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Dad - your ship -
the mighty
Destroyer Escort/Sub Killer

Shiver Me Timbers!

(And Navy/Sailing/Marine Vocabulary Practice For Me)

Note: If you would like to hear the Navy fight song Anchors Aweigh and to watch a stirring slide show of the mighty USS Wilhoite-DE397 (destroyer escort/subkiller that Dad was on during Dubya Dubya Too, The Big One), go - but not now - to the USS Wilhoite Home Port (link at the bottom of this page)(Graphics-intensive page, though, so allow about as much time as it would take ya to fire off a Hedgehog projectile or a nine-gun salvo . . .)

Ahoy, Dad!

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, I should probably be sent straight to the Brigantine for not belaying my constant stream of transmissions to you (I am sadly losing the battle of the bilge). I have obviously gone off the deep end and simply cannot slow down my radio traffic since I lost my sea anchor several weeks ago.

Anyway, I got a coupl'a questions for ya 'cause I'm swabbing the USS Wilhoite-DE397 Home Port on my website, (use link at the bottom of this page but not now, for Heaven's sake, or you'll wind up in such an endless circular maelstrom of a loop in your Internet browser that I doubt I'll be able to tow you out of 'er, even with me twin Evinrude inboard-outboard 120 horse engines a'full-a'throttle. Plus I know you've got an old diesel-powered computer and a slow Internet connection, so wait on the USS Wilhoite Home Port link until after you have read this thing - this here below).

Anyway, regarding my swabbing action, I'm really torn and conflicted: should I deploy my new battery-operated Swiffer, my Holystone or my chipping hammer? Whaddayathink?

All of the above to the contrary, here are the questions I need your answers to regarding your WWII Navy service aboard the Wilhoite, and I need these answers pronto and double-time - and overtime, if necessary at your regular rate of Jolly, Jolly Six Pence per day, of course) - so I can scrape the barnacles off me bottom and shine 'er up like a penny soaked in sea water and baking soda. So, Anchors Aweigh, Dad, and better put on your life vest 'cause there are definitely some rough waters ahead:


1. During your WWII service aboard USS Wilhoite-DE397, were you a member of the Black Gang or were you a Deck Ape?

2. When the USS Wilhoite-DE397 was busy torpedoing fish with her five-inch-thirty-eights (Dad, this documented war story is the ONE and ONLY fish story that you never shared with us kids and which I discovered just on happenstance. You can steam away, Dad, but ya can't hide, not with my quick fingers in the Google search bar!), anyway, during this Naval action were you wearing a pea coat and bell-bottomed trousers (or dungarees), or a greatcoat, skivvies and chest waders? More importantly, which of these outfits would make a person look slimmer?

Cracker Jacks

3. How long did it take you to study and thoroughly learn your Bowditch?

4. Regarding all my recent transmissions to you, do you think I have a problem with drift factor? Do you think I might be just a tad off course (if you get my drift)? Or alternatively, do I seem like someone with a great deal of dead reckoning? Someone as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar? Should we submit this question to the anchor pool? (I pray to God I've still got a few stanchion supporters out there.)

5. Did the USS Wilhoite-DE397 and her sister destroyer escorts look like a bunch of little dinghies as they circled protectively around the giant tincans, especially Old Mamie?

destroyer escort

6. During your Navy travels, did you ever have the honor of meeting Mark Twain? If the answer is "aye, aye," I trust you remembered to get his autograph? Can I have it?

7. How do you pronounce the word "fathometer" - is the emphasis on the first and third syllables as in fath-o-meter or on the second syllable as in fa-THAH-meter? (I bet the Limeys use the second pronunciation. Why is it that their accents always make them sound a bit light on the lines, if you get my drift? After all, they played a little part in the war and they're known to be pretty fair sailors.) Please tell me this word is not pronounced monosyllabically as in FA-THO-ME-TER. That is SO NOT FUN.

8. How are you doing on fathoming the depth of this email so far?

9. Were you ever knighted into the Royal Order of Shellbacks or did you remain a pollywog (and thus pogy bait)?


10. Do you know how to get various tars out of a wool rug (the kind tracked in by a roly-poly little four-legged bosun's mate (who shall remain nameless in the interest of privacy because Buddy, my little black cocker spaniel, is terribly embarrassed about how FAT he's getting!)?me bosun's mate [Click on me bosun's mate.]

11. Did you ever foul your anchor lines - or anything else, for that matter?

12. Related question: Were you ever guilty of waving an Irish Pennant?

13. By the end of the war, had you finally figured out the problems resulting from pissing to windward?

14. Did you ever get laid-up on the quarterdeck? Perhaps while deploying your Holystone? Do you recall exactly how many times? Do you consider this information to be "For Eyes" and all that term implies?

CIA - For Eyes

15. What did you and your shipmates do to pass the time when the USS Wilhoite-DE397 inevitably wandered into that sailor's hell known as the Doldrums? Or is that information also "For Eyes"?

port hole

16. While in the Doldrums, did you happen to see a white whale named Herman but who asked to be called Ishmael? (And who in their right mind wouldn't?)

17. How come whenever some smartypants tells me to be somewhere and uses the military time format, I have to set up numerous Excel spreadsheets and deploy function programming to figure out how not to be late YET AGAIN and I still can't, not even with the tool at And I get reel sad and wish I had gotten a reel degree instead of my dumb journalism BS? (Note, this time format business is the primary reason that I myself never joined the military. This is to the United States Navy's great loss, as you can undoubtedly tell from my command of Navy terminology.)


18. Do you consider my questions to be just so much flotsam and jetsam? Do you feel like launching a depth charge (or 13 - the Navy's standard pattern) and lobbing it/them/whatever my way? Do you think you have the range and firepower to knock out my communications center? Go ahead and try, see if I care. You can't stop me because you are thoroughly outgunned in this one!

19. Did this Navy standard practice of always dropping 13 depth charges at a time while trying to kill an enemy submarine (or a school of fish!) ever worry you? Wasn't the Navy at all superstitious?



20. During the USS Wilhoite's 29-day chase of that German U-boat (the longest sub hunt of the war), did that submarine ever about-face and act offensively, or was she just running away defensively the whole time? (Note: I also know a lot of football terminology. My brother-in-law is teaching me but he is very modest and doesn't want to take any credit whatsoever for what I now know about the wonderful sport of football.)


21. Now that the war is over, would you recommend 46°15' N, 21°15' W (also see: as a nice vacation spot? Or does it kind of lack in thrill if you aren't thrashing around in a hastily built, ammunition-loaded ship while dodging torpedos from enemy aircraft above and hostile U-boats and submarines below, and generally wondering if you will see tomorrow, let alone 46°15' N, 21°15' W, ever again?

22. When the USS Wilhoite-DE397 towed the disabled USS Barr ( to Casablanca, did you happen to wade to shore for a couple of quick cold ones at Rick Blaine's Cafe Americain? If so, did you run into Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman? Most importantly, did you get their autographs? Can I have them?

Rick's Cafe Americain

23. During the above-described Naval action involving the USS Barr, was the USS Wilhoite-DE397 flying wing-on-wing or was she chasing a following sea? Who was driving? Or was she on autopilot?


24. When a veteran Mom or Dad "cuts the cheese," is the correct terminology "Apparent Wind"?

25. Regarding the above question, why does it always happen that their poor kid ends up downwind of this deployment? Is it because the parents always have the poor kid within close reach? Possibly for the kid's daily beating into the wind (sometimes involving blistering and the kid keeling over and even becoming delaminated)? And the poor kid doesn't even know what he's done to ketch such hell aft?

26. Is the above what they mean by the term "lowering the boom"?

27. Regarding high winds and your heroic actions aboard the mighty USS Wilhoite-DE397, did you ever "fall off" "head down"? If so, did you hit a "plank" (if you get my "drift")? And if so, is the result of this Naval strategy the origination of the term "knots"?

28. What did you do with your parrot after the war was over? Did you both wear eyepatches? If so, were they just to make you both look as buff as Errol Flynn - or Charles Laughton - OR JOHNNY DEPP (yeah)!!! - or did you really need them? And if you really needed them, can I blame you personally for the fact that people call me "Four Eyes"?

pirate                                                  parrot                        

29. During your world travels that the Navy promised - and delivered! - to you, did you ever run into Howard Hughes? Was he all spruced up? Was he wearing an albatross around his neck? Did you remember to get his autograph (the albatross's, that is)? Or was that poor bird just too darned ancient to even pluck one of his own quills and use it as a pen? And too exhausted to come up with a good Rime?


30. During the course of the war, did your battle group ever happen to wander on down to Tahiti, maybe for a little Rum and Coca Cola (in between battles, of course)? Were the Andrews Sisters playing?

rum      Andrews Sisters      Coca-Cola

31. Did you happen to sail by (or over) Marlon Brando? Did he look well or more like something of a floater? If all was well with him, did you remember to get his autograph? If so, is the paper still soaking wet (as a piece of paper from a captain's log should be, after all)?

32. Was it you who absent-mindedly left his cheese sandwich by the radar tracking device and came back to find it blackened beyond recognition, all the while little realizing that you could have become filthy rich and even owned your very own destroyer escort if you'd just thought about this prototype of the modern day microwave oven?


33. Related question: Remember how you spilled that chemical on your pants - after the war when you were with Mead Paper - and later on, while you were ironing those pants (before you married Mom and got her to iron them for ya) - the crease would not come out, and how it never occurred to you how inadvertently close you had come to discovering the modern day wonder of "permanently pressed fabrics"?

ironing board

34. Related question: How are you coming along with that industrial revolutionizing idea of yours to speed up the de-feathering of chickens by dipping them in melted wax? Would your process work on a gooseneck?


Well, I hear someone jibe-ho'ing me from the afterberth so I better scuttle me butt on to me other chores.

But trim your canvas and sail close to the wind 'cause I'm sure to tack on back with more questions.

Your ever so nautical daughter,

P.S. I copied me siblings - the ones you spawned after the war when you had sailed into your final home port - on the below previously sent email. However, I realized I had used some advanced technical Naval jargon that these poor innocent lubbers definitely will not understand. Thus, below is that same email repeated with a little glossary at the end for the "abecedarians" (if you get my drift; and also note that I use that term in a completely loving and caring way - as Dame Edna would say).

Email previously sent: Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 12:30:46 -0800 (PST)


Dear Dad:

I was just relaxing today (it's Sunday), just sort of yaw-ing around on the Internet and running carquals for bogeys on my website WHEN I HAPPENED UPON THE BELOW REPORT regarding a WWII (the Big One) Naval action involving your ship, the USS Wilhoite-DE397. Here's what I read on the above-mentioned World War II Naval history site (

At 0630 on 3 August [in the year of our Lord 1944-my notation for reference added], however, a message arrived that abruptly cut short the training. TG [Task Group] 22.3 was to proceed to the vicinity of 46°15' N, 21°15' W for offensive operations against a westbound enemy submarine. At 1646 on the next day, Wilhoite picked up a sound contact and attacked at 1702; listeners picked up seven detonations but could ascertain no positive results. At 1405 on the 7th, the destroyer escort laid two "hedgehog" projectile patterns and one standard depth charge pattern on a target later evaluated as a school of fish. Back To Where You Were Busy Torpedoing Fish Before You Sailed Here


fish                fishfish

Oh well, Dad, don't worry. You guys may have lost that one depth charge but you sure as shootin' won the war!

By the way, given that the USS Wilhoite-DE397 during the above Naval action was part of the hunter-killer task group headed by the USS Bogue, did it ever worry you how similar that ship's name was to the word "bogey"?

Your most nautical daughter

Glossary for me lubbing siblings:

1. Nautical. To swerve off course momentarily or temporarily: The ship yawed as the heavy wave struck abeam.
2. To turn about the vertical axis. Used of an aircraft, spacecraft, or projectile.
3. To move unsteadily; weave.

1. an evil spirit [syn: bogy, bogie]
2. (golf) a score of one stroke over par on a hole
3. an unidentified (and possibly enemy) aircraft [syn: bogy, bogie]
4. Humphrey Bogart (portraying Rick Blaine) in Casablanca

1. Something you better not do to that joint, my friend (Dad, I have absolutely no idea what this expression means).

1. Naval: something somebody "carries out" in regard to something else (entirely too technical to explain in the time and space allotted here)

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