I’m getting nostalgic this Veterans Day, and I’m not sure if it is the day itself or what has happened recently. But a lot of old memories are coming back.
First, I got an email from not one, but two shipmates off my first ship, USS COOK (FF1083), which is now a Taiwanese ship called Hae Yang.
Then my daughter found my old trumpet that hasn’t been played in 36 years. We pulled it out, stuck some valve oil in it and the old gal still worked.
Then I got an email from a Sailor in Australia that likes Broadside – he serves on patrol boats. I have some great memories of liberty ports in Australia, and one that involves patrol boats.
It was 1980 and I had just checked aboard my ship in Darwin, Australia. The Australian Navy had invited the Captain to select two officers to visit one of their patrol boats that was moored nearby. As the new guy, I was picked to go, along with the next newest guy. Apparently everyone else wanted to hit the beach.
When we got there we were met by the Skipper who showed us around – it took about ten minutes. Then he said he wanted to show us the magazine.
Great. My first liberty port ever, and I was about to get a tour of a box of bullets.
We were escorted to the magazine, which was really nothing more than a steel door in the forward part of the ship. When the Skipper opened it up we saw…
Cases and cases of beer. There were no bullets, no guns.
We spent the next five or six hours or so (I lost count) drinking and telling sea stories (of which I had none), and had a rip-roaring time. I do not remember how the night ended, nor how I got back to my own ship. But I will always remember the tour of the magazine on a lonely patrol boat in Darwin, Australia.
And I have been a big fan of the Royal Australian Navy ever since.
Veterans Day evokes memories, I guess. Some of them poignant, some of them sad, but a lot of them are good ones. Shipmates and deployments and camaraderie. The military takes us to far away places and in the process we experience things we never could have seen as civilians. What a special life. What a special privilege it was to serve.
If I still had a lip I would play something appropriate on the trumpet. But I don’t so I’ll do the next best thing.
I think I’ll have a beer.