The Navy’s Phantom Pooper

With all the yock and chatter that’s been floating around about the military lately, I thought it would be fun to tell an uplifting story.

My dad was an electrician’s mate back in 1960 on the USS Valcour AVP-55. The ship was in drydock for an extended period, and since idle hand’s are the Devil’s tools, to keep the hands busy, the daily inspections became more of a focus than they ordinarily were when the ship was at sea.

This rankled one man so much that he felt forced to take drastic action. Nowadays, we would say he suffered from post-inspection stress disorder, or PISD.

Anyway, the Engineering Division, the largest in the ship, would muster each morning at 8 am on the fantail, where the old warrant officer would routinely ask, “What’s on tap for today, Chief?”

One Sunday, the men noticed a seaman with a bucket behind the Chief cleaning up a mess. Somebody had pooped on the fantail. The theory was that somebody got sick and couldn’t make it to the head, so the incident was dismissed.

But then it happened again. And then once more, and then even more times, six or seven in total. Muster suddenly became something to look forward to.

On the days with fresh deposits, some would quip, “From the look of it, he must have gone through the chow hall line twice.” A few suspected that the material was produced elsewhere and delivered. Others insisted it could only have been done in situ. Nobody could agree how whoever was doing it escaped detection, especially under the increasingly watchful eyes of the officers and Chiefs.

The last shovelful tipped the scales and the Chief lined up the men and shouted, “Left face!” and read them the riot act. An investigation was initiated.

But the Phantom Pooper, as he came to be known, was never caught. Lips, as it were, remain sealed. And to this day, as far as my father knows, nobody has owned up to the deed.

It’s Veteran’s Day, everybody. Be sure to say thanks to somebody.

Update: Dan Hughes sent along a link for the 11-11 Campaign. They’re seeking 11 million Americans to each give $11 to support our veterans. You can donate via texting. Details on the site.

Update: By all accounts, the parade in Manhattan yesterday was a great success. Many said it the best attended in years, and that there was a happy, festive atmosphere. In Manhattan, I remind you. A group of surviving Navajo code talkers were there. My number one son swears one of these gentlemen waved at him.


  1. DAV

    hmmm. Somebody confused about the definition of “poop deck” perhaps? Or more than one bored sailor playing craps?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. I definitely second the thanks.

  2. Briggs


    There’s nothing like a good pun. Unfortunately…you get the rest (though I will be stealing them for future use).

  3. bill henslee

    Phantom Pooper Had to have been the Chief. Mystery solved

  4. Tony Hansen

    Was he PISD off about the whole thing?

  5. 49erDweet

    And speaking of the poop-deck, OT I changed my Gravatar with WP. Lets see if it works here.

  6. 49erDweet

    nope. back to the drawing board

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