The Navy's traditions live on in the hearts of those who serve

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tough guys!!

I knew a bunch of tough guys in my years with the Navy.  SEALS, EOD Techs, Special Boat teams, SEABEES, Gunner's Mates, Snipes, Boatswain's Mates, and others.  They fought through every issue to meet the goal and complete the mission.  Refueling underway in rough seas, frigid weather, in the dark?  No problem.  130 Degree Engine Rooms and Boiler Rooms, No problem.  Disarming mines in the Straights of Hormuz, in the nude, to keep from setting off the World War II Soviet Magnetic Mines, SEALS doing what SEALS do.  Nothing overstepped them.  I saw men bleed, conclusions, legs in casts, injuries that would stop most men.  Navy guys fought through it!  Without sleep, food, or medical assistance.

But, I know a Master Chief Ship's Serviceman that exhibited true grit! His name is Henry Green.  He was the SH Detailer when I was the GMG Detailer.  When we were on the East Coast Detailer's trip and in Mayport, Henry had a stroke caused by a brain tumor that he did not know he had.

He was stabilized in Mayport, shipped to Bethesda for surgery.  After his surgery, he was told the tumor was cancerous and that they could not get all of it with surgery.  The doctors told him he needed to get his affairs in order because there was nothing they could do for him!

Henry replied:  What would you do if you thought I was going to live?  The doctors said they would do chemo and radiation therapy.    Henry said, then let's pretend you think I am going to live!  Because, I do not have time to die right now!  I have teenage boys to raise!!

Now, that is bravery in the face of terrific odds!  But, what is better is the treatment worked.  AT least, when I left NMPC, he was still alive and being released for full duty.

I lost contact with Henry.  I did see him once after I left NMPC, at his home and he was still dong well.  But that is 32 years ago.  O, I have no recent updates.  But, I consider Master Chief Henry Green one of the bravest, toughest, most resilient men I ever met, bar none!

I sure would like to know where Henry is and if he is still alive.  If you know, please let me know.

Old memories brought back to life.

Every time one of my Shipmates call, old memories of events and people come flooding back into my memory.   Some of those events show that some of the people I sailed with were more than a few bricks short of full load!

For instance, Heading off for a WESTPAC Deployment, as usual we pulled into Pearl Harbor for a weekend of liberty and to refuel and take on fresh food and milk.   When we got underway on Monday morning, a Seaman from first division was UA.  He was of Hawaiian decent, so it was not a big surprise.  Maybe he went hoe and over slept.

But, this Electronics Technician (Communications) Second Class (E-5) went to the Executive Officer of the ship and told him;  "When you search his locker, any money you find is mine!"  The XO asked if he had loaned the Seaman some money.  The ET2 replied; "No, I gave him $500 to buy me some Pot to use until we got to Subic Bay!"  The XO's reply was precious: "You are a lot dumber than I thought you were!

O that cruise, we went to the Indian Ocean.  The Naval Investigative Office (NIS) determined most souvenirs purchased in the Indian Ocean were made of Hash or other drugs!  So, we had to confiscate every thing brought aboard and save it until we pulled back into Hawaii.  There the drug dogs would sniff the items and then we could give them back to their owners.  I was in custody of these precious items. (read the words, cheap junk in the place of precious)   After the dogs sniffed everything and found NOTHING Illegal, everything was returned but me through the use of receipts given to the owners.

Two Precious Camel Saddles were lost and guess who they belonged too!  That Pot purchasing ET2!  He claimed the camel saddles were worth a thousand dollars a piece!  More like, you could purchase EVERY camel saddle in the Indian Ocean for $100!  Needless to say, he did not get paid for the camel saddles and they were never found!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Officer's liberty vs Chief's liberty

I live in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that is full of Officers, Captains of Industry, and people with more degrees than a thermometer.  You can't swing a "cat" without hitting an O-6 or senior!  And, if you understand what "Swing a "cat" means, you are the person I identify with!  In any case, these snooty people like to talk about their time in the military and how wild they were.  Ha!!   They wouldn't know wild if it bit them on the ass!

Enlisted men knew how to go on Liberty and get the full enjoyment and relaxation out of it!  Why, I brought back men to the ship that were so relaxed, they were dead asleep in the bar!!  I had a Senior Chief fall asleep in "Pacer's"in San Diego!  Now that is relaxed!!

And Enlisted men were very good at improving relations with the people of the country we visited.  Like Subic Bay in the Philippines.  I knew many men that had strong, relations with the citizens of that thriving metropolis.   I never saw an Officer out in town, in Subic, trying to make friends with a local.  I did have Shore Patrol one night when a Chief had a heart attack while having intimate relations with a local.  She came to tell me wearing only a towel!!  She kept saying in her best English;  He's deed, He's deed.  The Chieps, deed!!  I assumed she meant she was angry with him,  But, no.  He was deed!

I went on liberty with an Officer in Subic once.  The BM Detailer and I went with the OIC of the WESTPAD Detailer's trip,  He claimed he had not been in Subic since he was a 19 year old Third Class Midshipman.  We walked into Mom's at the Traffic Circle at the end of Magsaisai Blvd.  The bar was dry, and empty, it was 11 AM, there was this matronly looking Filipino lady behind the bar.  She sees the three of us and she screams; "Pill, Pill, Marko, I no see you long time!"  I told the Commander;  You must have made a hell of an impression on her!

I did know a young O-2 that went on liberty in Naples with his American Express Credit Card.  It took him two years to get that bill straight!!  I never took my wallet on liberty, well enough a credit card!

Look, I am an Enlisted Navy man, through and through.  I never wanted to be an officer.  I had an opportunity to go to the Naval Academy Prep school out of Boot Camp and turned it down.  I turned down NESEP and I never applied for LDO or Warrant.  Would I have more money now if I had?  Yes!!  But, I influenced and saved more good enlisted men as a Navy Chief than I ever would in the cut throat Officers Club.  And I had a hell of a lot more fun!  And a few more hangovers than my Officer brethren.

I was and AM more like CPO Sharkey than Captain Quig!  And I am not likely to change!!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Officer vs Enlisted rules

I am old enough to remember the divisions between Officers and Enlisted.  For instance, there was one difference;  "The Officers and their Ladies.  The Enlisted Men and their wives!  Like Enlisted men would never marry a lady.

Then there were the Enlisted Pools and the Officer Pools and the same for beaches at Dam Neck.  I guess the Officers thought they would catch what ever they think Enlisted men have.   What would that be?  Courage, dedication, loyalty, camaraderie. Just saying.

I also remember Officers being permitted to go on Liberty in Civilian Clothes, while Enlisted personnel, below Chief, were required to wear they dress uniform.  Heck, Enlisted personnel, below Chief, were not permitted to have civilian clothes on the ship at any time.  I knew a young E-4 that made automatic E-3 for having civilian clothes on the USS Mullinnix!!

But the best one is;  When I was a young Enlisted man, many of the Ladies of the Evening carried a Sexually Transmitted Disease.  Enlisted men called it "The Clap".   The Clap, medically called gonorrhea and if you contracted that STD, you were "Restricted" to the ship until you were cured!  Officers, however, never contracted Gonorrhea.  Instead, all Officers were diagnosed with Non Specific Urethritis, and that did NOT require being restricted to the ship.

I am sure there are other sea stories in this thread, but they escape me right now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another Officer story

 I know my Lewy Body Dementia is progressing and I have said before there are some stories I wanted to tell, when I go worse.  Well, it seems I better tell these before I am unable too.

When I was on the USS Caron, we had some difficult times.  Times that it seemed, rightly so, that someone senior to us was trying to defeat us.  But, we always rose to the occasion and succeeded, some how.

During this times we also had some exceptional successes!  The time off Beirut, firing Naval Gun Fire Support to keep the U.S. Marines safe from the Druse Militia was one of those times.  And our successes off the coast of Nicaragua that were recorded in the Book; "Electronic Greyhounds" are also some of our best successes.

During those times we were lead by an exceptional Commanding Officer,  Commander James Polk.  I can say, without condition, that Captain Polk was the single, BEST. most influential, motivating, professional. Commanding Officer I ever knew or served with.  In his Ward Room were two Officers that would rise to Flag Status.  One, Then our Operations Department Head,  became a Two Star Admiral and was responsible for setting up the strategy and executing flawlessly the act that brought down the old Russian Space Station.  That operation saved millions of lives because if that piece of space junk had entered the atmosphere, it would have been devastating to the city it hit!  His name is Rear Admiral Brad Hicks.

The second Flag Officer that came from Captain Polk's leadership is now the Four Star Admiral that runs the Nations Intelligence agency.  Admiral Rodgers!!

Admirals are grown up through many levels of leadership.  They are taught, mentored, lead, and trained from Ensign to Admiral by Officers that, in may cases never themselves make Flag, but just the same deserve credit for the contributions to the future leadership of our Navy.  Yes, Admirals Rodgers and Hicks  accomplished much on they own initiative.  But, I know both of them would say they owe much of their success to the men who lead them in their careers.

Then there was our second Executive Officer.  The first XO I served on the USS Caron, during my tour as Command Master Chief was an exceptional Officer, leader, mentor and friend that went on to Command and made O-6.  The second XO could could not spell leadership, honor, courage, or dedication.  But the most telling thing about him was the fact that he did not get along with the Commanding Officer.  Furthermore, he was not loyal to the Commanding Officer.  Instead, he tried to undermine that Commanding Officers leadership.  That XO and I did not get along at all.  But, he got his kust rewards in that he never qualified for command.  A small blessing.

It is interesting that on a ship as successful as the USS Caron, there would be an Executive Officer that failed as miserably as that one.  Many Officers went on to Command on the USS Caron.  At least one of them came back to Caron for Command!  Captain Jim Miller who was Chief Engineer when I was on Caron.  Also, another Commander Miller would be the last Commanding Officer of the USS Iowa!   But that XO, stands out as the worst, most disloyal, Naval Officer I ever knew.

There I said it.  I fell better now.

The VALUE of Enlisted Men.

I have written before, many times, about my disdain for the Officer Community.  Their snooty, high society, "holier than thou" attitude, and their presumption that they are educated and know more than any Enlisted Man could, manner of dealing with people and issues.

But the truth is, very, very few Officers could fix any system on a ship, handle lines, run a replenishment rig, or even get a group of men to function as a cohesive team.  And I have witness this over my 40 years with the Navy.  Now, I am not including the Officers of the Special Warfare Community in this so, please, do no think I am down grading these Professionals in any way.  They do everything their Enlisted Counterparts do!  No exceptions!  And they accomplish the same missions, side by side with their Enlisted Counterparts, everyday.

But, Surface Line and Aviation Officers are a different issue.  You will notice I do not address Submarine Qualified personnel here.  Why, because I do not know enough about their community to comment!  Hey, the truth is the truth!

Back to my argument.  I newer had a Division Officer, Department Head, Executive Officer, or Commanding Officer that even began to understand the functions, workings, or capabilities of any Gun Mount or Missile Launcher I worked on.  Yes, they knew the range when to fire the weapon, and even the interference caused when firing a gun and a missile at the came time.  But, that was it.   When the gun broke, they could only ask stupid questions that required answers immediately!  Of course, this slowed down the repair process.  I can't tell you home many times I have been asked;  What is wrong with the gun mount?  My reply, I am troubleshooting now and I do not know the exact problem.   The Officer reply was;  How long to repair it?!  Heck, I don't even know what is wrong, I just told you that.  So How Can I tell you the time to repair!?!.  Dumb ass!

I used to get a rapid fire myriad of these insane questions when we has a stoppage of fire with a Hot Gun!!  They never realized I was the one in danger!!  They just wanted their stupid questions answered.  Once, I actually turned off the Sound Powered Phone amp and threw the head set in the corner so I could think!  Other Chiefs from other Ratings related similar stories to me.  Officer issuing incorrect and dangerous orders in dangerous situations in Fire rooms, Engine rooms, and in actual fires aboard ship.

I remember on the USS Leftwich, we had a suspected fire in the Number three Waste Heat Boiler Room.  There was lots of smoke coming from that space.  The Chief HT and I were the only two Damage Control Qualified personnel in the Commissioning Crew, so the Executive Officer told us, any thing happens, you two must be there.  The HT Chief and I put on our OBA's and went into the space to investigate.  The CDO, an O-3, mustered the crew on the fan tail, in the vicinity of the supposed fire instead of on the forecastle like I told the Quarterdeck to do.  He was trying to put a 10 for fog applicator on a Fire Nozzle without removing the spud.  Not that a 10 foot applicator would be any use in an Engineering Space!  Then, the CDO, that O-3 chewed me out for passing a "Fire Drill" without his permission!  See what I mean.

I remember again on the Leftwich, a time when we pulled in late in the evening, after a week of training off the San Diego coast.  we were all tired.  The Ship moored "Chinese Style" to another Spruance Destroyer.  "Chinese Style" means side by side, bow to stern.  It is a stupid, unsafe way to moor two ships together, especially with high bows and low fantails.  As the tugs pulled away, the Captain ordered Engineering to shut down the Gas Turbines without locking the shafts first.  Doing this would cause the shafts to continue to turn as the turbines wound down, without control of the pitch on the variable pitch propellers, cause inbox the ship to move, which ever way the pitch drifted!!  The Chief GS politely and professionally told the Captain this on the "Bitch Box"and he got flame sprayed.  So, the shut down the Gas Turbines, and the shafts continued to turn and the pitch drifted off in reverse.  And the ship started to move aft, away from the ship we were moored too.  The mooring likes were doubled up and we were about to PART all six lines.  The Boatswains Mate Chief had the Forecastle and I ran the Fantail,  Without orders, we both had our men remove the doubled up lines to keep from killing people on our ship and the other.  Oh, we had our dependents watching from eh deck of the other ship!  There would have been alone of wives and children cut in half if Ross and I had not been quick.  We ended up with Line one, paired to line two, on the causation forward and me holding Line sides bitter end, up by the Nato Sea Sparrow control room.  Ross slowly used the capstan to pull us forward, and then I got line six to the captain aft and pulled us in to the ship.  We then coordinated our progress on the sound powered phones and got the lines doubled up.  The Bridge was vacant during this mess and no officers were on deck!!  Just BMC Ross and Me.  Hone the dust had cleared, I was looking for someone to chew out.  I noticed the Captain, standing on the 01 Deck above the Fantail.  I yelled at him and he told me we would talk about this in the morning.  I said, very loudly; "Now we will not,  We will discuss this right now!"  And we did.  He admitted his mistake and I informed him he almost killed many people.  He did not care.  He was only worried about his reputation.  I have never forgot that event.  It is as fresh in my mind as it was over 30 years ago.  That self centered captain, almost killed me and many others because he did not understand how the Engineering Plant functioned and would not listen to someone who did because HE was the Captain!  No wonder I have disdain for the Surface Officers community.

No, without Enlisted men, things would be much different in the Navy and I suspect in the Military as a whole.  But I still get angry over the manner we were treated.  Some what like house servants or field hands to be worked to death and given none of the credit for the crop.

Maybe I am just too sensitive.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Keep her steaming, Keep her shooting!!

I remember my years at sea and how each Rating on the ship went to the ends of the earth to keep their systems up and running.  It did not matter if it was a Gun Mount, the Main Engines, a Galley Copper, or a commode.  Our pride was wrapped up in pour equipment operating when needed.  Having your name on the Eight O'clock Report was tantamount to being called incompetent and lazy!!

I saw gaskets for lune oil pumps made out of chart paper, ammo hoist chain links made from scratch out of Cress Steel by the Machinery Repairman (MR), and many more "on the spot" repairs.  Each time, the Chief of that equipment, used his experience to elect a repair without proper repair parts, to keep their systems available for the mission.

As far as I know, a lower hoist chain link, for the MK 45 Gun Mount, Mount 51, on the USS Caron that our MR made, was still in that gun when it was decommissioned and sunk!    Was it the correct part?  No. Did it work?  Yes.  Did we submit a Departure from Spec request from the Type Commander?  No comment.   The Gun Mount HAD to be operational.  We did not have a Chain Link.  We did the best we could with what we had and it worked, perfectly.

On every ship, I always made friends with the MR and the Hull Technicians.   They were the people with the training, knowledge, experience, and ability to make the mechanical parts I needed to keep almost anything working.  The HT's and MR's never let me down.

I know. those of you who read this blog have your own experiences of keeping your equipment up and running.  The VAST Majority of Americans will never know what you did to meet the mission.  The sacrifices of sleep, sweat, blood, time at home with your family, and not to mention the sacrifice of your long term health!!   Working in 150 degree Engine Rooms on pumps, pipes, and Boiler Casings so hot they burned your skin off.  Or breathing toxic fumes.  Or being exposed to fluids that we were told were safe then, but now are killing us.  No one ever said thanks, or even good job.  It was just what was expected from us.

I wish America knew the sacrifices we made and the efforts we offered to keep America safe.  Thanks Shipmates!!