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  War Stories - The "Ice Cream" Story



We were in Salonika [Greece] and many of us had been out late doing what young sailors do until the wee hours.  My friend and drinking buddy and I were awakened about five AM, it was pitch black and we were told to go to the bridge to get underway and to go alongside a cruiser to refuel. And so we did.  The skipper had been out with us that night.  He liked his gin. The exec, unnamed, noted that none of us were exactly sober, but the skipper wouldn't ask the OOD (me) or the navigator (my buddy) to step aside when we left the cruiser's side going toward ten knots. We slid alongside the cruiser about ten feet away.  There were lots of commanders on deck on the cruiser, looking terrified of the crazy cowboys as we slid away from them.  By the grace of God who protects drunks and fools, nothing bad happened.  The skipper loved it.

Our skipper, Ed Gibson, was a wonderful ship handler and he would go alongside anything with complete confidence that the reverse gear would work.  Never did he creep in; he thought that a destroyer was a motor boat. It was different from the prior skipper who was scared to death that he might break something and would go into the CE piers from 150 feet out and let the line handlers do the rest.  I think that you will remember that.

I don't remember where we were, but I think that it was Cannes and the division was anchored out in the roadstead.  We had set the watch and as usual and there was a green seaman duece on the fantail with a carbine that he probably couldn't use, which had to be a good thing.  The skipper and the captain of the Bordelon had been ashore and one of them dared the other to a swimming race out to the ship. The winner had to serve the other ice cream in the wardroom.   Gibson loved ice cream.  They approached the ship from the rear and the poor guard didn't know what to do.  Fortunately, he had a sound powered phone and reported that some unknown bodies were swimming toward the ship.  Thank goodness he didn't load the carbine.  Once aboard, the skipper ordered his steward to break out the ice cream.  Thus armed, the two captains and those who were observing all ate ice cream and then the two skippers thought that it might be amusing to have an ice cream fight. Ice cream flew everywhere.  It was wonderful.

Submitted by: Joe Friend, 56-58

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