Yokosuka sailors: Look out for pop quiz
March 21, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors at Yokota better bone up on naval knowledge, or stay tuned for some televised humiliation.
Yokosuka Naval Base Command Master Chief Wayne Smith could turn up anywhere to turn enlisted sailors into quiz show contestants for a TV audience.
Smith was in front of Fleet Recreation Center on Tuesday, filming his third segment of “Q-and-A with the CMC.” It airs on Yokosuka’s Channel 12.
He flagged down a sailor and asked, “Where is the square knot on a naval uniform?”
The answer came back “neckerchief,” and the sailor continued on his way with a gift certificate.
That was an easy one. Other questions were harder, like the namesakes of Yokosuka ships and finer points of naval advancement procedures.
Such information is found on the Navy’s advancement exams, Smith said, and his quiz show is an entertaining way to get people talking about it.
“We do a lot of general military training, rate-specific training and being-good-ambassadors type training, but sometimes the naval history and heritage part is overlooked,” Smith said. “I tell the sailors to have fun with it.”
Armed with naval trivia, exam questions and a camera crew, Smith tapes a segment every two weeks with eight to 10 sailors, who rarely see it coming, Smith said.
“At first, they look over and see the cameras, and they are curious, like a cat,” Smith said. “But once I wave them over, it’s too late to get away.”
Smith doesn’t let anyone look too silly. He prescreens sailors to see if they know about the topic and then allows them to study a few minutes before the cameras start taping.
This worked for Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Boisselier, who was waylaid after lunch Tuesday by a tough question on ship history.
“The study time helped,” Boisselier said. “There’s no way I would have known that.”
Others are only too happy to show off their knowledge — without the master chief asking, Smith said.
“I was shopping at the commissary, and a sailor came up and said, ‘Ask me a question, Master Chief,’” Smith recounted. “I had to think of one quickly … but she got it right.”
But, right or wrong answer, if people know they’re going to be on TV, they’re more inclined to watch the local access channel, where there’s plenty of good information, Smith said. It also might spark some “naval heritage” dinner conversation, Smith said.
The tactic invites comparison between Smith’s show and Jay Leno’s, he said.
“I’ve been told this is like ‘Jaywalking,’” Smith said, referring to the people-on-the-street segment of the “Tonight Show” that features entertaining answers to easy questions.
Said Smith: “Let’s just say I’m getting some jeers and cheers from the khaki community.”