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Chapter XI Barbers Point, Hawaii

flapping all the way. Then, as often as not, for no apparent reason they give up. They fold their wings and go somersaulting head over heals before coming to an abrupt halt. They rest a bit and then try it all over again. Many of them use the lagoon for their long take off. Unfortunately, the sharks wait for them in ambush.

It di

t take long for me to learn to respect these beautiful creatures. They are inclined

to peck if you get melodrama. For a

too close.

One

couple of

hours

evening I forgot

I went to the base all about being on

movie and lost myself Midway. Walking out

in

the

of

the

theatre, I passed between two gooneys and both of them pecked own way they had let me know that I was intruding in their world.

me

at

the

same

time.

In

their

THE MOANING BIRD

Another fascinating bird on Midway was a bird that we called the moaning bird.

This

little

bird

lives

in

burrows

all

over

the

island.

Their

moan

is

eerie

enough

to

really

give

you

the

creeps. Years later I found out their real name is Wedge Tailed Shearwater. I m eerie moans are part of their courtship ritual and also serve as an effective defense.

told

that

their

These were a few things that helped preserve my sanity. Nothing seemed to work for some of those suffering isolation out in the middle of the Pacific, however. Unable to cope any longer and unable to find any other means of transportation, one poor sailor was caught trying to swim his way back to Hawaii. They found another deranged sailor sitting in the middle of the garbage dump staring upwards into the torrential rain that was plastering his face.

I was ok until an administrative snafu caused my three month tour of duty to become a tour without end. Everyone sent to Midway, including me, had been sent to Midway on non per diem orders. Per Diem is an allowance paid to individuals who are serving away from their regular unit and entail hardships because of the assignment. The Navy Comptroller ruled that our non per diem orders were illegal and all future orders for temporary assignment to Midway had to be on per diem orders. The man scheduled to relive me could not be issued per diem orders because there was t any money budgeted for per diem orders in our squadron. It looked as if I would remain on Midway until this issue could be settled.

WHO WILL MEET MARGARET ANN?

While this was going on, Margaret Ann, unaware of the snafu, had filed the required documents necessary for her travel to Hawaii, fully expecting me to be there when she arrived. The Military Air Transport Service had scheduled her and Patti on a flight 46 days after I was supposed to return to Hawaii. Only days before Margaret Ann s scheduled flight, I was still stuck on Midway with no relief in sight. To make matters worse, I had no way of contacting Margaret to advise her to cancel her flight.

On another issue, our parent squadron in Hawaii, had decided that the Midway Detachment wasn t doing its job properly. The powers to be decided to replace the Detachment Officer in Charge with a new one and create a Leading Chief Petty Officer billet to square away the enlisted men. The Chief was all spit and polish and made it clear that he expected us to follow his example. Things would be done his way or else.

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