Polaris to Poseidon – 1966 United States Navy Submarine & Missile Documentary 1

540737_607132552633815_229064396_n

As theleansubmariner approaches 500 posts, I thought it fitting to post another great video of the boats that made up much of my career as well as others in the early days of nuclear Cold War submarines.

The 41 for Freedom boats represented a large part of a concerted effort to offer a countermeasure to Soviet intentions.

God Bless all of the men who served in this historic endeavor. You truly made a difference!

Mister Mac

Silouette of 598

An interesting week Reply

oprah-winfrey-and-selma-castmates-march-through-city-to-celebrate-mlk-day

Thanks for stopping by. I have been out of town for a week doing a training mission for my current employer so blogging was put on hold. It was a pretty good session overall but had one life defining moment.

The training was at a hotel outside of Saint Louis and my team had decided to check out a day early at 0530 in order to make it to the plant we were supposed to visit later in the day. I was pretty zoned out from teaching for two straight days so passed on the meal that everyone else went to. I went to my room and started my nightly exercise ritual of turning from one side to the other in the vain hope of getting a good night’s sleep.

I have gotten to the point where I don’t sleep so well in hotels anymore. Maybe its the nearly twenty years of civilian hotel hopping to support my life and work styles. At about 0200 (2:00 AM for you civilians), I was so awake I contemplated going down to the lobby to scrounge for food.

As it turns out, its just as well I didn’t.

http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2015/01/18/suspect-charged-with-murder-in-drury-inn-shooting/

 

1-15-15-drury-inn_suspect4

I’m glad they caught the guy. I am very sad about a fifty year old man who lost his life that night. When we left the hotel in the morning it was a surreal experience. Most of us talked about it for days. Coming back to work today didn’t make the thoughts go away either. The last thing I remember seeing at the front desk that night was seeing a pretty young lady with the most beautiful eyes and smile who set my wake up call. Thinking it was her who died made my heart sick. Maybe its just as well I didn’t see her relief in person since it made it only a bit less personal.

I guess philosophically you could ask the question about what a life was worth? In this case, I understand the killer got $200.00. I am really glad I decided I didn’t need that snack after all. I hope they don’t have snacks in the jail cell he occupies tonight.

RIP Scott Knopfel.

I’m sorry you missed Martin Luther King day this year.

I hear the parades were nice.

Mister Mac

Continuous Learning – It’s a Navy Thing 1

uss-washingtonb

When I am not writing about submarines, I am normally busy with my day job which is helping the companies I work with to better understand continuous improvement or “lean thinking”. While one is solely vocational in nature and the other is purely avocational both share the same basic roots: Continuous Learning.

As a young boy, I was always curious about the world and spent many hours pouring through the Encyclopedias my parents had bought for the children. I especially found myself drawn to technology and had a great fascination with the technology of war. I can’t think of a single popular book about World War 2 that I didn’t check out from the school library and my personal favorites were written by Samuel Elliot Morrison. Samuel was a close friend of President Roosevelt and convinced him that he would be a great asset in recording the war by being a part of it. The resulting works even with their flaws still remain a rich picture of the many campaigns that the US Navy fought during the war.

250px-History_of_United_States_Naval_Operations_in_World_War_II_Vol_1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_United_States_Naval_Operations_in_World_War_II_(series)

Despite my love of reading however, I was not a very good student in High School. Somewhere around 14, I discovered that the opposite sex held certain attractions that became infinitely more interesting than spending time with algebra and social studies. This new found obsession replaced much of my previous attractions and unfortunately was also reflected in the grades I achieved. I believe that I was still using continuous learning of a sort but it was not of any use in gaining entry to a college.

In fact, I think I had  convinced myself that I was no longer able to spend time in school and decided that the quick solution to my concerns was to join the Navy. The Navy would provide this 17 year old boy with an income, a great adventure, and a way to marry the girl who occupied all of my day and night dreams.So I convinced Mom and Dad that it was the best path forward and in April 1972 they signed the permission slip for me to join the Navy in its delayed entry program. The immediate rewards are still somewhat personal but at the time, I was a very happy young man.

A few days after graduation, I began the next phase of my life which as it turns out was the foundation for the rest of my life in continuous learning. I entered Boot Camp and immediately discovered that not only had I not escaped the classroom, I had entered one which was 24/7. Every single part of that experience was about learning new things that would help me to become an American Bluejacket. From the importance of how you stow your gear to the criticality of understanding the regulations that governed us all, Boot Camp was an intense learning experience that was meant to prepare civilians for a new way of life.

I can still remember the lessons to this day nearly forty three years later. Navy traditions, leadership, teamwork, damage control, seamanship, physical conditioning, health care, first aid, a place for everything and everything in its place, and on and on. All of these are the roots of “lean” and continuous improvement since they demand the sailor be ready for his role in defending the nation and the sailors around him or her. By the end of Boot Camp,  we were ready to join our fellow “shipmates” in a number of areas including Vietnam, aircraft carriers, supply ships, even battleships. Except that a number of us were not quite ready yet. We would receive orders to Class “A” schools where our skills would be enhanced and new knowledge would be learned.

MM rate training manual

My designated school was Machinist Mate A school in Great Lakes Illinois. Right across the street from where I had just spent the last two months. Here we learned about steam and propulsion, valves and pumps, air conditioning basics and refrigeration. All of these skills were supposed to help us become more prepared for the technology that powered the ships that defend the country and its sea lanes. This school included both classroom and practical training including operating a landlocked steam plant. I was happy for the school to come to an end but my plans of becoming a nuclear trained petty officer were not to be met. About a third of us did not pass the final screening and were about to enter a completely different path.

Submarines

007

I have a copy of the paperwork where I volunteered for submarines and it is my signature. I don’t remember signing it. But it was among a number of pieces of paper that the classifying Petty Officer put in front of me that cold day in December 1972 after we had been out shoveling snow. When I got the orders to submarine school a few weeks later, I was shown the copy that I had signed and was reminded that it was now my duty to follow orders. My first thought was “Great… more school.” I was a bit disappointed that my addition to the fleet was being delayed once more by schools but you do what you have to do.

Submarine school was awesome. For the first time since boot camp, I really felt like something great was happening. We did classroom stuff but also a lot of interesting things like the dive trainer ( a simulated  submarine dive and drive setup), the dive tower and pressure chamber testing. Now I was getting someplace. Four weeks later, I was ready to go to my first boat and the orders came in.

Sub School 1773

Dear MMFN MacPherson… on your way to the USS George Washington SSBN 598 Blue Crew, would you mind very much stopping off in Charleston SC and attend another three months worth of school at the Fleet Ballistic Training Center at our Auxiliary Package course for Auxiliary men? Thanks so much, NavPers. (or something like that, I can’t seem to find the letter they sent).

Off to school again. Consider the irony of all this education for a young man that was tired of school. I finally did get to the boat and found out that in between patrols, it was more school and more training. By the time I finished my career in 1994, I had been to over 62 Naval technical and leadership courses. Along the way, I also picked up enough classes which would lead to a Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern Illinois University (Magna Cum Laude) which probably shocked the heck out of some of my high school teachers.

The learning has never stopped. Since graduating from the Navy, I have been blessed to be able to attend dozens of courses in project management, six sigma, lean manufacturing with eight different companies (including Toyota as a supplier), communications, leadership and others.

The Navy taught me how to learn and the importance of continuing to improve. The best lesson of all was that while you may not be able to remember everything you have been taught, if you remember where to find the answers and how to use them that is the best learning of all.

Thanks for stopping by. Learn something new this week.

Mister Mac

2014 in review 1

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Years Day 2015 3

IMG_2066

Thanks for dropping by.

We got up a little late this morning since we tried to see the New Year in last night. Then we had a short meal, a few quiet moments writing in the new “Journal”, and some very sincere praying. The journal was a gift from a family member and asks you to respond to new a question each day. The two of us then write in our thoughts. I believe it will help us to grow our foundation a little stronger. Today’s question was “Love is …?”

Last year was pretty full with work and projects. The picture at the top of the page was from a recent visit to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh. I found my Great Grandfather’s name on his Regimental Plaque – the Fifth Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery during the Civil War. We also found a picture of one of their reunions that I had never seen before. He was still alive when this was taken but I do not know if he was in the picture.

IMG_2088

 

2015

This will be a very busy year I think.

The work situation is a giant question mark as always. Hoping for a stable year but not so sure that will be in the cards. I asked God this morning to give us the guidance we need, the patience to wait for His work to unfold, and the vision to see the path as it opens up before us.

My submarine veteran’s world will be very busy with a San Francisco Homecoming and USSVI Convention in Pittsburgh PA in September.

ussvi final 3a

http://www.ussviconventionsteelcity2015.org/

There seems to be enough interest to launch a new organization for USS San Francisco SSN 711 Veterans so more will be coming this year as we achieve our NPO status. The San Francisco itself is scheduled to become a permanent training facility in Charleston so we will be looking for partnerships with them.

SSN-711-USS-San-Francisco.jpg

I am in line to be elected as Vice President of Education for the Pittsburgh Navy League and I am very excited about seeing ways to help the organization grow. We have been supporting the USS Pittsburgh crews and one of the long term goals is to prepare for the sad day when she is retired from the fleet. If the fates allow and we do our homework, the plan is to someday have a permanent exhibit to honor the boat by the placement of her sail in an appropriate place.

NLUS_Logo_Color_small

The VFW and Legion Children and Youth programs last year were very successful. Our work with the Middle School and High School in four different contests resulted in some very competitive entries. Our Patriot’s Pen entry placed Second in the District and our posts learned a lot to help us in the coming contests for 2015-16.

IMG_1768

Memorial Day is always a big part of our life. Both Debbie and I are on the committee for our small community and we will begin having meetings very soon. The Remembrance Ceremony in Elizabeth Pennsylvania is one of the longest continuing programs in the Mon Valley and has had many dignitaries from both the military and government over the years (including a Vice President). I have been a part of the program for over fifty years in one way or another and it is something worth seeing.

MEB38B~1

It wasn’t all about the Navy and Veterans this year. I have been called to help support the ministry at the Church we have been attending. I had already been preaching there on occasion but now will fill the pulpit once a month on a regular basis. It is a small Church but I can feel God’s presence working there. It is a good place to achieve a meaningful balance in the complexities of our lives.

IMG_1310

Thanks again for stopping by.

The blog has over 199,000 hits as of this morning. There was a part of me that had hoped for a New Year’s miracle of 200,000 but all in all, 199K is still pretty cool. For the year, we hit about 107K for this year alone which is more than all of the previous years combined. I am working on a long term project on pre-WW2 submarines that is very time consuming (for the little time I have left after work and other commitments). But I am convinced it is a great story and has never been done exactly like the way I am working on this one. Stay tuned.

I hope your New Year is filled with joy and adventure.

Mister Mac

 

 

Take ‘Er Down – Submarine Video from the 50’s Reply

thX03203OX

thL78YCDJI

 

Some great shots of older submarine life.  Some awesome shots of a Regulus Missile shot from the Tunney.

From Wikipedia: Communist aggression in Korea placed new demands on the resources of the Navy and led to Tunny’s being placed in commission, in reserve, on 28 February 1952. She saw no service at this time, however, and was decommissioned in April 1952. On 6 March 1953, she was placed in commission for the third time. Converted to carry guided missiles, she was reclassified as SSG-282 and was armed with the Regulus I nuclear cruise missile for nearly 12 years. In this role, Tunny was equipped with a hangar housing two missiles and a launcher on the after deck. One of the limitations of Regulus was that the firing submarine had to surface, the missile then being rolled out onto the launcher and fired. Regulus I also required guidance from submarines or other platforms after firing. In 1955, a second World War II submarine, USS Barbero, was also converted to fire Regulus I.
For the first four of those years, she operated out of Port Hueneme, contributing to the development of the Regulus missile system. Except for a short period of type training, Tunny engaged entirely in the launching and guidance of Regulus missiles for purposes of missile evaluation in the development of the system. In 1957, she shifted her base of operations to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing Regulus to initial operational capability, where she conducted the first submarine deterrent patrols and fired exercise missiles.

 

http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=7af3fd6dff8c

 

Mister Mac

Did it matter? 16

Did it matter?

A few weeks ago on one of the Holy Loch themed Facebook pages, a few of us were reminiscing about the old days and all of the patrols that were made during the Cold War. Someone reflected how successful the system was but a member of the site (who self-identified as an anti-nuclear activist) said something to the effect that we didn’t do a thing. I was reminded that since the end of the Cold War, many of the early anti-nukes were actually encouraged, trained and funded in a very secretive way by the KGB. Yet, I do ask from time to time, was it all worth it?

Proteus early 70s

From 1960 – 1991, submarines made deterrent patrols beneath the surface of the ocean almost non-stop in support of America’s strategic system. The intent of course would make the idea of anyone (USSR specifically) launching a first strike nuclear attack virtually out of the question. While land based missiles and planes could be targeted by heavier and heavier land based missiles, finding all of the Polaris, Poseidon and later Trident boats would have been much more of a challenge. Even the growth of the Soviet submarine forces as a countermeasure would not have stopped all of the boats from performing their gruesome task.

936794_10200475730009241_176765817_n

In order to support such a system of deterrence, someone was going to have to give up some free time of course. The ballistic missile submarines from the very beginning were manned by rotating crews (blue and gold). The hallmark of the system was that pretty well engineered boats with nuclear reactors and flexible support teams could get in to port, turnover and refit and return to station with a great deal of efficiency. From 1960 that included forward deployment of tenders and drydocks in strategic locations to allow the patrol zones a maximum coverage.

The sacrifices were abundant.

For the men who sailed on the boats, there were plenty of sacrifices to go around. The separation from family for months at a time is in itself one of the great reasons so many only did one or two tours. We sailed in virtual silence, only being on the receiving end of an occasional Family Gram. These messages were limited to a few sentences and if the sender didn’t do it right, a man could go without any word for the entire patrol. Not only were you missing holidays and birthdays (not to mention the occasional actual birth of a child) but you had nothing but the bottom of the upper bunk to stare at in the glowing red lights in berthing.

Life went on while the boys were under the seas. Bills to pay, washing machines that waited until the hatch was closed to break. Cars that had flat tires and storms that blew down fences. All while Daddy was away and left Mom to try and figure out how to fix things. Some marriages weren’t strong enough. The divorce rate was high and the broken families literally littered the landscape. Kids learned to talk and walk and fight and make new friends all while Dad was so far away. There was no one to ask advice from about that girl who drove you crazy or the boy who wanted to be “more than friends”. All that had to wait while Mom tried to handle things on her own.

It wasn’t a great picnic for single guys either. Their lives were just as much impacted by hibernating under the waves.

Bob and Renee 1972

My first patrol was a Christmas run on the George Washington in 1973. When I went to sea, I had had a fight with my fiancée on the phone. This was no small deal since we were in Guam in another time zone and she was at home in Elizabeth PA. The phones were very expensive back then and when you are fighting and not speaking, it’s an expensive silence. Things at home were not great either. Dad had just come back from the hospital where Mom was spending the night after a few days of a serious medical condition. He was tired and we also had some harsh words about the future and the past. I can’t even remember if I told him I loved him. He was pretty angry that I had sent half of my family gram forms to Renee.

The boat leaving for patrol was actually kind of a relief in some ways. The relief was that we were so busy with everything that comes with making a patrol that we could turn life off for a while. There were fun moments mixed in the bad ones. There were hours of boredom surrounded by a few moments of utter fear. Even as close as you were with the men around you, there were also a lot of lonely moments when you really questioned who you were and what you were doing there.

009_6A

The worst moment of course came on Christmas Eve. The cooks had decorated the mess decks for the season with some shiny tinsel and a few lights. If I remember, there were even some of those cheesy cut out signs strung together that said Happy Holidays. I had mess cooked all day and was pretty tired but I have to say the feeling on the mess decks when they broke out the movie was pretty depressed. I was raised as a Christian and missed the service at my old Church field with singing and Joy to the World. I don’t know who thought it was a good thing to do, but in the second reel of the movie, the fans suddenly turned off and the General Alarm broke over the MC system followed by “Man Battle Stations Missile, spin up all missiles” followed by another round of that awful General Alarm.

There were not many Christian sentiments shared by the crew members who dragged themselves out of their racks that evening. I couldn’t help but think about the old saying Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards men as we came together to practice what we had been sent to do.

But it was only practice. The world got to live another day without a cataclysmic moment. Silent Night, Holy Night.

The patrol would end just like the 42 before it on board the George-fish. Turnover to the Goldies, get on the busses to the air base in Guam and try to catch back up with our lives.

That girl I left behind found a new guy. Mom got better and has lived another 40 years in relatively good health. Dad and I found a way to say “I love you” before he died … He told me the day before he passed and the day before I went to sea for one of my last trips. The world never did get to experience that nuclear holocaust we were sent out to prevent.

Did it matter?

I still like to think it did. We have had wars of other kinds but the ones we worked to prevent never have materialized. I hear the Chinese are building boomers now. I hear the Russians are upgrading their fleets again and of course there is that whole madness with the entire Middle East. Our own country is being torn apart inside by people with some pretty selfish motives.

But tonight, as I write this and you read it, some new generation is at sea riding their own patrol or mission. Even with the change in the way we live and fight, our submarine force is still sailing the oceans protecting a fragile peace. I thank them all. I pray for their missions and their safety. I mostly pray that as I sing Silent Night at Church tonight, the words will have as much meaning as they did that night 41 years ago.

Mister Mac

Merry Christmas to all of my fellow Submariners wherever you are!

 

Details for Robert “Dex” Armstrong Farewell at Arlington 1

Arrangements have been made for our final farewell to our shipmate Robert “Dex” Armstrong.

The schedule is as follows:

9 January 2015 (All are welcome to all of these parts of the day. We would be so grateful for any who can join us.)
Reception/Visitation – All are welcome.

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Women’s Memorial [at Arlington National Cemetery]: We will receive visitors and will have auditorium space that we will use in addition to a reception area where we will serve a catered lunch of sandwiches, etc. We will be speaking to eulogize Dad (Kris will also do so at the Chapel Service) and we would be grateful if anyone else would care to speak at the visitation. We have blocked off this long period for any to speak and visit with one another and to allow for time to get to the Old Post Chapel service afterward, which will involve getting aboard Ft. Myer.

2:15 Our family is to arrive at the Old Post Chapel, at Ft. Myer in advance of the service

2:30 Guests are asked to try to arrive at the Chapel (perhaps to wait in the parking area outside if another service is taking place – I am not sure how far they space these apart.)

Chapel Service, Old Post Chapel Aboard Ft. Myer, which of course is adjacent to Arlington Cemetery but will require leaving the cemetery and driving aboard the post.

3:00 – Approx. 3:20 p.m. Chapel Service – All are welcome.
Following the chapel service we will depart for the Columbarium for a brief service with military honors – All are welcome.
Thank you very much

Dex Armstrong’s family

John Bud Cunnally ETC (SS) Ret.
4704 Coppola Drive
Mount Dora, Fl 32757
352-729-4097 Home
352-638-1955 Cell

Arrangements have been made for our final farewell to our shipmate Robert “Dex” Armstrong.</p>
<p>The schedule is as follows:</p>
<p>9 January 2015 (All are welcome to all of these parts of the day.  We would be so grateful for any who can join us.)<br />
Reception/Visitation - All are welcome.</p>
<p>11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Women's Memorial [at Arlington National Cemetery]: We will receive visitors and will have auditorium space that we will use in addition to a reception area where we will serve a catered lunch of sandwiches, etc.  We will be speaking to eulogize Dad (Kris will also do so at the Chapel Service) and we would be grateful if anyone else would care to speak at the visitation.  We have blocked off this long period for any to speak and visit with one another and to allow for time to get to the Old Post Chapel service afterward, which will involve getting aboard Ft. Myer.</p>
<p>2:15 Our family is to arrive at the Old Post Chapel, at Ft. Myer in advance of the service</p>
<p>2:30 Guests are asked to try to arrive at the Chapel (perhaps to wait in the parking area outside if another service is taking place - I am not sure how far they space these apart.)</p>
<p>Chapel Service, Old Post Chapel Aboard Ft. Myer, which of course is adjacent to Arlington Cemetery but will require leaving the cemetery and driving aboard the post.</p>
<p>3:00 - Approx. 3:20 p.m. Chapel Service - All are welcome.<br />
Following the chapel service we will depart for the Columbarium for a brief service with military honors - All are welcome.<br />
Thank you very much </p>
<p>Dex Armstrong’s family</p>
<p>John Bud Cunnally ETC (SS) Ret.<br />
4704 Coppola Drive<br />
Mount Dora, Fl  32757<br />
352-729-4097 Home<br />
352-638-1955 Cell

Like ·

A Bob “Dex” Armstrong Christmas Reply

The arrangements for Dex’s Memorial service are now set for January 2015. I am forever grateful for his service, his stories, and his enduring legacy in the submarine community.

Mister Mac

A “Heartfelt Merry Christmas” From Robert “Dex” Armstrong, and his loyal Sidekick Adrian Stuke.. Now standing Topside Watch in Gods Great Navy in Heaven.. RIP Shipmates.. We all Love and Miss you down here…

Christmas at Sea
by Bob ‘Dex’ Armstrong
Boy, that was a real downer… The Old Man coming on board and gathering all the animals topside, forward of the sail… Guys with steaming cups of coffee in ratty foul weather gear with the COB yelling,
“Knock it off! Pipe down ladies… Knock it off… The Captain has an announcement… Settle down… Stand easy… Gahdammit, STOW IT!!”
Nothing that came down from squadron ops was good to hear, especially if the skipper had that ‘My dog just died’ look.
“Listen up gentlemen… It looks like we’ll be out over Christmas… On the bright side, the boat is scheduled to pull in on the 28th. in time for New Years. I’m going to talk it over with the COB and see if we can work out something to leave a few of our older married men with families in.”
Now, there’s a good deal… Christmas out, standing port and starboard watches…
“Jeezus wants me for a sunbeam!”
“What are you whining about? When you signed up for the boats, what’n hell did you think submarines were supposed to do? Hang around the friggin’ pier so you and Rudolph can play grabass?”
“Yeah Dickerson… You and the horse you rode in on…”
“Maybe we’ll go north and catch Mrs. Santy Claus in her nightie while her old man is outta town.”
(There was a standing joke in the boats in our day… When you pulled alongside after being out a long time… You told the married guys to take a grenade with them. When they got home, they should knock on the front door, yell,
“Honey, I’m home!”,
count to ten, pull the pin on the grenade, toss it over the roof and nail the Marine crawling out the back window.)
“Gentlemen, you heard what the Old Man said… Give you ten minutes to finish coffee, scratch your butt, piss and moan among yourselves, then we form loading parties… Merry Christmas, my little darlings…”
The COB pulled the wings off butterflies as a kid… Somewhere, Navy surgeons had removed all of his kind and gentle impulses and installed the personality of a prostate-plagued porcupine.
“Okay, put your cups inside the sail door, toss the butts over the side and become the little Santa’s elves I know you are. Form loading parties and hit the lower brow on Orion.”
Never understood why they stored everything you needed on Orion in the forward holds and you had to haul it all aft to the lower brow. I would also bet a dollar to a donut that every report card the COB got as a kid said, “Talks too much”… He once delivered a twenty minute speech to the entire population of Hogan’s Alley concerning the erosive disrespect of calling the Goat Locker, “Toad Hall”.
So we moaned… We groaned… Then we sucked it up and went to sea. Nothing can tube morale like churning up saltwater over Christmas.
During the few days before Christmas, all sorts of non-regulation nonsense broke out… We all hung dirty socks on the overhead vent line in the Alley with a hand-written sign made out of a cardboard pea carton flap that read, ‘In hopes that St. Nickolas soon would be there”… The cooks made mincemeat pies whose main ingrediant came from a couple of bootleg fifths that mysteriously turned up in the lower flats of the after engine house. For one whole wonderful night, we knew what it must be like to work the graveyard shift in a distillery. The wardroom either turned a blind eye or suffered from a helluva case of collective poor sense of smell.
We doctored up the words to traditional Christmas music to turn these songs of peace and goodwill to men, into tunes that would make a sewer digger blush. Looking back, we turned doo-doo into the stardust as only boat sailors can do… And did.
Christmas eve arrived and found us bouncing around on the surface somewhere in the middle of God’s great ocean and then it started… Over the magic airwaves came an avalanche of some of the lamest bullshit that ever flowed from the pen of man… Greetings from every half-baked politician or top-heavy admiral in Washington… Up to, if not including, the SECNAV’s cat.
“Tonight I know our men and women of the armed forces are standing their vigilant watches throughout the far-flung reaches of our vast globe… To those of you safeguarding the ramparts of peace and freedom, I send the warmest greeting from those of us here by the hearth of home fires. We want you to know that on this night of cheer and celebration, our hearts go out to you and your loved ones in wishing for a safe and speedy return to a most grateful nation… Merry Christmas and God bless, we hold you in our thoughts this night… Rear admiral William P. Numbnuts USNR, COMDOOFUSLANT.”
Horseshit rained on our radio shack for hours. Each was read outloud with all the appropriate emotion by an idiot standing on a potato locker bench in the crew’s mess… Morale soared with every disrespectful crack. From the radio shack came,
“Here comes another one… Wait ’til you get a load of this simple sonuvabitch… He wishes he could be with us!”
And so it went… Out of control laughter… Men who couldn’t have cared less, listened to hand-crafted crap and rolled on the deck. Adrian Stukey was in his element with his accompanying commentary…
“Hey Stuke… You think these guys actually think up this hogwash?”
“Hell no… They have this third class diddledick in the basement of the pentagon who spends all year writing this stupidity.”
And they just kept on coming… When we couldn’t take it anymore and were totally worn out from laughing, we turned into our bunks.
In the wee hours of the morning, we hit some floating object the size of a phone pole. It sounded like a railroad locomotive wheel bounced off bow bouyancy and whacked a couple of ballast tanks on its way aft.
“What the hell was that?”
“Three men on camels in a rowboat!”
And the laughing started all over again. Somewhere in the night, Christmas came to a bunch of good-hearted, totally unimpressed men, snoring in the after battery, dreaming of mince pie, turkey roll and all the bug juice a man could want… And life was okay.
And the belowdecks watch made his rounds… Number two got blown and vented inboard… And amid the glow of red light, amid the cases of cans, stinking laundry and assorted rumpled foul weather gear, could be found the Defenders of the Free World in gentle repose… While visions of bar maids danced in their heads.