I’ve spent so many nights trying to remember exactly how it started. As far as I’m concerned, who cares how it started? I’m just glad it’s over. You keep bugging me to tell you though so I’ll give it my best shot.
I checked onboard USS Anzio in July of 1997, right after being on leave. I was only able to take a week or so of leave after school out in San Diego which, I might add, was alot of fun to be stationed at. I tell ya, the “boyz” and I partied constantly. Always heading to Tijuana and tossing alcohol down our throats. Oh dam, I’m sorry. I should stick to the story, huh?
Well anyway…I checked onboard in late July of 1997 with my eyes full of wonder and my heart swelled with pride. I proudly walked up the brow, saluted the flag, saluted the Officer of The Deck and said “Permission to Come Aboard”. He saluted me back, said “granted” and said he’d have somebody show me where to go.
I was directed down to berthing by a pretty nice guy. He introduced himself as IC3 Herb Tyler, then proceeded to get me some linen and a pillow. I unpacked my bags, tossing them in my rack and then went to sit in the lounge. As I waited for Herb to get back, I turned the TV to a channel that was showing some old Charles Bronson movie. No longer than five minutes later, Herb came back with sheets and a pillow. He tossed them to me and grinned. Through that wide grin, he said “Get your stuff all done. You and me are going drinking tonight”.
I made my bed and took a shower and was good to go. I stopped by Herb’s rack and asked if he was ready. He grinned again and said “Yep, let’s go”. So we went.
I don’t know how far indepth you want me to go or how far back you want to hear. It’s not like I really enjoy reliving the whole incident anyway.
Hmmm….Well August 97 came and went with no problems as did September, October, November and December. It wasn’t until January of 1998 that weird shit started happening.
The ship headed out to sea in mid-January of 98. That, in itself, wasn’t too unusual. What WAS strange was what happened about 4 days out to sea.
I was sitting on the messdecks eating mid-rats when it happened. There was a new guy, don’t even remember his name, who had just checked onboard maybe a month before. He came waltzing onto the messecks kinda limping a little and with a little drivet of drool hanging out of his mouth. Kinda strange, I think but it’s not all that weird. I’m figuring this kid just banged his knee or something, that’s where the limp is coming from. But come to find out, the limp and the drool were not the only things wrong with this kid. He limped his ass over to one of the booths on the starboard side of the messdecks and grabbed a buddy of mine, Fireman Turner. Well he didn’t just grab him, he also sat down, or rather FELL down into the booth and tried to bite a chunk out of Turner’s arm. There weren’t many people on the messdecks eating but those of us who were there jumped up and grabbed this kid. We all grabbed an arm and a leg and started carrying him to medical. I tried to ask him what the hell he was thinking but all he said was “I’m so hungry”. I said “Dude, I get hungry too but a human arm isn’t exactly my idea of dinner”. He continued to protest his hungriness all the way to medical. We got him to medical and Doc just looked at me square in the face and said “Thanks shipmate, we’ll take it from here”. I tried to explain what this kid had done but Doc would have none of it. He just slammed the door.
Well, I never saw that kid again. Rumors were flying that he had inhaled too much paint or something along those lines. I didn’t know then what I know now, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have changed anything anyway.
We pulled back into Norfolk in early February and eventually people forgot about that kid. Too many other things to worry about, I guess. We had an upcoming deployment in June and lots of workups to do, families to tend to, ya know that sort of thing.
We headed out a couple more times in between February and June but for the most part we stayed in port to take care of all our business. I heard whispers floating around the ship about more incidences like that kid. Oh hey, I found out his name. It was Seaman Easlick. It always struck me as funny that in every incident, the person who was chomping on people always ended up leaving the ship. No one ever found out where exactly the went or what had caused the incident. There was really no way to tell because all of the guys worked in different areas of the ship.
We deployed in early June of 98 with a decent crew and a decent captain. We didn’t pull into a port until early July. Nothing happened in that time but after we left Naples, Italy shit started up again and it was worse this time.
The first incident that I witnessed with my own two eyes happened in the chow line. I was standing in line with my buddy, Rick, just shooting the shit while waiting for lunch. Chief Turner came out of the Chief’s mess with some blood on his face and that same crazy limp as that other kid. He was drooling and grabbed the first person he saw. We all stood in shock as Chief Turner grabbed IC3 Mucerino and took a nice chunk out of his shoulder with his teeth. Moose screamed at the top of his lungs and then fainted. I think it was the scream that jarred everybody out of shock. Chief Turner tried to grab at the next guy, DC1 Davis but Davis punched Chief straight in the jaw and ran. Chief fell for a minute and was trying to get up again when a bunch of guys pounced on him. Same as Easlick, they each grabbed an arm and a leg and carried him to medical. Somebody helped Moose to his feet and helped him get to medical, the big gash out of his shoulder leaking blood down the front of his shirt. Nobody really had much of an appetite after that, needless to say.
I went to bed right after dinner but didn’t get a whole lot of sleep because I woke up to some yelling. I hopped out of my rack and jumped into my shower shoes. I wasn’t the only one up, either. I ran to the lounge and there was Moose. He was limping and drooling. He had already grabbed a chunk of McNeil’s ear and was steadily chewing it, open-mouthed. McNeil looked like he had fainted also. What was left of his ear was dribbling blood onto the couch, where he had fallen asleep it looked like. People started to crowd behind me but nobody was willing to do anything. Everybody just stared open-mouthed at Moose and McNeil. Finally somebody ran over to McNeil and shook him. He came to and grabbed the side of his head, yelling at the top of his lungs. He was led to medical and I figured I’d give a hand too. We got up by medical and heard some yelling from the messdecks. We thought that we’d better get McNeil to medical first though.
As we came upon medical, I saw that the door was wide open and there were a couple puddles of blood on the floor. There was no sign of Doc or Baby Doc, what we affectionately call the Junior corpsman. As we were standing there, we heard the screams again. I looked down to see McNeil had passed out again and told the guy next to me to stay with McNeil. He nodded and I ran to the messdecks. When I got there, I almost lost my dinner. The sight that unfolded before me was as terrifying as it was disgusting. Doc apparently had happened upon some card sharks and attacked them. FC2 Gardner lay on the ground, moaning and as I looked closer, I saw that his left arm had been removed at the elbow. Looking at Doc again, I saw something that I don’t know how I could have missed. Doc had a human arm hanging out of his mouth and was gnawing on the end that used to be attached to Gardner’s elbow. I said, “Doc! What in the FUCK are you doing?!?!?!?!?” He just looked at me and innocently replied, “I was hungry”. I’ve seen alot of strange things in my time but this so far takes the cake. Are you still awake? I hope so ’cause it’s not over yet.
I heard a noise over to my left and saw McNeil limping towards me. He told me he was hungry. I almost tripped over Gardner in my attempt to get away from both him AND Doc. I ran off the messdecks fast as shit and tried to figure out what to do and how to do it. Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t hear Rick step up next to me. He said, “Dave there’s some weird shit going on right now”. I said “tell me about it” and we both started walking forward trying to get away from the moaning and screaming on the messdecks. The LMRC was full of people that looked like they’d been playing computer games. Rick and I told them to stay calm and we’d figure out what the hell was going on. One of the guys yelled “look out!” and Rick and whirled around, coming face-to-face with Baby Doc. He had blood all around his mouth and shirt and said “I sure am hungry”. We stood in shock again for a split second and then knocked him out of the way. As soon as we stepped out of the LMRC though, we wondered if it was such a good idea. To our right, approaching from the messdecks, was Doc and Gardner. To our left, STG1 Ottaway and Master Chief Walters from CSMC. Looks like Baby Doc had gotten them too. Rick and I jetted past the ship’s store and up the ladderwell. We got to the midship’s quarterdeck and stood there for a minute. I heard that damn moaning again and saw the XO limping through Officer’s Country. I didn’t know who the hell got him but he was trucking right along in our direction. I grabbed Rick by the arm and yanked him to the weatherdecks. We both bounded up the stairs to the 03 level and then looked at each other. He grinned and then I did too. He said, “Am I crazy or have you seen all the same shit as me?” I told him I was going to ask him the same thing. We stood there for a second and were trying to figure out how to go about getting rid of all these zombie fucks while we were on a ship in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden the ship took a hard roll to starboard and we grabbed onto a lifeline. We both looked at each other and said “Oh shit! The bridge!” We bolted up all the stairs until we got to the bridge but it was too late. The helmsman lay over the helm and the Officer of the Deck turned to look at us. He had blood smeared all on his face. There were several bodies scattered on the deck and in horror, Rick and I watched as the Quartermaster of the Watch stood up and looked at us. He yelled “I’m hungry” and then started limping towards us. As he got closer we could see that his right hand was gone and all that was left was a bloody stump. Like we had done earlier, Rick and I ran. As we passed by the Captain’s Cabin, we saw that his door was ajar. Rick stopped for too long though because the Captain jumped out from around the corner and took a sizely chunk out of Rick’s head. Rick moaned and then dropped. Captain came after me talking about hunger pains and I told him to fuck off ’cause I wasn’t going to be his dinner, captain or not. I looked down at my watch and saw that nearly 3 hours had passed since I first saw Moose. I wondered how many people had been “zombie-ized”. Standing there, still in my shower shoes, I decided to make a run for it and get to Shop 2. I ran as hard and as fast as I could. Luckily for me, noone was in Shop 2. I unlocked the door and stepped inside, dogging the door down as I did. I stayed in there for a long time. I must’ve fallen asleep somehow because the next time I looked at my watch, it was 5 hours later. I could hear some scratching and moaning on the other side of the door but I continued to hold the dogs down. After mustering up enough courage, I opened the door and came face-to-face with what I used to call Rick and the guy I used to know as Herb. They both looked surprised for a second and that’s all I needed. I jumped in between them and, shoving them aside, ran across the 03 level. I ran down all those stairs that Rick and I had come up several hours before and came to the starboard side of the quarterdeck. Looking around, I realized that I must be the last person onboard who hadn’t been attacked by those damn zombies. As I tried to figure out the next step, I heard a loud pop and all of a sudden my right leg went dead. As I fell to the deck, I saw Josh Baber limping towards me holding a 9MM. He yelled at me “I’m so damn hungry” and then he raised the gun again. I took it as my cue and exited the stage. I pulled myself over the life lines and squeezed in between them and the next thing I remember, I hit the water. Thank God that Josh thing hadn’t hit me in the arm. I swam for my life and in horror looked back at the ship and saw that one of the Chiefs, I couldn’t tell who, had jumped off the side and was attempting to swim after me also. The water was cold and after awhile, my arms froze up and I lost consciousness again. That’s all I can remember, until that fishing boat picked me up. After that, everything is what you already now. I still don’t know what happened out there and probably never will but what I do know is I will be haunted by the faces of all those zombies for years and years.
Well, I guess I’ll close off this letter to you because I’m getting pretty damn hungry. For a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that is. Hope to hear from you soon.
Originally posted Sat, 11-13-04