Saturday, March 1, 2008

No Love From the Bosun

Many years ago I was a young seaman recently assigned to the Deck Department of the USS Missouri (BB 63). One of our many tasks was keeping the rust at bay. Salt water loves to eat steel.

We were chronically short of supplies for our constant painting. We didn't have enough paintbrushes, rollers, or paint thinner. We did have plenty of red lead primer and paint in various shades of gray.

One day we were painting the bulkheads on the main deck. I went to the paint locker to find a brush. The only one I could find had been used for the red primer. I searched in vain for a jar of thinner to clean the brush.

There I was with a dirty brush, a bucket of gray paint, and a bulkhead to be painted. I figured if I were very careful I could apply the gray paint without getting any of the primer mixed in. So I started painting.

I was doing a good job too. I checked my work and I couldn't see any primer spoiling my new coat of gray paint. And then the ship's Bosun walked by.

The Bosun, Chief Warrant Officer McTiernan, was covered in tattoos. He patrolled his domain with a chaw in his mouth, a cigarette in his lips, a cup of coffee in one hand and his spit cup in the other. He had been in the Navy since Moby Dick was a guppy. I was, quite frankly, terrified of the Bosun.

The Bosun walked past me and did a double take. He yelled, "What the f--- are you doing?" as he snatched the paintbrush from my hand and tossed it over the side. "Get another f---in' brush," he growled as he stormed off.

I found another brush.


Julie R. Neidlinger said...

So I loved the movie "Operation Petticoat."

Don't know if that applies here.

Probably detracts from your story.

Good movie, though.

TimB said...

I haven't seen that one. I did like "Mr. Roberts" and "Ensign Pulver." "South Pacific" was awesome also.