I WAS A SAILOR ONCE
- I liked standing on the bridge at sunrise with salt spray and the ocean wind in my face, the ship beneath me feeling like a living thing as she drove swiftly through the sea.
- I liked the sounds of the Navy - the shrill boatswains pipe, the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, the harsh squawk of the 1MC, and the strong language and laughter of sailors.
- I liked Navy vessels; fast destroyers, plodding fleet auxiliaries and amphibs, sleek submarines and steady solid aircraft carriers.
- 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; Dewey, Farragut, Law, McCloy… mementos of heroes who went before us. And the others, San Jose , San Diego , Los Angeles , St. Paul , Chicago…named for our cities.
- I liked the tempo of a Navy band blaring through the topside speakers as we stood out to sea.
- I liked Liberty Call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
- I even liked the all-hands working parties as my ship filled herself with stores and fuel in order to cut ties to the land and carry out her mission anywhere on the globe.
- I liked sailors from all parts of the land, we trusted and depended on each other for competence, comradeship, strength and courage. They were "shipmates"; then and forever.
- I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when the word was passed: "Now set the special sea and anchor detail - all hands to quarters for leaving port".
- and I liked the 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 to night.
- 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
- And I liked drifting off to sleep lulled by the myriad of noises that told me that my ship was well, and that my shipmates on watch would keep me safe.
- I liked quiet midwatches 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 alertness.
- I liked the sudden cry of "General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations," followed by the 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 anything.
- 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 those 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.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 or 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 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.