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Hector was once again in WESPAC, this time it was our 1973/74 cruise, and she had dropped her hook in Victoria Harbor, or as we all like to remember, Hong Kong!
I had drawn "the duty" once again, but I was a full fledged Third Class Petty Officer this time, and had stood several Shore Patrol stints over the last few months, and now it seemed I had to do the duty walking a beat in Hong Kong, at night, after also working all day in the shop.
After knock off ships work I had to get into my dress blues and assemble at the brow with my shipmates to be ferried over to the base Shore Patrol HQ. We were briefed on what our beats were, where we had to go to call in if there was any trouble, and we were all paired up with a partner to do time with. We were each issued the usual items: A white duty belt with a wooden night stick, an "SP" arm band and a couple of white tie-wraps to be used as hand cuffs...which we put up in the brims of our white hats.
My partner was a Second Class Petty Officer, but he had not done Shore Patrol duty before, so he let me "be in charge" of our little duo, and we loaded into a truck and were taken to our area of patrol and dropped off.
We began our patrol and chatted about the odds and ends of the day's activities. After a while, our feet were burning, and we were also getting bored...but there was still a lot of night left...
We varied our route around our beat, looked into the shop windows, and discovered a few things....
As we walked over a wooden deck that was covering an area of newly constructed side walk, we could hear rats scurrying underneath it....
As we rounded a corner by a bus stop, I heard a rustling noise in the bottom of a trash can and discovered a rat had become trapped in there under the garbage....
SO....As the night wore on, we, or should I say I, had some new distractions to entertain myself, along with the nights patrol...We would stomp and hiss to get the rats to scurry under the walkway, and every time I passed the trash can, I would give the rat imprisoned inside a good stir with my nightstick.
Time was getting on...and on....then something amazing happened.
This man appeared in front of us. He popped to attention, but his appearance was nothing worthy of respect, He was dirty, his civilian clothing was all rumpled and he had several days' growth of beard sprouting all over his face.
He began to talk to us in a thick British accent, from his position of attention. He said, "I'd like to turn myself in. I have been AWOL for two weeks and I am in the British Army."
We both looked at him and asked him to repeat his story, so he did. I said, "We're Americans, and I don't know if we can take you in...We need to call this in. Come with us."
We went to our call in spot and phoned the Duty Officer. I told him we had a British soldier who had been AWOL for two weeks and was turning himself in to us.
The Duty Officer asked me to repeat the message. He didn't think I was serious... so I did. After a minute, he says to wait where we were and he would send someone to take care of it. We went back out on the sidewalk to wait. He told us he hated being in the Army, and wanted out, but he couldn't afford the money to buy his way out, which I guess you can do in the British Military...
After about ten minutes, this spit-polished Land Rover pulls up to the curb. IMMEDIATELY this scrounge POPS TALL. I mean RAZOR STRAIGHT!
This British Army Officer, who was absolutely immaculate, right down to his razor sharp creases, gets out of the truck and gets RIGHT UP NOSE-TO-NOSE WITH THIS GUY....And proceeds to CHEW HIS ASS.
Now, I've had my share of ass chewing's...They were petty, trivial things compared to what this guy was dishing out. He was so thorough, I was actually feeling the heat myself, and I wasn't even the target. I can say this ass chewing was so complete, I never needed another one for the remainder of my time in the Navy.
After the grilling, the Officer tells this guy to get in the truck, and he does, in the back and sits at attention on the rear fender.
The Officer then loses his starch and starts telling us about how this guy does this every so often and how he has been a pain in his backside for quite some time...Then he starts to apologize to us for having to deal with this "bit of rubbish"...and then he gets in the truck and drives away.
The remainder of the night went easily after that. We both were asking "What the hell just happened?" and I didn't even mind when a bus load of people stopped right next to the trash can while I was stirring up that rat...
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