another 30 days sick leave. The dictator was furious and told me I would have ―pay back‖ when I returned.
He was serious and was on me like stink on poop! I was only back on board five days when the orders came in. The orders were to leave right away and they allowed for fifteen days leave in route. The CWO4 blew a gasket and I could only look at him and smile. His face was so red that I thought he would have a heart attack.
I arrived at Boston and they had a barracks set up for us. All I remember about Boston was thinking that this was perhaps the oddest collection of people I had ever met. I reconsidered after we met the Atka Navy crew. I remember going out one evening with EN2 Whitehead and a couple of others. I barely remember the first view of the Atka but recall one event on the run to Baltimore. (EM3 Hereck on far left, unknown in middle background, EM3 Parker in middle foreground and DC3 Kyttle on the right)
We were on the mess deck sitting near the coffee machine. The bulkheads were covered with cork insulation. The ship was old and filthy. We had seen a couple of cock roaches running in and out of a hole in the cork behind the coffee machine. One of our guys had an olive drab can of GI issue bug killer and walked over and started spraying it in the hole just as a Navy guy screamed ―no‖ but it was too late. The bulkhead turned dark as a flood of roaches came out.
We had an okay set up in Beth Steel. The enlisted had a second floor barracks area. We had a recreation room and the basics. We had a set of boxing gloves and I use to love to spar with FN Tom Niksich. He was a strong as an ox country boy from Ironwood, Michigan in the Upper Peninsular. I was small and lightning fast and fancied myself as the little Louisville Lip. I could dance all around him and would pepper him with light jabs. He would miss with most of his punches but every once in awhile he would connect. I knew that I never wanted him mad at me.