A LESSON IN RATE NOMENCLATURE
By Bob Reding
As an “Old Salt” with three years under my belt I still had something to learn….
First I want to say how much I am enjoying "Jack's Joint." Many memories of my hitch have been restored to their rightful place. One such tale has remained foremost in my mind.
It was early 1958, around February into the third year of my first enlistment. I was promoted to Quartermaster Second Class. Stationed aboard the USCGC CASCO in Boston after which I was being transferred to the USCGC DUANE to fill a vacant billet in my rate.
Having packed all my gear, picked up my orders and departed the CASCO, I made my way across the docks to the DUANE. I glanced over my new home, then climbed the gangway to the quarterdeck. Saluting the ensign I stepped onto the deck and approached the Quartermaster Shack to turn in my orders. I looked up to see an officer approaching and realized it was the captain, a full four striper, and he was headed straight toward me.
Snapping to attention I presented my very best salute which he returned as he spoke, "Reporting aboard for duty son?" I was wearing my peacoat. This was before the rate was displayed on the sleeve. I felt compelled to announce, "Yes sir, Robert L. Reding, (315-143) Second Class Quartermaster reporting aboard for duty, Sir!"
He hesitated for a moment and then with a look of puzzlement responded, "I'm sorry Reding we don't need any second class Quartermasters aboard MY ship!"
I was shocked; had I read my orders wrong, had I stepped aboard the wrong ship? My mind reeled as I searched for the words to try and explain what was happening. The Captain continued, "Reding, you may be a Quartermaster Second Class, but you had better be a FIRST CLASS QUARTERMASTER while serving under my command!" That broad smile that I was to become so familiar with came across his face as he began to shake my hand and said, "Welcome aboard the DUANE!" Somewhat overcome with relief I replied, "Thank you sir!" Stepping back I offered another salute, which he returned and turning he departed by way of the Gangway.
That was my introduction to Captain Glenn L. Rollins, who became one of the most admired and respected men I have ever known. Having inspired me to become quite proficient in my rate, I will eternally be grateful for our experiences together. I became his favorite Helmsman during Special Sea Detail or any time he ordered. That duty was usually billeted to a leading seaman or third class. I understand he was a "Mustang" having moved up through the ranks.
My tour aboard the "Duane" was a most memorable one and when Captain Rollins left the crew gave him a "Sweet Sixteen" shotgun, as he was an avid hunter.
Funny, I can't remember who replaced him!
Bob Reding email -firstname.lastname@example.org