I liked the names
of the aircraft and helicopters; Skyraider, Intruder, Sea King, Phantom, Skyhawk, Demon, Skywarrior, Corsair, and many more
that bring to mind offensive and defensive orders of battle.
I liked the excitement of an alongside replenishment
as my ship slid in alongside an oiler and the cry of "Standby to receive shot lines" prefaced the hard work of rigging
span wires (high-lines) and fuel hoses echoed across the narrow gap of water between the ships and welcomed the
mail, fresh milk, fruit and vegetables that sometimes accompanied the fuel.
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, and the bosun's mate's after-supper call over the speaker system: "Let's have a clean sweep
down, fore and aft, empty all trash over the transom. The smoking lamp is now lighted".
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.
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 mid-watches with the aroma of strong coffee - the lifeblood of the Navy permeating everywhere. 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
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 now women who made them. I liked the proud names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut,
John Paul Jones, Burke, Osborn and Jenks.
A sailor could find much in the Navy: comrades-in-arms,
pride in self and country, mastery of the seaman's trade. An adolescent
adulthood. In years to come, when sailors are home from the sea, we will still remember with fondness and respect the
ocean in all its moods, the impossible shimmering mirror calm and the storm-tossed dark blue water surging over
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 mess decks.
Once ashore for good we grow humble about our
Navy days, when the seas were a part of us and a new port of call was ever over the horizon.
Remembering this, WE stand taller and say...
"I WAS A SAILOR ONCE & THE
NEVER GO AWAY, OLD SAILORS NEVER DIE -THEY JUST FADE AWAY!"