|Somebody said. “Dex they
might ask you to say something”, so my dear sweet wife said. “You’d better
write something down… you’re a lousy off the cuff speaker”…If you write
something down you do better…not much but some.
I would like to begin by thanking you
for the honor of being here. I mean that …folks who get up to speak always
say that …so it has become just another load of horse manure.
Not so with this topside gang parolee…outside
of my little blue-eyed Norwegian agreeing to marry me …this qualifies as
the 2nd greatest honor of my life…to be invited to a reunion of two boats
whose hull numbers were addresses on the street where I lived is of more
value to me than any gift I have ever received.
You hear people talk about how they
hated their service tour…they moan groan, whine and complain.
They had to crowbar me out of Subron
Six…I loved my boat…Skipper…The Wardroom…and the animals I rode with.
I may have served under two of the greatest COBs and one of the all time
worst…Drifty is down in hell as we speak. It’s not so bad being a Chief
in Hell. There’s so many of them down there, they only have to throw a
shovel full of coal on the fire every 15 years.
I loved the Squadron. Hey, they
never made one better than Six…Mother Onions’ boys. When the lads from
Six put their lines over…the shore patrol started waxing their billy bats…remember
that motto on the Squadron plaque? …”Volens et potens”…Latin for “Mothers
lock up your daughters.” Remember that one?
We were young…not bolted to the planet…we
had the world by the tail and
owned Silver Dolphins. We were smokeboat
riders. Some of you may have gone nuke…yeah, we know…Hyman came and got
you…said…”Get on the bus and I will give you some candy and a poopie suit…”.
I don’t know about the rest of the guys here but I am prepared to forgive
OK it’s 1960 or 61…some hurricane or
something was about to pay a visit to Norfolk so they sent buses to NOB
to collect all the Subron Six idiots from J-50. It was late …you remember
that time of morning when the only people up, were burglars and bad women?
They herded us on to the buses…It was
dark…everybody was half asleep except two caffeine crazed Chiefs yelling
“OK…OK…knock off the clutch butt and smart remarks and find a seat on the
bus.” Two words were never found in a smoke boats’ CPO vocabulary…”please”
When we arrive at DesSub Piers…anyone
here so damn old that he or she remembers the old CE Piers…Convoy Escort
When we arrived at the DesSub Piers
Gate, some jaybird jarhead climbed on board the bus and flashed a flashlight
in every ones face while yelling” OK ladies , get em out let’s see those
I.D. and liberty cards ..Let’s go get em out where I can see’em. C’mon
I aint’ got all night.”
At this point someone in the after end
of the bus yelled…”I’d rather have a sister that was a whore than a brother
in the Corps.’
Where upon, Mr. Marine yelled…”Who said
that?” And every arm in the bus shot up in the air.
Look around…We got the pick of the women.
Nothing ever changes. Well maybe, we get up more often to take a whiz in
the middle of the night…We don’t drink weird stuff and leave beer glass
rings on tables in establishments a sewer rat would pass up. We don’t pat
barmaids on the fanny any more or split cab fares six ways. And, we don’t
pee off piers waiting on Liberty launches.
I am home…I am among friends…I am very
comfortable because I’m with my own kind…I can say…GDU, #2 sanitary…WRT
tank….bear trap…loadin’ hatch…”The barrel”…trim manifold…bulkhead flapper…DRT…TBT…TDC…and
MBT and everybody understands me.
I can get a snoot full and somebody
will toss me in a cab and get me back to the pier…motel or wherever my
They’ve torn down Pier 22…Bells…all
our barmaids are wearing Depends and the hookers we patronized are sitting
in rocking chairs at the retired naughty ladies home wearing support stockings
and triple “D” bras…They don’t sell 13 button blues anymore. You never
see a blue jacket hitchhiking …There’s no such thing as nickel a pack sea
stores any more. Nobody gets sucked inside out on a snorkel shut down….
You can’t get coffee that will float
a lug nut and has a hydraulic oil rainbow floating around in it.
Nobody in today’s whiz bang submersible
force wakes up to find a one-inch long cockroach setting up housekeeping
in his ear.
I hear that there is a lot of opposition
to having females assigned to sub duty… But I can remember nights when
I crawled out of the shears…wet and freezing cold made my way aft grabbed
a black and bitter and went back to the forward engine room…stripped down
to my skivvies and laid out my gear on the engine covers to dry and then
found a rack in the Alley still warm from the previous occupant. I don’t
know about you but I wouldn’t have minded finding some sweet smelling thing
there in a flannel nightie with a toasty rear end to snuggle up to…as
long as she wasn’t an Engineman.
Speaking of coming down off the bridge…anybody
remember mid rats? OK…now do you remember that no-name Navy
mayonnaise? It came in a tin can marked “dressing. Mayonnaise…universal
issue…type II, mod Six. Unit of issue, one each.” The cooks would
zip the lid out of a can and sit it our on a messdeck table along with
cold cuts, some war surplus cheese, some horse dork salami and brown speckled
lettuce. If you left the mayonnaise alone for ten minutes it would begin
to heal itself…formed steel belted radial vulcanized scab that you had
to poke a hole in to get to the magic Mayonnaise.
OK…now that the Statute of Limitations
has run out on willfull destruction of Government Property …how many of
you float tested stuff? tossed things like chipping hammers, paint scrapers,
knuckle busters and a paint pot air manifold over the side…c’mon fess up,
if you don’t The Goddess of The Main Induction is going to give you a toothache.
How many of you, when you stood topside
watch, called down to the below decks watch to get a relief to stand watch
while you dropped below to relieve yourself? Now, show of hands…how many
of you went around to the side of the sail where they couldn’t see you
from the Orion quarterdeck, and peed on the tank stops.
OK…confession is good for the soul…how
many of you went up to the radio shack on Orion to steal white hats?
Anybody eat barbequed monkey strips
in Panama and get sicker than a boiled owl?
Anybody ever get blankets from a Turkish
Tin Can that were full of Great White man-eating crabs?
OK. How many of you bought those ships
company books in 1960…the ones where the entire crew stood topside to have
their photo taken… the books that would be like a university annual. They
strong armed you for forty bucks…then one morning the Exec got up at morning
quarters to inform us that we had gotten stiffed…The annual man had disappeared
and all the funds had evaporated.
I had kicked in for (2). To Hell with
Osama Bin Laden…Naval Intelligence should be looking for that annual con
man. I own two shares in his long overdue butt kicking. My sidekick, Adran
Stuke keeps asking our Exec at each reunion…”When will we be getting our
Requin yearbooks?” (Lt, CDRs don’t have any idea how much of a financial
dent forty bucks leaves in an E-3).
OK…remember if you lie, the Goddess
of the Main Induction will give you Afghani athletes foot…how many of you
ever had sex in the sail on duty night?
Anyone shoot pier rats with a pellet
Anybody out there ever date a Wave uglier
than Boxcar Willie?
Anyone ever pool smokes with Topside
Watches on other boats?
Ever catch athletes’ foot at Bells Locker
Club? Ever get rid of it?
Anyone out there ever stood in the middle
of Hampton Boulevard and watched a Bells meatball sub reappear along with
eight draft beers?
Since we are getting real honest here…did
ja ever pee down the floor drain at the Jolly Roger and enter DesSUB Piers
by showing the organ grinder monkey on the gate an I.D. folder with a with
a folded up dollar and laundry ticket?
Did you buy a set of Seafarer whites
and a greasy snake neckerchief on time?…7 months at five bucks a month?
Close your eyes …visualize your attic,
garage and basement remember when all your earthly belongings, would fit
in a sea bag?
Anyone out there ever have a couple
of cold beers during a first night in battery charge and shoot the empty
cans out the After Signal Ejector? Or toss something weird in the salad
when you were Mess cooking and the bastards were ragging you hard?
Did you ever tell a barmaid you rode
a boat that turned upside down at 4000 Ft and the periscopes fell out?
Did you ever go home on a two-week leave
and get in a friendly argument at the family dinner table with your brother
and tell him to “go shit in his flat hat” and never know you said it…until
your dear mother told you an hour later?
Show of hands…don’t lie now…after six
or seven weeks out anyone ever get so bored they played Scrabble with alphabet
soup? The nations undersea warriors…grown men…picking letters out of their
soup and asking stuff like ”How many ts in uterus?”
Show of hands…how many of you ever tossed
a pea coat button in the Hampton Roads Tunnel toll hopper?
How many of you guys ever got a ticket
going through Gloucester, Virginia…where the speed limit went from 50 to
10 miles an hour in the distance of forty feet…Then a hundred feet down
the road there was a pot bellied cop who waved you into a school parking
lot where they held traffic fine court and relieved you of fifty bucks.
My dream as an E-3 was to get rich enough to buy one of those “land speed
record” contraptions they run our there on the Utah salt falts…crank that
baby to full flank and rip through downtown Gloucester at 7 or 800 miles
per hour. Mature thinking has never been a big problem for me.
Did you ever steal all four heavies
from a visiting New London boat?
Did you ever join four or five other
E-3s out behind the pier dumpsters after dumping evening chow garbage,
catch a smoke and find a cure for cancer, solve the cold war and end world
Anyone out there ever sneak up on ORION
and take a snooze up in the dry stores locker? Ever get a fifty-cent ORION
haircut and wish you didn’t? Ever wait 45 minutes in a noon chowline up
on ORION…get a tray load of that tuna noodle bake stuff and wonder if you
would die of gastric distress before your boat returned?
Did the medical world ever find a cure
for ORION athletes’ foot? Did the guy get the Nobel Prize for it?
The guys off the CUBERA used to saddle
pier rats and hold rodeos. We weren’t afraid of pier rats…we were worried
about those ORION roaches after we heard they ate the REDFIN’s anchor chain.
Anyone engage in cross polinization
in the backseat of a car parked in the pier head parking lot?
Hey as I said we were 19…twenty feet
tall and bullet proof…we were qualified men and in the final analysis that
was all that mattered…and we had each other…we’ve always had each other
and tonight only proves that.
I would like to thank Mike Bikel and
Glen Harold for inviting me, the Metric built blonde and Olgoat. I have
played sidekick to Adrian Stuke and Ray Stone, two of the great partnerships
of all time…and of course, my metric built Norwegian sandbox pal…Solveig.
Mike & Glen…thanks for this honor.
If anyone ever told me 40 years ago as I left Pier 22 with my sea bag on
my shoulder and my dress blues in the Requins’ lucky bag…That someday two
wonderful gentlemen would invite me back to once again touch the magical
kingdom of smokeboat sailoring I would known the sonuvabitch was out of
And to all you ladies…you got good men…you
got heavy weight dues paying Americans…two percenters. For only two percent
of sailors ever become Dolphin wearing boat sailors and everyone who hasn’t
been raised in Northern Canada by wolves knows submariners get all the
best women…The best chow and the best shipmates, check the book of Popeye
...chapter five, verse six.
I post my stories for boat sailors but
some woman once read a couple and sent the following e-mail: “You
use far too much injudicious language.” I replied, “All the vocabulary
stores were delivered to the ward room...they used to pick out all the
“judicious words” and send all the “injudicious” words back aft’ to the
animals in the After Battery.
Yes boys and girls, once upon a time
long long ago….a bunch of lighthearted rascals went to sea in smoke belching
sharks that sliced saltwater like a razor. They drank coffee with hydraulic
oil rainbows floating in it and would bounce a lug nut. They did a lot
of heavy lifting and shared none of the glory.
Thank you and may The Goddess of The
Main Induction give you dry foul weather gear and a new bunk bag when you
get orders to the silver Pier in the Sky.