Posted by: SJS | August 16, 2011

Red’s monkey

After receiving a list from PT Boats, Inc., of  sailors who had served on PT 373 in the South Pacific, I sent letters to the veterans seeking information about  my father.  Within a few weeks, I heard from several of the vets and a few of them had been on the boat during the time my father had been assigned to it in 1945. 

Two months after sending out the letters, I received an e-mail from Megan Moore and it began this way:  “Let me start out by telling you that I am C.T.’s granddaughter, Megan.  He is sitting here with me telling me these stories to write to you.”

Megan’s grandfather, C.T. Perotka of Illinois, had been in Ron 27, and served on PT 373.  Then, Megan relayed this astounding account:

“Do I have a story about YOUR DAD!!!!  The main reason I remember him so vividly is because I was a gunner’s mate and I was cleaning my guns when Stahley came aboard with a monkey on his shoulder like a parrot would be on his pirate’s shoulder.  He had purchased this monkey when we were docked in Borneo protecting a Dutch owned Shell refinery.  I was using mineral grease for the guns, which kept salt water off of them better than petroleum jelly.  The monkey found the lid of the container and started to chew and lick on it.   As you can guess this made the monkey have to go!!!  The next morning we all get up to eat breakfast and as you can guess the monkey went!

spider monkey

Red's spider monkey?

The head officer on our boat asked what the horrible smell was  — and it was the monkey “s___” all over the bow of our ship.  Stahley finally raised his hand to let the Head Officer know that it was his monkey.   Your dad was ordered to clean up, have the monkey removed, and that the odor should be gone by the time he got back in only one hour.   Your father did ask for my help with cleaning up the monkey droppings but I just didn’t have the stomach for it.”

Megan’s e-mail continued with other recollections about MacArthur, PT 373’s engagement with the sniper in the radio tower, and how the PT sailors heard about the atom bomb attacks on Japan that ended the war.    

All I could think about was my father with a spider monkey on his shoulder.   And that monkey getting my father into so much trouble with his commanding officer.  And then the clean up job my father had to face. 

Megan’s e-mail with her grandfather’s memories made me laugh so hard that I could barely catch my breath.  Since then, whenever life gets too serious, all I have to do is to remember Red and his monkey. Suddenly I find myself laughing all over again and whatever problem I’m facing is nothing compared to the clean up job my father faced on the bow of PT 373. 




  1. Steve –

    This is a great story. It rivals anything the writers of McHale’s Navy could have come up with.


    • Dudley,

      Thanks for those good words. When I got the e-mail from the granddaughter of my father’s crewmate, it blew me away. My understanding of my father’s navy career is being stretched like a rubber band that is about a mile long. Just the image of my father with a monkey perched on his shoulder as he walks back to his boat has made every moment of research worth the effort ten times over. I am very appreciative for your ongoing support.


  2. Funny!


    • Darren,

      So glad you enjoyed this story. My father had a whole bunch of great stories that he never told me. I’m glad I’ve been able to make contact with some vets who can fill in the missing pieces for me.


  3. Glad someone is writing that down. Who was the Head Officer – Belton Copp?


    • BC,

      I’m not sure of the identity of the Head Officer in this story. It may well have been Lt. Copp, the couragous & highly decorated commanding officer who took PT 373 into Manila Bay in early 1945. If my father was responsible for any “monkey business” under Lt. Copp, I’m sure he never made the same mistake again. Thanks for your support.


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