This was The Navy I found myself in… Really!
“Diego Garcia? Huh? Never heard of it.”
Lots of folks have not: Don’t despair. I spent thirty glorious days there back in ’86.
After my first failed attempt at BUD/s,
sent, exiled, banished me to the USS Callaghan DDG 994, a Khomeini-Class Guided Missile Destroyer.
My new home was called a ‘Khomeini Class’ because along with her three sister-ships, she was built for the Iranian Navy (When The Shah was still the Big Man About Town).
The ships were not yet commissioned, not ever close when His Wonderfulness, The Ayatollah came back to hang up his shingle and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, His Shah-Ness had booked out on his World Tour to cure cancer (his).
And naturally, after the Birds Sang And Shah went away, we just had to keep these ships for our own self(s). Such is History…
My Belov’d USS Callaghan
(I truly did come to love her)
Anyway, that may be too much information for my purposes here.
After I had mustered onboard the Callaghan, I was informed that I was ‘One Lucky Squiddy Sonuvabitch’ (That’s ‘Naval’ parlance for ‘Sailor’.)
“Why? Why am I lucky?” I just had to ask, as I really wasn’t feeling all-that-lucky after having ‘rocked out’ of SEAL training only to wake up in ‘The Black Shoe, Haze Gray and Underway Gray-Hound’ Navy.
“You are lucky Son,” my Senior LPO informed me, “because we are going on a ‘World Cruise’. And most sailors spend an entire career without such an opportunity.”
“Oh Goody,” I thought, “I done been ‘round the whurl’. So what?”
“Six months away from the only pussy I had finally managed to find for me in San Dog (San Diego). Perfect.”
I didn’t actually verbalize that, by the way. I probably said something like, “Gee Wally, I love the idea.” (Without the ‘Wally’ part—I ain’t stupid, ya know.)
Now, I would love to write about this entire cruise, and perhaps I may, but for the purposes of this post, I am gonna skip to the middle, as this is supposed to be about Diego Garcia.
About Month ‘two-and-a-half’, we were cut off, severed, culled from our Battle Group and ordered to do some ‘Independent Steaming’ in the Northern ‘IO’ (That’s Navy vernacular for “Indian Ocean.”) We were to rendezvous with the rest of the Fleet at some later unspecified date.
(Presumably to us, after they had some proper ‘Liberty’ somewhere up in the Med… You know: Shit-Holes like Toulon France, or Athens, or Palma de Mallorca.)
Yeah, the rest of the Fleet had to suffer in that way while we were privileged to experience the magical wonders of the Indian Ocean.
Palma de Mallorca
(Fun Fact: The Justified Reason for Our Wonderful World Cruise: We were to escort The”Shitty Kitty,”–USS Kitty Hawk, an old ‘Bird Farm’, i.e., Aircraft Carrier, to ‘No-Fuck’, I mean ‘Norfolk’ Virginia Naval Base. You see, The ‘Shitty Kitty’ just could not fit through “The Ditch”, aka ‘The Panama Canal’. Hence, we had to take the long way to her new home.
For the sake of some brevity, I will merely recount here that we got ‘Stuck’ in the Northern IO. The Russians and the Iranians were acting ‘stupid’ and kept harassing us. (Fly-Overs by Ruskies, Iranians threatening to blockade the Straits of Hormuz. You know, typical Eighties’ shit and actually not unexpected.
Now like most U.S. Government Bureaucracies, The Department of the Navy had a budget. We spent so much time on ‘Picket Station’ (Making five knots up and down the North IO, ‘Patrolling’) that we had simply used up our fuel allotment.
(Fun Fact: In the U.S. Navy once ‘Squiddies’ have not seen land for forty-five days, they get to have a ‘Beer Day’. Yep. That’s right. They chopper in cases of beer, laced with formaldehyde as a preservative, don’cha know, and each Sailor gets two, count ‘em two beers. Gives a raging headache and ‘Old Salt’ Sailors would not even touch them. They would sell theirs to the neophytes. I was one such neophyte. And yes, I got the raging headache. Never again.)
So, what to do with us, since we were outta gas?
Send us to port!
The ‘Port’ was Diego Garcia: A No-Where’s-Ville In the Middle of the Vast ‘Nowhere’ that is the Indian Ocean.
We were all so very fucking excited.
To Be Continued (I Promise)
Here is a good Sailor / Soldier Song (If ya like Kris that is)
And If ya don’t like Kris, well, you may have taken a wrong turn at ‘Albequerky’
Kris’d His Ass Goodbye
I Had A Great Skipper
On USS Callaghan
I Loved And Respected Him!