Just A Sailor

Preface: Title blatantly stolen from Steve Waterman’s book “Just A Sailor”. We met once and I have a signed copy.  Kinda happy to give him a nod here.


This post may seem a bit of a whine, perhaps, but it is primarily just a sort of journal entry. It was suggested I post some Navy stuff and that process has been ‘interesting,’ and perhaps a bit painful at times.

I consider myself a Vietnam vet. Says so on my DD-214 as well. Still, the only VN mud I got on me was during a single trip to a bar in Da Nang. I can document being shot at by shore batteries and firing back. I can document helping to pick up downed aircrew in the Gulf of Tonkin. There is more similar, but I did my job well enough. Thing is… I was Just A sailor.

Of course there were sailors in the thick of things, from Corpsmen to SEALS, and others like Steve Waterman. I wasn’t one of them. I was Just A Sailor.

Came back to CONUS in May 1969. Arrived via SFO, in uniform, and was spit at and called a “Baby Killer.” But I was Just A Sailor.

Certain veterans groups said I didn’t qualify for membership back then. I was Just A Sailor.

Those last two items serve to highlight the one common area each and every Vet with a Vietnam Service Medal in their records share, the way we were dealt with when we came back and how we coped with that.  I was painted with THAT brush as broadly as any other. Even tho’ I was Just A Sailor.

No two human beings standing side-by-side will experience even the simplest of things identically. That one saving grace, at least, makes me feel okay to call myself a ‘Nam Vet… even if I was Just A Sailor.

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Twenty-Two per Day?

It seems that “twenty-two veteran suicides occur per day” has become common knowledge. At that rate, there are 8,030 each year and 80,300 in a decade. That certainly is quite a significant number. If those numbers only represent veterans, including suicides among active military members and reserve forces would raise the number even higher for all military related suicides.

Is that figure real? Upon what exactly is it based? Does it even matter?

Being reasonably good at doing research, it seemed like it shouldn’t take me very long to find the actual statistics and the methodology used to compile them. News stories link to assorted VA data which just isn’t there. Some news stories link to Congress critters using the figures that they read in various news stories. Other stories quote each other, none leading to any real sources. And everyone is wringing their hands about the problem, and blaming each other for it. Continue reading

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Setting The Drip – A Winter’s Tale

Been cold here on the ridge and THAT particular ritual has been taken care of some days ago. But I’ve been thinking about how out-of-tune it is to complete a rather simple preventative measure. Is there some government entity that will come down my dirt road to help if the toilet won’t flush? Who do I call if the pipes burst, etc.

A neighbor’s house burned down a day or two ago. No one was hurt, but it serves to emphasize my point. We have a volunteer Fire Department out here in the boonies. They are great folks, but…

Call 911 here and don’t expect a rapid response. And they don’t provide plumbers.

So… Among other things we set a drip. We have Fire Extinguishers, etc.

We might be (gasp) Preppers. So long as our gas well works we’ll have heat, and power. We can feed ourselves and the critters for at least 3 weeks at any time. I know, that is puny compared to some, but it is the most I’ll admit to in a public venue.

Sidebar: Gas Well needs swabbed – the weather has prevented the guys from even getting their gear moving. Something we never considered. Lesson learned.

Anyway, lots of terms are used to defend government intervention in our lives. Some of us have different frames of reference. Whether it be local, county, State, or the Feds who do YOU turn to when shit happens?

Was gonna offer this as Sunday Silly, but my curiosity overcame me.

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Our Bizzaro World?

Bizzaro World is a place in the comic book (Sorry – Graphic Novel) universe… supposed fiction.

Yet every day some current news item hints that it is becoming more and more real. Could be my advancing age, or my own personal illusion of reality, but I gotta wonder aloud here.

I won’t waste your time with my own lengthy list of such seeming portents of this shift of realities other than offering this: The immediate trigger for this post takes the form of a cute young lady and her words, but ALSO in my case she seems a harbinger rather then just an idiot.

Hmm… It may well highlight my concerns to add a sort of disclaimer. I’m not certain I can use the term “cute young woman” without being denigrated as a sexist.

So, MY opinion about Marie Harf  is mine alone and NOT the opinion of this blog.

If you can also cite similar concerns about Bizzaro World encroaching on your reality I’d ask that you only put your personally most egregious single example in the comments. On the other hand, if nobody else actually HAS any such it’ll entertain my shrink so I win regardless.

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Blame it on Cabin Fever – A Navy Story

A Brother Nam Vet suggested I post more Navy stuff so, that barely still functioning part of my brain began casting for memories. Then Cabin Fever amplified the effort.

Being underway on a cruiser/destroyer class ship is simply an experience that those Airdales and Bubbleheads in The Navy can only rarely equate to. [grin]

Off to VietNam we go. Getting there was trivial. It was just a cruise. Leaving Long Beach the first time was bad for some though. I was thrilled. It was late ’65 or early ’66 and I was going to war. I worked on them high tech missiles (Terrier/Tartar) and was fresh out of school and ready. I don’t recall the various ports we might have visited on the way. I did visit Hawaii on at least one trip or other… but the dates are jumbled.

Somewhere along the way I first discovered that our wake could glow in the dark, and that I could count the stars. Don’t let that memory of mine disappear as trivia, please, because the night at sea factors heavily into the rest of this post.

Once on station (Gulf of Tonkin) we spent our time at what was then known as Condition Three. Some may know it as “Port and Starboard”, basically 12 on and 12 off. I still got to visit the Fantail at might though.

Once there our aft missile house became pretty much useless at night. The Airdales decided to land a helo on the fantail. After that we spent most of our time “up-north”. Got an official piece of paper that says we picked up 18 downed airmen that cruise.

Other cruises on different ships followed and our missions were varied. But one thing was a constant – most nights at sea. Standing on the fantail with a vibration from the screws permeating everything. The critter lit wake fading into the darkness as the disturbed water slowly settled down. We operated frequently under “darken ship” rules so I could only barely see my hand in front of my face. The only light that of the wake and the stars. It is an almost out-of-body experience.

One night WAS different though. Up near the DMZ, as I recall, we were just a few miles off shore and I noticed a flash out of the corner of my eye. My first thought was that a shore battery firing at us… again. Then, before GQ could sound there was another flash and then many more. The flashes expanded into orange fireballs and faded. No sound over the ship noise and vibration, mind you, just the lights ashore. Scuttlebutt was that it was a B-52 ARClight raid. I dunno for certain, but I am glad I wasn’t on the ground there.

I could ramble on with memories, and memories OF memories, but for this sailor those nights at sea were special, and have likely been special to all those sailors who left port and found themselves far from land – at night.

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Showering With Friends?

Minds out of the gutter!

This has been discussed here before, but I aim to get a bit specific. Sure, this has been cussed and discussed in grand terms and likely with the best of intentions – usually also ignoring or dismissing That Elephant in the Room: SEX!

With all the PC changes going on in our Military even I managed to sorta overlook something fundamental. Every ship I was on in the 60’s had some things in common. Officers had their facilities in Officer Country, Chiefs had The Goat Locker, and pretty much everyone else shared the heads. Taking a leak… might be others also doing so. Taking a dump, you could chat with others while sitting. Even seasickness and discovering what your shipmate had for lunch wasn’t all that unusual – especially getting underway the morning after a good liberty.

I adapted to showering, etc, with others of my gender in school sports. About the only new thing in The Navy that required some minor adaptation was the occasional Salt Water shower… turns out Prell shampoo would lather nicely though.

Flash forward to today. How much of our Defense Budget is being spent on simply providing facilities for female and gender-unspecified folks. It really is a potentially non-trivial matter. Jonn’s Angel – the A-10 is being dumped maybe to fund that latrine with the pink lace shower curtains.

WWI comes most easily to mind… Dig extra trenches for the “others”?

Mind you – racial integration in the military was handled, but that IS a kinda loaded parallel at best. Still, I don’t recall ever hearing any scuttlebutt about two sailors necking while on watch, etc, whatever their racial derivation. Well… maybe in a jocular way.

Lookit, people can, and have, adapted to a rather large variety of alternatives when presented with no other alternative. Many, if not most, have required a blood badge to accomplish that though. Wonder how much blood will be let to make the PC world happy.

Reckon I’m one of them straight geezer reactionaries. Two competent, capable individuals of different genders can most certainly share the same MOS and work side by side in many environments… but not EVERY environment. Shipboard life in the “old days” being the only area I can discuss reasonably, I should probably shut up now. I’ll leave you with one image. It requires some time warping, but it does linger. A General Patton slapping some sobbing transgender GI.

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Why Do States Need Stolen Valor Statutes?

A federal law exists, so do individual states really need to enact their own Stolen Valor statutes? That question can only be answered by the citizens of each state. But, each state has a Constitution, laws against things like fraud and murder, as well as a plethora of other state laws which federal laws also address. So, why not codify Stolen Valor into state law as well?

Law enforcement officials and prosecutors across the country reflect the values of the communities they serve. While a few things, like murder, are universal in their being illegal, the states vary even in their individual definitions of that crime. State laws allow the citizens of each state to define the parameters of what is and is not acceptable behavior within their state, which may or may not be the same as any other state. In the case of Stolen Valor, each state gets to say, “It’s not OK to lie about one’s military service.” Continue reading

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Gedunk! There I Said it Aloud!

With all the PC changes to the Military in general, and The Navy in particular, I suspect that the notion of The Gedunk Truck will disappear soon.

Will the OOD announce the arrival of The Healthy Snack Truck? Will The Navy be adopting the healthy stance ala Michelle. Our schools are struggling some, but the military isn’t quite the same… I hope.

With all of the PC changes going on isn’t The Gedunk Truck a likely target?

Aside: I don’t really know if the term Gedunk is even in current usage? It just struck me that the term is a potential target.

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Are we there yet?

We find ourselves in a new year. The same old problems seem to have followed us here. And some of the issues sound about the same as they did decades ago.

It’s enough to make you want to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head! Think that’s what I’ll do. At least until this silly cold gets better.

Spring is coming, isn’t it?

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‘Tis the Season

Another year is quickly coming to an end as this week we celebrate Christmas then step right into a New Year next week. May everyone enjoy some quiet time amidst the chaos, have safe travels to and fro, then break a fast or two with loved ones while making some perfect memories.

Merry Christmas, All!

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