USS William H. Standley (DLG/CG-32)
"A F V" Flaghoist
In late August 1971, I went to the Uniform shop at the Navy Exchange in NavSta, Mayport, FL. WHS had just returned from the '71 around the world cruise, and we had been awarded some medals and campaign ribbons. The purpose of the shopping was to get a new mount for my ribbons. The ribbon display case was staffed by a very pretty brunette, about 19-20 years of age. While making my purchase, I noticed that she was wearing a pin that was a flag hoist. The pin, while very nicely done, was hand made. I complimented her on the pin, and she replied that her boyfriend, a signalman on one of the Fleet Tugs, had made it for her. She went on to explain that it meant "I love you". Signal flags were never my strong suit, but knowing that signal flags are meant for the exchange of information between men-of-war and/or merchantmen, I didn't think that there was such a flag hoist. Even if there were, no self respecting skipper would ever use it. I complimented her again on the pin, jotted down the hoist - "AFV", and returned to WHS.
When I got back to the ship, I went directly to the pilot house to look up the hoist to see what it meant, or even if there was such a hoist. First, I looked in the Allied Signal Manual (ATP-1A), and it was not listed. I enlisted the aid of one of the signalmen, and he guessed that it might be in the Maritime Signal manual. We got the book to look it up, and there it was - "Request Permission to Lay Alongside".
The joke is really on me. I told the story in the wardroom of WHS, and also in the wardroom of my next ship, the USS America (CVA-66). Shortly after I got out in 1974, I read the story in Readers Digest, and someone else got the $50 from Humor in Uniform.
I had nearly forgotten the incident, but last year, my bride of 27 years was reading some of the junk mail catalogs that had accumulated, and found a firm that was marketing a "Permission to Lay Alongside" pin. The joke is on me again, the pin cost me $85. The picture above is the pin.
Gunner Mitchell, 16 August 1998
My wife and I have had several requests for the name of the source of the pin. The company that we ordered it from is "EXIMIOUS of London", with US offices in Northfield, IL. I called them, and they are out of the pin, and currently have no plans to restock. Here is their toll free numbers should you wish to check every few months:
To Order: 1-800-221-9464
Customer Service: 1-800-446-9454
Gunner Mitchell, 28 November 1998