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"Captain"

So... After most of the shooting died out in Desert Storm, I ended up cross-decked over to the flagship of our Navy in the Persian Gulf - at that time it was the nuclear powered cruiser, Long Beach.

Was there primarily as a liaison officer, so that the Marines would have a rep on the Admiral's staff, but as a junior officer, a Captain in the Marines, I also elected to stand some midnight watches, because operations fascinated me. We were running an interesting air-defense system there, a combination of Navy ships and Army patriot missle batteries ashore. It was all coordinated through the Long Beach.

Every few hours we'd get a status report from all the ships and batteries involved. The first night I took watch, about midnight, I called up the ships and batteries one by one on a secure link and asked for their status. Now of course a Navy Captain is an 06, a heavy-duty hitter, equal in rank to an Army or Air Force Colonel. I was a Marine Captain, an 03. Huge differnece. 03's are a dime a dozen, 06's are... Powerful.

One by one all the ships reported in, then I asked for the status at an Army patriot missle battery. All he** broke loose on the other end as people scrambled around, waking up senior personnel to answer. Why was a Navy Captain from the Flagship suddenly calling for a status report in the middle of the night? What's happening? Wake up somebody important! It was funny as all get out on the Long Beach, listening to the confusion. The Navy Chief and his men, standing watch with me on the cruiser that night about spilled coffee all over, laughing. It's a crime to spill coffee in the Navy. They run on coffee at sea.

So eventually the army wakes up a Major and I take the report from him. Never did bother telling them that he was addressing a Marine Captain, not a Navy Captain.

That wasn't the only confusion I got over the rank difference while working with the Navy. Should have seen the quarters my wife and I were offered once when I called up and identified myself as "Captain" and said we'd be looking for housing in the D.C. area... Good grief - those big wig officers get some great houses. Sadly, the Navy figured it out before moving me, my wife and our rug rats in with all the bigwigs... ;D

Guy
 

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Re: "Captain"

Yeah, it would have been interesting if your crew had wound up amidst all those Navy bigshots in DC. They might have learned a thing or three! :D

Great story. I can just see somebody waking up that Army Major at 0200. What a hoot!
 

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Re: "Captain"

;D ;D ;)
 

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Re: "Captain"

Great story Guy, thanks for sharing! A lot of confussion and fun times can come from spending time with other services. I spent some time with the Canadian Army and could never get their officer rank structure down.
 

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Re: "Captain"

Great story! Closest thing I was involved in like that was '71, Ft. Sill and we were expecting a visit from Gen Westmoreland. My buddy was on guard inside a secure Special Weapons facility, since we were still in training, he was just inside the wooden door, not back in the vault. Me and another buddy went and knocked on the door and I lowered my voice and said I was Westy. He freaked, and asked for my ID ( which one slid under the door back then,ha) I chewed him out for 10 minutes, he stood his ground, so when I slid "my" ID under the door, he was ready to fight,ha! We had a good laugh.
The 2nd time was when 3 of us spec 4's had to pick up a jeep at main post Grafenvohr, GE, and it was raining as only it can in Graf, so we were ponchoed up in this open jeep and got behind a convoy. We had about 15 miles to go, and the guy in the back seat ( Brown, from Florida) put a strip of white tape on his helemt to look like an LT's bar. He got saluted by every MP,etc, and he just saluted back and said "Good job trooper" to every one! ha.
 

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Re: "Captain"

Graf?? Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Wonder if it still snows in May? ;)
 

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Re: "Captain"

Similar story about confusing "Captains"

As a young E-3 in the Air Force, I was an avionics technician on AF HH-60's. One day we had a Navy H-60 divert into our base for an avionics problem and I happened to be the only guy on shift who could fix it(my boss was at lunch).

It taxis into parking and I go out to start troubleshooting it and the Navy "Captain" was still in the seat, about as much in my way as he could get. I'm trying to fix his aircraft, so he can get on about his business and I can get back to my work, and he's making it harder for me to do. Didn't make any sense to me at all. Here I am, without my blouse on, so no way for him to tell my rank, getting frustrated with him for not getting out of MY way. After the third time I asked him to move(politely) and he didn't, I started to really get upset. I finally blurt out, "Excuse me Captain, do you mind getting out of my way?" fairly condescendingly(as O-3's are about a dime a dozen and I'm around them all day every day).

He got out of the seat in a huff and marched into my shop and apparently found our leadership, luckily the "Boss" was off for the day and only our OIC, an AF Captain, was around. He explained that I probably didn't understand that a Navy Capt was equivalent to our Colonel, which was exactly correct, I was COMPLETELY oblivious to that little tidbit of information.

I fixed the aircraft and got it all set to go when my OIC walked up to me and asked me if I had been rude to the pilot. Perplexed, I said, "Yessir, he wouldn't get out of my way and was being a pain in the a$$ about moving." He stopped me right there and sent me inside and said he'd find me later.

When he did, and explained it all to me, I was completely embarassed and apologized, but there wasn't anything I could do about it at that point.
 

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Re: "Captain"

Whenever we were out in the field, especially in the winter ( that's 10 months at a time in GE) we all had to take a turn at perimeter guard. One day, I'm freezing cold, miserable, playing the game and our colonel and his driver come into the Battery Area. I stop them and ask the Password, then ask "politely" to see their I.D. He didn't like it one bit, but if he had started chewing me out, then I would have said "Sorry Colonel, last time we let a German through wearing an American Uniform was the Battle of the Buldge, and you know how that ended." I knew I was flirting with a transfer to Nam, but it would have at least been warmer there anyhow! :-* Lost the feeling in my feet for 10 days though.
 

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Re: "Captain"

Pat/Rick said:
Graf?? Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Wonder if it still snows in May? ;)
MAY?? heck it snows there in JULY!!
 

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Re: "Captain"

Hey H-bomb, I tell people that the main reason the Germans started two world wars was to find a place that had sunshine on a regular basis, that they had to be 'depressed" with Seasonal Affected Disorder ( like I was!) ha. Were you in 7th Corp? I was in 1/36FA in Augsburg. Missed the '72 Olympics, but made a uriah Heep concert in the Olyimpic Park! ha.
 

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Re: "Captain"

haha ya i have to agree there, i was V corp down in darmstadt by frankfurt. i was there for one of the world cups and had a blast
 

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Re: "Captain"

Back when I was an E-3 Corpsman I had an older gentleman come in to the ER with a laceration to his finger. ( when you are 19 everyone over looks older ) this guy looked to be in his 50's so ifigured he was retired. I took him back to the treatment room and car tied on a conversation with him as I sewed up his finger. When I got done we did the paper work. I asked him for hid ID, it was a green ID card which I thought was a little odd since I figured he was retired. When I got to the rank it had BGEN. I looked at him and said "Sir, what the hell does BGEN mean." he replied Brigadier General. I about choked. I snapped to attention and said Sir I'm really sorry Sir I have never seen a Generals ID card before. He just laughed and said "Son, generals bleed red also, you did a fine job, and if you ever need any thing you let know." he then asked if I knew where his office was. I said yes Sir it is the office on Main Side with the big red flag with one star. He smiled and that's the one.

I ran into him in the field about a year later when I was with weapons company. We were testing some new 60mm motor rounds and I had fired one with the hand fire trigger and dropped the round right square on an old truck body. After we were done the General asked us if the Corps should buy them. He looked at me and said. That was a hell of a shot what do you think about them. I said Sir I'm just a Corpsman but I think they are good. He then said your the one who sewed up my finger in the ER. I smiled and said yes Sir that was me. He said walk with me, as he headed to his car. He showed me his finger and that there was hardly any scar asked how I was doing and how I liked weapons company, when we got to his car I stood at attention and soluted him, he soluted me and shook my hand and said thanks for taking care of my Marines Doc and got in his car. What a great guy!
 

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Re: "Captain"

GREAT story, Alan. Nice to know the bigshots bleed like the rest of us! :D
 

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Re: "Captain"

My own funny story concerning military rank and the interesting things miscommunication can provide involves the time the squad I was in back in early 1966 in Vietnam was attached to another unit for three weeks. This unit had just experienced a massive "block" rotation stateside of it's men, and in addition to being short handed a lot of the assigned personnel were "FNG's", (if you know what I mean).
My fire team leader and I were out on a listening post (LP) about 150 meters ahead of the unit's wire on our shift. Our field phones had the ringer disconnected and a flashlight blub was wired in so when you cranked the phone the result was no sound, only a faint light. It was left in the bottom of your position, out of sight. You were contacted every 30 minutes for a "status report", like we would forget to call in a potential enemy attack. Anyway, the phone light lite up and my partner answered "Sergeant Major here". His actual last name was Major, and he had just been promoted to sergeant E-5. You could hear the panic back at the TOC (tactical operations center) when it was shouted some Sergeant Major was out on a listening post at 0230. Within minutes you could hear 20 men coming our direction, crashing through the undergrowth, shouting for directions to our position (being a maintenance unit they never thought to follow the wire out from the switchboard). The real fun began when we returned to the TOC for a "debriefing" by some staff officers that had been rousted off their cots.
The chewing out was worth every minute of it. After all, you're a private, your in the infantry, your in Vietnam, just what more could they do to me? They knew if they had made too big a fuss our commander would of had all of us released back to him.
Shenandoah
 
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