"ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN !”

E. A. Hughes, FTCM (SS), USN (Retired)

 

My name is E. A. Hughes and I am a U S Navy retired Firecontrol Technician Master Chief,  I noticed that you have posted on your USS Russell County website an essay tilted “I Like The Navy”. I wrote a short essay as a required work assignment for an English 102 Class at Denver University in 1958 and I titled this essay “Once I Was A Navyman”. This work was written after I had completed my first hitch in the Navy. It was meant to show how I felt about the Navy, ships, the sea and shipmates that I had known. My work was not well received by my English Professor, she told me that Navyman was two words, the sentence structure was poor, and that the dash I had used throughout the work was not properly used. But she said she would submit it to the annual freshman writing competition. It failed to be recognized as anything important, but I got a passing grade and that is what I was looking for at the time.

 

I reenlisted in the Navy within a few months of that time and served another 20 years. After retiring from the Navy in 1978 I added a number of things to my original work that included shipmates known over those years, some names of ships that these Navymen served on and areas of the country that they came from. I have also added Navy heroes of my life’s experience such as Beach and Rickover.

 

When I first went on the internet, about 6 years ago, I found that there were many ship sites or other military sites that listed individuals who had served in that unit. A lot of these websites also carried an essay that I recognized as being similar to my work, in fact it was word for word in numerous places. The work that you have on your website “I Like the Navy” appears to be my work with some things added or changed. I have included a copy of “Once I Was A Navyman” for your comparison and evaluation of what I have presented. I would appreciate your consideration for incorporation of my “Once I Was A Navyman” to your website to replace your author unknown post.

 

Respectfully,

E. A Hughes, FTCM (SS)

USN (Retired)

 

Once I Was A Navyman

 

I like the Navy. I like standing on deck during a long voyage with sea spray in my face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere - The feel of the giant steel ship beneath me, it's engines driving against the sea is almost beyond understanding - It’s immense power makes the Navyman feel so insignificant but yet proud to be a small part of this ship - A small part of Her mission.

 

I like the Navy. I like the sound of taps over the ships announcing system, the ringing of the ships bell, the foghorns and strong laughter of Navy men at work. I like the ships of the Navy; Nervous darting Destroyers, sleek proud Cruisers, majestic Battle Ships, steady solid Carriers, the essential Fleet Auxiliaries and silent hidden Submarines - I like the workhorse tugboats with their proud Indian names: Iroquois, Apache, Kiawah and Sioux - Each stealthy powerful Tug safely guiding the warships to safe deep waters from all harbors.

 

I like the historic names of other proud Navy Ships: Midway, Hornet, Princeton, Saribachi and Saratoga . The Ozark, Hunley, William R. Rush and Turner, the Constitution, Missouri, Wichita, Iowa, Arizona and Manchester, as well as The Sullivans, Enterprise, Tecumseh, Cole, New Jersey and Nautilus too - all majestic ships of the line - Each ship commanding the respect of all Navymen that have known Her - or were privileged to be a part of Her crew.

 

I like the bounce of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy Band, "Liberty Whites", “13 Button Blues”, the rare 72 hour liberty and the spice scent of a foreign port - I like Shipmates I've sailed with, worked with, served with or have known: The Gunners Mate from the Iowa cornfields; a Sonarman from the Colorado mountain country; a pal from Cairo, Alabama; an Italian from near Boston; some boogie boarders of California; and of course, a drawling friendly Oklahoma lad that hailed from Muskogee; and a very congenial Engineman from the Tennessee hills.

 

From all parts of the land they came - Farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England - The red clay area and small towns of the South - The mountain and high prairie towns of the West - The beachfront towns of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf - All are American; all are comrades in arms - All are men of the sea and all are men of honor.

 

I like the adventure in my heart when the ship puts out to sea, and I like the electric thrill of sailing home again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends, waiting on shore - The extended time at sea drags; the going is rough on occasion. But there's the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the devil-may-care philosophy of the sea. This helps the Navyman - The remembrances of past shipmates fill the mind and restore the memory with images of other ships, other ports, and other cruises long past - Some memories are good, some are not so good, but all are etched in the mind of the Navyman - And most will be there forever.

 

I like the sea, and after a day of work, there is the serenity of the sea at dusk. As white caps dance on the ocean waves, the sunset creates flaming clouds that float in folds over the horizon - As if painted there by a master. The darkness follows soon and is mysterious. The ship’s wake in darkness has a hypnotic effect, with foamy white froth and luminescence that forms never ending patterns in the turbulent waters - I like the lights of the ship in the dark of night - The masthead lights, the red and green sidelights and stern lights. They cut through the night and appear as a mirror of stars in darkness - There are rough stormy nights, and calm, quiet, still nights where the quiet of the mid-watch allows the ghosts of all the Sailors of the world to stand watch with you. They are abundant and unreachable, but ever apparent - And there is always the aroma of fresh coffee from the galley.

 

I like the legends of the Navy and the Navymen that created those legends - I like the proud names of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Beach, Farragut, Rickover and John Paul Jones. A man can find much in this Navy - Comrades in arms, pride in his country - A man can find himself and can revel in this experience.

 

In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea, he will still recall with fondness the ocean spray on his face when the sea is angry - There will come a faint aroma of fresh paint in his nostrils, the echo of hearty laughter of the seafaring men who once were close companions - Now landlocked, he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas were the largest part of him and a new port of call was always just over the horizon.

 

Recalling those days and times, he will stand taller and say: "ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN !”

                                                                          

                                                                 E. A. Hughes, FTCM (SS), USN (Retired)

                                                                                                Copyright, 1958, 1978

 

 

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