Funny thing happened on the way to Seattle… (My mom is so cool!)


In the summer of 1985 I was stationed on the USS Kinkaid (DD-965) and we pulled into Seattle for a scheduled port visit.  As I mentioned before I grew up on Bainbridge Island, and my folks were still living there.  Before our visit to Seattle we were told we could have family and friends join us for the 2-3 hour transit from Port Angeles to Seattle.  The year before I had the opportunity to bring my father and brother on a “Tiger Cruise” from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, but my mom, being a “girl” wasn’t allowed to join us for that one.  (Co-ed combatant ships wouldn’t be the norm for another 10 years or so…).  Mom had heard all of my stories, as well as the stories from the Tiger Cruise, so she was very anxious to see what I was doing for a living.

 Mom boarded Kinkaid in Port Angeles, and since I was one of the few sailors with guests, my shipmates covered my duties and I was able to give her a pretty good tour of the ship.  She toured the engine rooms, the berthing areas, got to see the workings of the gun mounts and missile launchers.  But it was her visit to the pilot house that she really surprised me.  I have told this story before and described it as a scene I thought would be interesting to film…

 LT. Randy Hicks was a southern boy, grown up and by all accounts a good Navy Officer.  He had, if memory serves me, attended Vanderbilt University.  He was pretty typical of a lot of the southern guys I had met in the Navy, a little loud and boisterous; almost, but not quite obnoxious.  LT Hicks “had the deck”, which in Navy parlance means he was in charge of driving the ship. 

 After mom and I had toured the Combat Information Center, (CIC, or radar room), I took her to the pilot house.  On a Spruance class DD there is a ladder (stairs) from CIC directly to the pilot house that opens up right behind the ship’s helm and lee helm (wheel and throttle).  When we got to the bridge there were many thing going on so we stayed back, not to interfere.  We were heading south in the Puget Sound traffic lanes, about even with Kingston on the starboard and Edmonds on our port side.  LT Hicks was obviously frustrated by the ferries crossing perpendicular to our track, and as his frustration mounted he blurted out something about “those fucking ferries…” right as he turned around only a few feet away from my mother. 

 Now as I said earlier, LT Hicks was a little loud and boisterous, but he had also been raised a gentleman, and he was visibly embarrassed having used such coarse language in front of a lady.  He quickly stammered out an apology.  My mom, without missing a beat, shot back with the line I’ll never forget…”That’s alright, I raised three fucking sons”.  LT Hicks’ draw dropped, and for the first time, maybe in his life, he was speechless.  He simply said “Yes Ma’am” and executed the sharpest “about-face”, one to make even the guards at the “Tomb of the Unknowns” proud, and went back to getting the ship safely into port in Seattle.  My mom is so cool!


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