Boat and a Bucket

by kfrego

I flew from Plattsburgh to Albany, Chicago, and Los Angeles when my leave was over in March. My arrival in Los Angeles in the middle of the night was greeted by temperatures in the seventies. The huge airport with it’s elevated rotating dining area, palm trees, and exterior architectural lighting was a completely different world. My morning flight to San Diego gave me a great view of the southern California beaches and the islands of Santa Catalina and San Clemente. When the military shuttle picked me up for Camp Pendleton my thirty day party was over. My check in for the temporary stay enroute to Hawaii broke my bubble and put me back in the real world. Having just finished my aviation training, the duty officer advised me my ship would leave San Diego in a week. It would take five days to get to Hawaii once we cleared port. Where were the airplanes?

All hands assigned to the same ship were put in a temporary unit for our trip to Hawaii. Two days before the ships departure from San Diego we were transferred to the Navy  personnel ship. The ship had quarters for active duty servicemen and dependents headed for destinations overseas. The lower your rank, the lower your quarters in the ship. All of the upper areas of the ship were off limits to anyone except dependents. We had a few places below the top with access to small open deck areas. No pools, lounge chairs, and catering for us. We spent the days in port watching the merchant marines loading cargo from the docks into the holds of the ship. We couldn’t believe how many dependents cars got bounced off the walls and deck hatches as they were lowered into the depths of the ship. There were pieces of chrome and broken glass all over in the holds.

We were assigned duty for the trip. My station for guard duty was at the dependents PX (store) on the second deck from the top. We stood guard duty four hours on and eight hours off until we docked in Hawaii. The first day was interesting as we cleared port and headed out to sea. The second day brought on sea sickness that lasted three days. An old sailor scrounged me up a small metal bucket and several boxes of crackers. For three days the bucket never got more than five feet from me. I would eat a little food, a lot of crackers, and be sick to my stomach a short time later. Never missed a guard shift, but my trip to paradise sure wasn’t anything to brag about. The fifth day was much better, but I wasn’t about to get away from my bucket. We layed up off of Honolulu and Diamond Head on our fifth night and entered harbor in the daylight of morning.

Hawaii was a beautiful sight during sunrise……………and I shook the old sailors hand when returning his bucket. The bucket was like an old friend.