Because we were in such a hurry to get to the fight combined with riding the ship equivalent of a bucket of, well, you get the picture, we blew a boiler while steaming across the Atlantic. The net result was a slow crawl and no extra hot water for amenities such as circulating air, clean dishes, toilets that flushed. You know, the extravagances of life.

The upshot of the deal was that we headed north to the closest port which happened to be Adak, Alaska (which translates into “I really pissed someone off.”) From the balmy Pacific to the cold of Alaska, this trip was really taking strange turns.

Sailing in, I was awestruck at the beauty of the islands. I have never been to Ireland but what I saw that day is what I envision Ireland to be like. The green was so brilliant that it almost glowed. We stood at the rails of the ship and just took in the panoramic view of the most beautiful land I had ever seen. Could this really be Alaska?

A Navy tugboat meet us at the harbor and we looked on as the Sailors gawked back at us. They did not look too happy to be helping a bunch of Marines but we cared very little. They were riding a tug boat and we were going to war.

Adak meant a Navy base. And a Navy base means liberty. Liberty means enlisted club. Enlisted club means beer. Beer means a boatful of drunken Marines sloshing back to the ship.

We actually drank the island dry in the three days we spent there, I am proud to say.

Because we had a curfew and the time of year yielded extended daylight, we experienced the odd sensation of both debarking and embarking the ship in daylight. But it was our last chance to have any alcohol and we were not about to waste it. We had the all-too-romantic attitude of “drink today for we may die tomorrow!!” In reality, we almost died the next day BECAUSE we drank.

After a few days they fixed the boiler and with our last and unexpected encounter with the homeland behind us, we once again set sail and headed west. This time, with a new boiler, we thought we had it made. Silly Marines. There was time to make up and we did not miss the fight, right?