10 November 2013

Fair winds, old friends.

I'm thinking today about shipmates who are gone.

Mike. Steve. Mark.

I'm not a member of the World War Two generation whose whose sacrifices are honored daily at funerals and memorial services. I barely make it into the Social Security generation. But none of us are immortal. We all, eventually, go.

Phil, my barracks mate; gone. Bill, gone.

My commanding officers were older than me, so it's only natural that they go before I do. Commander Field. Lieutenant Commander Clemens. They're gone.

Some were young sailors who worked for me, kids that drove me crazy. Pitty-Pat, the Young Buck. They're gone.

Only a few decades ago, you might never hear of the loss of Jack or Pat. Today, the news is on your screen and in your eyeballs within seconds. Ricky is gone. And Thumper. And Ben, and Noonie, and Doug.

Seen with grand perspective, they were veterans, leaders, sailors, Marines, Americans who gave years of service to their country.But to me, they were people I worked with, worked for, played with, ate with in the chow hall, bitched with when we were passed over for promotions and drank with when we sewed on our new stripes.

Our lives are the results of the lessons we learn. I am fortunate that so many of my teachers wore gold anchors, silver bars, red hash marks and bell-bottom trousers.