One of the biggest fallacies is the inherent belief held by man civilians in that the US Navy is protecting the US against blood thirsty enemies. People have silly romantic ideas of swashbuckling fighting Barbary pirates and landing Tomahawk missiles against some Arab boogeyman. The reality is nowhere close to the truth.
The vast majority of us are in some support role. A few of us seldom get to the surface for sun and most don’t get to shoot guns. A large majority of the fleet couldn’t name our real enemy. It was mostly disgusting that our mission was without fanfare. We would complete our deployment without a “Hun’s” blood on our pants. But we never found our Hun.
Instead of a Hun, we found some poor schmuck Colombian man who happened to get caught with copious amounts of cocaine. The first boatload of guys were a sorry sort. They looked nothing like the Pittsburg Pirate logo. I remember seeing them surrender and saying “thank you” when presented a decent meal.
The disappointment continued with me. It is one thing I didn’t believe in our mission, but it is another that I didn’t have a real enemy to give meaning to what we did. But I did notice something in us, when we didn’t have an enemy, we could create one. And often we would find a transgressor in everyday life.
It often took us getting hammered on intoxicating libations to find that enemy. I had one shipmate, who was clean cut and far beyond me in accomplishments, that was presented a worthy foe. The shipmate I will call “Cabro” had enjoyed a consistent flurry of alcohol, but kept his faculties intact. He had decided to head back to the ship, having negotiated his taxi cab fare before he left. It was a short journey and Cabro sprung from the taxi like a coiled snake. The driver assumed he deserved more money, running after Cabro. The sober navigator grabbed Cabro from behind, but failed to recognize a warning that other men would heed. Cabro more than explained what his fists could do when they were connected to his healthy muscles. Many on our ship has seen him rough house and never questioned his fury.
The cab driver found himself knocked silly with a well executed combo of punches. Cabro cried out a promise in Spanish. The cab driver did not respond. But the well armed security detail did respond, pointing their automatic weapons at Cabro. Cabro ducked behind his true enemy, telling the security detail that they would have to shoot the driver first.to get to him.
I seldom if ever have found someone that deserved to “get wrecked” but I had one experience that fits the bill. Our ship had pulled into the colonial paradise called Guantanamo Bay Naval Station to ride out a storm. I was lucky enough to dodge any major responsibilities and venture off into one of the few areas that wasn’t cordoned off to be used to house terrorist detainees.
I found myself dropped off in an area that was supposed to house a bar or an area roped off for entertainment. Someone directed me into a moderately sized room with sparse decorations and “blue-ish” wall paper. I saw a few people I know bellied up to the bar. Most were level headed types or trusted supervisors. But I did not find my usual riff raff.
I walked up to the bar myself and attempted to order something “straight,” found on multiple continents. What passed for a bartender; stood there and froze. He told me with a surly tone better suited for 1940’s Tangiers that “Huhhh? We don’t have that.” I told him that it was common in the western hemisphere. I asked him for another “softball” styled order. The troll, who had seemed to be kidnapped from the Baltimore waterfront, proclaimed: “Look, punk. We serve Bud and Jack.” I parried with my own salvo; saying “some of us have taste buds and have grown up from that filth.” The next steps were hilarious.
The more mindful patrons lurched for the bartender and me. We exchanged the most un-Christian words you would hear in a bar. I fully expected a scrum with the old bastard. You could say that I found something to fight for.
It was strange that I found a true enemy that day. I had always hated bartenders who watered down drinks and “non-conversationalist,” but it took that interaction to discover the “angels of our better nature.” The patrons who understood the code to protect a fellow good-natured drunk motioned me to the door in the back of the room. A polite guardian told me in a brotherly tone that “you might be better served through there.”
The good gentleman ushered me through to an unknown world. But it was paradise. There was loud music, cold drinks, and a youthful bartender. Best of all, there were maniacs like me. We all took a break from our enemies for a few hours.