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Five Months In Hell


By:Tim Mack


No one ever wanted to talk about this. No one ever wanted to dare know the sacrifice that so few made for so many. Its been about 25 years now since it happened, and I think at last, its time to talk about it.

There is no more Soviet Union today. But at the time the Iranians took the hostages, the US and the Soviet Union could have become easily embroiled in a world war if the US did to Iran what Iran deserved to have done to it.

Until that point, the US Navy had been a fair weather Navy. We never had deployed US warships in that region during the extremly hot summer months. The Iranians were well aware of this, but they didn't figure that one lone US warship would have the nerve to face down the entire Iranian military all by itself.

We did our part, but in my view deciding not to invade Iran was a blunder on Washington's part. Of course, I can see the concern they most likely had about a reaction from the former Soviet Union, but I would have taken that risk if I were President, and I'm sure they were postive that Ronald Reagan would not hesitate to invade when he took over for Jimmy Carter. In fact, shortly after Reagan took over the hostages were released.

Unlike Reagan, I would have still launched an invasion of Iran even with the hostages being freed. It would have been unpopular, but it would have been the right thing to do and we wouldn't have to worry about those maniacs getting nuclear weapons today.

When the Iranians first took the hostages, I had no idea what the media may have been reporting on TV. I was over there, sitting right off the coast of Iran through the whole thing. I doubt if the TV news talked about it, but five of my fellow shipmates became certified as insane during that time. Before I joined the Navy, I had worked on Wall Street, so most likely I had already been insane proof. In fact Jerry Seinfeld had been pouring me beer eight glasses at a time at the local Brew'N Burger. So, how much more insane could things be anyway?

The pressure was enormous, and those poor souls just couldn't handle it. The main culprit was sleep deprivation. After going months and months with so little sleep some people just snaped. Sleep deprivation coupled with a blazing heat that we never before experienced was a hardship that I hope no one ever has to endure.

As fate would have it, we just happened to have the most advanced weapon of the time. In case it still may be classified, lets just say we could have easily sent the Ayatollah, a not so friendly gretting. The chance of war with Iran was especialy hard for me to conceive.

It didn't hate the Iranians, in fact I liked them. I ran across many Iranians that were being trained by the US Navy when the Shaw was still in power. The ones that I knew were very friendly and they cherised American values. They were mild manered and very friendly. It disturbed me to think what happened to their country. Its just my opinion of course, but I think the Iranians that I knew will someday take their country back from the tryants that hate.

I don't really think that anyone really ever knew the real story of what went on behind the scenes when the hostages were taken. But I think that now America deserves to hear the true story from someone that was there at the time.

It was plain and simple. When the Iranians took the Americans hostage, there was no ready made plan for such a contingency. Virtually all our planning revolved around how to win a war with the former Soviet Union.

I can even recall the CNO coming aboard my US Navy ship back in the 70's and stating that it would take about 28 minutes to destroy the entire Soviet Navy if war were to occur.

Knowing that both countries had balastic missles, talk like that scared the hell out of me. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there would not be any world left to win if both countries launched all their missles.

With our entire focus on the former Soviet Union at the time, little military pip squeak countries like Iran were not even considered as far as being any kind of a threat to our national security. So, when the Iranians first took the hostages, we had no ready plan to react.

At the time the hostages were taken, our deployment was just about over. Everyone was exhausted and looking forward to going home. We had recently gone through three very bad Typhoons.

Even the last few ports we were in were not exactly fun ports. We had been to Deigo Garcia where the only two females on the entire island were the English Governors wife and their pet duck.

Before that we had pulled into Somalia against the advice of the CIA warning us how dangerous it was there. Because it was a Muslim country, no drinking was allowed and they were having a war with Ethiopia at the time.

But they had kicked the Russians out because the Russians, who had been giving weapons to both countries in the past sided with Ethiopia in the dispute.

I suppose we may have been interested in taking over the Russian Navy base there. Obviously other people also had reasons to be there. I didn't know it at the time, but at one point in Somalia, I and my shipmates were on a bus that was parked accross the street from where Bin Laden and his wife were standing with their camels.

Like I say, none of us knew who he was then, but the cold chill in his eyes and his wifes eyes sent chills up my spine even in the 130 degree heat.

The bus was there waiting several minutes for clearance to go to the Russian base, but I noted that neither Bin Laden nor his wife even so much as blinked the entire time. It were as if they were stone.

We didn't know what to expect in Somalia. The Russians had been there for a long time. We even went so far as to tell everyone that we would blow the ships horn for everyone to come back if anything went wrong.

The heat was unreal there. It was 130 degrees in the shade. The natives warned us not to swim in the water. They said that 19 of them had recently been devoured by sharks. But the water was our only escape from the heat.

The guys from the Midwest were really getting done in by the heat. Because there is no natural salt in any fruits or vegetables grown in the Midwest, they have almost no resistance to intense heat. After we left that fun port than Mother Nature played havoc with us.

Numerous under water earth quakes had been occuring resulting in pop up islands that were not on our charts. This caused some very complicated navigational problems. To make matters worse we were in waters that we weren't accustomed to being in.

Just when we thought we were going home, we had to rush out to the Persian Gulf. The Iranians had taken the hostages and we were the only game in town.

We were completly cut off from our supply lines. Soon after, we completly ran out of cigarattes. My shipmates were breaking into the life boats to retrive stale cigarattes that were placed there about three years before.

When we ran out of chemicals to run the evaporators to de-salinate the salt water into fresh, we had to take showers on the flight deck whenever we found a rain squal. Then, the toilet paper went along with the candy and chips.

The entire crew was under a tremendous strain. Shipmates were starting to do strange things that they wouldn't do under normal circumstances. The Captain became quite upset when he noticed one of my shipmates sun bathing stark naked outside his State Room.

People were tired and they started making mistakes. I wrote constant comedy scripts and long love letters to my favorite sweetheart to keep my mind occupied. Just as I was finishing page 68 of a love letter, I was the only one to notice that a shipmate had fallen overboard. Everyone else had fallen sound asleep.

As my shpmate was falling overboard I was just ending my love letter with the words I've always ended it with everything you do seduces me.

At the time, I got quite a kick out of writing long love letters. I had realized that the post office in that country had been making copies of everything I wrote and passing it all around the country.

I was subtle of course, but I was making comical statements and little hints about how much better that counrty would be without its dictator. Soon after my 100th letter, there was a revolution that deposed the dictator and restored democracy. Of course I can't take credit for the revolution, but I enjoy thinking that I may have given the revolution a little push with my love letters. Anyway, it kept me sane for all those months, but then again, I may have already been crazy to begin with.

Anway we got my ship mate back thanks to that long love letter. I was the only one awake that day because I was determined to finish writing that letter. That day I saved a shipmate and soon after my vigilance perhaps may have even saved planet earth.

When a Russian sub came to close we almost fired. If we had fired that may have set off a series of events that could have destroyed planet earth.

Before joining the Navy I had a job where everything had to be exactly percise. So when everyone else yelled that the Russian sub was over the line, I knew they were wrong.

Yes, the Russian sub was for sure playing chicken and cutting it very close, but I was sure that they were still within the allowed bounds.

At last the Russian sub turned away. But if I had listened to calls to fire, then I fear, there would be no more planet earth today. No one was happier to see the Cold War end than I. When you experience first hand just what sort of devastation can occur by an error in judgement, it makes you realize that no one should have weapons like this any where. Its just too dangerous.

Soon after the earth was saved we ran completly out of fuel, and while anchored, I experienced first hand how the oil industry is destroying the echo system.

There was a major oil spill. It was so sad to see the very proud Albertros's landing on the ship and asking for our help. Under normal circumstances an Albertros will never land on a ship and never make human contact. But humans caused the problem and only humans could remedy the problem as well.

It was heart breaking to see the proud birds all covered in oil. Oh, how I cursed our SUV's when I saw that sight of the poor oil soaked birds for weeks on end.

We did the best we could and cleaned off as many birds as we could, but they kept coming and coming. My only regret is that I didn't have a Cam Corder to document what happened.

We were stuck out there for five months until an entire Armada came to relief us. We were there alone for so long, but then the sea was black with US Warships.

The CNO came aboard and stated that we now had four times the fire power of the entire Pacific Fleet during the last World War sitting of the coast of Iran.

For sure, we weren't playing with these people, but our job was over and we just wanted to go home. We had payed a heavy price for safeguarding the hostages. Five shipmates had gone insane over that five months.

We had been at sea for so long that we got strange orders from Washington. They told us to all wear street clothes on board for three days just to get acclimated to a normal life again.

Then for the first time in history Jimmy Carter ordered that beer be airlifted to us so we could drink it on board. Unlike other Navies such as Canada and Australia, the US had never before allowed drinking on board.

So, this was a very unusual gesture for a US President to make. At last we hit a Port. We were the first War Ship ever to pull into a Club Med.

When I first walked on to the island I had to sit down for a minute to adjust my sea legs. I was so used to the rocking of the ship, I felt as if the island should be rocking.

While I sat there adjusting my sea legs back into land legs a beautiful woman walked over to my table and presented me with a vintage bottle of wine on behalf of her country.

I figured she most likely thought I was an Admiral or something, but she was very beautiful, so I played along. After we finished the bottle of vintage, wine she asked, "would you like to join me in a Mid Night swim on the beach?"

I answered," I didn't bring a bathing suite."

She smiled, looking at me as if I were an exquisite chocolate and said. "Neither did I."

She then took my hand in hers and said," the Moon is beautiful tonight."

I said, "If I'm dreaming all this please don't wake me. Its been a while since I've been in heaven."

She asked, "will you be my Angel tonight?"

I said, "Why not?"

Then she said,"you will be in heaven tonight."

We had quite a party in her island hut. We both fell sound asleep after a while. When we woke we realized that we had slept right through a tropical storm. When we walked out of the hut we found that every hut around ours was totaly devestated. How our hut was spared is a mystery I have never figured out.

We made it home despite Jean Dixon making a prediction that we would never make it back. We defied all odds and accomplished something that may have given the world a second or even a third chance.

Had we not have been there, the hostages may have perished and we just might of decided to make Iran dissapear as a consequence. But the worst for all parties was avoided. Since that day my views on many things have changed. In fact I'm now turned on like mad if I'm going with a babe that's really into politics and deep thinking in general. Because now, I always ask why. But how much longer can we keep pushing our luck? I wonder.

About the Author

I have more stories listed on my Irresistible Du Jour journal at this URL. http://timothy.journalspace.com/

Article Source: http://www.redsofts.com/articles/




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