I spent three and a half years on the CB-1, called the USS ALASKA, and distinctly remember “air mattress drill,” an activity which was promoted by the health officer. He had us secure our mattresses on deck once a month to air them out. It was hot down where we slept and we’d sweat a lot, so it undoubtedly smelled bad below decks, but it was still a pain to lug those things up on deck.”
During non-combat hours Walt passed the time writing poetry, sketching, making his own Navy shank and of course writing jazz arrangements for the band to play. With a couple non-gymnastic buddies he would hide in the boiler room to avoid Happy Hour and tap the overhead steam pipe to brew instant hot chocolate unofficially. Calisthenics were definitely not his thing!
In Okinawa harbor the battleship West Virginia was sunk right next to the Alaska, because the Japanese didn’t get the word in time that the war was over. Walt said that he could actually see the faces of the Kamakazi pilots– they were so close! So again Walter was on the right ship.