WAS A SAILOR ONCE AND I WOULD DO IT AGAIN
(Found on Facebook, author unknown)
standing on the bridge wing or
the 06 level 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 drove her swiftly
through the sea.
the sounds of the Navy - the piercing trill of the boatswains pipe, the
syncopated clang of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck, the harsh
squawk of the 1MC, and the strong language and laughter of sailors at
Navy vessels -- nervous darting destroyers (they were called 'tin cans'
for a reason), plodding fleet auxiliaries and amphibs, sleek submarines
and steady solid aircraft carriers.
the proud names of Navy ships: Bennington, Midway, Lexington , Bunker
Hill, Saratoga, Coral Sea, Antietam, Valley Forge - - memorials of
great battles won and tribulations overcome.
the lean angular names of Navy "tin-cans" and escorts - - Kenneth D.
Bailey DDR-713, Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, McCloy, Damato, Leftwich,
Mills, Stickell, Noa, Paul, Coontz, T.C. Hart, Glover - - mementos of
heroes who went before us. And the others, light and heavy cruisers - -
San Jose , San Diego , Los Angeles , St. Paul , Chicago - - named for
our cities. Big battlewagons proudly named for our States - - Missouri,
New Jersey, Iowa and Arizona.
the tempo of a Navy band blaring through the topside speakers as we
pulled away from the oiler after refueling at sea.
Liberty Call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
liked the never-ending paperwork and all-hands working parties as the
ship filled herself with the multitude of supplies, both critical and
mundane in order to cut ties to the land and carry out her mission
anywhere on the globe where there was water to float her. Underway
replenishments were a thrill to watch and participate in while everyone
helped stow needed stores.
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, now, and forever.
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 infectious thrill of sighting home again, with
the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting pier
the sound of "Flight Quarters" over the 1MC, and the smells and sounds
of the launch and recovery of aircraft. The continuous ballet of a
flight deck in action is an awesome thing to see. Does it get any
better than a big aircraft carrier defending America's
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
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.
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 and the rocking from
side to side that told me my ship was alive and well, and that my
shipmates on watch would keep me safe.
quiet midwatches 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
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 anything.
And I liked the sight of space-age equipment manned by youngsters clad
in dungarees and sound-powered phones that their grandfathers would
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.
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 mess
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
Remembering this, they will stand taller and say, " I WAS A SAILOR ONCE
AND I WOULD DO IT AGAIN. " (CTTO)