LIKE THE NAVY
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--the ship beneath me
like a living thing as her engines drive her through the sea.
like the sounds
of the Navy--the piercing trill of the boatswains pipe, the syncopated
clangor of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, the harsh squawk of the
1MC and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
like the vessels
of the Navy--nervous darting destroyers, plodding fleet auxiliaries,
submarines and steady solid carriers.
like the proud
sonorous names of Navy capital ships: Midway, Lexington, Saratoga,
Sea - memorials of great battles won.
like the lean,
angular names of Navy 'tin-cans': Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, Perkins,
Parsons, McCloy--mementos of heroes who went before us.
like the tempo
of a Navy band blaring through the topside speakers as we pull away
the oiler after refueling at sea.
like liberty call
and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
even like all-hands
working parties as my ship fills herself with the multitude of supplies
both mundane and exotic which she needs to cut her ties to the land and
carry out her mission
globe where there is water to float her.
like sailors, men
from all parts of the land, farms of the Midwest, small towns of New
from the cities, the mountains and the prairies, from all walks of
I trust and depend on them as they trust and depend on me for
competence, for comradeship, for courage.
like the surge
of adventure in my heart when the word is passed "Now station the
sea and anchor detail -- all hands to quarters for leaving port," and I
like the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the waving
of welcome from family and friends waiting pierside. The work is hard
dangerous, the going rough at times, the parting from loved ones
but the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the "all for one and one
for all" philosophy of the sea is ever present.
like the serenity
of the sea after a day of hard ship's work, as flying fish flit across
the wave tops and sunset gives way to night.
like the feel of
the Navy in darkness--the masthead lights, the red and green navigation
lights and stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of radar
cut through the dusk and join with the mirror of stars overhead.
like drifting off
to sleep lulled by the myriad noises large and small that tell me that
my ship is alive and well, and that my shipmates on watch will keep me
like quiet midwatches
with the aroma of strong coffee--the lifeblood of the Navy--permeating
like hectic watches
when the exacting minuet of haze-gray shapes racing at flank speed
all hands on a razor edge of alertness.
like the sudden
electricity of "General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your
battle stations," followed by the hurried clamor of running feet on
and the resounding thump of watertight doors as the ship transforms
in a few brief seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon of
like the sight
of space-age equipment manned by youngsters clad in dungarees and
phones that their grandfathers would still recognize.
like the traditions
of the Navy and the men and women who made them.
like the proud
names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John Paul
A sailor can find much in the Navy: comrades-in-arms, pride in self and
country, mastery of the seaman's trade.
years to come,
when sailors are home from the sea, they will still remember with
and respect the ocean in all its moods--the impossible shimmering
calm and the storm-tossed green water surging over the bow. And
there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, a faint echo of
and rudder orders, a vision of the bright bunting of signal flags
at the yardarm, a refrain of hearty laughter in the wardroom and
quarters and messdecks. Gone ashore for good they will grow
about their Navy days, when the seas belonged to them and a new port of
call was ever over the horizon.
they will stand taller and say:
WAS A SAILOR ONCE.
PART OF THE
NAVY BUT THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE PART OF ME.'