Boatsailors and Peacoats
by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong
You remember them....Those ton and a half monsters that took the annual
production of thirty-five sheep to make. Those thick black rascals with black plastic
buttons the size of poker chips. The issue coats that drove shore duty chief petty
officers stark raving nuts if they caught you with the collar turned up or your
gahdam hands in your pockets.

"Hey, you rubber sock, get those gahdam hands outta them pockets! Didn't they
issue you black leather gloves?"

So, you took your hands out of your pockets and risked digital frostbite rather than
face whatever the Navy had in store for violators of the 'No Gahdam In Peacoat
Pockets' policy. There's probably a special barracks in Hell full of old E-3s caught
hitchhiking in sub-zero weather with hands in Peacoat pockets.

As for those leather gloves, one glove always went missing. "Son, where in the Hell
are the gloves we issued you?"

We??? I don't remember this nasty, ugly bastard being at Great Lakes when the
'jocks and socks' petty officers were throwing my initial issue seabag at me and
yelling, "Move it!!"

As for the gloves, once you inadvertently leave one glove on a whorehouse night
table or on the seat of a Greyhound bus, the remaining glove is only useful if a tank
rolls over the hand that fit the lost glove.

In the days long ago, a navy spec. Peacoat weighed about the same as a flat car load
of cinder blocks. When it rained, it absorbed water until your spine warped, your
shins cracked and your ankles split. Five minutes standing in the rain waiting on a
bus and you felt like you were piggy-backing the Statue of Liberty.

When a Peacoat got wet, it smelled a lot like sheep dip. It had that wet wool smell,
times three. It weighed three-and-a-half tons and smelled like 'Mary had a little
lamb's gym shorts.

You know how heavy a late '50s Peacoat was? Well, they had little metal chains
sewn in the back of the collar to hang them up by. Like diluted Navy coffee, sexual
sensitivity instruction, comfortable air-conditioned topside security bungalows,
patent leather plastic-looking shoes and wearing raghats configured to look like
bidet bowls, the Peacoat spec. has been watered down to the point you could hang
them up with dental floss. In the old days, the Peacoat buttons and grocery cart
wheels were interchangeable parts. The gear issued by the U.S. Navy was tough as
hell, bluejacket-tested clothing with the durability of rhino hide and construction
equipment tires.

Peacoats came with wide, heavy collars. In a cold, hard wind, you could turn that
wide collar up to cover your neck and it was like poking your head in a tank turret.

The things were warm, but I never thought they were long enough. Standing out in
the wind in those 'big-legged britches' (bell bottoms), the wind whistled up your
cuffs and took away body warmth like a thief.  But, they were perfect to pull over
you for a blanket when sleeping on a bus or bus terminal bench.

Every sailor remembers stretching out on one of those oak bus station pews with his
reghat over his face, his head up against his AWOL bag and covered with his
Peacoat.  There was always some 'SP' who had not fully evolved from apehood,
who poked you with his billy bat and said,

"Hey, YOU!! Get up!  Waddya think yer doin?  You wanna sleep, get a gahdam

Peacoats were lined with quilted satin or rayon.  I never realized it at the time, but
sleeping on bus seats and station benches would be the closest I would ever get to
sleeping on satin sheets.

Early in my naval career, a career-hardened (lifer) first class gunner's mate told me
to put my ID and liberty card in the inside pocket of my Peacoat.

"Put the sonuvabitches in that gahdam inside pocket and pin the damn thing closed
with a diaper pin.  Then, take your heavy folding money and put it in your sock. If
you do that, learn to never take your socks off in a cathouse.  Them damn dockside
pickpockets pat 'cha down for a lumpy wallet and they can relieve you of said
wallet so fast you'll never know you've been snookered.

Only a dumbass idiot will clam-fold his wallet and tuck it in his thirteen button
bellbottoms.  Every kid above the age of six in Italy knows how to lift a wallet an
idiot pokes in his pants.  Those little bastards leard to pick sailor's pockets in

Rolling bluejackets is the national sport in Italy."

In Washington DC, they have a wonderful marble and granite plaza honoring the
United States Navy.  Every man or woman who served this nation in a naval
uniform, owes it to himself or herself to visit this memorial and take their families.

It honors all navel service and any red-blooded American bluejacket or officer will
feel the gentle warmth of pride his or her service is honored within this truly magical

The focal point of this memorial is a bronze statue of a lone American sailor.  No
crow on his sleeve tells you that he is non-rated. And, there are further indications
that suggest maybe, once upon a time, the sculpturer himself may have once been an
E-3 raghat.

The lad has his collar turned up and his hands in his pockets.

I'm sure the Goddess of the Main Induction nearly wets her panties laughing at the
old, crusty chiefs standing there with veins popping out on their old, wrinkled necks,

"Look at that idiot sonuvabitch standing there with his collar up and his gahdam
hands in his pockets.  In my day, I would have ripped that jerk a new one!"

AH, the satisfied glow of a E-3 revenge.

Peacoats....One of God's better inventions.

For more of his good stuff from "Dex," check out his Web site "The After Battery"  
at   for you old salts, and even the newer
ones, its worth the read.  But the newer ones might have difficulty translating his old
Navy encrusted lingo.
This would apply to our old Navy Sailors as the present active duty types
and more recent veterans and military retirees would have no clue what
you are referring to. The Peacoat the writer is referring to went by the
wayside years ago.