"I like the Navy..."
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 boatswains
pipe, 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
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
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." 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 ever present.
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 mid-watches 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
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
work place 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. I WAS PART OF THE NAVY & THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE PART OF ME!"
- written by VADM Harold M. Koenig, USN (Ret) -