Luck tops skill

By Craig Johnson

I was a TM2 assigned to Shore Patrol in Charleston, SC in the early 70’s.


All the beats were walking beats except the one I was assigned to. I was assigned to what was called the senior/riot squad. We made rounds throughout the area responding to all locations within Charleston and the surrounding counties all the way out to the Weapons Station, by vehicle.

shore_patrol_2014-04-17_2034I had been on the job about two weeks when something happened that helped me for the rest of my tour as Shore Patrol.


We responded to a call for a fight between military members and a local motorcycle gang, just outside the main gate of the Navy Base.We were in the outer county and needed to use lights and sirens to get there in a hurry. When we pulled up the local Police politely asked us to handle this particular bar, to augment their own patrolmen.

I went through the door and came face to chest with the biggest man I have personally ever met. Understand that I am not huge –only 6’2″– but not a small man either. I was standing toe to toe with him and I was looking straight in the belly-button. His arms looked, in length and girth, like my legs.

Now I will say he definitely had a lot to drink and, in navy terms, was three sheets to the wind.

I had taken advantage of the Z-grams and had grown a mustache and beard. Sidenote: Admiral Zumwalt had become Chief of Naval Operations on July 1, 1970, and quickly started releasing Navy-wide communications called A-grams. One of these changed grooming standards for beards, sideburns, mustaches, and longer hair.

The giant swung at my chin with everything he had. His hand went into my beard, but reacting quickly, as a sober man can often do, I snapped my head back and very fortunately for me, he did not actually connect with my chin. I suspect that if he did, my head would have come clean off my shoulders.

I shook my head from side to side, acting like I took the full force of the blow on my chin, apparently constructed of concrete and rebar, and then looked at him sternly and said, “If that is the best you can do, go out and get in the truck.”

He was so drunk that it wasn’t hard for me to fool him into thinking that he had hit me with everything he had and all I did was shake my head. The whole bar, probably just as intoxicated, and viewing the fistfight from much further away, seemed to have been convinced that I took this shot, full force, to the face, unphased. They all had stopped to watch, and were anxiously anticipating what would happen next.

Goliath, the motorcycle guy, astounded, quietly walked out and got in the truck and sat there and waited to go very patiently, without a fuss.

Now my reputation in the area grew as the story grew and traveled around the area. Every time this gang member would cause trouble, the local police would call for my assistance with him. I would go in and call out his name and he would walk out and get in the truck without a problem. My reputation existed and grew from this event and I hardly ever had to get physical in my tour as Shore Patrol because someone would whisper “do you know who that is?”

That is when I learned that luck top’s skill every time!

SWIM CALL FINISHED 2014-03-04_0810

picexc dive suit 2014-02-19_1350

Join Sea Stories Group 2014-01-26_2047


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One response to “Luck tops skill

  1. You changed my story and it has errors.

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

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