Friday, August 11, 2006

3 September 1955

Dear Folks

The good word for the day is—send food! There isn’t a single place on this gigantic toy that you can get something to nibble on. Even the fingernail supply is running dangerously low. Why don’t you see if maybe you can send me a CARE package?

Got the mail today—it only took two days! I’ve read it all twice & am planning on going over it again. That is a very good idea, mom, sending money to the Cancer fund. Everyone should do it. You realize that that was the first mail I’ve gotten in over a month! Poppa, you should write more often—if you expect me to write twice a week, you’ve got to write at least once.

As for this "rank" business—I’ll try for Petty Officer 3rd Class, but I can’t do it till February, & the results don’t come back for from three to five months. But I’ll try. It all reminds me of my old Cub Scout days.

The ship has been crawling with civilians all day, who come clutching their little kiddies & gaze wonderingly up at the towering hulk. "How many men on board?" (3,000) "Is it brand new?" (No, commissioned in 1944) "How do you pronounce it?" (Ty-kon-der-o-gah) "Where’s the ladies’ room?" (???) To quote Thumper in Bambi: "I made that last part up myself."

On the way up here, they were having all sorts of drills. In the short space of one hour, we were rammed by a destroyer (port side), had a terrific fire in B compartment, a lesser fire in D, & cruised through an atomic explosion. During these drills, everyone is supposed to go to his assigned duty or battle stations. However, about 1/3 of the guys on board are new, & don’t have duty or battle stations. So we just hid. This place would be hell if anything ever did happen—all the hatches are closed & locked, & anyone caught in the wrong compartment has had it, with no way to get out. Some of the hatch doors are so large they need several men & a pulley to close them

The guys around here have an odd sense of humor, but I like it. During one of the drills, during which things supposedly got worse & worse, section after section of the ship was abandoned. Finally, the order came for everyone except rescue & repair teams to get onto the flight deck. Everyone had to tuck their pantlegs into their socks, button the top button on their shirts, & don battle helmets, if available. So up we went. The gun turrets were revolving back & forth like mad, & had they been firing, they would have blown hell out of the ship & each other. Finally, one of the gunners got off his turret & came up onto the flight deck to speak to a buddy. One of the guys in our section—a huge guy, who bulged out of his dungarees & looked positively ridiculous in the tiny green helmet that perched on his head, leaned up against the tail of a plane & said: "Man, we’re really going down---they’re abandoning the guns."

A few minutes later, the gunner strolled back to his post as a little 12-foot speedboat came running out toward us. He probably wondered what was going on, seeing 3,000 guys cluttered around the flight deck in battle gear. One of the guns swung around in his general direction & somebody yelled: "For God’s sake, don’t shoot! That’s our rescue ship!"

Well, enough for now. Write soon & send me a ton or two of Brownies & stuff.
Regards to all the relatives. See you next year

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