“Beetle” Bailey on the mess decks

I recently received this from GMG3 Rod Ries.


I was looking at the big photo of your CIC posse and noticed that Beetle Bailey was missing.  It reminded me of an anecdote about him that I wanted to share with you.  Feel free to add it to your page if ya wanna…


Phil "Beetle" Bailey


Phil “Beetle” Bailey was an incorrigible cut-up and with his thick glasses that made his eyes big and buggy which just added to his troublemaker charm.  Along with his penchant for playing with his food down on the mess decks, he made quite an impression on two Vietnamese prisoners/peasant fishermen we captured/rescued somewhere off the coast one day.

I (GMG3 Ries) had the duty of guarding the terrified Vietnamese down in the mess hall with a big ol’ rifle which didn’t help them from being scared shitless while we waited for the ARVNs to come pick them up.

They seriously looked like they were afraid one of us white devils was gonna eat them.  It didn’t help that that was exactly the time for Beetle to come down to the mess decks and grab him a tray and seat himself down near my makeshift POW camp.  He looked directly at the two Vietnamese and they looked back.  They looked like they were gonna piss themselves and started holding each other’s hand and moaning.  I don’t think they’d ever seen anything like our Beetle before.  Of course, it didn’t help when Beetle took two olive pits off his tray and inserted one into each nostril.  The Vietnamese watched, trembling while those of us who knew what to expect from the Beetle sniggered at his antics.

GMG3 Ries

With the force of a 5″ 54 gun mount and with his huge eyes bugging out, Beetle shot them olive pits outta his nose towards the Vietnamese.  We all cracked up but the detainees just went wide eyed in terror and hugged each other.  No one was injured during this episode and we had the Vietnamese giggling before the ARVNs came to fetch `em.


Editors note:

It may have been easy to just take these guys to the beach in the Captains gig or the motor whale boat and drop them off, but there was a reason to let the ARVN guys take them.  They would want to interrogate them them to make sure they were really fishermen and not working for “Charlie”.  It was a known issue over there for fishermen to be “influenced” by the NVN to radio in naval positions and activity to shore based artillery units.  I had heard stories about in the earlier years of the war that some of these IBGB’s (Itty Bitty Gook Boats) were “accidentally” run over in the darkness just to avoid dealing with them.  Why else would a leaky, piece of shit, weather-beaten boat have a nice shiny whip antenna mounted on it?  If I recall, the guys we detained simply were in distress with a disabled fishing boat.  dc

11 Responses to “Beetle” Bailey on the mess decks

  1. In stressful times, it was always good to find a laugh anyway you could, at anyone’s expense. Phil “Beetle” Bailey provided lots of those and was a major contributor to morale in the Radar Gang; at least to those of us with a juvenile sense of humor. More than once we’d witnessed him shoot various vegetables from either the port or starboard nostril. Green peas were always a good projectile. Occasionally, diced carrots would find their way into his beak. He even had some special tricks with mashed potatoes. I’ll never forget the time a buttered cob of corn slid from his tray and hit the deck. He got down on all fours and chased it around the deck. When he comes up with it in his teeth, it has hair, crumbs and other crap stuck in the butter. That one even almost grossed me out! Good times!

    Jim Marino reminded me of the time Beetle put radar grease in his mouth and when the XO came through CIC, he made it come out of his nose and eyes. Yikes! Brings to mind the times he serenaded us by whistling a few bars of “Anchors Aweigh” with a mouthful of saltine crackers. As much of an animal as he could be, he was definitely a nice guy. He knew his job and did it with professionalism and integrity, but when off duty, look out! I took him to dinner a couple of years ago when I was in SoCal and he was a perfect gentleman. LOL

  2. Bobby (Stubby) Daniel says:

    I still remember some the Bettle gibberish that he would write with a grease pencil on the radar scope. Also spent alot of time with Phil in the Mack conducting loogie races. Stubby

  3. Hey Stubby, I never heard about the LOOGIE races! OMFG, that’s funny! Or maybe it’s that I just don’t remember hearing of them. Fact is, I was never ever in the Mack other than the Signalmans Shack at deck level. Up in the Mack is a void area that was OI Division’s responsibility to keep clean and paint. I think it was Boyd Thomas who’s collateral duty it was to occasionally go in there and have to paint. Hmmm…, confined space and paint fumes. He’d stagger out of there and we’d call him “Boyd From the Void”. LOL


  4. Jeff Zavada says:

    How about the can cheese in the nose and shooting it on the plotting head of the radar.

  5. Jeff Zavada says:

    So where is Beetle now a days?

    • Jeff,
      Beetle is still in Fullerton, CA. That’s where he lived when in the Navy. When I go down to my sister’s place in Norwalk, I touch base with Phil. We went to dinner a couple of years ago and we had some interesting conversations. Nice guy. We’re all grown up now, LOL.

  6. Jeff Zavada says:

    You know, I remember some BM’s that were always up for the worms in the salad and eating off your food tray. If your tray wasn’t sliding during the ship rolling and trying to hang on as your chair was sliding at the same time.

  7. Stubby says:

    This was one of Phils chants “Bawana ungawa nakimbi anasaki gerserini nosabova. Scro bi de bo de buc buc bo. I’m a Radarman oh boy!”. Another was “corn cern dern burn hang down moo cow moo. Tweet tweet fly away little birdy””. We worked together on the starboard outside area when we weren’t messing around in Boyd’s area. Led paint, toxic fumes, and Bettlemania.

    • Hey, I can still, to this day, easily rattle off the “Bawana ungawa nakimbi anasaki gerserini nosabova” line. I cannot believe that anyone else would remember that. You got it exactly! I recall that we occasionally finished it off with the short sentence “As a fin skin been”. In addition to the toxic fumes you can throw in some sleeplessness, too.


  8. Stubby says:

    Thank you Dennis. Perhaps I’m not a crazy as I thought I was. The last line may have been added after I left because I sure don’t remember it.

  9. Ries GMG3 says:

    Wow…small world Dennis…I grew up in Norwalk…woulda graduated Norwalk High, Class of `71, if I hadn’t joined up in `70…and, I attended Cal State Fullerton on the GI Bill…My degree in English Lit sure came in handy in my nearly 30 year career as a tattoo artist…hahah…retired a few years back tho, comfortably…did better slinging ink than I ever would have teaching verbs and nouns to High Schoolers…
    Just got an email from Whitey today…made me think of you guys…Hope everyone has a hella good 2014!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: