A Sailor Died Today

A legend among those of us who knew Yokosuka well, Jack Bove.

“I lost a good friend and Shipmate today and Yokosuka Japan lost a legend. BM1 (USN Retired) Jack Bove, a Veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam slipped his mooring and joined his Shipmates at Fiddler’s Green at the age of 96. I never had the privilege of serving with Jack, but had the privilege of drinking many beers with him. He spun a sea story with the best and would relate the many liberty incidents that probably kept him from advancing to Chief Petty Officer during his 30 year Naval Career (running over a French Policeman with a Shore Patrol Truck in Casablanca comes to mind). One incident he never spoke of though were his heroics during the Battle of Leyte Gulf when onboard the USS Irwin, he saved several Sailors from the USS Princeton after the ship was bombed by Japanese Aircraft. For his actions he was awarded the Navy Marine Corps Medal for Heroism. Jack spent the last years of his life in a rest home in Yokosuka, I’m going to miss visiting with Jack (him drinking non alcohol Asahi Super Dry and still spinning sea stories) during my annual trips to Japan. Fair Winds and Following Seas Shipmate, you will be missed.” — Jim Graslie


A Sailor (Jack Bove) Died Today

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the FRA,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
For ol’ Jack has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer
For a Sailor died today.

He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won’t note his passing,
‘Tho a Sailor died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Sailor
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician’s stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Sailor,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Sailor
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Sailor,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Sailor,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Sailor’s part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then, at least, let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:



7 thoughts on “A Sailor Died Today

  1. Raymond C. Willoughbyi says:

    Foot on the cleat, coffee in hand, swell gently raises the ship, looking toward the horizon, hey !!!! Wow, lots of shipmates here. Haven’t seen some in ages! One last look back, guys rest easy I’m on watch up here. I’ll have the coffee hot, beer cold and as usual waiting with sea stories that never grow old. You guys are not forgotten. Thanks for the memories. Take your time coming, enjoy , Jacks on watch, staff of the supreme commander!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Craig Allen says:

    As a young Midway sailor during the late 80’s we idolized Jack for his knowledge and temperament. There was no finer evening than saddling up with Jack at The Alliance Club Acey Deuce with his cronies watching Jeopardy and throwing back some cold beer.


  3. Jeff Bumbaugh says:

    First met Jack in 1981 when I was stationed at NCSJ. Hoisted many beers with him at the Windjammer club and then at the New Club Alliance. Went camping with jim and several other retirees up in Tanzawa during the Memorial Day weekend a couple of times. Had some great times. He came from an era that the sailors of today don’t even compare. RIP Bove-san


  4. Ernest Dalton says:

    RIP Boats! It was dedicated Seaman like you that made us proud to be in the Navy we love. We will join You someday on the Eternal Sea.⚓️⚓️⚓️⚓️ USS NJ “K” Era


  5. R Bailey says:

    I meet Jack at the Alliance Club in dinning room. He was giving ‘boots’ lessons on eating with chopsticks. We had a great time. We talked of Vietnam and other things he became a great friend. BMCS/CWO4 Ret.


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