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Home arrow Sea Stories arrow Sea Stories - APSS/LPSS arrow Skivies
Skivies Print E-mail
Contributed by A J 'Lunchmeat' Barkis   
Oct 14, 2011 at 06:07 PM

The landing at Clark AFB Angels City near Manila was uneventful.  However, stepping out on the exit ramp of the Boeing 707 was like stepping into a blast furnace. The heat was oppressive--the humidity and temperature were about the same, high 90’s – and I was wearing dress blues. Nobody ever accused me of being the brightest bulb on the porch.  Whites would have been filthy two hours after putting them on.  After collecting my seabag, I checked in with Navy rep at the MAC terminal. All those who had come in on that flight and headed to Subic were told to get on the bus parked outside the terminal.   

The bus trip between Clark AFB and the Naval Station Subic was the filled with horror, fantasy, and expectations of what the Philippines was really like.  Speeds of 60 mph were interspersed with crawling behind a carabao pulled cart going 3 mph together, the bus driver frantically braking to avoid potholes created by monsoon rains and carts and accelerating rapidly to make up time.  I learned that the traditional rules of the road did not apply but that the first driver to honk the horn had the right of way, and there was no “keeping to the right”.

After a three and a half hours and 60 mile ride, we pulled through the main gate Navsta Subic and proceeded to the Receiving Unit.  I had arrived sometime in September 1967.

 Tunny was out at sea and not expected back until October so I waited.  The Receiving Unit was a fearsome place.  It was incredibly easy to get in trouble there like missing one of the 4 musters each day. Unlike the sailors reporting to one of the many bird farms (aircraft carriers) I sat and waited.  Bird farm sailors passing through Subic sometimes got to fly out to their carrier on a “Willy Fudd” (EA 2 tracker/radar).  Those prop aircraft were routinely used to ferry mail, medicines, and or urgent supplies to the task force “on the line”.  More importantly, you didn’t want to miss the announcement that your unit was coming into port and thus to pack your seabag because you were leaving.  

The sunny day of arrival changed by the next day into torrential downpours that lasted for about 3 to 4 hours each day, usually in the early afternoon.  Then the sun would come out again.  The problem of the peek a boo sun was the humidity.  When the sun hit the puddles steam would rise.  It would have made better sense if the “uniform of the day” were bathing suits and shower shoes with umbrellas optional. This was also my first experience with “house boys”, locals who washed, starched and ironed uniforms, shined boondockers sewed rips etc.  I was amazed at the job that was done on my laundry. My white's were starched to the point where I could turn them inside out and stand them up all by themselves as were my “T” shirts and shorts. The starched appearance only lasted if you didn't sweat—right!

I stayed at the Receiving Unit for about two weeks.   I got word that Tunny had returned and that I was to report immediately.  I caught a Jeepney to Bravo pier and reported on board. After delivering my orders to the yeoman I was told about the barracks Tunny used above the fire station while in port.  Yup, we had house boys there too and no it wasn’t air-conditioned.

I found the barracks.  I don’t recall who was there specifically, but there were about six new shipmates.  I was told to go to grab an empty rack and locker and change into dungarees. I couldn’t wait to get out of my blues and change into dungarees.  I was sweating profusely. I found a rack and an empty locker and started to strip down to my skives.  As soon as I tried to stick my leg into my dungarees, I heard “hey! he wears skivvies” and turn around to see those soon to be shipmates descend on me in a hurry and start to take off my skives anyway they could, mostly by ripping and tearing.  I also heard “relax don’t fight it” and resigned myself to being naked within 30 seconds.  Well, almost naked.  No one took off my socks.  The last thing a heard was “we don’t wear laundry on Tunny”  delivered like it was a point of pride in among mavericks.   Not being proud of my shortcomings, I quickly donned my dungaree uniform after the skivie assault ended.  The last thing I heard was “If you find it necessary you can wear ‘hoof gaskets’ (socks)’”

Consequently, that was my first initiation into many lifestyle changes that I would experience aboard Tunny. In retrospect the utility in not having that extra layer of clothing was utilitarian.  It was hot and humid, any time you moved, or expended any energy whatsoever, you sweated.  When you sweated the stach in your clothes melt and became sticky and clung to your body. Yuk! On the other hand, one layer of clothing dried out quicker than two layers. This was particularly important when moving between the climate outside the boat and the air-conditioning within Tunny.

I still don’t wear skivvies.


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Last Updated ( Oct 16, 2011 at 12:34 PM )
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