Back in the day, October, 1984, I met up with USS REEVES (CG-24) in Subic Bay, Philippines at the end of a flight via LA, Oakland, Anchorage, and Manila. Ensign Nikoley quickly established a hierarchy of more senior officers to learn from.
At the top of the pile was Lieutenant Van Diest. Pure Dutch—a rather diminutive 5’5″ at maybe 130—but also, pure Manhattan, New York City. This guy was not ever to be trifled with. No mercy. He’d laugh his ass off and ridicule you to your face if you fucked up, or even said something stupid.
I could tell a million stories but my favorite is of a continuing story where, after the months spent learning and qualifying, I was finally cleared to Mother Goose the ship on my own: Officer of the Deck, at sea, when the Captain is asleep. I loved to relieve Van Diest for the midwatch, midnight to 4 am. I’d go up a half hour early just to shoot the shit. The favorite part, after reviewing the logs, all the other-ship contacts, etc., was the chart review. Where we’d been and where we were going.
It was, even in the South China Sea or anywhere around, an exercise in “Van” this, “Van” that. He would make a point to show you everything we’d passed or were going to pass that was named after a Dutchman—out of Yokosuka, our home port, was the Van Diemen Strait, just to the south. And just some latitudinal degrees father to the south, Indonesia was the longest colony in colonial history. The Dutch ran the place for 400 years.
Now, this. Every. Single. Word. It’s a Heresy Trial.
“When the truth is against the law, there’s something wrong with the law.”