Key West by Mack McKenzie
My name is James Odell "Mack" McKenzie and I live in Tylertown, MS. I boarded the USS KRETCHMER DER-329 in Aug. 1970 and served her as a storekeeper until decommissioning Oct. 1, 1973. I actually had the honor of standing quarterdeck duty guarding her until she was towed away later in Oct. I was the last SK to walk her decks. I don't figure I'll get into trouble now since all the years have passed. So here's my story. In 1972, if my memory serves me correctly, each division group had to supply a man to serve on a newly developed "Human Relations Committee". Being the not-so-lucky one from the supply division, I was bestowed this honor. At our very first meeting we had to vote on someone to be the chairman and to report to the Captain on what was discussed, any problems, and our recommendations. The whole purpose of this group was to try to bring all the crew together to work as one. Being a Filipino, or hispanic, or black, or white, we were not to let this get in the way of our understanding and relationship with each other. Be shipmates! Well, guess who was chosen to be the chairman. I really didn't want to be the one to have to go before the Captain to give a detailed report each month. As time went on, it wasn't too bad. Then, one day the Captain sent word for me to report to the Captain's stateroom. A millions things were going through my head. After reporting, all the Captain wanted to tell me was that we were due for a special liberty port. He knew it was time for our "Human Relations Committee" monthly meeting and he wanted me to find out through the committee members where did we all want to go. So I asked the Captain did we have a choice of where we wanted to go. He went on, telling me places like San Juan, St. Thomas, Cozumel, and New Orleans for the Super Bowl. As I told you in the beginning, I'm from MS and as a matter of fact, I'm only 100 miles in MS from New Orleans. WOW! When I showed up at our "Human Relations Committee", I was proud to announce to the men that we were headed to New Orleans, Louisiana, for the Super Bowl. When the meeting was adjourned, I reported to the Captain that it was unanimous that the crew had chosen New Orleans and the Super Bowl. No one ever knew the real choices except the Captain and me. We all went to the Super Bowl and had a great time. I'm sure none of us will ever forget all those beautiful Playboy Bunnies that lined the pier where we were to dock. Now as Paul Harvey says, "You know the rest of the Story" Sorry shipmates, but I've had to live with that all these years and I just knew if I gave everybody a choice, we would have ended up at the Black Angus Club in San Juan, Puerto Rica.
I hope all that reads this can understand how easy it was for me to make the decision I made. In a roundabout way, I was going home, and I wanted "my" crew to get the feel of where I come from.
To all my shipmates, yours truly, SK2 "Mack" McKenzie