Guarding the Flightdeck.


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In January of 1987 my artillery battery, attached to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, left on Med Float. Landing Force 6th Fleet was spread out over a 5 ship flotilla. We were on board USS Nashville, LPD-13. Part of our duty on the ship was to act as guards and reaction force. I was a Lance Corporal and was one of the first assigned to guard/reaction force duty. Three days out, the Sergeant of the guard decided to start assigning us to guard posts. I was given the Flight Deck. Now the original plan was for us to pull guard duty while in port. Somewhere along the line, someone decided to post us immediately, while still in the middle of the ocean.

First night. The sergeant took me though the mess deck and out onto the flight deck. I was in full combat gear: flak jacket, rifle, 782 gear. helmet, etc. Of course, warships operate under lights out conditions, so it was pitch black on the flight deck. I was then given orders to walk my post, and the sergeant went back inside. Now, as I cannot swim (and yes I have heard all the comments and jokes about a Marine who can't swim) and I had no intention of trying to walk a dark flight deck with no idea where the ship ended and the ocean began, I stayed by the hatch the entire 4 hour shift.

Next day. Next shift I was on, it was daylight. I was standing in the middle of the flight deck, sling arms, full combat gear again. All around me, Marines were running PT on deck (figure 8's). I was looks aft, out over the stern when a voice behind me asked: "Excuse me, Marine, but what exactly are you doing?"

Not bothering to look behind me to see who it was, and already feeling stupid being there, I answered without knowing who I was talking to.

"Guarding the M****r F***K**g flight deck!". To which he asked, "Why?".
My reply: "F**k if I know. But I'll tell you what, anyone manages to steal this flight deck is welcome to it. I'll even help them carry it away!" Apparently this satisfied his curiousity because he left. I didn't think anything more about it. Until...

About 20 minutes later, the sergeant of the guard came running out. Coming up to me, he looked extremely upset. "What in H**l did you say to the Task Force Commander? He just chewed out the Battery Commander because we have you and the others posted on guard duty. Get below, secure your weapon, and put your gear away. Guard duty is suspended unti we get to Spain." So, I did what he said, smiling to myself.

Never pulled guard duty out on the open ocean again after that.