I signed up with the delayed entry program for the Navy and went into service a month after graduating from high school at the age of 17. When I went in, the slogan was “Fly Navy” and “Sailors have more fun.”
After boot in Chicago and my standard two week leave I was to head for my ship in VA. The USS Dupont DD 941. My first thought, what a stupid name for a ship.
I have never been on a plane before. I was seated next to the wing. I called the stewardess over to let her know I think the wing is going to break. How was I supposed to know its supposed to do that?
In the Navy I learned many things. For example, there is no such thing as a BT Punch. Or a mail buoy. The bucket of steam and bulkhead remover I am proud to say, I never fell for.
Being on a ship requires a your left and right part of the brain to work together. When walking through a doorway, you step over and duck your head. Its very important to do both at the same time.
If the sea is rough, jumping up in the air as the ship drops down, takes a little practice.
Always be prepared for a sudden roll. I still have the scar.
Some men throw up every time the ship left port. It took me a couple hours before getting sick but it never happen again.
Eating instructions: Take a slice of bread, place under food tray so tray wont slide. With other hand hold your drink. NEVER take your hand of the drink. As the ship rolls, tip the drink in the opposite direction.
Before leaving port make sure everything is tied down and secured or people could get hurt from sliding chairs and such if a person loses his balance and while laying on the floor, 3 or 4 chairs may slide across the room and slam into that person.
Anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour a code word will come over the intercom. When hearing this word its very important to play like a statue while armed men patrol the ship with orders to shoot anyone that moves. The reasoning being, a stowaway wouldn’t know what was going on.
Remember to tuck yourself under your sheet. Some racks may be 4 high. Men are tired and don’t want to be waken up by a loud thud followed by swearing.I found the best way to sleep was on my stomach. Less rocking back and forth.
Which brings me to talking in sentences. Every other word MUST include a swear word. The only problem is when visiting family when on leave, you MUST remember your mother may not like that very much.
Being out at sea, we averaged 4hrs sleep a day. I found it is possible to catch a few winks while standing.
The life boats have/did have little packages of candy.
Painting the water line takes two people. One to do the painting while the other bails water out of the rowboat.
To clean a mop: take mop and rope. Tie half hitches around the mop handle. Throw mop over in the water aft of the ship. Tow mop for 5 minutes. Haul mop back aboard ship, untie rope and use.
To dry mop: Twirl mop and as the mop is flung out, set down so mop is standing by itself.
When firing a dummy torpedo that accidentally hits a Russian battle ship, expect retaliation when least expected. Maybe they will fire one back at you at 2am.
A ball cap, a shirt and even your pants can be used to keep you above water if fallen overboard.
Aye Aye sir. I always felt stupid saying that.
Shit can: Trash can
Bug juice: Kool aid
Marine Shower: Cold shower. This happen a lot. No hot water.
Holiday Shower: A warm shower lasting more then 5 minutes. It takes time to convert sea water into usable water so short showers were a necessity.
Scuttlebutt: Water fountain.
Skate: Screwing off instead of working.
There are exciting and frightening moments such as almost being washed overboard during a storm.
Fog so thick the ship has to be a complete stop and ring a bill every few minutes to let other ships that almost hit it know there is a ship dead in the water.
Being called to general quarters and “this is not a drill.” being said in one sentence.
Having your general quarters 3 stories below the water loading the 5″/54 guns with the powder and projectiles with no way to escape if something should go wrong.
Think you will learn a trade you are able to use in the outside world? Maybe. Maybe not. I had been to fires schools and continually having to be qualified to fight fires . My ship had caught fire while out at sea so firefighting training is very important. When I was discharged, I thought I could use that training and get a job with a big city fire department. Oh oh. There was a problem. The Navy fights fires completely different them civilian fire departments. Looking at the exam I realized the terminology was also completely different. I was looking at gibberish.
Lost three shipmates. Had a burial at sea for them. Being on a ship is like having 250 close family members. The ship itself becomes like a family.
I miss my family.