By Lou Grebbien


This story will always be part of Coast Guard lore. Here it is again told by a different story teller.

Lou does not vouch for the authenticity of this story or names of men involved. However the event did happen, although maybe not exactly as described. The men have been given fictitious names ... even with the passage of time ... reputations are at stake.

Our heroes ... ??? were Hal T., BM1 and Will B., GM1, the year 1953 or 54 aboard the CGC IROQUOIS. The IROQUOIS was on double "Victor" weather patrols and based in Honolulu.

When in port the ship would tie up at Pier 4, which was near downtown Honolulu. Normally the ship would moor starboard side to with her bow facing inland towards the city. Across the street was the Waterfront Cafe, a favorite watering spot for the cutter's crews, and next to the Waterfront was the H.A.S.P. (Hawaiian Armed Forces Police.)

On this particular night, Hal and Will had been uptown celebrating as sailors will do just before going on a three month patrol. It was well after midnight and our heroes were well into their cups; to the extent that they had decided to enjoy a little physical exercise; exercise in the form of having a beef with several Navy sailors ... (as opposed to real sailors a.k.a. Coastguardsmen.)

This boisterous activity was not accepted by the people who ran the bar so they called the H.A.S.P. Now even though the police took the offenders into custody, Hal and Will managed to escape their clutches while being loaded into the paddy wagon.

The story goes that there was now a chase in true TV fashion. The two lads were able to dodge and elude the H.A.S.P. patrol cars all the way back to Pier 4 ... where the police caught up with them just as they ducked through the gate unto the dock. The pursuit ended there, since H.A.S.P. didn't have any authority to enter Coast Guard property without necessary arrest papers; and our "boys" knew this. So they stood on the other side of the fence and jeered at the H.A.S.P.

H.A.S.P. officials informed the lads they would get the necessary papers and return for them. Then the police left. The two lads went aboard ship.

After getting aboard Hal and Will started plotting as to their best course of action to avoid their eventual arrest. Since both were still very much "under the influence of alcohol" there was only one solution that would make sense and it would also be permanent.

Will got out the keys to the magazines and went to the magazines of Gun #1 ... a 5"-38 gun located on the bow of the ship, and pointed it almost directly towards the H.A.S.P. headquarters. Will sent several shells and powder cases up to Hal who was waiting in the gun mount. On rejoining Hal, Will loaded one round of ammo with a powder case into the breach of the gun and rammed it home. Our heroes "trained and pointed" the gun directly at the Headquarters building.

These tow boys being basically good, decided before firing, they should give fair warning and declare war properly. So one of them stuck his head out the hatch or the gun and yelled loudly ... "All right you S.O.B.'s, all hell is about to happen because in five minutes we are going to blow you off the face of the earth" ... or words to that effect.

Pure pandemonium broke out over at H.A.S.P. Headquarters ... and by now, the OOD and personnel aboard the IROQUOIS were properly alert, and during the lull ... (Hal and Will were counting down.) ... they took proper steps to apprehend the two miscreants. They zeroed in on the boys and were able to nab them before they were able to fire.

How the arrest took place ... I don't know. From that day forward the H.A.S.P. used great care in dealings with Coast Guard personnel.

Immediately after the incident the ship put to seas and the gun was unloaded through the muzzle. Hal and Will were given a summary courts martial, but they continued in the Coast Guard and became a somewhat dubious legend.

From "This - *?#!@*? Was The Coast Guard" by Esther Stormer 1985

Reprinted by permission.

Return to the Coast Guard Stories Page