From: Dick Beal
Sent: Monday, January 07, 2013
To: Russ Reston
Subject: Camp Happiness
Recent shark attacks here in Cocoa Beach reminded me of a Camp Happiness Story.
During the late stages of Matador Program and early stages of the Mace Program it became a custom for student launch crews to throw their launch officer off the Camp Happiness Seawall (not unlike showering a winning football coach with Gatorade after a win).
We, permanent party types rigged up a shark fishing line with a huge hook that we got welded up at the Cape, a length of chain for a leader and about 100 feet of 1/2 inch nylon rope. We then found two inner tubes that we used as shock absorbers and anchored the entire thing to one of the tugboat cleats mounted on the top of the seawall in front of the dayroom.
We then baited it with meat out of the chowhall.
Days passed with no bites then finally one evening somebody yelled, “We’ve got something.”
Something was right!
Four of us were pulling on the line and we couldn’t land the thing. We’d pull it in and it’d pull us back to where we started. I got some serious rope burns.
Finally about 10 or 12 of us ganged up and got the big shark pulled up onto the little beach just east of the seawall. Airman Bunker (a KP) took a fire ax to the thing’s head and put it out of its misery.
Somebody called Bishop’s Gas Station and they sent their wrecker to lift the shark out of the water. The local newspaper (Brevard Sentinel) photographed us standing in front of a +10 foot shark hanging off the Bishop’s wrecker boom.
The very next day ”NO SWIMMING” signs were posted and a memo came out from the commander that no more launch officer dunkings would be held under penalty of court martial.
From: Charlie Smoote
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2013
To: Russ Reston
Subject: Camp Happiness Sharks
Dick Beal tells of the catching a huge shark there at Camp Happiness:
I don’t know if it’s the same shark, but here’s some more info on sharks at Camp Happiness.
The Powers to Be decided to provide some Aluminum boats from Special Services at either Patrick AFB or Orlando AFB.
Major Ireland; who was Commander at the time, told us to ’make them shine’. So we did. In the process; we also removed the anodizing from the Aluminum.
You can surmise what salt water does to bare Aluminum!
While these boats were whole; some enterprising Airmen decided to go shark fishing in one of the boats.
They managed to hook a huge shark which pulled the small boat around at will.
After a couple of rounds of the harbor including the turn basin; the shark decided to go out to sea.
It pulled the boat with the young airmen out through the Pass past the jetties where a passing fishing boat killed the shark and rescued the airmen.
They brought the shark and boat in to the subsequent happenings as described by Dick.
Needless to say; there were soon signs stencilled on the inside of the boat warning that ’This boat will not be used East of the jetty’.
End of story. Have a nice day!