Fat Man; A Friend
Instead of relating a story or specific episode, I would simply like to do a memory flash back of an unforgettable friend. Most of the guys on this website will remember him. Most of you skedded with him. Anbd I can say without any reservation that most of you liked him. He was known as Panza, Fat Man, or simply Gary. To the best of my recolection he arrived on the ROC around late summer or early fall of 1970. I think that Dennis “Pennis” Bass, Dennis “Smoking Penis” Griffin, Ron “Ras” Rasmussen, and myself had just been transferred to Delta from Charlie section so that the basketball team could all be in the same section. My first impression of him was not favorable. He was loud, arrogant, and presumptuous. He acted as if had been on the ROC longer than anyone. Being a 1st Class, he didn’t even get the traditional “Get some time on the ROC” from Dennis Bass. Of course, it didn’t take long to realize that all these negative attributes didn’t apply to the “Fat Man”. He was simply being Gary. Delta section at this time (to the best of my fading memory) consisted of Penis, Smoke, Ras, myself, plus Gary “Seb” Sebranek, Denny “The Kid” Haley, Doug “Pete” Peterson, Doug King, Carl “Georgie” Wallace, Greg “Groucho” Ardire (this guy really looked like Groucho Marx, and he hated the nickname.) and “Wally” Wallace, 1st Class. I’m not sure if Ron Fulcher, 2nd Class, had arrived yet. This is the section that would, in the winter of 1970, comprise the cast of that famous, (or infamous) episode in Linkou Navy history, “The Great Sad Buddha Sacrilegious, Glad We Weren’t Arrested, Boat Race.” (That story follows this one, make sure you read it.) Like all sections, some guys skedded more than others and Delta was no exception, but Gary skedded with anyone and everyone. I’ve seen mean skedders, destructive skedders, very active tap dancing skedders, cry-in-your-beer skedders, ball-sucking skedders (usually reserved for the USAF), but “Fat Man” was a happy skedder. His personality and appearance would have it no other way. People smiled when he walked by. Little kids would follow him. Club girls gleefuylly yelled his name when he entered a club. (They never yelled my name.) And they loved him. Jim Valkwitch says that he wished he had kept a journal. I agree, Jim. The next best thing is of course, pictrures. And although I didn’t save money, buy stereo gear, of ship home Oriental furniture, I did buy a $20 Olympus half-frame camera (at the urging of Larry Johnson and Steve Carpenter). And I proceeded to take many slides. The images that I have very recently relived have brought a great deal of joy to me. With this Ihave also discovered that a great deal of the images captured were images of Gary Hughes. It was easy to take pictures of him because it was as if he were always posing. He loved life, and it showed, and he was an easy target. So f you see pictures from me on the website, be prepared t view the “Fat Man”. Coming off a mid watch, the routine was to get a room at the King’s Hotel and make the King’s Club our base of operations. Of course the King’s Club was home. We would run the bars, periodically checking in at the King’s until we couldn’t go anymore. Then sleep for a few hours and start again. I loved skedding off a mid. I ran the clubs with “Fat Man” from Fall of 1970 until he left TAD to Vietnam with Ron Anderson, Jim Valkwitch,Chuck Fredrick, Rodger Olson, and others. I saw him off at the airport that day and told him that I would see him later. He said that I wouldn’t and he was right. So here’s to you, Gary, I raise my beer in a Linkou salute to you remembering all the great times we had. And if by chance you should discover this website, I’m sure that there are some choice stories that you could share with us all.
Tink and Fat Man