Skip to comments.A Pyromanic I Once Knew. What Caused it? from a laypersons view.
Posted on 09/26/2013 1:33:39 AM PDT by lee martell
I was starting my second year in the Navy; 1980. I was a storekeeper Petty Officer 3rd class on The Illusive, a wooden ship (yes wooden!) based in Charleston, South Carolina. The Illusive was about 75 feet long, and purposed to find underwater mines by the use of sonar.
I was asked to train a new seaman, recently transferred from shore duty. This guy, I'll call Mike, seemed very smart, very able and easy to train to the routine of ordering supplies or conducting inventories. I soon wondered if he was even over-qualified for this work. That was before that use of the phrase 'over-qualilfed' became common. Mike was friendly, punctual and able to accomplish whatever we asked of him, except for certain things. We, the supply crew were told never send him to inventory certain items, like gasoline, diesel or other inflammables.
I found out my supervisor was told not to fully train Mike on the ledger systems either. That was strange to me, but I didn't give it much more thought, that is until our berthing area caught on fire at 3am. Berthing Area means sleeping area. Someone had set fire to the starboard bulkhead, or right side wall, near the doorway leading to the mess hall. It was a flimsy little fire, using torn underwear shorts with the stenciled name blotted out and looseleaf paper as kindling, but it was still scary, considering we were underway (actively sailing). After a General Quarters type fire drill, the little camp fire was out and the my whole berthing area was wide awake and talking till 5.15am revelry, when that recorded trumpet played it's morning song.
The same thing happened a few weeks later. Very soon, people knew it was Mike. Mike was starting fires, but why? From what I could gather, Mike came from a large family, which moved around a lot. Mike told me himself he had to learn how to make friends by watching movies and reading books. I thought he was joking. Our Master Sargeant speculated that Mike never got over his parents divorcing and growing to hate each other. You would never know that Mike had any personal problems while seeing him during the work shift. Not the life of the party, but, he always seemed an okay guy, very popular. Mike once said he was probably going to be a lifer, career man, because the Navy was better than being at home, and the travel was good too.
During one of our shore leaves in the Azores, Portugal, Mike went on shore duty after lunch, returning three days later with a police escort. It seems Mike had gone AWOL for a while, and set fire to a local diner that would not serve him any more wine. Actually, Mike had a favorite drink already at age 19. His favorite drink was OUZO, a Greek liqueur, mixed with Kaluha. Some called these drinks Black Russians. For the average light drinker, the Black Russians could make you extremely drunk in no time. Mike was transferred from the Illusive two days later. I hope he's found peace. Makes me wonder if stealing, setting fires is common for kids of divorce, or was that an excuse he chose to rationalize acting out.
Horrible taste in booze, even for a pyro.
I would think a true, blue-flaming pyro would go for Run 151.
Sorry.....the “BULLSHIT DETECTOR” is going off. Having been “Haze Grey & Underway” a few times, methinks the author of said story needs to find the Truth Serum.
The ship’s ‘Master Sergeant’ stuck out like a sore thumb. The rest of the story was no more believable. A known pyromaniac would not have lasted long on either of my ships, and those weren’t made of wood.
Master Sergeant? Could be a Marine. They tend to be posted in Navy facilities.
and the army wake-up call is reveille (pronounced RE vel lee in America), not revelry.
Not on minesweepers though. There’s a lot more tortured language in the article too. Sailors don’t go on ‘shore leave’, they go on ‘liberty’. Sailors don’t go AWOL, they go UA (unauthorized absence). I never heard a trumpet (bugle, actually) play reveille aboard a ship either.
Pyromania is not a common trait of children of divorced parents. It is a mental illness, which does seem to be precipitated in some cases by the absence of a father figure (according to Wikipedia).
Black Russians contain vodka (you know, the country's national beverage). Maybe a Black Greek contains ouzo, but I've never heard of that.
My inner grammar nazi is in touch with a pet peeve of mine. Things are set on fire or catch fire, they do not catch on fire.
I would have to ask my husband about that, since he spent about half of his time deployed for most of his 20 years in the Navy. During my 4 years in the Navy, I only stepped foot on a ship once, for just long enough to find out that my husband had already disembarked.
We certainly had plenty of Marines at the shore station where I was assigned.
Plus the article misspelled ‘reveille’.
Shore stations commonly have Marines assigned to them. Flagships carry a small number of Marines as a security detail. Various assault ships carry a lot of Marines. Most Navy ships do not. My DLG and DDG never did.
The one flavor I cannot stand is licorice or anise. Yuk!
Only thing worse is Greek `retsina’ wine. Tastes like turpentine. Made that way to avoid taxation.
Anyway, this story doesn’t pass the smell test. Wonder if we have a phony vet here.
It would have to be a suicidal pyro to start a fire on a wooden ship.
Bump to see what happens.
my whole berthing area was wide awake and talking till 5.15am revelry...
Our Master Sargeant speculated that Mike...
If the revelry was still going on at 5:15am (0515 Navy time) it must’a been a helluva party.
Master Sgt., Chief Petty Officer...gim’me a break. Not written by a former squid.
kids of divorce are all screwed up
that is why I always try my damnedest to persuade people to stay together
it’s a midwestern thing
my MIL used to make me cringe when she would say she was going “to the grocery” instead of “the grocery store”
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