Olongapo refueling,  1966

We had pulled in to Subic Bay Naval Station for refueling as we were on our way to Hong Kong.  We were to be there for only a few hours and then go to rendezvous with one of the carriers for the trip to Hong Kong.  No liberty was granted, since we were there such a brief time, but a few of the chiefs wanted to go over and have a beer or two at Pauline’s.  Pauline’s place was famous throughout the 7th fleet.  When the was first started, it had been a scruffy bar in the downtown section of Olongapo.  At that time, there was not a paved street in town – just dirt roads, and the main industry was bars catering to the sailors and running jitneys to get from bar to bar. 

At this time, though, the war had been underway for a while, so the town had been upgraded significantly.  The streets had been paved, and Pauline’s had built a new, two story Western-style saloon on the other side of the street from its first location.  They had a band, and tables around a runway coming down from the stage, as well as a balcony with tables, and more tables on the general floor, with a small dance floor in the center.  Obviously, the owner of the place had prospered greatly with all the ships coming in and out of the harbor and the associated large number of sailors looking for food, drink, and entertainment.  With all this money floating around town, the mayor was pretty well off, and apparently was running his own set of games.  There had been a couple of assassination attempts on him at his villa outside of town, and we heard rumors that Pauline was in competition with the mayor to take over the business of running the town.  The waiters and other people who worked at Pauline’s wanted a bigger cut of the action, so they went on strike for better pay and bonuses.  This didn’t impress the owners very much, since the labor market was full of people who wanted to work – they just hired scabs and continued business.

This didn’t set well with the people who were on strike – they wanted negotiations, not to be put out of a job, so they picked the morning when our chief petty officers were sauntering up the street for a beer, to hit Pauline’s place with a firefight.  They were shooting full automatic fire, so it was apparent they were serious.  The security force at Pauline’s had evidently been expecting them, since they were giving a good account of themselves with their own automatic weapons.  Our chief petty officers being men of discretion as well as great valor, reconsidered the need for a beer and hotfooted it back to the ship with their story.  We figured it was none of our business, and they would have settled it by the time we came back, so we completed refueling and headed out for our rendezvous.

When we came that way again, no one knew what we were talking about when we tried to strike up conversation about the great firefight and strike at Pauline’s.