I had just assume the dities of Executive Officer of my DDG a week prior to this incident.
A young Sailor was just returning to the ship from being UA. (Unauthorized Absences --- he had left the ship without permission). He admitted he was UA, offered little if no excuse for his actions, and took his punishment. Then one day, he turned up missed. He had left without the proper permission again. Very strange. He wasn't the type to get into trouble prior to his first incident.
I had a meeting with his supervisors. I asked if they had any idea where he might have gone. Where was he when they found him the last time? He was in Kansas with his girlfriend -- I later found out she was pregnant. They had a phone number but no address or name. So, I thought I would call the phone number they provided. My idea was to tell whoever answered Sailor Timmy (name changed to protect this young man) was in a lot of trouble. I figured the parents of the girlfriend would tell Timmy (father of the daughter's child) he needed to get back to the Navy. That was my plan.
“Hello, this is the Executive Officer of the USS MYSHIP. I am looking for Sailor Timmy. May I speak to him please?”
“Hold on. I’ll get him.” was the answer.
PLAN B. Ok. Didn’t expect they would admit he was there. Think quickly! What are you going to say when they come back and try to act like he wasn't there. What to say......
“Hello, this is Timmy.”
OK! PLAN C. I didn’t expect Sailor Timmy to answer the phone knowing I was on the line. Ummmmmm........
“Sailor Timmy, this is the Executive Officer. Do you know who I am?”
Ok....now what? “You are in a lot of trouble being UA. Do you understand?"
So far, so good. "Why have your gone UA?"
"My girlfriend is pregnant AND I came back to help her until she has the baby."
"Ok, I get that. But the best way to help her is to come back to the ship. You need to turn yourself into the authorities by tomorrow morning. If you don’t, you will always have to live in fear of being picked up as a deserter. Do you want your girlfriend see you hauled away in handcuffs?"
"Do you understand you need to turn yourself into the authorities or you will be declared a deserter? Do you know what that means?"
Now to drive my point home! “Ok. If you haven’t turned yourself in by tomorrow morning, you will need to live in fear. Some day; I am not saying tomorrow; but some day, there will be a knock on the door and the sheriff will be there. He will haul you out of bed, put you in handcuffs and haul you away. Do you understand me?”
"Yes, sir. I understand. I will turn myself in."
Like I said, I added that last part to scare the young man a bit. I never thought he wouldn’t turn himself into the authorities. By the next morning, he had proven me wrong. That is when the detective work kicked in full throttle. I used the phone number to figure out where in the country the phone was. I called the local directory assistance to see if they could help me narrow it down with the prefix number. They got me to a county. I found the number from that to the County Sheriff. I called. I explained who I was, for whom I was searching and that all I had was a phone number. The Sheriff was more than happy to assist me. He used the number to figure out an address, conferred with his Deputies and came to the conclusion they knew my Sailor Timmy.
“Call you back in 30 minutes.” The Sheriff hung up.
What did the Sheriff mean he would call me back in 30 minutes......
30 minutes later. “Hey, we got your guy. He was right where you said he would be. What do we do with him now?”
Got to love the Sheriff. I explained what needed to be done and then the Sheriff said Timmy wanted to speak to me. So, He put Sailor Timmy on the phone. Sailor Timmy’s only words to me were, “It was just like you said. The Sheriff just hauled me out of bed. How did you know?”
“I just do, Sailor Timmy. I just do.”