Wednesday, March 7, 2007

USS Henderson (DD-785)

Saturday, March 3, 2007
USS Henderson (DD-785)

We sailed back to Long Beach without any problems with the weather.
On the way back I was called as a witness in SN Johnson's Captain's Mast.
Captain's Mast is non-judicial in nature, and the Captain, after hearing the evidence of a case, and recommendations from the XO, Department Head, Division Officer, Chief and LPO (Leading Petty Officer), decides the accused fate.

The accused get's an opportunity to refute charges, and witnesses may be called in.
It generally doesn't last long. If someone is charged with a major crime, than NIS (now called NCIS) may investigate, and the Captain will send the accused to a Court Martial, which is much like a civilian trial.

The Captain heard the charges Johnson was accused of, and looked forboding standing behind his podium.

The evidence was solid, and I was called to speak about what Johnson had told me.
After speaking, I was dismissed.

I heard, later, that none of Johnson's superiors were willing to say a kind word in his support. He was a lousy worker and showed little respect for authority.

I don't know what Johnson said in his defense, but whatever it was, it didn't.
In a word Johnson was: screwed.

He received the maximum punishment the Captain could give: 45 days restriction to the ship, reduction in rank from SN to SA, forfeiture of half a months pay for 2 months, 2 hours extra duty for the duration of his restriction, and he had to stand muster 5 times a day for inspection by the Master At Arms (or duty Master At Arms).
He was also to be processed for an 'other than honorable discharge.'

His friend, PN2 Chindle was busted to PN3, received 30 days retriction, and forfeiture of half a months pay for 2 months.

"Well, that takes care of that. I hated to see Chindle get busted, but he knows better. Johnson has been in trouble before, and since he is a piss poor worker I can see why the Skipper canned his ass," Chief Cook said.

"True enough. I still can't believe they are selling the Henderson," Eltee said.
"It wouldn't be so bad if we were selling her to a worthy ally, but Pakistan? Damn!"

"Look at the bright side Eltee. They'll have a helluva time keeping her up and runnin'! Ha ha!" Chief laughed.

Nothing could keep the Chief down for long, I thought.

"Rots of ruck I say!" Exclaimed Eltee.

"I'll miss you Eltee. It's been an honor," said Chief.

"Aw hell, Chief, I won't be that far from you. It's no more than what, a 10 minute drive from NTC (Naval Training Center) to MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot)," Eltee said.

"I meant workin' with ya. Sheesh! Can't ya take a compliment ya dumb zero?" Chief said, elbowing Eltee in the side.

"Why so cryptic Chief? What's really on your mind?" Eltee asked, chuckling.

It was a calm, sunny day, as we stared out at the water, reflecting the bright sunlight in such a way that the bay shimmered and sparkled.

"Have you finished Conrad's evals?" Chief asked. "I gave them to ya 2 weeks ago."

"I will be going over them with him later today. You didn't leave me much to add, and you even spelled everything right for a change," Eltee said, smiling.

"I'm bettin' you'll think of somethin'. They must've taught you a few sixty four dollar words I don't know at Annapolis," Chief said.

"Sure, I suppose. I like it as is though. Besides, I'm neck deep in paperwork," Eltee said, winking at me.

"What?! You mean to tell me yopu ain't got time to think up some original words to add to mine for a four-oh sailor?!" Chief asked in a faux rage.

"Ha ha! Of course I do, Chief! It's been sitting on my desk for two days. I guess I hate the finality of it. As if holding on to it means he can stay longer. Maybe all of us can stay longer. I know it's wishful thinking, but I'll miss this old ship, even with you making my life a nightmare," Eltee said, looking down.

"Hey look! A dolphin!" I said, watching a dolphin show off his swimming skills.

"That's Clyde! Hey Clyde!" Chief shouted, waving at the dolphin.

Clyde? That's a weird name for a dolphin, I thought.

"Clyde? You got to be kidding me!" Eltee laughed.

"There's another one!" I pointed, as a second dolphin leaped into the air.

"Bonnie!" Chief yelled out.

Bonnie? And Clyde?

"Bonnie? You're making those names up! There's no way to tell them apart!" Eltee exclaimed.

"Sure there is! Clyde is the one with the little balls!" Chief said, with a straight face.

"I don't see any balls," Eltee said, intently looking at the dolphins.

"Me either," I said, shielding my eyes from the glare of the sun.

"Yer both blind as seabats!" Chief said, smiling.

"What are you looking at?"

"There's two dolphins out there playing," I said.

"Bonnie and Clyde," Chief said.

"I still don't see any balls," Eltee said.

"Maybe you need some binochulars."

I turned around to see who the newcomer was.

Oh crap!

"Captain's on deck!" I said, saluting.

"At ease!" The Captain said immediately as Eltee snapped to.

"Good afternoon Cap'n," Chief said, glancing back unperturbed.

"Aye, that it is Chief, Lieutenant, Conrad," Captain said, handing Eltee his binoculars.

"Where do I look sir?" Eltee asked.

"Between the blowhole and the tail, on the underside," Captain said.

"Which one is Clyde again?" Eltee asked.

"The one on the left. No, in the air. Wait! Now he's on the right!" Chief said, making a play by play, updated position of Clyde.

Eltee kept moving the binoculars left, up, right, left, trying to catch a glimpse of Clydes balls.

"He's just too damn fast!" Eltee exclaimed, frustrated.

Chief and the Skipper started laughing out loud. Eltee turned red as he lowered the binoculars.

I laughed too, and Eltee soon joined us. I fell for it too.

After the laughter died down, the Captain took his binoculars back.

"Bonnie and Clyde eh? I can only guess who named them," Cap'n said, looking at Chief and chuckling.

We all laughed at that.

"Thanks for the laughs gents...Chief," the Cap'n said, laughing at Chiefs 'shocked' look.

"I got work to do but, why don't you 3 take the rest of the day off. You leave tomorrow don't you Conrad?" The Cap'n asked.

"Yes sir," I said.

"Well, I'll miss your coffee. I'll be gone tomorrow so...good luck and Godspeed!"
He said putting his hand out.

I shook his hand, and then saluted.

"Thank you Captain! It's been an honor serving under your command!" I said, feeling happy, sad, and proud at the same time.

The Captain saluted back, held it for a few seconds, did an about face and was gone.
The weight of the ship on his shoulders.

He would be relieved of his command after the Pakistani's were trained.

"Eltee...Ben...let's go get us a beer. We'll drink to the Cap'n, the officers and crew of the Henderson, each other and the United States Ship Henderson...Destroyer seven hundred and eighty five!" Chief said in his deep, baritone voice.

Aye aye! Chief!

Aye aye!
Posted by USS Ben USN (Ret) at 4:49 AM

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