Stories from Veteran Jim O'Hara


Humor & Other Stories heard on the SLC, 1942-1943

From the pictures of the SLC on the InterNet during repairs at Pearl Harbor, the dock that it is tied up to appears to be the 10-10 Dock. Across the wide expanse of the dock was a high fence surround the officers club. During the Christmas Holidays in the evenings, a small crowd would gather to listen to the music. Some sailors would even dance if a good jitterbug number would be played. The music could transport us home.


During one of our stays in port up in the Aleutians (probably Dutch Harbor), a small British ship had a sailor that had to do some time in the brig. Not having a brig, they sent him over to the SLC.

It seems that on Sundays, he could have visitors. A couple of his mates came aboard to see how he was being treated. Remember, this was wartime in England and austerity was in full force. Very hard times. In describing his treatment by the "Yanks" asked his mates to guess what he had to drink for breakfast. After the usual coffee and tea, they gave up. The prisoner smiled and said "COCOA". They were stunned and one of his mates replied.. "COCOA...Why the blooming King don't get cocoa". The Marine on watch spread the story around. It really stuck. We'd always mimic the cockney accent with "Cocoa, why the blooming king don't get cocoa".

I brought this story home and to this day it's a good joke in our family.

Shortly after I reported aboard I was assigned to mess cooking detail. The Mess Hall MAA was a BM2c and I was his chief mess cook. I'm sorry that I can not remember his name, but I'm sure somebody reading this will know who I mean.

He was a very pleasant, good looking guy. Being his head mess cook, we had the reason to have a lot of conversations. He was telling me how he happened to be assigned to the SLC.

He was badly wounded Dec. 7th and given initial first aid on Ford Island. His clothes had been cut away and somebody found a flight suit (Officers) to put on him and shipped him off to the hospital. The hospital of course thought he was an officer and treated him as such. As he was recovering he honestly did not know who he was, but it finally occurred to him who he really was. It was not until he was assigned to the SLC (as a pilot) that the truth came out. When questioned as to why he was impersonating an officer, he simply replied.... "I liked the treatment". He was sent below and that was the end of the matter. Perhaps the person in question will hear about this and fill in the facts.



During Jim's time on the SLC the "Geedunk" stand was run by ball-red-02 Deceased Johnny Ancel and ball-red-02 Deceased Lionel "Bugs" Bergstrom. There were classified as "Ship Service Men". No advancement in rate, but extra pay and lots of perks. One of the best jobs aboard ship. No Watches...etc. It was also very good to be their friend not so good to be on their well known "list". I was their friend because being the head mess cook, I could do extra favors for them. Lots of coffee, extra cornbread...etc.

People on their "list" could be MAA's being to picky about the housekeeping of the geedunk stand at inspections. And other.

They manufactured and sold all the ice cream that was consumed aboard ship. They were very good with the strawberry ice cream. Batch #1 was made according to standard recipe. This was for general consumption. Batch #2 for friends.... lots of extra strawberries... very delicious. Batch #3 for those on the "list"... hardly any strawberries. Lots of complaints, but what could be done?

They were a couple of very funny guys. Lots of laughs. They were also very free spirited and would get a lecture from time to time from the ship service officer. Yes Sir! I would not happen again.

When the SLC was at Mare Island for repairs, they decided to go to Reno when had a 72 hour pass. This was a no-no. Outside the 50 mile limit from the ship. Apparently they got very lucky and won quite a bit of money. As a result, they were also set up... drugged and rolled. The police found them and took them to a hospital at a local Army base. The ship was notified and because of being off limits, they were technically under arrest. Two escorts had to bring them back to the ship. The escorts were in stitches from the stories told them by the Army Nurses.

The stories ranged all the way from "why would two Army patients want to be transferred into the Navy and be assigned to the SLC"...down to wondering if they would ever get their hospital ward back to normal.

During this same period of time, Ancel & I went home on leave. We agreed to stay at his house in Joliet, IL. the night before we had to leave for the end of our leave. The train was to leave Joliet at 4 p.m. the next afternoon. The farewell party for Johnny started at about noon time. We missed the train. I seem to remember that two girls cried all afternoon and begged him not to leave. We were logged aboard the SLC as AOL. A very serious offense. No disciplinary action was taken. I'm sure this was because Captain Rodgers was more interested in morale of his crew than in Navy regulations.

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