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Sailors, Guam,Bonfires and studebakers

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  • Sailors, Guam,Bonfires and studebakers

    Those of you who were on the line crew in Vap-61 prior to mid 1964 will remember the wood dividers in the barracks. Not quite individual rooms, but better than most of the rest of the Navy. Well, after a shift change in the front office (new CO and XO) the new XO decided that we all had to be the same and ordered the dividers torn out. No amount of protesting would change his mind. Well, they didn't just tear them out, they took it apart carefully. We all figured that the wood was going to someone's pet project somewhere. The wood was stacked behind the barracks. That weekend we decided (with the help of a few beers) that if we couldn't have the wood no one could, so we planned a beach party, loaded up the wood (can't remember what we loaded it on), bought an ample amount of spirits and headed to the southern part of Guam to a beach. At that time I had a old 50/51 Studebaker I bought from a Vapper that was leaving as I arrived. We built a bonfire out of the barracks wood. As the party progressed and I became a little less coherent I decided to take a short nap on the sand ( or passed out..take your choice ). Some time later I woke up and felt something tugging on my feet. There was Frank Belz (he always seems to be in the picture) tying a rope around my feet. Looking farther down the rope I saw the other end of the rope tied to the back bumper of my car. I hollered at Frank and said "what the hell are you doing". He said I was missing the party and wanted to wake me up. I've often wondered how it would have played out if I hadn't woke up. Now I bet you think that's the end of the story.....nope!

    I got up and grabbed another beer and was walking around. I walked by the front of my car and noticed the normal bullet nose of my Studebaker was almost flat and dented, and the roof had a slight dent in it. I grabbed Frank and said "what happened to my car". He said they thought they were going to run out of fire wood and he, Lenny Mormance and Jim Wilhelm used my car to ram dead palm trees and knock them down, then they threw the tree trunk on top of the car to carry it back to the fire. Looking back it was funny, however I haven't been able to take an afternoon nap in 40 years.

    (Contributed by: Larry Harrison, AMH3, 1964-1965, VAP-61, Plane Captain, now of Gresham, OR)
    (posted on: 8/19/04)

  • #2
    Great story!
    (even if painful in memory)
    HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

    Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)


    • #3
      Echo Jeff- great story!
      Reminds me of when I was stationed in Hawaii and bought a good running '51 Champion 4-door from a sailor being transferred. The price was $35. Before I used it as a donor car for my '50 Champion I drove it around Kaena Point (Oahu) on the old railroad right of way (it was STRONGLY recommended that cars not be taken on this route). The Studebaker had good ground clearance and made it just fine, but I saw numerous signs of cars that didn't make it (engine oil spills and transmission spills from ruptured pans). I took the engine, electric wipers and windshield to swap to the '50 (not knowing how different they were). There was a salvage yard at the bottom of the hill from where I lived (about a mile). It was all downhill from my house and there were no stop signs or lights so I coasted the car to the yard and sold the remains. Hindsight being what it is, I should have swapped the wheels/brakes too, but didn't know any better then. Besides, that would have made it hard to coast the car down to the salvage yard.

      Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia
      '53 Commander Starliner (since 1966)
      '64 Daytona Wagonaire (original owner)
      '64 Daytona Convertible (2006)
      Museum R-4 engine
      1962 Gravely Model L (Studebaker-Packard serial plate)
      1972 Gravely Model 430 (Studebaker name plate, Studebaker Onan engine)
      Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
      '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine