USS Jason: Rainbow at Sea

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Phot of USS Jason AR-8 Repair Ship at Sea

During my time aboard the USS Jason (AR-8), I was assigned to the R4 Division. We were mainly Electronics Technicians (ETs)—often called Twidgets. I have never quite discerned why. Although, the story goes that it had to do with the tools we carried for tweaking electronic equipment…srsly IDk—and Radiomen, including a few Cryptologic Techs (CTs)—Or, as we called them because of their insignia (a crossed lightning bolt and feather), “Lightning-fast-chicken-pluckers.”

US NAVY ET (Eleectronics Technician) Insignia patch USS Jason AR-8 Patch US NAVY CT (Cryptologic Technician) Insignia (Feather Crossed with a Lightning Bolt)
US Navy ET (Electronics Technician) patch. USS Jason AR-8 Patch CT (Cryptologic Technician) Insignia

The Jason’s ongoing mission was to provide support and repairs for the Navy’s fleet of ships and subs. With extensive onboard stores of parts and supplies, along with a complete welding shop, pipe-fitting shop, and machine shop, and our own complement of divers, we could pretty much repair any ship from the waterline up and make a number of below waterline repairs, as well.

Our division repaired and maintained electronic equipment, including radar, sonar, and radio/communications systems, aboard our ship and others. The R4 Division was led by CW-02 (Chief Warrant Officer) Wilson, one of the only female warrants at the time. As well as being a  capable Navy officer and leader, she was also smart and easy-going, as ship’s officers go. She’d gone prematurely gray (likely due to the antics of some of her subordinates over the years), and we affectionately referred to her as Granny. Although, while she certainly knew it, we never dared say it to her face.

CW (Chief Warrant Officer) 02 Wilson at her desk aboard the USS Jason.
CW (Chief Warrant Officer) 02 Wilson at her desk aboard the USS Jason.

In the later period of our WestPac (Western Pacific) cruise, we spent two months anchored at the island of Diego Garcia, a small bit of BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territory) in the middle of the Indian Ocean that we not so affectionately referred to as “British revenge for 1776.” Don’t get me wrong, it was an idyllic setting, beautiful and serene, but it was a working port in the middle of nowhere. Back then, with no cell phones, no internet, etc., we were pretty cut off. Add to that, no pier, we weren’t even able to go ashore unless we managed to snag a seat on a small boat. I can verify that channel fever is real.

Sign surrounded by jungle foliage: Welcome to Diego Garcia, B.I.O.T

At some point during our time in Diego Garcia, I was assigned the task of scraping and repainting the AC unit in our division space. I somehow managed to talk my way into getting permission to paint it something other than battalion gray.

When Granny walked in and saw it the first time, she just looked down and shook her head. There may have been a hint of regret in her body language, but beneath it you could see a smile, and I swear I heard her chuckle. Me? I just needed a little color, a tiny rainbow to break through the gray. We didn’t have much in the way of paint color options on board, and it wasn’t fine art by any stretch, but it made me smile.

Look at that baby-faced grin!

Sharon in uniform T-Shirt, dungarees and cap with Naval insignia standing beside an AC unit painted white with a rainbow. Aboard the USS Jason circa 1981


If you enjoyed this little sea story, you can read more about my time in the Navy here.


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