Ferry tales

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits.  Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service].  Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle.  Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters.  Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam.  I'm betting these guys had better sense than to reinlist.

All but two of these guys were 2 year draftees or single enlistment 3 year recruits. Those would have all come home before the end of 1964, ETS [expiration term of service]. Just in time to miss the Vietnam debacle. Those returning to the US for reassignment went to 11th Air Assault Group, Fort Gordon, GA, training to jump out of helicopters. Then the Army moved the 1st Cavalry Division to Vietnam, dissolved the 11th Air Assault Group, and sent everyone in it to Vietnam. I’m betting these guys had better sense than to reenlist.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Camp Howze, Korea, 1963, 1964.  I was standing in a chow line almost certainly with one of the guys in this picture waiting for breakfast.  A twelve-year-old Korean lad came down the line selling Stars and Stripes newspapers, yelling, “Lots of Japs killed!  Hurrah!  Lots of Japs killed!

Koreans still savored a deep hatred for Japanese in those days.  Having your mamas and grandmamas raped more-or-less whenever the mood hit for a few decades probably does that.  At least when the rapers are of a particular nationality.  [I’ve wondered whether East Germans don’t feel some of that toward the Rooskies because of their grannies during the retreat from the Eastern Front].

Anyway, it was a ferry disaster of some sort carrying Japanese passengers.  The first time I recall ever paying any mind to ferries and the associated dangers.

But over the decades I’ve certainly heard about a lot of them.  I suspect a risk assessment involving frequent use of ferries would reveal it to be more dangerous than airliners, trains or busses.  Not to say I haven’t ridden on a lot of them.

But on a ferry going between [I think] Newport News, RI, and Long Island, a nuclear attack submarine surfaced next to our ferry almost close enough to touch.  We assumed at the time the submarine commander was perfectly aware of the ferry.  By hindsight, though, I’m brought to wonder whether he had to go change his shorts when our presence and proximity came to his attention.

A person used to be able to pay once to get on the Statin Island Ferry and ride it back and forth all night, which I did a good many times.  Near misses with smaller craft were relatively common and a source of amusement for the ferry passengers.

I was on a ferry to one of the outer banks islands of Georgia, or North Carolina once when it hit something hard enough to jangle the eye-teeth of everyone aboard.  Never heard what it was, but none of the passengers were laughing.

Which is to say, life’s full of surprises and ferries have the potential for providing new ones.

I don’t recall when I began carrying a couple of hundred feet of small diameter 200 pound test rope with me in my luggage when I travelled.  But I do recall it was a decision I made watching people diving out of the windows of burning multi-story buildings on the news.  A bit of rope, I observed, would have saved a lot of them by allowing them to get off the upper floors and beneath the fires.

If I had to ride a ferry every day I’d probably decide an inflatable camp pillow would provide a nice place to sit on those hard ferry benches.  One person aboard protected by one inflatable pillow would remove the temptation those vessels wave around in front of the Coincidence Coordinators inviting disaster.

Old Jules



16 responses to “Ferry tales

  1. Do you mean the StatEn Island Ferry, here in New York? It’s still the same deal; pay it once and ride back and forth as much as you want. As for the encounter with a Nuke sub, it must’ve been kinda scary. Slowly, I’m putting together the picture of your years of service. The Korean conflict remains one of the most misunderstood for the average American, and ironically, it’s crucial to understand what’s going on right now at that fateful peninsula. Some of the troops were also unfairly treated and didn’t get nearly enough credit for opting going down there to fight under miserable conditions, straight after the great war. While WWII are rightly celebrated, Korean Vets get no respect. Thanks for that.

    • Hi Wesley. Yep, I reckons it was the Staten Island Ferry. Back in those days the stink of the water was enough to make a person spell it wrong. That was 1964, summer of the NY World Fair. As for Korean War Vets and those who served there afterward, seems to me it was just a place where a person could get a lot of insights about this nation he wouldn’t be able to get without distance and perspective. The main Korean War had already been fought and wound down by the time I got there. There were a lot of skirmishes and incursions up along the DMZ when I was there but that was 8th and 9th Cavalry up there above the Imjin River. Buffer troops above the Imjin, sent there because they screwed up in other units, mostly. “Do that again and we’ll send you to the 9th Cav!” sort of thing. I was almost 20 miles south of the DMZ and only got shot at on one occasion, that by a GI machine gun position I’d been firing at with a couple of perimeter guards, us thinking the same thing they thought. Namely that the Korean War was closer to home than we’d been led to expect and came down across the Imjin River. Turned out they caught the ones that came across several miles north of us and killed them without anyone being any worse for the wear. All of us firing at one another at Camp Howze only managed to cause a jeep to catch fire on the military support road. I honestly don’t recall what I thought about it all at the time. Someone was firing a machine gun down in the rice paddy below us, we could see the tracers directed at the MSR, and some fence guards from 13th Signal started firing at the machine gun. So the MG crew turned the fire on the fence and naturally somewhere during all that a vehicle fire on the MSR lit the night. So we emptied our magazines at the MG, which was manned by the Division Honor Guard. The jeep was mail being taken out to the Honor Guard positions. Fire fight started when someone carrying a bag of mail headed across the paddy, exchanged fire with them until the MG opened up on the jeep and Lieutenant Pripnow, who was standing on the hood trying to see what was going on.

      Nobody hurt, though Pribnow’s pride suffered a bit from scrambling down into the paddy for cover. I can only speak for myself, but I didn’t care who I was shooting at. I was trying my best to kill someone firing a MG I knew had fired my direction and not come within 40-50 feet of my position.

      By hindsight I think that was the only war of the last half of the 20th Century the US won, and I was a part of it. Gracias, J

      • That’s a thrilling narrative, right there, without missing the absurdity of it all (and the humor you layer upon it too). As for the World Fair, it was an unbelievable even; just a few of its buildings still stand today. I’d be pleased to walk by them with you if you ever come over for a revisit. They sit almost in ruin right next to the Tennis center and the new Yankee stadium. Thanks, Jules. All the best. W.

  2. The rope and inflatable pillow are a good idea. It always pays to be prepared.

    • Hi DizzyDick: I’m of the opinion that, while it mightn’t pay to be prepared, not being prepared can cost enough to convince a person being prepared would have been cheap. Gracias, J

  3. Always like to mess with those Coincidence Coordinators – an inflatable pillow on a ferry, or just washing the car when you need rain.

    • Hi Gypsy. Nice seeing you. I’m not sure why I haven’t washed one of my vehicles except the underside of 4x4s after boondocking, since 1978. Maybe that’s what I missed out on in life. Gracias, J

  4. Jack,
    You are one persepicatious dude! So things can get very (or sort of) hairy on a ferry? Scary!!
    Best not to tarry,

    Chicken Little
    *Love your military memories. I never made that journey. III-A Slacker. Took the physical for the Air Force but they didn’t need my specialty. (Had enough slackers.) Dad was a marine aviator and my step-Dad in Tanks in WWII. My Dad was CIA starting in 1950, when all the fun stuff was happening in the 50’s through 70’s and a bit in the 80’s. Useful.

  5. Jack

    Was looking for your blog with the pix of your Gozzell. You mentioned the correct prep of Cassie’s and I was going to write it down but lost or deleted the e-mail notification and can’t find it. Couldn’t pick it up from the history either. Could you let me know where that information is on the Cassies preparation? It is good to have an ace in the hole with the existing medical community being quite it is today.

    By the way if I were writing on the ferry, with my timbers be shivering?

    Thanks a lot!

  6. I bundle up whenever I travel in the winter in case the CC are paying attention and might decide a person protected by many layers and wool socks couldn’t be as much fun to toy with as someone in heels and a dress. I’m forever asking the unbundled youngsters, “What if you break down?”

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