The Admiral's War Room
This is the story of my father's (WOI's) first encounter with Vice
Admiral Calhoun, Commander of Service Forces, Pacific. Admiral
Calhoun became a good, if extremely eccentric, friend for the entire time that he
and my mother were in Hawaii. This story was recorded by me (WGI) on 13 January 1996.
I have done some editing and rearranging, to improve the readability
and keep things in sequence. - WGI
WGI: Tell me about [Vice] Admiral Calhoun.
WOI: He was an odd sort of a fellow. Did I ever tell you
how I met him?
WOI: We were putting together two BOQs, Bachelor Officer's
Quarters - they were wood frame buildings. They were
remodeling them into offices. And that's when I first
met Admiral Calhoun.
We were putting two of these BOQs together, joining
them together with walkways and so on. I may have had
30 men working on the project. We were just winding up
everything, just pretty near ready to leave.
Admiral Calhoun came in and he said, "Who's the foreman
of this crew?"
I said, "Well, I am."
He said, "Come on over here, young man." He always
called me young man. "This bathroom has got two doors
into it and this one door is [into] what I will call my
War Plans Room. I would suggest that you would nail
this door shut! Put some very *large* nails into it."
Well, we had a crew of 4 or 5 carpenters standing
around waiting for something to do. And there was a
painter priming the new work that we had done in the
room. So I said to the fellows, "Let's not nail the
door shut. Hell, let's just put some plywood paneling
on there on both sides." That's what the rest of the
room was, all [plywood] panel.
So, a couple of boys jerked the door out, took the
casing out. Another grabbed a couple of 2 by 4s and
studded up the hole. They put some plywood on it,
sanded it, and dressed it down. And the painter would
just come along, in the regular course of painting the
whole room, he just painted over the door - what used
to be the door.
Admiral Calhoun came in...
WGI: This must not have been very long later.
WOI: Oh! Just right away! He brought Captain Eagle with
him. He said, "Captain Eagle, I'm going to put this
over here and that over there and this over there. And
that door... that door... "
"Uh? Young man, what happened to my door?!"
I said, "Sir, you said you weren't going to use it so
we just closed it up."
He said, "Captain Eagle, I was in here not *ten*
minutes ago, and this young man will bear me witness.
When I came in here there was a door there! Now there
is a wall! And it's *painted*!"
WOI: The painter had just kept priming as he went on, and
had just happened to prime the new work.
[The Admiral] said, "That's the kind of war effort we
need around here! Boy, oh boy! It's just stupendous!"
he said. "Stupendous!"
From then on out, if Admiral Calhoun wanted a nail in
the wall to hang up his coat, he'd call me across the
harbor to have it done!
Copyright © 1996 by William G. Innanen. All rights reserved.
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