My First Fist-Fight in the Navy

At one time, us squids (Navy Sailors) were notorious for brawling. Shore Patrol used to have their hands full with nightly incidents, bloody fights that cleared out the bar. Thankfully (or not, depending on your old-school love), those days in our naval service are all but over.

From a personal standpoint, it’s been years since I’ve fought in a real fight, not one in Krav Maga class. And I did not expect to be danger-close to putting my dukes up in my two-week naval staff class.

My Navy community is very small, specialized. We embed with the warfighters and (technically) have our own warfare qual. And for the last three years I’ve been working at a job where I am surrounded by folks of the same feather. Yes, I’ve gone out on ships and worked on our systems, but I’ve always had our office to return to.

So in class, I got mildly perturbed when my community was mocked. Granted, I opened my big mouth to explain certain technicalities. I tried to minimize the damage, but one of the aviator instructors in the class took glee in calling me a brain surgeon. Right before he gave me a trig problem to work out. In front of the class. I have a weakness for trigonometry, but I refused to answer his question. Even though I could’ve figured it out (with the assistance of a cosine table.) I know a set-up when I see one.

Meanwhile, a surface warfare officer’s been chuckling under his breath about my community. The first couple of times, I gaffed it off. Sure, we are nerds, but we are the Navy’s nerds. Right? And the guy poking at us outranks me (by a rank) and just came off being the skipper (CO) of a very small warship. I should just take a little of their gruff good-naturedly.

Except I can’t always laugh stuff off. I turned to the Commander from my community and wondered aloud how he felt. He shrugged it off. Older, wiser maybe. Fine.

A day went by, and then two. A chuckle or three again at our expense. I’m not too angry. They are actually funny, if only directed somewhere else. At a break from instruction, I go into the bathroom to do my military duty. At the urinal, the SWO pulls up next to me, the one who has been chuckling about us. And he mutters our name under his breath. I let it go, but later after he returned to class and tried to get by me, I hulked over him. I’m much taller than’im, but he looked like a wrestler. He glanced up at me, surprised. I wanted to tell him I was fixin’ to knock his teeth out if I hear any more of his mouth, but I don’t.

After I got home, I googled him. (Full confession, this cyber-stalk does not speak well of me, but I was getting tired of the run-around. I might as well learn who was going to cost me a written counseling.) And the first mention of the guy on the internet is for him being an All-American rugby player! Well, All-Americans bleed, right? Now I know how the Air Force guy in our cubicle feels when we pick on baby blue…

Update: So, after a week of class, I am happy to report that me and my Shipmate are getting along. Honestly, I think it was something petty and minor that made the difference, but I could be wrong. During this second week, I’ve been wearing my khakis rather than my aquaflage. And my ribbon rack shows a guy whose done a fair amount of operational jobs. Maybe this brought him around and shut him up. That All-American did not know how close he came from getting an old-fashioned whuppin’. (Heh heh. . .)

Subway Uproar

When I was at the Defense Language Institute, I had something of a weakness for Subway. Tuesday was our day. We would pile into someone’s car after PT, all sweaty, and go to the Subway down the hill. The workers got to know us, tired Navy Sailors that we were, as we ate there all the time. The joke was that I ate a hundred feet or more of subway subs while at A School. Now I find out my stats may have been inflated:

Subway have finally responded to international criticism that their footlong sandwiches only appear to be 11 inches long.

Subway Uproar, footlong sub sandwich not a foot at Subway
Subway Uproar, footlong sub sandwich not a foot at Subway

But their reply won’t win them any new fans, as they claimed that the word footlong is a ‘registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub’ and ‘not intended to be a measurement of length.’

A man in Australia started uproar on Tuesday when he posted a photo on the company’s Facebook page of one of its footlong subs next to a tape measure showing the sandwich as just 11 inches.

I’m not terribly worried. Five bucks for a foot almost a foot of food is still a deal. I am thinking, this is a joke of some sort? Sort of an international prank?

Guess Who Wears Combat Boots?

Ruth Klein

You remember that old playground taunt, yo’ momma wears combat boots? It reminds me of this description of WAVE Ruth Klein: No doubt there were a few raised eyebrows in 1942 when newly enlisted Navy sailors showed up for machine gun training and discovered that their instructor wore high heels with her dress blues. 

Ms. Klein worked out of North Island Navy Air Station in San Diego and has an interesting story to tell. Especially the part on the USS Franklin tragedy.