A Tale of the Sea and Me (For Sam), Installment 14

Across the Pond (the first time)

This is likely to be the shortest chapter in this book to be written. i have been writing on it for over a week when yesterday, i realized there was only one real “Sea Story” in all that i had written. There was a lot of personal history, which i have saved separately for my grandson

i left Key West, went to Atlanta, and then home to Lebanon, Tennessee before reporting to Charleston, South Carolina. i had no idea of what i was getting into. i didn’t have a great deal of guidance. i had service dress khaki, which i was wearing and still love in spite of it leaving the Navy in the 70’s some time; a complete set of Naval Officer uniforms; a cruise box; and a sea bag.

All i really knew was i had an airline ticket to Charleston, South Carolina where i should report to the Air Force Base, spend a night in the BOQ, and catch a flight to Rota, Spain the next day to await for a connecting flight to my first ship as a Naval Officer, the USS Hawkins (DD873). The cruise box was a 19x32x16 inch plywood box. The sea bag was a standard Navy duffel bag. They were crammed with my life.

My flight was on a Military Aircraft Command (MAC) transport to the Naval Base at Rota, Spain. Not yet accustom to military ways, i was assuming i would spend a night there and be flown to a Mediterranean port to meet my ship the next day. Nope. i sat in Rota while the Navy tried to figure out where my ship was.

i took a tour to Seville where i saw a rather poorly performed bullfight. i played golf daily at the dry, dusty course, and ate my breakfasts at the BOQ mess and the rest of my meals at the Officer’s Club.

It took two weeks for the Navy to figure out where my ship was located (it was way before GPS). i was notified by messages to the BOQ front desk, where i was berthed, my flight would be the next morning. Finally.

i caught an Air Force flight the next morning to the Aeropuerto de Málaga-Costa del Sol in Málaga, Spain, a flight under two-hours , arriving around 1000.

The crew offloaded about a ton of equipment and supplies onto the tarmac, covered it all with a cargo net and dumped me beside the pile. The crew signed some papers with members of the La Guardia, Spain’s security force who wore those strange hats that look like plastic with the square bills glued to the cap. Then, the plane took off.

There was no shade. It felt like it was nearing 100 degrees. i had no where to go. Thinking the Navy would pick me up soon, i sat in my service dress khaki and sweated.

i was pretty well drenched when my transportation arrived. The DCA had directed the hired truck to the airport, and he decided to hit Málaga one last time. His last drink(s) took about two hours while i sat with my sweat.

i had been excited about some liberty in Málaga. As the airport name suggests, it is part of the Costa del Sol, the Spanish equivalent of the French Riviera. The thought of hitting the night spots and going to the beach was intriguing. But as i sat down the shotgun seat of the van, the DCA informed me the ship would be getting underway for the States as soon as the cargo was loaded aboard.

My exciting time for my first experience in the Mediterranean was two weeks on base in Rota with a day in Seville, a short flight to Málaga, and the upcoming three-hour underway to the Atlantic.

i reported aboard the USS Hawkins (DD 873) , met the Executive Officer, CDR Louis Guimond, and my Weapons Department head, Steve Jones. i was escorted to my stateroom, the only one in forward officers country. i reported to the bridge and observed her get away from the pier.

And i was underway: a Navy ensign on my first ship, . i was totally unaware of what was before me.

The adventure continues.

7 thoughts on “A Tale of the Sea and Me (For Sam), Installment 14

  1. Christmas Day 1967 attended a bullfight in Malaga with a bud, met two Belgian school teachers there and they joined us for fancy Christmas dinner @ the Gran Hotel Nautilus on the beach in Torremolinos. A good time was had by all! Feliz Navidad!

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