Friday, May 23, 2008

Nose Wheel Roulette

I have been reading about military matters for sometime. I enjoy reading about the camaraderie and even the mundane. I have been aware for sometime of the propensity of military men to gamble among themselves. I know that Craps and Poker were popular games in WWII, and Acey-Ducey in WWII submarines. I am also aware of such things as Anchor Pools. The new thing to me was “Nose Wheel Roulette.”

An Anchor Pool was where seamen would pay a small amount and place his name in a square, one of sixty, on a sheet of paper. Before all the squares were filled, a similar sheet with the same amount of squares was filled with numbers, 1-60, randomly dispersed and placed behind it, with a piece of carbon paper between. This way, when the seaman placed his name on the front sheet, his name also transferred to the back sheet, over a number. The military is well known for its paperwork and bureaucracy; every time a flight leaves or a ship anchors someone writes it down on a sheet of paper or log, along with the time and date. This final item is what the Anchor Pool relied on. On a ship’s bridge, the quartermaster of the watch (sometimes other ratings would record logs) would record orders and changes in course or speed. The Quartermaster of the watch would also record the time that the Officer of the Deck (OOD) or other bridge personnel reported to the OOD that the ship was docked, anchored, or in some other way made fast and not moving. He would write the time…down to the minute. It was this last thing that the pool was interested in. If the time that the Anchor was set was at 0904, the guy whose name was in the “04” box got the pool. Gambling is frowned upon in the military, so these pools were kept quiet.

This new item, Nose Wheel Roulette, though, is different…the officers were in on it. The idea was to mark the nose wheel in chalk with numbers corresponding to the number of crewmen aboard. The Pilot was usually one, and the Copilot was usually 2. The airplane type I was reading about was the C-133, so several crewmen could be aboard. Usually the pilots were the only officers aboard. The number closest to the ground at engine shutdown would buy the crew the first round at the bar. The author of this book, Cal Taylor, related that the pilot and Copilot almost always ended up buying rounds. He explained that there was a reason for this. The man in the observer’s hatch (above everyone on the flight deck to aid in taxiing the large aircraft) was usually an enlisted man, as was the man in the “Follow Me” truck. The Pilots apparently never got suspicious of the "forward a little bit more" instructions from ground personnell. (Source: Remembering An Unsung Giant: The Douglas C-133 Cargomaster And Its People, 2005)

Strictly speaking, this has nothing to do with wreckchasing, but I figure it is close enough.

I have not gotten much further with information on Exercise Coulee Crest around here. The Electrician at work thought his father might know about it. He did, and he related the beer experience I wrote in the prior post. He also noted that camps were south of the ridge, close to Moxee. I look forward to anyone with even a little information illuminating me further on this subject.