Ambassadors Without Portfolio
By: Cort Willoughby
In November 1965 I had my oath recorded into history as being one of the youngest clean faced kids who mistakenly thought he was man enough to join our NAVY.
March of 1966 saw me in this way too hot far away foreign land. Biggest guns I’ve ever seen at the time going boom. From the jungles at night came the most incredible sounds you can imagine. Nights so thick you seemed to pull it away from your face. Sweat, damn the sweat! Slapping bugs away without making a sound. Having grown my short life in the hills I had good appreciation for night vision. Good asset at that time.
Decided the NAVY business wasn’t bad at all. Hell, they even paid me after taking care of my needs. Mostly. Liberty took care of the rest. Feed, laundry done for me, free haircuts. Where else can a kid hit a home run for this, and get paid too.???
I was learning life the hard way; it was the only way I seemed to know. I became aware of my narrow view of the world. We pulled into ports that had names that were strange to this stick raised lad. Started thinking how out of place these people would look back home. We looked all that to them, and more.
I began to have some appreciation for world affairs and my minor, very minor place in the role of life. Realized without being told that I could hurt our flag, rip on our country from within. I would never let that happen! My pride was too great; my passion to protect too strong.
Heard and remember stories from all over the world that some sailors had pulled some stuff that made me feel bad for the country in which the deed was done. Had a member of a crew on one ship murder a lady in a most gruesome fashion. He was quickly caught and is probably still refining his ability to speak Japanese in Otsu Prison. Was glad we got underway so our ships patch could not be seen.
As my total tour increased I had some great assignments. Once, the one CO sent me to Shimoda to act as point on the Black Ship Festival. Had been there before on liberty. Every time something interesting came along and it was mine to do, I was admonished to be a good AMBASSADOR without portfolio.
I truly understood that. Without putting the same name to it, the speech was forever the same. I figured I had a portfolio, the representative of our NAVY, and OUR COUNTRY. My actions at those times were in keeping in the best traditions of the US NAVY.
Looking back at some of the drunks and true Sailor Stuff even my hell raising was done in the best of our NAVY’S ORDER. Did not need that posted in my portfolio.