GULF in the WAR STORY

Order GULF in the WAR STORY at Amazon

TV INTERVIEW: Graham on Navy Hazing as seen on Inside Edition

Graham appears as one of three hazing victims, and provided 80% of the video.

Graham’s original short video of USS RANGER and FIGHTER SQUADRON ONE

Graham did all but the airborne camera work, all editing, and wrote the music.

Chapter 1: Tactical Assessment

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USS RANGER steams out of San Diego Harbor for the Persian Gulf

2300 10 JUL 90. 

We’re cutting donuts through the froth of July, preparing to cross the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans into the North Arabian Sea to spin our egg-shaped wake and dump our egg shells overboard, and wait for the signal to commence hostilities against Iraq. 

blue-jacket
Basic manual for new American sailors

Welcome to the forward galley.

Grab a slice of pizza, on the house. All that action you hear on the flightdeck is the “Air Wing Tactical Assessment.” This is our next to last exercise off the coast of southern California, as the Navy assesses the battle readiness of CV-61, also known as the DANGER RANGER.

The United States Navy consists of commissioned officers, whose contracts require them to agree to return to active duty at any time in their lives, should they be called back; and of airman or seaman—some of whom are called petty officers—whose contracts last eight years: four active, four reserve (subject to being called back).

I serve Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) aboard the Danger Ranger. You see, with all the men squadrons bring aboard, we can double or triple the total number. So each squadron assigns men to assist ship’s company. Otherwise we would deluge them with more needs than they could handle.

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Air Show day at Naval Air Station Miramar

At Naval Air Station Miramar I report to the Personnel department of Fighter Squadron One, also known as The World Famous Fighting Wolfpack.

For now, I got myself this relatively interesting assignment, to supervise the 24-hour fast-food operation near the front of the ship. We serve 6,000 meals a day. My shift runs Monday to Sunday inclusive, from oh-eight hundred (8:00 am) to twenty-hundred hours (8:00 pm).

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VF-1 Admin/Pers onboard USS RANGER in 1989

In “VF-1 Admin/Pers” (how one answers the phone at Wolfpack) I’d work oh-seven-hundred to 19-thirty Monday to Sunday.

I lie in my rack up in 39-Man, a coop about six feet under catapult one (we have four cats aboard Danger Ranger). I hear turboprops on the flightdeck, and clomping boots of the chock-and-chain gang preparing to park “birds” as flight operations wind down. Called Blue Shirts, these ship’s company men move the jets around the flightdeck or in the hangar bay.

I can hear shipmates sitting at a card table in our lounge, under a TV bolted to a bulkhead. They’re bitching about being unable to touch toilet seats because of the nastiness of this vessel carrying The World Famous Fighting Wolfpack.

More guys filter in across the dim red-lit coop to slide into racks like mine: triple-stacked, sheet-metal beds, each featuring a two-inch thick foam mattress. I have one of six stand-up lockers that hold, say, six hangers each. The lockers are stacked against a bulkhead between two sets of racks, all bolted together as a unit with a narrow aisle between. If you are smart and aggressive, when you first come aboard you will stash a chair there. Sheets are white. Curtains, blue. The walls are pale yellow from decades of cigarette smoke.

Smoke-stained bulkhead
USS RANGER began the Smoke Free Navy program in 1989

I’m better off on top because I can sit up in my rack. But there is a nasty girder about five inches above my head. I learned not to heave out and trice up too fast at the zero six hundred reveille call, because the rack-light mounted on it centers right between my eyes. If I don’t tuck my chin into my chest, I’ll hit my forehead against the rack-light’s knife-edge housing. You could think a guy would only do that once. But they are just like knee knockers (those raised, egg-shaped doorways cut in the ship’s frame with a thin iron lip at shin level): get complacent and you will get nailed. That’s a Navy rule to live by.

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A member of Wolfpack stows his gear aboard USS RANGER

I stow my boots atop my locker, near my head, against the bulkhead at this end of our aisle. This wall separates us from a coop of ship’s Radio technicians. They seldom wander over to our side, but sometimes some of us go over there: They have a bigger TV lounge. They even have couches.

As I stare from my pillow under my neon light, I enjoy the charged view of electrical cables bundled overhead feeding power to the entire forward area of the 03 level above the forecastle.

There are places to sleep which are worse than six feet under a catapult.

Try the 81-Man, a berthing coop situated beneath the arresting cables stretched across the aft end of the flightdeck. Incoming jets hang down their tail-hooks to slide across the deck trying to snag one of three thick iron wires.

barricadeIf it misses all three, the pilot flies around again. Last thing he does before landing is throttle up in case it turns out whoa, he’s taking off! As long as he doesn’t aim too low he can repeat the exercise until he snags his tail on a wire, or runs out of gas and diverts to a nearby land mass; or if we’re too far out, the Air Boss calls RIG THE BARRICADE.

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