Re-enlistment Blues

By Don Gardner AL2 asked on the intercom when he could drop by the office to re-enlist.............

Stationed at the Coast Guard Air Station San Diego in the late 50's were a few characters that I will always remember.

The CO had a pet peeve which was: He could walk into the Operations Office, take a quick look at the aircraft status board, and immediately note that the Operations Duty Officer had not changed the board for an aircraft that had taken off or landed 10 seconds before. In front of everyone present, he would begin chewing the ODO. We kept our eye out for him, and if someone noticed him approaching the hangar and gave warning, the ODO would have a little time to inspect the status board for accuracy. You could see their panic if they weren’t sure about an aircraft. If you warned him in time that he hadn’t changed an arrival or departure, your career in the Coast Guard, so far as he was concerned, was absolutely assured.

Another memorable person was the administration officer, CDR Kirschner, who used foul language lavishly, especially to new personnel to intimidate them (we called him "Garbage Mouth"). We RMs would have to tell the poor guy that Kirschner was checking them out and wasn’t really as angry as they thought. It was all a big joke, but tough on a new guy.

Among the cast of characters was an AL3 who talked corrupt Spanish ("bone-es day-es" for "buenos dias") to entertain the troops; the LTJG fresh out of flight training who had smarts but no common-sense; RM1 Melvin Moffett, who had so many girl friends (in addition to his 2nd wife) I could not keep track of. One thing you had to give him credit for though—each girlfriend had a set of jugs to die for.

And the topping on the cake was YNC Snodgrass, who thought he was God’s gift to aviation. His father was Irish, his mother was Spanish. Whenever a Coastie was "detained" in Tijuana by the police, Snodgrass was sent down to sweet-talk them in Spanish to get the guy out. His one flaw was that he was not as on the ball as he led everyone to believe.

The Ball is Dropped

(Act Uno)

We received a message for action from the Commandant one day that contained internal instructions within the text directing the air station to contact an officer on leave in the San Diego area and pass a message that was time-related.

Several weeks later the YNC called on the squawk box and asked if I had passed the message. "No", I replied, "the action office (ADMIN) was supposed to do this." The message had not been passed and the goof-up was discovered. Unfortunately, the YNC convinced everyone I had dropped the ball. Revenge sometimes comes around, even when you don’t plan it.

The Ball is Dropped

(Act Dos)

On a routine flight one day with Garbage Mouth as Patrol Plane Commander, an AL2 asked on the intercom when he could drop by the office to re-enlist.

"Have you talked to Chief Snodgrass?" asked Garbage Mouth.

"Well, I went into his office several months ago but he kicked me out—he told me he would call when he was damn good-and-ready."

"When does your enlistment expire?"

"Oh, that was several months ago!"

The P5M made an abrupt turn for San Diego.

Did I mention the CO was a hard nose? Explanations had to be made! What words he used with Garbage Mouth and the Chief for not being properly attentive to their jobs, I don’t know. Sorry.

There were rumors floating around that the CO almost had a heart attack while he was ass-chewing the pair. Garbage Mouth himself, once safely out of the CO’s view and hearing, did a repeat performance on the Chief.

If tickets had been sold to either of these events, there isn’t a man on the air station who would not have gladly forked over a bundle to be in the audience.


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