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.”