Select Page

In WWII, the gedunk bar, slang for ice cream bar, was one of the most popular places to be.

The Navy allowed men to have as much ice cream as they wanted, and so the ships that made ice cream, the concrete gedunk cruisers, cranked out almost 5,000 gallons of the dairy treat…per hour.

One muggy afternoon in the Pacific, two freshly minted ensigns aboard the battleship New Jersey, the flagship of the Third Fleet, decided they wanted some ice cream. Unfortunately, the gedunk line was interminably long, with dozens of sailors waiting patiently for their turn at the ice cream bar. Immensely conscious of their exalted rank, the two decided to jump ahead in the line.

When they tried to cut in at the head of the line, saying “Gangway for officers,” there was grumbling in the ranks behind them. Then a strong voice rose above those of the other men in line, calling out, “Get back where you belong!” with a few expletives thrown in for added force.

Just as the two brand new officers were about to deliver a severe dressing-down to the insubordinate sailor who dared to challenge their authority, a rather stocky, craggy-faced fellow stepped out to confront them.

It was none other than William F. Halsey, aka “Bull” Halsey, who ranked just “slightly” above them as full admiral and commander of the Third Fleet. “Bull” was patiently waiting for his turn in the gedunk bar line and wasn’t about to tolerate this sort of arrogant selfishness.

In that moment, those two officers got a lesson they desperately needed, and Bull Halsey got even more respect from the men under his command.

Resource’s Origin:

Dirty Little Secrets of World War II by James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Noft. Perennial, 1994, Page 318.

Topics Illustrated Include:
Pulling Rank
World War II

(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)