The Eruption Of Mount Pinatubo

A post card I never sent, but Rob did get to read eventually…

It was 1991 and I was going on my very first WESPAC in the Navy onboard the USS Arkansas (CGN-41). We were heading into our first foreign port in the Philippines and it was a very nice June day. We dropped off the XO at an ammo pier as we then headed further into the Subic Bay base, where we would pull in for liberty. During that short trip something ODD happened…. It looked like a HUGE cloud was coming up over the horizon. Then it became VERY evident it was a HUGE MUSHROOM CLOUD!!!!!! YIKES! One would think the ship would have put out an announcement or something, or that people would be alarmed… NOTHING… for over an hour, as the cloud rose and then spread out to turn noon to midnight. The ONLY light was the vast sheet lightning which came when the sky got black… It’s easy to see why some thought it was Armageddon….  When they did react after that hour, it was to turn us around, pick up our XO and beat tail at max revs… But, then we went right back after that and it turned out that there was not much damage from that dramatic eruption, and so we were allowed to go on liberty. I was told by the married guys that when you went to a bar, where a girl(s) would HOUND you to ‘escort’ them, that you actually do so, but not for sex at all, but to ask them their favorite place they could go and take them their on my dime. That way I get to see what is actually nice, and I get to give a girl a good evening on the town without being used. Good for all. I even met the Mamasan, I was so nice. Well, that first night I did get a room and woke up to having my nails manicured. She was a beauty school student I was told… Then it was back to duty, and I got to see the very last USN ship leave that was not us… A submarine,which I remember we commented on and have a pic of it leaving.  Got a second day out, and had a simillar time…Save for one BIG thing… SHE SEDUCED ME!  She would not take no for an answer at all, and I can say that I had my first and only heterosexual experience that night… It was nice, and it was a unique time too… Then IT happened… THE BIG ONE…. And a typhoon was hitting right at that same exact time, making the ash more like rough concrete falling from the sky. The ship took on so much weight that I do recall being told we were near exceeding our capsizing weight. Only the work of some very tough guys up on the main deck saved us, with them using firehoses to wash as much off as fast as they could. They also were largely shirtless, with their tees as bandanas…  One could not have a more perfect image in their mind…. he he The ‘pirates’ of the Arkansas, actually saving the day!  We were the very last ship to leave, as were were the only communication and power that Subic Bay had. Then we started to do our run of evacuations. We did two as I recall, and there were SO MANY sad stories… People had DIED from this! And I was being told how husbands, wives, and children were lost… SO SAD… We formed a GREAT bond with the evacuees and they took bundles of mail with them, as they knew the USN’s post office for the Pacific was just destroyed… We did end up losing our special radar, which could only be repaired by digging up the prototype for parts. This was just one part of an epic journey I had that year… More to come, I am sure!