More Recollections

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong
 
 

Ray - I don't think after battery rats are allowed to write their recollections of their duty aboard diesel boats. I think they made us sign some kind of statement to that effect… If you divulged anything about your service aboard diesel boats, some JG from the Office of Naval Intelligence will come directly to your place of residence and remove the frontal lobe of your brain - and your tongue.

All the great submarine books are written by officers; "THE THRILLING WARTIME ADVENTURES OF RICHARD "BIG DICK" OHARA, COMMANDER OF THE USS MUDCAT (SS-ZIPPTY DOO DAH), TERROR OF THE MUMBO JUMBO STRAITS" You never see "THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF WILLIE "THE ANIMAL" JOHNSON, MESSCOOK & STARBOARD LOOKOUT - - - TOPSIDE WATCH AND GEEDUNK TRUCK COMMANDO. THE MAN THE NAVY USED TO PROVE PENICILLIN WOULD CURE DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING."

Take a Master Chief. In the late '50s and early '60s, a Master Chief had SERIOUS power. If I recall my high school civics, a Master Chief could become President right after the impeachment of the Postmaster General. In certain primitive societies, a Master Chief was considered equal to, or greater than, their god of sexual abandonment and drunken revelry. A Master Chief was a BIG deal… If they were REALLY hungry, they could make a meal out of the entire deck force.

I was an after battery rat. Most of my boat service was spent as a qualified, non rated animal. A single cell invertebrate at the absolute lowest end of the Naval food chain. Naval Regs and submarine force policy did not allow independent thought below E-5, except for use of toilet tissue and tying of shoelaces.

My book, "LIFE IN HOGAN'S ALLEY AND NEAT STUFF YOU CAN DO ON HELM WATCH" will be out next year. I plan to follow it up with "THE LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK OF PROSTITUTES AND BARMAIDS".

We weren't the most informed folks. We actually believed it was impossible for an enlisted man to make Master Chief or Chief of the Boat, if he could identify his mother or came from married parents… And that the 'Goat Locker' was a seagoing franchise, owned and operated by ordained deciples of the Devil… And that Hell was the home of people who invented the chipping hammer and paint scraper.

Life was simple below 3rd. Class. If you could steal a blanket off some poor sonuvabitch hotsacking in the Alley, liked paperback sexbook literature, could eat Spam and like it, could sleep through venting #2 sanitary tank inboard, had a girl on the beach with loose panty elastic and beer money and could win an anchor pool every now and then, life wasn't half bad.

On the other hand, if you had to messcook, dive #2 sanitary tank in the yards, had a sea print film case fall out of the overhead vent lines and land on your face, life was not so good. In fact, life got totally terrible when you returned from 6 weeks of punching invisible holes in the Atlantic to find that the girl with the loose panty elastic was that day's winner of the ovulation anchor pool.

Life alternated between good and bad… Bug juice and sea stores cigarettes… Hand-me-down foul weather gear… Mid rats made from recipes tested in Japanese POW camps and the application of the advice and wisdom of tattoo-covered, cigar smoking Chief Petty Officers, who never understood that the 14th. Amendment freed all slaves.

- - It's all in my book.

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