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Bo's Stories, Page 15

THE FAMILY OF BESSIE EDNA BROWN & THOMAS MONNIE WOODS

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“Off To San Diego

 

From the days when my brothers Ray and James were in the military during World War II, I had a strong desire to join up.  Had I been old enough, I would have gone in before the war was over.

 

I delayed my joining out of a sense of responsibility to Mama.  I knew she didn’t want me to go and I felt I should provide for her.  When the Congress passed the peace time draft bill in 1948, I used that as an excuse to join up.  I waited until my brother Ray and I  finished a crop in 1948 and then along with my friend Harold Gene Williams, I went to Marshall, Texas to the Navy recruiting office.

 

The recruiter there was a Chief Petty Officer whose name I’ve long since forgotten but he gave us the tests and signed us up to leave the following day.  I had seen the Navy brochures and had decided I wanted to go into the Navy Air Force.  Being on an Aircraft Carrier looked mighty appealing to me.  I told the Chief and he enlisted me as an Airman Recruit

 

The Chief drove over the next day and picked us up and took us to Marshall and put us on a late afternoon train to Dallas.  Mama was standing out in the front yard, and when I was about to get into the car to leave she said to me “Always remember who you are and where you came from”.  I never forgot.  Those words were the bulwark between me and those things I should avoid.  If you will, they were like an angel on my shoulder that whispered in my ear.  That is not to say that I never fell from the straight and narrow, but it sure made it easier to right myself.

 

This was my first train ride and I enjoyed it.  At supper-time we went into the dining car and I was a little intimidated by all the white linen, nice silverware and uniformed waiters, but Harold Gene didn’t seem to be.  The waiter asked us if we were under military orders and we told him we were.  Well we were not exactly, and the Chief had not provided us with meal tickets, but we didn’t know all of this.

 

The waiter served us a really good meal including dessert.  Then when he asked for the meal tickets we didn’t know what he was talking about.  Meal tickets were given to personnel under orders to pay for their meals on the train.  Of course we were not under orders since we were not even in the Navy yet, so we didn’t have meal tickets. Neither of us had much money to pay for our supper so after the staff huddled for a few minutes they decided to write it off.  We got a free meal off Southern Pacific.

 

We got to Dallas and the Navy put us up for the night in the YMCA.  After we got checked in we went down to the basement where there was a recreation room and shot pool until bedtime.  This was the first time I had ever played a game of pool, or seen one played for that matter since it was against the law in Texas for minors to enter a pool hall.

 

In the morning they took us to the Santa Fe Building where the Navy had spaces leased.  Here they gave us complete physicals.  There was a group of probably about a hundred of us in a large room and they had all of us strip down -- completely.  They had us line up in several lines and a Hospital Corpsman came by and painted a number about 2” high on the right chest of each man in indelible ink.  We were not yet in the Navy and had no serial number for a reference, so they did it this way to keep everything straight until we were through processing.

 

I was at about the middle of the back line.  There were two doctors, or maybe two for each line.  At any rate, a doctor started at each end of the line each time.  They came down the line looking in our ears, down our throats, at our tops and our bottoms and everything in between, front and back.  They checked us with a stethoscope and then when all of that was done, they told us to jog in place.

 

Then they came down the line checking each man for hernias.  The doctor on my right got to and checked the man next to me and quit.  The doctor on my left checked the man next to me and he quit.  I was still jogging, but when they quit, I quit jogging and neither of them ever checked me.

 

After that, they checked our height and weight.  One of the corpsmen pointing told me to go over to a door.  I thought he said through the door and opened it.  There I stood in my birthday suit looking out over a large room full of women sitting at desks typing.  Before I could move the corpsman jerked me back into the room, slammed the door and yelled at me for being a stupid farmer.  Well I was a farmer, and ignorant maybe, but not stupid.

 

We finished our physicals and were given the oath of office.  My friend Harold Gene was not among us, for he had failed his physical.  I don’t remember how tall he was, but I think he weighed only 113, and for his height the minimum weight was 115.  I was 6’ 1” and weighed 137.  The minimum weight for my height was 135, so I barely passed.  They sent Harold Gene home to gain some weight, the rest of us finished processing, were sworn in and had our picture taken.

 

In the late afternoon we boarded the night train for San Diego, California.  We were on a through train which stopped only once and that was in West Texas some place and then only for a few minutes to pick up some additional rail cars.  There is an old saying in the Navy that two per-cent of the people never get the word.  That is, they don’t know or understand what it is they are supposed to do or not do; or else they don’t do it.  Well we had three or four guys who got off the train in West Texas, I think, to buy some liquor.  We had been told repeatedly not to leave the train.  For any reason!

 

The men were almost left behind when the train pulled out, but they did manage to get onto a car in the rear section.  The cars back there had a separate dining car from the front section where the rest of us were.  The rear section was separated from the front section by some baggage cars and there was no passageway to the front section.  No problem you say.  Well these guys didn’t have enough money to buy their meals and their meal tickets were up front with the rest of us, so they starved for a day and a half until we got to San Diego.

 

“ The Naval Recruit Training Center

San Diego, California

 

They met us at the depot with buses and delivered us to the Navy Training Center, took us to a barracks and assigned each a bunk where we spent the night.  The guy in charge asked for volunteers for fire watch and several eager beavers held their hands up and had to stand watches during the night.  The rest of us got some sleep.

 

The next morning they herded us (we were not yet up to marching and other orderly activities) to the mess hall.  To my utter dismay, they were serving beans and cornbread.  I left my beans but ate my cornbread and my seat-mate’s too with a glass of milk.  Not too bad.

 

We went over to small stores (clothing) where each man was issued a complete wardrobe that consisted of:

 

 1  Blue Uniform, Dress

2      Blue Uniforms, Undress (plain collar, no cuffs on the

blouse)

2 White Uniforms, Undress

3 Shirts, Chambray

3 Trousers. Dungaree (bell-bottom, denim)

3 Shirts, Tee

4 Drawers (Skivvies, One size fits all with string ties to adjust)

1 Belt, Blue

1 Belt, White

1 Jacket, Dungaree

1 Leggings, pr., Canvas

1 Shoes, Black Brogan Work

1 Shoes, Black Navy Dress

1 Neckerchief (A large square handkerchief, rolled diagonally for tying around the neck)

1 Shoes, Rubber Over

3 Hats, White

1 Hat, Dress Blue

3 Handkerchiefs, White

4 Pairs Black Socks

1  Jersey, Wool (I still have the one I was issued on that day,

November, 26, 1948)

1 Cap, Wool Watch

2 Cases, Pillow

2 Covers, Mattress (Called “Fart Sacks”.  What else?)

1 Blanket, Wool Olive Drab

1 Coat, Pea

3 Towels, Bath

3 Towels, Face

3 Cloths Wash

1 Bag, Sea

1 Bag, Ditty

 

This first clothing issue was free, but all replacement items had to be purchased at small stores.  We were given a small monthly allowance, with our pay, for replacement purchases.  We got to try our shoes on.  The other clothes were issued according to what we asked for in size and/or the best guess of the storekeeper who was looking at us.

 

They issued us a “Chit” book.  This was a book of coupons good at the PX (in the Navy called the Ships Store).  This was a fifty-dollar book, which we paid for out of our first month’s wages.  There was a little graft going on about which we could do absolutely nothing.  Some of the coupons had been removed from the books.  We totaled them, and the remaining ones added up to $37.50, so each one of us contributed $12.50 to somebody or something.  Given the number of people going through there, we’re talking some pretty good money.

 

My Company was 546-48, the 546th company assembled in the year 1948, which means that 546 times 80 men entered boot camp by November 26th in the year 1948.  That comes to a total of 43,680 men at $12.50 each or $546,000.00.  I still wonder where that money went.

 

Our pay, as Naval Recruits, was $72.00 per month.  I took out a family allotment for Mama, claiming her as my dependent.  I believe the allotment was for $67.50 per month, and of this amount, I had to contribute $27.50 from my pay.

 

After getting the chit book, we went by the Ships Store where each man bought the same things.  Namely: toilet articles and stationery that we paid for with chits.  On the way back to the barracks we stopped at the barbershop and got a trim.  The barber asked each man how he wanted his hair cut and listened patiently before proceeding to cut everything off that you can get off with electric clippers.  To add insult to injury, we had to pay for the haircut from our chit book.

 

Back at the barracks they had us change into our new dungarees and then get all of our gear.  From that, we had to put everything except civilian clothes into a large cardboard box in the center of the barracks.  All I had was a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and a cheap razor.  Some of the guys had electric razors, boxes of stationery, cameras, pen and pencil sets and other plunder.  All of it went into the box and I’m sure was divvied up by the staff there.  The civilian clothes were packaged up and mailed home.

 

In the afternoon we went to the dispensary (medical clinic) and got a battery of shots.  Just about everything you can think of including the Yellow Fever and Black Plague.  Our arms were like pin-cushions.  Most of us had our arms swell up and get sore, and we ran a little fever for a few days from all of this.  To that point I had had one shot in my life.  That being the first in a series of three diphtheria shots that they gave us at Brooks school when I was ten or eleven years old.  That one shot made me so sick, they couldn’t catch me to give me the other two.

 

We took all of our new gear and went to the barracks assigned to Co. 546-48.  It was located in Camp Decatur which was the quarantine camp for the training center.  There were several other camps in the center and each housed people according to their phase of training.

Throughout the Navy, there is posted daily on the bulletin boards the “Orders of the Day” which include all kinds of pertinent information; such as the duty roster (the watch schedule), and the “uniform of the day”.  The uniform of the day tells everyone what to wear so that all hands will be dressed the same.

 

Our typical uniform of the day in boot camp was Dungarees (denim trousers and chambray shirt), with work shoes and leggings.  The leggings had hooks instead of eyelets, and a strap that went under the shoe at the instep and buckled on the other side.  The hooks were turned to the outside of the leg.  (Sometimes a recruit would get it wrong and put the hooks on the inside.  When this happened, the hooks on one leg would hang on the hooks on the other leg and trip the guy.  He would remember the next time).

 

         The trousers must be gathered tightly around the leg and the excess material folded toward the inside into a pleat.  The trousers could not be allowed to blouse out over the top of the leggings.  To properly do this, one must loosen his trousers and pull them down a few inches, then while sitting, fold the trouser legs and fasten the leggings with the strings and hooks.   Then stand up and gently pull the trousers up to the waist and fasten them.  It took some practice to get the hang of this.

 

That afternoon we met our Company Commander.  He was a Chief Gunners Mate by the name of Mr. Cleaver.  I think he was just about burned out at this job, because he was remote and seemed to be disinterested in us.  He did know how to train us though.  The first thing he did was organize the company.

 

First he selected a Recruit Company Commander (RCC).  This was a guy who had been several years in a military academy type school.  He already knew the drill.  That is, how to march and all of the commonly used commands.  Next he picked a guy to be our Company Clerk.  He drilled with the rest of us, but had the additional duty of keeping up with the paper work.  Another guy with military school experience was appointed our Guidon (Pennant and Flag Bearer).

 

Chief Cleaver took the 78 of us remaining (excluding the RCC and the Guidon) and had us line up in one long line according to our height. The Chief shuffled us around until he was satisfied we were properly lined up. Then he took the six tallest men from the front of the rank and made them squad leaders.  He lined them up abreast and moved the remaining men, six at a time, into line behind the squad leaders, also in order of height.                                                                                          

 

Thus we had six squads of thirteen men each, two platoons of three squads each, of declining height, with the number one squad being a little taller than number two and etc.  I was the seventh tallest man in the company, hence I was just behind the tallest man who was my squad leader.  His name was White and he was from Tennessee.  White was 6’4” and was about fifty pounds overweight.  At 250 pounds he outweighed me by about 115 pounds.

 

I liked White and we became pretty good friends.  He almost died later on during our training.  Someone challenged him to chug-a-lug (drink without stopping) a pint of whiskey.  I tried to talk him out of it but, (already inebriated) he wouldn’t refuse the challenge and he did it. Within minutes, he turned beet red and began to have trouble breathing. We thought he was a goner, but it made him sick and he threw most of it back up and soon got over it.

 

By the time I left the company, White was down almost to 200 pounds and was trim and hard. While his weight was dropping, mine was going up.  I guess I gained 15 or 20 pounds during that time.  My best friend in Boot Camp was named Joe Weldon.  After Boot Camp, I never saw nor heard from him again.  Joe was from Wichita Falls.

 

A word here about friends.  I had never been away from home for even a day without some member of my family or neighbors.  To leave all of them and go off in the company of total strangers was difficult.  There is a basic human need for companionship, and most people will go to some lengths to find it.

 

It was my experience that friendships were made quickly and were deeply felt.  Were I to see Joe Weldon today, I would feel that special warmth that you feel when seeing a dear friend or loved one after a long separation.  He would not be a stranger to me, although we spent only a few months together.  I’ve thought of trying to call him, but it is difficult to stay in touch with family, much less friends from past years.  Though I do have some special friends from the Navy that I stay in touch with.

 

I don’t remember going to lunch that first day, but I will never forget going to supper.  The main course was some kind of baked squash.  I have always liked squash, but this was half of a squash baked in the oven and was dry, tasteless and tough.  One of the worst meals I had in the navy.

 

We spent three weeks in Camp Decatur.  While there, we were not allowed to go to the Ships Store (called the Post Exchange or PX in the Army), the movies or anywhere else for that matter, except as a company.  After about two weeks, a friend talked me into slipping out and going to the movies.  He had talked to some other guys who had done it and it seemed to be pretty foolproof, so we went.

 

Red River” with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift was showing.  We got in, saw the movie and got back to the barracks undetected.  But, the next night I was drafted to stand a fire-watch from 6 to 10 PM.  Where do you suppose my station was?  Where else but in the theater where I had to stand at parade rest, in front of the double doors facing the screen.  I got a little tired of standing there (we had marched all day), but it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad except I was bored from seeing the movie the day before.  Talk about “poetic justice”.  I wondered if Chief Cleaver somehow found out about me going to the movie the night before and gave me the assignment as punishment.  I decided that was not his style.  He wasn’t that subtle.

 

The first few weeks we had dummy pieces (rifles are never called rifles in the Navy, but pieces) which we carried and drilled with.  These probably weighed about half of the 8 pounds of the 1903 Springfield, .30 caliber that we used later.  The M-1 Garand was the official piece of the Navy, but we never used those except on the firing range.

 

Once early in our training we were out on the parade field (grinder) and the Chief had us at “Port Arms”.  That is where you are holding your piece with both hands in a horizontal position in front of your chest.  He was explaining something to us and I was paying close attention.  While intently listening to him, I relaxed and let my piece sag down some.  I didn’t realize it until the Chief, who was pacing back and forth in front of us, suddenly stepped up, jerked the piece out of my hands and said, “Get out here.  You are supposed to hold this piece up under your chin, not across your belly.  Now you stand out here and hold it out at arms length until I tell you to stop.”

 

Let me tell you.  The average person cannot hold a rifle out at arms length very long.  I held it as long as I could and then let it down to rest for a moment and then put it back up.  I could see the Chief out of the corner of my eye and I tried to time my “rest periods” for when he was turned away from me and after about ten minutes he had me get back in ranks.  I was embarrassed and mad.  I felt like he was picking on me, but realized later that he was just using me to get a message to all the troops.  Nothing personal in it at all and he never singled me out again.

 

Those days were a blur.  We were up at 5:00 AM, shaved, dressed and ready to march to the mess hall by 5:15.  I can still get ready in 15 minutes and give you 5 minutes back.  If you were not ready, you missed breakfast and were in big trouble with the Chief.  We never straggled anywhere at anytime.  We were required to march everywhere.  If three or four of us were going to the movies, we got into some kind of formation and marched, in step.

 

During the first few weeks, Chief Cleaver frequently checked us for cleanliness.  He would have us drop our pants out on the parade field (grinder) to see if our drawers were clean.  He would check our ears to see if we had washed them.  About once per week, while on the parade field, we would have what is called in the Navy a “short-arm” inspection.  This was an inspection to see if we were infected with a venereal disease.  The Chief would have us drop our pants and skivvies (shorts), and then a Hospital Corpsman came down the line checking to see if we displayed any of the symptoms of venereal disease.  This was just another of those things one is made to do that removes one’s dignity and individuality.  It makes you one of the “herd”.

 

About a month after I began training, my friend from home, Harold Gene Williams, showed up.  They had told him to go home and eat all he could plus eat lots of bananas to gain enough weight to pass the physical.  He did gain enough and made it in.  I saw him but a few times.  After boot camp he went to Electricians School and then to Submarine School.  He spent much of his career on the U.S.S. Sarda, a submarine.

 

After breakfast (all meals are called “Chow” in the Navy.  There is morning chow, midday chow, evening chow and sometimes and places, midnight chow.)  we either had a class of some kind or we hit the grinder (concrete or asphalt parade field) and marched or practiced our drills.  We had to learn a 64-count manual of movements with the piece.  By the time we finished we could do that almost in perfect unison.  We also had to learn the semaphore (alphabet with hand-flags) and the Morse Code.  Our minds were reeling.  Sometimes we would sit on the ground and have a class on something or other then go back to our drills.  Out on the grinder in the sunshine we would work up a sweat marching, but a few minutes in the shade and our teeth would be chattering.  Such is the weather in San Diego, California.

 

In the evening after supper we had to do our washing.  The barracks buildings were back-to-back with a wide courtyard between them.  In the courtyard there was a tall wooden mast with perhaps 6 or 8 lines (ropes, but there is no such thing as a rope in the Navy.  They are lines) running from posts around the perimeter to the top.  Each line was continuous, passing through a pulley at top and at bottom.  Clothes could be fastened onto the line and then pulled toward the top, adding clothes at the bottom until you were finished or the line was full.

 

We washed our clothes by hand on wooden scrub benches, then rinsed, and squeezed them out before tying them onto the line for drying.  For tying we used short shoestring like pieces of white cotton cord.  There could be no “holidays” (gaps) either between an item of clothing and the line, or between items of clothing.  They had to be “two-blocked”, that is, pulled up snug with no slack.

 

Although I had never washed clothes at home, I had helped on occasion and had observed enough to know how.  Some of my shipmates knew nothing.  They used too much soap and then failed to rinse properly and their white clothes were yellow after the first washing.  That was unacceptable, so they had to do them over and over until they got them white.

 

Perhaps the toughest thing for the recruits was to properly roll their clothes.  You see; all of our clothes were kept in our seabags and our seabags were hung on the ends of our bunks.  Each man had a ditty bag in which he kept all of his toilet articles and any other small articles that might be frequently needed.

 

In order to maintain a decent looking wardrobe, the clothes (all of them) had to be; first, stenciled with our names; second, folded and then; third, rolled and tied before putting into the bag.  All of this had to be done according to strict guidelines.  The rolls had to be firm, clean and with the stencil showing along the length of the roll.  Then once weekly all of the clothes had to be laid out on top of our blanket on our bunks (of course in a certain specified order) for inspection.

 

If you didn’t pass this inspection the first time you were warned.  If you didn’t pass the second time, the blanket with all the clothes would be thrown into the shower and the water turned on.  Then you could have a fresh start with a week to get everything washed, dried, rolled and tied for the next time.  If you failed again, you had to go to regimental headquarters and lay your clothes out on the front porch for the duty officer to inspect.  You had to do this every night until you passed.

 

Of course while these “Dilberts” (a Dilbert is a guy with two left feet and little common sense.  It is said they comprise two percent of any group) were fooling with their clothes, the rest of us were free to go to the Ships Store (after Camp Decatur), or the movies, or we could write letters home.  Those guys whose clothes got thrown into the shower were frequently up until long after taps (9:00 PM).  All the lights were out in the barracks at taps except for in the head, so that’s where they had to work.  I did mine right the first time and kept it that way.  For you landlubbers: in the Navy the compartment containing the toilets, showers and lavatories is always known as the “Head”.

 

Soon after we began our training they took us to an Olympic size swimming pool to qualify as swimmers.  I’d been swimming since I could remember, so this was absolutely no problem for me.  To qualify, we had to go in at one corner and swim all the way around the perimeter of the pool without stopping.  There were many that could not do that; in fact there were a good many who could not swim at all.

 

There were instructors around the perimeter of the pool with long poles equipped with padded ends.  They used these poles to push men (there were no women there) off the sides of the pools, to force them to try harder to swim or keep swimming.  For those of us who qualified, we later had swimming sessions where we learned to tread water for long periods and to use our clothes as flotation.  Those poor guys who didn’t qualify had to go every night after supper for swimming classes until they qualified.

 

         I got sick on a Saturday with Cat Fever.  I never knew exactly what this was, but I think it was some kind of influenza.  I was very, very sick. By Sunday I was unable to go to meals (didn’t want to anyway) and was burning up with fever.  My friend, Joe Weldon from Wichita Falls, my bunk-mate, was sick with it also. Some of the other guys became worried about us and late Sunday they dragged us to the dispensary (hospital) where we were immediately hospitalized.

 

In fact my temperature was so high (I was told 105) that a corpsman stayed by my bed throughout the night bathing me off with an alcohol/water bath to bring it down.  They were also giving me a shot of that new wonder drug “Penicillin” every 3 or 4 hours.

 

I slowly responded to the treatment, but they were very concerned about me.  An X-ray of my chest showed a dark spot on my lung about the size of a quarter.  They thought that was a tumor and called in a specialist from Los Angeles.  After another X-ray or two he decided that it was an abscess caused from pleurisy and not a tumor.  He thought that it would clear up and he was right, it did.

 

My friend, Joe Weldon, and I were discharged from the dispensary together.  They put us into a company that had a month to go, which meant that we had to repeat the training for weeks six and seven which we had already done.  We didn’t mind that, but our new Company Commander had taken us against his wishes and the rest of the company shared his feelings.  That made for a sticky situation.  Their big gripe was they hoped to win some of the excellence awards given for proficiency in marching, and drills of different sorts in competition with the other companies.

 

Those guys didn’t know it, but Joe and I were both very good at all those things.  We soon showed them that we were as good as they were.  Instead of being a drag, we actually helped them out, so by the time we graduated we were in good with them and we did win an award or two.

 

Since I had enlisted as an Airman Recruit, I was slated to be sent to Memphis, Tennessee to the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC).  When you finished boot camp you were transferred to Camp John Paul Jones which was called the OGU (Out Going Unit) to wait for orders and transportation to be arranged.

 

I hate to say it but this place was worse than Camp Decatur where I started out.  Here I was.  I had completed my training, and been promoted to Airman Apprentice and was treated worse that I had been previously.  I was assigned to a temporary company headed by a Chief Boatswains (Bosun’s) Mate by the name of Bricker.  He was a sadistic little redheaded guy with a huge chip on his shoulder.  About half of the guys stayed in trouble with Chief Bricker all the time they were there.  Once in trouble with him, you didn’t get out.  I walked a wide circle around him.  When he said jump, I jumped, as fast and high as I could.

 

Chief Bricker’s Company manned the mess hall for the Camp.  It was a small company, actually about half a company.  We stayed in a small building out back of the mess hall instead of in a proper barracks.  The reason for this isolation was that we had to get up at 3:00 AM.  To compensate for this early reveille, lights out came at 8:00 PM instead of 9:00 PM.  My duty station was in the scullery (where the dishes are washed) which I liked fine.

 

The Scullery had stainless tables on which the sailors placed their stainless steel tray, stainless silverware and heavy china cup, after emptying, on their way out of the mess hall.  The tables were about 4’ wide and had sides on them. They ran the length of the room, which was about twenty feet.  I took the items from the table and placed them into heavy stainless wire mesh trays and sent them through a washer/steam sterilizer and then they were taken back to the front of the mess hall to be used again.

 

One of the worst scares that I ever had, happened in that scullery.  A guy came in and threw his silverware onto the table and it came flying down to where I was and almost hit me.  I guess my nerves were a little shot, what with tiptoeing around Chief Bricker and the long hot working hours and I flashed.  I picked the knife up (these knives are heavy stainless steel) and threw it at that guy.  The instant I released it I wished I hadn’t done it, but it was flying straight as an arrow right at his face.  He appeared to be paralyzed for a moment and then jerked the tray, which he still had in his hand, up in front of his face.  All it did to the heavy gauge tray was put a dent in it.  Had either end of the knife hit the guy, I have no doubt it would have killed him.  Needless to say he got out of there in a hurry, and I had the weak trembles all afternoon.

 

I got out of Chief Bricker’s Company a few days before my departure.  On my last days I was selected for working parties.  One day I spread manure on the golf course.  This was my first ever look at a golf course.

 

Another day I was standing at the front of the first rank when a Sea Bee Chief came up to get his working party.  He told the Bosun that he needed only one man and he took me.  We got into a pickup, drove off the Navy Base, then into the Marine Base and way down into the boondocks (this is from an Oriental word meaning mountain, but as a slang word used in the Navy it means, remote area) by the bay.  This was not a talkative Chief and we rode in silence.  Down near the bay there was a large bulldozer.  We stopped next to it and got out and walked over to the dozer.

The Chief said,  “I have a bad back and need you to start

this kicker-motor on the dozer”.  Then he showed me a small lawnmower type engine with a rope starter.  I started it for him then went over to a shade tree to wait for him.

 

Soon, a panel truck pulling a trailer drove down to the bay near us.  They had a model airplane on the trailer.  The plane was a four-engine amphibian with a wingspan of about 12 feet.  The van was full of instruments and gear.  Two of the men had on wet suits and they launched the plane.  They worked on it for a little while and then started the engines and flew it up and down the bay by remote control, never getting it more than three or four feet off the water.  This was the first time I saw a radio controlled plane fly.

 

I was all set for a long and boring day when the crew showed up with the plane.  I stood out there and watched them all day.  They kept bringing the plane in and making adjustments.  Very interesting, but they shooed me off and wouldn’t let me get close enough to talk to them

 

On the weekend, I stood guard duty in my dress Blues at the main gate during the day shift.  I had to wear white leggings and a white duty belt and carry a white Billy club.  It was an interesting change of pace and I kind of enjoyed it.  Just that once!

 

Finally my orders were cut and transportation was arranged to Memphis and I left USNRD (United States Navy Recruit Depot) behind forever.

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