Tuesday, June 21, 2005

"A Military Meme for All My Friends" - Yankee Sailor

Yankee Sailor started this meme. I'm debating whether it will help him retain "friends" if he keeps this sort of behavior up.... I now pledge I will never "raise new memes." That is a solemn promise to the blogsphere. I will, if I feel the urge, respond to memes.... Here goes:
"It's a slow duty day here on the ship, so I thought I would play with fire and start a meme of my own. As someone once said, those that aren't part of the solution are part of the problem - but it's almost always more fun to be part of the problem."
I get the "slow duty day" part. Been there, done that, a lot...and in retrospect, thank God for slow duty days, not the ones where the voice on the other end of telephone says: "Sir, the beach clean up crew driver just drove over a woman's legs (note plural)." or "Get FC3 XXXXX up, I got a message from Red Cross and his mom died (it was early Sunday morning when that call came)."
"This one is is designed to ilicit sea stories, or whatever those of you in the military services (as opposed to the naval services) call them. Members and veterans of other services feel free to substitute TAD/TDY locations for ports. One last thing, don't forget to fill in the "whys", because that's the best part. On with the meme...."
Number of ports I've visited: about 50, and if I can hop a ride on the sea surface from Singapore to Okinawa, I'll have circumnavigated the globe in a surface waterborne mode. Most recent port I visited: Pearl Harbor (for INCONUS) was my last one, and Haifa, Israel (the OUTCONUS). On the trip to Pearl, I finally got a chance to get to the USS ARIZONA. See here (scroll down to it, he posted pics one post at a time) for an upcoming, soon to be a 90 day wonder Naval Officer's photolog and story of his recent visit. Haifa was a bustling place and I flew in, met a US DDG, rode it for a week doing my "I'm a contractor now" thing, then a night there and back thru Tel Aviv and home. Nice place and remarkaable because, while I saw soldiers, I didn't see everyone with a Galil or Uzi hanging from their shoulders as they went about their business. Port I never want to see again: Lagos, Nigeria. A body flaoted by the ship (yep, the human kind) and the poverty was horrifc. They'd kill you for a can of fruit. I sure hope things have improved, as that was 1983. Three ports that were the most memorable: Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. Yes, I was there when it was still under Tito and the Communists. It wasn't a high profile visit from the press interest, but I'll say this: It was the most picturesque city I have been to. Clean, and you couldn't snap a phot and not have post card quality images. The sailors had to wear their uniforms and grumbled about it, until they came aboard after the first night on the beach. They all wanted the SHs to wash their uniforms, as they couldn't buy a drink. The people were excpetionall courteous, and not in a plastic way. The women were head turners...to point of getting a sore neck. The walled city, which I believe was shelled heavily in the civil war. I recall seeing solid rock polished to a glossy finish by the foot traffic of centuries. If it's destroyed, that's a shame, for it was a marvel. Lagos, Nigeria. That visit was part of the West African Training Criuse (WATC) in 1983. The first night in, the Apapa Boat Club (an ex-pat crowd) hosted a big BBQ, which was great. I met the man who ran the world's largest flour plant (it was there in Lagos). He and his wife were German, and invited myslef and afew others to have dinner with them the following evening. While we still had to put on our whites, I convinced the CO to let a few of us out of "mandatory fun" at the embassy, so we could go to my new found friend's compund. They picked us up and, as we drove back to the compound, we got lots of local info. It was pretty bad to see the many people surviving on about nothing. The compund had high wall, with glass imbedded in the top layer of concrete, to comliment the barbed wire. They had their own well and generator, in case the local utilities gave out. Yep, loked gate, too. Once inside, it was a little island of normalcy in it all. Dinner was great and the stories better. When we pulled into port, there was a tall building in the downtown area, visible from a good ways out, as was the burned out floor, maybe the 5th or 6th one. The story was it was the national telephone exchange. It seemed they computerized the long distance system, allowing billing to be done automatically. Before that, you had to call the overseas operator, and they would connect you to the other party. They also got your name and logged in that info, and the cost of the call in their little notebooks. At the end of the month, they would come around, knock at your door, and you would pay them (directly, if you're following where I'm going) half the cost of the calls you made. It was a really sweet deal. The goverment paid for the equipment and services, the operator didn't bill you via the system, you just got a 1/2 price discount. That's the set up. One day, a fire "broke out" in the computer center of the phone company, shortly after the operators were not able to run their side businesses anymore. When the fire department arrived, they promptly went to the floor where all the accounting records were maintained, and proceded to put the "fire" out there for a while, while the computer center burnt longer. Net result: The records from the time when the system was automated were destroyed, and the computers were gone, too. The power of graft... That fire had occurred about 5 years before our visit in 1983.... UPDATE 06/26/2005: Sadly, it sounds like it's worse than it was back then... Trieste, Italy. Naples had it's purpose, but it help no charm for me. The ship we rode aboard as the embarked staff in 85 was sent up there. I was working for the hard driving Wes Jordan, who I blogged about here. The Ops Boss, LCDR Steve Nerhiem and I had the day off together, so he took me up to the plaza of this quiet city, and introduced me to cappucino. We just sat at an outdoor table, enjoying the moderate weather, and drinking cappucino. The extra benefit, besides the sheer relaxation of it all, the women in that part of Italy look very much like the ones I saw in Dubrovnik many years before. While not as many were head turners, there were plenty of them to make it pleasant to just "watch the world go by." Yankee Sailor said:
"Okay, time to tag some people. Let's start with Chapomatic for the periscope depth view, CDR Salamander for a sanity check on my picks, Skippy-san for the pure entertainment value and Scott D. for an Army perspective."
I think I'll pass this along to the Pirate watching Captain at EagleSpeak(done), Bill at Bow Ramp, and I think Bubblehead (done) needs to tell us some stories...enjoy, gentlemen! Bow Ramp is still UA, as of 06/26/2005 2035Z.... Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the open posting!

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