On the following afternoon, Cdr Copeland summoned me to the bridge to arrange for pickup of Lt Abbot and the doctor from the Collett. "We can certainly do it," I told him, " and more than glad to if you order it. But the helicopter is technically out of commission. And I wonder if we did this, if someone might get the idea it should be available for other non-emergency flights as well."

      "You are right," he said, "I forgot about that. We'll bring them aboard by high-line."

      Crawford joined me to watch the high-lining. Abbot was brought across first. He showed no signs of impairment from the experience. It was not an appropriate time for us to introduce ourselves to him. The Exec greeted him and another officer escorted him to his quarters.

      When the doctor arrived I intended to ask which he liked best for transfer, the helicopter or the highline. The question was forestalled by his immediate statement at sight of me: "You were right, chief. He wouldn't have made it if you brought him all the way to the Rochester...."

      It was good to hear that acknowledgement, but there was no chance to thank him for it. He continued without pause in either talking or walking: "...But you couldn't really have known that because you're not a doctor."

      "What did he say?" Crawford asked in amazement, "That you couldn't know that you couldn't know that because you're not a doctor?"

      "You heard him right, Ernie. That's what I was talking about when I told you in sick bay yesterday that he might learn something while he's aboard the destroyer. Obviously he didn't."



     A visit to Abbott's quarters brought a surprising reaction from him when I entered: "I remember you!"

      "I don't think so, sir. You were pretty much out of it by the time I got over you yesterday."

      "I don't mean from yesterday when you picked me up. I mean from Pensacola. You were one of the AP instructors at BTU-2. Cardoza was my instructor. I think I had you for one of my check flights."

      "Well — I'll have to let Hank know about your performance yesterday. Maybe if I'd given you a down then I wouldn't have had to pick you up yesterday. How 'you feeling?"

      We were launched then into easy conversation about his condition, and what he remembered of the pickup. He felt normal in all respects except a numbness, "more accurately, deadness," of his fingertips. "The chief... (referring to the Chief Pharmacist Mate aboard Collett).. .said I was technically dead when I arrived in sick bay; no heartbeat, no breathing, nothing...."

      At some length, Abbot described the small part of the incident which he actually remembered, the condition he'd been told he was in upon arrival, and extolled the virtues of the Chief Pharmacist Mate aboard Collett who had brought him back to life. He recalled arrival of the helicopter over him, by which time he was feeling quite warm and comfortable; and entirely unworried because there seemed to be nothing at all to worry about. He remembered nothing vividly after taking hold of the sling when it was first lowered to him. He did feel some strong pulling on his chest afterwards (which may have been Crawford's tightening of the survivor sling around him but more likely was the tremendous pressure when he was first pulled up with the water-filled parachute beneath him). He remembered nothing after that until consciousness was regained aboard Collett.

      Abbot's body temperature was down to 92 degrees when he arrived in Collett's sickbay, and dropped down to 90 before he began to revive. The deadened fingertips — "The chief says that's proof that I was actually dead for a little while; that the nerve ends would have started to decay almost immediately after circulation had stopped.* But he says they'll recover in a week or so .. . not very badly damaged. A few more seconds and they would have been, but probably I wouldn't have had to worry about it because he likely couldn't have brought me back anyhow. .

      [ * Abbot suffered temporary blindness several weeks later, and several other temporary difficulties as result of his close brush with death. But he then recovered fully and returned to flying duties. He was subsequently lost in action in Vietnam. A sad event in one sense, of course; yet a venturesome Spirit would rather depart mortality while still venturing, than to lie dormant in a body too feeble to venture on. ]

      And I don't doubt for a minute anything that chief told me. He's tremendous ... knew exactly what to do ... experience in arctic and antarctic expeditions ... had everything ready by the time you put me aboard. He said you deserve the credit for that, because you had told them before you got me there just what condition I'd be in."

      "I'll accept a measure of credit," I told him. "But the guy most deserving of your thanks is the one who went in the water after you. Would you like for me to send him up to see you?"

      "No," Lt Abbot replied. "I think in this case it would be far more appropriate that I go to see Mr Crawford."

      Another distress call a couple of days later sent Hollis on his first successful rescue mission. An otherwise "routine" pickup of a pilot bailed out just off-shore near Wonsan, it was probably the more satisfying to the young pilot because he had done it in our "damaged" flying machine. Actually, of course, the helicopter was not at all unsafe to fly, and the jury-rig bracing of the landing gear was entirely safe as well. Though it had fouled the hoist cable while dragging Abbott through the air to the destroyer, it was really no handicap to any normal operations. Most importantly, the damage had justified refusal to waste available flying time of the machine to provide non-essential services to Rochester's passengers from Task Force 95.

      Rochester entered Sasebo harbor briefly on January 24 to put those passengers off before proceeding to Tokyo Bay and Yokosuka. There was a perhaps almost sadistic satisfaction in watching them disembark. A great feeling of satisfaction, in any case; plus one of gratitude for the unique turns of fate (or whatever) which had forbid them from again preventing us from saving a man's life. And the satisfaction was actually heightened by the fact that not one word of commendation or even comment had been made to Hollis or myself by Rear Admiral George C. Dyer or any of his staff.



     January 25, 1952: Rochester hit heavy weather about two hours short of Tokyo Bay; sufficiently harsh of wind and sea to warrant double tie-down of the helicopter. The crew returned below deck from the task drenched by both sea spray and near freezing rain. As I directed them into hot showers fully clothed, one of them said, "But I don't feel cold at all ! Which was of course the reason for sending them directly into the showers. In just the few minutes it had taken to double the tiedown, they had all experienced the beginning effect of the kind of exposure which had so quickly rendered Lt Abbot unconscious, and which Crawford had so well coped with in order to save Abbott. The sharp pains as the hot shower reactivated their benumbed nerve ends drove the lesson home indelibly.

      Rochester emerged from the storm two hours later, shortly after noon at the entrance of Tokyo Bay. We launched soon thereafter and flew to Oppamma. A message had been sent to our squadron's service unit there before leaving the operating area, so they could be ready to begin work on it as soon as we arrived.

      However, when we arrived there the working area of our service unit was completely deserted. We landed and shut down the machine in front of the closed hangar. As we were "booting" and tieing down the rotor blades a jeep arrived, driven by Lieutenant Commander Barton (who as "acting" executive officer had ushered us out of the home squadron back in September). With him was Chief Bronson and Warrant Officer Kershaw (who were then in the engineering department at the home squadron and the same who had removed Crawford from his assignment with the Beechcraft because he'd told Lt Hamilton they ordered it back on the flight line without proper repair). Barton obviously had replaced Lt Reeves as officer-in-charge of the Oppamma detachment. The other two must be there to supervise the work. The thought remained harbored that the three of them combined would fall far short of handling the job as well as Lt Reeves had done all by himself.

      Somewhat irritated by the absence of crew to begin work at once on our damaged craft, I asked by way of greeting if they had received the message advising that we would be arriving that day and in need of considerable repair.

      "Oh yeah, we got it...," Bronson replied somewhat lugubriously. "But don't you know this is rope yarn Sunday?" *

      [ * A custom dating back into sailing ship days of half-holiday at mid-week (Wednesday afternoon) for all hands except those on duty at essential tasks. ]

      "Oh that's right —." The manner of the fellow's response justified a bit of sarcasm in return. "I forgot that you home guard types have Wednesday afternoons off to rest up from all the loafing you do on Monday and Tuesday. Who do I have to call to get a boat out to the Rochester when she anchors, to bring the rest of my crew ashore?"

      "We can take care of that," Bronson responded. "Hop in. We're on our way to chief's quarters and Mr Barton can call the boat basin from there. We'll send someone down with a key to help Crawford put the helicopter in the hangar."

      It was evident upon entering the jeep that the three of them were already well-primed with liquor in their celebration of "rope yarn sunday." " Bronson and Kershaw were quickly out of the jeep when we reached our destination. Barton was delayed momentarily to extract a bottle of whiskey from the vehicle's glove compartment. He then followed the other two toward CPO quarters with the bottle dangling from his hand, as he passed by the lineup of sailors awaiting entry to their mess hall. A rather handsome and alert second class petty officer watched them disgustedly as they passed. When he looked, in turn, at myself following them I felt impelled to say: "I only rode up here with them, sailor. I'm not one of them."

      The sailor smiled and nodded his understanding. To my fast-growing feeling of disgust was added a touch of embarrassment. Those three were my squadron mates and their performance was already somewhat beyond merely disgraceful.

      Once inside of CPO quarters, Kershaw and Barton seated themselves on one of the bunks, the latter working at once to open the whiskey bottle. Bronson, meanwhile, was scurrying about looking for something. To my reminder that a boat needed to be ordered at once because of the approaching storm, he responded: "First things first! I've got to find the samovar to make some tea. Gotta fix a proper drink for us to toast the returning war hero!"

      "Don't bother fixing one for me. I never drink when I'm on duty and I'm on duty 'til my men are ashore from the ship."

      The commotion of our entry had roused the previously sole occupant of the barrack. Chief Ayers, also newly assigned to the Oppamma detachment, had been lying on his bunk reading. As we were exchanging greetings, Bronson arrived alongside, poured some whiskey into a glass and extended it toward me, saying: "Here, you need a shot of this right now, so you can relax and..."

      The feeling of disgust had grown beyond restraint, compelling something of an outburst: "I also don't drink with drunks! Where's a phone, and a phone book so I can call the boat basin and get my men ashore?"

      "Relax! Relax!" the sodden fellow responded. "We'll take care of it! That's what we're here for — to take care of you guys when you come back from the big war. Mr Barton'll have to call them. They won't send out a boat for just anybody calling them."

      "Tell him to get it done, then; before the storm hits!"

      While Ayers and myself were showering, the small boat warning flag was hoisted at the boat basin, which was visible through a window. Towel-draped, I went to the doorway leading into the barrack and called out: "You can cancel my request for a boat, Mr. Barton. The small boat warning's been hoisted. I can see there's some great changes in this outfit since you took charge of it."

      A few minutes later as I was shaving Bronson entered the wash room, whiskey bottle in hand. "You really do need a shot of this," he said. "And since you won't drink it I guess I'll have to give it to you this way...." With that he reached up and sprinkled some on my head. Ayers moved quickly behind Bronson. He expected me to hit the fellow and was concerned that he might be seriously injured if his head should strike the tiled floor. But I had a much better idea....

      "You know, Bronson, I guess you're right. I could use a good slug of that right now."

      With a big grin, he handed the bottle into my extended left hand. The grin changed into open-mouth amazement, as I up-ended the bottle over the wash basin. "Hey!" he cried, and reached for the bottle. But the reaching stopped when he noticed my right hand poised to bash him. He watched dumbly as the bottle was drained and then said as he accepted it back empty:

      "That was worth twenty bucks at the Shangri-La."

      "Well tell your boozin' lieutenant commander buddy out there to go buy another one at the officer's club. The first glug out of it was the one you offered to me. The rest of it was for my men out there on the ship. They could have been ashore tonight if he'd ordered a boat when I first asked for it."

      Bronson left the room without further word. I returned to the shower and rinsed the whiskey from my hair. When Ayers and I emerged from the washroom, the trio was gone. "Well, I see that the three 'mess-quit-teers' are gone," I said. "Dashing out, I suppose, to tilt some windmills, or rescue some Japanese damsels in distress."

      "That's about it," said Chief Ayers.



      Chief Ayers' presence at the Oppamma Detachment was reassurance that we could get the service we needed despite the derelictions of its new officer-in-charge and his two nominal assistants. My desire to get the rest of the crew ashore that day was not merely so they could go on liberty. We needed to get started at once on repair and overhaul of the helicopter. And I wanted them to be in on that process from its very beginning. For they were mostly as inexperienced in the maintenance of the helicopter when we left the squadron, as they were in shipboard operations. They had now become among the best in the operational part of their job. Chief Ayers was the manner of man from whom they could learn much about its maintenance.

      After eating at the CPO mess, Ayers suggested that we could walk to a local Japanese bath house for hot tubs. Also we could stop in at the Japanese-run night club called "Shangri-La." Since at least some of my crew would be going there on liberty I wanted to have a look at it.

      Sounds of Shangri-La's dance orchestra were audible outside its sizable, rambling structure, but muted enough that they were probably not much disturbing of neighborhood residents. Besides which, it was sounds of music rather than the cacophony which often resounds from such places back in the U.S. Japanese musicians with American instruments were playing contemporary American songs quite as well as one might hear from similar bands back home.

      We entered into Shangri-La's dining area. Plainly furnished with perhaps a dozen or more tables, it was quite spacious or at least seemed so with only three patrons seated along one side of a table large enough for eight. The much larger dancing area behind them was well-filled and pleasantly noisy. From the trio at the table came a hearty greeting:

      "Hey! Welcome to Shangri-La!"

      The "three mess-quit-teers" were near completion of their dinners. A fourth serving was in place at one end of the table in front of an empty chair.

      "Are you hungry?" one of the trio asked of me. Then indicating the untouched serving, "Just help yourself, there. It's chicken-fried steak and right good. They do all right with the cooking here. We ordered it for George Hamilton. He said he'd be here, but hasn't shown up yet. We can order another for him when he does."

      Did they actually think Lt. Hamilton would be interested in spending shore leave with them? Probably he had told them so as the easiest way of handling their invitation. But Kershaw and Bronson were the very ones who had put the Beechcraft back on the flight line unrepaired after he downed it for bad brakes. And it was likely his reaction to the basic behavior of this threesome would be quite similar to my own.

      Still it would be shameful to allow that serving of steak to be wasted. And it should be interesting and informative to spend a little time talking with the three now and gauge their behavior towards myself in aftermath of the incident at CPO quarters. So I said as I sat down, "Well never let it be said that I'd refuse to do a favor such as this for good old George. I know he'd do the same for me." Ayers seated himself across from the three.

      Unremembered idle talk made up the first part of the conversation. Most noticeable was total lack of mention of anything to do with helicopter operations at sea or their responsibilities of service to the operating units. When they had finished eating, all three lighted cigars in manner suggesting that it was something of a ritual with them.

      A call of "intermission" in the dancing area started a line of taxi dancers moving across the end of the dining area. Dressed and coiffured in current American styles, the young Japanese women were on the way to their restrooms on the other side of the building. Three of them detached from the lineup and quickly draped themselves around the necks and shoulders of my three "hosts." After a flurry of affectionate murmurings to their respective "papa-sans," the women beamed smiles and welcoming words towards myself when Barton introduced me as "one of our helicopter pilots." Quite shortly the women scurried away to rejoin the others.

      "What do you think of that?" Bronson asked, indicating the still moving line of taxi dancers.

      "A little touch of home for the boys in blue," I commented; "...compliments of the management, I suppose, with an assist from Sears Roebuck and Goodyear Tire and Rubber."

      "Well , " said Barton, "if you see one you like — other than one of the three that were just here — let me know. I have quite a bit of influence around here."

      "Yeah! " his chum Bronson chimed, "Mr Barton's just a regular little ol' Dan Cupid!"

      Finished with eating, I placed knife and fork neatly across the plate, eased the chair back from the table and matter-of factly said: "Well now, you know, that's the first time I've heard it called that...."

      A "loud silence" ensued as the "three mess-quit-teers" dropped their eyes down toward the smoldering cigars which were now held listlessly over their empty plates. Across the table from them Chief Ayers, who had been silent observer all the previous while, struggled to keep his fare still expressionless as well. I added as I arose from the chair:

      "Now gentlemen, I'll certainly not insult you by offering to pay for this fine dinner — especially since you really ordered it for George. I do hope you'll let George know that I took care of it for him. And tell him I'd be glad to do so again any time; though I'd appreciate if next time he'd order the steak charbroiled medium rare and maybe with a shrimp cocktail served beforehand...." .. .

      Turning then to Ayers: "....Are you ready now to lead on to the bath house? I could use a good hot tub soak now."

      Once outside the Shangri-La, Ayers heaved a big sigh releasing the pressure that had built within him. "I guess I'd almost forgotten," he then said, "how mean and nasty you can be when someone really makes you mad." "

      But the fact is, I wasn't really angry at those three. They weren't worthy of a man's anger. The feeling was total disgust.



     There was some concern, as we strolled on to the neighborhood bathhouse, if my treatment of those three would cause any problems for Ayers. For he was at least technically under their administration. He thought quite to the contrary it might make his situation better. Having been twice embarrassed in his presence, they would more likely minimize future dealings with him. He was already supervising all the actual work of the detachment, while they were primarily concerned with their personal affairs. The less he saw of them the more pleasant his own situation would be.

      During the hour-long soak in the hot tubs, we covered well the work that needed to be done on the helicopter, including the desire that he would give extra attention to the needs of my crew for further knowledge in its maintenance. On the way back to the CPO quarters we stopped at the "white hats" barrack. There Crawford greeted me with the news that Rochester was sending her boat to Oppamma at 0630 in the morning.

      My assumption that the boat was being sent to bring the rest of our crew to Oppamma was quickly corrected by Ernie. It was being sent to take the two of us back to the Rochester for a "change of command" ceremony. A new captain was to replace Capt Smith on the Rochester. To my comment that I saw no reason why we were needed back aboard for that, Crawford explained:

      "Because you're the star of the show! Capt Smith has a medal to pin on you!"



     Despite my very high regard for Capt Smith, having to return to the ship was a displeasing thing. Beyond inconvenience, it struck me as an imposition on the time needed for repair of the helicopter, as well as shore leave for the crew and myself. But it turned out to be anything but an imposition or waste of time.

      The helicopter crew plus Lt Abbott were all seated at front of the assemblage. Most of Capt Smith's words after calling myself up to receive the medal were directed to Hollis and the men. "This little memento I'm about to pin on your chief," he said to them, "is not for what he and you did last week. It's for something else he did more than a year ago. . .."

      He then read the citation which accompanied the medal, after which he continued extemporaneously: "...This arrived on board for your chief several days ago, when we stopped at Sasebo. I've waited until now to give it to him because that gives me the opportunity at the same time to express my feelings about all of you. I wish I had a separate medal to pin on every one of you. But I don't. So the best I can do is ask you to accept that when I pin this medal on your chief it represents a great deal more than what was in that citation which came with it. It represents also my appreciation of what all of you have done while serving with me aboard this ship.

      "...And I don't mean only because of what you did last week. I'm referring to your overall performance. Your chief, here, told me the day you first came aboard Rochester that you were all still inexperienced in shipboard operations. Then I watched you in just a very few weeks make yourselves into as sharp a crew of sailors as I've ever known. And if you hadn't done that — if you weren't the kind of sailors and the kind of team you are, Lt Abbott wouldn't be sitting there beside you. We'd have had to bring him back with US packed in ice.

      Hollis and the crew appeared spellbound by the captain's words. More than merely complimentary of what they had done those words made every one of the crew more fully aware of his own vital part in the rescue of Abbott. Smith then spoke a few words to Capt Chillingsworth, to whom he would be turning over command of Rochester.

      Conversation between Capt Smith and myself as he pinned on the medal was inaudible to the rest of the assemblage. After a few words about the clumsiness of his fingers he said, "...But this is the best part of being a commanding officer getting to give awards and commendations to men who have really earned them."

      "But it's a bit unfair, captain," I said. "What's a man supposed to do when he feels that his commanding officer deserves a commendation."

      His eyes flicked up and he paused momentarily in the effort to affix the medal. "Does that mean I'm forgiven for ordering you back to the ship when you had those infiltrators trapped on the beach?"

      If not previously," I replied, "you were forgiven for that when you sent the Collett to follow me in after Abbott. And when you told them to cut him free of the sling, that clinched it."

      "How did you know about that?" he asked, referring to cutting of the sling. "I did that on command net."

      "The same informant who sometimes tells you things about me sometimes tells me things about you."

      A self-satisfied smile was his response to that. The medal finally affixed, he patted it gently and extended his hand for mine. The glint in his eyes along with the smile indicated that in this instance the commanding officer felt somewhat commended in turn.

      Rochester hoisted anchor immediately after the change of command, and moved to a pier in Yokosuka harbor. A truck was waiting there to take the helicopter crew to Oppamma. But waiting there also was a petty officer from the Public Relations office of ComNavFE (Commander Naval Forces Far East) with orders to record interviews of the several persons involved in the rescue of Abbott.

      That meant still more delay in starting work on the helicopter and further infringement of our liberty time in port; plus the fact that there had already been a week of press reports on the incident. Those sentiments were expressed to the sailor without in any sense blaming him for the inconvenience. He said the recordings were also for analysis of operational aspects of the event. That could be useful. It might speed consideration of changes in the current aviator's anti-exposure suit, and make possible the acquisition of "frogman" suits for all of our crewmen. My written report to the squadron was not yet completed and would be a slow 'way of getting that valuable information up to higher levels, anyway.

      Abbott, Crawford, the ship's doctor and myself were to be interviewed. Hollis was at hand, much interested in hearing more details. Myself and Crawford would be interviewed first, so we might more quickly be on our way with the rest of the crew to begin repair of the helicopter.

      In my judgement, the most important of information to provide was that which demonstrated the inadequacy of the MK IV anti-exposure suit. Abbott, supposedly protected by one of those, had lost his faculties and was perhaps totally unconscious after less than five minutes in the water. Upon arrival aboard the destroyer less than ten minutes later, his body temperature had dropped to 92 degrees and all functions had stopped, even though his body within the suit had been kept dry.

      Crawford, in the frogman suit, spent 25 minutes in the water awaiting my return. The alacrity with which he reattached himself for pickup and his composure after having had to wait so long, were proof he suffered no impairment of faculties. And after that extended period of immersion in 38 degree water, he had lost but one-half degree of body temperature.

      The only significant difference in what they wore for protection from exposure was the hood on Crawford's frogman suit. The absence of such on Abbott's suit left fully exposed to the chill water the vital region at top of the neck and base of the brain* { * Known medically as the "medulla oblongata" } which controls the body's basically automatic functions, particularly heartbeat and respiration. Extensive experiments with live, human subjects in Germany during WW2 had shown that the chilling of that region in cold water would quickly disrupt those functions. Slowing of heartbeat, thereby reducing blood flow, resulted in rapid loss of body temperature even though the body was itself kept dry in a waterproof suit.

      Designers of the cold water suits for frogmen had evidently taken that into account. Designers of the Aviator's MK IV antiexposure suit obviously had not. The chance to bring that fact quickly and vividly to attention of officials who might do something about it, was the only worthy reason for submitting to the recorded interview that day in Yokosuka aboard the Rochester.

      But when I began during that interview to point out those facts, the ship's doctor interrupted. Quite vehemently at the outset, and increasingly so during the brief argument which ensued, he contended and insisted that I had no right to talk about those aspects of the case because I was not a doctor!

      It was quickly evident that it would be useless to try to reason with the fellow. He said that since he wasn't a helicopter pilot, he certainly wouldn't talk about how I flew the helicopter, so I shouldn't talk about his "part in the rescue." He contended that since he didn't know that the things I had mentioned were the cause of Abbott's unconsciousness and loss of body temperature, even though he was a doctor, then I couldn't possibly know such things because I was not a doctor.

      "The chief aboard the Collett who brought Mr Abbott back to life wasn't a doctor, either," I reminded him. "Should he have waited until you got aboard to start treatment?"

      "Well, that's different," the fellow responded. "He's a corpsman — a Pharmacist Mate. So he's worked with doctors. And also he's been in the arctic, so...."

      "Well so have I!" Disgust and exasperation combined to eliminate further need for restraint. "I've been in the arctic, and I've worked with doctors — real doctors who knew something of what they were talking about. You bitched like hell because I took him to the Collett, instead of bringing him here. Then you admitted he wouldn't have made it if I'd brought him all the way to the Rochester. Yet now you've got the gall to say I shouldn't talk about that part of it. It's a damn good thing I didn't bring him here. Even if he'd been still breathing when I got him aboard, he'd probably have died while you were looking for a book that might tell you what to do. Now..."

      "You can't talk to me like that!" he interrupted. "I'm an officer! You can't — I've a mind to tell the Exec about this! You can't.. . . !"

      "I wish you would do that, doc. Call Cdr Copeland and ask him to come down here. I'd like him to hear firsthand the kind of nonsense you've been spouting. In fact I'll call him myself if you don't shut up so I can finish this interview. You can listen if you want to, and then when you're interviewed say anything you want about what I've said, or even about how I fly a helicopter. I won't stay and interrupt you because I've got other things to do."

      Unfortunately, the sailor from ComNavFE had shut off the recorder during the argument. That might have been as useful as anything else on the recording.

      There was yet one more disgusting incident to be endured that day, in aftermath of the inspirational episode with Capt Smith at the change of command ceremony. Upon arrival via truck at Oppamma, we were greeted by the "three mess-quit—teers." After a few welcoming words which were at least intended to be jocular, LCdr Barton said, "...While you are with us here, we take care of everything — work assignments, liberty..."

      We had already been delayed nearly 24 hours in beginning repairs of our machine. That would have been reason enough for interrupting Barton at that point. More compelling for doing so was the possibility of having to challenge some aspects of what he had started to say. It would be best that the men not be witness of such argument as might ensue.

      "Excuse me, Mr. Barton — for a moment, please. Since we've already been delayed, I want the men to get started on the helicopter right away." A word to Stoddard sent them all to the hangar where Chief Ayers and his men had already begun the machine's disassembly. Back then at the threesome, "I assume from what you just said Mr Barton, that you've already arranged billeting for our men, and mess passes?"

      Instead of Barton, Chief Bronson responded to say, "Well of course we have. As Mr Barton said, we take care of everything while your here. That includes, as he said, work assignments and liberty, and..."

      The fact that Bronson had taken over as spokesman of the trio was a good break. I interrupted him, saying, "The work assignments — that's okay so long as they're assigned to work on our helicopter with myself and Ayers. That's the reason we're here, is to fix the helicopter. As far as liberty is concerned, you won't have to worry about that because they all have passes from our ship. I'm sure you weren't planning to put any of them on security watch or cleaning details were you?"

      "Oh no, of course not." Bronson stammered a bit in his response. Then the threesome glanced at one another and myself perhaps somewhat confusedly as I turned to my young O-in-C and said:

      "Well, Mr Hollis, it looks like they've got everything taken care of for us, so far as the men are concerned. I'm already set up in Chief's Quarters, so I'll get with the men in the hangar. If you wish to come there after you' re squared away with your quarters, I expect Ayers will know by then if there's time enough to do the repairs on our flying machine, or if we may have to ask for a replacement."

      A phone call to Tokyo that evening provided an upbeat note to end that day. Bill Hobbs was at home, eager to know if I could come for a visit during this port call. Told that I could, and would like to bring a shipmate along he asked:

      "Is it Crawford?"

      "Yeah. How'd you know his name?"

      "How' d I know his name? Hell, you guys are famous. That's about all we've been hearing on Armed Forces Radio for nearly a week — ever since you pulled it off. Thorin and Crawford and Abbott, the guy you picked up. It must have been one helluva operation. The gang up here is sure anxious to hear about it firsthand. Norm (Schwartz) is away on a flight; left a key for you to stay at his place. We'll have a room for Crawford...."

      Crawford was a bit reluctant, when I told him that evening he was to go with me to Tokyo next morning. He felt he should stay with the rest of the crew to work on the helicopter. The others convinced him otherwise by clamorous insistance that they'd be glad to be rid of him for a couple of days.

      A glance into the hangar space early next morning showed it to be a good place to stay out of for a while. Ayers and about a dozen men were disassembling our helicopter and spreading parts all around. The adjacent workshop was the more inviting. It was equipped with a coffee pot. Seated on the workbench right next to that most essential bit of equipment was the sole occupant of the shop, First Class Aviation Pilot, Drye.

      Drye was quite new to helicopters, having reported to the Squadron just a few weeks prior to my departure in September. The cup he filled for me started a "get-acquainted" conversation which was cut short by the arrival a few minutes later of the "three mess-quit-teers." They stopped in front of me, in line according to rank as though a planned maneuver, just looking at me without word of greeting. After a few moments, Chief Bronson spoke:

      "That helicopter of yours is in terrible condition!"

      "I'm well aware of that. That's why we sent that message asking that you be ready to start work on it as soon as we got here."

      "Well I'm not talking about the damage to it. That can be fixed easy enough. I'm talking about it's general condition. It's covered with salt — all over it. Salt everywhere...."

      "That can happen out there at sea, Bronson. I realize a home guard type like you can't be expected to know it, but that damn' ocean is just plumb full of salt water."

      "Well that salt accumulation can cause a lot of damage corrosion. You surely know that."

      "I certainly do. That's why the crew is at work right now removing it."

      "There may already be some damage."

      "Not likely. It hasn't been on there that long. There's salt accumulation because we were in heavy weather for two hours just before we flew it in here. That storm that came in the other night before you fine gentlemen could get around to sending a boat to bring my men ashore — remember? And how the hell would you know anyhow? All you've done is walk past it as you came through the hangar."

      Still Bronson persisted on the issue. It was evident his concern was not really about the helicopter. He was rather trying somehow to get back at me for the several embarrassments he had suffered in the previous encounters. Some amusing was the behavior of the other two. They watched intently for my reactions when Bronson spoke, but looked away if I glanced at themselves directly. From one or perhaps all three came the strong, morning-after aroma of last night's liquor.

      Bronson said there was "no excuse" for the machine being in that condition. I said in response that no excuse was needed because there was a good reason. That disrupted his planned attack. He said excitedly, "All right! I'll say there's no reason for it! Take a look at the other one out there in the hangar. It just came off of a ship and it's clean!"

      "It ought to be. It came off of a carrier. It's Just a bit different on a cruiser...." [Operations from a carrier's flight deck were above the level of heavy salt spray; storage was under cover on the hangar deck where maintenance work could be done during the night.. On the afterdeck of a cruiser, the machine was exposed to the elements both day and night..]

      "Well we get others in here from cruisers and LST's, and their crews seem to manage to keep them clean," Bronson argued.

      "So does my crew, when time and circumstances allow. Tell you what, Bronson — you need to get out and see for yourself the conditions under which we have to operate...." Knowing he would not be at all interested in accepting such invitation, I continued, "....I've got enough drag with the exec aboard the Rochester. You could go along with us when she goes back out.. A little shipboard experience might do you a lot of good."

      "I've been aboard ship!" he rejoined sharply.. "I've been in helicopters for a long time and..."

      "Not aboard a cruiser," I interrupted, "for an extended period of time and under the conditions that we operate. There's a big difference when...."

      "Well I have!" Kershaw interjected; probably wanting mostly to help Bronson out of his worsening situation. "I spent three years in the aviation unit aboard a cruiser. And we..."

      "Was it a helicopter unit?" I asked, knowing it could not have been.

      "No, of course not," he replied. "It was a SOC," [*Scout Observation aircraft] with a lot more places to keep clean than there are on an HO3S. And we kept it clean — scrubbed and wiped down after every flight, or even if it had only been sitting on the 'cat' [catapult]. And we..."

      "And you could put it under cover at night or during heavy weather," I interjected, "below deck or topside, depending on what kind of cruiser you were on. And you usually had plenty of time after a flight and between flights and usually plenty of advance notice as to when it was to fly. We're in Condition Ten* [*10 minutes to be ready for launch] during daylight hours when we're in the combat area. Even so they've kept the machine clean while we were out there. There's salt on it now simply because as we were coming in...."

      "Wait a minute!" Kershaw said to stop further of my comment. He probably realized he had no better chance than Bronson of winning in further argument. So he sought a way out of it by saying, "We're not saying it's your fault for all this. We're aware of the raw deal you got when you were sent out this time. A "boot" ensign for 0-in-C, who still doesn't know if he's comin' or goin' — a crew of odds and ends, not a one of them with any helicopter experience, or even much training — including that Crawford, who's nothin but a damn' eight-ball...."

      Kershaw stopped himself at that point. The look on his face indicated sudden realization that he had goofed. So also, the other two looked at me with mouths agape as though awaiting an angry outburst in reaction to their buddy's foolish comment about Crawford.

      Angry my reaction certainly was, but not at all an outburst. Righteous anger is fairly easy to control when an effective way of applying it is readily seen. Kershaw's bad-mouthing of Crawford had eliminated the need for further restraint on my part as to what I could say to the three of them, or the manner in which it could be said. It was a moment to savor, so I delayed for that moment, then spoke quietly and slowly to increase the impact and to deny them any reason to interrupt:

      "An eight-ball, Mr Kershaw? — You call Ernie Crawford an eight-ball? — I think you and your buddies here ought to get in your little old jeep and drive to the hospital for a visit with Lt Abbott who's just been checked in there off the Rochester — so you can tell him that the guy that went in the water after him a few days ago is really 'nothin' but a damn' eight-ball.' Then I'd like for you to come back and tell me whatever Lt Abbott might say to you in return. Yeah — and you might tell him too about the rest of my crew, what a sorry bunch they are. So what if they put that helicopter in the air to go after him faster than anyone else has ever done it from a cruiser? That doesn't mean a thing because when they got into port a few days later there was some salt spray on their helicopter!...

      "Oh, I understand full well, Mr Kershaw, why you would call Crawford an eight-ball — you and your buddy Bronson, here. That's because when he was plane captain of the Beechcraft he wouldn't go along with your idea to put it back on the flight line unrepaired, after Lt Hamilton had downed if for bad brakes. And just for the record, Ernie didn't tell me about that — never mentioned it to me — Hamilton did right when it happened back at the Squadron....

      "...So what do you do with a damn' eight-ball mechanic who insists on doing his job right even when you tell him to do it wrong? Why you just have to get rid of him — right? So you take him off the Beechcraft and put him in a helicopter crew that's due to be sent out in 3 or 4 weeks....

      "...And, so what if that doesn't allow much time for the fellow to get some training and experience in helicopter maintenance? As you mentioned, the rest of the crew didn't have much of that either. Which brings to mind another question: Why was there not at least one experienced man in the crew assigned with Hollis and me? Whose fault was that? It was the skipper's decision to send that 'boot' ensign out as 0-in-C. But who was it made up that crew list without at least one experienced man on it?....

      "...As I recall Mr Kershaw, the crew lists were made up in the engineering department; by the assistant engineering officer and the engineering chief. That was you and Bronson, wasn't it? So why didn't you include at least one experienced man on that crew list? Or maybe you did, but then pulled him off and put old 'eight-ball' Crawford in his place to get rid of him. And then there was another, last minute substitution; in order to send Seaman Grap out with me as his punishment for being AOL. I don't know if the non-rated man Grap replaced had any experience, either. But I'm sure you'll all agree now that sending a guy out with me is real punishment....

      "...Yeah — I guess you're right that I got something of a raw deal — sent out with a totally inexperienced crew. You oughtta know, since you helped arrange it....

      "...And now you have the gall to bad-mouth them. 'No-goods' and 'eight-balls' you call them. I guess maybe you regard them all as 'eight-balls.' And apparently you haven't got sense enough to realize you're bad-mouthing one of the sharpest crews in the fleet — in fact probably the very sharpest at operating a cruiser. I'm quite sure they set a record when they launched me after Lt Abbott last week. Two minutes and fifteen seconds — . They come from below deck and put me in the air out of complete tie-down in two minutes and fifteen seconds. And if they hadn't done that — if they hadn't been that good — Abbott wouldn't be alive today. Just a few more seconds, the chief aboard the destroyer says, and he wouldn't have been able to bring the guy back out' of it. And now you have the damn' gall to bad-mouth them to me....

      "...And what is it you found to bad-mouth them about? Why you noticed as you just passed through the hangar that there's some salt accumulation on our machine. You noticed it because you saw men at work cleaning it up. And you're so damn desperate for something to criticize me about, you decide that's it. Then when you realize it's not working the way you expected blaming me for it, you start bad-mouthing my men. And you don't bother to think about how and when that salt got on there — or even listen when I tried to tell you....

      "...We came through one helluva storm on the way in the other day — two full hours of it, heavy seas and rain. The men had to go out in it to double the tie-down — near-freezing rain and salt spray on a rolling and pitching deck — because it came on suddenly, no advance notice. When we came out of it we were just coming into Tokyo Bay. So we launched as soon as we could to bring it here where we could clean it up at the same time it was being repaired. Which is what's going on out there in the hangar right now....

      "...But you — you two engineering experts — I guess you think we should have cleaned it up aboard ship before flying it in here. Strip it down for cleanup, then put it back together and fly it in so we could strip it down again to repair it. Well, as it happened, there'd have been plenty of time to do it that way. Because when we got here there wasn't anyone around to start work on it as we expected. Because it was "Rope Yarn Sunday," right? The new officer-in-charge of the helicopter service detachment at Oppamma had decided not to let some seagoing unit's need for service interfere with the good old peacetime Navy tradition of "Rope Yarn Sunday."

      "...'First things first!' That's what you said, wasn't it Bronson? 'Here — have a drink — relax!' So what if my men can't get ashore that night because you three are too busy with your drinkin' to send a boat after them? They're just a bunch of 'eight-balls' anyway and don't deserve liberty, right? But for yourselves —? Boozin' and whorin' — That's top priority with you three, isn't it? Oh yes — you're generous and considerate about it. You invite us sea-going types to join in the fun and games with you when we come into port. But if we want some of the services you're supposed to provide, we have to wait till you find it convenient or do it ourselves....

      "...You're right about that one thing, though. That crew of mine was all inexperienced when we first came out here. But not any more. They're top of the line — they've damn' well proved it — in the operations part of our job. And that's the most important part out in the operating area. That's what we had to concentrate on first, in order to do the job we're out here to do. They still have a lot to learn in the maintenance part. I know that and so do they. But what they're needing is something other than wiping off salt spray. They've done that all along. What they need is the kind of know how you two were supposed to make sure they had before you sent them out here....

      "...And that's the kind they'll be getting out there in the hangar from Ayers — if you playboys will just stay to hell out of there and leave them and him to do it. And I guess maybe I can count on that, since you seem to have more pressing things to do elsewhere!"

      It was time to stop. The anger had begun to build to a point where it was becoming difficult to control.*

      [* Note: By no means is it claimed that the foregoing is recalled verbatim. But it accurately reflects the general character and substantive essence, with no exaggeration of its sarcastic and disrespectful tone cur addition of things later wished to have been said. The tirade was in fact some longer than here described and if anything more bitterly and profoundly delivered. ]

      All three had mostly just stood there dumbly all that while, eyes downcast much the same as at the table in the Shangri-La that first night. They continued so after I stopped talking until I lifted the cup I was holding, found its contents grown cold, and turned to put it away. Then Barton broke the silence:

      "Haven't you been able to do anything with that Seaman Grap?"

      I wondered what prompted that sort of question. Was it perhaps just an effort to change the subject? Barton had not participated in the previous dialogue. In any case, no need was felt to include in my response any of the usual formality of respect for his rank. I simply said:

      "Grap? He doesn't cause me any problems — none at all. What's yours?"

      "Well, he was late coming in again this morning."

      "What do you mean, 'again'? Last night's the first night my men have had liberty."

      "Well, I was thinking of back at the squadron before you left."

      "Oh, you mean when the captain had ordered him restricted to the base for being overleave until he left on the cruise?"

      "Yeah, sure."

      "And then the day before we left, after the captain had left the squadron, you told Grap he could have liberty that night —?"

      "Yeah. Since he was going out next day on a long cruise, I decided to let him have liberty that night. And he was back on time next morning."

      "Sure he was. He came in so hungover somebody had to help him with his seabag, and with a breath that would knock down an elephant — but he wasn't late. And he hasn't been late since we got out on this cruise. And I don't think he'd have been late this morning, either, if he hadn't heard you say yesterday that you were taking charge of everything, including liberty."

      "Well, anyhow, I've a damn good notion to write him up for it."

      That elicited from me an amused and only partially muted chuckle, plus decision to include minimal formality in my response: "Mr Barton — I don't think you're about to do that. You can't — don't dare to."

      "What do you mean I can't write him up. While he's here at this detachment, I certainly can write him up because I'm...."

      "Mr Barton, I interrupted, "you're not now in position to write anybody up — about anything. There's not a man in this outfit — probably not a whitehat on the entire base — that isn't aware that you're black marketing booze from the "O" Club at the Shangri-La; and of most other of your activities in and around that place. Do you really think you could push charges against any sailor here without word of that getting back to the States to persons I'm sure you'd prefer didn't know about it?"

      Silence resumed; so also the downcast eyes of the trio in front of me. I broke the silence shortly by saying:

      "I'm going to Tokyo this morning — be gone for a couple of days. Mr Hollis and Chief Ayers know where I'll be and how to get in touch with me. And I'm taking Crawford with me — unless you have some objections, — — sir."

      Without glancing up, Barton shook his head to indicate he had no objections. This time there was no interruption as I moved again to dispose of the cup I held. Still seated on the work bench beside the coffee pot was AP1c Drye; silent observer of the entire scene. Still silent as our eyes met briefly, he reached his left hand to take the cup from me and flicked a sort of salute with the right hand without lifting it from his knee.

      I glanced once more at the still silent trio as I walked toward the hangar space, and wondered: Had they been so intent upon some pre-planned confrontation with myself that they did not notice Drye sitting there when they first entered the shop? Or were they so befogged from their drinking as to think they could make me look bad and themselves look good (or otherwise dominant) in the eyes of such a witness?

      In any case, Drye's "eye-and-ear" witness report of the encounter to but one or a few squadron mates would have spread like wildfire through the enlisted barracks by 0800 next morning. The disgusting trio had done themselves in. It was a victory of sorts for me, but not a pleasurable thing. They were a pitiable lot, really, but for the fact that in addition to failing to serve our Squadron, they were damaging to its reputation.

      In the hangar space when I reentered, disassembly of our machine was now complete. Crawford arrived, ready for the trip to Tokyo, as I was getting a last minute report from Ayers. Before departing, there was time for private talk with Seaman Grap who was working by himself at some of the cleanup:

      "I've been told you were late getting in from last night's liberty."

      "Yes, I was — just a few minutes."

      "Do you think you'd have been late if Mr Hollis and I were still the ones in charge of such things?"

      "You know damn' well I wouldn't have been, chief."

      "Okay. Now the fact is we are still in charge, no matter what Mr Barton said yesterday. You've now made your point very well so far as he and his assistants are concerned. So I expect you'll not be late again."

      "You can count on that, chief," Grap responded with a selfsatisfied smile. "You could bet on it, a sure bet."

      "Well in that case — how you doin' for cash? Need a couple of bucks for liberty tonight?"

      Somewhat surprised, he replied, "Naw — I still got some money. Doesn't cost much for a good liberty here."

      "Sorry to hear that," I said, faking seriousness. "I was hoping I might have that fancy watch of yours to wear while I'm in the big city."

      Grap smiled again in amusement, then quickly sobered and said, "Chief, I'm sure glad you're taking Ernie with you. He sure as hell earned it."

      In my judgement, Seaman Grap had done something special, too; but I dare not tell him so. His deliberate lateness that morning was no doubt done just for his own satisfaction; a show of disrespect for Barton. But it had also served a further purpose. I'd managed to cut up those "three mess-quit-teers" convincingly in response to the thrusts by Bronson and Kershaw.

      But Grap had caused Barton to stick out his neck just far enough for the "coup d'grace."



     There was no reason as we journeyed to Tokyo to tell Crawford of the encounter with Barton and company. Our mission on this trip was relaxation and enjoyment. The pilots of CAT* [* Civil Air Transport, formerly China Air Transport, formed shortly after WW2 by the late Gen Claire Chennault.] were the manner of men in whose company we could easily find both.

      No grand and garrulous "heroes' welcome" awaited us at the apartment-club complex they had built for themselves in Tokyo. For they were not garrulous men. Mostly Navy and Marine aviators during WW2, and of the venturesome type, they were interested in substantive details of the rescue Crawford and I had made, rather than it's dramatic aspects. Crawford expressed surprise at the ease with which he could at once converse with our hosts. The reason of course was their understanding and appreciation of his part in the rescue of Abbott.

      Dinner that evening included an even better surprise for Ernie. The envelope Norm Schwartz had left for me containing the key to his apartment also contained a note. It read:

      "Everything I have is yours while your here this trip — except my fiance'. But she will be in Tokyo, at the Union Club, while you are here and I know she would love to see you. So if you haven't other plans, please have dinner with her at the CAT club and put it on my tab"

      As we waited at a table in the club that evening, Ernie assumed the third place setting was for Hobbs. He spotted the blond Carol as she entered (as any good sailor certainly should) and called across to me quietly but excitedly, "Hey look, chief! Just came in! That's one of the gals that was with us on the plane coming over!"

      Carol had seen us by then, and turned to walk towards us. "...And she's coming this way," Crawford then added. "Do you think she might recognize us?"

      "Well I sure hope she does, Ernie," I said. ". . . 'Cause she's supposed to have dinner with us."


      Any attempt to define the pleasure of that evening for all of us would probably be an understatement. Part of the pleasure for me was just to listen and watch the both of them as Crawford told Carol about our much publicized rescue. He was reluctant at first but she insisted he must. She said she needed all the details she could get from both of us because she would have to tell them to her usual working pardner, Elaine, after which they would both be telling the story to their passengers. Since she and Elaine had brought us out to the Far East, Carol explained, they deserved part of the credit for anything we did and therefor had a right to hear all of the details, "So there!"

      Ernie did a fine job also as dance partner for our charming dinner companion (that being a social activity from which I generally shied away). Not so very late in the evening he announced that he felt he should retire to his room. He said it was because he was feeling effects from the rather few drinks he'd had. There was reason to suspect it was more because he thought the lady and myself had further plans involving just the two of us.

      Had he conducted himself well on the dance floor? Never, said Carol, could she recall having experienced such gentlemanly and respectful treatment by a dance partner in a night club. Not even a hint of forwardness — in his own regard, that was. "But wow!" said she, "He sure did make one whale of a pitch for you!"

      "The mark of a top-flight flight crewman," I said. "Do anything their pilot asks them to do and even some things that he doesn't. Did you tell him you were otherwise engaged?"

      "No, I didn't. Do you think I should have?" Then impishly, "I don't mind if he suspects us of something — do you?"

      "No — I guess not. But it won't be only him suspecting when he and I get back to Oppamma. The others will demand a full report from him of what he and I did while we're here."

      "I wish I could see their reactions. Especially those younger ones. Elaine and I enjoyed them so much. We really do think of you as our crew. Not that we really deserve any credit of course for what you have done out there. But each time we heard of something you'd done — Norm and Bill would give us a report of what you'd done each time we came here — then we'd tell our passengers about what 'our" helicopter crew had done. And this time — with all the news reports about it — I guess maybe we sort of bragged about you guys being our crew."

      Actually those two ladies had a right to claim some credit. The special attention they had given to them during the flight to Japan had contributed much to the initial development in those young men of the team spirit which was now a big factor in their operational performance.

      We talked of those and other things until the CAT Club closed that night, and the next day as we joined in another shopping tour. She and Norm had not yet settled on either time or place for wedding, and wanted if possible to arrange so that I might be with them. We kidded some more, of course, about the probable reason for Crawford's very considerate early departure after dinner the previous evening. More seriously, I said as we were bidding farewell:

      "Now you tell Norm I'll be mighty pleased and proud to stand with him when you two get hitched. But you tell him also that if I hadn't already been 'spoke fer and nabbed' as the saying goes, I'd sure tried to give him some competition."

      "I'm not so sure I believe that," she teased. "It sort of seemed to me when the three of us went shopping together that you had your eye on Elaine more than me."

      "I'd be lying if I didn't admit I had my eye on the both of you; and worried that I had a hormonal deficiency if I hadn't."

      "Okay," she said, "on that score, then, I'm going to tell you something, and I'm not kidding. Elaine and I discussed you quite a bit after that shopping trip. And we agreed that if you'd been available, you just might have caused the breakup of one heckuva good, long standing friendship. But I guess you'd have really enjoyed that —."

      Some thought was required before responding to that, after which I said, "No, Carol. I don't think I would have enjoyed that at all. That would have been about as tough a choice as a man might ever have to make."

      And on that one, I wasn't kidding, either.

      Our parting embrace that day was so nice I suggested it would be unfair of me not to send one to Elaine. Carol agreed to deliver it. But then after I gave her a second hug for that purpose she said Elaine should be required somehow to prove that she deserved it.

      "Remind her that she still owes me ten dollars," I suggested.

      "I'll so that," said Carol, with her impish smile, "and tell her I'm going to keep that hug 'til she pays you."



     "That was just what I needed. ..," Crawford said at the start of our train ride back to Oppamma. Quite as I had expected they would, the pilots and mechanics of Civil Air Transport had quickly put him at ease. Quiet questions about himself and his work, as well as about the rescue for which he was currently "famous;" from men who well understood what he was talking about in the mechanical things and could fully appreciate what he had done to effect that rescue. One of them, he said, had asked if he intended to stay in the Navy as a career, or might be interested in a job as mechanic and flight crewman with CAT. He thought the fellow probably just said it to make him feel good. With certainty, I assured him that fellow meant exactly what he said.

      "Best of all — that gal, Carol," Ernie said. "Someone like that to talk with — and dance with. And it was sort of like being with someone I knew, having talked some with her —her and the other one on the plane coming over. That was a real surprise — but I guess maybe it shouldn't have been. 'Cause they were both real curious about you — asking a lot of questions because of you telling that Army captain off for them. Now I think of it, it's not surprising at all that one of 'em — either one of 'em — might decide you were — well you know what I mean. But I have been wondering if maybe it's best I not mention that part of our trip to the rest of the guys on account of they might talk too much."

      "Well now I sure do appreciate your concern about that, Ernie. And I realize it's something of problem for you because they're gonna be demanding you tell 'em everything you and I did on this trip. Maybe it'll make it a little easier for you if you read this —." I handed him the note Norm had left for me with his apartment key.

      "Oh for gosh sake!" he said after reading it. "And here all the time I've been thinking...."

      "We knew that's what you were thinking when you left the party a little early that first night at the club. Carol got a real big kick out of it, and said she didn't mind at all being suspected in this case. Even was kind enough to say that if I'd been available — wasn't married — that just might have been true. I introduced her to Norm — introduced the both of them, in fact, to Norm and Bill and a couple other bachelor types...."

      We shared a few more chuckles about it and in the process decided that when he told the others about what he and I had done in Tokyo, he wouldn't really have to mention Norm Schwartz and the note he had left for me. "It really won't hurt if they make the same assumptions about me and that blond stewardess as you did," I told him. " — Might even cause them to show a little more respect for me."

      It was late evening when Crawford and I arrived back at Oppamma. I went with him to the whitehat barracks, intending to ask Stoddard how things were going with the helicopter's repair. But when we entered, the others gave little more than nods of greeting to me. They zeroed in on Ernie for immediate report on our Tokyo "mission." His opening words were:

      "Remember that blond gal that was with us on the plane out from the States? ..."

      I decided I might as well go on to CPO Quarters and ask Ayers how things were going with the helicopter.



      But I learned of that much sooner. Seated on an upper bunk, feet dangling as when he was sitting on the workbench two days earlier, AP1/c Drye called as I turned to leave: "Hi chief —. Your helicopter's ready to go. I test flew it today and it feels great."

      He talked some then about the incident in the shop, and its aftermath. "You did us all one helluva big favor," he said. "It was miserable here with those three. They'd come around every once in a while buggin' someone about nothin' and then when you needed one of them for something or other you could never find 'em. But the word's out about 'em now, you can bet — all over the base. And like you said, they aren't in any position now to do anything to anybody."

      "And I gotta tell you, " Drye continued. "It kinda surprised me when you lit into 'em the way you did. Back in the squadron last summer, what little I saw of you, you didn't seem to talk much with anyone. I thought maybe you were kinda 'stuck up,' or something. But after seein' the way you handled those three, and then talking with your crew, I..."

      "...You realize that it's just that I'm awfully bashful," I interjected.

      "Yeah, bashful —," he said. "But maybe that's why they thought they could get away with bad-mouthing your crew was because they misjudged you the same way I did. If they'd had sense enough first to talk with some of your crew, or even listen in on them; then they might have known better...."

      "...And that crew of yours! Gad! The way they turned to — work together — and talk! I'd sure like one day to have a crew like them backin' me up. I guess you know that crew of yours — any one of 'em —would go to hell and back for you."

      Because he recognized the importance as well as the quality of my crew, there was good chance Drye might have that kind of crew if he got an assignment where it could be developed. And yes, I certainly was aware of how my men felt about me. "It's a wonderful feeling," I told him. "When they send you out on a mission, makes you want to do it right for them, just as much as for yourself....

      But this you also need to know — when you've got a man that's ready to go to hell and back for you, it's sometimes your responsibility to stop him from going if he doesn't have a fair chance of making it back. I nearly lost such a man — Chester Todd — a year ago this past December. I let him go because I knew how badly he wanted to try, even though I also knew he wasn't properly equipped. He almost didn't make it back. And if he hadn't, that would've been awfully hard to live with."

      "Thank you, chief," said AP1c Drye very quietly, "— for several things."



      Rochester departed Yokosuka on February 3. On February 5, 5, soon after we had reached the operating area, there was a call to flight quarters for "man in water!" That it turned out to be a drill, was no surprise. Cdr Copeland would just naturally be anxious to show us off to the new skipper. His words on the bullhorn as we were shutting down indicated his pleasure with the results: "Two minutes, twenty five seconds, angel crew. Very good. Looks like those few days ashore didn't slow you down a bit."

      The crew was all watching for my reaction. "Ten seconds," I said. "That's ten seconds more than it took us last time we had that kind of call." [Which was for the actual mission on which we rescued Abbott]

      "We'll beat it next time, chief," Seaman Grap said. "we'll do better than last time — set a new record."

      "Don't try," I said full seriously. "Don't ever try to beat yourselves, now — nor even think about the time. Just concentrate on whatever you're doin' 'til it's finished and then whatever's next to be done. That's the way you got to be as good as you are, and the way you can stay that way. Any differences in time will be due to circumstance and otherwise not important.

*End 7-B * ROPE YARNS *

Friend or Foe?

Not Heroes, Just Good Sailors

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©2002, 2003 by Lynn Waterman; used by permission of the author, Duane Thorin.