Sunday, August 07, 2005

I was Four Striper for Four Minutes Today

Actually two four stripers (CAPTs), so here is how it happened. I went to the Russian Juliett 484 in Providence today as I do every weekend. I try to put in a good 4 or 5 hours on my new pet restoration project, the starboard outboard diesel powered 4 stage high pressure air compressor. It’s in the engine room upper level just forward of the 3,500HP starboard main diesel.

The restoration work is dirty so I wear steel toe work boots, old blue jeans, a tee shirt, ball cap and safety glasses. The manager of the Juliett has asked the Subvets that volunteer to wear something to add color to the tours. Some of the docents wear Russian seaman shirts and hats. I’ve been doing maintenance work so I wear a tee shirt and ball cap with silver dolphins and saying simply “US Submarine Force – Silent Service”. My real job has me at a computer all day so getting down in the bilges, so to speak, and using a wire brush and scrapper feels good (as long as its my idea) and telling a sea story to a passing inquisitive tourist is, well, sort of like blogging in person. But I digress….

I had been working for about two hours and was getting hot so I got my can of ginger ale and went topside. One of the Russian subs watch standers (employee) was busy bringing up folding chairs from below decks for a Senior Chief Sonarmen’s retirement ceremony. With only one person from the Juliett doing the setup I stepped in to assist. Because of the number of the attendees 30-40 with some elderly or in a wheelchair we decided to set things up on the pier verses the Juliett’s missile deck. Within 45 minutes, everything was setup and ready to go chairs, podium, Colors, big quarterdeck shells and sideboys complete with bosun’s pipe. OK, back below for this civilian to continue my bilge therapy session.

Not so fast, time for a quick rehearsal and they need someone to fill in and be piped aboard. So yours truly is enlisted once again, this time as a couple of COMSUB or SUBRON somethings (Squadron Twelve was one I think, sorry didn’t pay attention). Must have been a site, me looking like an A-Gang striker covered head to foot in Russian pigboat dirt, being piped aboard with sideboys and all, had a little chuckle to myself.

Ceremony looked like it went off without a hitch.

Best of luck Senior Chief and thanks for your service.

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