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I was a sailor --

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ghrit, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Dunno where I saw this first.

    I Was a Sailor Once
    *** 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 - - the ship beneath me feeling like a living thing as her engines drove her swiftly through the sea.
    *** 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, the harsh squawk of the 1 MC, and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
    *** I liked Navy vessels -- nervous darting destroyers, 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 tribulations overcome.
    *** I liked the lean angular names of Navy "tin-cans" and escorts - - Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, McCloy, Damato, Leftwich, Mills - - mementos of heroes who went before us. And the others - - San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Chicago - - named for our cities.
    *** I liked the tempo of a Navy band blaring through the topside speakers as we pulled away from the oiler after refueling at sea.
    *** 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, both critical and mundane in order to cut ties to the land and carry out her mission anywhere on the globe where there was water to float her.
    *** I liked sailors, officers and enlisted men from all parts of the land, farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England, from the 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 "shipmates"; then and forever.
    *** I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was passed: "Now set the special sea and anchor detail - all hands to quarters for leaving port," and I liked the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the waving hands of welcome from 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 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.
    *** 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 overhead. Arid 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 but serious midwatches with the aroma of strong coffee -- the lifeblood of the Navy permeating everywhere.
    *** And 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.
    *** And 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 women who made them. I liked the proud names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John Paul Jones and Burke. 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, they will still remember with fondness and respect the ocean in all its moods - the impossible shimmering mirror calm and the storm-tossed green water surging over the bow. And 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 chiefs quarters and mess decks.
    *** Gone ashore for good they will grow wistful about their Navy days, when the seas belonged to them and a new port of call was ever over the horizon.
    *** Remembering this, they will stand taller and say, "I WAS A SAILOR ONCE AND I WOULD DO IT AGAIN."
  2. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    I have one that hung on the bathroom wall of my last house. It is in storage now. I will have to dig it out and post it here. It's Title "this is a Sailor".
    hank2222 likes this.
  3. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    That brought back some memories. Thanks. I was wearing cammies, but I spent three years of my life, collectively, on one ship or another; in the Atlantic, the Med, the Adriatic, the Indian, and the Persian Gulf. I can still hear a faint echo of the 1MC in the back of my mind, and smell the salt air. I always enjoyed standing by the hanger deck doors (when I was on a LPH or an LHD) after chow, and watching the ocean. It's almost hypnotic. Those memories may fade, but they resurrect quickly - a sound, a smell and, for a moment, you're standing on that deck again.
    Sapper John and hank2222 like this.
  4. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    I also remember being on the first ship I had ever set foot on - the USS Guam, in 1982 - and walking up to the flight deck, eating a box of cracker jacks. I remember the thundering voice of the Chief Petty Officer who walked up behind me and loudly threatened to shove my head, and my box of cracker jacks, up my arse and have me conducting FOD Walks (walking the flight deck, looking for foreign objects and debris that might damage an engine) night and day for the rest of my natural life if I didn't get off of his flight deck with my cracker jacks.
  5. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    Ah yes tulianr, chiefs were known to be somewhat direct. I remember when I first sewed on my crow I thought I was really hot chit. Until my boat chief caught me and my motorman overtaching our detroits a few hundred revs. My butt AND my ears were inop for a while. Half way through his "chat" with us I begin to believe satan would be much better company. And yes, still a proud time in my life and would do it again if called.
    tulianr and kellory like this.
  6. Sapper John

    Sapper John Analog Monkey in a Digital World

    Hell is being a brand new and shiney boot at Parris Island (about 2 weeks in) being sent on an errand by my SDI and walking down the sidewalk, seeing a flash of gold on a collar and saluting like a good little gravel agitator and then realizing I just saluted a MCPO. The horror...the horror...
    tulianr likes this.
  7. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    If there's a Marine who hasn't saluted a Navy Chief during his first few months in the Corps, it's because he didn't encounter a Navy Chief during his first few months in the Corps. That anchor looks too much like a Major/LCDR emblem from a distance to take the chance; and the young Marines are never warned about them, or at least they weren't when I went through basic. You had to memorize Navy and Marine Corps rank structure so that you could recite it in your sleep, but nobody ever said anything about Chiefs wearing shiny stuff on their collars. Luckily the pair of Chiefs I saluted when I first encountered a CPO emblem were in a good mood and just stopped me and gave me a friendly education.
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    As a Navy boot, we were required to salute Chiefs and PO1s (the PO1s only if they had the CC aigullette) as a way to force the habit of saluting ossifers at any time and place.
    tulianr likes this.
  9. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I remember getting salutes from troops when I was a third Lt... about the only thing worse than a butter bar... no chain of command responsibilities... somewhere above an e-9 and below a W-1 with the authority of an E-1
  10. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    I left a few of those with their's hanging out in the wind, after being rebuffed and put in my place by a superior know it all. Some survived, some didn't. Career wise I mean, I wouldn't put the men or even a moron fresh from the academy or college in physical harms way.
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