While a young Ensign aboard my first ship, the USS STETHEM (DDG 63), I had the good fortune to be on the voyage from the Arabian Gulf back to the US by way of Australia. Now, the Land Down Under is like the Holy Grail for American Sailors, who are all firmly convinced that the Aussie ladies hunger for Yanks (especially Yanks from Texas). We pulled into Perth and proceeded to see if the rumors were true. I loved everything about Australia, but my favorite place was little bar/dance club called the Bog down in the heart of Perth’s nightclub district.On my second night there, half the Wardroom was in attendance, along with a good portion of the engineers and the Bosun’s Mates. Surprisingly, there were plenty of local girls also present, and they did indeed seem to have a thing for young, drunk American Sailors. I was chatting up one particularly fetching lass, no doubt impressing her with my ability to remain standing given the amount I had to drink. We moved past the verbal communication stage and went out to the dance floor, but silly me, I carried my drink with me. The dance floor was crowded and inevitably someone bumped me and I spilled my drink on myself and the young lady. And on one other person, unbeknownst to me. A large, angry Aussie who was getting tired of all the dang Americans.I excused myself with as much grace as I could muster and went to the head. What I missed with my nimble exit was the Angry Aussie lunging for me. Luckily for me, the STETHEM deck division, burly Bosun’s Mates all, did not miss it and they grabbed the Angry Aussie and put him down hard. This offended other, angrier Aussies, and things devolved after that. Clearheaded me, I missed the whole thing. I returned from the head, dry and oblivious, to find the bar half emptied and most of the sailors gone. I stayed, tried to find my Aussie girl in vain, and hooked up with some more STETHEM officers who were only just arriving.The next morning, nursing a very respectable hangover, I went to quarters to find all of Deck Division assembled with my Enginemen. They related what had happened while my back was turned, and introduced me to my saviors. I profusely thanked them, apologized for getting them into a fight and kicked out of the bar. They told me not to worry about it, they would pay me back later (they did, but that is another story). As luck would have it, after we got back underway, the very next training topic for the officers was on Iranian gunboats, one of which is called the BOGHAMMER. It was too apt for the XO to let it go, and from that point on, the STETHEM knew me first and foremost as the BOGHAMMER!- by Tom Mays (Reprinted here with his permission.)
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