|I just got home from the hospital.
Had a mini stroke and I'm fine. However, I did a lot of soul searching
lying in the hospital and promised myself I'd make this post. So here goes.
I'm not taking anything away from our WW II brothers, they did a wonderful job and deserve their well earned place in the history books. But they knew what to expect and went into harms way anyway and many never came home. (Sailors rest your oars)
We, the cold war sailors, never realized what was in store for us when we volunteered for the boats --- and our fellow Americans had no idea what was going on --- not even to this day.
No one told me that I would be playing "stick ball" one day and a year later, be snooping around in some very cold water, off the coast of some very bad mannered countries who didn't want their privacy invaded. I never had a band meet me on the pier or a week off in the Royal Hawaiian for R&R. In fact, there was a cover story in place to advise my family that we had been lost off the coast of Hawaii or some such place, on a routine exercise. No one would ever know the true story how I had made the supreme sacrifice defending my country. Not Mom, not Dad, no one. In spite of all this, I can't recall one single case of a man requesting a transfer off the boats. It was a dirty, rotten, stinking, man killing job, but we did it --- time and time again.
How we would meet each other, and when asked where we were off to, the slight smile in the corners of our mouths told volumes on where we were going. But no secret agent from any country could have broken our unspoken code.
Every so often there is a heated debate about "smoke boats" and "glow boats", and "DBF". While recouping in bed, with all sorts of tubes stuck in me, it occurred to me that rates come and go and the stripes change --- but the dolphins we wear today are the same dolphins that were issued to the first qualified sailor when the dolphins were approved by the Navy, whether they are silver or gold, smoke boat or glow boat.
As an old "smoke boat" sailor myself, I can't imagine how terrifying it must have been to be depth charged in enemy waters --- but a depth charge is a depth charge, whether made in Japan or the USSR or where ever. On the other hand, I cannot fathom the sheer boredom aboard a boomer on station. Nor the pressure they must have been under, knowing that they were carrying a load of missiles that would end civilization, perhaps forever. Or the thrill and fear from dancing with Ivan on a fast attack nuke.
If in fact, the whole world is a stage, I just want you all to know that the scenes where I appeared on stage with you guys were probably the best and happiest of my life. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "Never in the history of mankind, has so much been owed to so few by so many". And I don't mean the RAF. And as George Bernard Shaw said, "Youth is such a wonderful thing - it's a shame it's wasted on the young". The young people that manned our boats then, as now, are certainly an exception to that quote.
As I lay in my hospital bed I realized for the first time in my life that I am closer to the end than I am to the beginning. I just wanted to let you all know how proud and grateful I am of each and everyone of you who wear the dolphins. Truly the unsung heroes of the world.
I thank you, my wife thanks you, my children thank you. Our grateful nation thanks you.
GOD BLESS AMERICA