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Jack R. Jones, H.B Editor Emeritus (1926-2016)
Written for all my long ago Ship-Mates
Jack R. Jones
GM3/c, 2nd Division, USS St. Louis - CL49
I loved the
sea..........I liked standing on the deck during a long voyage, the taste and
feel of salty ocean winds whipping in from everywhere the feel of the giant
ship beneath me, its powerful engine driving against the sea.
I remember the "Quivering" of the ship as she cuts through a
heavy sea at high speed........... the long rolls when a necessary course
prevents heading directly into the swells. The gentle pitch when your ship is
happy with the sea.
After a hard day of duty, there is a serenity of the sea at
dusk, as white caps dance on the ocean waves ...................I enjoyed the
mysterious night sea. The glowing phosphorescence of your ship's wake in the
moonlight .......the peacetime lights of the Navy in darkness........... bright
white masthead lights, clear green of starboard,..... and the soft red of port,
followed by the dimmed stern lights......... I savored the clear night sky at
sea and the uncounted brightness of the stars from horizon to horizon. The quiet
nights with low talk sounds mixed in the soft noises of your ship, the
"shushing" of exhaust air from the engine rooms. The sound of the waves touching
your ship as she slips through the water....The whisper quiet of the mid-watch
when the ghosts of all departed sailors stand with you.
I have relished the devil-may-care philosophy of a sea going
sailor, the rising sense 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".
Recalling at times the rough, hard work,...... BUT...... accompanying it always,
the warm companionship of robust Navy talk and humor.......I can still in the
library of my mind smell the aroma of fresh coffee from dozens of pots in
literally every division work "shack" , and who could forget the steaming galley
urns practically always available to anyone who wanted a fresh cup of "Joe".
..... I liked the clang of working steel, the ringing of a ships bell announcing
the hour of the day, the strong laughter of sailors at work, and the sad
I liked the ships of the Navy.......nervous daring
Destroyers......sleek Cruisers.......majestic Battleships and steady solid
Carriers. I like the naming of Navy ships; Hornet Enterprise Sea Wolf Iwo
Jima Franklin St. Louis Indianapolis Missouri Arizona and many others
named for heroes, cities and heroic events of our country.
I enjoyed the bounce of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy
band,.......... wearing "Liberty Whites" and "Dress Blues" .......... the
smell of a tropical foreign port..........I shared a great many likes and even
occasional dislikes with shipmates Ive sailed
with............men from the cornfields of Iowa, New York's east side, an
Irishman from Boston, the pleasant drawl of the Texans, and men of the sun from
California. They came from all parts of the country, farms of the Midwest, small
towns of New England, big cities, mountains, the prairies, all to become men of
the sea......... usually sooner, rather than later.
I like the legends of our Navy and the men who made
them.....I like the proud names of Navy heroes: John Paul Jones, "Bull" Halsey,
Nimitz, Perry, and Farragut..............a man can find much in the Navy,
comrades-in-arms, pride in his country and people.
A MAN CAN OFTEN FIND HIMSELF.
In years to come when thinking of times passed, when the
uniform is stowed away for good, a mans thoughts will occasionally return to
the sea..........., he will remember with fondness, the ocean spray on his face
blowing from an angry sea. There will surely and faintly come to his hearing,
echo's of hearty seafaring men who once were close companions.
Locked on land , he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas was his
life, and a new port of call was always just over the horizon. Then
SOFTLY he will exclaim:
"Once I was a Navy man !"