I penned this a couple years ago. When I VSI’d out of active duty off my last ship, USS Halsey CG-23, I learned that she was suddenly de-commed the next year, no one saw it coming. Everyone has a favorite command if they had multiple ones, Halsey was by far my favorite. I pretty much owned the aft engine room as LPO, knew every nut, bolt and weld of that space. This little ditty was in her honor.
By: John Petersen
Her decks are rusty, cableways dusty, ladder backs covered in grime,
she sits forlorn and lonely, no sailors aboard to make her proudly shine.
She gave so many years, so many missions, her vision an imposing sight,
always there when needed, she was, ready to put up a fight.
The countless number of personnel who proudly kept her able to meet all calls,
can do no more than recall the memories of the stories within her steel walls.
The places she took us all, though we worked hard to get there,
were well worth the sleepless nights, constant drilling, training, recirculated air.
She was no cruise ship, never meant to be,
She was a warship, designed to protect and keep us free.
She was built with a purpose, we were trained to fulfill this task fully manned,
We dutifully gave what we had, to ensure her job was carried out as planned.
She did her job, she gave all she had, yet sadly technology moves along,
no longer will her old turbines move, singing their hellish song.
“Light fires”, as the order was given, to bring this old girl ready to go,
will no longer be heard throughout her spaces, only silence, all she’ll now know.
She’s been decommed, put to ‘pasture’, her days nearing an uncertain end,
She’s served our country proudly, she has, yet we know she cannot contend,
To what she’s up against, with tomorrow’s technology refusing to bend.
One can only hope, say a prayer, you and I,
for as those of us who’ve graced her decks our requests are not denied.
“Send her off with dignity, give her the respect so deserved,
She gave us all she had, she did, without a negative word.
Send her to the bottom, if you must, a fitting tribute to her service it is, you see,
to be buried at sea is a tribute to the best, her remains there forever for others to see.
For those in the future, who visit her barnacle-crusted shell,
remember her history, her service, her duty to keep us well.
A crucial part she played, to ensure the freedom for granted you take,
she was there in harm’s way to block those, who refuse to deny the right,
the value of life and the liberty all should be afforded,
to live fearlessly both day and night”.
Life goes on, can’t stop it, it will do what it must,
yet until her final day, she’ll sit there proudly, regardless of the rust.
A native of Nebraska, I have lived in Southern California since 1970. I graduated high school in ’81 and went straight into the Navy, Machinist Mate being my trade, all commands I served on were Pacific theater. After 12 years active and 22 years inactive reserve, I now manage a dry ice plant for Airgas