Kind friend Dale Lincoln checks in with "The Face of a Happy Man".
The USS ILLUSIVE was scheduled to sail from Sasebo, Japan, at 10:30 am. About 8:00 am Chief Hinckle, the senior Electrician’s Mate, requested my permission to make a quick trip to the Navy Exchange. He assured me that he would return before the ship sailed.
Chief Hinckle was a Navy man that handled his duties very professionally. The smile on his face, along with his words of wit and stories, made him popular with his shipmates. About an hour after giving him permission to leave the ship I witnessed him on the ship’s fantail telling another story. Chief Hinckle was smiling but several sailors around him appeared “excited” as they expressed their opinions:
“I never would have done that!”
“That’s stupid! Nobody would have ever known!”
Chief Hinckle kept smiling and said:
“I never even thought of keeping it for myself!”
A few hours later Chief Hinckle told me his story:
“After leaving the Navy Exchange he started walking to the bus stop. Along the way he found a ladies wallet on the ground. It contained more than $2000.00. He immediately put it in the bag he was carrying; sat down on a bench; and tried to think of the quickest way to make sure the wallet and all of the money returned to its owner.
Very soon a Japanese lady, pushing a baby carriage, came out of the Navy Exchange. She was crying and appeared to be looking for something. When he asked if he could help her, she made it known that she put her wallet under the blanket in the carriage,---but it wasn’t there any more!
Chief Hinckle returned the wallet. The Japanese lady cried with joy and hugged him! Her husband, a U. S. Navy man, had recently received a bonus for signing up for six additional years in the U.S. Navy. Their baby had tossed the wallet out of the carriage!
When the six-month deployment to the Far East area was completed, the USS ILLUSIVE returned to the USA. A few months later I said good-bye to my shipmates and went to new duties. About forty years later, January 1997, a Brinks Truck carrying more than three million dollars, overturned in a poor neighborhood in Florida. For several days following that accident the radio talk shows, and popular TV programs, found people debating the moral issue of whether or not the people that collected the “easy money” should return it to BRINKS. While many people were expressing their opinions I remembered
“Chief” Hinckle, EMC, USN, aboard the USS ILLUSIVE one morning in Sasebo, Japan. He had the face of a happy man and is remembered as one of my shipmates that earned a lot of respect.
More than fifty years later (2008) it still brings me happiness to tell a story of a person that made a good decision.
& Perry Maine
for Skillin's Greenhouses
Marchg 31, 2008