Sailor and the Admiral
Some time in the early 50’s a
Native American named King became a station keeper at the
Grosse Ile Naval Air Station. He lived in building 66, the barracks for
bachelor enlisted personnel. Known to everyone, he acquired a reputation for
enjoying liquid refreshments and became a frequent short time visitor to the
base brig. He was a Store Keeper, usually an SK3 but occasionally a Seaman,
assigned to the Transportation Department. To be specific, he had a drinking
problem. He was normally seen behind the wheel of a dump truck during his
extended respites from brig residency. He was relatively short and stocky with
coal black hair. Everyone referred to him as Coach King or “The Chief”.
During the late 50’s he was assigned to Duty Section One. The Duty Section
One’s Leaders were Lyle Eastom and Harvey Muir.
Some time in the mid 50’s Captain Daniel V. Gallery was promoted to Rear
Admiral and became Chief of Naval Air Reserve Training, headquartered in
Glenview, Ill. During World War II he was credited with capturing U-boat 505 in
the mid-Atlantic under heroic conditions. In his new job, he was in charge of
the Navy’s entire complex of training facilities, aircraft, active duty and
reserve personnel. His responsibilities required him and his staff to conduct
frequent inspections of all locations within his command.
In the late 50’s he and his staff
conducted an All Hands Inspection of NAS Grosse Ile. On the day of the
inspection Coach King had been drinking most of the day at a local bar, Broh’s
Air Port Inn, just outside the gate. King managed some how to arrive in time for
the inspection. Admiral Gallery had inspected some of the station personnel in
Hanger One and was approaching the Division where King was standing. King
stepped out of ranks as the Admiral approached and extended his arm to shake
hands with him. After exchanging a few words with King the Admiral continued his
inspection. The Commanding Officer of the Base, Captain Martin, then ordered the
Chief Master at Arms, Sol Haney, and BM 1, Fuller to place King in the Brig for
his actions as well as being intoxicated. Haney and Fuller took King in custody
with great relish and deposited him in the brig as they had on so many previous
occasions, only this time believing King had gone too far.
The Admiral completed the inspection
with out further incident. He then held his press conference and afterward he
and a select few of Senior Base Officers, the Admiral and his Staff retired to
the Officers Club for relaxation and further discussion regarding the days
events. During the social activities at the “O” Club, Admiral Galloway
informed Captain Martin that he wanted to talk to his “Blood Brother”.
The Captain exclaimed, “Your Blood Brother?” Where upon the Admiral
replied, “Yes, Coach King. “
Shortly there after, the Admiral’s
car pulled up to the Brig and his Aide (an officer) went in and ordered Haney to
release King to his custody as the Admiral wished to speak with King.
Apparently, there was great reluctance on the part of Haney and Fuller to
release him. After further discussion and under threat of incarceration himself
SalHaney arranged to have Coach King made presentable and turned him over to
the Admirals Aide.
Some time later that afternoon or
early evening Duty Section Leader, Lyle Eastom, received a telephone call. It
was Coach King who was calling from the “O” Club. King informed Lyle that he
would not be standing his watch that night as originally assigned. When
questioned further, King informed Eastom that he was doing some heavy drinking
with the Admiral in BOQ and didn’t know when the Admiral would let him go.
Because the Duty Section was short
handed Lyle Eastom stood King’s watch for him that night. And as you might
suspect no charges were ever filed against King for the incident earlier in the
day or for his intoxication at that time.
By Hal Neubauer
Copyright © 1999NASGIVM All rights reserved.
Revised: August 12, 2012