Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Axe Murderer Tours No More?

I had the distinct pleasure of taking Commander Mike Taylor of the USS Ford and one of his officers, Combat Systems Officer - Lieutenant James Carsner, out on a dive in the Grotto and little sight seeing tour of the north end of the island Sunday morning. I got a call Saturday night from Becky Castro who was part of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce greeting committee that greets the ships and the sailors when they come in. She said the captain would like to go for a dive and asked if I could take him out the next morning. I was already scheduled to do a boat dive to Tinian that afternoon, but that still left the morning wide open, so of course I said yes.

I told them I'd pick them up at the ship at 8 am the next morning. Of course I'm always early for everything, so I decided to take a picture of the ship as I was waiting for them. It was at that point that a guy with a gun told me that no pictures were allowed, you don't usually argue in those situations. I went up and talked to the guards, they said it was the captains orders that no pictures were to be taken of the ship, and that I would have to get his permission before taking any. I said that shouldn't be a problem since I was supposed to be taking him diving in a few minutes. Sure enough, Captain Mike Taylor was an awesome guy, and told me I was welcome to use my picture, that I could have a tour or anything else I wanted. I was happy just having my picture. So since I only had time to take the Commander and his officer on one dive, of course it had to be the Grotto. Unfortunately none of my pictures of them underwater really turned out that great, guess I was having an off day. But they both said they had a blast and loved diving the Grotto. As long as I can make someones day like that, I'm happy as a clam. They got to see sharks, and a few other cool fish and they both came back without any visible blood, so I considered the dive a success! Since of course I considered this an official Axe Murderer Tour, I had to take Mike & James to the scenic spots on the north end of Saipan. I get to call them Mike and James since I'm not military, and was really just their dive buddy, and of course I mean no disrespect to either of them by that. They were both awesome and we had a great time together. Our first stop was just down the road from the Grotto, the Bird Island lookout. I think they were both just a tad jealous that I live somewhere like this and get to see these things any old time I feel like it. Sorry guys, but you're always welcome to come back and join Axe Murderer Tours in your retirement if you'd like!

Next I took them up to Suicide Cliff, but I forgot to take any pictures of them up there. What do you expect, it's not like I'm a real tour guide! Now you see why I can't charge for my services. Oh well, they seemed to enjoy the view and read some of the inscriptions on the monuments. Here you see Commander Mike at the railing at Bonzai Cliff. Personally I think he'd make an awesome addition to Axe Murderer Tours, and he is starting to think about retirement. I didn't say he was going to retire, I just said he was thinking about it. And finally we stopped at the Last Command Post at Marpi. Here you see Captain Mike checking out all the old military hardware. I'm thinking he was feeling like a kid in a candy store. I think most of these guys have bullets and hydraulic fluid flowing through their veins, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. I am very thankful for our service men and women, and love having a chance to give back to them whenever the opportunity presents itself. See what I mean about a kid in a candy store? Something tells me that Commander Mike Taylor is a very cool guy, and one who I would love serving under if I was in the Navy. I hope he enjoyed his tour half as much as I enjoyed giving it to him. All good things must come to and end though, and this is where I left Mike & James.It's certainly one visit that I won't forget anytime soon, or ever for that matter, Captain Mike saw to that. He had a hat and a plaque delivered to me before they left for Guam, as a momento of their time with me. What a touching thing to do! I can honestly say that's the first time I've ever been given a plaque of appreciation for my efforts. Little do they know I'd be diving anyway, and I probably have more fun than they do, but still. The smile on my face when Becky Castro dropped these off to me had to be huge, I was blown away. And then I read the inscription on the plaque. How do you argue with a ships Commander? If he says the name of your tour company is now Hatchet Murder Tours Inc. instead of Axe Murderer Tours, and he actually puts it on a plaque, I think you have to just go with it. So now Commander Mike Taylor joins the official history and lore of Hatchet Murder Tours Inc. and gets credit with giving it it's new name. Therefore let it be known that from this point forward, my fictitious tour company shall be known as Hatchet Murder Tours Inc. as officially dubbed by Commander Mike Taylor of the USS Ford. I can't thank you enough Mike, and I will forever proudly display my plaque in my office to remind me of our very cool morning together.


Dominic said...

Your tour went from a noun to a verb. From a big weapon to a smaller one. Hatchet Murder Tours... it has a nice ring to it. Instead of being led by one you can be one!

Anonymous said...

FORD made it back to Everett on 20SEP safe and sound. Thank you for a wonder dive at, IMHO, the BEST cavern dive in the world. Additionally, I appreciate your "Hatchet" Murderer Tour of some of the historical points of interest on Saipan. I noticed the change in your freelance tour name as the plaque was leaving the ship, too late to make a change - hope the CO doesn't see this. You live on a beautiful island where all the people FORD Sailors encountered with friendly and hospitable. I just found my dive log and have entered our dives into it. I look forward to one day sharing the experience with my wife.

Very Respectfully,
James Carsner

The CO and I dove Gabby II three times while in Guam. Great dive, almost lost a finger to a fish.