A Toast to the Chaplain (an ode to coffee)
Chaplains and coffee are intimately linked, especially during deployments when they provide donated coffee for their service members. The following article from a 1971 Leatherneck Magazine reminds us of Chaplain George Jones and his introduction of coffee to the Navy in 1842, as well as the enormous amount of coffee Marines drank in 1971.
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“Instead of toasting a chaplain during the anniversary month of the Navy, we should probably petition the Navy Department to set aside one day during which time American servicemen could pay tribute to Navy Chaplain George Jones.
“‘What did he do?’ you ask.
“WHAT DID HE DO? He introduced the serving of coffee in the United States Navy, that’s what he did! That was 129 years ago, in 1842.
“Consider; how many heavies would lose their balance without a cup of coffee in their right hand? Consider also; if you think your first sergeant is mean in the morning before his first cup of coffee, what the hell would he be like around 1530 if the Marine Corps didn’t have coffee?
“How important is coffee to a Marine? Miss Ritamae Bouchard of the Food Service Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps figures that Marines drink nearly two and a quarter million gallons of coffee a year. That’s 36,095,445 cups!
“Last year the average American consumed a little more than 14 pounds of coffee. It cost us one billion, 140 million dollars to import that coffee.
“More simply, knowing that there are 16,660 gallons of coffee to a ton, and also knowing that the Marine Corps drinks over two million gallons, we find that the Corps rinks over 120 tons of coffee each year!
“Do you understand how much coffee that is?
“Assuming that the average Marine continues drinking coffee as he has over the past two years, in another 666 years and 243 days, Marines would have consumed enough of the fluid to float the largest aircraft carrier in the world, the USS John F. Kennedy!
“(Just why anyone would desire to float the carrier in coffee is something I’m sure I don’t know, but you read it first in Leatherneck!)
“General Raymond G. Davis, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, is a coffee drinker, preferring a small amount of milk with a saccharine tablet. He is probably one of the few Marines who doesn’t have his own inscribed or decorated coffee cups, using whatever clean cup is available at the time.
“(Pfc Pierce Philip’s cup bears no descriptive phrases, either. He swiped it from the mess hall. Pierce likes four lumps of sugar, a half cup of Pream and two tablespoons of water. He doesn’t like coffee.)
“So, Marine, as you pour yourself a cup of coffee during the month of October, raise your cup in a toast to Chaplain Jones. The ironic twist of his claim to fame is the fact that the chaplain drank tea!”
by Tom Bartlett, Leatherneck Magazine, October 1971, pg. 12 (author’s collection).