A Sailor in a Different Navy

Battleship, it is a game. And it’ll soon be a movie. Starring Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skaarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Taylor Kitsch. They just released the Italian version of the movie poster. Of course, Rihanna has her sleeves rolled up, Eddie and the Cruisers-style. Like she was some greaser and not a Sailor. Where is she standing in this shot? Is she walking on water? Or is she supposed to be sitting in a Zodiac?

Rihanna plays Petty Officer Raikes alongside Liam Neeson, Alexander Skaarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Taylor Kitsch.

Rihanna Plays Petty Officer Raikes in Battleship

Note to all of our media friends across the pond, Rihanna plays a Petty Officer, not a naval officer, in the upcoming Battleship movie:

Rihanna stars as US Navy officer Raikes in the film, which also stars Liam Neeson, Alexander Skaarsgard, Brooklyn Decker and Taylor Kitsch.

Rihanna stars as US Navy Petty Officer Raikes in Battleship

Here is where I should say something smart, like don’t call her an officer, she works for a living. But she doesn’t. Work for a living. So I’ll say this: don’t call her an officer, we work for a living. Nice USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) cover by the way. . .

The Navy, the Marine Corps, and Celebrities

I ran across pictures of two celebrities, the singer Rihanna and the actress Mila Kunis, tonight. The first one, of Rihanna, I had to doctor somewhat. I think you can tell what is behind the blue rectangle. The original can be found here:

Rihanna Flicking Off the Camera During the Filming of Battleship

The second picture is from (yet another) Marine Corps Ball. The actress Mila Kunis and her date, Marine Corps Sergeant Scott Moore:

Mila Kunis, Marine Corps Ball, Sergeant Scott Moore

Okay, so both ladies were born outside the United States. Rihanna moved here from Saint Michael, Barbados, when she was sixteen. And Mila Kunis moved to Los Angeles when she was seven from Chernivtsi in the Ukrainian SSR.

Rihanna is filming Battleship. Just Jared, a pop website, decribed the movie as:

Rihanna and co-star Taylor Kitsch take on the roles of naval officers as they shoot scenes for their new movie, Battleship, in Oahu, Hawaii.

No details have been spilled about Ri’s character but Alexander Skarsgard will play a straight and narrow naval officer while Taylor will be the wildly spirited naval officer who idolizes his brother. Supermodel Brooklyn Decker also stars!

Rihanna in Battleship as a Petty Officer in the US Navy

First things first, Rihanna is not playing a naval officer, she is a Petty Officer. Look at her cover and collar on the left. Probably a Petty Officer Second Class. Or perhaps a Third Class?

Rihanna needs to understand that her role is bigger than herself. Her behavior in flicking off the camera is reprehensible. I particularly liked what my Shipmate here said:

I do have a more specific issue though, Rihanna and her behavior in a U.S. Navy uniform. I’m sure she couldn’t begin to understand the commitment it takes to earn the right to wear that uniform so I’ll give her a pass. As a black female NAVY veteran honorably discharged it’s disrespectful to see someone taking my uniform as a joke or just regular clothing.

Enough with that nonsense. Mila Kunis, star of That ’70s Show and Black Swan (with the kisser, Natalie Portman), and date to Sergeant Moore at his Marine Corps Ball, was nothing but classy at the event. Much like Justin Timberlake was with Corporal Kelsey De Santis. Smart move on both their parts. Free publicity is priceless. A Marine Corporal and a Captain had the following to say:

Mila Kunis and Sergeant Scott Moore, Marine Corps Ball

“A bunch of us are going to go our separate ways and us as a battalion, we’re going to spend this night together and just celebrate Marine Corps birthday under traditions we do for the Marine Corps everyday,” said Corporal William Steffy.

Mila Kunis, Macaulay Culkin

But the Marines admitted having Ms. Kunis here, was an honor in itself.

“She’s going to get a chance to learn about the Marine Corps and we’re all going to have a great time celebrating the Marine Corps birthday,” said Captain Scott Sasser.

Good job, Mila. You really plastered a smile on that Marine’s face. We can now forgive you for dating Macaulay Culkin for eight (8) years. . .

Vietnam, from the USS Oxford

I am a listener. It may not appear so with some of the stories from this blog, but I listen carefully when someone wants to talk. Every week (or oftener) I run into people, veterans usually, folks who want to chat military.

A Sea Story from the USS Oxford, steaming north to Da Nang

They do most of the talking. I usually nod and nod and then run and find a piece of paper to jot down their sea-story. So you, cherished blog reader, can catch a glimpse too, provided it is not either: too salty or too operationally sensitive. Or too personal. I also ask if I can share their tale with others.

I travel for my job, more so than I would like. Still, when I run into old Navy salts, they invariably pepper me with a story or two of their service. These come from a retired Master Chief out of South Carolina.

As a Second-class Petty Officer, he was assigned to the USS Oxford (AGTR-1, an Oxford-class technical research ship acquired by the U.S. Navy for the task of conducting research in the reception of electromagnetic propagations.)

He recounted the tale of steaming north towards Da Nang onboard the Oxford. Suddenly, he felt a little shake in the water. With bright eyes, he described it as such:

Dong Hoc to Da Nang

It was a tiny quiver. First, I thought we had thrown a screw (ie: the propeller of the ship had come unbalanced.)

We were less than a hundred miles outside of Da Nang, passing a town along the coast known as Dong Hoc (Vietnam Vets: I searched the map for Dong Hoc. And found a small town in that general area, south of Da Nang. But it appears to be inland and not directly on the coast.)

No one else seemed to be concerned. When I questioned it, I received knowing looks and was told to wait and see.

Dang! Da Nang gets shelled

As we sailed toward Da Nang, the disturbances in the choppy water got more intense. We were not even that far up the coast when I saw and heard it.

How could I have thought we had thrown a screw?

A Battleship had been shelling Da Nang, one of the Petty Officers told me.

As we got closer, rounds seemingly as large as Volkswagon Beetles streamed across the smoky sky into the mountains and hills behind the harbor of Da Nang.

Battleship, not only a movie

I must have seen thirty of them fly by during the day. Yes, that was what was disturbing the water, those massive shells being launched.

(Note: he told me the name of the Battleship, but I am drawing a blank. Was it possibly the USS New Jersey?)

The Master Chief’s second story is a chuckler. He was also shipboard, on another vessel. The Skipper (the CO, the Captain of the ship) wanted to send out a message, but the transmission device was broken. Neither he, nor his Operations Officer, could get it to work.

So they called the Chief over. He could not fix it, nor could the LPO. Finally they summoned the Master Chief. (Remember, he was still relatively junior at this point in his career.)

Hey, Petty Officer can you repair this?

Yes, Chief.

Navy Sailors, Gorillas?

Well, make it happen!

Our retired Master Chief stood up on his tip-toes and slammed the bottom of his fist down on the device. The whole mechanism shook. The senior folks exchanged surprised looks as the Captain pressed a button.

Presto, it functioned! And the relieved Chief, Operations Officer, LPO, and Petty Officer left the space while the Skipper conducted his business.

Postscript: Apologies for any incorrect Vietnamese geography or faulty shipboard designations. I think I was faithful to what he said. But it was 98 degrees outside. (And only slighter hotter inside, at 98.6 degrees.) With bugs. Not the Russian embassy kind, comrade, but the Carolina summer kind. And they grow ‘dem dogs big down ‘der. . .