MCARA Sea Stories

Curfew Capers

This story involves four MCARA members but I will keep three of them nameless to protect the guilty! Seems like yesterday but it was back in 1968 when a senior captain and Vietnam vet led a flight of two VMCJ-2 aircraft down to Key West for some ECMO training missions against Castro’s radars. One of the ECMOs was a CWO-3 ( later Capt) and the other we’ll call Lt. Newbee was a nugget 2nd lieutenant in training and on his first Key West deployment. In keeping with tradition the senior officer we’ll call Capt. Wildman decided to take the young nugget on a fam run through the town of Key West where he would introduce him to several of its finer establishments. For some reason the other pilot didn’t make it to the ville but of course the Gunner did. So far so good.

Now for those that didn’t know it shades of Olongopo Uncle Sugar’s Navy still had a curfew for military personnel in those days!! I think the bewitching hour was midnight for officers. So to cut down on violations the shore patrol would dutifully make the rounds of some of the more popular sites about a half hour before the curfew reminding those they found that it was time to fish or cut bait and head back to the base. So we find our illustrious threesome holding forth with gusto as the shore patrol made their first warning pass.

A few minutes later the SP PO-1 came by again and asked if they were military as if he couldn’t tell from their high and tights. Surprisingly Capt. Wildman shakes his head and out goes the sailor to get his officer of the watch. Discretion being the better part of valor the Gunner decides to bail and tells Lt Newbee he best go with him but Capt Wildman assures Newbee not to worry and hang in there with him. Shortly thereafter the Lcdr watch officer arrives on the scene and not overly happy to begin with gets right to it by asking for their IDs. Capt. Wildman then began a long dissertation about how he was a DFC wearing combat vet Marine pilot not used to suffering unto fools or sailors interfering ith his god given right to a seat at a tavern as long as he pleased or words to that effect when he was cut short by the watch officer ordering them cuffed and hauled back to the base. The next morning they were dutifully ushered into the base XOs office where they were read the riot act and while standing there he called their skipper and told him to send down someone to fly their plane back as these guys were not!

Once arriving back at Cherry Pt. they all stood in the passage way outside the CO’s office awaiting their punishment. The skipper a fine, genteel officer who I will let go unnamed as well, first read the Navy report then got the Gunner’s story before dealing with Wildman and Newbee. Wildman goes in first and comes out missing a piece of his buttocks that wouldn’t heal until his days in hack were over. Meanwhile Lt. Newbee sees his career going down the drain before he can make 1/Lt. Ready for the worst he stands tall ( he is tall anyhow) before the skipper with eyes straight ahead. After a few seconds but more like minutes to him, the skipper says lieutenant I apologize for you getting in this predicament as I should have known better than to send you off with Wildman without proper warning. So I am calling this one supervisory error. However, needless to say this is the only hus you get so out of my office and don’t come back!

Epilogue: Wildman went on to great career with a small start up company called Fedex, founded by former Marines. The Gunner completed another tour in Nam before going into industry and then upon his retirement decided to make MCARA a “third’ career. Lt Newbee went on to acquit himself quite well in NAM flying Whales and EA-6As and got back in that office a number of times at Cherry Pt as a leader of nuggets and vets during his career with the VMCJs and VMAQ. And that is the “rest of the story”!

As related to Col H, Wayne Whitten USMC (ret)