On December 28th we took off from Singapore after a relaxing stand-down to head back to Guam to get ready for our second mission. In transit, we cleaned and ran drills, same old shit. On New Years Eve, we held our crossing the line ceremony. I just wasn’t all that into it. It was a combination of things. One, I had been through a multitude of initiation ceremonies in the frat from my college days. Second, I decided to stay on watch so that my buddies could go have fun and enjoy the night. Third, and most importantly, the COB that had just gotten my two friends kicked off the boat for hazing was presiding over the ceremony. It was either going to be lame, or if it was cool, that would make the COB a fuckin’ hypocrite. At first, the first two reasons I mentioned were my reasons for not attending the ceremony. I was on watch in the engineroom when the COB came back and asked me if I needed a relief so I could go up to the mess decks to participate.
Me: “No, thanks COB. I’m good…”
COB: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Yeah, I’ll stay on watch so other people can have fun.”
I didn’t have the balls to tell him that I didn’t believe in the boat or its mission anymore. I was very disillusioned at this point in my life.
(See quote at the end of this post.)
One good thing that came out of all the levity that was going on New Year’s Day, the Ship’s Engineer came up to me and said, “Fish, go get all your qual cards.” I went and grabbed them, and he started asking me a bunch of easy questions about the plant. Also, signing the qual cards and officially qualifying me everything! It was that day that my qualifications were complete. It was official, I was not going to be DINQ anything, ever again. I had never seen, nor would ever see again a signing party like that. It was like an assembly line. Qual cards being passed from one blue shirt, to a chief to the Eng, and finally the log room yeoman, who entered it in the Qual Book and filed the qual cards away. Nice!
On January 5th we pulled into Guam for the Second time. Electrical Division had to rip out a fan up forward but this was my chance to go find Callysta and get my drink on for my 25th birthday which was coming up on the 9th. When I finally got back in touch with Callysta, I found out that she was dating someone from the USS Frank Cable, the submarine tender in Guam. Another Navy guy? Bitch…
She wouldn’t even look at me, let alone touch me. All I wanted was to get laid, and she wouldn’t even let me put my arm around her. I’m gone for a month and she moves on? No word? Whatever. I was here for my birthday and I was determined to have a good time no matter what.
We were at Hollywood’s (aka- Girls, Girls, Girls) the night of the 8th and the COB comes up to us:
“Hey’d you guys hear that the San Francisco ran aground?!”
Everyone was incredulous. They were heading to Australia for a liberty port. They were doing All Ahead Flank at 500 feet and their charts were not up to date. The slammed into a giant underwater mountain and totally fucked up their cone. Look up pictures of it on Google some time. I can assure you that’s not what a submarine is supposed to look like….
My 25th birthday was okay. I ate some pasta at an Italian restaurant. PeeWee was again my Guam party pal and he was finally introduced to Callysta’s stripper friend from Wisconsin that Nugget was macking on. I thought they’d like each other because they were both from Wisconsin. Nugget had finally given up on her, I think she gave him the clap, but I didn’t know about it at that time. It turns out that PeeWee thought she was obnoxious, but Callysta, her friend, PeeWee, Me and this other skanky stripper that Callysta and her friend worked with ended up watching the sunset the morning of my birthday. We were sitting in a hot tub at the Pacific Islands Club, where Callysta and her stripper friend were staying. The hot tub wasn’t even running, we were just sitting there in the lukewarm water. Finally one of the workers came up and tried to help us. He flipped a switch and turned it on, that was when we were about fried and ready for bed. Lame birthday…no sex, slept alone.
Monday morning, the USS San Francisco was pulling back into Apra Harbor. A bunch of us went topside to render honors [we were on Duty]. We all stood in a line topside and saluted the S.F. as she came back in under her own power, crooked, not sitting upright in the water, massive bubbles coming from the forward port side of her because they had a continuous Low Pressure Blow going to get the water out of the Forward ballast tanks. It was a somber and sobering moment for us all. After the S.F. moored itself across the harbor from us, we all immediately went to the smoke pad to fire one up. Not much was said. We found out later that one of their crew, Joseph Ashley, had died in the accident. He was standing in ERLL smoking a cigarette and when she hit, he flew back and hit his head really hard on the PLO sump. Twenty of the other crewman that were injured eventually recovered, but not this guy. The head injury was too much. It was sobering to see first-hand how dangerous our job was. I get chills to this day when I think about it. These were our brothers. Eventually, the Navy would decommission the Honolulu out of Pearl Harbor and they chopped the front end off of it and popped it onto the S.F… This all occurred right next to us later this year  while we spent the next year in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
Me and Callysta were kind of on the outs. I was pissed. I had a lot of growing up to do. Don’t assume two people are going to get along because you notice they have something in common, whatever that may be. Also, don’t get attached to random strippers. Or anyone for that matter. I thought me and Callysta were closer, but she just wanted to party. I would make this same mistake again with a Canadian chick after I got kicked out of the Navy, right before I left Hawaii for good. I guess it takes two times to learn. I could have avoided the second heartbreak if I had just learned my lesson from this time, but…the Callysta saga isn’t over. More to come on this later. We left Guam to go on mission 14 Jan 2005. I haven’t been back to Guam since that day.
Quote from January, 2005: “We all go to heaven leaning on the arm of someone we helped.”
-Jack Kerouac, Desolation Angels
(One of the many books that I read on Pac. This one by JK was one of my favorites, it was the perfect counterweight to all the shit that was going on, being on Pac and all. It was a weird book, but gave my spirit the lift that it needed.)