Phil Carrico

Hula girl

On arrival in Hawaii I was the butt of a joke – later (looking at the picture above) now who’s laughing?
I got the Hula girl.

   It was an absolutely beautiful day – the warm water was bluer than blue, soft winds were tantalizing the palms along the beach and Diamond Head was smiling “Aloha” in the background. This was my first trip to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands since I had joined Uncle Sam’s Navy.
   The year was 1948, I had been assigned to Naval Underwater Demolition Team 3 – we had finished our initial training and now were on our first cruise for additional training in the waters off Hawaii.
   Our ship was anchored off the north shore of the big island, it was a Saturday morning and most guys were in class A’s waiting for the liberty boat to go ashore. Others of us, who were not going ashore, were relaxing on the fantail watching little gold fish swimming around below us.
   Suddenly one guy boasted, “Bet I could catch one of those little fish with my bare hands”.  Everyone laughed but the guy persisted. Finally someone made him a bet – he stripped off his cloths to his skivvies and jumped over the side.
   Immediately everyone rushed to the lifeline to watch the action. Of course the guy could not get close to the fish. He started shouting, “I need some help, someone come in and run ‘em by me”. Three other guys including me, stripped and went in.
   By this time the lifeline was full of guys shouting and laughing – the Hawaiian fishermen going out to sea by us must have thought we were all crazy. We were trying to herd the fish by the guy and try as we did it was not working.
   I had enough and started swimming to the ladder to go back aboard. As I approached it someone on deck shouted at me, “There’s one”. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this golden thing in the water and grabbed it. I raised my hand out of the water and squeezed. My “Fish” squirted between my fingers into my face and against the ship. The guys lining the rail now were not only hooting and howling, many were rolling on the deck laughing so hard they could not stand. Of course the ship had just flushed the head – so it’s not hard to figure out what I had grabbed….
   Fifty years later thinking I had finally lived the incident down – I met an old buddy who had served with me. After all those years the very first thing he said when we met was, “Yeah, I remember when you caught that goldfish off Hawaii” and he was still laughing his ass off – to my chagrin…

Perhaps it’s true, for old guys looking back on their Service time – it’s little incidents like this that made ‘em laugh that guys remember best.

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