The Navy shower

Traditionally, a Navy shower is one where you briefly run the water; lather up with the water turned off; and quickly run the water again to rinse. The idea is to save that rare commodity at sea, fresh water. But Dad discovered another variation on his cruise home aboard an aircraft carrier.

Even through the aircraft that gave the carrier its purpose were gone, the fire suppression system designed to deal with their attendant fuel and ammunition was still very much in service. And some clever crewman, possibly steaming at his ship's demotion from proud warrior to ferryboat, knew just what to do with it.

A carrier's hanger deck fire suppression system is designed to extinguish burning kamikazes, flaming gasoline, and exploding munitions. A tenement crowded with the U.S. Army was child's play. Within seconds the deck was flooded and its inhabitants half-drowned.

The carrier's captain was furious. He didn't care if the war was over, they were going home, and some of the men were starting to turn into civilians ahead of schedule. The good name and hospitality of his ship and the entire Navy had been besmirched by some wise-ass. On pain of hideous punishment, every crewman was ordered to dig out every stitch of clean, dry clothing in his possession and hand it over to a drenched and dripping Army guest.

The captain's solicitude to his Army guests continued when he reached California. Congestion at San Francisco's docks was forcing ships to cool their heels for days off the Golden Gate, waiting for their turn to berth and unload. So the captain - whose time in the Navy was also coming to a close - threw caution and his orders overboard and took his carrier down to San Diego for immediate unloading. Decades later Dad still cheered him for it.

The USS Independence, first and namesake of a class of light carriers. Three of these were on Magic Carpet duty between Okinawa and the west coast at the time of Dad's return.