That night back at sea, it was obvious some of the crew had been drinking as many began singing and staggering about it....


By Al Siegrist

While serving aboard the Coast Guard Destroyer TUCKER (CG-23) about 1929, we were ordered to patrol off of the Florida coast to slow down the rum runners who were boldly running liquor into Florida practically 24 hours a day.

It so happened we sighted and apprehended a motorboat off the Miami coast on our way down there from New London, Connecticut. The boat was loaded to the gunnels with bags of liquor and the two man crew had opened the seacocks to try to sink her ... but the TUCKER's crew hauled her alongside and quickly heaved bag after bag of fine Gilbey's Gin and other liquors up on to deck. Three officers on each side formed a sort of lane and had the crew pass the bags along and stick them into the shack like machine shop which was just aft of amidship and just over the engineroom after end. Our crew got plenty of evidence aboard the TUCKER as the rummy sank slowly. Later we towed the boat into Miami where she sank in shallower water.

That night back at sea, it was obvious some of the crew had been drinking as many began singing and staggering about it. I was surprised when a quartermaster stepped into the radio room with an armful of bottles, left one on the desk and ran out again. I hid the bottle inside our big transmitter .... Unopened! Later, the Captain had most of the off duty officers together with the Chief Boatswains Mate start searching the ship. Liquor bottles were found in men's bunks, lockers, the muzzles and breaches of the big guns, etc. etc. etc. The ship was completely searched three times. A couple of bottles were found in the crow's nest.

Men who had never drank before were stoned ... Just because it was available I guess.

Next morning Captain George McKean (a great and fair skipper, now deceased) had the crew mustered amidships in their dress blue uniforms. He really dressed down the crew warning on General Courts Martials, dismissals from the service, etc. before dismissing them.

The gist of this story, however, is about one man that kept appearing well loaded and always with a bottle mostly half empty. He was Brooks ... the cook and cabin boy who cooked for the Captain.

They would take the bottle away from Brooks, who hadn't cooked for several days, and ask him where he got the bottle .... Brooks would always grin and fall back asleep.

The Captain had the ship searched again and found nothing!

Brooks finally ran out of bottles by the time we were heading back to New London but he remained on the Captain's black list.

As it turns out Brooks was on the first liberty party upon arriving back in New London. The liberty party was just milling around the quarterdeck waiting for their liberty cards from the quartermaster ... when Captain McKean stepped out from the wardroom; seeing Brooks, he said, ... "Brooks you are restricted to the ship and not to go ashore. However, if you decide to relent and divulge the hiding place of the liquor, I'll consider lifting your restriction."

Brooks beamed all over; he smiled and said, "Captain, Sir, you're a good man. So I'll have to tell you. I hid two bags ... (24 bottles) under your bunk. You were sleeping on them every time you went to bed."

The crowd on the quarterdeck had a good laugh, the Captain threw up his hands and returned to the wardroom smiling after he released Brooks from restriction.

(It was found out that three TUCKER crew members throwing liquor up on to the deck also dropped quite a few bags over the side, accidentally, which were promptly boat hooked aft by members of the crew. Also there was a small opening in the machine shop where the stackers pushed out a few bags which were caught by the engineroom personnel on duty!)

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

Reprinted by permission.

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