We had arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines, according to one source, early Easter Morning. The Aircraft were flown off the LPH-5 Princeton and landed at the Cubi Point Naval Air Station in Subic Bay. There was a lot of electrical problems on the UH-34s as well as they needed a good washing down in preparation for the up coming missions off the Princeton.
The spot on the Airfield to be our working area and ramp was about 250 to 300 yards directly across from the airfield's tower. There were several Quonset huts available for our use. One of which had every playboy center fold ever printed to that date pasted to the walls doors and ceilings. Our stay was to be only 2 days and a lot had to be accomplished on the aircraft.
Liberty and church call was sounded and those not directly involved in cleaning or working on the aircraft were allowed go. At around 1700 that afternoon Gunnery Sergeant Robert Shane from the line shack said to secure as there had been quite bit accomplished for the day. He also said that the Squadron Officers had funded a beer bust for the flight line crews and that it would be held at the end of the runway on the beach. Well you know how it is, free beer is free beer.
About half the crews made it to the beach and sure enough there was beer in all the coolers. Captain Coleman and other Squadron Officers were cooking the hot dogs and hamburgers and there was mess hall salads and spreads. It doesn't take a genius to figure that the party was on.
At 2000 the base Shore Patrol came and informed those that were left that the party had to secure as the special service area was closed from 2030 till 0800. Being good Marines we groused and mumbled and began to leave. Towards the outer perimeter there was a cooler and Sgt. Howard Garcia, Sgt. Roy Brush, Sgt. George Dodds and I, Sgt. Bill Peck, proceeded there to see if there was any more beer left. You know one more for the road so to speak.
Well when we got there the cooler was filled with ice and there were cans of beer showing we turned to tell the rest of the troops but they had made it out of sight. We began digging out the beer and soon became apparent that there was more than a few. So we decided to gather as much as we could carry and take it back to the flight line. We gathered up some of the flats that the beer had been in when brought into the party site. In no time at all we had between 100 to 140 cans of beer. We figured we could each carry two flats each back to the area. There still was some beer left when we finished loading the flats, which makes for a sad tail.
We had a fair distance to travel considering the full length of the runway and runoff area plus the distance back to the temporary flight line. As we left the picnic area darkness had fallen.
Every thing was going well as we made it down the road next to the runway shortly we came upon the tower were we could look directly across at our flight line. Now one does not need a lesson in mathematics to under stand the shortest distance between two points is a direct line. I didn't say the safest I said shortest.
We all decided after a brief discussion that we could hurry across the runway directly in front of the tower and we wouldn't get caught. I know common sense dictates the safest way would have been the better way. Well no one has ever accused me of being common and having sense at the same time. Besides Marines adapt and over come.
Using our best stealth methods taught to us in boot training we slid along side the tower then eased out to the edge of the runway. As Sgt. Roy Brush describes the dash as a Jeep-ne jump similar to the ones we did on Liberty in Olongapo (A separate tail altogether). We started trotting across the runway we had reached half way when three things happened simultaneously: the flats had absorbed all the water from the beer cans and suddenly decide to become limp; the beer began coming out of the failing flats and falling to the ground; and there was a jet on final with its bright landing light on full bore. We knew we didn't have time to pick up the beer we half crouched and ran for the opposite side of the runway. We made it just as the Intruder went behind use and it popped one of the beer cans.
We quickly ran another 10 or 15 yards and laid down in the grass. Well the jet was no sooner out towards the end of the runway when an airport security truck came out on the runway. The truck stopped at the midway point directly in front of us and a First Class sailor got out of the truck and started picking up the evidence for our court marital. At least that's what we were thinking. The sailor picked up 10 or 12 cans plus the busted one and placed them in the truck. During this period we were being bitten severely by every ugly type of bug the Philippines has. When he got to the edge he was looking right at us. An old combat rule if you can see them they can see you. He picked up another 5 or 6 beers and placed them next to the grass edging the runway shook his head and went back to the truck and drove off. To this day I know he saw us.
We took our shirts off and filled them with the cans ran back and got the beer along the grass line and boogied back to the flight line. Beer and tall tales were told that evening. Let the good times roll.
William V. M. Peck, MSgt. USMC (Ret)
MSgt. William V. M. Peck's History Index
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