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Kemp's Korner

Two compartments off the tank deck were designated as the Boson's locker and the Paint locker. The man in charge here was one Pennington D. Kemp.

On one of our trips to Okinawa, we carried a contingent of Sea Bees (Navy Construction Battalion) and their equipment. Obviously they enjoyed our hospitality, for as they departed, they told us that if we ever needed anything, just find their camp and they would help us. It wasn't long after, that Penn and our deck officer found the Sea Bee Base with all kinds of stuff scattered around in different piles. It was a scavenger's bonanza. In one pile, the Sea Bees had "the most paint you ever saw", as Penn put it and gave us as much as could be loaded on one of their small trucks. The truck followed our jeep back to the beached 832. The Sea-Bees drove up the bow ramp and unloaded the paint on the tank deck. Penn had a new garbage barrel into which the five gallon cans of paint were poured making it easy for mixing. Using a paddle from one of the life rafts to stir, large amounts could be made ready for use. There were many cans of zinc chromate (yellow), cruiser blue, battleship gray, submarine black and non skid deck paint that had sand in it.

As Penn tells it, "Now the fun part of this paint story"... A piece of rubberized canvas was used to cover the large can, and a heavy steel plate on top of the canvas made a perfect air tight seal. This can was kept outside the paint locker on the tank deck. Believe it or not, part of Kemp's story has to do with movies. It was necessary under blackout conditions to have our nightly movie on the bow end of the tank deck. This is the area where the large barrel of paint was kept. One shipmate, Max Spears, claimed the top of the barrel as his personal movie seat. Other shipmates sat on five gallon cans around the movie screen. One night, unknown to Max, the barrel had the usual canvas cover but someone forgot to add the steel plate. When Max hopped on his personal seat, he sank to the bottom and it took two men to pull him out. He stood in one spot with paint running off in a big puddle, threatening to kill Kemp. Penn calls this the "goofiest episode" that he can remember happening on the tank deck.

Very little ever happened on the tank without Penn being in on it. His "office" was the Boson's locker and he was in charge of that along with the paint locker. Both lockers were entered from the tank deck.



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