Friday, June 13, 2008

Stories of the Gatineau...

Now when I talk of the Gatineau, I don't mean, the river or the region in Québec of the same name. I mean of course the HMCS Gatineau, DDE 236. Gatineau was my first ship as Senior Radar Plotter/RPI (or Naval Combat Information Operators, as MORPS had dictated we should now be called). Our Skipper and XO were the best you could wish for (Guy Jeffries and Lenny Edmunds), as were the CBTO and most of the other officer cadré.

We had quite a cast of characters onboard to keep things entertaining. She was a happy ship and those were heady times. I have to honestly admit that I never laughed so much or so well, anywhere before or since. We had some of the funniest and most good-natured people I had ever sailed with. Our Chief ERA was named "Relic" and his second IC was CPO2 'Gigolo' Jack Watson, whose slurred war-cry of: "I'll kick yer tits off!!" I can still hear to this day. Our Doc, the good Warrant Rick Burchill, PO1 'Stormy' Ross was our head 'Ping Bosun' and his psychotic sidekick PO2 J.P. Faffard. One of our PO2 Bosuns was Johnny LeFort and he remains, to this very day, the funniest and most calamity-prone individual I have ever met.

Many were the nights when we would leave the Chiefs & Petty Officers' Mess, aching with laughter. All it would take was a couple of wets and someone to get Johnny started up on one of his reminiscings... He would literally have us crying, unable to breathe, we were laughing so hard... What times we had. It was nothing short of a gift, to have been surrounded by so fine a crew, as we spent so many gruelling months away from our loved ones at home.

How good it is to have these memories to look back on. The people, the travels, the sights, the experiences... To be able to recall, as though it were yesterday, the good fortunes I have had in my life.

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