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Smoke Alarm

June 2024
1min read

“That’s General MacArthur! Clear the port wing of the bridge!!”

October 19, 1944. Evening. On U.S. destroyer with invasion fleet en route to Leyte Gulf, Philippines. Destroyer taking fuel along starboard side of USS Nashville. This puts port bridge wing of destroyer even with 02 deck of Nashville and maybe twenty-five feet away.

Older man (through nineteen-year-old enlisted eyes) in khaki steps out on Nashville 02 deck and lights his pipe. I almost jump out of socks. Did this old geezer realize if someone caught him smoking topside he could end up in Marine brig for life?

As I sucked in air to shout warning, someone behind me said, “God-damn! That’s General MacArthur! Lookouts! Clear the port wing of the bridge!!” Navy talk for get your keister out of here.

Guess nobody caught him. Next day he walked ashore at Leyte.

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