The Colonel Has His Say

By Jack Eckert


This story probably appears somewhere else on the internet but I will tell it anyway.

I was assigned to the Naval Damage Control Training Center adjacent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on detached duty from the Coast Guard between 1963 and 1966. I reported in for duty in late June and lived temporarily in the BOQ until a house could be obtained and my family moved to the area from New Bedford.

Next to the BOQ was a small bar that the BOQ residents frequented. A larger Officers Club was located a few blocks away and it was ok but we liked the smaller closed mess club better. 

One of the residents of the BOQ was Marine Colonel Jack Stillwell. He was the CO of the Marine Supply Depot in North Philly. The Colonel looked like a Marine should look. He had very broad shoulders and a large chest. He needed the large chest accommodate his many ribbons and awards. He was also a good "Rum Buddy." Every night about 1730 he would turn up in the BOQ bar and order a "Brand X Beer." For the novice, that was a Miller High Life Beer in a clear glass bottle with a label shaped in the form of an X. He usually imbibed in them while holding court and telling war stories until ten or eleven when he would excuse himself and retire for the evening. I very much enjoyed being around the man and as the only permanent Coast Guard resident, he took a liking to me. He very definitely liked the Coast Guard.

One evening after a few "Brand X-es" and a sandwich out of the black box (I won't go into that, suffice it to say it was a lousy sandwich.) Actually quite a few Brand X'es, was telling a sea story when a Navy Lieutenant Commander who we had never seen before, started heckling the Colonel. The Colonel went into a slow burn. The Commander increased the intensity of the heckling. The couple of dozen other officer patrons quieted down and listened to the Commander's nonsense. The Colonel kept getting redder and redder until we thought he was going to blow a gasket.

He suddenly raised his voice and said, "COMMANDER!!!!!!"

"What Do YOU Want!!," answered the Commander.

"COMMANDER, PUT ON YOUR HAT!!!!!" said the Colonel.

"Go To HELL Colonel!!!!!"

The Colonel turned to me and said, "Lieutenant, go over to the coat rack, get his cover, and bring it to him."

"Aye-Aye Sir" says I. and did as the Colonel bade me to do.

Now the Colonel turned to the Commander and said, "THIS IS A DIRECT ORRDERR - COMMANDER PUT ON YOUR HAT!!!!"

Sheepishly the Commander put on his hat.

"That's Better" said the Colonel, turning to the Bartender he said, "NOW RING THE BELL!"

The Bell was rung as per custom and a couple of dozen patrons enjoyed a round of cheer.

By Naval Custom hats are not worn inside except when on official duty. A sign is posted in every officer's club that says, "He Who Enters Covered Here Shall Buy For All A Round Of Cheer."


End of story.

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