by Bill Owens SM3/c 

Not Funny Then

As one of but not all of those 17 year olds aboard our ship I early on came afoul of the first class (because of my inclination to shoot off my mouth I suppose) ;-)and enjoyed a number of educational experiences in the form of assignments. You might say I had a ground floor view of the dirtier and dangerous side of Navy life.

I don't remember the particular crime involved but have never forgotten the punishment.

Out of the blue it seemed, the honcho had me tie an oilcan to my belt and ordered me to climb the mast and oil "all" the signal pulleys.

If you looked at any of the pictures in my last post you will see they are located a far piece from the deck. To complicate the chore we were in a bit of a sea involving both pitch and roll.

Up the mast I climbed past the Radar gear to the cross beam supporting the signal pulleys. Noting the supporting guy wire extended only half the distance of the beam and that two of the pulleys were on the other side of guy wire I reasoned I could get those that allowed me to hang onto the wire without too much trouble and did so. I then thought if I worked my way over the wire and inched my way along on my belly I could get the other two.

As I stepped over the wire I lost my balance and hung like a monkey in a zoo (for hours in my mind) looking down at the ants below who were busy screwing off. Discretion being the better part of valor I decided to call the whole thing quits and was able to crawl back to the mast and down to the deck, deciding right then to put the first class on my list of those I would "off" after discharge.

Time and circumstances altered my plan however and nature erased the need and desire.

As time passed age brought a different kind of education of how to handle such situations and the rest of my Navy life became quite enjoyable. ("dedicated to fun an frolic wherever and whenever possible")!

Since I sailed into the harbor at Okinawa on my birthday Aug.5, 1945 I of course missed the invasion. There were some air raids but we did not "Man out battle stations"

My closest exposure to this requirement came while on watch on the signal bridge on a moonless night. My watch buddy and I observed a slow flying aircraft above our anchorage with all navigation lights on. During the time we called the (OOD) on the navigation bridge the plane flew out of sight, and no further activity was seen on the other surrounding ships.

Unfortunately the plane was a Kamikaze and hit our sister ship in another part of the bay inflicting quite heavy casualties.

Thinking back little probably could have been done by calling GQ., massed as we were in respect to the danger of friendly fire or the time element.

Somewhere the picket ships should have noticed the plane on radar before it got over the fleet and then one must give credit to the Jap for brazenly flying in with lights and appearing therefore as one of our own. Just another one of the ever present SNAFU's.