I met a chief, grizzled and getting baldy

Long of tooth and extremely salty

A coffee cup in his claw-like grip

That remained horizontal

Despite the pitch of the ship

He strode the deck quite aloof

It was his Navy! And that’s the truth



U Boat, Baltic Sea, Laboe, Mecklenburg, Historically


It was said to be the briefest command in naval history.  In a solemn ceremony Commander William Clark, handed command of the Swordfish over to Commander David Hayes.   Whereupon the new skipper instructed the helmsman to, “Take us to port.”   He probably should have given an exact coarse instead.


Something in the Wind

HMS Inflexible (1881).jpg

image: Public Domain

The squadron had been successful in their recent actions and despite several ships of the flotilla being raked by fire only two sailors had been killed in the engagements.  The Hercules had taken some damage to her gun deck but with no loss of life, and two other vessels suffered superficial damage.

On arriving at the safe haven of Port Lewisham, the five ships anchored and prepared for the royal delegation’s congratulatory visit.   The Crown Prince, the Lord Sea Marshall, and two additional admirals were piped aboard the flagship, Agamemnon which was bedecked with bunting for their arrival.

As the Sea Marshall came onto the quarterdeck he was overtaken by a ghastly stink.  Glancing to his side he could see the prince holding his nose and watering at the eyes.

The senior naval official, after saluting the flotilla’s commander,  leaned in and whispered, “What is that godawful stench?”

“Sorry sir, it is the heads of Cerberus.  She was hit just above the waterline and took damage to her pipes.  I had her anchored away from the wind, but it hasn’t helped much.”



*Head is the nautical term for the toilets.

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Heads of Cerberus



USS Rattler

Heading upriver weren’t go’in to be easy.  The Rebs had put batteries on several of the bluffs, and Rattler didn’t have the thickest of armour.  But orders was orders, and she and Glide would run past the Confederate guns at Fort Hindman in the morning.

The next day,  Rattler and Glide steamed past the fort with all twelve of their guns blazing.  The two stern-wheelers made it rather “hot” for the Secesh, many of them fled their posts as the 24 pound shells burst around them.   With the rifle pits abandoned, Ol’ Bill Sherman and his boys kinda just strolled up into the fort.

Who said that the Navy don’t belong in Arkansas?



Inspired by the prompt:  UPRIVER ~ PIC AND A WORD CHALLENGE #177

0311: Pride


photo from ebay

I arrived at Camp Geiger a day early. Bravo Company had already been formed, and I was dropped off at the company street for Charlie. Here I was on what could just as well been Mars. White prefab timber buildings in the North Carolina woods. It was bright, and warm (but not as warm as the Air Force base in Mississippi, I had arrived from). I was met by a sergeant who gave me an immediate task of phone watch. There I sat, monitoring the phone, which did not ring.  I was in my still factory scented battle dress uniform, camouflage forest green, and my Navy E-2 rank hashes on my collar still shiny from the box.  Yes, I was a sailor beginning my journey in the FMF, first stop Infantry Training School.  Here I was to train as an 0311 Rifleman.

Second Platoon, C Company and with the “Elevens.” My journey began at Recruit Training Command Orlando, Florida. Here I learned the basics of being a sailor in the US Navy (something I never did do much of). I was then sent to my Rating (MOS) training in a joint service school at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. On completion I was given a choice of two duty stations: an aircraft carrier or the FMF.  One of the reasons I had gone for my rating was for the possibility of serving with the Marines, so the decision was simple.

But here I was at Camp Lejeune, literally “a squid out of water.” My rating (Religious Program Specialist) had existed for a little over two years. The job description called for RPs to serve with Navy chaplains in support of the FMF.  But this early in the RPs’ existence, there was yet to be a Navy school to train us (thus Keesler), and neither was there a dedicated training facility (which there is today) for training RPs and Chaplains in the necessary field craft and combat skills for serving with the Marines. The solution was to send the RPs to Infantry Training School (ITS).  Every Marine is a rifleman, and now a handful of sailors (with a clear acknowledgement of the Sea Bees and SEALs as being expert naval infantrymen) would become 0311 Riflemen.

Up to this point, there seems to have been a practice of sending RPs to ITS in pairs.  My fellow sailor, however, had returned from leave early and been put into Bravo. This left me to train “alone.” I was there, an E-2 sailor, and “the phone private.” As the day went on more of the company began to arrive.  We were later sorted into barracks, and classified by MOS.  There was some talk of putting me with the “31s” to become a machine gunner, but this was quickly reversed as the specification for RPs was that we were to be “11s.”

I was treated alright by the Marines I trained with.  I did everything they did, we were taught the basics of grenades, mines, the M203 launcher, and the LAW tube. We drilled, we shot, we trained, we ran, and we trained some more. The only real difference was when we were in barracks and sang the Marines’ Hymn before getting in our bunks for the night, when we got to the third verse and all of my colleagues would turn to me when they sang the words “if the Army and the Navy ever look of heaven’s scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.” I was sometimes referred to as “the Squid,” and the guys in my fire team addressed me as “Squidly,” but it was respectful, and I would hope generally affectionate.  In fact, more than once I was referred to by men in the squad and platoon more generally as “our squid.”

In the end I did earn the respect of the Marines (both the trainees and the NCOs), in the end I was even named as the platoon honor man.  I was the first “squid” to gain the title.  The meritorious mast I received from the Corps reads that I was “to only sailor” to be so recognized, while the one I later received from the Chief of Chaplains reads a more optimistic “the first sailor” to be so recognized.

While the “Atta Boys” are nice, what I am most proud of from my time at Geiger is that I earned the MOS 0311.  My DD-214 clearly notes me has having the Navy Rating Religious Program Specialist, but also the Marine Corps MOS 0311.  I am a grunt, and proud of it.



imageedit__5594902034 (1)

With Ninth Marines, Korea