The PPDRDG Ministry of Amazonian Management
Ensign Lisa Llewellyn Severino, Miss Diego Garcia 1990!
It isn't often I get an
officer to write very much to this website, so I want to thank Lisa for
being brave enough to send this in.
Well, she was an Ensign, and that qualifies, right???
Here's the good Ensign squaring away a couple of miscreants at the old Expat Club
I guess that any blog about DG should start with how one got there. I had dated a squid a year or so before I went through OCS, and he told me about the mythical place of Diego Garcia. The real “kicker” of the web of fantasies was that the uniform allegedly consisted of shorts, a T-shirt, boondockers, and a pith helmet. I could do shorts for a year, I thought. As I went through OCS and
, I kept hearing stories about “Dodge,” only in some stories, it was the Navy’s version of Club Med and in others, it was a horrible, hot, shark-infested hellhole where men raped men, etc. I soon began to discern a pattern, however, as I realized that the hellhole stories were from around the 70’s while the more pleasant stories were of a more recent vintage. Luckily for me, a billet was up for assignment for my class, and it was the plum billet of Supply Officer, the only department head tour for an Ensign on the island, per one of the Chop School instructors. Soooo, envisioning pristine white beaches and a shorts uniform, I campaigned to get the assignment – and did!! The Chop School folks were thinking that I was in need of psych eval, but maybe that was not just wanting a DG billet. When I finally was able to speak to my predecessor (I did not have a full appreciation of the telephone situation until I actually was on station), I asked her what the command uniform was (gleefully expecting to hear about the shorts.) Her response was, “At this command, we wear CNT’s.” Whaaaaa? I thought that perhaps there was a bad connection. “Could you repeat that, please?” “CNT’s.” “Ughhh! What a terrible mix polyester, pantyhose, and tropical heat would be. But, I was already committed. I did note with interest that the “Welcome Aboard” booklet I received had at least 2 full pages on deadly and/or dangerous sealife. Going to be one heck of a tour, I thought. Chop School
On my way from
Chop Schoolto Dodge, I had 2 days of TAD in to check out one of the classified programs I’d be supporting at the CommSta. From there, it was straight to Bremerton for transition over to Dodge. Plane flew from L.A. L.A.to and broke. About 4 different times, we were told to report back in 2 hours for departure, and each time, we would get delayed again. As we were off in a separate terminal, with no stores, no vending machines, and no viable means of transportation to anywhere else, we had nothing to do and no prospects of being able to go anywhere. Finally, after the 4th time, they issued us vouchers for a hotel room and told us to come back in about 5 hours. Our hotels were all right on the fringe of the airport, and of course, we had no access to our luggage, so a change of clothing was out of the question unless one could fit into the children’s things sold in the gift shop of the hotel. A rinse of the undies, a much-needed shower, a nap, and some food was all that could be had, and then we were all back at the plane. Honolulu
Our next stop is
Guamwhere we have to go through customs. We’re in the military hangar, and there are none of those cute little wheeled carts that one can now get at airports. Nothing. A military traveler had to carry his or her own belongings. I had a huge suitcase, a fully stuffed hanging bag, and my stuffed seabag (I had been warned that the ship’s store often did not carry the essentials of life, like feminine hygiene products or sunscreen, but I’d brought what I believed to be a year’s supply of them along with lots of swimsuits, workout gear, and all my uniform stuff.) So, we had to stand in line as we went through customs, the queue snaking its way across the floor as time went on. For me, that entailed taking one huge piece of luggage and moving it the 3 or 4 feet, going back to get the next piece and doing the same thing, and finally getting the third piece. As someone said, it was like working on an assembly line where I was the only worker. So, we get through customs and then we get a plane to Clark AB in the Philippines.
I get paged, and its my command telling me NOT to take the next flight to DG, that they want me to go TAD for a few days at the CommSta in San Miguel, that an OrdMod is forthcoming. It’s about 2 a.m. local, and of course, the AF BOQ won’t give me a room, so I have to select from a menu of available local hotels. I pick one, and they send a courtesy van. There are huge warning signs all around the base that military uniforms are not authorized in town – not a good sign. The van arrives, we load in my stuff, and sit beside the driver up front, realizing as we go through the front gates, that I make wonderful sniper bait with my big blonde head. I gratefully get to the hotel with no incident and begin to unpack my bags to ready myself for a shower and, hopefully, some sleep. When I open my seabag, I find that the childproof cap on my gargantuan bottle of Motrin (for knee pain) has worked itself loose as well as the top to my crème rinse conditioner. The two have combined to create a wonderful hot pink paste that makes the entire contents of my seabag look tie-dyed. So, I set about rinsing things out as best I could and hanging the wet things where I could to dry. About the time I’m ready to finally collapse in bed, the roosters in the area start crowing. Wonderful.
I report back to the terminal the next day a little before noon as I’d been told that a shuttle leaving for Cubi (and San Miguel) took off from there not too much later. I was expecting to pick up my OrdMod and then catch the shuttle. Well, then I get another phone call that my OrdMod has not come through. Sooo, I’m stuck in the terminal until around 5 a.m. the next day when the next flight to Dodge takes off. After a while, the crud factor in the terminal begins to build up as all the Filipina dependent wives have changed their kids numerous times, and they’ve run around everywhere with their grubby little hands. I befriended a Filipina gal, a dependent of a squid back in the States, who’d come over for her brother’s funeral (he was a regular in the Phillipines army and had been killed by a sniper) and then had had no luck getting a MAC flight back. Poor kid was out of money and really despondent. I took her with me out on the town for dinner. I ordered us a pitcher of margaritas, which in hindsight, was NOT a good idea. 5 a.m. rolls around – finally – and I board the flight to Dodge. But first, it makes a stop in
. Actually, we change planes in Singapore . When we hit Singapore , it’s about midday, and all one could smell in the military terminal was hot tarmac and aviation fuel, aviation fuel, and aviation fuel (a diesel-y smell.) The combination of what was probably bad tequila, my proclivity towards motion sickness, and the fuel fumes begin to agitate my system. For the final – thank God – leg to Dodge, we’re loaded into a C-141, my first time on such an aircraft. First of all, the fuselage is virtually windowless – wonderful for someone like me prone to motion sickness – and the temperature is about 40 degrees F. I’m wearing gauze pants, a gauze tank top, sandals, and, fortunately, a gauze cardigan. In other words, I’m freezing during the trip. At some point, all the previously mentioned factors hit full force, and I think that I ended up filling up at least 6 airsickness bags. I think that I must have set some kind of new record in that regard. All I know is that the AF loadmaster guy was not loving me. Singapore
Finally, we land, and the door opens up to bright sunshine and a rather pleasant breeze. I seem to recall that I literally got down on my hands and knees to kiss the pavement, but maybe I did not. All I know was that at that point, I had not had any real sleep for about 4 days (remember, I was traveling through time zones, too) and had just been airsick for several hours (which always entails sweating.) And who should be there to greet me but my new CO and XO in their summer whites, all smiles and handshakes!? I managed to get through the mercifully short greeting, cringing on the inside through it all at my obvious dishevelment. The Command Duty Officer that day was CWO2 Rich Felty. One of the major duties for CDO’s is to greet incoming planes and corral new personnel, ushering them through B.I.O.T. Customs and taking them to their billeting. Rich later told me that when he caught sight of me towards the end of the line of folks coming off the plane, he’d muttered to himself, “Please don’t let her be ours, please don’t let her be ours.” Rich helped me over to Customs whereupon I discovered that I could not locate the keys to the locks of my luggage. So, out came the HUGE cutters, and they cut the locks off my suitcases. Whatever. (At least the dogs did not urinate on my luggage, as I read in Elizabeth Gambrell’s account.)
Rich takes me over to my temporary BOQ and tells me that I should meet Joyce, my predecessor. She calls me up, and we agree to meet up at the O Club in about 2 hours. I’m still disoriented, but I figure a shower, followed by some food should help set me right. So, I meet Joyce at what is the “clean shirt” side of the O Club, and we order dinner. We’re joined by a fellow Chop who I think was the Fuels Officer at the time.
As we’re sitting there having dinner, the door suddenly flies open, and a blueshirt comes striding in. I know that my thought was, oh, something important must be happening, and he's bringing a message to someone. Before any of us realized what was going on, he strode up to our table, bent forward as if to say something, and kissed the Fuels Officer on the lips, and then nodding his head as if to congratulate himself, he strode out, declaring, "There! I did it! I said I would." The Fuels guy, sputtered, squinched his eyes, and wailed, "What just happened?" We were all in sort of a stunned silence. Then, Joyce piped up, "Well, I think that I feel a little insulted. I mean, here we are, 2 women, and he kisses the guy!" After another moment or two, the Fuels guy says, “I feel dirty.” There was an investigation, the blueshirt was taken to Captain's mast (evidently, he was off the carrier that was in-port, had gotten drunk, and had been dared to do the deed by his buddies.)
My first CO was CDR Holcomb, and he ran a tight ship. Perhaps the thing I most recall about him, during the 2 short months he was there for my tour, was his adherence to the Navy’s Physical Readiness Standards. He was a gaunt man himself (enlisted personnel referred to him as “Skeletor,” and there was a passing resemblance; he was an intense worker and would stay up at headquarters until 9 p.m. some nights), and he would not hesitate to call out any khaki whom he considered to exceed the body fat percentage that was allowed. DG had long been a “dumping ground” for unwanted personnel from other commands. I recall that we had 2 different female chiefs show up – one was at 37% bodyfat when measured, and the other was at around 41%. Bless Holcomb, he did the unthinkable – he sent a radiomessage blast back to their last commands saying that they should have never been PCS’d while failing to meet standards (true) and that there was no way that they had gained 7% and 11%, respectively, in 30 days of leave prior to coming to the island. These females were put on immediate remedial PRT programs, and one who was due a promotion to E-8 was not allowed to put it on or get paid for it until she achieved the bodyfat standards. Go, CDR Holcomb!
The change of command required a command-wide inventory, which was a total pain for a supply officer only onboard for 2 months. But, it was worth it because we got a great new CO, CDR Parsons. He was a Mustang, a stand-up guy, and really a nice fit with George Wilson, who became the NSF CO a bit later. When he arrived, we all commented on how OLD he was. Well, he evidently found the fountain of youth on Dodge because he not only became fit and tanned, but his hair actually began to turn from gray back to black – no kidding. Bruce, the 2nd CommO, and CWO4 William “Ray” Walden, used to tease the CO that he was having Grecian Formula mailed to him from the States. I cannot say enough good things about CDR Parsons. There were some bumps in the road during his command, but he handled everything with aplomb and made most of us very glad to have him as our leader. His great leadership was why I decided to extend my tour out so that the next SuppO would not have to do the change of command inventory after being onboard such a short period of time.
Two other fine officers that were appreciably better than their predecessors and really made my tour so much smoother were the CMO, LT Bill Kennedy, and the Ops Officer, LT Kim Kotlar. They were both outstanding officers and are just great human beings. (I’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with them both during subsequent tours, and my admiration of them has only grown.) Bill, unlike his jerk predecessor (who was not once asked to be a re-enlisting officer, despite having around 50 people working for him), was a great source of support and professional guidance. Kim was the solidifying force to the wardroom. With her arrival and organization, all of us at the CommSta really enjoyed being with each other and having picnics, etc. We’d always sit with each other at island hail and farewells and other events because we really wanted to, not because we were supposed to. Kim is the one who made that happen.
I miss my morning gossip sessions with Ray Walden, too. I’ll never forget how he arranged to have smoke detectors put on the doors of the stalls in the women’s bathroom at R-site. Some sick-o was refusing to use the outdoor smoking area and was smoking in the bathroom – yuck! What was that? High school? I was fit to be tied and was going to post a sign saying I’d kick whosever ass it was doing that (typical ensign stuff). Ray told me that my approach was a bad idea, and the next day, I had to laugh as I shut the door because there was a smoke detector. Classic!
Being one of the few female officers on the island, I got invited to every kind of social event, especially soirees held by visiting ships. I did not have the courage to refuse to go and treated them as “mando commando” performances. On more than one occasion, my CO or XO would see me at a reception and ask, “What are YOU doing here?” I should have thought that the answer was obvious: I am the proud owner of a vagina.
After one of the first Brit ship receptions I attended, I left with two of my fellow officers. Whitney Gates was one of them (he’d been in the class ahead of me at both OCS (we were both Delta Company) and Chop School, and he and another guy had been downstairs neighbors at my apts in Athens, GA; his wife, Cheryl, was also a Delta in his OCS class), and he said to me, "I'm surprised that you don't have bruises all over you." I looked at him in puzzlement, and he elaborated, "From all those guys hovering over you and leaning in on you and practically touching you all the time." We were walking back towards the BOQ’s, and I put my hand in the pocket of my long red London Fog raincoat, that had been checked when we arrived at the reception. I felt these odd oval shaped things wrapped in plastic. Oh, how sweet! I thought. They put mints in my pocket. Being totally clueless, I pulled them out and showed them to Whitney and the other guy. They cracked up, and I became red faced when we all realized that they were condoms (evidently,
condoms are formed into an oval vs. the perfectly circular shape of US condoms). UK
I should relate at this point two sayings I’d heard regarding Diego Garcia and the paucity of women: 1) A “2” anywhere else is a “10” on Diego, and 2) If you’re a single gal, you’ll leave Diego either rich or married.
For some women, I’m sure the Rock was “a dream come true” regarding male attention. I found the constant attention annoying at best. I had two designated boyfriends while I was on Dodge, and I can’t say that they were guys I would have necessarily have gone out with more than a few times stateside, but they met a certain criteria: a) they were officers or had officer status and b) they were handsome and athletic enough that most guys would not have considered themselves capable of poaching me away from them.
Having the benefit of being there for more than a year, I experienced as well as observed the transitions that the women who served there went through.
Stage 1 is when you get there, and you're friendly to everyone because you're new and want to be social and get along with everyone.
Stage 2 is when you realize that everyone is tracking your every movement and rumors are beginning to swirl, that it's not "safe" to even talk to a y-chromosome without some wild story starting.
Stage 3 is when you become isolated to avoid all the rumors and wonder why you'd ever agreed to come to the island.
Stage 4 is the dangerous stage because by then you've decided, screw it, I'll behave as I damn well please because anything that could be said about me already has been, and any "reputation" I had is shot anyhow.
I had heard rumors about prostitution on Dodge before I got there (and was told, as an officer, to be on the lookout for), and that was confirmed by an enlisted female who worked for me. On a previous tour, she was among the first females sent to the island. She told me that during that tour, her roommate, “Patches,” was a comely young lass, probably the best-looking girl on the whole island. The roommate decided to make extra money by taking advantage of her status and "service" only khaki and above. She charged a maintenance fee to interested parties, and then they could schedule in with her. Right before she left the island, she pulled her roommate aside and said, "Look at this." Her checking account balance, not her savings account, which could have been substantially higher, had a balance of over $29K (and this was the mid-80's.) Sooo, all those rumors you heard about prostitution on the Rock were true (and I’ve seen other postings about it here, too.)
A good portion of the women stationed on the island were lesbians, too. (Some were great friends and looked out for me, so I’m forever grateful and lifelong friends.) I had to think that it was a great irony that DG finally got women after X number of years, and so many of them had no interest in men whatsoever!
But women were not the only ones who were gay on the island. [I have since read an excerpt from Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played on” where Diego Garcia and Tinkerbell have a passage.] One of the designated boyfriends was a merchie, we’ll call him “A,” who was a pretty proficient windsurfer. He offered to take me out tandem with him one Saturday. I'd had duty the night before and still had to work a half day, so I was really tired when I met him at the marina. Being the "extra person" in the tandem set-up, I just hung out on the end of the board while A maneuvered around. It gave me an opportunity to see, up close, what needed to be done. Pretty soon, we noticed that there was another windsurfer taking the same tacks and jibes that we were. It turned out to be another merchie that A only knew vaguely. The guy called over, "A, you're the only person I know of who takes a crew with him to go windsurfing!" Kind of cute, but whatever. So, after we're finished, we break down the board and take it back to the marina office. We're sitting out front of the cashier's cage, and I have my head down as I'm really dragging. All of a sudden, the other merchie, let’s call him “Paul”, comes up and starts talking to A. I can't recall the exact words, but as I listened, I suddenly realized that the guy was "hitting on" A. The nerve!! In front of me - his obvious date!! After a bit, the guy wandered off, and I told A, "You know . . . that guy was hitting on you." A was shocked and disbelieving. Oh, no, he told me. I had to be mistaken. Okay, I shrugged. Of course, being Sat, that night was Brit club night. I was off dancing with someone or something, and the guy, Paul, comes up to A again. He says to A, "Boy, if the music stays this good, I might just have to ask you to dance." At that moment, A realized that I knew what I was talking about, mumbled, "I better go find Lisa," and left (and then told me what had just occurred.) So danged funny.
Women of officer status were so scarce on the Rock that the Filipina waitress and I were generally the only females in the O Club on any given night. After I'd had my bike ride, swam, and gotten cleaned up, I usually missed chow hall hours. I was in BOQ 9, next to last room on the end, 2nd floor, right next to the O Club, so it was a 1 minute walk over. For $2, I could have a plate of pancit and get free ice tea and free popcorn. As soon as I would walk through the door, the blender would start up making strawberry daquiris for me (I think that I'm personally responsible for burning up at least 2 or 3 blenders.) Mike, the civilian lead over at the CEC group, would order me a daquiri and cue to the music system to play Mickey Gilley's "But You Don't Know Me" and then have me slowdance with him while he gazed into my eyes and sang the lyrics. It was a little routine we went through at least once per week, no kidding. Harmless fun (and he was one of the few men I would allow buy me drinks or food; I was very careful to pay my own way.)
I went to the O Club one night when one of the carrier’s airwings had basically taken over the place. I’d been warned off going to the Club that night by my CO, but I could hear music playing, there was nothing, as usual, on AFRTS, and I was bored. How much trouble could I get into?? When I walked into the place, it looked like a scene out of a movie: people gyrating every which way, swinging from rafters, etc. When the guys caught sight of me, a big cheer went up. There was actually another female in there, a civilian. Drinking games were underway. They were doing their own version of carrier landings whereby a participant would get a running start on the upper level of the bar and then leap off the stairs to land on the arms of guys formed in two lines to catch them. The person landing on the crossed arms would then be flipped up in the air from his belly, and, hopefully (but not often), land upright on his feet. [I heard later that several people had been seriously hurt doing this, including a few broken limbs.] [The Island O’s version of carrier landings was to ice the length of the wooden bar down. Thus with a slick surface, a participant would fling him- or herself down the bar sliding the entire way until ones feet were caught by the “wire” – a towel stretch across the bar towards the end, held on either side by a person. Occasionally, a participant would forget to keep his/her heels up (knees bent while in the supine slide position) and miss the “wire” and go sliding completely off the bar and onto the floor.] I agreed to participate in the carrier landings on the condition that they would not flip me. They were all happy with this, and I made several landings. I had several different squadron stickers slapped onto my clothing. Very quickly, it was near closing time, and the poor guy who was shore patrol showed up to usher everyone onto their school bus and down to the landing to catch their launch back to their carrier. I asked the guy rather sardonically, “Who did you piss off to get this duty?” “I volunteered for it,” he said. Well, he seemed like a nice guy, so I helped him with the herding of drunk aviators out the door and onto the bus. The bus sat idling for a few minutes, and the guys were calling out, “Lisa, we loooovvvveee you!” Then, as the bus sat for a bit longer, the call outs changed to, “Show your tits! Show your tits!” Not happening.
One of the other stunts pulled by the airwing was to launch the MWR chuck wagon (a serving cart with electric heated inserts for food) off the deck of the O Club and into the lagoon. CAPT Wilson allowed the airwing to collect monies and reimburse the O Club for damages. The chuck wagon probably hadn’t worked in years, and the railings on the deck were rotten anyhow, so it was a win-win situation.
One group that would get det’d out to Dodge on a regular basis, in support of carriers, were the VRC-50 guys. They were just a fun bunch. As Gretchen, a VRC-50 member and, at the time, the Navy's only female jet pilot said, it was like having a bunch of brothers to hang with. About the second time they were det'd out, there was an O Club Hail and Farewell. At the time, I was into B & J Winecoolers. A lot of merchies were at the event, and they can't stand to see anyone have an empty hand. I'd no sooner be halfway down on a cooler, then someone else would order up a second for me. So, by the time the event had wound down, I had had about 6. Towards the end of the evening, it was the VRC-50 boys and a handful of the rest of us. Someone called for shots, so we did shots of Tequila - about 15 of them. I know that we did one round standing in the women's 1-hole restroom of the O club, and the glasses went crashing into the sink and toilet (the O Club got well compensated for the broken glasses.) After that, the well-sloshed group transitioned over to the temporary BOQ rooms. There was a new guy, we’ll call him “M,” being "initiated" by the group, which meant that they were practically pouring more alcohol down his throat. At one point, they were chasing him around outside and had torn off most of his clothing (looked like a scene out of "Lord of the Flies.") Finally, the poor guy was passed out in his room, and they got the brilliant idea of dry shaving him in his nether regions - with a disposable razor. I could not bear to see such an act of brutality perpetrated, so I suggested tying a ribbon around him and taking a photo. I tore a strip off the bottom of a Q towel, tied it on, and smiled for the camera. It was one of those I'll-never-make-Admiral-but-I-saved-someone moments. End of story . . . or so I thought. Who should be in line behind me at the make-your-own-pizza night at the O Club a few nights later?? M. I turned around, and he saw me, got a little sheepish and then said, "I'm not sure exactly what happened the other night, but I think that we're engaged." (Old line, but damned funny given the circumstances.)
I really liked participating in as many MWR events as possible, and I liked to call them “chromosome tests” because it seemed that if you participated and were identifiably female, you got a trophy. I had something like over 30 trophies by the time I left, and I could not really even participate in some things like the running races or basketball because of bum knee.
I am perhaps best known as being "Miss Diego Garcia" via the bodybuilding contest (not to be confused with the Red Cross' annual fundraiser contest, usually won by one of the Filipina contract workers). The first Miss DG bodybuilding contest was about 2 weeks after I got there in July '89. I was urged to enter it then, but I said that they had to be kidding, that I'd just gotten off the plane. A little blonde contractor gal won the women's contest (I think that there was 1 other gal competing), and a black RM won the men's. For whatever reason, folks used to confuse the little gal with me (both blonde, both wearing pink posing suits, but v-e-r-y different body types) because one of the later arriving Brits once told me that he'd seen my photo in one of the Brit armed forces magazines. I'm pretty sure that it was not me, but the previous Miss DG and that the photos got in there because of the RM winning the men's division. But, I could be wrong - who knows?? Everybody seemed to have cameras, so someone could have taken photos at my contest, sent them in to the magazine, and I wouldn't have known
For the second contest, held in Feb ’90, there were a grand total of 3 women competing, and I won easily despite having never dieted for the competition nor really increased my gym time (it was more of an issue of having the guts to get up in a bikini and pose in front of a crowd). [My thanks to SK2 Davien Nelson for providing me with a copy of Grace Jones' "I'm Not Perfect" for my routine.]
Post-contest, photos of moi went up in the gym entryway and stayed up, I later heard, for about two years. If I didn't have a fishbowl life prior to Miss DG, I certainly did afterwards. I had a young AF guy come up to me at the Brit Club one night gushing over what a pleasure it was to finally meet me, how he'd written to all his friends back home about me, etc, and that was the first time I’d ever laid eyes on the guy. Too weird. New folks who came to the island often commented, "Oh, I know who you are. I saw your picture over at the gym."
Towards the end of my tour, I suppose I had finally gotten comfortable in my own skin (or perhaps had gotten a swelled head, as Dodge women seem to be accused of by many sailors on this site) because I used the same posing suit bottom as the basis for my Sheena, Queen of the Jungle costume for the O Club Halloween party much later that year. With no mail coming in (other than the ubiquitous
's Secret catalogs - those always seemed to make their way through the pipeline vs. any personal mail), I had to rely upon ingenuity to fashion a costume. I used an old khaki shirt that I cut up for fabric - two triangles for a top and a micro-sarong for the bottom. I used shoelaces to connect the top pieces and then shoe edge-dressing to put leopard spots on the khaki fabric. My "saber tooth" bracelet was styrofoam peanuts cut on a diagonal and tied together with more shoelace. I'd used some more tanning stuff to ensure I had a good color. I'd braided my hair in tiny braids while wet, so it was wild when I unleashed it. A little olive oil smoothed on the skin, and I was good to go. Victoria
When I walked into the O Club, which was pretty packed with a lot of the AF guys over for Desert Shield, I had an uh-oh moment. Conversation actually completely stopped for several seconds just like in the E.F. Hutton commercials. Then, one of the AF guys let out a ,"Gawwwwwd - daaaaayummmm!" I got asked to pose with folks in photos that night - a lot.
Sailing was always something one could do without having to worry about crossing the officer/enlisted lines. The very first time I went out sailing was with an enlisted guy from T-site and one of his friends. (I ended up prostrate across the cabin of the Catalina barfing on the way back; in fact, the first 3 times I went sailing, I barfed.) As long as one did not go off "alone" with enlisted folks, were in a group, it was seen as being okay. I got invited out to sail with Brit Jeff, the manager of the Cable & Wireless installation, all the time. He was an older gentleman who had a whole career of offshore racing against the likes of Ted Turner, etc. Whenever we'd compete in MWR races, he'd race us past a turn, say around a buoy, and then we'd drop sails to let everyone else cartch up to make it a race. He was someone who was constantly, constantly, adjusting sails and lines, which could be aggravating if you were out for just a pleasant sail.
He and I had been out on a catamaran one day, which we ended up turtling, and had to get the marina guys to come out and help us right it. I was exhausted, having hung out on the trap for something like 4 hours (that's the little sling that you swing out on the other side of the sail to keep it from turning over when you have a big sail full of wind. You can literally go as fast as the wind in a cat, and I can still recall hearing the lines and skegs "singing" as we ripped along the surface of the lagoon.) So, I rode back in the marina boat to shore. We were taking down the sails and lines when all of a sudden, there was a kerfuffle over at the dock. The NBS camera guys were hauling a-- down there, and a crowd had gathered around a Sea Ox. The guys had landed an 800+ pound black marlin - just missed the Guinness record. It was so big, they had to haul it in behind the boat, and then cut it in half to weigh it.
Another note on sailing: Big Dave of the Cormorant had sailed in the 1972 Olympics. He was ranked #1 in the country coming out of the
. Who would think that there would be so much sailing talent in one little spot?? Merch Academy
As you can tell, I was really into sailing, but more as crew vs. captaining (my long arms made it easy for me to pull in and let out lines, and I could clamber around the cockpit pretty well.)) Well, MWR had sailing competitions it sponsored, and once per year, teams could go to the PI to compete against folks there (softball had the same deal.) Previously, there had been separate male and female teams. But, we'd had a dearth of wind for a bit, and broken equipment, so not enough women had qual'd - I didn't have a skipper's license. So, it was going to have to be a combined team, if that (I don't know of any other females that sailed as much as I did.) Al Lynne, who worked at the Patrol Det building, was a great skipper, as was Dave ??? who was an enlisted guy in the same facility. So, it looked as though they would be the 2-man team going over to compete. However, they were both in the same watch section, so there was a possibility that one couldn't go, and I was the alternate. One night, I was coming back from the gym, and Al was headed back there. We spotted each other in that criss-cross area of the square of buildings, and I flagged him down to ask if he'd heard about the whole watch situation. While, we were talking, ENS Whitney Gates went by, and we both said hello to him and some other officer went by, same thing. I then turned to Al and with a grin said, "Well, you know, we've now been seen by two other officers talking to each other in public so we must be sleeping together." Al blinked for a second, gulped, and then responded, "Oh, and did I enjoy it?" My retort was , "You have to ask?" Well, Dave and Al did go to the PI to compete. A few weeks later, I'm heading into the O Club as Al is headed out from a Mustangs meeting. "How did it go? How did you guys do?" I asked. They won, Al told me. He then related an interesting encounter he'd had at the Cubi BOQ. Someone recognized him as having come from DG and asked, "What's she like?" "Who?" Al wanted to know. "'Miss DG' What's it like to be sleeping with her?" Al said he just shook his head and walked away.
But, it gets better. I decided to take leave in
Thailandas the PI had become off limits, and I didn't want to go through the hassle of attempting MAC travel to Europeor the States. My friend, Tina, the civilian photographer, was going with me. We'd been told that we didn't need passports to go to , which was good because I didn't have one. Then, we found out at the last minute, they you DO need one. Couldn't get one in anything less than 6 weeks from the embassy in the PI. Sooo, my CO kindly wrote my out no-cost TAD orders whereby I could use my military ID to enter the country and get my passport at the embassy in Thailand . They were legitimate orders, too, because I needed a detailed hotel receipt for a previous traveler so that his travel reimbursement could be processed, and that would have taken forever using regular mail. Anyhow, Tina and I went and had a great time – breakfast with an orangutan at the zoo, lots of shopping, sightseeing at the temples, etc. - and came back 2 weeks later. A day or two after our return, my CO pays a visit to my supply shack – he’d never stopped by before. He sat down with a big sigh and told me that the rumor mill cranked into action as soon as the airplane had left the ground - story was that Tina was pregnant - by him (she used to share a pizza with him at the O Club on occasion and get rides to work from him (but was dating the lawyer on the island)) - and that he'd sent me along to ensure that her abortion in Thailand turned out okay. Well, I thought that this was an even better rumor than the one Al had heard, so I repeated it to him later. He told me, "You've only heard HALF the story." After Tina and I took off for our trip, he had people asking him if he were upset. Upset about what? About Lisa getting an abortion. So, evidently, per the rumor mill, BOTH Tina and I had been knocked up and going to Thailand for our abortions. Ha!! Thailand
Another sailing story that has a nod to the Hector legend as well as other beasties is that Al and I were out on a cat one day zooming around the lagoon (the catalinas were good if you wanted to have a picnic somewhere or snorkel or just take a group of folks, but for sheer sailing joy, nothing could beat the catamarans. Only problem with the cats is that they’d flip pretty easily, so all you could take with you for gear was an Igloo cooler that you could tie to the apron . . . and hope it was closed when you flipped.) I was sitting on the apron in my usual la-la state, immersed in the feeling of the sun and the wind, when Al suddenly exclaimed, “Ohmigosh!” “What? What?” I wanted to know. “We just sailed over top of something longer than this boat and wider than this boat.” “Cool! Can we go back?”
I also recall one of the few catamaran races that MWR put on where Dave ??? and I were on one boat and Brit XO George and Jeff Chandler, the civilian GPS guy, were on another. We were racing neck and neck around buoys, and Dave managed to cut inside George’s line, and we beat him around a buoy. Both boats were up on one pontoon and passed so close to each other that Jeff and I could literally reach out and touch the other’s hand. We were all laughing like maniacs.
I really got into swimming while I was in D-Gar because of the aforementioned bad knees (could no longer run the PRT, so had to figure out how to swim laps proficiently enough to take the swim alternative test. When I swam summer league as a kid, I beat the water into submission and did okay with sprints, but this method was not going to work for a ½ mile swim.) While I was in the temporary BOQ at the very beginning of my tour, the straightest path to the pool took me through CPO Country. As an ensign, I knew that enlisted personnel were not allowed to cruise around officer territory, but I really didn't have a clue that it was uncool for an officer to sashay past the CPO barracks. I got called out on it at least once, I think. At that time, there was a JOC, well call him "L," and he evidently liked how I looked in a swimsuit because he then told me that, from then on, I was an "honorary" chief and could walk through there whenever I wanted. I can't really remember if I tried out my "honorary" status if I were challenged again. Anyhow, the move to my permanent BOQ room more or less made the issue fade away. However, Chief L would often just happen to be at the pool whenever I would go to do laps. One time, he couldn't seem to contain himself, and he said, almost bursting, "Ensign Llewelyn, you're a fine, fine, fine . . . " (he visibly checked himself) "American!"
Towards the end of my tour, I really got into cycling, with a big nod to LCDR Taylor, the CommSta’s then XO. He was an Olympic-class cyclist, and gradually managed to train a fair number of us how to ride in a peloton, a few inches off someone else’s tire, how to draft, how to switch off being lead, etc. Prior to his arrival, I used to go to the donkey gate and back on my own, but it was certainly more fun in a group. Those of us who cycled were a mixture of civilians, merchies, and military, and MWR even began sponsoring bike races.
In addition to all the MWR-sponsored sporting events, there were the occasional groups of entertainers. As in previous years, we had the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders come through in '89. They were like a "B" or "C" squad, not the "A" team. Of course, most of the men thought that they were in heaven. Two of the gals got ear infections so they could not make the flight back out and had to stay on the island for several days until the infection cleared up. So, of course, they got assigned escorts. The male officers were practically falling all over themselves to be an escort. In particular, the young doc we had at the time was really eager to be of service. After several hours of being in their company, evidently the "thrill" faded quickly because then whoever the escort was would be begging - begging - some other guy to take over duties. By the end of the 3rd day or so, whoever was unlucky enough to have been "stuck" with the duty was in obvious abject misery. I know that I found the whole situation hilarious. Remember the moral of "The Monkey's Paw": be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.
One of the things I feel compelled to comment on was British Customs. Funny – whenever I got a package from
’s Secret, I was “randomly” selected for package inspection. The inspector would stand there and leer while I removed items, one by one, and showed them to him. Hmmm . . . maybe he was envisioning how HE would look in them. [For the Brit’s inaugural softball game, of course they all had to show up, not in softball or athletic uniforms, but in drag. I’ll never forget the sight of a guy, sporting a handlebar moustache, running forward to catch a flyball in his pink corset.] Victoria
Well, I have many, many more memories of Dodge, but I’ve probably blurred everyone’s eyes by now. I’d like to give a shout out to some great folks like then SK2 Davien Nelson, SK2 Greisen, SKSN Lingesso (read your post), DC2 Sue Jaworski, god of all supply - SKCM Jose Cornejo, Paul (my accountant and the ONLY GS employee at the CommSta), ET2 Hurwitz, Pineapple George, Mango Mel, Col Terry Burke (thanks for the 137 ride and my first “painted on” landing in a plane), boyfriend “G,” SatComm Officer Gene, Classic Wizard O Keith, Dave Perry of MWR, the Brit Letch (I mean, Rep) Alan Tremelling, YNSN Tabitha, the guys in the dive locker (who ran those awesome snorkeling trips), all the merchies who were friendly and respectful, the VRC-50 boys, Patty Winger, Suhnil the lifeguard, and so many other folks whose names I can’t immediately recall...
Above: Lisa competing in the Mr. and Miss Diego Garcia Contest, 1990.
Below: To quote an unnammed Air Force pilot - "Gahhhhhd Daaaayyyyyuuuuuummmm)" Lisa as Sheena of the Jungle:
Below: Lisa and her hubby in the 21st Century. They are now spies for the Fearless Leader of Pottslyvania.
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This, and everything else I write and every photo I produce is copyrighted by Ted A. Morris, Jr.