Standing Alone

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Maritime Training Station

Feb. 1943

Basic training was over. Our section breathed a collective sigh of relief. Kitchen patrol, training under a burning Florida Sun, and restricted liberty would soon be unpleasant memories. We were now qualified to begin specialized training in one of three major departments, deck, engine or cooks and bakers.

When I signed up, I was given the opportunity to select a specialty. Having had some experience as a machinist helper working in the engine room on naval ships, the engineering department was a logical choice. However, much like the Army, if you requested the engine department you would very likely be assigned to the deck department. ( when I made my request I wasn’t aware that the causality rate for the engine room crew was 400% higher than the Marine Corps.)

No one, absolutely no one, in our section wanted to be a cook or baker. These people were subject to constant verbal abuse and criticism for their alleged lack of culinary skills, particularly after several weeks at sea when tempers were short and meals were the most anticipated event of the day.

Three of the major hotels in St. Petersburg had been commandeered by the Government for use by the Maritime Service to train personnel. The Soreno Hotel was the training base for cooks and bakers, so it was a very surprised and disheartened group of aspiring engineers who found themselves seated in the Soreno Auditorium listening to the Base Commander deliver his welcoming speech.

At the conclusion of his speech, the Commander said, "We want a happy ship here, if there is anyone who has a valid reason why he doesn't want to be a cook and baker, stand and be recognized.” I didn't hesitate to stand as I fully expected I would have a lot of company. That wasn't the case. I
immediately sensed I was the only person in the entire auditorium standing! There was a deadly silence for several seconds, shattered by the Commander pointing to me and brusquely asking, "what's your name sailor?" "Bailey, Sir." "Well Bailey, I suggest that you remove yourself to the hallway and I'll meet with you later.

During the hour I waited for the Commander, there was ample time for me to reflect on my impetuous response. My thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of the Commander as he came striding down the hall. He was an entirely different person. I couldn't believe it! He was smiling broadly and appeared eager to begin our talk.

He started by saying, "Bailey I've given that same speech several times and you are the first man I've had stand, just what in blazes do you want to do?" I told him I wanted to be transferred to the Engine Department and he surprised me by saying, "You've got it."

I thanked the Commander for granting my request, packed my Sea Bag, and embarked on what proved to be a very eventful period in my life.
Hi,

I've made just a few small changes. Please read carefully.

It's quite an interesting story.

Best wishes, Clive

Standing Alone

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Maritime Training Station

Feb. 1943



Basic training was over. Our section breathed a collective sigh of relief. Kitchen patrol, training under a burning Florida sun, and restricted liberty would soon be unpleasant memories. We were now qualified to begin specialized training in one of three major departments, deck, engine or cooks and bakers.

When I signed up, I was given the opportunity to select a specialty. Having had some experience as a machinist helper working in the engine room on naval ships, the engineering department was a logical choice. However, much like the Army, if you requested the engine department you would very likely be assigned to the deck department. ( When I made my request I wasn’t aware that the casualty rate for the engine room crew was 400% higher than the Marine Corps.)

No one, absolutely no one, in our section wanted to be a cook or baker. These people were subject to constant verbal abuse and criticism for their alleged lack of culinary skills, particularly after several weeks at sea when tempers were short and meals were the most anticipated event of the day.

Three of the major hotels in St. Petersburg had been commandeered by the Government for use by the Maritime Service to train personnel. The Soreno Hotel was the training base for cooks and bakers, so it was a very surprised and disheartened group of aspiring engineers who found themselves seated in the Soreno Auditorium listening to the Base Commander deliver his welcoming speech.

At the conclusion of his speech, the Commander said, "We want a happy ship here. If there is anyone who has a valid reason why he doesn't want to be a cook and baker, stand and be recognized.” I didn't hesitate to stand as I fully expected I would have a lot of company. That wasn't the case. I
immediately sensed I was the only person in the entire auditorium standing! There was a deadly silence for several seconds, shattered by the Commander pointing to me and brusquely asking, "What's your name sailor?" "Bailey, Sir." "Well Bailey, I suggest that you remove yourself to the hallway and I'll meet with you later."


During the hour I waited for the Commander, there was ample time for me to reflect on my impetuous response. My thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of the Commander as he came striding down the hall. He was an entirely different person. I couldn't believe it! He was smiling broadly and appeared eager to begin our talk.

He started by saying, "Bailey I've given that same speech several times and you are the first man I've had stand, just what in blazes do you want to do?" I told him I wanted to be transferred to the Engine Department and he surprised me by saying, "You've got it."

I thanked the Commander for granting my request, packed my sea bag, and embarked on what proved to be a very eventful period in my life.
Many thanks for your suggestions , clive.
This is a true story and it proved to be a meaningful experence for me .
Best regards,
Charles