I spent 20 years in the Navy. At one time, in 1989, I was gone from my wife for over 10 months. While it does not compare with the 12-18 month deployments of the modern soldier, anyone who has had to endure the hardship of separation knows that no amount of time is really easy.
But 20 years is a long time. I miss the quiet solitude of sitting alone on a weather deck somewhere, looking out over the waves, nothing but ocean for as far as you can see. I miss the pitch blackness of the night and the incredibly brilliant number of stars above as the ship steams ‘dark’.
I miss the at-sea refueling, where we got to pull alongside another vessel to pump gas or transfer supplies, where we got to see the faces of others of our kind, exactly the same but eminently different, sharing a bond few are privileged to share.
I miss the humming of the screw as it churned through the water, the scraping of the shaft on bearings right below our berthing, humming me to sleep- when we were allowed to sleep.
I miss the roar of the jet engine as the Tomcats and Hornets catapulted from the deck or were trapped on return, the fight deck crew moving dozens of birds around in an intricate dance that only the Handler could fully comprehend.
And, amazingly, I miss the thrill of the storm; the massive waves crashing above the bridge some 50 feet high, the wind whistling past at 50 knots, the disappearing of the fantail underwater, only to reappear as the ship made its way down the trough, followed by the screw as it broke the waterline.
You cannot comprehend, lest you have been there, about which I speak, but I wanted to mention it. It is something that I think everyone should get to experience.
God Bless our sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen. Until Every One Comes Home.
Below are the four ships I served on as well as a nice image of an UNREP and storm.
The revolution is at hand. Will you be a leader or a follower?