Green Slime Bulletin

For those of you who are enthralled by the Crossing the Line ceremonies, here is a bulletin, courtesy of the USS Midway (CV-41) Library, that gives an imaginative backstory on the ritual’s history. The Green Slime Bulletin!

The Origin of Wogs
That Queen has been around the Ocean block a time or score

2020 Naval Institute Proceedings Statistics

Summarizing all of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings has been one USS Midway (CV-41) Research Library’s major ongoing projects. Under the leadership of Phil Eakin (CDR, USN ret), approximately 10 volunteers soldiered (or should I say sailored) on with the project through the Pandemic.

The project began in 2011. Phase I, which is almost completed, consists of building the database and summarizing all of the Main and Essay Contest articles that have appeared in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.

From Phil, the 2020 summary.

State of Play.  As you will recall, Phase I consists of building the database and summarizing all of the Main and Essay Contest articles that have appeared in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.  Our summarizing history and where we stand today are illustrated below. 


 


One can see that we did not break any completion records in 2020, but it was a COVID-19 year, with a good dose of pandemic fatigue and maybe a little bit of Proceedings summaries fatigue thrown in as well.  We had10 team members contribute summaries in the JUL-DEC period, down from 16-18 contributors in each of the more recent 6-month periods.  The pandemic docent-hermit Marty Vehanen led the way again, contributing a couple more issues than the rest of us combined.  Well Done, Marty. 

Simple math tells us that we only have 20 issues left to do, plus the two or three issues yet to arrive in 2021 before we are caught up.  Right now there are only a few issues not assigned to team members.   

Eight of the assigned issues are with team members who haven’t turned any completed issues in during the last six months, so I’ll be going out to those folks individually in the next week asking for them to finish up what they have left in the next month or so or turn in what summaries they have completed so we have something to hand out for completion as the remaining outstanding issues are submitted for review. 

When will the database be available online?  The pandemic pretty much shattered the plans to get grant requests ginned-up and submitted.  I was counting on getting help from the Midway IT Department, but shutdowns and staff cutbacks have made that unlikely for the remainder of the pandemic.  One thing the IT folks did set the Library up with during the pandemic was access to a 5 TB OneDrive (cloud storage) from which we can share files/folders with the outside world.  Once Phase I is complete, my plan is to place a Microsoft Access database version with basic query and retrieval functionality on the Midway Museum OneDrive and share that with USNI and our team members.  Down the road I can see access to that database being made available on the Library page of the Midway Museum website.  And we can notify San Diego area public libraries and institutions of higher learning of the availability of the resource which we will identify as a work in progress.  I also plan to construct a PowerPoint presentation/guide on data composition and use of the query functionality of the database and make that PowerPoint file available in the same location as the database itself. 

Phase II.  As previously mentioned, Phase II will consist of cataloging and summarizing Comment and Discussions (C&D) items appearing in Proceedings.  Most of these items are submitted by the Proceedings readership in response to previously appearing articles.  It will be valuable to researchers to have those comments available and linked to the article to which they relate.  Not all C&D items relate to the main or essay contest articles we have summarized, so the other articles to which they relate need to be cataloged and summarized as well.  And some C&D items stand alone.  They do not relate to any previously published article.  They also need summaries completed.   

C&D items are much, much briefer than the articles we have been dealing with, and Phase II will go much, much quicker than Phase I.  I still haven’t figured out the methodology for dolling out C&D items and, in some cases, the articles to which they refer that we haven’t summarized yet.  And I still need to catalog about 90 issues-worth of the C&D items so they are in a form to assign.  That is what I will be doing the next two months in addition to reviewing your splendid summaries. 

Beyond Phase II.  I really need to determine the druthers of USNI as to how they would have us proceed after Phase II.  Is one era more important to them to get done than another era?  In what order would they prefer we address categories of items like Professional Notes, From the Deckplates, Nobody Asked Me But …, and a myriad of other article types that have appeared over the years?  I was planning a trip back east last Spring to interface with USNI on location, visit the USNA Library, spend a day at the Naval Archives with our Distance-Laboring Virginia volunteers scanning Midway deck logs one day a month (pre-pandemic), but the pandemic put a stop to that.  I hope to get all that accomplished soon after the pandemic allows it later this year. 

That is where we are and where we’re going.  Hope you all will hang around for the ride.  Should be fun.  And thanks again for all your hard work, especially in these trying times. 

Author Interview with JR Reddig, aka Vic Scotra

  1. From reading your introduction, Nick Danger was the manifestation of the Ranger being unable to relieve the Connie and the Midway riding to the rescue on its thousands of horsepower.  It was cross fertilized by the hours you whiled away reading Raymond Chandler.  Did you always intend to be a writer or was this a pre-Internet way to stay busy?

No, Ranger’s collision happened in the Straits of Malacca after we completed Indian Ocean Deployment #1. We had been relieved out there by- Coral Maru?- and returned to Japan after months gone. Ranger was headed to the IO to support Hostage Rescue operation “Eagle Claw” when she was struck by a merchant ship. Damage was significant.

With Ranger needing repair, she was directed to head for Yoko for repairs and we were directed to return to sea and assume Ranger’s role way out there after only a week or so ‘home” in Japan. There are many stories about the interpersonal relations of the Ranger crew and the Midway families while we were gone. Nick Danger was a project intended to relieve some of the anxiety and endless sameness of operating in a pleasant blue environment. We were in Perth Australia on IO #1 when word came about the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. We sortied north out of Freemantle, Perth’s port city, assuming we would head north to take station in the North Arabian sea. Instead, we were directed to proceed to Mombasa, Kenya, for a scheduled port visit. It was very cool, with a little apprehension about what was happening next.

2.  Which was more difficult, what you did with the squadron or keeping Danger’s adventures from flying too far afield?

They were literally the same thing. Afloat, we worked Squadron business as an integrated part of flight ops for Air Wing FIVE. The Air Intelligence officers assigned to the squadrons were seconded to the Carrier Intelligence Center- CVIC. We augmented the Ship’s company intelligence staff, performing the mission briefings and debriefing the aircrew on their return four hours after the brief. Also worked recognition issues, other training, handed out cameras and film, worked on relevant charts, answered questions and tried to keep them accurate. Merchant shipping was big on the sea lanes, and periodically SOVINDRON (Soviet Indian Ocean Squadron–not an official acronym, used by the CVIC) would deploy a submarine to keep us on our toes- nothing hostile, just interested. So it was all one kluge of unstoppable activity, of which Squadron mess treasurer (“Get more plaques made!”), legal officer blah blah went along with SERE school in California or Maine (Search, Evasion, Resistance and Escape), JEST (Jungle Evasion and Survival Training) in the Philippines to ensure we were all on the same sheet of music. SERE school was pretty interesting, beatings and waterboarding included, no extra charge. That was all part of working.

Liberty was very much like the bar scene in the original Star Wars film. It included Tokyo, Hong Kong, Subic Bay, Bangkok, Mombasa, Perth and Nairobi, among others. At the world-famous Grace Hotel Coffee Shop in Bangkok, they served the employees of the clubs on Pat Pong Road after the bars closed down. At the bar there, one of the other fighter guys shouted out: “Where am I going to find an Laotian lady at this hour?” He succeeded.

3. It seems like you published a chapter of Nick Danger every day?  Was this the schedule and how did you find the time to be a naval officer and a writer?

I tried to publish something every day that the Midway Multiplex would print. The trick was to try to do something we all knew about in a unique environment. The PacMan game machine in the Dirty Shirt Wardroom was worth several issues and plot changes. It was written in the same way we did operational things. In between flight operations or in a spare half hour between one thing and another (the only other things were eating, sleeping or working out), I would jam some paper in an IBM SelEctric typewriter, bang on it for a while and then run it down to the newsletter guys. There was, I heard later, some mild controversy over the idea that one of the squadron guys was generating the continuing story, but RADM Bob Kirksey apparently thought it was good for morale or something, and I tried to stay a bootstrap away of anything that would get in the way of good order and discipline. Apparently it worked. Racy enough for the time without being too disruptive. But to a crew used to the Philippines, we were indeed the Navy’s “Foreign Legion” in perpetual motion.

4. What is the significance of Nick Danger, Third Eye?  Is he psychic or does it have some other meaning?

It was an idea borrowed from the Firesign Theater, a comedy troop of deranged hipsters popular in the early 1970s. The term ‘Third Eye’ was their attempt at jamming the vaguely spiritual references of the crazy late sixties (Hindu and others) and 1940s cinema noir into the reality that we were actually a ship of war on what appeared to be the razor blade of conflict.t we were actually a ship of war on what appeared to be the razor blade of conflict.

5. What is the relationship between JR Reddig and Vic Socotra?

JR was a new Ensign fresh out of NIOBC (Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course) and volunteered for Midway, then considered a two year ‘hardship’ tour. After two IO deployments from Japan, they offered him a one-year tour in Korea at USFK (U.S. Forces, Korea) to “get even” with the other Intel folks who got three year tours at CONUS-(Continental United States) based squadrons and ships. I was irate about that, still in the Foreign Legion mode in Korea and wrote a fun book about it called “The Snake Ranch Papers,” named after our hooch at Yongsan Garrison at Seoul. I actually got more operational time in Navy and Joint before it was cool. Then OSIS (Ocean Surveillance Information System) and anti-Soviet sub analysis as things got strange with the Soviet Union. Writing a newspaper on the floor of the stock exchange is how one watch officer described it. 


Korea time included a military coup in Korea, civil Unrest at Kwangju, Analogous Response ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) ops in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor and best fun.
With Cold War, Persian Gulf War and GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) were four or five undeclared but real contingency ops, mostly focused on the Persian Gulf. Other assignments included organizing Congressional Travel to Haiti, Burma, PRC (People’s Republic of China) & Pyongyang, and more excitement. Writing about it meant a certain dual tasking and processing of life, since I was supposed to provide accurate notes as “aides memoire” to the trips and then I could play with it if I got time. As with all things Midway, it was part of a continuous process of all sorts of unrelated things jammed into one very large one of operating a nuclear-armed (“I can neither confirm nor deny!”) mobile airfield far from America’s shores.


“Vic” came from the early days on Midway in the northern Arabian Sea. Much later I was working at CIA HQ on the Community Management Staff in Y2K times. The Farm- the CIA training facility on the Neck- had done some business conducting classified seminars for Government customers, and we were billeted behind the fence for a couple of those sessions.


The place is interesting, and includes property that was once colonial. The house where the last Royal Governor of Virginia hung out was one of the interesting parcels. I did a photo journalist story about the place- nothing about who ran the facility or why. I duly submitted it for Agency review prior to posting it. They said “no” because “the location is classified.” Now, the fact that everyone on two rivers knew what and who ran the place was irrelevant. 
I decided to keep doing what I was doing, but nothing more about the Royal Governor, nor what we call “True Name” blogging. There were a lot of people at Langley  operating in various manifestations- covered, uncovered, ambiguous, so things like pen-names were common not only in professional tradecraft but social situations.


Vic Socotra is the phrase we used for Soviets operating (or hanging on the hook) in the approaches to the Suez via the Gulf of Aden at Great Socotra Island. When we arrived at what became GONZO Station, we would say it something like “Soviet Indian Ocean Squadron NOB continues routine operations in the vicinity of Great Socotra Island.” That lasted a couple weeks since they normally were doing nothing. It soon became “SOVINDRON vic Socotra NTR.” Or, better said, nothing to report.

Vic Socotra became a more general locational phrase to identify things happening at the SOVINDRON anchorage, or in the general vicinity of the island, toward the entrance to the shipping channel up the Red Sea.

 6. The Midway seems to cast a spell over  many of its crew and now it’s volunteers.  What spell did it cast over you?  Did any other job ever come close to the Midway’s Magic?

Phil Eakin in JR Reddig’s Midway Stateroom. JR graduated from the bottom left to the top left bunk.

Yes. And yes. Yes, no, yes. This is one of your volunteers, who asked what bunkroom I lived in for two years, and then sent me a picture of what it looks like now. Sleep was precious there. I still could reset the circuit breaker out in the passageway in the deep silent darkness when the line tripped out. Nick Danger happened because the lunk private detective seemed to be just what we needed at the time. Ever have a job that occasionally meant hanging out of the moving helicopter at ten thousand feet tracking a missile shoot? Once, suiting up and strapping on the back seat of a 55,000lb. Phantom fighter, being hurled off the front end of a moving Midway to go feet-dry and pass Mt. Fujiyama inverted before a routine recovery on the field at Atsugi Naval Air station? The one that still had hard-stands for the Zero fighters that once operated from there against us? Meeting one of their then-ancient aces- Warrant Officer Saburo Sakai, thanking him for his service and hospitality in his land? 

7. Your blog, https://www.vicsocotra.com/ is deliciously ambiguous.  I love your tag line “Purveyor of Glib Words to the World.”  How long did it take you to come up with that and has it been difficult to live up to that motto?

That all gets to the nature of what I have done for fifty years. It started before the internet, of course, and when I saw or did something I thought was interesting, I would write a letter about it, addressed to one or two folks and with enough carbon paper to keep a copy. There is a body of that stuff from Midway around someplace, and another one or two about the last cruise of the IJN Nagato, initially the same sort of thing I did penned by the American XO who took the Japanese battleship down to Bikini Atoll for the Crossroads atomic tests. Great story he did not finish, and may have been one of the Navy people who died young because of radiation exposure. He was a great pal of my Uncles, and his papers were all I had. Part of the dynamic tension in the business was that we wrote for a living- taking the words from the aircrew or the meeting or the trip and crafting them into a narrative that made sense. That stuff was stark and hard edged and based on fact. Taking those sorts of situations and breathing things into them for context- non-frightening context-was the ability to use a slippery glib word for something intensely real. Describing a routine catapult shot on a routine relocation hop. Drama and routine all wrapped up in one- the essence of the Midway experience. She also was home to pals who went to war on her in the Gulf. She is a ship of magic.

8. If life is a conspiracy theory, which theory do you find most plausible?

This week demonstrates the whole thing. I lived the sixties- all of them- as a teen. A President was murdered in public. Then a spiritual leader of great stature was shot down on a motel balcony. And then a brother of the murdered President was shot campaigning for the same office. And the attempts on the lives of other Presidents and governors of Southern states. None of them had much explanation, except for “deranged lone gunmen/women.” Now, we have a clumsy attempt to insert millions of bogus votes in an attempt to remove a legitimately elected President on a fraudulent vote count that is the product of increasing fraudulent activity that incudes our 7th District of Virginia Congressional representation. The idea that hundreds- thousands- of people who swore the same oath to defend the Constitution that I did- participated in this and that it seems about to be successful, and maybe permanent. I find this all wildly improbable in the nation in which I was raised. I think there is the distinct possibility that it is true.

9. What are your current literary inspirations?

I wrote as things happened, and cleaned it up when I could spare the time. The best effort is a biography of an older pal named Donald “Mac” Showers, one of the last survivors of the station HYPO codebreaking group at Pearl from WWII. Unlike most, he had no civilian job to return to after the end of hostilities since he was so young, and stayed in. I came to his attention through my use of a disparaging- glib, if you will- term about General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. I called him “Doug-out Doug” in some social context and it concerned Mac because his boss, Chester Nimitz had a primary directive: “Don’t disrespect the General.” We got over that and became friends. The very idea of getting the Japanese to disclose their target at Midway atoll happened at the corner of Mac’s desk in The Dungeon at Pearl Harbor, conceived by the legendary Jasper Holmes. So that was fun and took a couple years of meetings. But we traveled together through the big Defense reorganization of 1948, and the creation of CIA and NSA, and the later abuses that occurred, and the fixes to the scandals of Watergate, and establishment of the FISA Court system, and his final retirement with the current Intelligence Community I served. The last volume is about the ten-year decline of his beloved wife to early onset Alzheimers, and what it takes to live a 26-hour-day with dementia sufferers and their loved ones. My Dad was doing the same thing when he told me what it was going to be like, so it was personal and real. All the Intel issues he worked are now back in full bloom, so real life with him was also time traveling into the past and future. Anyway, that book is complete, but deserves proper traditional treatment.

Others in Process:

“The Lucky Bunch:” Naval Intelligence and the Mob in New York and The Castle on the Hudson. Fun with Lucky Luciano.

“Love and War in the West.” Civil war family romance amid the Rebel and Yankee aligned recent Irish immigrant community in a tumultuous America. Really fun, and true.

“Snake Ranch Papers” a 14-month one year tour in the Republic of Korea during a military coup conducted by Lt. Gen Chon tu Hwan.

“Boondoggle” Congressional travel in a Haitian-Burmese-North Korean crisis. Oriented to fine hotels in pariah nations.

“Tales from Big Pink,” life in the remarkable Arlington, VA, in the go-go decade that followed Y2K.

“Cruisebook,” the last Cold War Med Cruise 1989-90 as the Wall Comes Tumbling Down and the long struggle….ends?

There are a couple others, including a cookbook I was working on with pal Jinny Martin. She had been an attache wife, and I asked her, and pals from the circuit for sure-fire dishes to prepare when Hubby says he is coming over with the Hungarian delegation for drinks. It was fun, while in progress with lots of photos. I edited her group’s memories of having families in the Philippines and Japan in Cold War times.

And cars- Dad was assistant head of design at American Motors, and he was in that crowd of forward thinkers and creative artists. I came home from high school one afternoon and his gang had a collection of racing machines in the driveway, including a Ferrari Testa Rosa. We were part of it all- first ticket was 120-in-a-50 violation in a pals 440RT Charger while still on my learners permit. Other memorable rides included the Syclone World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck, the black-and-white-beetle convertible “Shamu” and the 1959 Rambler Cross Country station wagon that Dad designed. Fun stuff in the go-fast years.

Currently in work is a book called “Swamp Postcards,” devoted to this crazy year, and “The Seventy Days” between the election and what is coming next. Glib words conceal the humorous enormity of what is going on in the wide world and right here

10. If somebody asked you why, how do you respond?

I am a predigital creature, but collected sights and situations that were interesting were always…interesting. I felt we lived in times that had a historic aspect, having studied them in college, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and Harvard’s JFK school of Government later. Seeing how it really works was something that kept me going, in the Fleet and Washington and on the streets of places like Pyongyang. It made telling the story of it fun, even if living in the lower rack of a four man compartment on a WWII ship was a necessary part of the whole story. I volunteered for Japan duty out of a failed attempt of the heart, and what the meaning of being alive really is. I still don’t know, but it is…interesting. This is the first time in life that things are not hurtling from one thing to another without respite. It is a treat to be able to look back at it all with wonder.

For readers interested in reading some of Nick Danger’s adventures, check out Vic Socotra’s website.https://www.vicsocotra.com/wordpress/novellas/nick-danger/

For readers interested in reading some of Nick Danger’s adventures, check out Vic Socotra’s website.https://www.vicsocotra.com/wordpress/novellas/nick-danger/

Port Guides Before the Internet

How large is an aircraft carrier crew?

  • The USS Midway (CV-41) carried a crew of about 4500 when she was deployed, with an Air Wing aboard.
  • The USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) has a crew of 5500.
  • The Navy used to have a recruiting slogan, “Join the Navy and see the World.”
  • Ports could include
    • the Mediterranean Sea,
    • the Caribbean Sea,
    • Central or South America,
    • the Red Sea,
    • Persian Gulf,
    • Indian Ocean,
    • Pacific Ocean,
    • Arctic Ocean or
    • literally around the world.

In addition to the normal liberty ports like the Philippines, San Francisco, or Marseilles, the ship could also be sent to Karachi, Pakistan; Mombasa, Kenya; or Hobart, Tasmania. For many of the crew, these ports are often unknown–

What can we see?

What can we eat or drink?

What can we get away with?

The USS Midway used to type out and then mimeograph tour guides. Troy Prince has a collection of 13 pocket sized (3 1/2″ x 4 1/2″) guidebooks for liberty ports visited by the Midway from the 04 JAN 1954 – 04 AUG 1954 Mediterranean Cruise. Here are few pictures from that collection.

In 1978, the guides had gotten larger and had a new name–Liberty Hound. Here is an example from a 1978 port stop in Karachi Parkistan (again courtesy of Troy Prince.)

To see more of what Troy Prince has on the USS Midway, visit his site, Midway Sailor.com,

An Update from Troy:

The newer ones I just scanned this week and last week. I’ve only shared them with the Library and haven’t posted them online yet.

There is a Memorabilia section on my website with a subsection called Ship’s Messages. Some of my older (lower quality) scans are there, including the Haiti booklet and Japan Information message. I also have an older scan of the Olongapo booklet contributed by someone years ago. The newer booklets will eventually be added to this page or even to a completely new subsection called Liberty Port Guides

.https://www.midwaysailor.com/midwaymemorabilia/messages.html

Celebrated Line Crossings in the US Navy

Probably the most famous line crossing is when a Navy ship crosses the equator: pollywogs have to pass through a series of obnoxious obstacles to become shellbacks. However, there are also celebrations when a sailor crosses the Arctic circle and the International Dateline.

Crossing the Arctic circle is known as the Order of the Blue Nose. The “Order of the Blue Nose” is a Navy tradition which dictates that when Sailors cross into the Arctic Circle, they enter the realm of Boreas Rex, King of the North. The only way to be accepted into the order is to successfully complete his list of challenges

If a sailor crosses the International Date Line, he or she becomes a Golden Dragon. However, if the sailor crosses the International Date Line at the Equator, he or she becomes a Golden Shellback.

Wreaths Across America-2020

Yesterday was Wreaths Across America Day. COVID restrictions may have changed the policies in many National Cemeteries, and the event still went on.

From the website:

The following is the Wreaths Across America story. I have also attached our “What is a veteran’s wreath poster” so you can see what the wreath itself stands for. 

“Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

As plans were underway, a number of other individuals and organizations stepped up to help. James Prout, owner of local trucking company Blue Bird Ranch, Inc., generously provided transportation all the way to Virginia. Volunteers from the local American Legion and VFW Posts gathered with members of the community to decorate each wreath with traditional red, hand-tied bows. Members of the Maine State Society of Washington, D.C. helped to organize the wreath-laying, which included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The annual tribute went on quietly for several years, until 2005, when a photo of the stones at Arlington, adorned with wreaths and covered in snow, circulated around the internet. Suddenly, the project received national attention. Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their National and State cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes.

Unable to donate thousands of wreaths to each state, Worcester began sending seven wreaths to every state, one for each branch of the military, and for POW/MIAs. In 2006, with the help of the Civil Air Patrol and other civic organizations, simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies were held at over 150 locations around the country. The Patriot Guard Riders volunteered as escort for the wreaths going to Arlington. This began the annual “Veterans Honor Parade” that travels the east coast in early December.

The annual trip to Arlington and the groups of volunteers eager to participate in Worcester’s simple wreath-laying event grew each year until it became clear the desire to remember and honor our country’s fallen heroes was bigger than Arlington, and bigger than this one company.

In 2007, the Worcester family, along with veterans, and other groups and individuals who had helped with their annual veterans wreath ceremony in Arlington, formed Wreaths Across America, a non-profit 501-(c)(3) organization, to continue and expand this effort, and support other groups around the country who wanted to do the same.

The group is non-profit and one of it’s ways to make money is the sale of merchandise. Options include

  • t-shirts
  • tank tops
  • ball caps
  • Every Star Tells a Story–American Gold Star Mothers Book with Wreath
  • Navy themed sweat pants
  • American Strong Yard sign (single or bundles)

Carol Eakin’s COD Sea Stories

COD is Carrier on Board Delivery. Although the delivery is usually mail, provisions, or supplies/replacement parts, it can also include passengers. Carol Eakin shares her COD experience. Carol is the Military Events Manager on the USS Midway Museum.

Yes, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in one of the Navy’s DV programs on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).  

Distinguished Visitor Embark Program: Showing Off Our Military to Civilians – GuysGirl The Navy’s Distinguished Visitor embark program invites civilians to land, stay the night and take off from an aircraft carrier. I was lucky enough to be invited and share my experience of this trip of a lifetime. guysgirl.com

I think there were 8 – 10 other guests on the same program.  It had been cancelled twice prior which is why I got the opportunity as a ‘last minute’ addition.  Many of the original participants were from out of state, so had previously cancelled flights and accommodation both times, so some couldn’t make the third date.
In addition to the COD flight, trap and catapult launch we were able to watch aircraft launches in the afternoon and landings that evening.  One of the returning planes did not make it which resulted in a pilot recovery – not something that happens a lot.  It was  definitely unfortunate but a great opportunity to see how effective their training is.  The pilot ejected and was safely recovered by helo (by a 19 yo diver who had only been on the ship for 2 weeks!!)
We also got to witness an underway replenishment which I was really interested in as my Dad had several photos of similar from when he was deployed in the RAN.
It was a super experience which exemplified the skill and ability of all onboard.  It also gave me a better appreciation for all the teamwork and training that goes into a successful carrier operation.  I am so grateful that I got the opportunity – it was one of the best experiences of my life 🙂

Carol on the flight deck of the Carl Vinson

Reblog: Sea Story about the Red Baron vs. the Russian Trawler

The Russian “Trawlers” (NATO designation: AGI for Auxiliary General Intelligence) with what looked like one thousand “fishing” antennas plied the Gulf of Tonkin on a daily basis…needless to say, it was a cat-and-mouse game to see what havoc they could expend towards our two carriers operating there 24 hours a day.

Since the U.S. government had proclaimed the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin three miles off the coast of North Vietnam and Hinan Island, People’s Republic of China, to be international waters, American ships in the Gulf were bound to obey the international rules of the road for ocean navigation. This meant that if the Russian ship maneuvered herself into the path of an aircraft carrier where she had the right of way, the carrier had to give way even if she was engaged in launching or recovering aircraft. 


The navigation officer was constantly trying to maneuver the ship so that the trawler wouldn’t be able to get in position to abuse the rules of the road and gain the right of way. 

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Interview with Eloisa Bordador, Artist and Illustrator

  1. How long have you volunteered on the Midway and what projects  have you worked on or are working on?

Officially, I sat down to meet with Phil for the Proceedings October of 2019. Since then, I have been assigned to write summaries for the Midway Currents Membership Magazine, the USS Midway Currents and other publications during deployment where I also collected all the sailor names for the Midway Museum’s Crew Look Up Database. I was also lucky to have designed the Library’s annual Halloween shirt, which has inspired a children’s book -written by a fellow Library volunteer- that is still in the works. Most recently, I have been assigned to the Midway Art project where I will document and compile a database of all crew artwork all over the ship. This is exciting because a lot of never seen areas of the ship will come to light and these smaller pieces of history and the people behind it will be acknowledged.

  1. Do you have any Midway projects you would like to do or recommend?

The USS Midway Currents project is something I really enjoy doing because I learn a lot of history that I didn’t necessarily learn at school. And now giving this current world situation where certain distancing is more recommended, it’s a project a volunteer can easily work on remotely. 

I am really looking forward to the Midway Art project and I’m hoping to be able to move forward in light of the current events.

  1. How have you liked the book project so far?  When you created the design for this year’s t-shirt did you ever think it would become a book?  Maddy said she was interested in  a Maddy plush toy when I interviewed her and Nan.  Have you thought about turning your drawing of Maddy into a toy?

I’ll be honest with you, I did not go into designing the Halloween shirt thinking it will become something other than that. I was quite surprised when the book idea came about but glad to accept the opportunity! In the back of my mind, I have been wanting to print something with my art or my photographs in it but never figured out how to put it all together. So maybe it’s kismet. 

Oh my goodness, a Maddy toy! It can be done. Let me get back to you on that. 

  1. What training have you had as an artist?  Have you done this professionally or is it  more of a hobby?  Where is your artwork displayed?

I went to art school in the Philippines, much to my mother’s disdain, who said there was no money in it and I should’ve just stuck with advertising. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design and that’s how I learned to paint. My Introduction to Watercolour professor, Mrs. Quizon’s first words to me were, “You need more water, that’s why it’s called watercolour.” When I moved to California for a more business minded Project Management course, I learnt to paint using acrylics. I taught workshops, painted animal portraits. The animal portraits were what landed me the Clairemont Utility Box project, where I was awarded three utility boxes: Clairemont Dr. and Knapp, Clairmont Dr. and Calle Neil, and Burgener Blvd., which is right by the Clairemont Public Library.  That was a really fun and exciting project and I think I enjoyed it as much as the neighbourhood did, seeing the paintings change daily. 

  1. What is your favorite type of artwork to do?  What is your preferred medium to work with?

I enjoy nature and animals as subjects. I don’t have to be too precious about it when I paint them because they are not “perfect.” I am getting into more technical things as well such as automotive and motorcycles.  Quite a distinct opposite of nature, because mechanical objects are what you see is what you get and you have to get the actual likeness for it to make sense. With all this work I am doing lately, it has been mostly acrylic and I do miss watercolour but it has it’s limitations on what I can work on, as well as time constraints. With watercolour, I have to be patient and wait for the paint to dry before I can continue. 

  1. What  would you like to do with your art work in the future?  Training, jobs, shows?

I would like to continue working on art that would go into print, possibly more books or in magazines and make a living out of it. In this era of technology, it’s nice to see print media making a comeback and also that books are still favoured by people. It’s been ages since I’ve been in an exhibit so that would be nice to participate in, in future. But what I would like, for right this minute, is to attend an art class. I want to be in the receiving end for a little bit, relearn and learn some skills and not have to stress if the client thinks their painting is wonky.

  1. Did you have  any affiliation with the Navy before volunteering on the Midway?

Yes and no. When I was being trained to do a Crew Look Up, I stumbled into ancestry.com access and decided to trace back some of my family. I found out that my great grandad on my father’s side (his maternal grandfather) served in the US Navy. This was in between the early 50s – late 60s and back then Filipinos were only allowed to serve as Mess Attendants and not be considered fully enlisted. He was quite a few ships travelling between New York, San Francisco and Japan, and was granted citizenship. At one point he became a Head Cook. My father said he made delicious food. It’s a pity he was much older and retired before Filipinos were allowed into any department in the Navy. I’m proud that I do have some of that Navy blood. Sailors gotta eat, even if they were not the fighting ones!

  1. Are you a native San Diegan or where did you grow up and live?

I moved to San Diego in the Spring of 2019 when my husband was transferred for work. Before that we were living in Long Beach. Originally, I am from the Philippines, born and raised, then moved to California 14 years ago. Out of the places I’ve lived, I like San Diego the best. There is no other like it.

  1. How do you balance  your work,  your volunteer activities and family life?

I don’t! Sometimes, I feel like I am all over the place but luckily it is my Midway volunteer work that helps me sort everything else out. I made it where I come aboard once a week and the rest of what I do goes around that. I am embarrassed to admit, that only recently, I have figured out how to make it all work together, where I also meet my work deadlines, get on with house admin and family life, and social life. So I guess, there it is -Midway Magic

Interview with Russ Hawthorn–A Marine Corps Officer that Qualified as an Officer of the Deck

Russ as Midway Docent
  1. Russ Hanthorn, Colonel, USMC ret was CO (Commanding Officer) of the Marine Detachment MARDET on the USS Independence He has been a Docent on the USS Midway and plans to return to the ship as soon as COVID permits.
  2.  Which ship’s CO asked you to put together a landing force?  It included how many of your Marines and how many sailors?  I was stationed onboard the USS INDEPENDENCE (CVA-62).The landing force, approximately a Marine Corps rifle company in size, was composed of my Marine Detachment of 60 marines and was complimented by 150 sailors from the ship’s crew. The ship’s XO ( Executive Officer) tasked the different divisions on the ship to provide me with the needed compliment. They all came from INDEPENDENCE. What was most interesting, and didn’t actually surprise me, was that, almost without exception, the sailors really enjoyed the training. It was an opportunity to learn something new and spend time away from their normal duties. As well, they integrated well with the marines and became good friends. I would often see a few of these sailors in our Marine Detachment spaces enjoying the evening movies with their new found friends.
  3.  How did you develop your training course and what type of training did you do?  Was it more physical fitness, how to land, weapons training, procedures for taking prisoners, or what? The training basically centered on conducting a limited landing from the ship to the shore. We utilized small landing craft located at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, VA. In addition, we studied very basic defensive operations. Of course, there was also time spent with military drill and physical fitness on a daily basis. All of this helped integrate these shipmates into a motivated force. During our WestPac deployment, while in port in Subic Bay, PI, I was able to take the entire landing force ashore for a one day practical survival course on jungle survival by the Negrito guides at the naval Base. All of the aforementioned training was geared toward the remote possibility the force would be called upon to perform some security function ashore, which did not prove to be the case.
  4. You were also the only Marine to qualify as OOD (Officer of the Deck)?  What did you have to learn to qualify for that and how did you ever find the time? It took me about 8 months to become qualified. I was provided with the ship’s OOD training materials and went through the same training that the naval officers on the ship went through. We all worked through the paces from Junior Officer of the Watch to Junior Officer of the Deck and finally qualified as an Officer of the Deck (Underway.) I was fortunate to have an outstanding 1stLt XO and 1stSgt, along with highly motivated NCOs, who were able to “take care of business” during the time I spent on the bridge both in training and then as a qualified OOD.
  5. What were your most favorite and least favorite part of being part of the MarDet (Marine Detachment)? From a professional point of view, there was not a downside. MarDet CO assignments, be it on a carrier, battleship or cruiser back then, were joint tour assignments and provided the young captain CO with an independent command. From a personal point of view, as with my sea service comrades, being away from home for an extended period was my least part of the tour.
  6. How did being part of the MarDet affect the rest of your career in the Marine Corps? The tour provided me with an “up close and personal” opportunity to work with my Naval counterparts on a daily basis for two years. The assignment held me in good stead. I have fond memories of this tour.
  7. What was your favorite assignment in the Marine Corps? I was fortunate to have command assignments from the platoon level up to a logistics support group. My most rewarding staff assignment was as a special assistant in the office of the Secretary of the Navy.
  8. If you were involved in the Vietnam War, what did you and where were you stationed? During INDEPENDENCE’s WestPac tour in ’65, I was fortunate to take leave and be in country with the Recon marines for a period of time. This was my only opportunity to be involved in a combat environment.
  9. Were you ever stationed in Washington, DC?  What did you think about that tour of duty? As noted earlier, I did have one tour in the Pentagon in the office of the Secretary of the Navy. I traveled extensively, worldwide, with my “boss,” a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, during the 3 year tour. I was fortunate to observe, first-hand, the manner in which the Navy-Marine Corps team plan and execute.
  10. Which Marine Corps base is your favorite and why? Three of my favorite were: (1) Camp Pendleton; (2) Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, HI; (3) Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC.
  11. Have you visited the Museum of the Marine Corps?  If so what do you think of it? I have visited the museum on one occasion. An outstanding reflection of the history of our beloved corps.

Anecdote

A few years ago one of the marines in the MarDet sought me out on the web. He had been one of the orderlies for the ship’s commanding officer and a very squared away marine. In fact, I had recommended him for Officers Candidate School. He was accepted and was subsequently promoted to 2dLt.

In early 2017, he emailed me that he had been invited to give a Memorial Day presentation about his military service in his home town in PA. I decided to fly back, unannounced, and come to his presentation. I had not seen him in the past 51 years, since I had departed the INDEPENDENCE in 1966.

I contacted the facility where he would be giving the presentation, explained that I wanted to surprise him, and asked for assistance in this regard. The lady I spoke with was “all in” with the idea.

On the evening of his presentation, I remained out of sight behind closed curtains on the auditorium stage. His talk was to be given from the floor level in front of the stage.

Russ and two former landing crew members meet for a reunion on Pennsylvania

When he began to speak I stepped out from behind the curtains. He was taken totally by surprise. I came down, we spoke briefly, and he proceeded with his presentation.

The next morning he called another marine from the MarDet who resided in NJ. This marine had also been an orderly for the ship’s commanding officer and was another squared away marine.

 The three of us met for lunch in NJ. It was a wonderful reunion after all those years.

Navy Call Signs–Nobody

David Ellefson is a Docent on the USS Midway and this is his story.

Navy Call Signs- An Observation:

 “Top Gun’s” ‘Maverick’,’ Goose’, and ’Iceman’ etc. brought the Navy’s Fighter Pilot “Call Sign” into the common ‘hipster cool’ lexicon of the 1980s.  In truth aviation call signs go back to WW I as radio ‘short-hand’, often used to hide an aviator’s identities or mission intent (balloons & airplanes).   As these monikers evolved, pilots / aviators started to bequeath call signs upon their peers; most often based on stupid (or fantastic) things they did, personalities / physical characteristics or as ‘play’ on their names (e.g. ‘Taco’ with last name Bell). 

With this tradition some unwritten rules emerged:   

A call sign could not be ”too cool “/ “too good” or “something the aviator asked for”!   Once bestowed they are likely to be the aviator’s “tag” for life; unless superseded by a ‘combat’ replacement or by a “hostile” renaming (reserved for when an ass-alcoholic aviator “falls off wagon” deserting ‘BURRO’ (regular –guy) aviation fraternity.

Over the years I have heard many but a few (beside my own – a.k.a. ‘Nobody’) have stood out as uniquely cleaver, appropriate or predictive.  Examples of which are:

 ‘NAG’ – Not A Guy   first female USMC Weapons Systems Officer ‘WSO’

 Hurricane’ – female aviator named Katrina

‘FLUF’ –Fat Little Ugly – Friend

‘SALSA’ – Student Aviator Lacking Situational Awareness

‘Chocks’ – started taxying before chocks were removed

 ‘Pop Top’ – inadvertently jettisoning not one but two canopies

 ‘K rod ‘– Spell it backwards

‘Elvis” – always hard to find  / have you seen ???

Now that bring us back to ‘Nobody’ and how I received my Call Sign, ‘Nobody’!

During my first student solo Carrier Landing Qualification (CQ), I was #4 in a formation flight bound for the “wooden deck” carrier Lexington (CV).   I was the last to take-off (TO) from Whiting Field and upon raising my gear & flaps there was a massive hydraulic failure, completely covering the canopy!  Emergency declared (two octaves higher than norm); with a port turn to downwind.  Gear (gravity drop) extended with minor flap extension and hydro down to the stand pipe.  Uneventful (very long roll out) landing using last of the stand pipe for brakes.  Trucks, Tugs & Cars a plenty arrived to great me!

Here is where the “fun” begins!!!

I was NOT allowed to exit the aircraft! 

They tugged me off the runway, opened the cowling, wiped off the canopy, replaced the burst hydro line, hot refueled me then; ordered me to takeoff ASAP and “BUSTER” (as fast as you can go) to catchup with my CQ Flight!   Try that in the New Navy – NOT today CNATA !!!

Gulf Air Traffic Control (ATC) gave me vectors to my flight after I went “’feet wet’ (over the water).  Unfortunately it was a flight of Air Force T28s out of Eaglin Field!!!!  ATC’s second try pointed me at the correct flight of 3 Navy student solos.

Unfortunately they had already began their “push” (descent) to “platform” (CQ altitude) and Flight Lead had called in “state” (fuel/call signs) as well as went “Zip lip” (switching to the carrier’ s (CV’s) landing radio frequencies allowing no to minimum radio chatter.  

Meanwhile I have the Flight and the Boat insight, while maintaining “BUSTER” T28’s VNE (Fixed Wing Never Exceed) speed, closing on my Flight’s # 4 position. 

As I switch to CV CQ radio frequency I hear the AIR BOSS (Head Aviation CV Guy – What Is!!!) say,

“Flight Lead, call your Slot man.” 

Flight Lead answers,

“Nobody is in the Slot” (He did not know I was rejoining at the speed of heat).

Air Boss responds,

“Wellllllll —- Tell ‘NOBODY’ to tighten it up or get the Hell away from my Boat!!!”

That was about the time I became “all asshole and elbows”; hitting the “speed-brake “while arriving at “platform” with the hope of decelerating enough to get my gear and flaps down (while avoiding over speeds) without overrunning #3 on the “downwind” (port side pattern before turn to “final”) . 

Big Sigh!!!   I was now safely in #4 echelon position!

I completed my required 5 “touch-and-go’s” and 3 “stop-go (full-stops/takeoffs)”; gaining my initial “CQ” qualification!!!             One step closer to the Golden Wings!

By the time our now flight of 4 had “RTB”ed (returned to base), everyone at Whiting Field had heard about ‘NOBODY’ almost getting kicked off the Carrier CQ by the Air Boss.

The next day; ‘NOBODY’ was on VT5’s flight schedule to fly with ‘Nobody’s’ friend joined by ‘Somebody’ and ‘Nobody’ knows, etc. etc. etc. 

Overnight the name tags on my “Zoom Bag” (Flight Suite) and “Brain Bucket” (Helmet) along with the rest of my flight gear was now boldly marked with the call sign ‘NOBODY’!

While over the years I have on occasion tried to shed this ‘NOBODY ‘ call-sign for a hipper hotshot “handle”; ‘NOBODY’ always makes its way back to the top of the flight roster via the aviation & the Navy ‘Nobody’s friends networks. 

So, as funny as it sound, you can always just call ‘NOBODY ‘when you want to get my attention or reach me!

Very Respectfully

Capt. David Ellefson USNR-R

Aka. “NOBODY” AOC Class 39-70

For more information about the formation:

A normal formation flight of 4 aircraft is a diamond ♦️ formation. The trailing aircraft (behind the Lead and the 2 aircraft on each of his wings is said to be in the slot (often just called the slot man).  This is also is the # 4 position, as when a diamond formation shifts positions to enter a landing pattern all the aircraft shift to the starboard (right side) of the flight lead following each other.  Lead remains #1. Right side of diamond remains in position following the lead in the #2 position. Left diamond drops back and slides over behind #2‘s right side assuming the #3 position. The slot man drops back and slides over behind and to the right is #3 assuming the #4 (slot-man’s) position.  This is what is called an echelon formation; allowing each aircraft, starting with #1 flight lead, to safely execute a ‘break’ hard turn for a final landing. A formation in echelon can be aligned  left or right.  At the Boat it is normally a right echelon. 
Tail end Charlie requires little skill as it implies your the end of the Tail Case.  It was a training flight’s name where solos chase each other through the clouds 👍🏼🤪⛅🌧🌦to sharpen our airmanship.  We tried to lose each other like in a dog fight   

Cleaning a Head, Navy Style

Phil Eakin on Zone Inspections—in Heads

A lot of people don’t realize how important it is to have clean heads on a ship.  There are enough other reasons for morale to head south on a ship in the Indian Ocean for a few months. Smelly heads move that process downhill.  You can’t have a tight ship without clean heads.  Zone Inspections are one of the command’s ways of ensuring a tight ship.  Teams of two officers, usually a senior officer and a junior officer, along with a Yeoman with a clipboard and a pen, are assigned to specific zones around the ship.  All zones are inspected at the same time.  Usually takes a morning or an afternoon, and a big Field Day (cleaning frenzy) over a couple of days before the Zone Inspection.  Every space on the ship is inspected for cleanliness.  The senior officer is supposed to take the junior officer under his wing, show him how it is done and impress upon the junior guy the importance of doing such things.  Slack zone inspectors lead to a slack crew.  The crew expects to be raked over the coals for major hits in a zone inspection and they take even minor nits seriously.  And they expect to be acknowledged for superb performance in such a menial thing as cleaning a head.  I was a senior LCDR or a very junior CDR on Tarawa in 1984-85 and hadn’t participated in a zone inspection since 1973 or 74, so I got paired with the XO, a very senior CDR.  And he did take me under his wing and pointed out things here and there as we went around, usually with some junior petty officer or seaman shaking in his boots in the space we were inspecting.  We were in a head and the XO got down on one knee and shone his flashlight on the top of the inside of a urinal.  He asked me to get down there with him.  He pointed out a yellow stain in a crevice under there and proceeded to explain to me that this is the thing that starts the smell that makes smelly heads the way they are.  I’m sure the guy in charge of the cleaning of that space was crestfallen to hear that gig.  And I learned a bit.

Phil Eakin as Midway Library Volunteer

This was based upon Troy Prince painting 3 roses on a head door for winning 3 awards for keeping the Head clean during and right after Desert Storm.  He was recognized at a Meritorious Mast on the USS Midway..

VAQ-136 Head C-0205-13L FR 187-191 During the Gulf War, I cleaned a head for a while when I was TAD. Awards were given for the cleanest ones and these were mine. The Rose Award played on the “Smells Like a Rose” theme and we got to paint one on the door for each one awarded. As you can see from the dates and my signatures, they were all very close together. I had the distinction of having the most awards in the shortest period of time by the same person. Yeah, big deal, but they’re still there and I guess I left my mark aboard Midway with that artwork.It brought back memories of my time as an Airman and I was very surprised to see these pictures when Dave Starr and Bill Purcell sent them to me in 2003. Even better was during my trip in June 2004, when I got to see them for myself after 13 years. 29 JAN 1991: First Award 15 FEB 1991: Second Award 07 MAR 1991: Third Award ~ Troy Prince, former Aviation Machinist’s Mate Second Class (AD2), USN ~ VAQ-136 Gauntlets aboard USS Midway (JAN 1989 ~ AUG 1991)

Veteran’s History Project

Although Veteran’s Day has past and our older veterans are passing, there is time to capture the memories of those still around. One of the best ways to do this is to participate in the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project.

The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

When I lived in San Diego, I did a few Veteran’s History Project interviews while volunteering at the San Diego Public Library, University City Branch. I interviewed Korean War, Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, and Cold War veterans. It was a fascinating experience.

I’m hoping to get back into–maybe through Zoom since that seems to be the most common platform nowadays.

Once you meet a veterans basic needs like housing and medical care, can you imagine a more heartfelt gift than capturing his or her story for the future?

You can look a veteran’s name up to see if he or she is already in there.

Discounts for Veterans

Some are just for Veteran’s Day and some are for longer.

Veterans Day 2020 is on Wednesday, Nov. 11th, 2020. This Veterans Day discounts list will continue to be updated as we learn of more nationally available Veterans Day discounts, meals or other ways businesses and organizations want to give back to Veterans. These Veterans Day discounts, free meals and other programs are being shared so that Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors are aware of all resources available to them. 

Due to COVID-19, some organizations are now offering discounts to Veterans all the time instead of their regular Veterans Day discounts. These adjustments help Veterans take advantage of the discounts offered while avoiding the usual Veterans Day crowds. A new section at the bottom of this story will list all the year-round Veterans discounts. 

The ‘Stralilan Cruiser Squadron by Phil Eakin

Phil Eakin, CDR, (USN Ret) was stationed and has lived in Australia. He also married Carol, a Sheila, from there. He has been the source and/or inspiration for much of the Australian related blog posts.

In early 1938 the U.S. sent a group of ships to Sydney, Australia on a goodwill visit.  The occasion was the 150th/Sesquicentennial anniversary of Australia and Sydney’s founding.  The group of ships consisted of at least U.S.S. Memphis (CL-13), two other cruisers, Trenton and Milwaukee, and probably a number of support ships.  I learned this from a cruisebook, or cruise booklet (paperback, 49-pages), produced by the Memphis that was recently donated to the USS Midway Museum.  All the illustrations used here are from that cruisebook.

Memphis departed San Diego on 3 January 1938 and stopped briefly in Hawaii before heading for Sydney.

What had or would become known as the ‘Stralian Cruiser Squadron crossed the equator on 15 January.  ‘Stralian is, of course, a contraction of ‘Australian’ commonly used Down Under.  In my limited experience with the peoples of that country, they are known to speak “Strine” which is, I believe, slang for ‘Strain, another contraction.
Although I’ve only recently become acquainted with my first pre-WW II Navy cruisebooks, it appears the main event covered in each such commemorative is Crossing the Line, where King Neptune and his court come aboard to assist in initiating slimy Pollywogs, a termed used to refer to those sailors who have never crossed the equator and, thus, entered into King Neptune’s realm before.  King Neptune is ably assisted in the initiation festivities by a ship’s trusty Shellbacks, those crewmembers who have crossed the equator before, have been duly initiated into the rites of the realm, and can prove it.

A focal point for the application of pain and suffering accompanying the rites of passage is sometimes called The Works – pictured above on the Memphis.
After Crossing the Line, the squadron visited Pago Pago, Samoa for two days before entering Sydney on 25 January.  The Sydney port visit ended on 2 February, and the ships headed south, then west across the Australian Bight and up the west coast of Australia to Singapore, and thence for a visit in Manila before rejoining the Fleet in Hawaii on 1 April.
A most interesting aspect of the Memphis cruisebook is the appearance on the last two pages of the Theme Song of the Australian Cruiser Squadron.  A fascinating piece, as I read it over and over, it became apparent it was written before the squadron had reached Singapore and most probably after the Memphis had departed Sydney.   While the cruise through departure from Sydney is covered,  only one stanza is devoted to Samoa, two stanzas to Crossing the Line, while the final five stanzas are devoted to the Australia visit.  One can tell Australia made a great impression on the boys.

I would point out some pronunciation hints in the 2nd-to-last stanza.  ‘Quay’ is pronounced ‘key’ for the non-salts here.  Lingerie is probably the French version, lawn-jerr-y’ to make it rhyme with sea.
And as I read it repeatedly a certain meter kept pumping through my head that was very familiar.  Then I realized it was the same or very similar to an old sea shanty which has become an Australian folk song under a couple of names, but most readily identified by the title, Bound for South Australia (i.e. The ‘Stralian Cruiser Squadron).  
Maybe composed around 1870, in the Clipper Ship days, it is about a young sailor from Australia with a girlfriend in South Australia.  Cape Horn and Liverpool are mentioned, and wheat and wool were frequently moved from South Australia to England in the clipper ship days.  This young man is looking forward to getting back to South Australia at the end of the voyage.  Is it just a coincidence that the seafaring vessel depicted at the top of the nautical chart above, and balancing the Memphis drawing at the bottom of the chart, is a clipper ship?  Here is one version of Bound for South Australia.  I warn you that if you listen to it all the way through it will be in your head for the rest of the day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqic8vpShr4 
After listening once, play it again and try to put the words of the Theme Song to the music.  According to Wikipedia, Bound for South Australia became a popular camp song in the U.S. in the early 1940s.  So, was the song known to the Memphis crew in 1938 before they left the U.S., or did the sailors pick up the tune in the pubs in Sydney and put their own words to it on the way to Singapore?  and then spread it around campfires in the U.S. over succeeding years?  I suppose we’ll never know.
Oh, and the cruisebook editor was the chaplain.

Reblog: Why Do We Remember the Casualties of War?

Denzil Walton, of Discovering Belgium, has penned a thoughtful essay prior to Armistice/Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the US) next month, on why do we remember the casualties of war.

Some of his points include:

  • Does it remind us of the horrors of war?
  • Does remembrance help avoid future conflicts?
  • Does it express our gratitude?
Old Guard Tomb Soldier at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

The Ghost and Miss Maddy

Maddy has been selected as the subject for this year’s Library Halloween t-shirt so I decided it was an opportune time to catch up with the Midway Library’s favorite mascot. 

  • What do you think about being the inspiration for this  year’s Halloween t -shirt?  Is your ghost, your buddy from Annex 2, Monty?

Mom and I were both happy and surprised when we found out about this year’s Halloween t-shirt.  Yes, Monty is the ghost in Annex 2, but I wouldn’t call him my buddy.  I don’t feel comfortable with him and I worry about him around my Mom.  After all, it is my job to protect her.

  • Your mom recently had another fall.  Was this as scary as the fall out of the  helicopter?  How did you help with her rehab?

It was very scary.  This time we were home all by ourselves.  I knew immediately something was wrong—my Mom fell so hard.  She hit her head on the door frame, broke her left arm and fractured her left foot.  Mom got herself up, made several phone calls, put her arm in a sling, and got my food, bowls and bed together and walked me up to the neighbors.  She left me there and told me she was going to the doctors.  That was a very long doctor’s appointment–she was gone 5 days!

When she finally got home, she couldn’t lift me up by herself so we came up with a way where I would jump up and she would get her right hand under my bottom and lift me into the chair.  It was a little clumsy, but it worked. 

After a couple of weeks, the doctor had her start bending her elbow, so I would sit on her lap and give her moral support.  If I thought she was slowing down, I would pat my paw on her tummy.  When she was done with those exercises, I would get a treat for being such a big help to her.

  • Do you like Halloween?  Do you greet the Trick or Treaters that come to do the door?  Do you dress  up for Halloween?

Yes, I do like Halloween.  Mom dresses me up for Halloween.  I have been an angel, a ballerina, a pumpkin and a ladybug.  I love putting on costumes—they make me feel very pretty and everyone always smiles. 

We are in Idaho a lot for Halloween, so I just normally sit on the couch with my Mom when the kids come to the door.

  • What is your favorite season?

My favorite seasons are fall and winter.  I like the cooler weather and Mom always decorates the house, especially for Christmas.  There are lots of good scents, pretty lights and different things in the house.  For Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas I get treats, so it’s hard to choose which one I like best.

  • Do you look forward to your Mom going back to work?  What changes do you expect because of COVID?

I know before Mom got hurt we weren’t going to the ship and I couldn’t understand—in fact we weren’t going anywhere and I really like going for rides.  We went to the ship last week for the first time for a meeting and there weren’t hardly any of my special friends there. The ship didn’t have as many people there either.  I don’t understand what COVID is, but I don’t like it.  I am looking forward to things going back to normal—hopefully that will be soon. 

  • I hear the Midway Library staff wants to write a book based upon the t-shirt.  Do you think it should be a picture book, comic book, or graphic novel?  What will be your part of the book writing and preparing?  You are going to be a media star and  you heard it hear first!

The meeting Mom and I went to last week was about the book.  I’m not sure what all of it was about but I know my Mom was very impressed with the work that had been done—I heard her tell them that.  My only part of the meeting was lying on the floor and listening and then getting pets from everyone there. 

  • Are there other publicity outlets you would like to explore—plush Maddy toys, YouTube channel,  Instagram, Pinterest?

Since I really like squeaky plush toys, maybe a Maddy plush toy would be something interesting.

  • What do you and your Mom have planned for Thanksgiving?

We’re going to go to my Aunt Shelba’s house in Riverside County for Thanksgiving.  In August, my cousin and her husband moved very close to Mom and me and they will be going to Aunt Shelba’s as well.  It will be a fun day—Aunt Shelba and I are very close.

  • What do you think of all of the wild fires on the West Coast?   Have you been affected by them yet?

The fires are terrible and I know they have hurt a lot of people.  We had one not too far from our home and with the Santa Ana winds moving in there was fear that it could come close to our home.  It was a very tiring day.  Mom spent a lot of time going from room to room and putting things together and since I knew she was upset, I had to follow her everywhere.  Finally when the afternoon came and I was exhausted, I would lay in the hallway so I could see what room she was in. 

  • What is one thing you would like your legions of adoring fans to know about you? 

I just hope everyone is well and that soon we get to do the things we always did.  I miss seeing all of my friends–you know I’m a very social girl!

Since Maddy and Nan answered these question, they are both happily back on the Midway.