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
During my 15 glorious months on the ROC, I ventured out of Taipei three times. These were, of course, section sheds. And as I look back, the single question arises in my mind. Why?
Why leave the familiar surroundings and girls of Taipei? The consensus among Delta section was always the same. What are we doing here? Wish I were back at the King’s Club checking out Lisa’s legs . (I loved Lisa’s legs, among other parts of her body.)
This was basically the opinion of the majority of Delta section as we arrived in Tai Chung in December of 1970. Early in the day we had visited the happy Buddha. And for a very brief time we became embroiled in the fascinating, multifaceted culture of our host country. Of course, a little culture goes a long way, so by the time we reached the site of the sad Buddha, we had absorbed enough culture. It was time to do what we do best: make complete fools of ourselves.
I’m not sure how it started, but I’m sure it had to do with a well-placed “dare” coupled with ingredients such as a sacred pool, paddle boats, and Delta section. Out of this came a challenge, and thus, the stage was set for the start of “The Great Sacrilegious Sad Buddha, Glad We Weren’t Arrested, Boat Race.” The teams consisted of Fat Man & Doug King, Ron Rasmussen & Georgie Wallace, Dennis Bass & Gary Sebranek, and Ron Fulcher & Dennis “Smoke” Griffin. It took only seconds to go over the rules as of course, there weren’t any.
The tourists that came that day to view a religious shrine went home with stories that they would later tell their grandchildren. Future generations to visit the religious site would be told stories about a great race that took place one December afternoon in 1970. Facts, of course would become distorted. Deeds would undoubtedly become heroic. Legends would be created.
Surely, a statue or plaque would be erected commemorating the great event. The Sad Buddha himself would probably become a secondary attraction.
How do we separate truth from myth? We can draw our own conclusions about that fateful day from the following pictures. So gentlemen, start your engines.
(Left to right) Georgie Wallace, Ron Rasmussen, Ron Fulcher,and Dennis
Griffin – Ras and Georgie take an early lead.
(Teams from near to far) Seb and Penis, Smoking Penis and Fulcher, Ras
and Georgie, and Fatman and Dougie King.
Ras and Georgie continue to hold the lead.
The captain (Fatman) gives instrucions to his crew (Dougie)
(L to R) Ras, Georgie, Fatman, Dougie, Smoke and Ron Fulcher.
L to R) Smoke, Fulcher, Dougie, Fatman – Smoke and Ron seem to be
having trouble with their boat.
Ras jockeying for position. (Notice the many spectators.)
Fatman trying to sabotage Ras and George’s boat.
An almost fatal accident as George struggles to stay upright. (helping
are Fulcher and Smoke who have retired from the race)
Ras returning the favor to Doug and Fatman’s boat.
Fatman still trying to capsize Ras and George’s vessel.
Ras trying to ready his boat to finish the race.
(L to R) Dennis Bass, Ron Fulcher, Smoking Penis, and Georgie getting
ready to reenter the race.
Fatman looking for his boat.
Dennis Bass being tossed by Ras and others.
Dennis Bass resurfacing.
The winners!!! Georgie and Ras
(l to r) Dennis Bass, Fatman, Georgie Wallace, Ron Rasmussen –
Winners being congratulated by two other racers.