James Binder

1945 - 1946

The wisdom of the old sailor’s adage about always being aware of what direction the wind is blowing was pointed up to me in a painful way one day when were steaming in the Pacific in the closing days of the war in 1945.

I had acquired a supply of bubblegum which I jammed into my mouth—a new stick whenever the previous ones had lost their flavor. There must have been at least a dozen pieces in the cud which had grown to the size of a handball and had gotten so tough my jaw ached. I was in my watch station in the main battery director which was located, of course, just above the bridge. Time to get rid of the gum; I stood up in the gunnery officer’s tube and threw the big sticky mess as far as I could over what I intended to be the port side.

I wasn’t unduly disturbed when the gum was caught up in a quite stiff wind and came shooting back like a boomerang and heading for the bridge. I ducked back into the tube, waited a few seconds and looked up over the tube’s rim. Horror of horrors! Down below stood the Fox’s first lieutenant, a large forceful individual who was madder than hell. He was holding up the wad of gum, long streamers of which were trailing down from where my missile had landed on his head.

 “Did you throw this thing?” he yelled. I managed to gulp, “Yes sir. Sorry, sir.” The first lieutenant then delivered an impassioned tirade to the effect that it was because of dunder-headed jackasses like me that the ship’s canteen wasn’t selling bubblegum anymore. It could have been worse; the first lieutenant was the baldest man on the ship—if he had had a full head of hair he’d still be cleaning the gum out.   Jim Binder, SFC (FC), on Fox 1945-46.