In the Summer of 1992 the USS Tarawa crossed the equator. I had the distinction and misfortune of being one of the last to go through the crossing the line ritual called Wog Day

I’d appreciate it if no one got turned on by this picture.

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“Wog”s are the crew members who have never crossed the equator before while “Shellbacks” are the ones doing the hazing. Which always made me wonder, who hazed the first guys?

0003_47170030The Wogs were required to dress this way: Cami pants-inside out, underwear on the outside (yes, we all wore tiddy-whities. no we didn’t know any better) and knee pads made of cheep shower sandals and duct tape. The knee pads were essential because we were crawling on our hands and knees on the steel deck all day.
You might be wondering why I have “Danzig Rules” written on my ass. Let me explain; while I was in the Marine Corps the poor white trash influence on my life was very high, I was also driving a black ’81 Camaro. But the real reason for the underwear declaration was to taunt Sgt. Frey, my platoon sergeant and shellback who reminded me every week that Danzig was the devil’s music.

The shellbacks are the ones dressed like thrift store pirates.

Highlights include: The Royal Baby, the fattest sailor on the ship covers his belly with some condiment and sticks a cherry in his navel. The wogs are required to take the cherry out of his navel with our mouths. When we’d go it he’d grab our heads and try to smother us with gut and mayo.

The Wog Queen: Earlier in the week there is a cross-dressing competition for the position of Wog Queen. Ostensibly, the queen doesn’t have to directly participate in the ceremony, he/she only has to sit on deck with mustard on his/her foot while the other wogs crawl by and kiss her toes. I don’t know if this is true for all wog queens, but at the end of the ritual our queen had to get down on all fours and crawl though all the muck like the rest of us.

As well as: A toilet full of garbage that reverse-flushed when we stuck our faces in.

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A yellow, plastic sleeve of… yes, garbage. An occasional beating. (At some point a shellback shoved a pork chop down my pants. The guy did me a favor because just about every time I got hit I got hit right on the chop.) Being submerged in a tank of I-don’t-know-what-but-it-burned. There was also a wooden coffin (not pictured) that they put us in and beat on the sides, my least favorite part. And a lot of waiting around like this.

From what I hear the Navy doesn’t do this anymore. Charlie went through again a couple years later and said that all of this was gone, instead they just handed out certificates, “Welcome to the Southern Hemisphere!” What a rip.

[Full Set on flickr]

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