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"Men, Don't Let This Happen To You"
Submitted by Frank H. Stephan MM1c USN

We were in the South Pacific. The air was warm and the seas were calm. All hands were engrossed in the expected visit to one of the South Sea Islands. We were nearing the Society Islands, a French Colony where lived the most beautiful women in the world, or so the stories go. I thought that I had left the most beautiful girl in the world back in Brooklyn but I was anxious to see these South Sea Island beauties. My mother told me that it wouldn’t hurt to look.

The next morning we noticed a bump on the horizon. The bridge quartermasters and signalmen assured us that that bump was one of the islands that we were heading for. It sure didn’t look like very much. It was so far away that we quickly lost interest but every time I went on deck I would check to see if we were still heading for it and had we gotten any closer. It seemed to have not changed at all. Maybe a little bigger! We enjoyed talking about the natives and how they didn’t wear very much clothing. Then we heard that they wore grass skirts! Wow! Nobody wore grass skirts in Brooklyn, not even the natives!

The next day the bump was higher and now we could tell that it was a mountain and that the ship was steering directly toward the island at about fifteen knots or three hundred and sixty miles each day. We were watching that bump for two days already so that must be a really tall mountain. We could not wait for tomorrow!

The next morning we could see other peaks and we were especially enthralled. Our first genuine south sea island. We could see the clouds over the mountain peaks and it looked as though it was raining yet the sun was shining. We could see the tops of palm trees and then the island started to assume a beautiful shape and then we could see the surf surrounding the island. Where would the entrance to the harbor be? The Euryale slowed down as though we were waiting but still heading for the harbor. It was getting dark and we could see very few lights on the island. We stood off in a holding pattern waiting for permission to proceed.

The next morning after daybreak when I came on deck I saw we had a pilot boat along side and an elderly man was coming up the gangway which we had rigged over the port side. He was escorted to the bridge and the ship proceeded to head into the harbor.

Aloha! Paradise! We were impressed by the natural beauty of the beach, the mountains, the palm trees. Everywhere beauty and we had not even seen the women yet!

The harbor was large and we proceeded for about thirty minutes and we noticed that the ship was backing down. Then the ship's horn tooted and we heard the anchor chain running out. Then all was quiet; we had anchored and the ship started to swing as the gentle breeze took over. A flotilla of canoes came paddling out to greet us. Actually to have us throw our coins into the water so that the divers could fetch for them. They were very good and while I watched, I did not see one coin go to the bottom. As for me, I had no coins, after all I was married and my wife was saving for us to start our life when I returned home. Most of my pay check was allotted to Brooklyn.

Then the good word that Liberty would commence at thirteen hundred for the second section, my section. After noon mess, the lucky second section was to muster in the after well deck for inspection prior to debarking the ship into the Liberty Launch which was now moored to the gangway. After the usual formalities, Lieutenant Bob Norton addressed the Liberty Party. “Men” he said, ( we had no female sailors on board ship in nineteen forty four),“be very careful when you are on liberty. The natives are extremely friendly and while they speak French and most of you speak English, they understand the sign language very well. It is possible to communicate quite easily. When you disembark the Liberty Launch, you will surely notice a native who is pushing a wheelbarrow. He has a coffee can in the wheelbarrow with a sign asking that you please help him by donating to his support. Also in the wheelbarrow“, Mister Norton continued, “are his testicles which have grown to the size of watermelons because he has contracted a highly contagious disease called Elephantitis. All of the natives are carriers of this disease, which has to date no cure. You will see people in town with very large heads, arms, legs and other extremities. I suggest that you keep this in mind while you are practicing your sign language on the native women.”

When we arrived at the pier to disembark, there was the native with the wheelbarrow and in it resting on a sheet covered cushion were two football-sized gonads, which I will never forget as long as I live.

We walked down the main street. All of the houses were grass roofed and all had open porches with seats and swings. The minister had used the knowledge of the invasion of the American Navy into the village of Bora Bora to purchase house coats for all of the native women and thereby protecting their nudity from the eyes of the visitors. Every woman was dressed in a brand new house coat over their beautiful nude bodies but the minister had forgotten to tell them how to close the garment up. We were treated to the delights of flowing housecoats as they ran around our groups trying their French with our sign language. Another sight I will never forget!

Most of us walked down to the beach where we heard that there were beautiful sea shells and “cats eyes” for the picking. No one advised us to wear our bathing suits but we soon evolved into our natural native attire. It worked out alright since none of the natives bothered us. I have a suspicion that perhaps the minister told them about that famous American malady called children which I am sure the natives would not want to share since we would not be staying in Bora Bora.

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