Asia Sailors and Shipmates
By Garland Davis
Here’s to the boys who went to sea in old worn-out steel vessels out on the Pacific Rim. They smoked cigarettes and sometimes something else, drank beer and whiskey and cohabitated with the girls. They fought a hot war while facing off an enemy in a cold war.
They built relationships stronger than any friendship. They were Shipmates. Fifty and sixty years have passed, and they still greet each other as they did in those long-ago days. And meeting a Shipmate they haven’t seen in decades brings tears to their eyes.
They talk of generations delineated by birthdate, Silent, Boomer, X, and Z. Tom Brokaw wrote a book, The Greatest Generation that brought to life the extraordinary stories of a generation who won WWII, which gave new meaning to courage, sacrifice, and honor. I don’t think you can categorize the Asia Sailor into a specific generation. I like to believe that members of today’s Greatest Generation still ply the seas to keep the peace and fight the countries battles.
Here’s to the coffee drinkers, those still waking up before dawn, because that’s what we do. They listened to Johnny Cash, Elvis. Conway, Creedence, The Stones, Lennon, Kyu Sakamoto, Hikaru Nishida, Ayumi Ishida.
Here’s to the best of the best, those few that are left, to those you call when you don’t know what to do, which way to turn, or how to fix something. To the thinkers, the ones that just don’t know how to give up. To the ones who give so freely of themselves. To the committed.
Their shoulders are stooped now. They’ve carried so much for so long. Their hair is gray, their steps come slower, the time left to them is short.
Here’s to Asia Sailors and my Shipmates.