Sunday, November 13, 2011

A sailors life....

"Dog gone it Billy Bob, ya got to splain stuff better. You didn't go to Viet Nam, but your ship did". When ya leave half the story out, people will tend to get the wrong impression.

Ya see, old Billy Bob is pretty much a patriotic kind a guy when it come to the US of A, our military and our veterans. At times I can become downright fight'n mad when people refuse to recognize our service men and women. It was them what has kept America free for all these years.

 I had just arrived by way of a great big ol' Greyhoud bus from Ft. Worth, Texas to boot camp San Diego, Ca. in  October, 1961. We was stand'n at attention, as best we knowed how, facing old glory wav'n in the breeze. A mighty fine sight if do I say so myself. It was time for colors, the lowering of our flag at sundown, the stars and stripes. The National Anthem is played through the loud speakers, the flag slowly lowered and folded ever so neatly. I were stand'n there shak'n in my boots....tears come to my eyes....I could hardy contain myself. I were officially in the US Navy wear'n a pair of old raggedy jeans, tee shirt and long ass flow'n brown hair with highlights of the Texas sun.....what they cut slap off the next day.....right down to the skin....bald, that what I were. 

My first ship was a Forrest Sherman class destroyer out of Norfolk, Va., USS DuPont DD-941, commissioned 1957. Almost a brand spank'n new war machine.
There were some thrilling days aboard this ship. I was shipboard electrician, fix'n stuff ya know, in a crew of 318 crusty sailors. In 1962 we outfitted at Guantanamo Bay for Russian sub searching off Cuba's coast during the Cuban Crisis. It was a boring job, but someone had to do it. While tracking a submarine somewhere south of Cube we encountered a "fish" swimm'n a hunnert mile a hour right straight at us....missing our fantail within 50 feet. To this day I still believe it was a torpedo, but I think it's classified information....kept secret from public eye. All eye witnesses were questioned in the Captains quarters. It was determined at that time, this was no living ocean creature. We requested from higher authorities, the Admirals flagship, to "bring up" that sub by depth charge attack. Our request was denied by higher up in Washington DC. Go figger!!!

Steaming in single file through the Gibraltar Straights on a Mediterranean Cruise, we lost all steering control....the rudders ceased to work. Hand cranking was required and old Billy Bob was put to crank'n a manual steering device. How comes an electrician has to steer the damn ship? I check fuses an' stuff ya know.

During a yearly engineering efficiency evaluation test, I was assigned to the #1 switchboard. I knowed how to operate that switchboard like it were a part of me......knowed every switch an' breaker, parallel them generators without the blink of a light....I were good on that switchboard. But then....being I was a silly guy, I decided to be a little bit "redneck" and make a complete fool of myself. Make all them hi rank'n officers think ol' Billy Bob some kind of idiot. They says..."fire in #1 generator". That when I comes alive....jump'n up an' down, run'n round like a chicken with his head cut off...hit'n buttons, turn'n switches, hit that emergency stop steam valve....bring #1 switchboard back on line in less than 30 seconds. Allotted time was 1 minute....score 100% for Billy Bob. Never make a single mistake. Although I did get a good ass chew'n from the engineering officer for jeopardizing our chances of another gold hash mark on the stacks.

Then one time #2 switchboard catch fire. We had just tied up in some island port in the Caribbean. I were in anticipation for liberty call when it happen. Down the ladder I go....into the darkness of the aft engine room, hit'n switchs an' stuff....blinded by the smoke. Transfer all critical electrical load to #1 switchboard. By the time the fire was out, temps in the engine room had climbed to 140 degs, and all systems were go. Old Billy Bob was sop'n wet with sweat. That when I jump ship....take me a swim to cool off. "But Billy Bob....ya don't know how to swim". Almost drown flap'n round in that water like a cat fall in a mud hole.

Then I decides to transfer to another ship. Leave the easy life behind and check into the "Holiday USS Canberra".
Another story for a different time.

I'll leave you now to contemplate if this story is for real or fiction.


  1. I worked on Naval training center, across the bridge was the recruit barracks..I believe you..the times were very nervous when you served, the Vietnam war was a big boom to san diego, california, that town was Navy usa for many years, now everything is shut down except for North Island ship yards, the stree that still has the ships come to port and Miramar Navy fighter place..not much left in Navy usa town..I think you had it pretty good, many went to sea only to never return, God Bless America!

  2. Billy Bob you're a hoot...don't know if the story is true or not but I am sure it is embellished.

    Looking forward to more :D

  3. MsB, I've tried and tried to instill on my followers that everything you read is gospel truth. Doctored up to some extent for the humor factor, but none the less truth.
    Did I ever tell ya bout the time.....???