"Very well," Captain Moon replied. "Now hear this - Battle stations! Battle stations! Man your guns!"
The executive Officer First Lieutenant Mackelroy Ebenezer Bustard came into the wheel house. "It is about time you showed up 'Mac.' You take charge so I can have my first cup of coffee."
On board a Warship like the George, the crew is 200 sailors. And the Executive Officer usually runs the ship for the Captain. In the old days, he was called the First Mate.
Now, imagine the play on a name like that - Bustard. Many times we were called Burstard's Mustards, or worse. Of course, you can guess what that was? Some of the sailors resented him just because he was an officer. He was a farm boy back in Iowa, until the war started. Then, he went through some fast training and came out an officer. He was called by many a "ninety day wonder." I always thought he was a pretty good guy, for he always treated me fairly.
Now, the Skipper, Captain Jerry, was just the opposite. He had been in the Regular Navy for 35 years and still got sea sick; even in a mild storm at sea. He came from Memphis, Tennessee. He also had a friend in the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. This, of course, is where all the big wheels spin out our country's national defense. Because of this "friend," our Skipper, Captain Jerry did just about what he wanted to do. We got orders to go up in the Bering Sea, off the West Coast of Alaska. That is just scuttlebutt (hearsay), we are going to Hong Kong, China instead. These Destroyer Escorts have welded seams in the middle of the ship. Two of them have already been sent to Alaska, and the seams busted open. Both ships went to the bottom with a great loss of men. When we arrived in Hong Kong, the Skipper's "friend" had some new orders "cut" for us. We could only call him a special "friend" because Skipper Jerry would reveal no more about him. Our orders were Air-Sea Rescue Patrol along the entire coast of Eastern China. Three cities for our ports of call, Hong Kong for Southern China, Shanghai for Central China, and Tsing-Tao for Northern China.
So, here we are now 200 miles off the Port of Tsing-Tao, and it is the 13th day of October of 1946. Captain Moon bellows into the microphone again. "I repeat battle stations - man your guns!! We will blow that crazy Jap out of the water with our 5 inch guns!"
"But Skipper, sir, we do not have any battle stations at all. Just look out of the port holes. Our guns are frozen. They are completely covered with ice and snow! In fact, we are completely helpless!"
Suddenly, on board the Japanese Submarine RO-105, there is a tremendous explosion! The middle of the sub, just in back of the conning tower, blows apart! It plunges into a watery grave, in just a few seconds! All hands are taken down to "Davey Jones Locker" with the RO-105.
Davey Jones Locker is a navy term for a Burial at the Bottom of the Sea. There is only one survivor, and yes- you guessed who! The Jap Sub Captain Yukjima was the only one top side when the sub blew apart. He was blown on board the George, and landed into the lap of a Yankee Devil Dog, Seaman First Class "Jed" James. He was the forward starboard lookout who had reported the two torpedoes.
Boatswain Mate First Class Bartholomew Bones rushed up and handcuffed the spluttering Jap Officer. None of us could understand Japanese, but he was really "cussing a blue streak."
Finally, Captain Yukjima calmed down some and spoke in perfect English. "I went to school at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts for two years before the war. I demand to see your Captain, as I need his permission to commit Hari-Kari to join my men in my submarine."
We called our Boatswain "Black Bart" for he was meaner than a skunk's hind leg. He had been turned down twice for a promotion to Chief Boatswain Mate. So he liked to take it out on us common sailors. He came into the wheel house, dragging the little Jap Captain behind him. "Sir, what should we do, for we are completely helpless?"
Captain Jerry scowled at him and said, "This is a United States Navy Warship, which is never completely helpless. Round up all of the chipping hammers and fire axes on board. Then, get a crew of deck apes to get rid of the snow and ice on the guns."
Deck apes are what the division of sailors in deck maintenance are affectionately called. We also hooked up three portable blowing heaters. Of course, Captain Yukjima was taken below deck and locked in the brig. He was very sad, because he was not permitted to join his ancestors by committing suicide Japanese style. In about an hour, the Executive Officer Lieutenant Bustard, went on deck to check on how the gobs were doing with the ice. Much to his surprise he saw one of the captains Mess Cooks. He was a black young man from Mobile, Alabama. His name is George Washington Andrew "Andy" Jones.
"Andy, what in the wide world are you doing up on this dangerous deck?"
"Sir, I am sitting here on this anchor chain, eating ice cream. I came up here to make us all some snow cream! It so enough, is real larruping good too!"