Monday, November 12, 2007

"I Like the Navy"

Well, since the official date for the observation of Veteran's Day fell on a Sunday, the federal holiday observance is today (Monday), I thought I'd sneak this one in and still be kosher.



I Like the Navy;
Reflections of a Blackshoe

by Vice Admiral Harold Koenig, USN (Ret)


I like the Navy.

I like 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 drive her through the sea.

I like the sounds of the Navy - the piercing trill of the
boatswainspipe, 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.

I like the vessels of the Navy - nervous darting destroyers, plodding
fleet auxiliaries, sleek submarines and steady solid carriers. I like
the proud sonorous names of Navy capital ships: Midway, Lexington,
Saratoga, Coral Sea- memorials of great battles won.
I like the lean angular names of Navy 'tin-cans': Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, 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 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 anywhere on the globe where there is water to float her.

I like sailors, 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 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 port", and 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 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 is
ever present.

I 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. I
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 repeaters - they cut through the dusk and join with the mirror
of stars overhead. And I 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 safe.

I like quiet midwatches with the aroma of strong coffee - the
Lifeblood of the Navy - permeating everywhere. And I like hectic watches
when the exacting minuet of haze-gray shapes racing at flank speed keeps all
hands on a razor edge of alertness. I like 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 transforms herself in a
few brief seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon of war - ready
for anything. And I like the sight of space-age equipment manned by
youngsters clad in dungarees and sound-powered phones that their
grandfathers would still recognize.

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 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 chief's 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

& THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE

PART OF ME."

**********

I like the Navy, too, Vice-Admiral.
Nice words, sir.

5 Comments:

Blogger Cookie..... said...

Ahhh...a man after me own heart he is....

Only an old Sailor would truly understand what the man said....

11/12/2007 11:24 AM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

Wasn't that lovely, Cookie?
As I read that I suddenly, finally
"got" my Dad. It nearly made me cry.

Dad's sentiments about the service were much the same, only he could never express it as eloquently as this man.

(I just wish the formatting of the text wasn't so wacky-it sure didn't appear that way in Preview, and I tried to fix it...*sigh*)

11/12/2007 11:35 AM  
Blogger Cookie..... said...

The romance of the Sea's bring out the poet in a man...and when out to sea...when you say the words "we're all in the same boat"...it's true...

I've always loved the oceans and their allure...thats why my wife and I have taken so many cruises. Not the party cruises...but the plush cruise ships with romantic ambiance...although me good wife tends to get a wee bit sea-sick in rough seas... :-(

11/12/2007 12:06 PM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

"good wife tends to get a wee bit sea-sick in rough seas... :-("

Well, don't be 'rockin' her boat' so damn hard, Cookie! You ol' dog, you!
(nudge-nudge, wink-wink)

11/12/2007 12:17 PM  
Blogger Cookie..... said...

LOL...OK...I'll lay off (wink wink, nudge nudge)....

11/12/2007 12:22 PM  

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