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It wasn't our finest moment. But Tom Blair, writing Navy gossip for the San Diego Union nailed it. It does read like something out of the "Mr. Roberts" script.

It started out well enough, a simple going away gift for a couple of nukes being transferred at the end of their tour. Lots of shipmates chipped in to give their shipmates something to remember them by, and boy, did we.

I can't recall (or won't say) who was on the gift committee in charge of decision making, but it turned out that money raised was significant enough to cause the gift selection cabal to move from the more traditional cigarette lighter and round of drinks or other such memorabilia to something a little more consequential, as it would turn out.

Amongst the several serious logical errors committed in the name of friendly camaraderie that night was the decision to bring the going-away presents on board their last duty day. I guess you could say it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Everybody seemed to get a kick out of it, and either conspired in the deed or looked the other way, and therein lay the error of our ways.

The night passed without incident, but when the event was brought into the harsh light of day several weeks later by a casual slip of the tongue at a ship's picnic, it lost a lot of its luster very quickly. Before the Naval Investigative Service got through with their interviews, seven (or was it ten) crew-members including officers and chiefs would find themselves explaining things on the wrong side of a green felt tablecloth.

The consequences were beyond our imagination - lost jobs, lost ranks, and lost pay, and our reputation took a beating. (though the rest of the squadron clearly looked at us with newfound respect!)

Years later, I don't think anyone can really explain it. That's why they called us sailors. After all, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

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