|Hell and Death|
|Shipmates: Jerry Church and I
put our cyber-heads together and came up with a format for
recording some of the sea stories from our Ramsey Daze and it
goes something on the order of "Can you top this one?" Every one
should feel free, nay obligated, to submit his (or her) favorite
stories and they will be added in similar fashion.
The dialog begins with those of us "not actually on watch" kicked back on the fantail after evening chow, waitin' for the Green Flash. What was for chow? Brown stuff, green stuff, and yellow bug juice. You ever notice how you couldn't tell that stuff apart with your eyes closed? Bug juice had to be qualified with a color. No flavor, just color.
Jerry: Talking about color, how about the Yellow Gun Barrel Incident?
As I remember (don't say it) I was on the Flying Bridge doing something to one of the TDT's when I noticed some sort of commotion on the forecastle. Never being one to let work get in the way of curiosity, I moseyed down to take a look. GMSN Newton had depressed the 5"-38 gun barrel and painted it yellow. Some officers and QM's from the bridge were taking pictures and having a high time of it. So documentary evidence does exist. Or did at one time.
The story behind this goes thusly: GMM1 Webb had obtained a 50 gallon oil drum *sometimes called a barrel* which he intended to tow behind the ship as a small-arms *sometimes called guns* target. He told Newton to go down and paint the *gun* *barrel* yellow. Never being one to question even the most outrageous order, Newton immediately stepped to, and a legend was born.
Did you remember that Newton (I don't think I ever heard his first name) was Willie Crier's brother? Fact!
Dave: If memory serves me, the need for the "Yellow Barrel" arose out of need for a target for a mine-dodging exercise. We were at the end of our interminable shake down / underway training with the ComNavSurfPac advisors abroad. We were to simulate traversing a craftily laid out mine field and at the end of the exercise, to simulate the destruction of one of those little rascals by shooting a yellow (for ease of sighting) barrel with the 5"-38.
When I've told that story in the past, only old Destroyer Sailors believe it. As if anyone could make that story up!
Jerry: I never was seasick on the Rammer much. Not even so much as "uncomfortable". Except one time....
We were headed out for Sea Trials right after commissioning. The Straits of Juan de Fuca between the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver are always a rough ride. A few of us went down to the first deck and as far foreward as possible. No, not there, farther than that. We were even past 3rd Division berthing, and ahead of the sonar equipment spaces. Up where the hull gets real narrow. I don't remember who all was there, but it sounds like something Meyerson would be in on. You and Casey. Nelson? It was never my fault. There was always someone to lead me down the paths of unrighteousness.
Anyhow, we were taking this fabulous 20-30 foot elevator ride every time the ship went over a big swell. When the bow went up, we were real heavy, when the bow crashed down, we were almost floating off the deck. Right in the middle of all the fun, my stomach said WRONG!!! *THIS*IS*WRONG!! Then it was soda crackers and water for me until we got back into port.
Dry heaves at sea. God, it don't get no better than that!! Unless it's blowing cheap wine in the alley. Makes for a real colorful show!
Dave: Speaking of blowin' cheap brown wine in the wind, wasn't Seattle the greatest? About the only folks that tried to be as rowdy as us Ramseyites were the Huskies from the University of Washington.
One evening SM2 Swyers and several other "skivvies wavers" (by the way, did you know that the Canadians call 'em "Cheer Leaders") were at one of the U-district watering holes (The Sandpiper?) and were enjoying several U of W frat brats holding forth with a chug-a-lugging contest.
Not ones to let the Ramsey be left out, our boys poneyed up about $50 and challenged the college types to a one shot, winner take all, down the hatch, set-to!
With the bartender timing the students and the bar-maid (of course) timing the Rammers, someone hollered "GO" and another legend was born. Swyers had an epiglottis that one day will occupy a place of honor at the Smithsonian. He drained that pitcher of beer in about 6.73 micro-seconds, Newton (Isaac) will verify that one cannot pour the beer on the deck that fast, not on this planet! I bought SM2 a pitcher at the Brass Rail one night just to watch him and I know after watching his technique that I was in the presence of true greatness!
Jerry: Oh yea, well talk about seasick, my brother Ron always got queasy whenever they singled up lines.
I always felt bad for him. There were three of us brothers on the 2-Boat, you know. Oh, not all at the same time, but kinda in a row with a little overlap. And we were all Fire Controlmen. The Church dynasty on the Ramsey ran for 12 or 13 years. I sent the Commanding Officer a letter upon the occasion of Gene's (the last one) impending discharge, and advised him that from now on they were on their own as there were no more Church brothers, except for Rick, the lubber we left ashore. The Captain wrote back and said he thought they could handle it. Then he published my letter in the POD which really upset Gene. He was kind of a shy guy and tried not to cut a real wide swath.
Don't talk much, do you?
Jerry: Good movie coming up on the Mess Deck? Hot, dark, crowded and cramped, smoke-filled, swaying to and fro, watching some 1940's drama. Just the way I like my entertainment. Of course, where else you gonna go?
When I joined and they were talking about the Bennies, one of the things they said was, "The Navy gets all the latest released films along with the theaters. Whenever all the Stars get together for a Hollywood Premier, you can rest assured sailors in the fleet are watching that same movie". Awww, come on. Maybe they meant sailors on aircraft carriers or Flag cruisers, but surely not ESCORT ships!!
Hey Dave, trivia time! What are the names of the masts on a 7-masted schooner?
Now there's a sure-fire way to start an argument among a bunch of sailing men. Turns out there was only one 7-masted schooner ever built: the "Thomas W. Lawson". Depending on who you listen to, you can get answers like: fore, main, mizzen, jigger, kicker, driver, pusher; or fore, main, mizzen, jigger, driver, pusher, spanker; but the crews on the "Lawson" just called them "fore, main, mizzen, number 4, number 5, number 6, and number 7". Not quite as colorful as the other names, but "Oh, well..."
You can probably tell it's getting quite a ways on the gone side of the dog watch.
I subscribe to a Yahoo! Group called navydestroyersailors. They are in a big discussion now about the trashiest bars in the blackest holes of the world. Think you could come up with a few?
Dave: Can I?! I hope to s--t in your flat hat!
I have a bookmark that takes me, at times when I wax nostalgic, to a web site that extolls the merits of the current beer-joints in Olongopo, P.I. Boy, those days are gone forever I'm afraid.
There was the White Horse, the Cave (where the young ladies did the "Soap Dance"), Papa Gayo's, and who could forget the Sampiguita Club on base. The place I remember the most vividly I think was called the East End Club. For a young and tender sailor like myself, it was like a religious experience. (They had a religious icon on the wall that we dubbed "Our Lady of the Evening") I'm not sure, but I think FTM2 Jackson got kidnapped from this den of iniquity and broke his arm jumping out of a jeepney.
There was another place that had a moat with a mean old alligator in it and a guy selling baby ducks. Sailors would buy a duck, throw it in the moat and then make bets on many laps it would make before ol' Mr. Gator would snap it up!
Well, it beat the movie on the mess decks!
My very last night in Olongopo was spent on Shore Patrol (how appropriate). My beat was from the statue of Rizel to the river. What an eye opener that was. I was appalled!
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