The Height Of Our Flag On Base
By: William T Gardiner,
SM1 USN (Ret/Medically)
The Headquarters building, if I remember correctly, was used by the Admiral in Charge of the entire Navy Base. As in "Section B - Picture 147" you can see what, I believe, is a small signal lamp that was used by U.S. military signalman whenever visual communications were used from shore to ship - ship to shore. The Navy had a signalman on duty 24 hours a day. In fact, in the picture I believe it does show the small building that was enclosed with glass and additionally a flag hoist where certain flags, with different meanings were used to communicate with ships. In the photo "Section B - 126, as is obvious, there are two flag poles. The American Flag flew from one of them.
I was in Subic Bay more times than I can remember, on ships. Was a Signalman (visual communications). One Federal Government rule that is still in place today is "no flag will fly any higher than the American Flag. One day, while on ship and standing watch on the signal bridge, I noticed that the American Flag was just inches lower that the Philippine flag. I used my signalman's light, called the tower and gave them a ZUI - "Your attention is invited to . . . . . and then I made reference to the American Flag. I sent that notification out as a general message but it was not authorized by my Ships commanding officer. I informed the signalman who was on duty that the American flag was lower and quoted him the regulations. I had NO idea he would take that message to the Admiral to read. After I sent the message I then sat back and kept an eye out for any blinking lights directed at our ship. Had completely forgotten about the message I had sent.
The base Admiral, after reading "my official looking" message, sent back to our ship, directed to our Commanding Officer, a message with "Priority" heading. He basically chewed out our ships Commanding officer for nit picking HIS base and wanted an immediate apology. I had a decision to make. I acknowledged receipt of the message. I could have said that our ship did not send the message or told our CO that I was just trying to make a point, admit my message was sent as an official one. I admitted to the latter. My CO had me send a message back to the Admiral saying he apologized but was immediately leaving the ship to talk to him face to face, which he did.
When our CO got back, he put out a "liberty recall" notice to the Shore Patrol. They had to go into town and get all of our crew members and get them back to the ship. The Admiral refused to accept the apology of our CO and additionally gave our CO 24 hours to gather his crew and kicked the entire ship out of Subic Bay. For my illegal message I was restricted to the ship for two months. Could not go on liberty in any other port we pulled into. A lesson well learned.