First off let me introduce
myself to all the Noxubee shipmates whom served before and after my
tours. I arrived aboard in 1969 after serving three months TAD in
Hawaii waiting for the ship's return from a West Pac cruise. As was
the case with almost everyone I reported aboard and was quickly
assigned to the Deck force. I had a friend who told me all about the
different jobs available and storekeeper seemed to be what I was
My friend made me aware of how things like a ServeMart chit could
work to my advantage. How right he would come to be. Anyhow I spent
any time I had when not chipping and painting with Pat Lum Lung and
Earl Yokoyama learning all I could. Pat was in charge of OPTAR which
had total control ( or should I say access) of all ships funds. If
memory serves me correct our budget was about $30,000.00 a quarter.
We departed Pearl for Viet Nam and I started putting requests to
go to San Diego to Storekeeper School. I was allowed to put one in
week, and to my surprise I was sent off to school. To this day I
still don't know how I was so lucky. It meant not having to spend
anymore time in Nam, and that was OK by me since it had only been a
couple of months since the mine explosion. That schooling sent me on
my path of shall we say---never mind on with the story.
Priority 3, let's see if I can explain. Priority codes were
assigned to every thing that I had to order. Usually a very high
number (double digits). To me Priority 1 was when the ship had
probably all ready sunk and was sitting on the bottom, that's when I
could use Priority 1. Priority 2 was when the ship's mast was still
showing above water and the item ordered could keep it from hitting
bottom. Priority 3 was when you knew if the order was not filled
quick enough you knew something could strike and send the ship to
the bottom (or in this case me to the bottom).
Well sometime latter while in Athens, Greece I had the pleasure
of running into a taxi driver who had a lot of money. We struck up a
deal were I would supply him with all the cigarettes he could handle
for $10.00 a carton plus all the taxi rides I wanted. Does anyone
remember being turned down for a taxi ride and then watching me jump
in with a very large package and heading to my favorite bar the
Golden Key. Oh I still remember Sofia. Back to the story!
Well one day I went to load up another package and to my surprise
the Noxubee was almost out of cigarettes. As a matter of fact we
were totally out of some brands. I figured I'd be hung from the
yardarm either by the crew when they found out we were out of
cigarettes. I thought I was a goner. So I smartly decided to delay
my liberty that day and run down and place an order, and yes it was
"PRIORITY 3" that I used because I not only thought that I
was sinking I knew I was sinking. So I took my talents to a new high
by using some creative accounting procedures to cover my tracks.
Somehow it worked, those cigarettes were on board almost before the
ink dried on the requisition. More importantly no one ever said
anything about it.
I hope everyone enjoys the story and that the people who had to
change brands that cruise will forgive me.