Shipmates: Jerry Church and I put
our cyber-heads together and came up with a format for recording some of the
sea stories from our Ramsey Daze and it goes something on the order of
"Can you top this one?" Every one should
feel free, nay obligated, to submit his (or her) favorite stories and they
will be added in similar fashion.
The dialog begins with those of us "not actually on watch" kicked
back on the fantail after evening chow, waitin' for
the Green Flash. What was for chow? Brown stuff, green stuff, and yellow bug
juice. You ever notice how you couldn't tell that stuff apart with your eyes
closed? Bug juice had to be qualified with a color. No flavor, just color.
Jerry: Talking about color, how about the Yellow
Gun Barrel Incident?
As I remember (don't say it) I was on the Flying Bridge doing something to
one of the TDT's when I noticed some sort of commotion on the forecastle.
Never being one to let work get in the way of curiosity, I moseyed down to
take a look. GMSN Newton had depressed the 5"-38 gun barrel and painted
it yellow. Some officers and QM's from the bridge were taking pictures and
having a high time of it. So documentary evidence does exist. Or did at one
The story behind this goes thusly: GMM1 Webb had obtained a 50 gallon oil drum
*sometimes called a barrel* which he intended to tow behind the ship as a
small-arms *sometimes called guns* target. He told Newton to go down and
paint the *gun* *barrel* yellow. Never being one to question even the most
outrageous order, Newton immediately stepped to, and a legend was born.
Did you remember that Newton (I don't think I ever heard his first name) was
Willie Crier's brother? Fact!
Dave: If memory serves me, the need for the "Yellow Barrel" arose
out of need for a target for a mine-dodging exercise. We were at the end of
our interminable shake down / underway training with the ComNavSurfPac
advisors abroad. We were to simulate traversing a craftily laid out mine
field and at the end of the exercise, to simulate the destruction of one of
those little rascals by shooting a yellow (for ease of sighting) barrel with
When I've told that story in the past, only old Destroyer Sailors believe it.
As if anyone could make that story up!
Jerry: I never was seasick on the Rammer much. Not even so much as
"uncomfortable". Except one time....
We were headed out for Sea Trials right after commissioning. The Straits of
Juan de Fuca between the Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver are always a rough
ride. A few of us went down to the first deck and as far foreward
as possible. No, not there, farther than that. We were even past 3rd Division
berthing, and ahead of the sonar equipment spaces. Up where the hull gets
real narrow. I don't remember who all was there, but it sounds like something
Meyerson would be in on. You and Casey. Nelson? It was never my fault. There
was always someone to lead me down the paths of unrighteousness.
Anyhow, we were taking this fabulous 20-30 foot elevator ride every time the
ship went over a big swell. When the bow went up, we were real heavy, when
the bow crashed down, we were almost floating off the deck. Right in the
middle of all the fun, my stomach said WRONG!!! *THIS*IS*WRONG!! Then it was
soda crackers and water for me until we got back into port.
Dry heaves at sea. God, it don't get no better than that!! Unless it's
blowing cheap wine in the alley. Makes for a real colorful show!
Dave: Speaking of blowin' cheap brown wine in the
wind, wasn't Seattle the greatest? About the only folks that tried to be as
rowdy as us Ramseyites were the Huskies from the
University of Washington.
One evening SM2 Swyers and several other
"skivvies wavers" (by the way, did you know that the Canadians call
'em "Cheer Leaders") were at one of the
U-district watering holes (The Sandpiper?) and were enjoying several U of W
frat brats holding forth with a chug-a-lugging contest.
Not ones to let the Ramsey be left out, our boys poneyed
up about $50 and challenged the college types to a one shot, winner take all,
down the hatch, set-to!
With the bartender timing the students and the bar-maid (of course) timing
the Rammers, someone hollered "GO" and another legend was born. Swyers had an epiglottis that one day will occupy a place
of honor at the Smithsonian. He drained that pitcher of beer in about 6.73
micro-seconds, Newton (Isaac) will verify that one cannot pour the beer on
the deck that fast, not on this planet! I bought SM2 a pitcher at the Brass
Rail one night just to watch him and I know after watching his technique that
I was in the presence of true greatness!
Jerry: Oh yea, well talk about seasick, my brother Ron always got queasy
whenever they singled up lines.
I always felt bad for him. There were three of us brothers on the 2-Boat, you
know. Oh, not all at the same time, but kinda in a
row with a little overlap. And we were all Fire Controlmen.
The Church dynasty on the Ramsey ran for 12 or 13 years. I sent the
Commanding Officer a letter upon the occasion of Gene's (the last one)
impending discharge, and advised him that from now on they were on their own
as there were no more Church brothers, except for Rick, the lubber we left
ashore. The Captain wrote back and said he thought they could handle it. Then
he published my letter in the POD which really upset Gene. He was kind of a
shy guy and tried not to cut a real wide swath.
Don't talk much, do you?
Jerry: Good movie coming up on the Mess Deck? Hot, dark, crowded and cramped,
smoke-filled, swaying to and fro, watching some 1940's drama. Just the way I
like my entertainment. Of course, where else you gonna
When I joined and they were talking about the Bennies, one of the things they
said was, "The Navy gets all the latest released films along with the
theaters. Whenever all the Stars get together for a Hollywood Premier, you
can rest assured sailors in the fleet are watching that same movie". Awww, come on. Maybe they meant sailors on aircraft
carriers or Flag cruisers, but surely not ESCORT ships!!
Hey Dave, trivia time! What are the names of the masts on a 7-masted schooner?
Now there's a sure-fire way to start an argument among a bunch of sailing
men. Turns out there was only one 7-masted schooner ever built: the
"Thomas W. Lawson". Depending on who you listen to, you can get
answers like: fore, main, mizzen, jigger, kicker, driver, pusher; or fore,
main, mizzen, jigger, driver, pusher, spanker; but the crews on the
"Lawson" just called them "fore, main, mizzen, number 4,
number 5, number 6, and number 7". Not quite as colorful as the other
names, but "Oh, well..."
You can probably tell it's getting quite a ways on the gone side of the dog
I subscribe to a Yahoo! Group called navydestroyersailors.
They are in a big discussion now about the trashiest bars in the blackest
holes of the world. Think you could come up with a few?
Dave: Can I?! I hope to s--t in your flat hat!
I have a bookmark that takes me, at times when I wax nostalgic, to a web site
that extolls the merits of the current beer-joints in Olongopo,
P.I. Boy, those days are gone forever I'm afraid.
There was the White Horse, the Cave (where the young ladies did the
"Soap Dance"), Papa Gayo's, and who could
forget the Sampiguita Club on base. The place I
remember the most vividly I think was called the East End Club. For a young
and tender sailor like myself, it was like a religious experience. (They had
a religious icon on the wall that we dubbed "Our Lady of the
Evening") I'm not sure, but I think FTM2 Jackson got kidnapped from this
den of iniquity and broke his arm jumping out of a jeepney.
There was another place that had a moat with a mean old alligator in it and a
guy selling baby ducks. Sailors would buy a duck, throw it in the moat and
then make bets on many laps it would make before ol'
Mr. Gator would snap it up!
Well, it beat the movie on the mess decks!
My very last night in Olongopo was spent on Shore
Patrol (how appropriate). My beat was from the statue of Rizel
to the river. What an eye opener that was. I was appalled!