By Garland Davis

How do you know you’re Salty? Being salty took a lot of work when you could still feel boot camp behind you and your white hats were not yet soft and pliable.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: This probably doesn’t apply to those who man today’s ships. Those of my generation who may be reading this idiotic nonsense and remember their first enlistment, you know you were not Navy until (1) Your white hats got soft, you put wings in them by folding down the sides and cocked down over one eye or wore them on the back of your head. (2) You tossed out your boot camp issue official genuine bonafide navy neckerchief, that thing you stuck a dime in and rolled up like three feet of garden hose, went out and bought a flat pressed ‘greasy snake’ and wore it with a knot an inch above the ‘V’ in your jumper. (3) You came to realize that chief petty officers were not God’s direct representatives on earth. This dawned on you the first time you found one face down drunk and you got him in a cab and back to the boat landing. After all, he was a shipmate. And last, (4) you knew what it felt like to be three sheets to the wind, standing on a pier in a place you’ve never been before and will never be again, wondering what the hell you did with your white hat, drinking stuff out of passed-around bottles, and singing songs that would make your mom blush. The stuff in the bottles could be fermented monkey piss for all you care… And the launch lays alongside… And the cox’n yells,

“Okay girls, it’s late and I don’t intend to put up with any shit from you fucking idiots!”

And you help men with whom your heart will be forever linked, in the boat and head ‘home’.

Let’s see, where was I. Oh, yeah the steps to becoming salty.

Drag your sea bag full of dungaree uniforms to a laundromat and give them a wash in a heavy Clorox solution to attain that salty faded look. Run them through a couple of times. Better but still not what you have in mind. You finally ask the Leading Seaman how he gets that faded, almost white color and soft texture to his dungarees.


He clues you into Seafarer brand dungarees. You must agree, they look so much better than the dungs you were issued in Boot. He then shows you how to tie them off to a line and drag them in the ship’s wake for a half hour, then bribe the laundrymen to wash, starch and press them. You are getting close to that salty look. After a dozen or more trips to the laundry, your white hats begin to take on that soft pliable, comfortable feel.

A trip to Hong Kong and you spend much-needed liberty funds on sharkskin whites and a set of gabardine blues with a side zipper in the jumper, dragon liberty cuffs, and the “greasy snake” neckerchief. By this time, you have a Third-Class crow on that jumper.


You salute the OOD with pride as you request to go ashore. You ARE Salty and you strut down the pier because you know it.

That’s when you’re Navy and Salty.


2 thoughts on “Salty

  1. Benny Reeves says:

    Bravo Zulu on this article….yo these young sailors today can only wish… A salute to the author….

    Sent from my iPad: Senior Chief Benny Reeves, U. S. Navy, Ret.



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