Today’s topic for Broadside Moments…


Lesson learned: It’s important to know where you stand.

1976, aboard USS JOSEPH STRAUSS (DDG 16) in the South China Sea. I was living in deck berthing, a couple of decks below the main deck. It was my first time at sea, and I wasn’t feeling well. Anyone who has been on a DDG knows that the smell of oil seemed to be everywhere, and the temperature never seemed to be “just right” – add to that the cigarette smoke that permeated the space and some semi-rough seas, and you have all the ingredients for a good batch of nausea.

When “the urge” hit me, I realized that I was unprepared for it. I knew there was no way I could make it up two ladders and outside before I erupted, but I also knew there was no way I was going to let my space mates see me hurl. So I started up, climbing as fast as I could.

I didn’t get far. Maybe halfway up the first ladder. All I had at my disposal, FOR my disposal, was my ball cap. Remember those old ball caps? They were canvas, dark blue, and more importantly, they didn’t leak. I climbed the last flight-and-a-half using one hand, and eventually made it to the side.


All I had to do was throw the cap overboard, and hope nobody noticed. But before I could commit it to Davy Jones, I glanced to my right, and there were two old salty dudes leaning on the rail, smiling at me with that knowing “we know who you are, and we know what you did” grin. One of them chuckled.

Now, this is important. They were aft of me. Meaning they were downwind. When I launched the hat, the wind caught it, and what had been in my stomach was now splattered all over those two Sailors. Their smiles – well, they disappeared. It’s been said that you usually feel better after you vomit, and you know what? It’s true.

But I think it only works for the guy who gets sick.

Let’s hear YOUR story!


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  1. We were WESTPAC-bound from San Diego in 1981 on USS CUSHING, her maiden deployment. We were driving straight into gale-force winds and very heavy seas – white water up to the bridge! The ship was pitching like crazy and no one could stand watch for more than about an hour. Regular meals were impossible. Even the skipper was CASREPT. I was standing CICWO, and despite everything doing OK, though most of the OS’s were bracing trash cans between their legs. The smell was ghastly.
    All was OK until midrats. I can only say that if you’re trying to hold seasickness off, you do NOT want to start watch with a hot dog and peanut butter sandwich in your stomach. The rest is history!

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