Another 5 Star Review for “The Third Tour!”

Reviewed By:

Ray Simmons

Review Rating:

5 Stars

Reviewed By Ray Simmons for Readers’ Favorite

The Third Tour is an action/adventure novel by Bob Stockton. This in the third novel in a series called Stories from the U.S. Navy. Though I did not read the first two books, I plan to go back and read them. The Third Tour is great, so understandably I want to know the rest of the story. The protagonist, Zack Martin, is a fascinating character. I served in the Army, but I’m guessing there are complicated guys like Zack in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. I am always interested in tales of modern day military service, no matter which branch. As an Army man, I am most interested in guys from our friendly competitors in the Navy. Before I read The Third Tour, my go-to guy for reading stories about the Navy was the late, great Tom Clancy. Since he won’t be writing any more books, I will be looking for Bob Stockton books.

I loved the depiction of military life and how it changes a person. This is spot on. The Third Tour starts with Zack Martin having terrible combat related dreams. You would think that he might want to get away from combat and the military. You might think he would want to find a good woman and focus on wife and family. You would be wrong. Bob Stockton is the real deal, and in his writing you can see how the military becomes the central focus for anyone who stays in over that first tour. The characters are real. I have served with them. They are me and my buddies. The action is beautifully and realistically written without that “over the top” quality that ruins a lot of books by guys who haven’t been there. A great novel all the way round.


5 Stars for “The Third Tour!”

Reviewed By:

Jack Magnus

Review Rating:

5 Stars

Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

The Third Tour is a military fiction collection written by Bob Stockton. Stockton was in the Navy for twenty years and served on “destroyers, submarines, gunboats and aviation reconnaissance squadrons.” He retired after twenty years of service with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. The Third Tour is the third book in his series of novels featuring Zack Martin, a young enlisted man, but it can be enjoyed on its own. Zack, and the other Navy personnel the reader gets to know in this story, are all fictional characters; however, they are representative of the many soldiers, sailors and marines who served their country during the Vietnam War. After being injured aboard the USS Stroud, Martin was home with his girlfriend, Camille Moore, but he repeatedly relived the horrors of that attack in his dreams. Campbell, who had been on duty with him, had been mortally injured and he kept seeing the man as he begged for Martin’s help; that scene had become the focus of horrific nightmares. Camille wanted Martin to go back to the doctor at the Balboa Naval hospital, but Martin felt that any sign of distress would result in his being discharged. Martin had already put in nine years in the Navy and wasn’t about to jeopardize his Naval career over a few bad dreams. He began to feel as though Camille was trying to mold him into someone he was not, someone who would go off to college with her and then settle down to raise a family. Martin returned to the USS Ralph James and waited to hear what his next tour of duty would entail.

Bob Stockton’s military fiction series of interconnected short stories, The Third Tour, is a gripping and suspenseful look at the efforts made by Navy personnel during the Vietnam War. As I began reading, I became increasingly involved in Martin’s life and that of the other servicemen in the story. Stockton makes each aspect of this tale vividly come to life. You can hear the sounds of helicopters as they arrive with reinforcing fire and sense the tension and hidden dangers they were exposed to in the country parts of the story. There are some unforgettable moments in this story, especially when Martin and Gunny acknowledge the fear they all feel and how to cope with it. Stockton weaves a psychological element throughout these tales as Martin and other servicemen seem to increasingly feel that there is no life for them outside of the military and grow increasingly alienated from American culture as well as their families and friends. Stockton’s writing style is perfectly suited for military fiction, and his characters are authentic and memorable. As I read The Third Tour, I was reminded yet again of the tremendous acts of duty, service and self-sacrifice performed by our veterans; reading of their acts of heroism is an enriching, if humbling, experience. The Third Tour is most highly recommended.

Olongapo Liberty, 1967

7-2. Olongapo City



© 2015, Bob Stockton. All rights reserved.

Excerpted from “Stories from the U.S. Navy: II. Friendly Fire,” by Bob Stockton


Chief Harper was the first to speak. He addressed the senior shore patrolman, a first class petty officer by the name of Williamson.

“First day on the new job and I get this. What have you got here, Willie?”

Williamson pointed to one of the two Marines.

“Couple of young Marines here, Chief. They got into a fight with the manager at the Utopia Club over a girl who they say robbed this one here and they busted up some furniture, the manager and the girl.

“City police were the first to show up and the Marine snuffys got into a scrape with them as well.

“Cops finally got ’em handcuffed and hauled ’em off to the local slammer. We picked ’em up this morning on the morning jail sweep.”

Harper took a bite of his sandwich and nodded.

“Okay so far, but what are the two city cops and the civilian doing with you?”

The civilian filipino began to speak loudly in his native Tagalog. One of the city policemen slapped the man on the side of his head, indicating that the man should shut up.

Williamson continued his account of the previious evening’s altercation.

“The civilian is the manager of the Utopia Club. He’s claiming monetary damages for the busted up furniture and for medical treatment for himself and the girl.”

Harper remained silent for a minute or so, swiveling from side to side in his desk chair.

“Medical treatment? Looks to me that he has a black eye and nothing more. And he wants money for a doctor?”

Williamson nodded.

“That’s right, Chief.”

Chief Harper next questioned the Marines.

“Which of you two snuffys is the senior Marine?”

One man nodded his head, indicating that he was senior.

“I am, Chief. Lance Corporal Crank, Chief,”

“Well now, Lance Corporal Crank it appears to me that this 140 pound bar manager has gotten the better of the two of you. He don’t look near as banged up as the two of you.

“He do all that damage to the two of you, did he?”

Lance Corporal Crank gave a sideways gesture with his head to indicate that it was the police that had worked the two over once they were in custody.

“I see. And the two of you were scrapping with the cops when they arrived at the Utropia?”

Lance Corporal Crank nodded.

“Well then you two got what you deserved there.

“How much money did this one girl take and how did it happen that she was able to relieve you of it?”

The second Marine answered.

“Ninety-five dollars U.S., Chief. The money was in my wallet.”

“Ninety-five dollars. Just how was she able to get your wallet without you knowing about it?”

The second Marine cleared his throat.

“Hum-hum. Well, you see Chief, she was kind of giving me a massage under the table and this other girl distracted me. When I leaned over to kiss the other one she got my wallet and took the money.”

Chief Harper shook his head and laughed.

“Man, that must have been some massage you had going there, What happened after that?”

Lance Corporal Crank replied.

“We were pretty drunk, Chief, and we decided to go back to our outfit. We were almost to the main gate when my buddy checked his wallet and saw that he’d been robbed.”

Chief Harper nodded and turned to the second Marine.

“You would be Lance Corporal Crank’s ‘buddy’ I take it. What is your name?”

The second Marine nodded.

“Private First Class Brown, Chief.”

“Alright Brown, you checked your wallet and discovered the missing money. Then what?”

“Well Chief I told my buddy here that I thought I felt something at the back of my pants while the first girl ws giving me a hand…er…
massage and that I thought that the second girl took my money from my wallet then.”

Harper shook his head.

“You thought that you felt something? Why didn’t you do something then?”

The young Marine blushed.

“Well, um, Chief it was kind of bad time to stop what was going on, you know, and anyway I wasn’t really sure.”

Harper had heard enough.

“Alright. Martin, take these two Marines, uncuff ’em and put ’em in the holding cell in the back. We’ll get ’em back to the staging camp later today.”

As the two Marines left for the holding cell the filipino civilian began waving his arms and speaking loudly in Tagalog to the two policemen.

Harper banged his fist sharply on his desk.


Harper addressed the filipino civilian.

“You are the manager of the Utopia Club?”

The filipino nodded.

“How much money do you want for damages?”

The club manager thought for a moment.

“Three hundred dollars U.S. My club is ruined, I am hurt and my girl cannot work as she has a broken nose.”

Harper nodded.

“Alright, I will submit the paperwork to reimburse you. It will take a month or two to get this approved and there is the allegation of robbery that has to be investigated which will, if thoroughly investigated and documented, will take a month or more.

“In the meantime I am placing the Utopia Club “Off Limits” to all military personnel. No military man or woman will be allowed to patronize the Utopia club while the investigation proceeds. I will have one of my shore patrolmen placed at the entrance to enforce this.”

The club manager began to protest.

“You cannot do dis. My club will be out of business. I will lose my job. Oh, Lord, Oh Lord, please Chief do not do dis. Oh Lord, oh Lord.”

Harper nodded and motioned for the man to be silent.

“Well there is a way we can resolve this without shutting down your club.”

The filipino manager had been checkmated.

“What ‘way’ is dat?”

“You drop all charges and claims against the Navy and pay the police for their assistance and I will allow your club to remain open.”

The manager nodded.

“What about de investigation?”

Harper replied.

“The investigation into the robbery goes away….for now. Any further accusations of your people rolling my sailors and Marines and we shut you down for good.


The club manager shrugged.

“I hab no choice but to agree.”

“Good. Now clear the hell out of here so I can finish my sandwich.”

The Olongapo policemen and the club manager exited shore patrol headquarters and headed toward the main gate.

Martin had heard the tail end of the negotiation between Chief Harper and the club manager and had a comment.

“Chief, you really handled that situation well. That manager could have caused a lot of trouble. I had no idea that you had the authority to put the Utopia Club off limits to military personnel.”

Chief Harper grinned.

“I don’t.”

Excerpted from “Stories from the U.S. Navy: II. Friendly Fire.”

Bob Stockton. © 2015. All rights reserved.

The Lost Art of Cumshaw

“It was probably British Navy personnel who first picked up cumshaw in Chinese ports, during the First Opium War of 1839. Cumshaw is from a word that means “grateful thanks” in the dialect of Xiamen, a port in southeast China. Apparently, sailors heard it from the beggars who hung around the ports, and mistook it as the word for a handout. Since then, U.S. sailors have given cumshaw its own unique application, for something obtained through unofficial means (whether deviously or simply ingeniously). Outside of naval circles, meanings of cumshaw range from a harmless gratuity or gift to bending the rules a little to outright bribery.”


“Tyke” Zeimet and Martin were replenishing the CIC coffee mess from the ship’s storeroom when Ensign Watkins approached.

“Make sure your division has enough coffee and sugar for the run to Guam, and if you need anything else, come directly to me. I’ll see that your men get it,” Watkins told them.

Zeimet gave the young supply officer an odd look. Ensign Watkins and Chief Hubert Sabia, the chief storekeeper for the Stroud, usually parted with divisional coffee mess supplies as if they had paid for the supplies out of their own pockets.

“Mr. Watkins, what’s going on? We catch you in a generous mood?”

“Well, no. … I mean yes. … I mean…well, there is something that maybe you can help with. That is, of course, if you’d be willing. Would you be willing to help, Tyke?”

“I don’t know. What are you and the chief up to that you need help from my people?”

The ensign was clearly uncomfortable with the situation and began to stammer. “Well…you see, Tyke. … Well, that is…I…I mean we…well, I mean to say the ship—”

Chief Sabia interrupted the young ensign. “Let me handle this one, Mr. Watkins. I’m sure you have other things to do, and you probably don’t want to hear what’s coming next.”

Watkins, obviously relieved, nodded in agreement. “Yes, Chief. Now that you mention it, there is something else that requires my attention. Thank you for reminding me.” Watkins turned and scurried off down the passageway.

Zeimet turned to Chief Sabia and said, “Okay, Chief. What you got up your sleeve?”

Sabia nodded. “Skipper’s all over my ensign’s butt about the drums for the repel-boarders party. We’ve managed to requisition about a dozen filled sandbags, but we can’t seem to find any empty oil drums.”

“The repel what?”

Sabia smiled and shook his head in disbelief. “You heard right. Skipper’s going to take on the whole North Vietnamese navy, all six of ’em, and we need about half a dozen empty fifty-five-gallon drums for target practice. We know that you have a reputation as a world-class scrounger and cumshaw artist, and we’d like you to see what you can come up with.”

“Huey, I’d be happy to, except for the fact that I’m on restriction and can’t leave the ship.”

Sabia nodded. “Done deal. Watkins spoke to the XO, and XO says you can leave the ship to scout for the oil drums but you have to leave wearing your dungaree working uniform.”

Tyke paused before responding, as if he were pondering the pros and cons of the request. “Well, Chief, I don’t know about this. If we get caught, I could lose a stripe.”

Chief Sabia sensed that Tyke was working him. “Well, Tyke, what would it take?”

There was another long pause from Tyke.

“Tell you what. Throw in extra midrats for my watch standers and we’ve got a deal.”

“Extra midrats? I can probably square that with Chief Gay in the galley, but only if you come up with the empty drums.”

Tyke nodded. “Deal. And I’ll need the stake truck you checked out from Base Transportation.”

“You got a Navy driver license?”

“Oh. No. How about you, Marty?”

“Yep. Got it while I was at AirLant.”

“Chief, you’re on. Where are the keys to the stake truck on the pier?”

“On the quarterdeck. OOD has ’em.”

“We’re on our way.”

“Happy hunting, men.”


Martin and Tyke headed toward the quarterdeck, which was located on the fantail.

“Marty, I may have bitten off more than I can chew, seeing as I’ve never been in Pearl Harbor before. You got any idea where we’re gonna find half a dozen empty fifty-five-gallon oil drums?”

“Maybe. First place to look is the salvage yard over by the repair facility. Might be something over there.”

The two radarmen arrived at the quarterdeck and approached Signalman 2c Wocjiehowicz, the petty officer of the watch.

“Hey, Eye Chart, you got the keys to the ship’s stake truck? We’re on official business here.”

The signalman didn’t look up from his watch log. “You got a nickname for everybody on the ship, don’t you, Tyke? Someday, somebody’ll call you on it.”

“Yeah, well, Wojo, it’s all in fun. Makes the day go by faster. You just have to lighten up some.”

“Uh-huh. Here’s the keys to the truck, Tyke. Beat it.”

Martin and Zeimet left the ship and headed toward the ship repair facility in the truck. Arriving at the salvage yard, they drove through the gate and began looking for some oil drums. It was not long before the two men came across a cache of some twenty-odd empty fifty-five-gallon drums, exactly the type they had been looking for.

“Jackpot. Park this sucker and we’ll load up.”

“Tyke, aren’t you going to go inside and ask someone about them?”

“Son, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get forgiveness than permission. Start loading.”

Zeimet and Martin had loaded several drums onto the truck when they heard a growl behind them. “Hey! Just what the hell do you two think you’re doing there?”

The voice they heard belonged to a chief warrant officer who looked like he had fifty years of active and arduous sea duty under his belt. Martin thought that he could well have been a leftover from the Japanese attack in ’41.

“I said, what the hell do you two think you’re doing with those oil drums?”

Zeimet touched Martin’s sleeve, indicating that he’d do the talking.

“Sir, we’re from the Isle Royale machine shop. My chief told me to take these six drums and put them over here in salvage.”

“Oh, he did, did he? What’s your chief’s name over there?”

“Chief Machinist’s Mate Toler, sir.”

“Well, here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna load those other three drums back up in the truck and take ’em back to the Isle Royale, and If I catch any more of you clowns dumping your junk over here, your chief is in for a hell of a rough ride. I’m tired of you tender clowns using my yard as a dumping ground. Now get them three back on your truck and get the hell out of here before I get pissed off!”

Zeimet saluted. “Yes, sir. Do you want to stay while we do?”

“Go on, get ’em up and get ’em out before I write you up.”

Zeimet and Martin loaded three more drums onto the truck and departed for the Stroud.

        “Mission accomplished.”

“I thought he had us dead to rights. How in the world did you think of that?”

“No hill for a high stepper. Now you know why they come to me when they need something from the back channel.”

Excerpted from Stories From The U.S. Navy:II. Friendly Fire”

“Take it Out”


“Adams, can you see our target?”

The early morning sunlight found the USS Stroud anchored 800 yards from the beach in a small cove south of the Bo De river.

“Affirmative, Mister Swangler, looks like your everyday Vietnamese village, couple of one story block buildings and some hooches with thatched roofs. There is a fire or two going in the center of the village and I can see women, children and a few old men walking to and from the fire. Don’t see any VC, though. Looks like all the men have booked up and left.”

“Take it out.”

Adams Wasn’t quite sure what Lt(jg) Swangler meant by his last communication from CIC.

“Sir, all I see there are women, children and a few old men. There are no combatants in the ville that I can see.”

“Adams, just sight the target and take it out. If you won’t do it, I’ll get someone up there that will.”

Adams acknowleged the order, placed the forward three-inch gun mount in automatic and fired one high explosive shell short of target. The shell hit the beachfront about 50 yards in front of the ville, sending the inhabitants running for cover in the jungle behind the village.

It was only a matter of seconds before Adams heard the voice of Captain Armbruster in the earphones of his sound powered phone set.

“Adams, what the hell happened with that round? You are short of the target.”

“Forgot to reset the range, Captain. I have it locked in now. Want me to send in some more high explosive rounds on the target?”

“Adams….you sent that round in short on purpose, didn’t you?”

“Captain, if we were supposed to take out the ville we can do that now, no sweat. Now we don’t have to worry about civilian casualties.”

Adams’s sound powered phones remained silent for a few moments, then the Captain replied to the young fire controlman’s last response.

“Alright, son. What’s done is done. Now I want you to fire six rounds of white phosphorous shells set on air burst at 60 feet. That will start plenty of fires, then follow with six rounds of high explosive to spread the fires around.

“You think that you can find the target this time?”

Adams smiled.

Yes sir, Captain. I’ll take this target to the ground!:”

The earsplitting sound of the gun mount firing the white phosphorous shells fuzed to explode directly over the village was deafening. Fires were beginning throughout the ville. The six rounds of high explosive shells that followed the incendiaries scattered the flames and reduced the block structures to rubble. Within minutes the entire ‘ville was ablaze, totally destroyed.

In CIC, Tyke Zeimet sent the target status to the spotter.

Bowser Two-One this is Crystal River. Target is destroyed.

  “Two-One, copy. Good morning’s work, Crystal River.

  “Roger Two-One, got anything more you need?

 Negative for now Crystal River. Let’s keep in touch even if it’s only a postcard.

Excerpted from “Stories from the U.S. Navy: II. Friendly Fire.”


The Stud Muffin Ensign

cropped-shang38.jpg© 2014, Bob Stockton

Ensign Gold was a real piece of work. Barely twenty-three with a bachelor’s degree and a few years of NROTC courses at some liberal northeastern college, Ensign Scott Gold, USNR, came aboard knowing everything that needed to be known about the United States Navy in general and aircraft carrier operations in particular—at least that’s what he thought. Gold was a legend in his own mind who had lost the loyalty of the men assigned to the surface module early on when he chewed out the division chief, Chief Radarman Roscoe Quarterman in front of the entire OI Division during an in-port training meeting. Chief Quarterman, to his credit, said nothing at the time. After the training meeting was finished Martin observed the chief going up one side of the young ensign and down the other.

It was a classic old school ass chewing!

“Ensign Gold, lets you and me get somethin’ straight right here and now. Number one, you don’t ever speak to me like that in front of my men. Number two, you don’t know shit about extended forward carrier operations. What you got out of a book in some pissant college don’t cut it out here, and you’ll be well advised to keep your mouth shut and learn from me and my petty officers just what the hell goes on in this division. You got that?”

“See here, Chief, I….”

“See here my ass, Mister Gold. I been riding carriers for seventeen years, and seven of those years I been an OI division chief. I’ve washed more salt water out of my goddam socks than you’ve ever sailed over. I would advise you to watch and learn, and if you’ve got any criticism, do it privately with me one-on-one.”

“We’ll see about this insubordinate talk, Chief. I’ll be taking this up with Commander Klinger.”

“Take it up with the chief of naval operations for all I care, but in the meantime here’s another lesson for you to absorb: if you have any complaint about me, you follow chain of command. If you don’t you’ll get your ass handed to you. If you have a complaint about any of my men that chain starts with me. Don’t you ever go over my head.”

Chief Quarterman didn’t wait for a reply. He just turned and walked away and left the shiny new ensign stuttering and sputtering to himself.

Excerpted From “Stories from the U.S. Navy: I. A Suicide in the Mediterranean.”

About Bob Stockton

Stories from the US Navy I A Suicide in the Mediterranean by Bob Stockton

About Bob Stockton:

Bob Stockton was born in Trenton, New Jersey. Leaving school in his junior year Bob began a twenty year Navy career in 1957. During the course of that twenty year carreer Bob has sailed the seven seas while serving in surface vessels (destroyers), diesel electric submarines, auxiliary vessels, aircraft carriers, reconnaissance attack squadrons and patrol gunboats in Vietnam.

Following Navy retirement as a Chief Petty Officer, Bob has earned undergraduate and graduate degrees and has worked as a shipyard welder’s helper, university adjunct graduate instructor, epidemiologist, pharmaceutical trainer small business owner and radio host.

Bob currently receives full Veterans Administration disability compensation from exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam. He resides in Jacksonville, Florida in close proximity to his three children, three grandchildren and a large but amiable American Bulldog named Bowser.

Book Summary

Stories from the US Navy I A Suicide in the Mediterranean by Bob Stockton

Book Summary:

Radarman Second Class Zack Martin opened the watertight door and stepped out onto the gun sponson for a quick smoke. The clear moonlit early morning sky had yet to display the first intrusion from daylight and a brisk breeze from the big aircraft carrier’s sixteen knot speed embraced his tired body as he tried to let his thoughts drift away from the controlled chaos that usually began long before the eastbound transit of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Martin was not a happy sailor. On watch for the previous seven hours he now reflected upon the stroke of fate that found him, a veteran Western Pacific destroyer sailor transiting the Gibraltar Strait on a damned bird farm.

Martin was on the horns of a dilemma: his primary goal was to find a way to somehow get back to destroyer duty in the Pacific without sinking his Navy career. The aviation Navy was a closed community. Surface sailors stood little chance to transfer back to the “blackshoe” fleet.

It wasn’t very long before Martin was afforded that opportunity but had he known the circumstances he would have gladly chosen to remain right where he was.

A Note or Two From the Author

Stories from the US Navy I A Suicide in the Mediterranean by Bob Stockton

A Note or Two From the Author:

Stories From the US Navy: I. A Suicide in the Mediterranean,
while a work of fiction, is based on some of my experiences
from a twenty-year Navy career. This novella is the first of
a series of three expected to be published by the end of

After nearly forty years of post-Navy civilian life I do
confess to a bit of uncertainty surrounding the more operational
procedures described in “Stories.” Those inaccuracies
belong solely to the author.

Special thanks go to Paul Mosley of the University of
North Florida, for his expertise in recovering files from an
eleven-year-old desktop that unceremoniously decided to
go to its reward while writing this novella, and to Command
Master Chief Pat Stroud who suggested that I go
“back to the Navy” for my next book.

Bob Stockton, May 2014

Book Review #5

Stories from the US Navy I A Suicide in the Mediterranean by Bob Stockton

Book Review #5:

Another great book from Stockton. Gave you the feeling you were right there in CIC, dealing with all the typical problems you would encounter on a warship. Looking forward to the next one.
Claudia Stroud