Hanging around the coke machine was a favorite pastime for the off-duty crew in USS EAGLE 19. The Coke machine was a simple metal tank that bore the Cocoa Cola logo. It was located in the weather on the main deck aft. Cooling was achieved with a block of ice. A Coke cost five cents.

Individual bottling plants had their city names on the bottom of each of their classic-shaped Coke bottles in order to facilitate return of the empties to their originating Cocoa Cola franchises. As a consequence of the Naval Operating Base in Key West functioning as a wartime crossroads for escort ships and submarines, the empties from the various bottling plants got mixed. A game of chance evolved.

A small group of sailors would agree among themselves that the guy who picked a bottle with the name of the farthest away city, would be treated by the others.


Piner was in charge of the coke machine; he is seen in the photo accepting Accomando’s nickel. But for the war they would probably not ever have met. Piner grew up on then relatively isolated Chincoteague Island off of the coast of Virginia. His accent was more like that of a British subject than it was like an American accent.

Accomando was from Brooklyn.


My brother once advised, “I read that about ten percent of the people in the U.S. armed services during World War II were of Italian descent.”

I replied that was certainly the case in USS EAGLE 19. In order to back up my opinion I sent him a copy of the following snapshot:


Botisti and Accomando weren’t available when the photo was shot.


During most of my time in EAGLE 19 I was the only bachelor officer. Thus when in port, I was often involved in activities with the enlisted sailors. We went swimming regardless of the sharks and barracuda. I organized a baseball team and then booked games by challenging the crews in other ships. I once took a bunch to the rifle range and I arranged a few combination beer and fishing parties in a borrowed Navy fifty-foot liberty launch. We cruised via Key West’s Northwest Channel and fished, not very seriously, in the Gulf of Mexico. Thus in EAGLE 19 there were some memorable times that were not duplicated elsewhere:


Copyright © 2005 (text only) by Louis D. Chirillo