Commander Joe Stryker, Executive Officer

“When I moved up to executive officer from navigator on February 19, 1943, I became very interested in the ship’s brig. I found that a lot of deadbeats were being sent there where they could lie around and read comic books while their other shipmates were doing their work for them. I soon tried to take measures whereby the brig would be most unpopular. I started the rule that no man in the brig could be off his feet from 0830 until 1700 with two rest periods and a half hour for noon meal or bread if they were on a restrained diet. If they tried to lie down the Marine guards were instructed to order them up and to pound on the soles of their shoes if they didn’t obey. It wasn’t long before the chaplain made a call on me and told me that some of the men in the brig had complained to him about my order and called it “cruel and inhumane treatment.” I told the chaplain to trot back down to the brig and tell them that they were being required to do exactly what every shop girl in Macy’s basement did everyday and if they didn’t like the hours and requirements, to keep the hell out of my hotel. From then on it was Stryker’s hotel. I never had any more complaints and the occupancy rate at the hotel was greatly reduced.

The Brig

Finally, we were allowed beer on board to be doled out at the rate of two cans per man on beach parties liberty. Prior to that, it had been hard even on shore stations to get beer. We were in Noumea when beer was authorized and pressure was put on me to get some of it. I called Chief Dillingham and Chief Minvielle, my two top crew representatives, and told them I wasn’t getting the beer because I didn’t think there was a place on the ship where it would be safe from pilferage at unauthorized times. They though it over and came up with this: “We don’t use the brig much anymore, so why not lock it up there? We’ll pass the word that the first SOB that draws brig time will cause all the beer to be thrown over the side.” They added that they would see that culprits could be taken care of other than being taken to the Captain’s Mast where the punishment might be brig time. Again, I bought their suggestion and we had a few black eyes once in a while, but no lodgers at the “Stryker Hotel” [the brig] for months to come.”

-Cmdr Joe Stryker, Executive Officer