A Sailor’s Remembrance
By AFCM Robert “Okie Bob” Layton, USN Ret
I have seen the flying fish skip off the bow wake of pristine waters. Beheld the flat ocean from horizon to horizon filled with jumping pods of dolphins a thousand strong.
In cold grey waters, I have manned the rails as whales broadcast their haunting echo, penetrating in the dense fog, while the sea buoys proclaimed safe passage into port.
I can attest to the rafts of entangled sea snakes and have wondered at the glow of Fluorescent Plankton on a pitch dark night. I have stood and watched petrified, as sharks shadow the waterline… patrolling for a meal.
I have viewed chattering flocks of gulls and paid homage to the lost souls of sailors by saluting the gawky albatross.
I have traversed the oceans under the celestial heavens with the Little Dipper in one realm and the Southern Cross in the other.
After months at sea I have smelled the fragrance of land and once on Terra Firma walked with that tilted balance of a sailor whose sea legs were still a sway.
I have made wishes on a thousand shooting stars, marveled at streaking comets, been staggered by the vastness of the milky way.
I have witnessed eclipsing blood moons and been dazzled by brilliant meteor showers.
I have observed moonbows under a silvery Luna and witnessed double and triple rainbows.
I have seen the total eclipse of the midday sun and have been delightfully captivated by the Aurora borealis.
I have faced the east as the red skies emerged in the morning and gazed in awe at ten thousand spectacular sunsets.
I have stumbled upon dancing “St Elmo’s fires”, late day “Sun Dogs” and setting sun “Green Flashes”
I have Voyaged to countless islands and countries, explored the realm of Neptune, partaken in alien customs, consumed exotic foods and drink. Trekked into the landscape and explored the unfamiliar countryside.
I have stood on hostile and friendly shores, visited ancient and modern structures, marveled at the wonders of man and have been ashamed by the atrocities mankind has caused, yet still remained proud at the gracious kindness that can be given in a time of need.
I have observed towering thunderstorms, cooling rain squalls, waterspouts, and glassy blue peaceful oceans with white sandy beaches.
I have experienced twists of nature, rogue waves, snowstorms, dust storms, volcanic ash, high winds, and heavy seas, and cloudless blue skies with still blue waters so perfect you could not distinguish the horizon.
I have been humbled by angry eighty-foot swells and anxiously rode out one hundred knot typhoons, melted in humid tropical heat and shivered in the bone-chilling arctic air.
I have watched as the ocean claimed souls, men swept overboard never to return and men recovered when there was no hope. I have swum in warm unspoiled waters. Borne witness to unthinkable infected harbors. And saw the deep blue sea…
I have felt the excitement of discovering unknown locations with the anticipation of new adventures. The joys of returning home, the sadness of leaving, the pain of losing good friends and the jubilation of reuniting with old ones.
I have traveled the seven seas and circle navigated the earth. I have served with the finest company of shipmates, enduring the hardships and enjoying the good times together.
Now I watch as my waves disperse… I contemplate ….my wake left behind no permanent trails, just everlasting memories.
The memories I treasure, of the comradely of shipmates having experienced the same ordeals. The sacrifice, pain and joy, the willingness to serve one’s country.
The Pride and Traditions we kept on our watch are now passed on to the next collection of maritime neophytes. May they have fair winds and following seas!
That was our wake—- our legacy!
Would I do it again?
You bet your ass——- in a hot running minute!!