A USS Yorktown Plankowner in Engineering Department has a humorous run-in with Captain “Jocko” Clark
(Above) Harry at 17 and fresh from bootcamp
(Below) A tight fit through the Panama Canal for the Yorktown
It was during this time [1943 in Newport News, VA] that we had the opportunity to meet our captain of the Yorktown. His name was Captain Clark. I never knew his first name, but he was called Jocko Clark. He eventually made Rear Admiral. He was a great warrior and a great captain. Everyone liked him, probably because he was not strict on his crew. He wore a baseball cap and was not particular how we dressed at sea, with one exception: While at general quarters he wanted us to wear long-sleeve shirts. A general quarter was when we were on alert and under attack. This was to protect us in case of a fire.
After about 2 days we went on a shakedown cruise to Trinidad. This was the only pleasurable trip that was made while I was aboard ship. During this trip, I was given a tip on how to best clean your clothes with very little effort. You tied your dirty clothes to a line with the other end of the line tied to the railing of the ship. Toss the clothesline where the clothes attached over the side and let the water beat the dirt out of them. This worked well until the Master at Arms came along and told me to get the line in and not to ever do this again. I said to myself, “—-him,” and moved to another part of the ship where I thought he wouldn’t see me and threw them over again. This time he walked up and pulled out his knife, and cut them loose. He then explained to me the importance of why I was not to do this. If they broke loose, an enemy sub could spot them and easily track us down. Besides, if caught again I would be in front of a Captain’s Mast. The Master at Arms had the power of a police captain, and his word was law. I really didn’t have to wash my clothes in this manner as we had a laundry aboard ship. All we had to do was get our clothes together and someone would pick them up once a week, launder and return them to our compartment when finished. Wouldn’t you know it, after I lost my clothes the captain called for crew inspection, and all personnel not on duty were to report to the flight deck for inspection. I grabbed others’ clothes from the laundry, and went up to the flight deck like a well-trained sailor should and stood at attention while the captain and engineering officer approached us for the review. They looked me over and walked by, stopped and took two steps back, looked me up and down again. The captain asked me, “Whose cap do you have on, Sailor?” It was about three sizes too small for me. Then he looked at my jeans and said, “Sailor, those jeans don’t owe you a thing.” They belonged to a mate that was about a foot taller than I was, and I had rolled them up. He said, “I’m going to suggest that you fall out and return below deck, and don’t ever report to an inspection dressed in this fashion again.” I was thrilled to death that he hadn’t noticed the untied marine high-top shoes that I was wearing.