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While stationed on Bora Bora, there was not too much to do, especially being three miles from the main Navy Camp. We got the bright idea of comparing the native hooch with the 120 proof alcohol that we used for cleaning electronic equipment. We poured a teaspoon of each onto the cement floor and touched a match to both – we got a nice blue flame from each - potent hooch.
Then we got the bright idea of swapping some native hooch for fountain syrup that we obtained from visiting ships. We would add syrup to the native hooch, cut it 50-50 with water and dispense it in soda bottles. We would sell this to visiting sailors. We got some customers but they thought it was sissy stuff, but after a couple of bottles and then the hot sun, we would find them passed out. Our Communication Officer soon put a stop to this enterprise.
Shortly after my arrival on Bora Bora, many of the men began to be transferred toward the front, as the threat to the Canal Zone had diminished.
Several times I ride a bos’n chair to the top of a 40 foot steel mast. If an antenna line breaks, one has to string a lanyard through the pulley at the top of the mast. The other end of the lanyard is fastened to the antenna wire and now the antenna wire can be pulled tight. The Lanyard can also be used to lower and raise the antenna for maintenance.
Another instance, Jarbeau and I had gone to the diesel shed to shut one diesel powered generator down and start the other. The two 100 KW diesel generators provided power to operate the transmitters and our domestic needs. Anyway, Jarbeau and I had been discussing how the diesels would react if a full power load was thrown on the diesel as it was coming up to speed.
Jarbeau stayed in the transmitter building and when he heard me start the diesels he waited about 30 second and threw a full load on the circuit. The diesel grunted and banged and banged. Our 2nd Class Petty Officer Giles came running out shouting what in the blazes is going on. Of course by this time the load had been removed and the diesel was running normal. Giles thought the diesels was going to blow up and go right through the roof. We never did that again.
Another instance, we had trouble keeping the airplane beacon transmitter on-line. We tore it apart to check on the problem. We checked again and again and re-checked to no avail. Finally, the Division Electronics Officer stopped in on his return from a night of libation and said, let me at it. He squatted down behind the transmitter and started probing around. All of a sudden there was a bang and he flew backward against the wall and collapsed. We picked him up and took him to one of the bunks and treated him for shock. After a few minutes he came around and was quite woozy. After a bit he sat up and said if I hadn’t had a snoot full that would have killed me. He then told us to change an oil filled high capacity condenser. After that, there was no problem with that transmitter.
By mid-1945 the island military population had decreased to about 1,000. Then in September the remaining Sea Bee’s moved out and now we’re are down to about 600 personnel. In late November 1945 a buddy in personnel called me and advised that orders had come in and that I was to return to the state by the first available transportation.