In August 1960, at 17 years old, I joined the us navy and went to boot camp in san diego, california. It was summer so we were still in our whites. We washed our daily uniform, hat, skivvies and t shirt on cement tables with scrub brushes and buckets after our daily exercises, studies and duties. We hung them on the line in a area by our barracks. So there were 75 sets of whites hanging on the line at all times. We posted "clothes line" watches to guard them day and night. We carried old wooden rifles "pieces" and walked around the clothes lines, which was about a 40 foot long area. There was a 15 foot space between our line and the one across from us and about 20 feet in between our line and the one next to ours. Everything was concrete. there were 15 or so barracks in a line with the same amount across from us. The officer of the day (od) would ride his bicycle down the middle of the clothes lines to make his rounds. In doing this he would pass through the 15 clothes line watches. You could hear his bicycle bell ringing as he came down the path and hear the "halt, who goes there." As a clothes line guard, you had to challenge everyone who came down that path: "halt. Who goes there." If they didn't stop and identify themselves, you had to stop them. Well, everyone would always stop and yell out their name and rank or their name and serial number. Early one morning, about 0300, i had the watch and could hear the bell ringing as it was coming down the path. I could hear the challenges, but it looked like the bicycle wasn't stopping. He kept on coming, ringing his bell. I saw him on the bike and after he passed the last clothes line guard, I shouted, "halt who goes there." He kept coming, ringing his bell. He wasn't going to slow down and stop. I took my piece and shoved it in the front spokes of his bicycle causing the bike to stop immediately. He went over his handle bars and skidded along the pavement scraping up his arms, hands and knees. As a 17 year old kid, i thought my life was over. The next day, my punishment was half squatting and holding my piece out in front of me for 1 hour. The punishment was not for injuring the ensign od, but for "giving up my piece while on watch". My barracks chief co laughed until we graduated and had a great story to tell his next company.
Maj. Michael Feltes, Waveland, Miss.