The Bottle And The Marine

By Mike Spilman


My younger brother was in the Coast Guard and spent four years on Ocean Stations in the North Atlantic on the CGC Coos Bay and the CGC Duane.

I was a Marine aviator (Radar Operator) stationed in Miami and went to school occasionally at NAS Norfolk.  Once Bobby's ship was back at Constitution Wharf in Boston when I was in Norfolk so I drove there for a weekend.  He smuggled me aboard to share a vacant bunk and he, his buddy, and I went out on the town.  Mind you that this was in February.

We kissed all of the two teeth barmaids and Bobby bought a fifth of Jack Daniels, which we decided to smuggle aboard ship.  This is where it gets interesting.  Bobby and I went aboard and aft to the fantail, his mate was still on the pier and Bobby said, "OK throw it up."  That is where the fun began.  The bottle was about a foot short and when my brother leaned out to fetch it he missed and fell into the icy drink.  I was not worried since we both had the Boy Scout swimming and life saving merit badges.

Well let me tell you, I have never seen anything like what transpired.  His mate on the pier shouted, "Man overboard."  I could not believe it, the lights went on, the klaxon sounded and there were a hundred men running and doing their job and I am standing there motionless.  The skipper came running by, stopped, came back to me and said, "Since when do I deserve a Marine contingent aboard?" I just saluted; I think it saved my ass.

Bobby is in the frozen bay with ice floating in it.  When the searchlights found him he said, "Where is he? I'm already down here, I'll get him."

When the skipper finished with us in his tiny cabin he said that he would let the brothers spend the night together in the brig.  It was about 6x8 feet with one double bunk.

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