Edited by Bob Cohen & Terry Miller

Image © Oak Tree Publishing

Information About the Book

Fifteen members of the Secret Scurvy Dog Society relate their own accounts, many humorous and some pointedly not, of life at sea on U.S. Navy destroyers during the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.

But what of the Secret Scurvy Dog Society? Who are these folks? Jim Kelly, USS William R. Rush Association Historian, is a member. He announced the realease of the book to the members of the Rush Association in an email to the association's webmaster. Kelly takes credit for four of the stories in the book. He has noted that all of his stories are USS William R. RUSH related. But his stories are not the only ones. There were enough stories gathered together by the editors, Bob Cohen {A retired NYPD Captain and former Boilers Officer in USS Henry Wilson (DDG-7)} and Terry Miller {Tin Can Sailors Executive Director and member of the Board of Directors, also served in USS George K. Mackenzie (DD 836)} that the publication of Scurvy Dogs, Green Water & Gunsmoke required two volumes!!

Terry Miller, who lives in Texas, writes a column for a weekly newspaper, the News-Citizen, which serves Waller County, Texas. His column, titled "Rustic Ramblings" recently discussed the Secret Scurvy Dog Society. That column is quoted below for your information and enjoyment:

Rustic Ramblings
By: Terry Miller

Scurvy Dogs and Writer's Cramp

I belong to a writers group as I may have mentioned before. Some 18 of us have put together a two-volume set of books that just went to the printer and will be available shortly. While I don't expect many in Waller County to have an interest in what is clearly a navy destroyer book I did want to mention it because of what it means to the guys who contributed to it and to the two of us who spent many hours editing it.

The book has the somewhat unusual title of "Scurvy Dogs, Green Water and Gunsmoke: Fifty Years in U.S. Navy Destroyers." Unless you've thrown the paper down in disgust you are probably wondering, what on earth does that mean? We, the contributing writers, are all members of the Secret Scurvy Dogs Society. No, there isn't anything secret about us we just needed another word that started with the letter S and Scofflaws seemed too old fashioned while Swashbucklers really hasn't applied to anyone in the group for more than 20 years and in most cases more like 40. Why Scurvy Dogs? It's just an old term for sailors, like Old Salts or Gobs or Tars. We kind of liked it so it stuck. Society is probably the most appropriate term. We socialize daily though from afar. Our members hail from New York City to North Carolina to Texas and the west coast. We even have one honorary Dog who lives in Korea, but he's retired Army and doesn't really count.

So that's why the first part of the title is Scurvy Dogs. Okay, so what is green water, you may ask? If you've ever been to sea on a small ship like a destroyer you know they bob around in rough water like a cork, pitching and yawing and rolling until the steadiest stomachs aboard seek out the bowls of crackers set about the mess decks (where the crew eats) to help settle troublesome tummies. Heavy seas break over the ship without turning to foam and the normally deep blue sea has a greenish cast to it as it slams into the superstructure. Gunsmoke refers to the main purpose of warships and that includes firing the five-inch main guns which, unless we are using so-called smokeless powder, does produce quite a fog of cordite smoke with each shot.

Fifty years in U.S. Navy Destroyers comes from the fact that from when the most senior member of the group enlisted until the last one left the navy, at least 50 years is represented. So there is the explanation of the title, but what is it about? Well, there are two volumes and many stories in each. Some are humorous, some historical in nature, some are poignant, and some just tell an interesting story. Each writer was free to express himself in his own way. About the only thing we all agreed on was that any profits from the book will go to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the navy's own charity and one which all of us hold in the highest regard. Volume Two will go to the printer shortly and the two are companion pieces. (The truth is that we just had too many stories for one book so it was divided in half.)

Not everyone will enjoy the books and that's okay because not everyone has an interest in the navy and the sailors who sailed the warships. I wouldn't recommend them to those who don't. I'm just proud of the group's accomplishment. It has taken us nearly 10 years, I think, to assemble what the manuscript, find a willing publisher, and get the thing into print. It has been a learning experience for most of us, though my co-editor does have a previous book out so he knew what to expect. Now the question is whether there will be any interest in the book among navy veterans. Time will tell.

I think our next effort will be to publish a cookbook, but I'll get back to you.

© News-Citizen, 03/20/2008
© Houston Community Newspapers Online, 2008

Purchasing Volumes 1 and 2

The book, consisiting of both volumes can be purchased from the publisher, Oak Tree Publishing, or from Barnes & Noble, or from Tin Can Sailors — The National Association of Destroyer Veterans. Pricing for each volume and ordering information is available at the web sites for each of the above sources. A link to Tin Can Sailors is provided below.

ScurvyDogsCover.jpgVolume 1
Publisher: Oak Tree Publishing
Publication Date: February 2008
ISBN-13: 9781892343062

Volume 2
Publisher: Oak Tree Publishing
Publication Date: February 2008
ISBN-13: 9781892343079

Selecting the PHOTOGRAPH of the COVER (© Oak Tree Publishing) with your mouse will open a new window taking you to the Tin Can Sailors website. You can then visit their STORE where Scurvy Dogs, Green Water & Gunsmoke is listed.