In the summer of 1961, I was one of about 600 Marines on the USS George Clymer sailing from San Diego to points west. My group was being dropped off in Hawaii after 9 days and the rest (poor suckers) were destined to be on the ship for many more days on the way to Okinawa. About day number three out of San Diego, we hit some rough weather. Most of the Marines got seasick, especially the guys who grew up where there weren’t any oceans, like Iowa. I was fortunate to have grown up in New Jersey where they have an ocean and we become immune to rocking and rolling. It is also why we are good dancers. Anyway, on this particular day somewhere between Hawaii and the land of the big PX, we were rocking and rolling, and the troops were puking over the side when they could make it. When they couldn’t get to the railing, they just “let’er rip” and it wasn’t long before the deck became slick with the morning’s breakfast.
I was standing near one of the hatches when it opened and out stepped the Chief Cook with a Mess man in tow. He took a look around at all the sick Marines and then said in a commanding voice to the Mess man, while pointing at the deck, “All right kid, start picking up the big pieces for dinner tonight.” That is when I went to the railing and lost my breakfast along with my seasick immunity.
-Story by Norm Spilleth
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