Navy Life- Installment 2

We were then marched into an adjoining room where everyone was measured for clothes and shoes etc. and had handed too us a full issue of clothes we would need for the next four years. Also received was a seabag in which to store all our new found wealth. Wearing only a pair of skivvies, (thats Navy talk for underwear son!) we were then directed to a door at the end of this room. When you went in you had a full head of hair, when you came out you had none and was as bald as a billiard ball! This didn't bother me to much as I was already pretty light in the hair department when I was seventeen. But some of those guys acted like they were having their hearts cut out. In 1956 there were a lot of guys who wore their hair, cut and styled just like, "THE KING"! That would be Elvis in case you who are reading this weren't born then.

Dragging all our worldly goods with us in the aforementioned seabag, we were led/marched out the door and along the road till we came to an empty barracks building which was to be our home for the next 16 weeks. Inside you were assigned too a double bunk with some other unfortunate soul, of whom you would be smelling much in the coming weeks. We never did get to eat that first morning because now we were involved in stenciling our name on every piece of the newly issud clothing. I mean even the socks. Myself and a couple of other guys of Polish descent had a hell of a time trying to get the first two initials and full last name on a sock! We spent the rest of the morning doing this and getting every thing stowed in a very small locker according to a rigid plan. No variations allowed. And I mean NO variation. If your sock wasn't rolled up so that your initials were facing the front when the door was opened for inspection, you were in deep Poo, and you would have to go all over the barracks looking for your stuff, because everything not in order was given the heave ho. I was usually in Poo right up to my neck, as that had been a given all the time I was growing up on the Island. A handkerchief that was a quarter inch out of line would earn you a few more poo points. Then it was outside where we put into positions within the group that we would adhere to till the end of bootcamp. Now we were told that we were to be called Company 252 and that we would all be called "Recruit" whatever your name was, and that you had better answer up on the first call! By now it was lunch time and we had our first disasterous attempt at marching as a group over to the mess hall for lunch.

The whole setup of the training grounds revolved around a huge piece of macadam about three football fields square. This was called a "Grinder" and we would find out very soon why it had that name. Around this, was arranged about twenty barracks buildings with a huge mess hall at one end. At the other end was another large building that housed all the classrooms where we would matriculate in the coming months. Now began a daily routine of reveille at 0600, go to breakfast by 0615, be back by 0700, and get the barracks cleaned up and squared away by 0800. "Cleaning up" entailed a complete sweeping and swabbing, (moppimg) the deck, cleaning and polishing of all the sinks, showers, and toilets in the HEAD. Thats a bathroom to all you landlubbers. After all this maid service was done, we began our daily indoctrination into becoming 4.0 sailors in Uncle Sams Navy! They taught us Naval history so that we would understand some of the traditions that had arisen over the last two hundred years plus. Fire fighting aboard ships, damage control, boat handling etc. a basic intro into the more common ratings that we would all work in, were presented. We had a go at trying out some of them. Mostly it involved what the Boatswains,(Bosun's) Mates would be doing as most of the recruits would go directly to a ship of the line out in the fleet after graduation.

At the end of the first week we were stood at attention outside the barracks and asked if anyone would like to try out for the Company Drill Team. First thought that came into my head was that this was some kind of nasty job that we hadn't yet heard about. I also remember someone telling me not to volunteer for anything! The Company Commander then proceeded to tell us that the Drill Team was a team of sailors who marched in a precision group, and would represent our Company in the graduation ceremony and some other functions around the Bainbridge area. When he told us that it would entail rising at 0500 and walking a mile or so to a special place where the team practiced every day till graduation, many of the would-be's backed out. Well I had been getting up earlier and walking about that distance on a lot of days when I was younger so it didn't seem so bad to me. Well, I volunteered to try out and that afternoon myself and nine other hopefuls went off to this place to begin our tryouts. When we got there we were all formed up according to height and then a drill instructor began marching us up and down this huge Gym floor. He began snapping out commands faster and faster. Every time someone would screw up, he would stop the group and the offender was told to go back to his barracks. We had started out with about 100 guys representing all the Companys sourrounding our grinder. By the time the Instructor was done with us, there were only 28 of us left.I was the only surviving member from my Company, and went on to throughly enjoy the rest of the time spent on the team and the demonstrations that we gave. I went on to join the Drill Teams at the next three duty stations also. Being in the team also exempted you from what was euphemistically called "Service Week"! It was a full week where all your Company spent its time doing the scut work fore the whole brigade. You worked in the mess hall doing all the necessary chores asscociated with cooking and cleaning up for 2000 men. You would be doing outside work like cleaning the streets, buildings, mowing the grass, cleaning the classrooms, painting inside and out etc. In short we were the maintenance crew for for the brigade for that week, and then it would fall to the next company in line to continue our fine work! After enduring service week and hopefully surviving it, we returned to the same daily routine that had preceded the temporary break. TO BE CONTINUED

1 comment:

Sam said...

Thanks, Everett, but you're stalling! I'd love to hear about ships, planes, and foreign lands. Well, I guess you do have to start at the beginning ... my Naval Cadet (kinda like Boy Scout) training sounds like nothing compared to your's ... I'll be checking for more installments.

Hey, did you all have the "E" flag for passing the most inspections?