Diego Garcia, or Some Could Say, “McHale’s Navy”

Anchors Aweigh!

“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, the Nav sent exiled me to the USS Callaghan DDG 994, a Khomeini-Class Guided Missile Destroyer.

It was called a ‘Khomeini Class’ because along with 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…

DDG 994

My Belov’d USS Callaghan

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.” 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, Majorca.)



(Fun Fact: The Justified Reason for Our Wonderful World Cruise: We were to escort the 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 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, as 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 drink them; they would sell theirs to the neophytes. I was one such neophyte. And yes, I got the raging headaches. Never again.)

What to do?

Send us to port!

Hallelujah! Port!

Guess what?

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) Update: Part Two Here

Here is a good Sailor / Soldier Song (If ya like Kris that is)

Anchors Aweigh!

USN Flag


Just could not resist:

23 thoughts on “Diego Garcia, or Some Could Say, “McHale’s Navy”

  1. Heart, Perhaps you should send to him my bit on Drown – Proofing.
    Just kidding; but here it is in case you missed it.
    It will set him free.
    ‘The Cowards Never Started and the Weak Died Along the Way”


    Thanks for your comment.
    Yes! I am in-the-mood.
    And P.S. I love your comments.

  2. This is a fine text Lance, I enjoyed reading about your adventures in the Navy. I was an air force brat, no experience with the Navy other than a cousin who joined only to be ousted due to fear of water :-).

  3. I don’t know how but I got the feeling you might have been Navy. 😉

    I kinda sorta more or less passed through Olongapo without sticking around… Once I got my honorable I did my best to avoid the military, and the government in general. Which was funny, given that my first job after was with a defense contractor (building frequency changers for Aegis cruisers), my next job after that often sent me to work on Naval vessels and for various three-letters, and the next job after that mostly kept me away from the military but got me even closer to three-letters. The closer you get to the belly the worse that beast stinks.

  4. Going there as a tech rep was a serious stinker. You’d fly in on Sunday on a MAC flight out of Clark, and fly out on Sunday on a MAC flight back to Clark, and if your job was done on Monday that meant nothing worth doing for the duration. You might know the ship rider, or maybe someone else who was along for the ride, but you had to catch really lucky for any of them to be worth hanging out with. Or even within a hundred yards of.

  5. Touché, but it meant something entirely different to me.
    It all good.
    Seriously, I tend to be sensitive regards to Navy SEALs.
    (I am working the problem)

  6. When I was in the Air Force we said hooya (hoo-yuh) either with no inflection at all or with disdain to mean the opposite of what it meant when you said it. Sometimes, though, it was used as a derogatory term, “he’s a real hooya” — he’s ate up, or a brown nose, or a “trained killer”.

  7. I must confess: My Thirty Days in Diego Garcia were happy days for me.
    If I can muster the wherewithal, I will finish my Diego Garcia story.
    I have been remiss in reading your new stuff.
    Gonna read all of it.
    And damn soon.
    (Now, I know, you don’t care. But I do)

  8. Diego Garcia is certainly on my list of least favorite places on Earth. As a “tech rep” it’s a major stinker. Fortunately, my last scheduled trip there (in ’89) was canceled — it pays to have high friends in places. While they moved that boat out of Bounced Check Dago I flew out to Pearl to ride another one back to San Diego, then flew out to Fremantle to meet up with the first one. Hooya.

  9. I wasn’t really fishin’.
    Just hangin’ out on the creek bank with an un-baited cane pole.
    Love your comments Annie!
    I will check out your recommendations.
    Yes, I will

  10. OF COURSE I enjoyed the main story. Kinds reminds me of how my friend Stitch talks about his naval days. (if you get the chance, check out “Stitch in Time” by LJ Mainville Jr. Mostly, it’s about growing up around here, but he did include some Navy snippets)

  11. Well, ya know Annie, most Texans are kinda ‘edgy’
    ( do hope you enjoyed the main story)
    * fishin’ here *

  12. That is some EARLY Kris there, man! Might just have to share that with some of the other sailors in my life. Except Trevor. That’s really not something I could share with my godson…

  13. Anna,
    Thank you (truth be told: I am just fleshing this out)
    I do hope you will like it.
    (it is all and will be all, truth)
    Cheers And Khomeini Beers!

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