One item not mentioned by the esteemed plankowner fugitive was the fact that USS Rentz was one of the support vessels in the movie The Hunt for Red October. The SH-60B helicopter you see flying around is from one of my old commands, and several members of the Rentz and the helicopter detachment were paid to shave their heads and dress in Russian uniforms ("Look, the Captain scared the American submarine out of the water!"). The torpedo dropped was an orange one, by the by, and that signifies a dummy training torp.

I had the chance to do a small bit of traveling on the USS Rentz. There are several things I recall, such as having some of the best damn blueberry and apple/banana pancakes most mornings. The food was actually well done, and I can see why they won some awards, which is difficult for a small ship to win.

I remember playing Uno in the #2 hangar, and when I got the call that my wife had a miscarriage.

The endless drills, the flight quarters all manned by sleepy yet brave red shirts, and the secret urn of coffee bring back a smile. I also remember being woken up by chest pains, and getting medivac'd off of the boat by my own helicopter with a pulse of 220.

If you ever get the chance to take a tour on a "small boy", you should see how cramped and claustrophobic the quarters are. It's amazing that folks can live in a coffin-sized bed for six months at a time, dealing with rough seas and surly, sweaty men and women. At the very least, it'll probably get you to buy the next servicemember in uniform you meet a beer.

Addendum to fugitive's addendum: I have to admit, there has always been friction between the airdales and the "shoes", as we were fond of calling the regular surface fleet. Each played tricks on the other, and each was always a convenient scapegoat for the other.

"Hey, did you get the floor waxed outside of the radioroom?"
"Nah, those stupid airdales were hanging out arguing with the radiomen about getting some codes again."

I don't ever recall a fistfight ever breaking out, but shouting matches were common. It's true that most airdales considered themselves above the shoes, but as fugitive said, we were all integral parts of a team. We may always gripe at each other, but heaven help the Army regular who picked a fight with one of the crew in a bar - airdale or shoe, we would band together and repel the Army guy so we could all get back to bitching about each other.

Some of the tricks we played on each other were sorta funny, and reading fugitive's story about the "scary ride" really makes me recall the jokes we pulled on the shoes.

We would bring empty Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets on board, and when the ship had chicken, we'd fill up the buckets and tell the crew we didn't like boat chicken, so we flew off and got our own. Imagine saying this in the Persian Gulf, surrounded by miles of ocean and hostile Middle Eastern countries. Some would figure it out, while most would bitch that we didn't get them any :)

We'd always save our junk mail. After three weeks without mail, the airdales would break out the junk mail and start reading it in a public space. We'd tell the crew we got tired of waiting, so we flew off and got our own mail.

They'd play jokes on us, of course. It was one way of dealing with being away from our loved ones for half a year at a time. The one time we were the most popular bunch of guys was when it was time to get the mail or replenish the ciggies and cokes. If we were out to sea for over 90 days, we'd bring back the beer. We'd always host the rare flight deck barbecues, and sometimes I made pizza for the ship, as I used to make pizzas and toss them for a living.