Mid Watch Blues

Old Senior Chief 1946

In the early days on the CVA-19, I stood my watches on the High Capacity Fog Foam (HCFF) stations. As I recall, there were ten of them on the ship. They were all located on the second deck, most of them in passageways - a few of them in out of the way locations. We sat there on a can of mechanical foam for four hours. Mechanical foam was the nasty stuff - animal blood from the slaughter house with some other stuff mixed with it. It smelled terrible. We lit the HCFF stations off if there was a crash or fire on the flight deck or hanger deck. They would have fire fighting foam up there within a few seconds after we opened two valves and pushed a switch. The watches in the middle of the night (0000-0400) were the worst ones. Just staying awake was a big challenge for us. We sat there and thought about home and day dreamed. Occasionally - the Petty Officer of the Watch would come by, to look in on us. Most of them were okay but a few of them were real hard asses, especially SFM-3 Bauer. He would go out of his way, trying to find us sleeping or reading something other than the Bible or our Navy Blue Jackets Manual or our NavyRate Training Manual. He wrote us up (on report) over the least thing. Usually our Chief would tear it up when it hit his desk, but we would still get two hours of Extra Military Instruction in almost all cases. That meant we got to work at some extra nasty and undesirable task for two hours during our off time. None of us liked Petty Officer Bauer. If I had the watch with him, I always stayed alert to make sure he didn't sneak up on me and put me on report for something.  He was a real pain in the ass. Bauer - if you read this, you know what I am writing about and you know you were a pain in the ass. The sweetest words we could hear during those mid watches were "Secure from Flight Quarters". They would pass that word over the general announcing system, even after taps (lights out). When we heard that, we knew the Petty Officer of the Watch would be by shortly to secure us, so we could go back to bed. If SFM-3 Bauer was the Petty Officer of the Watch, you could count on it taking much longer than it needed to for him to get around to telling us to secure. We could not leave until we were properly secured.

daltonphillips@namvetsonline.com

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