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Chapter XI

Barbers Point, Hawaii


When I checked in to VR­21, the personnel office advised me that the squadron had a

detachment on Midway Island and everyone in the squadron was obligated to spend three months with the detachment. I was also told that as a rown bagger, it would be better for me to meet my Midway Island obligation before my family followed me to Hawaii rather than after. With my Midway Island obligation behind me I could be with my family for their entire stay in Hawaii. The term rown bagg is what sailors call other sailors, who are living, with their families, because most married sailors carry their lunch to work in a brown paper bag rather than

eat in the mess hall. This entitles them to a special allowance called community rations

The best estimate for Margaret Ann and Patti s arrival in Hawaii was about four months. Four months would give me enough time to get our names on the waiting list for Navy Housing and to fill my three month Midway obligation. Hawaii, and later Midway Island, turned out to be miserable for a man without his family. I killed much of my free time by going to all the movies at the Base Theater. The movies were affordable. Admission was only a dime. After the movies I would drop by the Petty Officers Club and have a few mixed drinks. During happy hour mixed drinks were also a dime. I would drown my misery on dime drinks and then walk off the effects of the alcohol. I was a good walker in my younger days. One night I took off, trying to walk away my loneliness, and I wound up on the outskirts of Honolulu. The bright lights of Honolulu seemed to beckon the lonely part of me, but to me these people only seemed to make my loneliness worse. The only people that could relieve my loneliness were Margaret Ann and Patti. I turned around and walked back to the base.


The Navy finally flew me out to Midway Island to serve my ninety day obligation. One of the first things I discovered was that Midway Island is actually three islands. The largest of the three is Sand Island. It is made up of approximately 1,200 acres of coral. It is said that a good golfer could hit a golf ball across it at its widest part. The second largest of the three islands is Eastern Island. It is about 2 miles east of Sand Island. It is approximately th the size of its larger neighbor. About half way between the two larger islands is a tiny 6 acre hunk of land called Spit Island.

Midway Island was used as a fuel stopover to service airplanes that didn t have the range to make it all the way from Japan or the Philippines to Hawaii. Not long after I arrived in Hawaii, the Navy saw fit to promote me to Petty Officer Second Class. As a such, I was senior to everyone else in my section. Because of this I was designated Crew Chief for my work section.

The VR­5 Detachment at Midway was an all male society headed up by a young Lieutenant and assisted by an even younger Ensign. Under them there were about twenty enlisted men with absolutely nothing to do, except routine housekeeping, unless an airplane happened to land there and needed refueling. Visiting aircraft were rare and when one did happen to visit, the entire island went to the air terminal in the off chance of seeing something feminine. When my crew had the duty, my four designated drivers would position the two fuel trucks, one oil truck and the utility truck around the visiting airplane. Two hose men would climb up on the wings and begin fueling the airplane. The rest of the crew would oil the plane, tidy up the interior and empty the honey buckets. I would assume the task of cleaning the interior of the plane. I enjoyed this because there were always newspapers and magazines lying about that could easily be mistaken for trash. Girlie magazines were always mistaken for trash.


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