Ode to a Navy Career
By Jerry Juliana
When I was but a young lad
Of 16 years plus one
I decided to join the Navy
For adventure and some fun.
They handed me a train ticket
Told me to get onboard and go
Learn to be a sailor
In the Navy town of San Diego.
For nine fast weeks, I marched
While carrying a Garand M-1
16 count manual, 5 and dive, and screw that white hat down,
Squared away before I was done.
Learned how to roll a neckerchief
And pack a green sea bag.
Stand rigidly at attention
And proudly salute the Flag.
Learned to speak like a sailor
Bulkhead, overhead, hatch, and deck.
Graduated and sent to school
And became a SONAR tech.
From Adak, “The Birthplace of The Winds”
To Keflavik, “Land of Fire and Ice”
From the sunny beaches of Hawaii
To three year tours in Japan, twice.
From The Land Of the Rising Sun
To the back alleys of Olongapo
Loved the nightlife on the Honch
Tasted the kimchee in Seoul
For years I proudly served
As a crewmember in a P-3
Surveilling the world’s oceans
Indian, Atlantic, Pacific, and Japan Sea.
Flying high above the waves
Monitoring sonobuoys patterned in rows of three
Searching for Soviet submarines
Cruising quietly beneath the sea.
Those glory days of long ago
Alive only in my mind
The days a lad would ask me
“Hey Chief, is this the kind?”
The memories of a career sailor live on
Captured on crusty old coffee mugs,
And with the help of friends old and gray
Passing around amber liquid jugs.
The “I shit you not” stories that are told
Each one saltier than the last,
Paint a life portrait of an old sailor
Lovingly reliving his past.
When my watch is over
And they lay me in my grave.
Taps will be played softly, while
Over my head, the Flag will proudly wave.
I’ll be met at that Golden Gate
St. Peter will smile and say
Welcome Aboard Chief, and relax
You’ve been relieved this day.