I was a Sailor
**I was a Sailor on some of the greatest Navy ships afloat**
and let me share with you a glimpse of the life I so dearly loved . .
*I liked standing on the bridge wing at sunrise with salt spray
in my face and clean ocean winds whipping in from the
four quarters of the globe. I liked the sounds of the Navy - the
piercing trill of the boatswains pipe, the syncopated clangor of
the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, harsh, and the strong
language and laughter of sailors at work.
*I liked Navy vessels -- plodding fleet auxiliaries and amphibs,
sleek submarines and steady solid aircraft carriers. I liked the
proud names of Navy ships: Midway, Lexington , Saratoga , Coral
Sea, Antietam, Valley Forge - memorials of great battles won and
*I liked the lean angular names of Navy "tin-cans" and escorts,
mementos of heroes who went before us.
*And the others - - San Jose , San Diego , Los Angeles , St.Paul,
Chicago , Oklahoma City, named for our cities.
*I liked the tempo of a Navy band.
*I liked liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
*I even liked the never ending paperwork and all hands working
parties as my ship filled herself with the multitude of
supplies, and to cut ties to the land and carry out her
mission anywhere on the globe where there was water to float
*I liked sailors, officers and enlisted men from all parts of
the land, farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England ,
from the big cities, the mountains and the prairies, from all
walks of life. I trusted and depended on them as they trusted
and depended on me -- for professional competence, for
comradeship, for strength and courage.
*In a word, they were all "shipmates"; then and forever. *
*I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was
passed: ''Now Hear This - Now set the special sea and anchor
detail - all hands to quarters for leaving port!" I truly
liked the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the
waving hands of welcoming family and friends waiting pier side.
*The work was hard and dangerous; the going rough at times; the
parting from loved ones painful, but the companionship of
robust Navy laughter, the "all for one and one for all"
philosophy of the sea was ever present. I liked the fierce and
dangerous activity on the flight deck of aircraft carriers,
earlier named for battles won but sadly now named for
politicians: Enterprise , Independence , Boxer, Princeton and oh
so many more, some lost in battle, and sadly many scrapped.
*And so tearfully seeing our great ones being sunk to make a
reef, truly sad indeed - such a waste.
*I liked the names of the aircraft and helicopters; Skyraider,
Intruder, Sea King, Phantom, Skyhawk, Demon, Skywarrior,
Corsair, and many more that bring to mind offensive and
defensive orders of battle.
*I liked the excitement of an alongside replenishment as my ship
slid in alongside an oiler and the cry of "Standby to receive
shot lines" prefaced the hard work of rigging span wires
(high-lines) and fuel hoses echoed across the narrow gap of
water between the ships and welcomed the mail, fresh milk,
fruit and vegetables that sometimes accompanied the fuel.
*I liked the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ship's
work, as flying fish flitted across the wave tops and sunset
gave way to night, and the bosun's mate's after-supper call
over the speaker system: "Let's have a clean sweep down, fore
and aft, empty all trash over the transom. The smoking lamp
is now lighted".
*I liked the feel of the Navy in darkness - the masthead and
range lights, the red and green navigation lights and stern
light, the pulsating phosphorescence of radar repeaters - they
cut through the dusk and joined with the mirror of stars
*I liked drifting off to sleep lulled by the myriad noises large
and small that told me that my ship was alive and well, and
that my shipmates on watch would keep me safe.
*I liked quiet mid-watches with the aroma of strong coffee - the
lifeblood of the Navy permeating everywhere. I liked hectic
watches when the exacting minuet of haze-gray shapes racing
at flank speed kept all hands on a razor edge of alertness.
*I liked the sudden electricity of "General quarters, general
quarters, all hands man your battle stations," followed by the
hurried clamor of running feet on ladders and the resounding
thump of watertight doors as the ship transformed herself in a
few brief seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon
of war - ready for anything.
*I liked the sight of space-age equipment manned by youngsters
clad in dungarees and sound-powered phones that their
grandfathers would still recognize.*
*I liked the traditions of the Navy and the men and now women
who made them. I liked the proud names of Navy heroes:
Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John Paul Jones, Burke,
Osborn and Jenks.
*A sailor could find much in the Navy: comrades-in-arms, pride
in self and country, mastery of the seaman's trade. An
adolescent could find adulthood. In years to come, when sailors are home
from the sea, we will still remember with fondness and respect
the ocean in all its moods, the impossible shimmering mirror
calm and the storm-tossed dark blue water surging over the
*Then there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, a
faint echo of engine and rudder orders, a vision of the bright
bunting of signal flags snapping at the yardarm, a refrain of
hearty laughter in the wardroom and Chief's quarters and
*Once ashore for good we grow humble about our Navy days, when
the seas were a part of us and a new port of call was ever
over the horizon. *
*Remembering this, WE stand taller and say...
I WAS A SAILOR ONCE & THE
MEMORIES NEVER GO AWAY,
OLD SAILORS NEVER DIE -
THEY JUST FADE AWAY!"
May you be in Heaven 3 days before the Devil knows your dead
However if you read my post:
THIS IS SO WRONG..
Most all the "NEWBIES"if ANY....... won't be able to experience anything or have the experiences some of us "OLDER SQUIDS" did...
I'M FINE...........IT'S REST OF YOU THAT NEED COUNSELING
This old sea dog also has many memories that I retain and think about often. I told my Grandson that the star's in the sky we see stateside can not compare to the stars at night on a clam sea and no moon.
I would lay on my back on the deck and look up at the night sky. I could see darkness from horizon to horizon but the stars were so vivid and so many of them from horizon to horizon. It was something I will never forget nor can I actually explain - you have to be there - far out to sea on a moonless night see God's greatest works.
I recall trying to outrun a hurricane one night the sea's were swelling over the brow and the water would slam into the hull with such force you just knew things were getting rough. We would go into the catwalks and watch mother nature do her thing. We lost one of our guys on the forward cat walk the water sheared off the catwalk and took him along. On another ship I saw a kid on the deck get blown over the side and another walk into a prop. I saw pilots land with their canopy's blown off by SAM's - many wounded - and all they would bring that craft back to ship if at all possible. They would fly the wounded in from VN for our surgeons to operated on them.
In 65 I was in Da Nang caught a supply ship out and was transferred at sea about mid-night (black as hell out there). Was in the forward gun tub - put on the harness and air lifted hanging by the cable to another ship and dropped off. That was a little weird but I never forgot it. Got a twenty minute training on a 50 caliber while in Da Nang harbor off-loading supplies was told to watch the shore lines for movement - if anything moved to just open up as needed. It's these little thing you sorta forget and it comes back every now and then. Two tours - I was on supply ships and carrier's.
The bravery of my shipmates I would not trade those experiences for all the tea in china.
Mr. Mc Goo beers in PI and the live shows at Clark AFB I recall. Liberties in HK and Japan can't forget those liberties we had - I don't know how I got back to the ship most of the time - let alone these tattoos I got?
I have many more but that's for later. I have a Bud I served with and we often talk about the sea as though it beckons us to come back to her. Someday I might just have my ashes turned over to her.
O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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