"I thought this would be something nice to share with the
I WAS A SAILOR ONCE
Sharing a glimpse of the life I so dearly loved . . .
I liked 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.
I liked the sounds of the Navy - the piercing trill of the boatswain's
pipe, the syncopated clangor of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck,
harsh, and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
I liked Navy vessels--plodding fleet auxiliaries--ATF 76 USS
Ute--and amphibs, sleek submarines and steady, solid aircraft
I liked the proud names of Navy ships: Midway, Lexington, Saratoga,
Coral Sea, Antietam, Valley Forge--memorials of great battles
won and tribulations overcome.
I liked the lean angular names of Navy "tin-cans" and
escorts--DD 731 USS Maddox--mementos of heroes who went before
And the others--San Jose, San Diego, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Chicago,
Oklahoma City, named for our cities.
I liked the tempo of a Navy band.
I liked liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
I even liked the never ending paperwork and all hands working
parties as my ship filled herself with the multitude of supplies,
both mundane and to cut ties to the land and carry out her mission
anywhere on the globe where there was water to float her.
I liked sailors, officers and enlisted 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 trusted and depended on them as they trusted and depended
on me--for professional competence, for comradeship, for strength
and courage. In a word, they were "shipmates"; then
I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was
passed: ''Now Hear This'' "Now set the special sea and anchor
detail--all hands to quarters for leaving port," and I liked
the infectious thrill of sighting home again, with the waving
hands of welcome from family and friends waiting pier side.
The work was 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 was ever present.
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
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. And 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.
And, I liked hectic watches when the exacting minuet of haze-gray
shapes racing at flank speed kept all hands on a razor edge of
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
And. 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 women who
made them. I liked the proud names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz,
Perry, Farragut, John Paul Jones and Burke. A sailor could find
much in the Navy: comrades-in-arms, pride in self and country,
mastery of the seaman's trade. An adolescent could find adulthood.
In years to come, when sailors are home from the sea, AND SO
WE ARE--we 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 mess decks.
Gone 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
Remembering this, WE stand taller and say, "I WAS A SAILOR