The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Learning to be a swabbie

As most of you know, I served in the U.S. Navy. It was during the Vietnam War and the ship I was assigned to after boot camp and a couple of schools made two WesPac cruises. The cruises were interesting, to say the least, and entailed stops at Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka (Japan), Subic Bay (Philippines), Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Sasebo (Japan). Along the way, we spent most of our time in the Gulf of Tonkin.

The time in the Gulf was spent on SAR (Search And Rescue) station, plane guarding (following a carrier), and on the "gun line."

During the first cruise I was on (late `66 - early `67), I got into a little trouble and ended up doing a tour with the "deck force". The deck force was made up, primarily, of those guys who hadn't been given a rating to "strike" for. This meant they weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. My tour with them was supposed to be punishment, expose me to hard work, and make me appreciate the privilege I enjoyed as a SONAR tech. The deck force, scraped, painted, and maintained the ship and most of its rigging. I spent about 4 months with them and probably enjoyed it more than any other stretch of time in those 4 years I served.

When I was assigned to the deck force, I expected to be put to work and to get some hazing. So I just went along. Instead of sitting in a nice padded chair in front of a scope, I would be standing watch as a lookout or in a gun mount. At least in the gun mount, I could sit down. Not so with lookouts. I was ordered to scrape, paint, and swab decks and bulkheads when I wasn't standing watch or sleeping. I figured I would be a good "deck ape" and see what happened.

What happened was I was rewarded. Within a few weeks, I was pulled aside one morning and told I would be "leading seaman" on the fantail (the stern). From that point on, I did virtually no work. Instead, I spent my time sitting around and directing others. I learned a few things about seamanship, even learned how to handle the motor whaleboat (also called the "Captain's gig").

Once we pulled back into the States, I was re-assigned to the SONAR gang with all the privileges and advantages thereof. My "lesson" having been learned, one presumed. The truth was somewhat different. I had requested permission to either change my rating to Boatswain's Mate or be transferred to another ship as a SONAR tech. The ship could not grant me this without notifying, and getting permission from, BUPERS (Bureau of Personnel) which would have raised a bit of a stink. Their only option was to declare "victory" and put me back where I came from.

And, thus, I learned a great lesson about Naval thinking.


The Chubby Chatterbox said...

Thanks for giving me an insight into "Naval Thinking." The Vietnam War was coming to a close by the time I reached draft age. My future wife's dad was a retired army colonel and I can still recall some of the "interesting" conversations we had about the war. I sometimes feel like I missed out on the camaraderie of the military experience, but I suppose I romanticize it like so many do who failed to serve.

Douglas4517 said...

It was an interesting experience. The camaraderie was real but, like most everything, we remember the good better than we recall the bad. The quirks of human memory are sometimes fascinating.