like the Navy. I like standing on deck during a long voyage with sea spray
in my face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere - the feel of the
giant steel ship beneath me, it's engines driving against the sea is almost
beyond understanding. It's immense power makes the Navyman feel so insignificant
but yet proud to be a small part of this ship, a small part of her mission.
I like the Navy. I like the sound of
taps over the ships announcing system, the ringing of the ships bell, the
foghorns and strong laughter of Navy men at work. I like the ships of the
Navy - nervous darting destroyers, sleek proud cruisers, majestic battle
ships, steady solid carriers and silent hidden submarines. I like the workhorse
tugboats with their proud Indian names: IROQUOIS, APACHE, KIAWAH and SIOUX
- each stealthy powerful tug safely guiding the warships to safe deep waters
from all harbors.
I like the historic names of other proud
Navy Ships: MIDWAY, HORNET, PRINCETON, SEA WOLF and WASP. The SHENANDOAH,
HUNLEY, CONSTITUTION, MISSOURI, IOWA and MANCHESTER, as well as THE SULLIVAN'S,
ENTERPRISE, TECUMSEH AND NAUTILUS - all majestic ships of the line. Each
ship commanding the respect of any adversary.
I like the bounce of Navy music and
the tempo of a Navy Band, "Liberty Whites" and the spice scent of a foreign
port. I like shipmates I've sailed with, worked with, served with or have
known: The Gunners Mate from the Iowa cornfields; a Sonarman from the Colorado
mountain country; a pal from Cairo, Alabama; an Italian from near Boston;
some boogie boarders of California; and of course a drawling friendly Oklahoma
lad that hailed from Muskogee; and a very congenial Engineman from the
From all parts of the land they came
- farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England - the red clay area
and small towns of the South - the mountain and high prairie towns of the
West - the beachfront towns of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf.
All are American; all are comrades in arms. All are men of the sea and
all are men of honor.
I like the adventure in my heart when
the ship puts out to sea, and I like the electric thrill of sailing home
again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting
on shore. The extended time at sea drags; the going is rough on occasion.
But there's the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the devil-may-care
philosophy of the sea. This helps the Navyman. The remembrances of past
shipmates fill the mind and restore the memory with images of other ships,
other ports, and other voyages long past. Some memories are good, some
are not so good but all are etched in the mind of the Navyman, and most
will be there forever.
After a day of work, there is the serenity
of the sea at dusk. As white caps dance on the ocean waves, the sunset
creates flaming clouds that float in folds over the horizon - as if painted
there by a master. The darkness follows soon and is mysterious. The ship's
wake in darkness has a hypnotic effect, with foamy white froth and luminescence
that forms never ending patterns in the turbulent waters. I like the lights
of the ship in darkness - the masthead lights, the red and green sidelights
and stern lights. They cut through the night and appear like a mirror of
stars in darkness. There are rough stormy nights, and calm, quiet, still
nights where the quiet of the mid-watch allows the ghosts of all the Sailors
of the world to stand with you. They are abundant and unreachable, but
ever apparent. And there is always the aroma of fresh coffee from the galley.
I like the legends of the Navy and the
Navymen that created those legends. I like the proud names of Navy Heroes:
Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, McCain, Rickover and John Paul Jones.
A man can find much in the Navy - comrades in arms, pride in his country.
A man can find himself and can revel in this experience.
In years to come, when the Sailor is
home from the sea, he will still recall with fondness the ocean spray on
his face when the sea is angry. There will come a faint aroma of fresh
paint in his nostrils, the echo of hearty laughter of the seafaring men
who once were close companions. Now landlocked, he will grow wistful of
his Navy days, when the seas were the largest part of him and a new port
of call was always just over the horizon.
Recalling those days and times, he will
stand taller and say: "ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN!"
- by E.A.H., USN (Retired) - Copyright