More must be recorded about Dick Goebel, one of two officers who helped turn boring duty in EAGLE 19 into experiences worth remembering.

Dick was always good natured. Maybe almost always would be a fairer description. He had blonde hair, slightly wavy, but otherwise combed straight back, was of medium height, sported a slim figure, and always made people feel that he was happy to see them. Perhaps almost always would be better.

Dick appeared affable even to strangers, and with his good looks he served like a magnet for attracting women. For example, almost a year after we were detached from EAGLE 19 and after the war ended, we met in the Rose Room in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel.

Dick was on his way home to Scarsdale, New York and I was bound for Manila. The Rose Room’s good-looking chic photographer just had to take our picture and just had to ask Dick for a date.


Dick, who was in love with his high-school sweetheart, turned the beauty down in the gentlest way. Another officer wrote on my copy of the photograph, “To Louie who saw Dick do the impossible.”

But sweet, lovable, and gentle Richard wasn’t perfect. Waking him up was as risky as poking a hibernating grizzly bear or a hungry moray eel. Aboard Eagle 19 Dick had the upper bunk in a stateroom that he shared with Ben Dobson who, while being the oldest of the three of us, was the most mischievous. On occasion he would demonstrate to others how deeply his roommate slept by raising Dick’s arm straight up and letting it drop.

The most remarkable mornings were when we lived for a period of a few weeks in the Key West Bachelor Officers Quarters while EAGLE 19 was being decommissioned. Ben and I became skilled at getting Dick’s feet on the floor, nagging him through the washroom, coaxing him into his clothes, and then nudging the zombie between us for the quarter-mile walk to a very-small diner just outside the Base’s gate. After the first two days the marine sentries became accustomed to the closed-eyed apparition and no longer asked to see Dick’s identification card.


We always arrived at the small diner after the breakfast crowd departed, and occupied the same three stools. Just twenty inches behind was a jukebox. Instantly, Dick was head down on his folded arms and appeared to be good for three more hours of sleep. Then Ben or I fed the jukebox and selected Spike Jones’ Clang, Clang, Clang Goes the Trolley. Always, upon the first clang, sweet, lovable, and gentle Richard woke up suddenly and started flailing surprisingly powerful punches in all directions while screaming, “You sons of bitches did it again!”


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

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