By: Commander Ed Bookhardt, US Navy Retired
Rod “Hose” Hansen stood next to his bunk in the Charlie Company hut wiping the coral road dust from his eyes. Hesitating a moment he looked out the window at the setting sun reflecting off the Caribbean Sea. Each evening it bathed his small cubical a golden hue, to him it was a pleasant conclusion to the day. Pleasantness aside, he was infuriated at recent events and kicked his unlaced boots against the metal locker and stripped off his green fatigues that were still damp with sweat and caked cement. As a First Class Builder he was Petty Officer in charge of a concrete block laying crew. The crew was currently working at a Kittery Beach construction site on the sprawling Guantanamo Naval Base a few miles south of the Battalion camp site.
Rod, a bachelor, loved the Navy and the Construction Battalion lifestyle. With twelve years service he was a lifer and had been recently selected for promotion to the coveted grade of Chief Petty Officer. Like every career sailor he looked forward to putting on the khakis, moving into the Chief’s quarters and the prestige that accompanied it. Meanwhile, being hut-mother of the barracks had its perks. He had his own partitioned-off space that gave him some privacy away from the open-bay bunk arrangement shared by the rest of the company personnel.
Jim “Johnny” Walker his number two on the block crew, walked by wrapped in a towel on his way to the central head and gang-shower building. Rod motioned Jim into the cubical as he rolled up his greens and stuffed them in a dirty clothes bag. “Jim, the friggin’ brass has gone and cancelled all leave and liberty in Cuba…all because a few dumb ass pussy-hounds got a free mountain vacation courtesy of some cigar-chompin’ Castro rebels. [Read Incident at Guantanamo] What’s old Rod going to do for R&R if we can’t go to Gitmo City?” Looking at Jim with a dejected expression, he threw up his hands, grabbed a towel and followed his shipmate out the hut.
On entering the showers Rod in his usual jovial manner hollered above the hiss of the running water, “Okay boys as usual Mister Wonderful, that’s me, Chief Petty Officer select Hanson, that’s also me, needs some help to hold this equipment up out of the drain which I take a douche…any volunteers?” He was met with thrown soap bars and shoots of cold water. Some threw up their hands in mock surrender and ran from the showers. Rod enjoyed the ploy of flaunting his manhood. On the way back to the hut, he slapped Jim on the back boasting proudly, “We were top block laying crew again this week old buddy! Get Jack, Bob, Spider and Willie and meet me at the Salty Dog, the brews are on me ‘til chow-call.”
Hopeful for some expression of agreement he continued, “No one could see them. We could build a little pad for them and their pimp. He could handle the girls and their money. We could certainly provide them with some better accommodations that what they apparently have, plus they would have lots more business. The brass seldom comes into camp and the OOD passes through at lights-out. Awe struck at the idea, the group looked at each other with questioning eyes…Rod broke the silence; “We’ll sleep on it…let’s go to chow.”
The next week, Rod and Spider checked out the girls and were impressed with their looks and demeanor. Ray, being out on the perimeter during the day, negotiated with Ramon, explaining the plan for setting-up a small tent area for them behind the Seabee compound. Further, he would remain in charge of the girls and the money as long as everyone was treated fairly. Most important, there would be no violence or mistreatment and they all must follow certain rules to be established…Ramon agreed.
In the nights that followed, tarps, lumber, five-gallon water cans, chest coolers, cots, lanterns, flashlights, towels, pans, eating utensils, etc., were moved piece by piece up to the site. Though the motive was questionable, the ingenuity, capability and “Can-do” spirit of a few Seabees was never better demonstrated than with the clandestine construction of The Lizard Ranch.
Over the next several months the ranch and its activities remained a secret and operated smoothly without incident. Neither the Chiefs nor Officers got wind of what was going on. It was a truly amazing achievement, considering there was over 500 men in the compound. In reality, only a very small number actually participated, or frequented the ranch. The individuals that did often brought various items which kept the site viable.
The girls would slip down to the showers after midnight to bath. Ramon was fair, organized and well liked. No VD was reported. “The Hose,” maintained his ego, as the girls had been instructed to make over him, by clinging to his arm and swooning when he visited. It had its rewards; with his ego inflated he would often tip an extra buck or so…Rod never saw through the charade.
It all began to fall to pieces one fateful Saturday night in October. MATS on its weekly flight had recently delivered one, Ensign Carlyle A. Dunsbury to the Battalion. As Ensigns go he was typical, absolutely no common sense and often stepping on his weenie in those rare moments of over confidence. And yes, as previously written [The Odious Ensign] he was a repulsive silver spooned snob. Anything written pertaining to duties was perceived as a direct order for him to accomplish. Since there had rarely been a disturbance in the compound after taps, the Officers of the Day routinely checked the camp at 2200 taps, made a log entry and retire to the Officers Quarters. Ensign Dunsbury having memorized every word in the Night Order Book found an often-ignored notation, “OODs at their discretion, will on occasion inspect the compound after midnight.”
Following his round at taps that Saturday evening; he sat around the OOD shack boring the Chief of the Watch with college campus shenanigans until midnight. Then he squared his piss-cutter, adjusted his arm band and strode off with his flashlight to do his duty. As he approached the central head building he heard the showers running and what sounded like giggling.
Creeping cautiously he shined his light into the unlit showers; there before him were the three Boquerón Belles in all their glory! The girls screamed! Dunsbury screamed, dropping his flashlight which rolled under one of the toilet stalls. As he scrambled to retrieve it, the girls ran past him into the night.
Rod’s cubical was in the corner of the hut adjacent to the shower building entrance. On hearing the screams he sprang from his bunk and peered through the screen as the girls ran naked toward the hills. Wondering what went wrong, he started to put on his trousers when out of the showers stumbled Ensign Dunsbury frantically shining his light in all directions before running off toward the OOD shack. Rod muttered to himself, “Holy shit…it just hit the fan!”
Pausing a moment to catch his breath, Ensign Dunsbury stood wild-eyed in front of the Duty Chief’s desk trying to speak through gasps for air, “CHIEF there are NAKED WOMEN in the CAMP! I saw em, really, THREE naked women in the showers! Make a log entry…I’m going to tell the Captain!” Before the Chief could tell him to think about it for a moment, he had charged off toward the Officers’ Quarters. The Chief looking at the duty MAA, shook his graying head, “What in the hell is going on? The damn moon must be full…naked women in camp, my ass! Next it will be UFOs and little green men! I knew that pimply faced kid didn’t have a full seabag the moment I saw the little butter-barred a-hole.”
FRAM, FRAM, FRAM, the Skipper’s door rattled under the impact, followed by shouts of, “Captain, Captain, its Ensign Dunsbury the OOD…there are NAKED WOMEN IN THE CAMP, SIR!”
The Skipper drowsily cracked the door and saw the Ensign standing at rigid attention with his chin tucked against his skinny neck. “What did you say?” “Captain, there are naked women in the camp, Sir.”
“I don’t know, Sir.”
“Then where were they when you saw them?”
“In the showers, Sir.”
“And you don’t know where they are now?”
“No Sir, I dropped my flashlight and when I retrieved it they were gone.”
“Did YOU look for them?”
“Did you ask the fire watches if they had seen any naked women?”
“Did you have the Duty MAA help search for the NAKED WOMEN?”
“Of course you briefed and sought guidance from the XO in this matter and he sent you to wake me?”
“Did you come directly to me because you knew I was an expert on NAKED WOMEM RUNNING AMOK AT 0130 ON A SUNDAY MORNING?” “Yes Sir, I mean, No, no Sir!”
“MISTER, do not, repeat, do not wake or bother the men. I will expect a detailed briefing with the XO at 0800…and I want to hear something out of your mouth beside, NO SIR! Now, remove yourself and try to stay out of trouble until morning!”
Early Sunday morning, the camp was searched for the females. In doing so, a suspicious worn path through the cactus and rock outcroppings leading up to the site where the girls were encamped was discovered. Lieutenant Bollinger, the Battalion Security Officer with Ensign Dunsbury in tow and the MAA force was directed by the Captain to screen the outlying area for illegals and if found, turn them over to the Naval Base Police for processing.
Word of the raid spread as the security force made its way through the compound to reach the site beyond. Seabees climbed to the hut roofs and other vantage points to watch the event unfold! Ramon hearing the unusual commotion and seeing the approaching intruders left the girls and high-tailed it back across the salt flats to Boquerón.
As the search party descended back through the camp with the girls in custody, boisterous hoots, hollers and applause erupted! The Security Officer staunch and aloof led the group, basking in self admiration of having apprehended the doers of dastardly deeds. Dunsbury and the Master at Arms tried to display the same stern image of authority, but with the captive’s derrières undulating before them, were having little success…
The girls on the other hand were animated and carefree as they had never experienced such overwhelming attention! Giggling nervously they waved as their unencumbered breasts moved in rhythm with their irregular gait over the rough terrain. From roof tops and rocky knolls, heads bobbed in-sync with the erotic display, the fervor escalated! To avoid potential problems, the girls were immediately placed in a waiting carryall and transported straight-away to the Naval Base…
Naval Base Security having jurisdiction did a cursory investigation, but could find no collaborating evidence to charge any military personnel with misconduct. Since trespassing by locals was not that unusual, the girls were documented, warned and returned to Boquerón. The Captain wanting the whole embarrassing mess to disappear was elated by the findings and dropped the matter after establishing a new compound perimeter watch.
Unscathed, “Hose Man” Hanson was promoted to Chief Builder the following month. Jim Walker, Ray Edwards and Spider went on to successful naval careers. Willie left the service and married the Tennessee gal with the “golden pubes.” Ensign Dunsbury was taken under the wing of a couple of old Chiefs and was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade after 18 months. Following his Reserve commitment he returned to the family dynasty an enlightened young man. As for the author, the saga of the Lizard Ranch surfaces now and again…it was a different time, it was a different Navy.