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My Favorite Sea Story  
Last Updated: 02/16/04

Do have an experience that you've always longed to share with others, but never had the venue to do so?  Well have at it !       

Type up your Sea Story in an a everyday E-Mail and submit it to our Editing Board and we will post it here for all to read, ASAP.

Send to:  Howard5052@Charter.Net 

Received From:    Chuck Mason  63-65


There was a time when everything you owned had to fit in your seabag. Remember those nasty rascals? Fully packed, one of the suckers weighed more
than the poor devil hauling it.

The damn things weighed a ton and some idiot with an off-center sense of humor sewed a carry handle on it to help you haul it. Hell, you could bolt
a handle on a Greyhound bus but it wouldn't make the damn thing portable.

The Army, Marines and Air Force got footlockers and we got a big ole'canvas bag.

After you warped your spine jackassing the goofy thing through a bus or train station, sat on it waiting for connecting transportation and made
folks mad because it was too damn big to fit in any overhead rack on any bus, train and airplane ever made, the contents looked like hell. All your
gear appeared to have come from bums who slept on park benches.

Traveling with a seabag was something left over from the "Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum" sailing ship days. Sailors used to sleep in hammocks. So you stowed your issue in a big canvas bag and lashed your hammock to it, hoisted it on your shoulder and in effect moved your entire home and
complete inventory of earthly possessions from ship to ship. I wouldn't say you traveled light because with one strap it was a one-shoulder load that could torque your skeletal frame and bust your ankles. It was like hauling
a dead linebacker.

They wasted a lot of time in boot camp telling you how to pack one of the suckers. There was an officially sanctioned method of organization that you forgot after ten minutes on the other side of the gate at
Great Lakes or San Diego. You got rid of a lot of issue gear when you went to the SHIP..
Did you ever know a tin-can sailor who had a raincoat? A flat hat? One of those nut hugger knit swimsuits? How bout those roll your own neckerchiefs... The ones the girls in a good Naval tailor shop would cut down and sew into a 'greasy snake' for two bucks?

Within six months, every fleet sailor was down to one set of dress blues, port and starboard undress blues and whites, a couple of whitehats, boots,
shoes, assorted skivvies a peacoat and three sets of bleeched out dungarees. The rest of your original issue was either in the pea coat locker, lucky bag or had been reduced to wipe down rags in the engineroom. Underway ships were not ships that allowed vast accumulation of private gear.

Hobos who lived in discarded refrigerator crates could amass greater loads of pack rat crap than fleetsailors. The confines of a canvas back rack,
side locker and a couple of bunk bags did not allow one to live a Donald Trump existence. Space and the going pay scale combined to make us envy the lifestyle of a mud hut Ethiopian. We were the global equivalents of nomadic Monguls without ponies to haul our stuff.

And after the rigid routine of boot camp we learned the skill of random compression packing... Known by mother's world-wide as 'cramming'. It is
amazing what you can jam into a space no bigger than a breadbox if you pull a watch cap over a boot and push it in with your foot. Of course it looks kinda weird when you pull it out but they never hold fashion shows at sea and wrinkles added character to a salty appearance. There was a
four-hundred mile gap between the images on recruiting posters and the actual appearance of sailors at sea. It was not without justifiable reason that we were called the tin-can Navy.

We operated on the premise that if 'Cleanliness was next to Godliness', we must be next to the other end of that spectrum... We looked like our
clothing had been pressed with a waffle iron and packed by a bulldozer.

But what in the hell did they expect from a bunch of jerks that lived in the crews hole of a 2250 Gearing/Fletcher can. After a while you got used
to it... You got used to everything you owned picking up and retraining that distinctive aroma... You got used to old ladies on busses taking a couple of wrinkled nose sniffs of your peacoat then getting up and finding another seat...

Do they still issue seabags? Can you still make five bucks sitting up half the night drawing a ships picture on the side of one of the damn things with black and white marking pens that drive old master-at-arms into a 'rig for heart attack' frenzy? Make their faces red... The veins on their neck bulge out... And yell,"Jeezus H. Christ! What in god's name is that all
over your seabag?" "Artwork, Chief... It's like the work of Michelangelo...My ship... Great huh?" "Looks like some damn comic book..."

Here was a man with cobras tattooed on his arms... A skull with a dagger through one eye and a ribbon reading  'DEATH BEFORE SHORE DUTY' on his
shoulder... Crossed anchors with '
Subic Bay 1945' on the other shoulder...An eagle on his chest and a full blown Chinese dragon peeking out between
the cheeks of his butt. If anyone was an authority on stuff that looked like a comic book, it had to be this E-7 sucker.

Sometimes I look at all the crap stacked in my garage, close my eyes and smile, remembering a time when everything I owned could be crammed into a canvas bag. Maturity is hell.

          ====== Editor's Note =========

This article really dredged up some old memories. I wonder how many people still have that stupid #%&$ thing today?

 I Do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Received From:  
  Keith Knowlton   58-60

Howard: --- Thanks for our photos of some of the crew in Naples Italy (Seaman's Club). --- as seen at  http://www.Howard5052@Charter.Net/Photos1960s.htm   Good looking crew.

Also I want to thank my old buddy Sam Meilke and tell you a short story about Sam.

We were at sea and Sam wanted a new cigarette lighter, with the Ships picture on the lighter. So he purchased a new lighter at the Ships store. We walked out side to the railing and Sam took the lighter out of the box, looked at the box and lighter and  then threw the lighter overboard.   I wonder if he still has the box.

Howard I really like the web Site and the nice job that your doing to keep our ship alive.   Good job.

 Keith Knowlton   58-60

====== Editor's Note =========

I too purchased a Zippo cigarette lighter with the ship's emblem, and I believe if I really hunted around this house, I could probably find it, but I must ask!! --- What possessed you  to deep-six it?  --- and do you still have the box that it came in?  I think it only fair that you relieve Keith Knowlton's mind as well as our's.

These are the type of incidences or stories that provoke thoughts, memories, and humor. I hope this may prompt others to send similar tales.

 Incidentally, does anyone have a photo of that little Haynsworth Ship's Store that was no bigger than a broom closet,  back in the after passageway?  If so, please share it with us.

Sam's Reply


 Re the deep sixed Haynsworth lighter.

Why did I throw the lighter overboard and keep the box? Don't ask. After almost 45 years the story still lives. I bought the lighter, walked outside to the raid, removed the lighter from the box, held the lighter in one hand, the box in the other, and looking at each of them, threw the lighter overboard and held onto the box.  I guess the hand/eye coordination wasn't that great.

There are so many stories that come to mind.  I remember reading stories in the newsletter about the Haynsworth being the "Can With A Band". We didn't have a band when I was aboard, but we did have "Sam" Cook.  Sam played guitar and idolized Elvis Presley.  He had the the voice and mannerisms down pat.  When we re-fueled off the Forrestal, they always serenaded us with their band in dress blues, etc. But, like I said, we had "Sam" Cook. After the Forrestal had completed their "serenade", Sam stood at the midships "b---h box" (you may edit), with all the speakers blaring doing his rendition of Hound Dog, Heartbreak Hotel, and other Presley hits.  He always got a rousing ovation from the carrier crew.


I'll bet there aren't many crewmembers who got to ride the hi line between ships. I had expressed a desire to make this trip and  somehow RMC Huey George wangled the okay. I'm really not sure what the reason was, whether to pick up some missing msgs, visit sick bay, or what.  Anyhow, they strapped me in the bo'sn chair and I began the journey across the narrow channel of water between the Haynsworth and the Forrestal. Let me tell you, Disneyland, Disney World, 7 Flags, nor any other amusement park has a ride quite like that one.  One minute, as the lines go slack, you're plummeting toward the water. The next, as the lines go taut, you're bouncing like a rubber band, hoping that the strain on the lines don't break them.  With all the bouncing, rolling, and underwater exploits of the Haynsworth, I never got sick.  I was on the Forrestal for a week, and I was sick for 7 days.  I had just managed to remember my way from the mess deck to my berthing area when the Forrestal anchored at whatever port, and I caught a liberty launch to shore and back to the Happy H.  Again, no amusement park has a ride quite like the one I took between the Haynsworth and the Forrestal.


Howard, there are so many stories that bring back fond memories of the Happy H.  Some of them may not  have any  significance to anyone but me, but I'll always treasure them.
Thanks for the outlet




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