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HawkerHurricane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 03:06 PM
Original message
For my last days...
From "Reflections of a Blackshoe," written by VADM Harold Koenig, USN (Ret).

I like the navy

I like standing on the bridge at sunrise with salt spray in my face and
clean ocean winds whipping in form the four quarters of the globe - the ship
beneath me feeling like a living thing as her engines drive her through the

I like the sounds of the navy - the piercing trill of the boatswain's pipe,
the clang of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, the harsh squawk of the
1MC, and the strong language of sailors at work.

I like navy ships - nervous, darting destroyers, plodding fleet auxiliaries,
sleek submarines, and steady, solid carriers.

I like the proud names of navy ships: Midway, Lexington, Saratoga, Coral Sea
- memorials of great battles won.

I like the lean, angular names of navy destroyers: Barney, Dahlgren,
Mullinix, and McCloy - mementos of heroes who went before us.

I like the tempo of a navy band blaring through the topside speakers as we
pull away from the oiler after refueling at sea.

I like liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.

I even like all hands working parties as we fill our ship with the supplies
she needs to cut her ties to the land and carry out her mission anywhere on
the globe where there is water to float her.

I like sailors, 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 trust and depend on them as they trust and depend on
me - for professional competence, for comradeship, for courage. In a word,
they are "shipmates".

I like the surge of adventure in my heart when the word is passed: "Now
station the special sea and anchor detail, all hands to quarters for leaving

I like the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the waving hands
of welcome from family and friends waiting pierside.

The work is hard and dangerous; the going is tough at times; the parting
from loved ones painful, but the companionship of robust navy laughter, the
"all for one and one for all' spirit of the sea is ever present.

I like the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ship's work, as the
flying fish flit across the wave tops and sunset gives way to night.

I like the feel of the navy in the darkness - the masthead lights, red and
green navigation lights, and stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of
radar repeaters - they cut through the dusk and join the mirror of stars

I like drifting off to sleep lulled by the myriad noises, large and small,
that tell me my ship is alive and well, and that my shipmates on watch will
keep me safe.

I like the sudden surge of 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 closing as the ship transforms herself in a few brief seconds from a
peaceful workplace to a weapon of war - ready for anything.

I like the sight of space-age equipment manned by youngsters clad in
dungarees and sound-powered phones that their grandfathers would still

I like the traditions of the navy and the men and women who made them.

I like the proud names of navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John
Paul Jones.

A sailor can find much in the navy, comrades-in-arms, pride in self and
country, mastery of the seaman's trade.

An adolescent can 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 there will a 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 messdecks. 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...I
was part of the navy, and the navy will always be part of me".
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Another Bill C. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 03:50 PM
Response to Original message
1. 41 years later
I still have dreams that I'm back aboard ship. They are strange dreams in that I'm not a young man, I don't get paid, I enjoy it much more than I did then, and I don't get seasick.
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cosmicdot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 05:31 PM
Response to Original message
2. "the spicy scent of a foreign port" - that sounds nice
what would Marseille's scent be?

Having grown up in the Norfolk, VA area - with its many links to the sea, a Dad who worked in the Norfolk Naval Ship Yard in Portsmouth, VA, as well as a brother ... a cousin who retired from the Navy, too, and now lives full-time a-sea with his wife ... I used to have a USS Independence tie clip ... having had a life next to the Chesapeake Bay, just blocks from Fort Story, where one of Dad's brothers was 2nd in command and we would watch the Pilot Ship bring an officer to shore ... and, hearing the Cape Henry lighthouse during a fog ... a walk to the beach and the lights of ships and more were part of the view ... and, always the sea air ...

I understand.

Very nice.

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UrbScotty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 05:41 PM
Response to Original message
3. Indeed, the Navy will always be a part of you, HH.
Edited on Sat Feb-14-04 05:43 PM by ih8thegop
When will you be leaving the Navy?
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HawkerHurricane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 10:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Tuesday
Retirement ceremony Tuesday. Actually 'out' on the 29th of Feb. And today is the actual '20 year anniversery' of my joining.
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 06:32 PM
Response to Original message
4. There's a "top 10" list for former mariners somewhere
Something like top 10 ways to tell your husband wants to go back to sea. I'm having trouble locating it, but here's a taste from memory:

He walks up to the stove, puts on headphones, and says "Stove armed and ready." He stands there for four hours doing absolutely nothing, then says "Stove secure", removes the headphones, and walks away.
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BigMcLargehuge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-14-04 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. LOL!!!!
that's great :)
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-15-04 02:46 AM
Response to Original message
7. That brought back a lot of memories

for me and I was never a sailor, but a sailor's daughter who has sailed from SF to Subic Bay, P.I., and back, and was never seasick once. That was, and I guess still is, twenty-one days by MSTS ship, with stops at Honolulu and Guam going out but only Guam coming back, curiously. Oh, God, the flying fish! The whales! The spray on deck, the rocking and rolling of the ship. I loved it all. I could see why my father chose the Navy in WW II: sea duty! The admiral's reflections on Navy life didn't mention getting your sea legs, but I remember so well how, going ashore on Guam, I couldn't walk normally at first. No one prepared me for that!

If my younger siblings had been five years old, we could have taken round robin cruises from Subic to Hong Kong and/or Japan (where my older brother, a Marine, was stationed for his first assignment.) I was jealous of my friends who were able to do that, but my father and I sailed once from Subic to Corregidor in Manila Bay, on one of those little day cruises the Navy runs for personnel and their dependents over the age of five. It was quite a trip. The South China Sea is the most beautifully colored water I've ever seen, the beaches black volcanic sand dotted with coconut palms. But Corregidor, in my memory at least, had white sand. White sand with huge shell casings embedded in it. Announcement: "Do not touch what appear to be shell casings, live ammunition is still being found on Corregidor."

Corregidor was a very emotional place to be in 1957. I was only ten but I could feel it. The Philippines was not short on memories of the Japanese invasion, including the occasional live shell, but this was. . . Corregidor. I climbed on those famous cannon, infamously mounted pointing in the wrong direction.

I truly loved the Philippines but it was somewhat of a hardship post in those days and not as much fun for my mother, certainly. Join the Navy and see the world, indeed. Particularly Norfolk, in our case. (Three tours to Norfolk, though it was three different bases in the Norfolk area.) And several other bases, back and forth, seventeen schools for me in twelve years, and I won't even tell you how many moves.

But I really do know something about an aircraft carrier!

And a submarine, destroyer, minesweeper, drydock -- my family once got to be inside the control room (Would it be called the bridge?) of a drydock my dad was "on" while a ship was being brought into drydock -- amazing!

Every now and then I see a movie with Navy ships and men and it hits me how strange it is to no longer be part of that seafaring culture.

So thanks for the nostalgia, HH. I'm going to miss your posts from my native culture, and wish you well in retirement!

:hi: :toast:
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-15-04 07:24 PM
Response to Original message
8. A kick for all the ships at sea, all those who

sail them, and all those who'd like to be at sea again, at least for just a day or two.

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