAMAN APPRENTICE HARRIS MELVIN BROWN

BOILER TECHNICIAN SECOND CLASS WILLIAM DANIEL BROWN II

CHIEF HOSPITAL CORPSMAN CHARLES WILLIAM CANNINGTON

RADARMAN SECOND CLASS CHRISTOPHER JOHN CARLSON

SEAMAN MICHAEL KALE CLAWSON

SEAMAN DANNY VICTOR CLUTE

YEOMAN THIRD CLASS JAMES RICHARD CMEYLA

ELECTRONICS TECHNICIAN THIRD CLASS LARRY WAYNE COOL

SEAMAN PATRICK MICHAEL CORCORAN

SEAMAN APPRENTICE JOE EDDY CRAIG

ELECTRONICS TECHNICIAN (RADAR) THIRD CLASS JAMES WILBURN DAVIS

SEAMAN APPRENTICE LEON LARRY DEAL

SEAMAN JAMES FRED DYKES III

SEAMAN APPRENTICE RAYMOND JOSEPH EARLEY

GUNNERS MATE THIRD CLASS STEVEN FRANK ESPINOSA

SEAMAN APPRENTICE STEPHEN DONALD FAGAN

SEAMAN APPRENTICE WILLIAM DONALD FIELDS

SEAMAN APPRENTICE ALAN CARL FLUMMER

SEAMAN APPRENTICE HENRY KENNETH FRYE

SEAMAN FRANCIS JOSEPH GARCIA

SONAR TECHNICIAN (SURFACE) THIRD CLASS MELVIN HOLLMAN GARDNER

SEAMAN APPRENTICE DONALD EUGENE GEARHART

BOATSWAIN’S MATE THIRD CLASS PATRICK GENE GLENNON

SEAMAN APPRENTICE KENNETH WAYNE GLINES

SEAMAN APPRENTICE JOE LUIS GONZALES

SONAR TECHNICIAN (SURFACE) THIRD CLASS LARRY ALLAN GRACELY

SEAMAN APPRENTICE DEVERE RAY GRISSOM, JR.

SEAMAN APPRENTICE STEVEN ALLEN GUYER

RADARMAN THIRD CLASS TERRY LEE HENDERSON

CHIEF ELECTRICIAN’S MATE EDWARD PHILIP HESS

RADARMAN SECOND CLASS GARRY BRADBURY HODGSON

SEAMAN APPRENTICE DENNIS RALPH JOHNSTON

SEAMAN APPRENTICE JAMES WILLIAM KERR

CHIEF BOATSWAIN’S MATE WILLIE LEE KING

CHIEF RADARMAN GEORGE JOSEPH LA LIBERTE’

RADIOMAN SECOND CLASS RAYMOND PATRICK LEBRUN

RADARMAN FIRST CLASS EUGENE FRANCIS LEHMAN

SEAMAN APPRENTICE ISAAC LYONS, JR.

SEAMAN APPRENTICE DOUGLAS ROY MEISTER

SEAMAN APPRENTICE ANDREW MARTIN MELENDREZ

SEAMAN FREDERIC CONRAD MESSIER

SEAMAN APPRENTICE TIMOTHY LYNN MILLER

ENSIGN JOHN TOWNSEND NORTON, JR.

ENSIGN GREGORY KOICHI OGAWA

SEAMAN APPRENTICE MICHAEL ANTHONY ORLIKOWSKI

INTERIOR COMMUNICATIONS ELECTRICIAN SECOND CLASS LINDEN RUSSELL ORPURT

LIEUTENANT JUNIOR GRADE DWIGHT SCOTT PATTEE

SEAMAN APPRENTICE CRAIG ALLEN PENNELL

SEAMAN APPRENTICE JEROME PICKETT

YEOMAN SECOND CLASS EARL FREDERICK PRESTON, JR.

BOILER TECHNICIAN THIRD CLASS LAWRENCE JOHN REILLY, JR.

RADARMAN SECOND CLASS VICTOR THOMAS RIKAL

BOATSWAIN’S MATE SECOND CLASS GARY LOREN SAGE

RADARMAN THIRD CLASS GREGORY ALLAN SAGE

SEAMAN APPRENTICE KELLY JO SAGE

SEAMAN APPRENTICE JOHN ALAN SAUVEY

BOILER TECHNICIAN FIREMAN APPRENTICE ROBERT JAMES SEARLE

FIREMAN APPRENTICE GERALD WAYNE SMITH

SEAMAN THURSTON PERRY SMITH, JR.

SONAR TECHNICIAN SECOND CLASS JOHN RAYMOND SPRAY

LIEUTENANT JUNIOR GRADE JON KENNETH STEVER

SEAMAN APPRENTICE THOMAS FRED TALLON

RADARMAN SECOND CLASS RONALD ARTHUR THIBODEAU

RADARMAN THIRD CLASS JON WAYNE THOMAS

SEAMAN APPRENTICE JOHN THOMAS TOLAR

QUARTERMASTER THIRD CLASS GARY JOSEPH VIGUE

RADARMAN THIRD CLASS CON WESLEY WARNOCK

SEAMAN APPRENTICE HENRY DENNIS WEST III

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Now More Than Ever – a Strong Navy and Peace

theleansubmariner

The Navy League has been tireless in its mission to support the sea services throughout the last 116 years. From its founding in 1902, they have tried to always live the spirit that Theodore Roosevelt embodied when he said “A good Navy is not a provocative of war, it is the surest guarantee of peace.”

Three years after he said those fateful words, the world was changed forever on May 27, 1905 when a smaller Japanese fleet defeated the powerful Russian Navy in the Straits of Tsushima.

This unexpected naval battle set the tone for naval conflict for the next century. It showed that a willful and resourceful nation could project sea power and influence the course of history in a way that the world would have to notice. It clearly demonstrated that no country, no matter how small or limited in resources, should ever be taken for granted.

Despite that…

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Boot Camp Classification

Boot Camp Classification

By Garland Davis

He remembers the day of classification in Boot Camp. This was a day instrumental in every sailor’s Navy life, whether for a single tour or a thirty-year career.

He was on time for the appointment with all his documents ready. This disqualified him from being a Storekeeper.

He was also bathed, cleanly shaven and in a presentable uniform. Immediately disqualified as a Boatswain’s Mate.

He told the classification clerk that he was awake and alert during the afternoons. No way could he become a Gunner’s Mate with that attitude.

He had turned up at the correct office on time. This disqualified him from being a Radioman.

He correctly identified the on and off positions of a standard light switch. Eliminated him for consideration for any of the electronic ratings.

His hearing test showed a remarkable ability to hear sounds. Immediately disqualified for Sonar Technician.

He showed an ability in simple arithmetic. This disqualified him as a Disbursing Clerk.

He explained the recipes for making toast and bug juice. Not qualified to be a Cook.

He proved to him that he could read, write and spell. Not Yeoman or Personnelman.

After asking several more questions, shaking his head, the classification counselor fished a wrinkled paper from the bottom of the shitcan, saying, “I had given up on this one. Jerry Collins, you are going to be a Boiler Technician.”

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