- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Saturday, 21 November 2015 21:56
- Published: Sunday, 21 April 2002 00:00
All the crew thought a great deal of the ship and were very proud of the E's with hash marks on the stack and gun turrets. The hash mark was a sign of repeat performance. Once a year we had to prove our proficiency, always trying for the E's or hash marks.
After we left Bremerton, Washington, we first stopped at San Diego, California, then headed for Hawaii. I didn't do much on that trip over because I had gotten the mumps and was confined to an isolation ward. I'll never forget that ordeal either. My neck had been hurting me quite a bit, so I reported to sick call right after breakfast. I guess, since I was a new recruit on board, they thought I was "gold bricking" and just passed it off as a trick I was trying to pull on them. At any rate, a few days later, my neck began to swell and one of the first class electrician mates told me to go to the sick bay and "don't come back, or else". That day, I told the pharmacist I could not go back to my division because they all said I had the mumps. Before it was all over, I had infected about 20 more men, so I wasn't thought of too highly.
When the doctor looked at me, he put me in the sick bay with the rest of the patients, still thinking I only had a sore throat. I told him I couldn't swallow the food. He said, "We'll put you on a soft diet." The next meal, I still got the same food. So I mentioned it to him and he said, "Eat only the soft foods."
By now, my mumps were really bad and some of the other men were starting to get the mumps too. When the doctor saw me again, he finally decided I had the mumps, put me in a special ward and restricted me to my bed. All in all, my first trip at sea was laying down. I saw Pearl Harbor for the first time out of a port hole.
Because the Arizona was an older ship, everyone slept in a hammock or on cots. Each of us had an assigned space. My first sleeping space was a hammock. We had two hooks welded to the iron beams that supported the deck above. Putting up one end wasn't too bad -- you could just put the ring from your hammock webbing on the hook. But the other end had to be cinched up. This required a good pull and knot to keep the hammock from falling down on the men in the cots beneath. Usually the fellows sleeping under you would make sure the knot was going to hold you up.
To keep the hammock from folding around you, we made spreaders out of 1"x1"x16" sticks with a notch in each end to put in the two outside ropes on the webbing of the hammocks. In rough seas the hammock wasn't too bad to sleep in. In a few months I did get a cot which made that job a lot easier. Out of the 60 men in the "E" Division, the three of us who survived slept side by side on these cots.
Our daily routine started with reveille at 5:30 AM, breakfast at 6:30 AM, and the day's routine at 8:00 AM. For those who had the watch, they went according to their schedules. All of us had our jobs to do, depending on the division you were in. When I was in distribution, we had to watch the load on board and add generators as needed. The midnight watch took megohm readings (a test of the insulation resistance of the circuits) on all the circuits and each morning gave the sheets to the chiefs in charge. They, in turn, saw to it that any needed repairs were done by their men.
The one job I didn't like in the power distribution was cleaning and painting the voids around the oil tanks for the ship's supply of fuel. The space was about 18" wide. Before we would go down there, the space had to be well ventilated. The painting didn't help a whole lot either -- the fumes could make you very dizzy. It usually took us the better part of the day to clean and paint these voids. We had two of these in our area.