Soudha Bay, Crete was a beautiful place. It was secluded and quiet - very pretty and tranquil. There were big mountains around the blue waters of the main harbor. The town of Xania was located on the other side of the harbor from where the TC always beached. Our main berthing site was near a small Church and not far away was a little lagoon. There were many tales told about that place during World War Two. I know the Greeks held a ceremony at that little Church every year - supposedly in honor of the twenty or so civilians that had been lined up against the walls of the Church by the Germans and machine gunned. The Church was no longer used. If you looked closely at the walls - you could see what appeared to be marks where the machine gun shots had hit, more on one side than the other. The lagoon was not very large in area but the word was that it was very deep. There were stories about German U-Boats being moored there for emergency repairs during World War Two. Across from our location, near the mouth of the harbor, was a very tall mountain. By the stories - the German's placed huge guns in a large cave near the summit of that mountain - they were mounted on rails similar to the set up in the movie "Guns of Navarone". There was even rumors that the distant shots of the mountains in that movie were actually shot there on Crete. True or not true - i know the natives there did not like Germans. I must look like a German - many of the Greeks would give me the old evil eye and say "Deutsch?". Once they found out I was American, it was okay. There were huge underground munitions magazines and fuel storage tanks that were built by the Germans during World War Two and still being used by the NATO military forces when I was there. Xania was not a good place to go partying but it was the only town we could visit around there. I think it was about twenty miles away from where we were located, as a crow flies, but it took about an hour and a half to get there. The roads were very bumpy, narrow and winding. We rode in the back of a six by military utility truck and it was always a very rough ride for us. They say a sailor can sleep anywhere - but I could not sleep in the back of that six by. We didn't make that trip very often. When we did - we were dropped off at Steve's Place. Steve was a local character and wheeler-dealer. Rumor was that he was a native of Crete - immigrated to the states when he was young and was deported for criminal activities later. He spoke perfect English. Steve catered primarily to the American military personnel in the area, although he would take anybody's money - even the Germans. (They usually paid about three times what he charged the Americans). If we needed something, Steve would get it for us. His place of business was not fancy. It featured simple American style food, beer and other popular alcoholic beverages. Right around the corner were several establishments with many prostitutes working in them. Steve also owned some of those establishments and the girls working there. Prostitution was not illegal there - it was even sponsored and condoned by the government, where there were large numbers of military men. At least - that is what I was told. We always had a good time at Steve's Place and I never had any trouble there. He was a nice guy - as were the people he had working for him. It was a good place to gather for a decent meal and some drinks - maybe even get some female companionship. We would do whatever we were there to do, then be back at Steve's Place by 2200 (10 PM) when the truck showed up to take us back to the ship. I got along very well with the people of Crete and I think very highly of them. Most of the time, we just stayed around the ship and enjoyed our Beer Tent. It was set up beside the lagoon and it was the center of our social life. An old Greek sheep rancher that lived nearby would sometimes sell us a dressed out leg of lamb, that we would cook over a pit near the tent. It was a jury rigged set up - we set it up like a rotisserie so we could keep the meat turned to cook evenly. It usually turned out good - except for the times when some drunk sailor would urinate on the meat - to "give it seasoning". I didn't eat much of the food that was cooked out there, for that reason. You just didn't know. We were sometimes on site there for two or three months. There were many yarns and tall tales told around that beer tent back then. It got loud sometimes but I don't remember any major fights out there. We would drink our fill of beer, then stumble back to the ship and hit our racks (go to bed). There was an old white shaggy dog we all called "Ralph". He would come to visit the ship at random times and he always had an open gangway. He would walk up the bow ramp and come aboard, usually greeted by all of the guys on watch. He liked to come back to our shop at the back end of the vehicle deck. We always made a big fuss over him and fed him - which is why he kept coming to visit.