RED APPLE CHIEFS AND SOCK LIBERTIES
By Dan Lawson
The Coast Guard was a different organization in the years following World War II – The author alludes to a few things probably never heard of in today’s service………
RED APPLE CHIEFS
As the war wound down and Coast Guard personnel strength was being reduced from about 250,000 down to 14,000, many Regular Coast Guard Chiefs and Officers who had advanced in rate/rank too much higher positions were forced to take a drastic reduction in grade in order to stay on in the service. I knew 1st Class Petty Officers who had been LCDR’s and commanded LST's and such.
For some reason, not understood nor accepted by the regular service people, the powers that be in Headquarters put out a policy statement that offered RESERVE personnel the opportunity to integrate into the regular service at the wartime rate/rank they then held. Naturally the regular personnel having to take a reduction in rate/rank in order to stay on viewed this as grossly unfair. These prior reserve people were never accepted in the Chiefs Mess and became known as RED APPLE CHIEFS. They often found a polished red apple on their plate in the chief’s mess. The same thing was happening in the Officer ranks but I never knew to what extent the animosity existed in the Wardroom but heard some tall tales that led me to believe the problem also existed their too.
You may recall that when we were in grade school, a kid who brought a polished red apple to the teacher was considered a brown nose.
If you never had to go through a box of apples and polish the biggest, reddest one for the plate of an ex-reserve chief, you may not have participated in "sock liberties."
Sock liberties were a custom participated in by us young single guys with more liberty time than money. Having accumulated all our change in a sock, just before payday a group would go ashore together to a local watering hole and throw our sock on the table. The change became community property and the barmaid or bartender took the change in payment for drinks or?????.
We stayed till the stash was gone and usually, but not always, returned to the ship to sleep it off. It was amazing how far your change went on sock liberties. Many complimentary drinks & feels.
Some of the most memorable and sometimes luckiest liberties I ever had were "sock
Times certainly have changed. I think I saw a policy statement a year or so ago to the effect that the service wide exams could be delayed if the ship was at sea particularly in heavy weather. Several of us took the chiefs exam on the CGC NEWELL while on Ocean Station Queen. The ship was standing on its beam ends with a 13 second period. The Officers Country where we took the exams over a two day period were cold, damp and dark. We thought nothing of it.