Summary of Mishaps 95-27

This hit my inbox in July 1995 after a long chain of forwards within the .mil (U.S. military) domain, until it was forwarded to me by a U.S. Air Force captain. It's from the 27th week of the year 1995, and I've marked it a "true story" since I'm absolutely certain that it is. It's one of a weekly summary of "mishaps" in the U.S. Navy, circulated among the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I have knocked it down from ALL UPPER CASE and expanded some of the abbreviations to make it more readable, but otherwise it's verbatim as circulated 13 years ago this week. Some of the "mishaps" are indeed quite serious, but....

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R 211200Z JUL 95
UNCLAS //N05100//


1. Following is a summary of selected mishaps.

A. A LCpl (Lance Corporal) was driving an empty forklift when it turned over in a combat loading area. He was pinned under the machine and lost his right leg below the knee.

B. An FC3 (Fire Controlman Third Class) was snorkeling at the bottom of a waterfall in Hawaii. His friends saw him dive under but he never come up. A search team found his fins floating 40 feet downstream.

C. The IT3 (Instrumentman Third Class) hadn't had a drink in more than three months when he joined a post-cruise celebration with some of his shipmates, drank two beers in ninety minutes, got his Blood Alcohol Level up to 0.22, passed out, and, like a loblolly pine, fell stiff and unflinching, face first onto the concrete sidewalk. Cha-ching! Kinda curious indeed, until you realize those "two beers" were 40 oz each. Even an English major like me can figure that's nearly three quarters of a gallon in just an hour and a half and, if you're not used to it, that's a bunch of beer.

D. While you seldom think of car keys as dangerous - unless they're being poked by a drunk into an ignition switch - these next two reports may change your mind. After swimming in the ocean, an EN1 (Engineman First Class) sat down on a beach near a campfire. He heard someone call his name from behind, turned and saw that same someone was throwing his keys toward him. He got up to catch the keys, back-pedaled, stumbled, and landed butt-first in the fire. Luckily, his momentum carried him out of the flames and into the sand. But, when he ran to the water to wash off, he realized he'd burned his legs rather badly. He got back to his ship, where they took one look at him and sent him to a naval hospital where he will have to undergo skin grafts because of second- and third- degree burns.

E. In the other key-throwing incident this week, an ET2 (Electronics Technician Second Class) was hit in the eye when a shipmate threw his car keys to him. Doctors are operating to repair his ruptured eyeball and cut cornea, but fear he may need further surgery.

F. An ET3 (Electronics Technician Third Class) walked - make that - hobbled away with third place in our weekly rocket scientist contest with his unusual trick of falling off the second story balcony railing he was using as an exercise bar and crashing onto the concrete driveway twelve feet below. He landed on his heels and broke both of them. He has been hospitalized for a month, and doctors are worried he may be permanently disabled.

G. Second place in this week's hotly contested race for RSOTW (Rocket Scientist of the Week) honors goes to the MMFN (Fireman, Machinists Mate Striker) who pulled up a deck grate prior to installing a blank flange on a valve but didn't bother to rope off the area, post a watch, or hang signs to warn anyone of the danger. When the phone rang in the space, he stopped what he was doing, answered it, talked for a while, hung up, turned, and stepped into the very same unguarded hole he had left in the deck - falling, as it were, into his own trap. His shipmates heard him screaming, ran to his rescue, and found he had landed (it even hurts to write this) astride an i-beam and was experiencing what the report described as "intense pain". No duh. Doctors, who spent a week treating him for a spine-compression fracture, among other injuries, report, sadly, that a slot in the tenor section of the ship's chorus is the best he can ever hope for - baritone is totally out of the question.

H. And now, a drum roll. The curtains on our great stage part, and we hear Kenny Ball and the 'frisco jazz band playing "Midnight in Moscow" softly in the background as our Rocket Scientist of the Week Award (with coconut cluster) is laid gently on a red satin pillow and ceremoniously presented to the LCdr (Lt. Commander) who, whilst strolling through Gorky Park in the dead of night, contrived, somehow, to mace himself in the crotch. Trust me, I am not making this up. As I get the story, this guy fumbles with, then unwittingly fires off, a "chemical self-defense weapon" in his pants pocket. Unknowing, therefore undaunted, he strolls on. Later, he vaguely begins to perceive something of a moist sensation in his skivvies but "did not ... associate it with the spray." I know, I know ... the next question is so obvious even I won't ask it. Still later, as he is beginning to experience something akin to the heebie-jeebies, he goes back to his hotel, is shocked to discover this stuff has still not evaporated, showers vigorously and hits the rack only to spend a restless night contending with what the commercials call "that itching, burning sensation". Morning brings with it the realization that, even in Moscow, a groin full of blisters is a most unusual occurrence and enough wattage begins to seep into the dim bulb that had been floating above his head all night, that he finally got the brilliant idea to seek professional help from the docs at the embassy. Quick! Somebody give Tom Clancy a call and tell him I've got this absolutely marvelous idea for his next book.

2. Y'all be careful out there, take good care of one another, and we'll see you next week.

3. Rear Admiral F.M. Dirren, Jr. sends.//

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Now remember, that's one week worth of "mishaps" -- during peacetime! Adm. Dirren retired from the Navy in 2001 after 37 years of service. Our loss.

Posted July 21, 2008

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