E-3 Summit Meetings
By Bob 'Dex' Armstrong
your non-qual days? Back when the entire submarine force seemed hell
bent on convincing you that you might be the dumbest sonuvabitch ever
born in North America? In Squadron Six, being a non-qual was a lot like
being a whore at a logging camp...
You got used and abused, and everyone told you things would get better
once you ‘learned the ropes.'
there was one place where the non-qual union held their eetings... Our
'Union Hall'. It was a location that belonged exclusively to the non-quals...
Our place... A place where you could go whine, moan, bitch about the old
bastards, the lifers... The Chiefs... The qualified sonuvabitches whose
sole entertainment in life seemed to be making our lives hell.
place was the dumpster area on the pier. We used to congregate there
after evening chow. We stood around... Caught a smoke or two and
What's it like on your boat? You guys have a bunch of old coots who sit around drinking coffee and talking about old
decommissioned boats they used to ride? Brain dead bastards."
We've got 'em. You guys got a lot of married guys?"
yes... All they want is for you to get qualified so they can hit
you up for a stand-by. They drive you nuts, showing you pictures
of their kids."
you volunteered for the boats, did ja think it was gonna be like this?"
no! 1 thought it was gonna be an adventure." "What? You mean
like in the war movies? Up scope... Range... Mark... Angle... Mark...
Down scope... Fire one... Fire two... Time to target? 45 seconds...
Boom, boom and there goes the Fishhead Maru? Hell Dex, that was 1945...
This is 1960."
ever see a gahdam recruiting poster showing a smiling bluejacket with a wirebrush and a chipping hammer? A dirty apron? Haulin'
shitcans down the pier?"
no... Always show some First Class Bosun' mate buyin' flowers for some
good lookin' virgin in Greece or guys in whites riding a rickshaw in
Hong Kong, grinning like idiots."
on these worn out, stinking things has to be the bottom of the
tank... Man, I think they sold us a ticket to the bottom of the
gahdam tank ¦"
ever see the inside of one of those nukes? Jeezus, those monsters have damn near everything. Hell, damn E-3s get their own
"No shit, Horsefly... Got little privacy curtains... Got
head phones to listen to their multi-channel ships' entertainment
system... And a built in reading light."
shit. The damn things are clean... Smell like the inside of a high school girl's lingerie drawer... Everything is bright and new
beady eyed shrimp, Rickover gets anything he wants. The bastard must
have a movie of Congress at a goat gang bang."
you ever consider going nuke?"
Too friggin' stupid. Besides, you don't see guys wearing combat patrol
pins riding those big monsters."
but they get their spare parts gift wrapped... They don't have to steal
stuff off the tender and canibalize boats heading to the scrap yard to
None of 'em ever sunk a damn thing that could shoot back."
going to D.C.? Looking for a sharing gas ride this weekend."
showin' a decent movie tonight?"
got Splendor in The Grass... Natalie Wood."
got some shoot 'em up with Kirk Douglas."
truck should be around in thirty minutes."
Jack... Got a smoke?"
Dan... You quit buyin' smokes and just go to bummin' off
bout a smoke without the sermon. I notice you don't seem to have a
problem draining beer pitchers you never toss in for."
gimmie a smoke... Got a match?"
know that guy?"
must be a nuke."
year later we were all sitting around in our respective control rooms...
Drinking coffee and ragging the non-quals.
kid... Did you ever get trim and drain signed off? Jeezus, you are one
thick sonuvabitch... You'll never make it"
I had become my own worst nightmare... And I loved riding the old worn out boats. We were all fat, dumb and happy and Hyman couldn't have sold us a nuke... Even if he threw in six nekkit blondes and his pay grade.