Bilbo's Tale Of Woe

By Jack Morrison

In the mid seventies I found myself at Supply Center Brooklyn. Now one would expect to find a large number of Storekeepers at a Supply Center, which there were, but there were more Electronic Technicians than storekeepers.

One bright sunny day in the summer of 76, SNET Bilbo (not his real name) reported aboard from isolated duty. As I reviewed his personnel record I saw nothing unusual in it, he had graduated in the upper third of his Basic ET school class, had completed the ET3 institute course and had average marks from his last unit, but why was he still SNET after 3 years? Generally in those days an ET with his time in was ET2 or on the list for ET2, not an SNET.

Speaking with Bilbo I learned very little I didn’t already know except the fact he was in love with a young lady from upstate New York. I gave him the usual welcome aboard talk and assigned him to the Overhaul Shop.

Time passed and summer turned into fall. One day the chief from Overhaul comes into my office and says, “We have a problem with Bilbo.” This grabbed my attention immediately, I had never heard him make that statement about anyone before He went on to relate that unless an alert eye was kept on Bilbo he would disappear and be found on a telephone somewhere. When he could not find an open phone in the work areas he would go into other areas looking for one, this caused considerable problems with those areas. Paul had already spoken to him on more than one occasion, being a former marine, he was very good at that; he had also assigned extra instruction, none of which had an effect, now it was my turn. I had Bilbo paged into the office, where I asked him what was his problem, his response was he was lonely and just had to talk with his girl friend. I read him the riot act about phone usage on duty and directed him to talk to his girl friend after work hours and from his own phone.

The next day I find a booking chit on my desk, Bilbo had left his area and had finally been located in building 1 of the complex we were in on the phone. When brought before the Captain his only excuse “I needed to talk with my girl”, the skipper a former enlisted man himself barely cracked a smile as he awarded Bilbo loss of $100.00 pay for three months, a suspended bust to SAET and suggestion he find a new way to communicate with his girl friend, case closed.

The following Monday that is missing at quarters but Bilbo, we couldn’t locate him anywhere. About 10 days later he returns, is charged with AWOL, given his paycheck and told to report up to Overhaul. Apparently the absence had affected his sense of direction as it took three weeks to go from building 1 to building 2, when he came in for his back paychecks he again was booked. This time he was sent over to Support Center New York on Governors Island pending his mast. When the investigating officer went to interview him the next day, he couldn’t be located.

Needless to say the skipper was not happy, the word was passed when Bilbo returned he would be taken to mast immediately. Several weeks later Bilbo came back for his paychecks, he was escorted into an office by two Gunners Mates who stood watch on him as the necessary paperwork was prepared for the mast. Several hours later, Bilbo now an SA, was taken over to the island to serve 30 days restriction.

The next day when the YNC went over to the island to see Bilbo, guess who couldn’t be found. When he returned this time (about three weeks later) he was awarded brig time at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. All the required paperwork and medical checks were accomplished within three hours and by 1600 he was down in the brig to serve 90 days, after which he was to be discharged.

I’d like to say that the story ends here but it doesn’t; it was decided that he had to undergo physiatrist review before discharge. We had a requirement to visit confined members weekly to check on their welfare; I was scheduled for the next visit. That day, myself and the duty driver went down to Philadelphia where I took custody of Bilbo, returning with him to the Public Health Hospital on Staten Island for his review. Needless to say he was handcuffed the entire time, this did not make him happy. All the way back to New York he expressed his dislike of the brig and the Marine guards and the fact that he wasn’t going back to the brig. After his appointment the Doctor took me aside and warned me that Bilbo would possibly get physical once he realized he was returning to the brig.

Needless to say we sort of misled Bilbo as to his final destination, this worked until we got to the Interstate and went South. When he realized he was going back to the brig he got violent and made an attempt to get into the front seat, the seat belt however held him back and he sat back in the seat. At the sally port in the brig he refused to get out of the car, his refusal came to an end when a Marine brig guard walked over, asked if I was having a problem and leaned into the car and told him to get out, I never saw a man move so fast.

When his brig time was over the skipper took no chances, the paperwork for his discharge was all done and approved and he was processed out from the brig.

 

 

Return To Coast Guard Stories