P.T. 73 - Navy patrol featured on the military comedy
MCHALE'S NAVY/ABC/1962-66. To battle the Japanese forces in the Pacific Ocean during World
War II, the US Navy stationed recruits on the South Seas island of
Taratupa. The skipper of the P.T. 73 was Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale, a veteran seaman
who was drafted into the war because of his knowledge of the
surrounding islands and the local natives and customs. McHale
reported to Captain Wallace B. Binghamton who happened to hate
McHale for the way he loosely managed the men in his command.
Determined to get rid of McHale and his rowdy bunch, the by-the-book
Binghamton assigned the naive Ensign Charles Parker to McHale's crew
and ordered Parker to collect incriminating evidence on McHale's men
so the could ship them off the island. Binghamton's plan backfired,
however, when Parker warmed up to McHale's crew and failed to
deliver back any damaging evidence to Binghamton whom McHale's men
called "Old Lead Bottom."
Now, Binghamton suspicions about McHale were not unfounded. It's
just that Binghamton could never catch McHale with the goods to
prove his case. McHale's friendship with Admiral Rodgers, a more
tolerant naval officer in the region also thwarted Binghamton's
efforts to get McHale sent to the Aleutians.
As for McHale's faults, he and his men routinely gambled, traded
contraband, and took unauthorized trips away from the island on
PT-73 patrol boat so they could go water skiing and deep sea
fishing. But, if they saw a Jap submarine or enemy plane like
Machine Charlie", McHale and his crew did their patriotic
duty and tried to destroy the offending vehicles, so they could get
back to their merriment which often included beautiful native girls
or gorgeous Navy recruits.
McHale's crew of Seamen included:
- Lester Gruber (Torpedoman)
- George "Christy" Christopher (Quartermaster)
- Harrison "Tinker" Bell (Machinist Mate)
- Virgil Edwards (Gunner's Mate & "Ladies Man")
- Joseph "Happy" Haines
- Willy Moss (Radioman)
One unofficial member of the crew was Fuji Kobiaji, an AWOL Japanese
soldier who would rather work as a cook for McHale and his man than
pursue the kamakazi culture of his fellow countrymen. Fuji's biggest
job was keeping out of sight of anyone loyal to Binghamton, or his
life of leisure on a tropic island would soon come to an end.
Later in the war, McHale and his men (and Fuji) were transferred to
to patrol the waterways around a small seaport town of Volta
Fiore (whose Mayor was even more devious than McHale).
Also transferred to the European theater was Captain Binghamton who
just couldn't catch a break and get rid of McHale and his crew.
Binghamton's suck-up sidekick, Lt. Elroy Carpenter also came along
for the ride.
Captain Binghamton's favorite sayings were "What is it! What, What,
WHAT?!," “I could just scream,” "Somebody up there hates me!" and
"Why me? Why me?"
TRIVIA NOTE: The series (also called
McHale's Men), spawned the
movies McHale's Navy (1964); McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force
(1965) and the remake McHale's Navy (1997) starring Tom Arnold as
Quinton McHale and Dean Stockwell as Captain Wallace B. Binghamton
both of whom are officers in the modern Navy.
The P.T. boat (Patrol Torpedo) was a small, armed motorboat (4
torpedo tubes plus light cannon and machine guns) used by the US
Navy in World War II. The typical P.T. Boat was constructed of
plywood, measured 80 feet in length, carried a crew of 12-17 men,
traveled up to 43 knots (49 mph), displaced 33 tons and powered
three gasoline engines with a total output of 4,500 horsepower.
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