By: Ed Creamer
In the days when I entered the Corps, 782 gear consisted of one short sword, one shield and one loincloth with sandals having to be brought with you when you joined. In fact, we had so few items issued to us you had to ransack a small village if you wanted to have anything to lay out for the IG’s “junk on the bunk” inspection. I mean things were tough back then.
As for the chow we had to eat, it was one of the few items Duncan Hines ever recommended be served to your in-laws. Our chow was bad. (How bad was it?) When Attila The Hun dropped in to eat some hot wings, drink a few brew and tell a few “there I was at 30,000 feet” sea stories, he got the runs so bad he had to sack all of northern Italy before he found enough four-holer paper to finish the job.
I’ll admit a grunt’s life back then was rough. Listen, you ever have to “count off” in Roman numerals? Ever had to do close order drill with one of them phalanxes sticking up your backsides? And ever thought about what to do with all that loot you just got after over running a town in Gaul? Hey Dude, loincloths ain’t got no pockets?
Well, being in early aviation was no stroll in the park either. Now, being land based with all them black shoes wasn’t too bad. But, pulling a mid shift watch on them oars when you were at sea wasn’t anything to write home to Mom about. And, those flight decks were a joke. They’d spot you between where they were firing the flaming catapults and the archers were doing their thing. You’d get an Air Medal just for launches.
Fixed wingers had it pretty bad too. Ever light off one of them jet engines with a burning, oil soaked rag on the end of a stick? Now you know why most of the deck crew had no hair or eyebrows. Once you go them started you had to go below, grab the rope and run like Hell to catapult them off the deck. Running with the rope wasn’t the hard part. Stopping before you hit the bilges was the pits.
But, launching them rotary wing jobs was worse. It would take five or six of us holding on to the end of those rotors and all the while running in a circle just to wind them up. Then, if you just happened to be on the aft crew what started them tandem rotor jobs and ran into the forward crew running in the same direction,,,,,,wasn’t a pretty sight.
I know. I could go on and on about flight op’s. But, who wants to keep hearing someone talk about the fun things we did.