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The After Battery Rat by Dex Armstrong

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gerry View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote gerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The After Battery Rat by Dex Armstrong
    Posted: 14 Dec 2019 at 12:30pm
All Hands:

Rontini and Dantini wish to share  what we believe is the complete collection of the tall tales and sea stories of Dex Armstrong. These stories in collected form were given to Ray Stone by Dex, and Dantini received them from Ray.

You've probably read or heard some of these stories before, but perhaps not all. In any case, here they are now in all their salty, oily goodness:


Edit: New link includes the "Old Gringo Gets a Free One" and was generously shared by Jim Mandelblatt. Thanks, Jim!
Dantini got the file and formatted the Old Gringo story to match the rest of the document and added Old Gringo to the Table of Contents. Thanks, Dan!



Edited by gerry - 03 Mar 2020 at 9:18am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dantini Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2019 at 7:55pm
Thanks Gerry for posting this for all to read.  What was so funny for me is that after about page 100, the WORD program I was using gave up trying to recommend corrections to Dex's writing style, word usage, punctuation and just quit underlining and highlighting errors saying it couldn't keep up with all the corrections.  I guess WORD was not familiar with how Dex described all of these events and observations.  He was definitely one of a kind. Hope you all enjoy the memories.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Runner485 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2019 at 9:39am

Dan,
Dex was very fond of the 'run on sentence' and only added a period when he ran out of things to say...LOL
...for the moment.


Edited by Runner485 - 15 Dec 2019 at 10:00am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rontini599 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Dec 2019 at 11:18am
I am going out on a limb here and say this is the greatest post ever made on this or any BBS!  
Those who do not read have no advantage over those who cannot!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote RumRunner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Dec 2019 at 1:42pm
Hi all! The effort to place Dex's writings here is Gahdamn awesome! Somehow this one got left out, however. My Dad (The Old Gringo) and Dex were solid back in the day, and Dex was not shy about expressing his admiration for Dad, Ron War Shot Smith, Boy Throttleman and many other Combat Patrol Pin designees. I will attest to the fact that "Old Gringo Gets A Free One" was once part of The After Battery collection. It is all true! I'll paste the entire account here. I know it would be difficult to amend the large PDF file the BBS has linked to. I'll also post a link on the BBS to Dads website with lots of stuff on S 39 and SS192 Sailfish, on which he made at least 10 combat patrols. Be well!!

Gringo Gets A Free One

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

 

 

I really don't know exactly how to begin this, so I will just jump in. James Parks asked for this one but I fear has chosen a most flawed vehicle for it's conveyance. How does one with limited ability share 'Old Gringo'… Old crusty Tom Parks, with a world who never had both the opportunity and the honor of knowing this remarkable gentleman?

For those of you who never exchanged insults and memories with the Gringo, I will do my best to paint a picture of him from all the component parts he installed in my heart. I hope he would approve… But I have my doubts. He was a man who constantly discounted his tremendous contribution.

He did not start out to be a submarine sailor… His father had been an Aviation Machinist Mate and he had a brother on the USS Langley. Tom Parks wanted to be an Aviation Machinist Mate. God, in his infinite wisdom felt that the naval aviation branch already had enough of the Parks family, did whatever was necessary to put young Tom on a sub tender and eventually the young bluejacket found his way to an old S-boat... The S- 39. At the time, the old S- Boats were being replaced by new, long-range fleet submarines arriving slowly for duty with the fleet. Tom just tossed his gear aboard and found himself as a Machinist Striker playing nursemaid to antiquated Nelseco engines. Most of us never heard of Nelseco Diesel Engines… Primarily because there are damn few people around today who ever put a wrench on one. Tom told me that the Devil turned the damn things out in the basement of Hell and they made men out of boys faster than natural law intended. Tom spent the early part of his boat service wrestling the sonuvabitches and learning to cuss.

At one point in his non-rated, non-qualified days, Tom went A.W.O.L. to spend time with his brother who was serving aboard the USS Langley. They spent a great couple of days together and did not know at the time that they were building a memory that the Japs would make last a lifetime. Having spent the 6th. and much of the 7th. of December, 1941 together, Tom said goodbye to Jim and was immediately tossed in the brig when he reported back aboard the Canopus the evening of the 7th. Needless to say, word of the events at Pearl Harbor reached the Philippines in short order and the war began for the Asiatic fleet. The Langley later went down as a result of enemy action and Tom never saw his brother again.

The powers that regulate naval service frown on unscheduled family reunions unblessed by appropriate authorization and young Tom Parks was hauled before the skipper at mast and received the max restriction given for such a breach of discipline. The Old Man gave him the naval equivalent of being roasted alive. It looked like Tom would be spending a lot of time restricted to his boat.

But once again young Tom was saved by divine intervention in the form of a boatload of arriving aircraft piloted by personal friends of Admiral Yamamoto, the absolute winner in the Jap stupidity game. History has recorded that all hell broke loose… It failed to record that in the confusion and chaos that followed, a Machinist Mate on the S-39 wiggled out of the doghouse and promptly found himself up to his armpits in a 'played for keeps' shooting war. Tom had escaped with only the clothes on his back. All his other navy issue… His records and notes were destroyed in the bombing. It took Uncle Sam until 1945 to cut a reimbursement check for his belongings.

Tom Parks never set out to place himself at the vortex of world events. He was an average man who woke up one day and found himself riding a worn-out, leaking submarine right smack in the crossroads of Hell… Tom Parks was riding an antiquated float in the Devils' Mardi Gras parade.

What made Tom special was that he was one of those brave men who responded to their nation's call in her most desperate hour and wrote their names and deeds in gold letters ten feet high, in the heroic effort that became known as the Submarine War in the Pacific. He was one of a gallant band of men who chose to risk all of their tomorrows for a crack at the heavy weight champ… Men who went out day after terror-filled day and broke the back of the Jap Navy… And put their Nipponese bluejackets and seagoing hardware all over the floor of the Pacific.

I am not sure how many patrols Tom made… I do know that he maxed out the number of gold stars the Navy provided holes for in a combat patrol pin. I know this because shortly after his death his son, James Parks was going through his papers and found a handful of the cards given by the Sub Force (Pacific) after each patrol to men authorized to wear the submarine combat patrol pin. Though Tom would have never characterized himself as a hero, the silent collection of cards did that for him… And told his son that he was genetically linked to a fine American who paid his dues at a time when dues paying was a very serious business. Tom Parks fully paid for every thread in the flag he was buried under… Several times over.

But, Old Gringo was not a man who wrapped either his deeds or himself in a mantle of self-importance. Far from it… He was a lighthearted man with an extraordinary sense of humor and a gift for verbally painting pictures that are keepers for all time. He could shoot a harpoon clean through you and have you rolling on the deck in uncontrolled laughter. My memories will always include the posted grenades Tom left on our household computer. It was always an unexpected joy to get a message from the Gringo Man. God, how I do miss it.

I only spoke to him once by phone. I had located a pair of Navy coffee mugs with World War II Combat Patrol pins embossed on the side. I sent one to Old Gringo and one to Ron 'Warshot' Smith, another totally unsalvageable smokeboat warrior cut out of the same tree.

Old Gringo phoned to tell me he would use it… Never wash it and from time to time, test it for tolerance to combustible liquids. During the conversation, he related a story that his son has authorized me to attempt to piece together from memory. I feel awkward since I will never be able to do it justice… The justice it so deserves. There is something in it to offend damn near everyone who lives the marshmallow existence dictated by the gentle sensitivity of the modern world. Gringo, for all of his sterling attributes, was not one you could call, a gentle sensitive man… He liked his slice of life with the bark still on it.

With all disclaimers in place, here is Gringo's story: During one of his war patrols, operating out of Australia, his boat sunk a large Jap naval vessel… I believe a cruiser. The ship had been a major player in the New Guinea Campaign and was well known in Australia. The word of the sinking of this nasty bastard reached Australia before the arrival of Gringo's boat.

When they pulled in, they were met by anyone who could ride or walk to the pier. Women young and old… Kids… A band… Old Aussie coots in digger hats, too old for the fighting but wearing medals. Some were still carrying shrapnel picked up in Turkey and France in World War I. Gallant rascals who slapped the returning submariners on the back and slipped them assorted firewater on par with P-38 fuel. Gringo said it beat the Fourth of July… A festive occasion to rival a coronation.

At one point, the proprietor of what Gringo called "A major first class knockin' shop" (a bordello) got so caught up in it all, that in a fit of uncontrolled euphoria she declared that the entire crew could have "A free one on the house".

The next day, according to our friend, the liberty section showed up to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. But, by the time they arrived they found other early rising sportsmen had beat them to this distribution point of carnal delight and the line extended well down the street.

What the Hell. The crew got into line and eventually each and every one got what Old Gringo described as the best combat award he ever got. He said on a balmy summer night he could still get a whiff of perfume and taste cheap lipstick. Gringo was definitely a man who enjoyed simple pleasures and had a memory like a steel trap.

But the story was not ended. In about 1947 a number of the crew of Old Gringo's boat got together… To have a few drinks, show off their new brides, tell a few sea stories and celebrate life, remember those who didn't make it back and be thankful for their survival. As the night wore on… And the alcohol flowed the atmosphere became somewhat relaxed… Very relaxed. At this point Tom Parks rose and yelled, "Anyone remember the free one in Australia?"

"Dex, there was silence, total silence. I looked around and my old shipmates were looking at their newly acquired bed partners and shook their heads… 'Darling, I have no idea what Tom is talking about.' Men who mastered the intracacies of submarine engineering… Memorized some of the most complex procedures, suddenly had an attack of mass amnesia."

"I came to the conclusion that once in Australia, I stood in a whorehouse line that ran damn near fifty yards and got a free one and nobody was in that line."

I rolled on the deck. That is one of my favorite sea stories. Tom parks wore cloth Dolphins, a fully loaded combat patrol pin and a pocket load of very meaningful ribbons… He went to war, contributed mightily to the last total and absolute victory this nation ever had… When Tom Parks returned there were no remaining enemy troops or leaders left behind to fester and foment additional nastiness. Just dead ones and spiritually converted, subdued rascals with all the fight extracted. He served with men who fully understood the term 'unconditional surrender'… Their generation would accept no less. You would have found it impossible to hand these men 'Peace with honor' bullsh*t… They didn't have to look over their shoulder to see if any coalitions were coming unglued… They were THE COALITION, and when they turned out the lights, the party was truly over.

He was my friend. His son sent me his photo. It hangs on my bedroom wall and I look at it each night… To remember why I rode submarines and remind me that once upon a time, giants roamed the earth.

G'Night Old Gringo… Save me a place in the "free one" line.

Old Gringo's Army Airdale Son
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote crystal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2020 at 3:12pm
To Ron, Dan and Gerry a big BRAVO ZULU for getting behind this effort.  I know Dan spent countless hours typing up all of these pages that so describe our legacy as to be cherished by all and especially those of us from the diesel boat era that Dex so aptly described in his musings.
 
If the webpage can ever handle some more gigabytes you can upload all of the Silent Service t.v. series and our WWII war patrol reports (I'll send all originals to Gerry or?).  It would be great to preserve all of these efforts in a one stop location and Ron's being the oldest on the internet is the perfect place for all.  If financing is needed let me know and I'll help out with whatever I can do. Again, a great job guys!!! 
SS-349, SSN-580, SSBN-640, CVA-59, SS-410, LPSS-315, CVA-61, Subase Pearl Harbor
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2020 at 4:54pm
I'm amenable. Let me talk with Ron about it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Curt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2020 at 9:19am

Files From The After Battery

Alternately... You can download the Dex files here - http://www.cdhaggard.com/Dex.zip

Save and Unzip the folder, and then open the __LookHereFirst.jpg File First...

As shown, The _Index.htm file is the one to open to show all the Dexisms...

Thanks,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jim Mandelblatt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2020 at 12:52pm
Here's the updated PDF... with Ol Gringo's story attached as p. 716

http://ss481.com/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2020 at 9:04pm
Jim, would you mind if I replace my original link with your updated one?
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