Long Ago, A Sea Story

My brother Joe and i talked this morning. It’s a long way between the Southwest and Northeast corners of this country, but during our phone calls, the distance seems to melt away. Today, we talked of COVID and the things old brothers and younger brothers talk about, but not politics. We don’t talk politics. Joe always seems to give me a new deeper, philosophical aspect of whatever comes up. i lean on him, sometimes too much i’m sure. i am the ribald one, telling funny stories. Today during our talks, something came up reminding me of a sea story.

Now this sea story occurred a long, long time ago. It was during the time i was the executive officer of the 18-man MSTS (half-way through the Navy changed the name from Military Sea Transport Service to Military Sealift Command, i.e. MSC) Transport Unit One. We rode the MSTS ships carrying Korean troops to and from Vietnam. Our unit was responsible for liaison between the ship and the troops and coordinating, loading, unloading, and maintaining good order and discipline.

One of our staff was a Master Chief. i won’t divulge his name or rating here to protect the guilty. i mean, this was a different time, and this guy and i would be excoriated for what he did and what i’m telling now about what he did. What i’m trying to say is this is not a politically correct post for the current culture of our world and even would have been offensive to many during the time it occurred. That, of course, makes it a wonderful sea story.

This master chief was extremely good at his work and the esprit de corps of the enlisted and officer personnel. He was also an old school master chief.

 *    *    *

The Master Chief’s first misadventure came during one of ours stays in Sasebo, Japan, where the ship went through resupply and maintenance after each roundtrip sail between Pusan, Korea and two ports in Vietnam. After a day of liberty, the master chief reported to the CO and me with his entire head bandaged up.

“Good Lord, Master Chief, “What happened to you?”

“I got my jaw broke,” he replied.

“How?”

“This Japanese wife of one of the chiefs stationed here hit me with her purse,” he nodded his head resignedly.

“Hit you with her purse?” i puzzled.

“Yes sir, XO,” the Master Chief replied, “I was at the chief’s club playing the slots in the game room. i wasn’t doing very well on the one i was one, and i watched this woman and she was doing pretty well.

“So when she left, i went over and started playing that machine. I had just won a small jackpot when she came back. Apparently, she had just gone to the head.

“When she saw i had won some money on the machine she had been playing, she hit me with her purse.”

“She broke your jaw by hitting you with her purse!” i exclaimed incredulously.

“Well sir, her purse was full of quarters.”

 *    *    *

Now the Master Chief enjoyed his liberty. On one stop in Pusan, he decided he would go down to the sizable and wild red light district. He talked the ship’s stewards into giving him a whole uncooked chicken, found a long pole, tied a piece of twine to it, and on the other end attached the chicken. The Master Chief went down to the red light district’s main drag. He hung the pole over his shoulder with the chicken dangling on the twine behind him. Then, he walked up and down the middle of it.

When we found out what he had done, i asked him what in the world he was doing. The Master Chief replied, “I was trawling for a woman.”

He never told me if he caught anything.

 *    *    *

On one of our ports in Vietnam, the Master Chief found an Air Force doc who performed vasectomies. This was in the earlier days of the procedure, at least for the military, and the Navy had not authorized them. So the Master Chief signed up for one on our next trip to that port.

As we pulled into Pusan before the ship’s next trip to Nam, the Master Chief prepared for our one night of liberty there. This time, he had a friend make a sign on a pole, he carried and marched down that same central street of the red light district. The sign read in Korean letters: “Get the Last Live Load.”

Once again, i never learned of the success or failure of his exploit.

i’m glad i never knew what happened.

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