arrived at the barracks and was assigned a rack and locker on the third floor which was for COMSERVPAC personnel. The ground floor of the barracks housed commercial businesses and the second floor was for personnel from CINCPACFLT. The third floor had cubicles on each side running lengthwise with about 8 guys per cubicle and a passageway down the center. At one end of the floor was the head and shower area and at the other end was a TV room, a room with two pool tables and a laundry area including a steam press…very nice!
The next morning I got ready to go to the Dental Clinic to report in. The uniform of the day in Hawaii is whites year round so I dug out a set of white uniforms from my seabag to put on. This was the first time I’d worn whites since boot camp. I didn’t have any tropical white shirts yet since they weren’t issued at boot camp so I wore my white jumper. After breakfast, the duty driver took me to Makalapa Crater where the Dispensary and Dental Clinic was set up to take care of the staffs of CINCPAC, CINCPACFLT and COMSERVPAC and their dependents. (As it is at every duty station, the first question asked is "where are you from?" When the Duty Driver asked me that, I said "Los Angeles" thinking no one had ever heard of Bell Gardens. I couldn't believe it when he told me he was from...Bell Gardens. What a small world it truly is.)
When I arrived at the Dental Clinic, the senior Dental Tech, DT1 “Stony” Burke told me the senior dentist wanted to welcome me aboard and took me to his office at COMSERVPAC Headquarters. I was amazed to discover that the senior dentist just happened to be a two star admiral and was the senior dentist for the entire Pacific Fleet. Needless to say that as I stood before him in my never ironed, only folded whites fresh from the bottom of my seabag, I did NOT make a good first impression.
The Dental Clinic had three dentists and a small prosthetic lab for making dentures, crowns & bridges. I recall that one of the dentists I worked for was a Lieutenant named Dr. Krysinski. I was his assistant. I also worked as an oral hygienist for almost a year there. The duty here was great. The atmosphere was very "unmilitary" and casual. There were just too many four stripe captains and admirals around. You would spend all your time just saluting if it weren't for the relaxed conditions. We had lockers at the Clinic and once we were off work, we would change into shorts, aloha shirts and "go aheads" (also known as "flip flops" or shower shoes) before going back to the barracks or going into town. We had duty every four days which meant we stayed at the Clinic until 9:00 pm to deal with any dental emergencies that might arise such as someone with a toothache before going back to the barracks. We were still on call throughout the night. The duty corpsman would stay at the Dispensary overnight. There was a small lounge there for that.
I only remember having to stand one formal inspection the entire time I was stationed here. It was held in the lower parking lot shown in the image above. I also recall we got paid in cash then. The Disbursing Officer would arrive at that parking lot with a cash box and a .45 on his hip. For some reason, we got a lot of two dollar bills in our pay (In 1964, my total gross pay for the year as an E3 was $1,104.00).
Not too long after I arrive in Hawaii, I sent my mom some Hawaiian flowers. She was tickled pink to receive them. I also put some 'genuine sand from Waikiki Beach' in the envelope...the Postal Service was not happy about that...fortunately, that was well before Homeland Security.
Around the beginning of summer, 1964 I received a letter from Jim. He included this photo of he in his Marine uniform. He was still stationed at Camp LeJeune at this time.
During the summer of 1964, my High School sweetheart and her
sister came to Hawaii on vacation. They spent a month in Waikiki and
a buddy of mine from St Albans, Vt., Dan Scanlon and I had a great
time while they were there. Unfortunately, my girlfriend wanted to
get married right away while I thought we should wait until I got
out of the service. I suppose that because of the social pressure of
that era to either marry or be considered an 'old maid', she decided
she couldn't wait that long and we broke up a few months after she departed
Hawaii. As things often turn out, it was much to my benefit in the
On August 2nd, 1964 the USS Maddox was attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin.
One of our favorite places to hang out at was the Bloch Arena which was right across the street from the barracks. It had a large covered patio area and a stand where you could buy hamburgers and even beer. The legal drinking age in Hawaii was 20 so I had to settle for soft drinks when I first arrived. The Army's Fort De Russey in Waikiki, on the other hand, allowed the drinking of beer at the age of 18 so that was another favorite hangout. Because of the high prices in Honolulu and Waikiki, we used to start out our drinking at one of these locations first. I seem to recall that at a typical 'night spot' in town the drinks were $1.50 each with a two drink minimum. At least there was no cover charge! That was a lot of money for us then when you consider I was making about $92.00 a month or 53¢ an hour.
It used to get pretty interesting at the Bloch Arena whenever a ship from Australia or New Zealand was in port. Sooner or later, someone would call them a "Limey" and the fight was on...man, those guys could really drink beer too. Don't ever try to keep up with them in the drinking department. The Bloch Arena also had a lot of very good entertainment. I remember seeing the Beach Boys perform there. Glen Campbell, who was a backup player at that time, was filling in for Brian Wilson.
Here's a couple of shots taken in the barracks. We played a lot of "Acey-Ducey" and "Hearts" then. In the other image, some of us are going out for the evening. I don't recall what the occasion was.
One of the ships that visited Pearl Harbor was a West German Cruiser making a round the world cruise for it's Midshipmen. From what I understand, this was the first German ship to dock at Pearl Harbor since before WWII. Myself and a couple of buddies were invited aboard where we got to know some of the Midshipmen and even ate a meal aboard. We played 'tour guides' and showed our new friends all the typical tourist spots in Waikiki and Honolulu. I even got a post card from a couple of the guys later.
By 1965, I had moved out of the barracks and was sharing rent for an apartment in Waikiki with two others. One of the guys had bought an old Dodge we called the "green machine". It wasn't pretty but it got us where we wanted to go and was cheap. Jeff Warhol, one of the newly arrived corpsmen, was big on surfing. He was from Gardena, Calif. (Jeff became a physical therapist afterwards and eventually became the Dept. Head for physical therapy at the Kaiser Hospital in Fontana, Ca.) I hadn't done much surfing at this point other than 'ride the foam' at Waikiki. He and a friend of his took me along to Makaha for some surfing. I didn't know it at the time but Makaha is where they hold the surfing championships. There is a reason for this...the waves break quite large there most of the time. Surf boards at that time where almost 10' long and ankle straps hadn't been thought of yet. So, after paddling out about a quarter of a mile and trying to catch the first wave, I lost my footing, the board was taken all the way to the shore and I was left having to swim all the way back in. The waves were small that day, only around 12 feet high or so. The beach here was such that even when I was only a few feet from shore, I still couldn't touch the bottom and every time a wave would come in, it would first suck me back away from the shore then pound me into the sand. When I finally made it ashore I noticed someone had kindly pulled the surf board I was using further up the sand. I used the board as a beach mat for the rest of the day!
I did do a lot of body surfing, usually around Rabbit Island and some snorkeling at places like Hanama Bay. Hanama Bay was featured in the Elvis Presley movie "Blue Hawaii" and was the beach where his 'shack' was. I actually met Elvis when he was at Pearl Harbor in 1965. On March 25, 1960 Elvis Presley performed live at the Bloch Arena at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The show was a fundraiser to build a memorial for the USS Arizona. Five years after this benefit, while in Hawaii filming "Paradise, Hawaiian Style", Elvis visited the completed memorial and placed a wreath there. I met him while he was at Pearl Harbor then. It's always struck me how baby faced he looked.
After a year at my current rate of DN (E3), I was eligible to take the exam for petty officer 3rd class (E4). To be promoted, you not only need to have enough time in your current grade and pass a written exam, you also need to score high enough to make the promotion list. Some ratings don't have many openings at the various rates while others have enough openings all that is required is to pass the exam. Fortunately, I scored high enough that I made the promotion list on my first attempt. So, on November 16, 1965 I was promoted to the rate of DT3. To celebrate the occasion, some of my fellow 'shipmates' took me to the 19th "puka" (hole in Hawaiian) at the Hickam AFB golf course. The celebration started out with everyone buying me beers but occasionally, someone would also buy a shot of whiskey too. Later that afternoon a few more of my co-workers arrived to help 'wet down' my stripes. Next, we moved the party to the enlisted men's club. Things probably wouldn't have gotten out of hand if only one of the guys hadn't bought a bottle of Champagne to wash down the beer...and shots with.
Finally in early March of 1966, I received orders to my next duty station. Since I had volunteered for FMF at the end of DT School, I thought I might be attached with the Marines and spend the next 13 months in Viet Nam*. Instead, my orders were to report to the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, home ported in San Diego, Ca. after a 30 day leave. While I feel I was fortunate to spend two years in Hawaii and was there long enough to get to know the people, who are some of the most friendly you will ever be likely to meet and was young enough to enjoy all that the Islands had to offer, I was glad to be leaving. Two years on "The Rock" was just too long. It was very expensive there on a serviceman's pay and you can only go around the island so many times before "rock fever" starts to set in.
*My best friend Jim, who was sent to FMF, Camp LeJeune, N.C. after DT School was able to swap duty stations after a year there with someone who was at Pendleton but lived on the East Coast. Jim was probably at Pendleton 3 months when his Division was shipped out to Viet Nam.