Or Why I live in the Tropics!
Long pants are not needed very often. Long Sleeved Shirts, I don’t own any. I’ve not had a pair of socks on since 1986. The last time I was cold, I only had to adjust the Air/Con. Somehow the Navy found out about my aversion to the cold and stationed me in Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and Southern California. I still thank them for that.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was stationed on a ship in Newport RI a 40-minute motorcycle ride from my family’s house on Cape Cod. They sold the City house in Boston during the late 1960’s. But as we all know, there are higher powers controlling our life. My ship in Newport was reassigned to Virginia, so I missed another New England winter. Praise be the Lord! The ship transported my bike for me on the ship, but car owners had to fly back to Newport to pick them up.
Later in life on the USS Kalamazoo AOR-6, we dropped the hook in Bergen Norway which is above the Arctic Circle in the month of January. (I’ll never bitch about a New England winter again!)
I left my last Navy ship and went to recruiting duty in Cocoa Florida. Unfortunately, I was good at the job and the Navy kept me an extra year. Nice time on the dirt, but sailors belong at sea! My detailer in Washington explained my peers won’t leave sea duty, because while I was gone, the Sea Pay rose from $40.00 per month to $600.00 (Thank you: Ron Reagan the Militaries friend) no ship’s for Paul, But there is an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia that was considered sea duty… Remember something I promised the Navy in the beginning; “As long as it’s warm, I’ll take the duty!” I was kinda obligated to go. One full year, ripped from my life and flushed away to never be seen again. BUT! It is close to the equator, and it was warm. Be careful what we wish for!!! Funny story, Two Master Chief’s (Dave and Oscar) as a freshly minted Senior Chief (Named Paul) we were sitting at the CPO Building having a “Gin & Tonic” when Dave said. The Air Force has a C5-A at the airport gassed up and heading to the Philippines and will bring us back Sunday night, do you want to go? My ditty bag was packed in one minute and I was outside of Mod 51 waiting for a ride. Oscar and Dave appeared beside me within a nano second, the boondoggle has begun. Our buddies in the Air Force picked us up in a little powder blue truck and whisked us to the end of the runway, the C5-A taxied there to turn for takeoff, dropped the rear ramp and the three of us scurried aboard and the Navy was none the wiser. What happened while we were in the Philippines is between us and our maker. But a good time was had by all. We were placed back on the Island of Diego Garcia late Sunday night and no one knew what had happened.
At the next “Hail and Farewell” the base executive officer (The XO) asked me if I had heard the rumor of three sailors taking a clandestine trip to Angeles City? I knew nothing!
The year was up, back to another Island beside Santa Catalina named San Clemently a 45-minute flight from San Diego at 10:00 AM on Monday until 11:00 AM on Thursday and again it was sea duty! Throw me into that briar patch. I loved it!
The time there flew by and I had to go. Still no empty ship, so it was “Hey Paul, how’d you like three years in Puerto Rico? OH, damn, another tropical island? Does the Navy think I have a fear of wide spaces, and can only work on Islands? Another briar patch, woe is me!
I retired and stayed in Puerto Rico, opened two-night clubs, and was living the life most people only dreamed about. Oh, I was still single and enjoying it. Then fate raised its ugly head and sent me a category five Hurricane named Hugo. Or the one that tore up South Carolina after it dropped to a Cat. Four!
Hero to zero, in only 24 hours, two bars: GONE, three cars underwater, one house and one beach condo; Gone, Paul drunk and on a military C5-A flight to Tampa Florida. (Do you see the warm that keeps biting me in the ass?) (LOL) No islands in my future, working in the Saint Pete Florida area would you believe it I was working on “Treasure Island”, and off to Miami on my new-old Harley XLCH. Parked in the US Coast Guard lot and applied for my Z-card (Merchant Marine Document) Civilian worker, rejects my application because my DD-214’s were not certified to be original. I was set to let the Popeye Factor take control when a Coast Guard Chief asked me for my retired ID. Then he turned to the civilian and said: If you don’t believe his DD-214’s are valid, explain who gave him his ID? The Chief plugged my name into the DEERS computer and I popped on the screen. Give this Senior Chief his new Z-Card or we’ll discuss this during your next performance review. I was on the bike on my way to Tampa Bay within 45 minutes. BTW; Thank you Chief!
That month I was hired by Military Sealift Command as a mariner and was on my way to San Francisco to start working on ships again. Back to warm: The coldest winter I ever felt was a summer in San Francisco. Off to Guam to my first ship, then someplace new every week throughout Asia. There was warm, warm and some more warm. Until I told you about, the winter in Dutch Harbor on the non-tropical island of Unalaska. No warm!
The plan “A” in my life was to replenish the cash supply; head back to Puerto Rico and start again. But the island of Luzon got put in my way, and I’ve lived here since 1993 on my new tropical island. It is funny how life works out. Never plan it, just live it.