1966-1967 West Pac Memories #2 Paul Trombetta

Memories of West Pac, 1966-1967

by Paul Trombetta AX3 and AX2 and almost AX3 again (HS-8)

Installment #2- Carrier Quals- A State of Mind

Well, lets see; where was I? Oh yes, walking up the afterbrow in the summer of 1966. Who would have known that in one year it would be the summer of peace and love, and one year later, the summer of hate and violence- but that's another story.

Now lets me try to remember the USS Recruit at San Diego boot camp. First salute the OOD, or first salute the flag. And speaking of the flag, where in the hell was it? Where is the bow? Where is the fantail? There is no clear pointy end to this thing. I think I'll just fake it and salute twice in two random directions. Whew!!! It worked!!!

Didn't get written up for improper salute, but the OOD (another damned Chief) told me to go over there and pointed to a line of HS-8 sailors- most of my friends, in fact. I asked him what for and he told me that I needed a haircut and before I could come aboard HIS ship, I would have to get a haircut from one of the fine barbers they had onboard.

Yep, you guessed it. About 12 of us marching down these very steep stairs- ok, ladders- with our seabags slung over our shoulders. Met a very nice man with some electric shears in his right hand and a grin on his face. Howdy boys- have a seat right here (patting a barber chair). Well, I've been told that I better go get myself a rack and a locker pretty quick or I'd be sleeping in the gun tub, so I told this gentleman, I'll go first.

Take a little off the top and keep it full over the ears because my hair sticks out if it's not long enough over the ears. No, I don't need it razor cut and styled today. A light trim will be fine. Fastest damned haircut I ever had in my life. About 27 seconds of whirring and buzzing. How could so much hair be falling down around me for such a short time in the chair. What? You don't have scissors? And you don't have a mirror so I can see if it's OK? How about a whisk broom to get this gallon of hair outta my face? No? Next??? Ok, I'm outta here. I'll check it out later. My white hat sure seems too big now. Lets see, where is the 02 level, port gun tub? Port- that's left, right? If you are facing the pointy end, but there's no damned pointy end.

Knee Knockers? What are.....Ouch!!!!.....knee knockers, and don't forget when going through those doors- ok, hatches.

Well, I found the forward gun tubs on the 02 level. HS-8 had the three compartments between these gun tubs. Actually pretty nice compared to some of the places I saw below decks. So, lets see if I can find a rack and locker. The MAA hands me a canvas and rope and points to this aluminum frame, 4 rows up and says- that's the last one left.

OK, so how do I hang on while suspended to these racks and tie my canvas to the frame? Figure it out, bootcamp!!! Well, I managed to get it done- my knot was a big glob but it held (I only weighed 160 pounds back then). After I put the mattress and fart sack on it, I decided to try it out. Laid on my back and looked up. 4 inches above my nose were all of these pipes that were insulated with.... now, what does that say? Asbestos? What's that?

Coming soon.... Installment 3..... Who hung those rockets on the S2's??


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