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Story #14 Volume VIII USO girls visit USS Anaqua
In our human society it seems more normal when men and women are integrated together in our working and personal lives. It is more prevalent in the armed forces of today then in the days that we served and that is good.
When my ship was up in the Aleutians for 6 months and the Western Pacific at Ulithi another 5 months we seldom saw a female. In the following story it tells about an incident involving females that took place in the Aleutians on Anaqua AN-40 in November 1944.
One day my friend Radar Operator Harold Bradley, from Cookeville Tennessee, came into the radio room and told me that he was going to pick up 3 USO girls at the Dutch Harbor Naval Base. Harold, an ex truck driver in civilian life, was the skippers chauffeur driving the jeep that the skipper had stolen, oops I mean forgotten to return to the car pool or did not sign out at the car pool. We were proud of our jeep and took pride in the fact that we were probably the only small craft ship in the Aleutians with a jeep Sort of a McCale’s Navy situation. One day while making a trip ashore at Cold Bay to deliver our mail to the Post Office Harold took me with him in the jeep. After we dropped off the mail he said, “Now we are going to make an un-authorized trip out on the tundra and look for Caribu.” He also mentioned that if he got caught he didn’t want to be alone. We weren’t caught and we did observe some Caribu.
Before we go on with the story some of you may remember the story that we sent out about the skippers jeep. He must have had the jeep a couple of months before they ran it down. We thought the skipper was in hot water, but he evidently talked his way out of his predicament.
Harold enjoyed his assignment as the skippers chauffeur and the skipper enjoyed being driven around in the jeep. He was a very distinguished looking individual with a small mustache and it reminded me of seeing pictures of General MacArthur as he and Harold took off or arrived in the jeep. When we made a sea trip to another port the jeep was hooked up to the boom and went with us.
Now back to the story: The whole crew was anxiously waiting to get a look at the girls. Normally we did not congregate on the outside deck because of the cold damp weather up there. However on this evening quite a few of the boys were non-chalantly pacing the deck, fore and aft.
Soon Harold drove up with the 3 girls, who were met by one of the officers and escorted to the officers ward rooms. My friend, Officers Cook Albert Cruz from Guam had told me that he and Willy Bee Cleveland from Chicago had prepared a nice evening meal for the girls and the officers.
After our evening chow many of us gathered in the mess area for a usual bull session. Suddenly the 3 attractive USO girls came down the passage way, entered the mess area and greeted us. They said that they had just finished a delicious meal and nice visit with the officers, but that they also wanted to meet the crew.
Someone suggested a song fest in the forward hold with Shipfitter Charles Dudley strumming on his Ukulele. He was our only musician. The girls said that sounded good. One of the guys went through the ship and notified everyone to go to the forward hold.
The forward hold was also our theater and Carpenter Shop. There were no chairs there so everyone sat cross legged on the deck including the girls. The only one that had a chair was Dudley and his Ukulele.
Dudley was one of our fatherly figures.. He was an older married guy with a family from Provo, Utah. He could have been home with his family but he wanted to serve his country so he enlisted in the navy.. To us he probably looked to be in his 50’s but actually probably was in his 40’s.He was a tall lanky guy who liked to talk and who was very much liked by the crew.
By now the crew was probably puzzled. Was this a surprise to us from the skipper to help our morale?? Did an officer or officers meet these gals at the officers club and invite them to dinner?? Did the girls meet the officers at the officers club and tell them that they would like to go aboard a navy ship?? We never did find out
Anyway we were grateful. We proceeded to the forward hold. Dudley sat in the middle on a chair and the rest of us sat cross legged on the deck. Songs were called out and old Dudley started strumming his Ukelele. He was in his glory with a continuous smile on his face. He was now an accompanist for a group of good and horrible singers instead of playing for himself. There was much conversation between songs . The girls told us where they were from and we gave our home towns. It was a joyous occasion with much laughter and singing. Everyone was on his good behavior. The USO girls seemed to be enjoying themselves as well as the crew.
No doubt it would have been a more favorable environment for them if they had stayed in the officers Ward Rooms where they could have been seated in chairs, maybe sipping on cocktails, and enjoying a card game or good conversation., but they chose to enjoy the companionship of everyone on the ship.
After a lengthy interlude the skippers voice was heard from the hatch. He said it was time for Harold to return the girls to the Navy Base. The girls had added a ray of sunshine to the officers and men of Anaqua in that bare and foggy part of the world.
Here again we can mention that in our human society it seems more normal when men and women are integrated together in our working and personal lives.
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