Thursday, June 13, 2019

Throwback Thursday, Still a Transient

Last Throwback Thursday I told of getting my orders and traveling tickets to the USS J.K. TAUSSIG at NAS Lakehurst, NJ..  

The plane  was either Delta or Eastern Airlines. 

At the Philadelphia Airport outside were taxis and limos.  One limo looked reasonable (old and dirty) so I asked the driver how much.  I forgot how much he said, but it was more than I had a couple of dollars.  Which I told him.  He came down on his price to $8 to the Philadelphia Bus Station.  Which I took.

If I only knew what I found out about a year later:  I was on duty one night and a person called at the Philadelphia Airport saying he had orders but no transportation authorization to get into town to take the bus.  I was immediately dispatched with a Naval sedan to pick him up.  I remember it was pouring down rain.  Also, the person I picked up was from Marietta and a distant cousin.  Small world.

Back to my own trip:  I was very entertained looking out at the New Jersey countryside.   I was under the impression that everything north of Washington DC was slums and crowded buildings.  Not so, I was seeing farms, pastures, little model Main Street USA villages, each one picturesque.

The bus pulled in front of a high chain fence, a gate and a two storied house with the sign WELCOME TO NAS LAKEHURST, NEW JERSEY.

I have arrived.

Visible beyond the fence about a quarter of a mile was the largest hangar I have even seen.  It was built to house blimps.  I did not know it at the time but the German’s famous Hinderburg airship exploded at its front door in 1939.  At that time it was only about 24 years before.

I carried my duffel bag inside the double level white house.  Inside the first room was a long counter.  Behind the counter was a chief petty officer, a man in his blues, and an officer.  The smiling chief greeted me.  The guy in the blues studied me with his arms folded.  The young officer did not bother to look up from the newspaper he had on his desk.

I handed the chief my orders.  He did a double take and reread them.  Then he stepped over to the officer and pointed to a specific line on my orders.

One of the men, I forgot which one, said, “USS J.K. TAUSSIG?”  “We are 13 miles from the nearest ocean, we don’t have any ships here – the is a Naval Air Station.”

I wanted to say, “That’s not my problem.”  But instead tried looking surprised.  I’m not good at looking surprised.  My hypertension is always snoozing.

I said, “Now, what?”

This was on a Friday night.  

The chief said they would call and get it straightened out.

After a call or two they found out the offices that would take care of orders and mistakes would be closed over the weekend, to call back Monday.  I’m glad no invasions were planned for that weekend.

They said I could stay in the base’s main barracks for the weekend and they gave me a temporarily chow hall pass.

By this time it was late.  I was getting tired.

The other guy in the room was the duty driver.   He drove me to the Main Barracks.

It was past 10pm, all the lights were out except the Exit sign above the doorway.  In the almost pitch blackness I don’t know how I picked out a vacant bunk or “rack” as they were often called, but I found one.  I undressed down to my skivvies and immediately went to sleep.

Not more than one hour  later I had a bad dream.    I didn’t know it was a dream, I thought if real life was.  I dreamed I was in the barracks in Charleston and outside bombs were exploding all around the building and low flying fighter jets were rat-a-tat-tat sailors running.  I jumped up horrified.  I ran for the red light Exit sign and ran out in the passageway (Navy talk).  Two young men in civilian clothes looked at me shocked.  They did not know at this very moment we were being attacked by the Russians!  I ran up to hem and warned them.  They looked at me puzzled.  I was standing in my underwear, probably hyperventilating trying to explain it to them.  They saw the problem, the problem was I had a bad dream.  They politely calmed me down and told me I was having a bad dream.

I woke up.  Oops!

Then I had the task of finding my rack in a big room full of racks.  Somehow I did.  I think I systematically counted the number of double bunks from the Exit door or something similar.

In the morning I went to the chow hall for breakfast.  About four tables over was the same two men that interrupted my dream were eating breakfast looking at every move I was making and whispering to themselves.  I was on display.

We became friends and I even rode with them to North Carolina the upcoming October on a leg of my journey back to Georgia to pick up my car.  One was from North Carolina and the other from the Bronx.

If the information about my little bad dream fell into the wrong hands could result in a medical discharge.

On Monday morning, I became under the Personnel office until they could get my assignment straighten out.  To earn my keep my job was to scrub the administration’s hallway floors, opps! I mean the passageway decks.

And they assigned my sleeping to be on the top floor of the house at the gate that I first checked in at.  It was also the office and sleeping quarters of SPs and Security.  I had my own private bedroom for a over two weeks until my orders were straightened out.

Next – Helicopter Utility Squadron Four (HU-4)

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