U.S. Navy Seabees RNMCB-2 1978 though 1983: This is a re-write of the Blog entry that I wrote in 2010, after looking back and reading some of the things I wrote I may have been slightly harsh; maybe when I wrote it I was still angry at the crap one particular EO Chief Petty Officer pulled; maybe it was just the fact our personalities clashed, I don’t know what it was really anymore that cause us to be at wits with each other. I’ve decided (after some 31 years LOL) to just let it go and hence this rewrite. I miss the guys of RNMCB-2, even the jerks and wish I could locate them. I have tried but it seems like the “reserves” are the forgotten units in the SEABEES as well as my mind has lost most of the names leaving only pictures of faces.
After coming home from my active duty period with the 20th NCR in Gulfport, Mississippi, I had orders to report to my reserve component Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Two (RNMCB-2) on Treasure Island California. I can assure you there was no better treasure on that island that some of the guys I worked with, memories and stories that were created in the 4 short years I served there to this day make still make me and those I tell them too laugh. That’s not to say that there weren’t those drill weekends that were FUBAR or that there weren’t total jerks in the battalion, I’m just sayin’ even those for the most part are memories I shall cherish for as long as I’m blessed to be on this earth.
My first day reporting to RNMCB TWO would prove to be an interesting. There is nothing like getting pissed off at a guy in your ‘new’ company the same day you report. The person to get my panties in a twist would be CM1 Ringer; Ringer would end up being one of three mentors I would have and among the men I most respected in the entire battalion.
After checking in at the HQ in Hanger 1 I was told to proceed to the battalion compound located in the north east corner of the base at 13th and Avenue N. The building was a large rectangular structure built of concrete with a flat roof that was tarred and graveled. It was painted beige, almost khaki a color typical of naval buildings of the times and if I had to guess was built sometime in the 40’s during World War II.
At the left of the building stood a flag staff and just to its right a large sign on which the battalion logo was panted or possibly engraved, I can’t remember anymore. I remember looking over at after parking my car in the lot across the street while walking toward wooden stairs at the front right of the building that lead to the battalion quarter deck the day I reported for duty.
From the quarter deck the Master at Arms directed me to check in with Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Rose who was at the time in the maintenance shop which would be my home for the next 4 years. The maintenance shop was large steel building located in the yard on the east side of the compound, a large blacktop area where the battalions equipment was parked separated the maintenance shop from the main building.
As I approached the maintenance building the strong odor of automotive paint engulfed my senses. Entering though the large roll up door I was met with a cloud of olive drab paint that was being emitted from a paint gun wielded by a Construction Mechanic Frist Class (CM1) and his assistant standing in the bed of a M35 Deuce and a Half. I making my way to the maintenance office at the rear of the shop and about midpoint of the M35’s bed, I heard the hiss of the paint gun and the sticky wet application of paint to the back of my exposed head and neck. It must have been a sight to see my face and the anger that crossed it as I turned and shouted “what the fuck, man!” only to be greeted by the CM1 standing with spray gun in hand laughing and then ignored as he and his assistant went back to work.
I can still remember the wet stickiness of the paint and the joy of removing it from my hair, yet even today there is nothing better than the smell of Olive Drab enamel cut with lacquer thinner being sprayed on to a piece of Government equipment, so much for introductions.
Being a Construction Mechanic (CM) I was assigned to Alpha Company and as I said spent most of my life in the SEABEE reserves in the maintenance shop, venturing from only on those occasions when I needed something from one of the offices of the clerks, Chief Rose, the LT, to get tires out of the supply room where they were stored or the RARE mount out exercise where I would help pack and carry out items need for the deployment.
Although this isolation form the other companies in the main building, perhaps self-imposed, was true for most of us in Alpha company, it was not the case for CM I worked with. Can’t remember his name now because I always called him by the name Sleepy. He was called sleepy because that’s all he pretty much used to do on our drill weekend. Once time I found him sleeping in one of the new tires we had for the MRS, another I found him socked away near the greaser only because when I cranked up the thing to grease a truck the noise woke him up can he came stumblin’ around from behind it; to his credit I did help me change oil and grease up the truck I was working on. On one drill weekend he’d been gone most of the morning and when I saw him and ask where the heck he’s been he told me that he had rolled himself up in the carpet that was (rolled up) in Chief Rose’s office. But the funniest was on a Sunday when we were getting ready to close up, I looked every were I knew this guy would sleep and couldn’t find him any place. Well one of the things we did just before formation was to raise the beds on the dump trucks so they didn’t collect water over the month the compound would be closed up. Well I was raising the bed on one and heard a yell and saw Sleepy come bouncing out of the back. Yep, that Sleepy one interesting guy, on one of our M16 qualification shoots at Mare Island; sleepy decided that he wanted to keep one of the (empty) magazines. Well the Gunny didn’t like the fact that one of his magazines was missing, but that’s another story.
Then there was Petty Office Reese; this guy was a character. After muster most if not all of ‘A’ company would meet in the CM office at the back of the maintenance shop, now this office was not much larger then perhaps 12’ x 20’ and would be packed after muster if not to get your daily assignment then to get that black liquid gold every sailor needs out of the coffee pot in the morning. Now Reese was quite regular and made it a habit of waking in the middle of the group and announcing his large presence by expelling a long, loud and, gaseous trumpet call from his anus that had the tendency to expand infinitely which caused grown men to groan as there was no fast escape. One drill weekend morning, Reese proceeded to once again awe us with a command performance of his gaseous call to duty trumpet blow but on this occasion and unexpected to him, his blow to duty was somewhat subdued because of the brown liquid that burst forth slowly engulfing his leg and making wet his nicely starched sateen trousers as it ran down his leg. Needless to say it was a long while before Reese ever provided this level of entertainment again. Reese was also the scavenger of the company colleting spent shells casings while are the range, various trinkets, and once even a circa 1940s mutli-fuel engine that was never used; but that’s another story.
Chief Rose was a salty dog and one of the best mechanics I have ever had the pleasure of working under, a true artist in the world of mechanical things. Because of him my skill’s in massaging the power out of anything with a motor and (or even a hull) were to have expanded tenfold, things and skills today I pass down to others I have taught. Sad to say in today’s world of electronic control I fear his lessens and techniques, that can’t be learned from books may very well disappear.
Rose was not only a master mechanic but was also a master of disguise. MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. “Ooh-rah!” Camp Del Rio. It was common for we bees to have coolers at the foot of our racks that contained cans and bottles of a golden substance commonly known as beer. Well on one of these evenings after drinking a few of the delicious brews Rose, added by and Marine Corps enlisted man, decided to cut out some stars from cardboard, color each black with a marker and affixing two stars to each collars.
Major General Rose and his ‘aid’ clipboard in hand; proceeded by jeep to the nearest Marine Corps barracks. Upon entering the barracks ATTENTION ON DECK! Was commanded and all the good Marines stood at attention next to their racks. Rose proceeded to inspect and raze these young marines even ‘requesting’ push-ups from a few while in aid seemingly took notes.
On return to the ‘A’ company (SEABEE) barracks, stars removed, Chief Rose cracked a brew and relayed his adventure to us. We were quite amused, the next day however the Marine Corps was not and we heard that they were looking for this impersonator.
The same ACTDURTA there was CM3, he and I use to spend allot of time together so the fact I can’t remember his name bothers me. Well, this CM3 was assigned watch duty one Friday night, his orders were to guard the fenced in parking lot where the battalion’s personal vehicles were stored. He questioned the reason anyone would have to guard the parking lot when we were miles from the main base, there was no one around except us bees and we were after all on a Marine Corps base that has guards at the front gate. I silently agreed with him, not wanting to enter the debate for fear that I too would be sent out.
So as he waited for the watch hour to come we had a few drinks and at the magical hour the CM3, dressed in his boots, un-bloused sateen trousers, and his white t-shirt he stood up from our group walked to this rack and put on his civilian black leather motorcycle jacket with a bottle of hard liquor in his hand proceeded out the door to his duty station. No one bothered to tell him or the young Marine in this story who by the way was armed, locked, and, loaded that there would be someone else guarding the parking lot.
Leaning against one of the cars, hard liquor in hand he heard movement and jokingly shouted “Who Goes There!” thinking it was one of us coming to shoot the shit with him. He was met with very startled and jumpy Marine who cycled his shotgun and ordered him at the top of his lungs to the ground. The next thing he knew he was taken to the Marine Corp’s guard station where he spent the night in a lovely barred 8’x 5’ cell until one of the Chief’s came to rescue him then next day. Seems the Marines had a hard time believing that he was on guard duty due to his attire and bottle of booze.
True to the SEABEES he was not charged for any of his indiscretions; to his relief and our amusement.
As much as I would love to continue writing about the happenings while with RNMCB-2 I must end for now as the magical how of bed time is upon me and it is far more comforting to fall asleep on a pillow then to fall asleep and face plant into a keyboard.
– Construimus, Batuimus