Where'd My SHIP Go!!??

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
One of my many funny experiences as a young Navy man

Submitted: April 23, 2012

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Submitted: April 23, 2012

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Where'd My SHIP Go??!!

 
 
 
 
After a much needed 2-week leave following Navy Boot Camp (nine weeks of “**** on earth for me!”), I said good bye to my Mother in St. Louis, proudly donned my dress blue "crackerjacks", and flew to Los Angeles, Ca. (Long Beach), where my first ship, destroyer USS DeHaven (DD727), was home ported.  I had never been to LA, let alone California, and to say that this pimple-faced, eighteen -year-old kid was "scared" was an understatement...I was TERRIFIED!  The just under three hour flight gave me plenty of time to calm down, but, as I contemplated the many challenges that I was sure awaited me, it was just about impossible to relax.  As we landed at LAX,  my heart was racing, and I was a nervous wreck!  There were people rushing everywhere in the terminal!  Once I collected myself, I realized my first stop should be the baggage claim.  After walking what seemed a mile or two, I finally found it, and picked up my (heavy!) sea bag and guitar.  With an item in each hand, I wearily set out to find the main terminal.  Hopefully, there I would find out how to get to the Long Beach Navy Base.  I happened across another sailor in his blues, and asked him how to get to the base.  He pointed to a sign and an arrow on the wall that said "military limousine this way", and told me it was the cheapest way (don‘t recall what it cost).  I followed the sign, and found a line of people outside the terminal already waiting for it.  After asking a few questions, I discovered the "limousine" was actually a small bus that made regular runs to all the nearby military bases.  I welcomed the chance to finally set down all my things again...and to SLOW DOWN for a while!
In a few more minutes, the limo arrived, and we all boarded.  I asked the driver where in Long Beach he stopped, and he told me downtown, and that I would have to catch another taxi to the ship.  It was about a twenty minute ride, and, when he dropped me off at the Long Beach Greyhound Station, my anxiety started all over again.  Shortly, a taxi pulled up.  He loaded all my stuff in his trunk, and when he asked what ship I was going to, I told him.  He radioed and found out what pier my ship was tied up at, and we were (finally) off to the Navy Base.  On our arrival at the main gate, I showed my ID card to the sentry.  The cabbie asked once again where DeHaven was tied up, and we were on the way.  My all day ordeal was almost over...or so I THOUGHT!
In a few more minutes, he dropped me on the pier.  He got my stuff out of the trunk, then I paid and thanked him, and he drove off.  I saw lots of haze gray ships, but NONE with DeHaven‘s “727” on the hull!  When I looked at the ship tied up at the pier, it LOOKED like a destroyer, but it WASN'T DeHaven.  (Unbeknownst to me, a devious sailor on the ship I was looking at was watching my every bewildered move, and he knew I was terrified!  I was about to walk SMACK into my first "newbie" prank of my young Navy career, at the hands of a sailor I didn‘t even know!).  I gingerly walked a little closer to the ship’s brow, and the sailor walked off the brow and met me.  He asked me what ship I was looking for, and I told him DeHaven.  Without cracking even a devilish grin, he told me to follow him.  He took me to just past his ship's fantail, and pointed out another destroyer in the harbor, several hundred feet away.  He asked me, "Ya see THAT!?  THAT'S your ship!  It just LEFT!"  (What he DIDN'T {purposely} tell me was DeHaven was only breasting OUT to let HIS ship finish tying up pier side...and that DeHaven would soon be back IN!).  On that, my heart started racing again, and I whispered an “Oh, ****!“ , out loud.  I stared to panic, and immediately started envisioning all the horrible things that could happen because I "missed" my ship.  I asked him who I could call to let them know I missed it.  He told me I could come aboard his ship and "ask the quarterdeck Officer of the Deck (OOD) what to do".  When I came aboard, I was so nervous I couldn’t  even get my words out without stuttering.  By that time, the OOD had been tipped off as to what was going on, and he told me the TRUTH...I had been pranked!  (Had he NOT told me the truth, I may have been an eighteen-year-old heart attack victim!).
An hour or so later, DeHaven DID return, and I (finally!) reported aboard!  I was SO happy this day was FINALLY over, but I’d fall for a LOT more pranks in the next two years before I finally caught on!  
 


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