Skip to comments.I Like the Navy; Reflections of a Blackshoe (US Navy nostalgia)
Posted on 11/11/2007 4:29:59 PM PST by VermonterEdited on 11/11/2007 4:55:21 PM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
I Like the Navy; & THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE PART OF ME."
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
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
I Like the Navy;
& THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE
PART OF ME."
This does make me thinks this way about my time being haxze gray and underway.
“I WAS A SAILOR ONCE. I WAS PART OF THE NAVY
& THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE
PART OF ME.”
I sent this one off to my former boss, a now 82 year old ex-squid, current zillionaire -- who always much, much preferred talking about his World War II signalman days, to his latter years business acumen.
(I picked up on this years ago, as an "ass-chewing avoidance system"...if he'd start to go off on me, I'd simply remind him that I'd been a Juggie and he'd only been the bus driver.....it never failed)
Thanks for the memories. It brought a smile to this Navy vet’s face.
Ah! An old timer! Let me just say that the nuclear subs have a nice smooth ride except when you come up to periscope depth. A common joke with the nukes when we were underway on my boat was we were just in a simulation and had never left the pier.
(My used-to-fish: USS L.Mendel Rivers, SSN-686.)
Wow, I don't think I would like that at all! Submariners don't need sunlight. We get the equivalent radiation dose from our nuclear reactor. And the screws hitting the water sounds scary--though I have to admit I did sort of like the sound of our fairwater planes slapping the surface when we were at periscope depth and inadvertently broached the surface in heavy weather.
The good old days. Wouldn’t do it again, but glad I have the memories!
“I WAS A SAILOR ONCE. I WAS PART OF THE NAVY& THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE PART OF ME.”
USS Parche SSN-683.
I visited the L. Mendel Rivers when it was briefly in port when I was at the Nuclear Power School in Charleston. I also saw it being cut up at PSNS in Bremerton (my boat got the cribbage board).
You just have to love 637 class boats. They were the workhorse of the Cold War. Sadly my boat was the last of the 637s. There are still the moored training ships in Charleston that are old 637 hulls with their old S5W reactors and there is another modified S5W reactor plant in New York, but all of the 637s are gone. Sad. They were truly one of the greatest ship classes in the history of the Navy.
True....the memories, the sound of the catapults and the arresting wire.....USS Forrestal, CV-59, USS John F. Kennedy, CV-67...
I actually served on the McCard in the spring of 1969 as part of the spook detachment. We were tailing the “Moskva”, the first Russian aircraft carrier. Tailed her all over the eastern Med for about 2 months.
Small world. I got off her when she returned from the Vietnam cruise. You probably took my place ;-}
And when the propellers of a carrier cavitate the water, it'll shake the computers off your desk!
...the piercing trill of the boatswainspipe... ""Sweepers, sweepers! Man your brooms!"
...the syncopated clangor of the ship's bell on the quarterdeck... "FIRE! FIRE FIRE!" FIRE IN THE AFT MESSDECKS!"
...the harsh squawk of the 1MC... "This is a drill! This is a drill!"
I like the surge of adventure in my heart when the word is passed "Now station the special sea and anchor detail..." "The smoking lamp is out throughout the ship!"
...I like the tempo of a Navy band blaring through the topside speakers As we pull away from the oiler after refueling at sea...
Our ship played Metallica.
HAPPY VETERANS' DAY!!!
Thank you for posting this poem. My husband was on the Coral Sea in the early sixties. I’m printing it up write now to give to him when he wakes up. God bless you.
We spent months in the Gulf of Tonkin following the Coral Sea around in circles. Thank your husband for his service for me.
Probably not. The McCard was in Naples on her way home to be decommed. Word got out that the Moskva had “declared” the Bosporous. Then the mad scramble began. They welded the spook van to the helo deck in Naples and then she steamed to Venice to pick up the rest of us. Two guys from Edsall, Scotland, two guys from Rota, Spain, and me from London. The others boarded in Naples. I think there were a dozen of us all total. We bunked in the helo hanger. Crew didn’t like that because it was their gym and movie theater.
Come to think of it, it was early spring of ‘70. I remember it being cold. Rough seas the whole time. Needless to say, ship’s company was pretty much pissed at us the whole time.
My dad was Navy.
I loved it then and I miss it now,but at my age all I can do about it is tell my 11 grandchildren lots of Sea Stoies,I have to tell the grandkids because everybody else has heard them all....more than once!
outstanding post...it brings back good memories, bad memories and some things we’d rather forget ;)