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Once I Was A Navyman...

I like the Navy. I like standing on deck on a long voyage with the sea in my face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere—the feel of the giant steel ship beneath me, it's engine driving against the sea.

I like the Navy. I like the clang of steel, the ringing of the bell, the foghorns and strong laughter of Navy men at work. I like the ships of the Navy-nervous darting destroyers, sleek cruisers, majestic battle ships and steady solid carriers.

I like the names of the Navy Ships: Midway, Hornet, Enterprise, Sea Wolf, Iwo Jima, Wasp, Shangri-La, and Constitution-majestic ships of the line.

I like the bounce of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy Band, "Liberty Whites" and the spice scent of a foreign port. I like shipmates I've sailed with…the kid from the Iowa cornfields, and a pal from New York's eastside, an Irishman from Boston, the boogie boarders of California, and of course a drawling friendly Texan.

From all parts of the land they came-farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England- The red clay and small towns of the South, the mountains and the prairies. All Americans, All are comrades in arms. All are men of the sea.

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 work is hard, the going rough at times. But there's the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the devil-may-care philosophy of the sea.

And after a day of hard duty, there is the serenity of the sea at dusk, as white caps dance on the ocean waves. The sea at night is mysterious, I the lights of the Navy in darkness-the masthead lights, and red and green sidelights and stern lights. They cut through the and look like a mirror of stars in darkness. There are quite nights and the quite of the mid-watch where the ghost of all the Sailors of the world stand with you. And there is the aroma of fresh coffee from the galley.

I like the legends of the Navy and the men who made them. I like the proud names of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, and John Paul Jones. A man can find much in the Navy-comrades in arms, pride in a country. A man can find himself.

In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea, he will still remember 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. Locked on land, he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas belonged to him and a new port of call was always on the horizon.

Remembering this, he will stand taller and say. "ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN"

This story was contributed: Albert