Fireman Save My Child!

by The Boatswain | November 7th, 2005

After I finished Boot Camp, in the summer of 1941, instead of sending me out to sea, they assigned me to the Navy Fire Department on the training station at Newport, RI. Don’t ask me why, as the military does as they please with any warm bodies available!

I didn’t mind it, though, as the guys were nice and I got to learn to drive the big pumper. The department had just received a brand new, 1,000 gallon a minute, Mack pumper and we were kept busy learning how to load its hoses and the ladders, fill the water tank, wear the rubber gear, etc. The only picture I have of that time is this one.

Navy Firemen

Navy Firemen

What I should have mentioned is that “making the beds”, consisted of rolling up and securing our hammocks! Yes, we had to learn how to sleep in hammocks since, in those pre-war days, most Navy ships did NOT have big berthing spaces and hammocks were common. Many ships had their crews put hammocks up in the mess spaces at night, and stowed away during the day, to use them for feeding the crews.

When the war started and new ships were designed and built, berthing spaces were added! (No time to train those poor, drafted, ‘civilians’, in the fine art of hammocks!) LOL! – We had ALWAYS been able to pack all our clothing and gear into ONE duffle bag, and the hammock was rolled tight and stowed around the bag!

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The United States Navy rating of Boatswain's Mate is a designation given to enlisted members who are rated as a deck seaman. The colloquial form of address for a boatswain's mate is 'Boats'.

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