Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I was writing another ham a few minutes ago and

the subject of on the air mischief came up.

There is a serious difference between mischief and poor conduct although sometimes people do not realize the difference. To a lot of is it is a thick, black line and personally I refuse to cross it. 

Anyway, I was on the air one afternoon sitting in the outside part of a Starbucks with the PRC 320 with a wire draped over a pole of some sort. I wasn't spinning the knob. I was actually laying for a certain station. I wanted one of the WW2 memorial ships in my logbook.

I had my clunky old GoBook III laptop with me, a veritable old workhorse and hooked up to the WiFi and checked the clusters. Sure enough, I found my ship.

Needless to say there was a pileup as it was the memorial weekend and the ship was close to fully manned with old Navy vets. The pileup was pretty heavy. 

I picked up the handset. "Fire mission!" I shouted and gave my call in the old WW2 phonetics. "I say again! Fire mission!"

I was treated to an "Everyone else stand by, please. Go ahead, fire mission."

"Able company, 307th request naval gunfire," I said. Then threw out my call again in the WW2 phonetics.

"Stand by, Able company. I am patching you through to FDC!"

The next thing I hard was another voice. "Chief Willis, FDC. What ya got for me?"

"Able company, 307th. Dog Green sector Easy beach. We're pinned down! We got a Slobovian bunker up on the beach. Knock a big hole in it! AP rounds, fuse delay. Fire on adjust. Send the first one a little high so you don't drop it on our laps. Grid EN 483952. One round and gimme a heads up so I can get the boys tucked in!"

I carefully identified the enemy as the Slobovians so as not to stir up any bad feelings. The war ended 70 years ago and while we should learn from history, no good comes out of dragging it up to embarrass anyone.

"Stand by," said the 'Chief'.

A few seconds later he came back with "Get your heads down!" followed in a couple seconds with "Shot, over!"

"Shot, out!" I replied. 

"Splash, over" said the Chief.

"Splash, out," I replied. "Correction, correction. Right 50, down 250!"

The chief repeated my correction to me and a few seconds later said, "Shot, over!"

"Shot, out!" I replied and when the imaginary round splashed I corrected him with a 25 down. 

About that time someone in the pileup that had figured what was going on keyed in and shouted "Get some!"

When the Chief fired the next imaginary round I replied with, "Ya put a big hole in it, guys! We got it from here! Thanks, Navy! Hey, don't forget to check out the gams on the tomato in this month's Stars and Stripes!"

"I got Betty's picture hangin' in my locker," replied the Chief. "Anytime!"

Betty was a reference to Betty Grable, the most popular pinup in WW2.

The microphone went back to the radio shack and the pileup resumed but seemed split into two factions. They were either amused or confused.

I later got about 6 emails over this. The overwhelming majority were amused, one was from an old frump with no sense of humor.

The handful of people sitting near me outside the Starbucks were totally confused. Here was a guy well past military age talking about some kind of 'naval gunfire' on some kind of military radio.

A man about 30 years old came by and whispered, "Your WW2 phonetics tipped your hand. I'm serving Navy. Are you talking to some kind of old WW2 ship or something?"

I quietly nodded and he grinned broadly.

Just then some pompous jerk came over and demanded to know what was going on. "You don't have a need to know." I shot back.

The Navy guy turned to him. "It's classified," he said. "I'm a lieutenant, USN and I don't have a need to know so it's a slam dunk you don't. Who knows? Maybe if you find out he might have to kill you or something."

He returned to his seat confused, baffled and embarrassed.

Some people were amused, some looked very uncomfortable. Some just didn't seem to care. 

Anyway, the guys from this ship were not off the hook yet. I wanted to play some more with my QSL card.

I got home and scouted the web. I found an old Naval code machine on line and encrypted my request for QSL. It looked something like this: TR7OL ID8WS 8W4JP 3WB7X UGR7Y.

I did put the 'key' in the upper corner, though. 

I guess that someone from the memorial weekend in the commo section must have known what he was doing because I got a card back a couple of weeks later with a separate note thanking me for helping me make the weekend a fun time.

Of course, the note was written in the same naval code and it took me a while to decrypt it.


A couple of weeks later I met the lieutenant again. We shared a good laugh.

He was getting ready to return to duty and had been on some kind of medical leave. He was due to catch a ship in Norfolk.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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