What was the most infuriating moment of your military career?

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Mudassir Ali
Feb 25, 2020 01:48 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 25, 2020 01:48 PM

It was a dark and, well … not so stormy night.

Our aircraft carrier was pierside during our training cycle. We had been informed that a Red Team (Navy SEALS) would attempt to infiltrate and “attack” our ship.

I was assigned as the boat officer on a motor whaleboat on the 0200 – 0600 watch. Our mighty vessel was tasked to protect the carrier.

This struck me as rather futile. The Navy’s 26′ motor whaleboat is powered by a 50 HP diesel, with an astounding 9 knots top speed.

So, let me set the scene.

That dark night, I was accompanied by the coxswain – who seemed like a reasonable fellow – and a Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class, who went by the appellation “Tiny”. (I’ll leave it to your imagination why they called him “Tiny”).

So, there we were, in our mighty whale boat, equipped with a battle lantern

and a boat hook

to defend the 100,000 ton aircraft carrier against the Red Team.

We motored up the offshore side of the carrier – “putt, putt, putt”, and then we motored down the offshore side – “putt, putt, putt”. This went on for an eternity … until the engine died.

I was envisioning my explanation to the captain the next morning how I had failed to defend our mighty warship, when Tiny ripped off the engine cover, examined the dipstick (with our trusty battle lantern), and exclaimed “We’re out of oil!”.

Fortunately, we had an oil can aboard for emergencies such as this. So, after pouring copious amounts of oil into the engine, and restarting the engine, Tiny smugly informed us that he could now sign off on a scheduled oil change. (Our highly trained sailors are quick to find any opportunities to avoid extra work).

Anyway … “putt, putt, putt” … as we continued on our interminable patrol … a Zodiac boat came flying around from the stern of the carrier, flinging cherry bombs as they went.

Caught up in the heat of the moment, I ordered “After them”. Of course, this was an entirely superfluous and futile command, which is a commonplace affliction of many officers. Tiny, on the other hand took immediate action to engage the “enemy”. He stood up and flung the battle lantern (!), and then the boat-hook (javelin-style) toward the SEALS. In the language known to all sailors, he let loose with a stream of invectives, which included “That’s my f***ing home, you b***ards!”.

As I reflected on the evenings events, I could imagine the headlines – “Navy SEAL impaled by boat hook” – “Naval officer court-martialed on manslaughter charges.”

The next morning, after my watch, I sought out the Deck Officer, to inform him of the loss of the battle lantern and boat hook.

“What happened?”, he asked.

“Well, I was on the MWB watch with the coxswain and a sailor called Tiny …”.

“Stop”, he said, with a groan. “Tiny! Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything”. Apparently, this was not the first time the Deck Officer had encountered Tiny and his antics.

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