Wednesday, March 31, 2010

buffalo bob and jeezus

Where do we live, in heaven or hell; why not either? ho jeezus.
is it restlessness, human nature, or abject and terribly humane stupidity driving us toward
life in a fast lane leading to no exit from the super highway down the road. oh
my problem is i was/am an innocent, well unarmed to seek a feasible, feastible answer while
the world runs amok,
looking for the next best thing to change,
which really bears no difference to the last change where
we reel, rockin' n' a rollin' way 'til the break of dawn, shoobey doo wah.
errol flynn,
joe dimaggio,
mickey mantle,
gone to
other things of which we know not but are unwilling to admit
other than our own interpretation.
mister aspiration: don't hide your arm, and smoke a lucky, and tell the truth.
tomorrow, someone may ask us where we've been:
homer: long game winning ball or the iliad.
live well among the cedars of the limestone-pocked hills where the cherokees
did not cherish nobility anymore than the white invaders who
bought, sold and still try to own the negras
who changed their name several times to avoid their own perception of embarrassment or
the other coast where high desert promotes the same silly-ass idea of superlativeness which invades places, our spaces
having no climate but drinkable water. ho, santa ride, ride, ride Rudolph,
have you heard of
mr phinneas t bluster and, god bless her, princess summerfallwinterspring? maybe buffalo bob and howdy doody had it right all along
after all.

- Bonita, California
- August 28, 1996

Monday, March 29, 2010

To Judy: Shards of Glass

i have had dreams;
seen most shattered:
shards of glass on the concrete roads i've traveled.

i laughed most of the broken dreams away
(the others no one knew
are still around,
not laughed away).
i survive laughing.

there is a gentle incline
up the road to your house;
two horses graze peacefully
in the pasture
on the other side of the fence;
i drove past your house last night,
turning in the cul-de-sac,
passing the horses again
on the way out.

i hope your dreams
are not shards of glass
on the concrete roads
of texas.

- College Station, Texas
- July 31, 1979

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Late Postings

i have been delinquent this past week. Some very important business, some immediate work on household needs, daughter's mid-term project, daughter going to see her sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, and Maureen's birthday took my attention away from writing stuff.

So this is catch-up, sort of...

Last Monday's column from my Lebanon Democrat work is included. Leading off is my tribute to a beautiful woman who turns 401K withdrawal age today, even though she looks world's younger, an incredible accomplishment considering she has had to put up with me for twenty-eight years.

i will try to get back to regular posts this ensuing week. Today is dedicated to the woman i write of.

To Maureen

i have nothing to give this morning.
i feel ashamed;
it is a significant step in a meaningful year for you
i have nothing to give.

i would have shopped for you
i know several shops with things you would like;
i thought of getting airplane tickets or
room reservations
to places you would like to go
money’s tight, and you more than I,
have serious concerns about spending
i have nothing to give.

i am ashamed because
you have given me so much;
oh, you have, by mutual agreement,
been the major wage earner for our marriage;
oh, you are the instigation for living in this house;
your sense of style and grace have appointed it
in comfort and taste.

You have given me our daughter;
You have become a mother to our other daughter;
You are Grandma Mo;

You have taught me finer things in life;
introduced me to gracious new friends,
become close to my friends;
You are my editor, in writing and in life;
You are my friend;
You are my lover;
I cannot give you anything…

but me, a piddling little something,
my love, which is greater than fate or the universe.

- Bonita, California
- March 28, 2010

A Sad Note Before a Story of Spring

SAN DIEGO – Regretfully, I must start this column on a sad note: Mrs. Emmy Lou Dowdy passed away Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama.

Unfortunately as I write this column, my only source for information has been my mother’s email. I will not deal with particulars here because I’m sure “The Democrat” will cover her passing thoroughly elsewhere in this edition.

Mr. and Mrs. Roy Dowdy were pillars in the Lebanon community when I was growing up. He was the Superintendant of the Lebanon City School system, and she was a third grade teacher at McClain Elementary School. Byars-Dowdy Elementary School was named for Mr. Dowdy and H.M. Byars, both of whom were close friends of my family.

William LeRoy Dowdy is their oldest son and my life-long friend. He and I went to Sunday school, church, and the Methodist Youth Fellowship together for most of our first 18 years. We attended Castle Heights together, where he was editor of the award winning “Cavalier” newspaper and I was the sports editor in our senior year.

As always, he topped me academically that year. He and I both were awarded Naval ROTC scholarships, he to Duke where he graduated and received his Navy commission, and I to Vanderbilt where my chase for adventure took off.

LeRoy is currently a professor at Alabama State University in Montgomery where he moved Mrs. Dowdy to a care facility so he could be with her on a continual basis. He has written me that he read JB Leftwich’s and my “Democrat” columns to his mother each week.

Emily, the younger child, is now an attorney in Panama City, FL.
Growing up, I thought they were the smartest family on the planet, but I will always remember how kind both Mr. and Mrs. Dowdy were to me.

And of course along with my parents, they were members of the long standing bridge club, which included Snooks and Bettye Kate Hall, JB and Jo Doris Leftwich, Bob and Syble Spain, and Charlie and Erma Baird among others. I will not list all of the others as an old column of JB’s is the definitive work on that group.

I will miss Mrs. Dowdy. She was an elegant and erudite woman in that special generation of strong women.

Perhaps a story from my mother best describes her. When my brother Joe was entering third grade, he was already demonstrating intelligence beyond mine.

My mother with her inside information as Mr. Dowdy’s secretary – even the term of executive assistant would not adequately cover her job description – told my brother the name of his new teacher. Recognizing the value of intellectual and kind teachers, he cried and said, “But I want Mrs. Dowdy.”

I think that pretty well sums it up.

* * *

Last week, it turned spring in the Southwest corner, about a week before the official date of spring.

I know because I saw about two dozen men wearing shorts during my Friday morning golf round. The vast majority of those legs should never be seen in shorts, especially after a three month hiatus in long pants. It was pretty ugly.

The sight brought back a recollection from home many years ago. I was around seven and the time was May or June, not at the cusp of spring and winter, certainly warm enough for one of my age to be put in shorts.

We had piled into the 1948 dark green Pontiac and driven out North Cumberland to HM and Fanny Byars’ farm, which was one farm south of where the Castle Heights Avenue extension runs into US 231 North. Harry and Bill Byars, both a number of years older than me were in the field just past the gate. Both were wearing denim jeans.

I was envious and entreated my mother to let me wear jeans. I was big enough. She refused. I wasn’t old enough, and besides, shorts looked “real nice” on young boys.

Out here in the Southwest corner, I wear shorts from March through November except for going out and when on business. I have two sets of jeans, which I take home and wear over Christmas.

And next Friday, my legs will join all of those others that shouldn’t be seen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two poems

Grand Canyon

until the lights hit the banks of the roadside,
blurting whiteness into the driver’s eyes,
it had not revealed its presence in the night.

at the wheel since L.A. mid-morning,
staring bleakly at the white
long since ceasing to distinguish colors and shades,
reacting to only black and white.
recognizing the significance in the blanch of
late night white,
he slowed:
that those uphill climbs around the curves
had brought them to the mountains
sunk in.

Slipping slightly, it slid over the median
into the glazed parking lot of the inn.

Sunny, bearded cowboy
singing in the bar
accompanied by his guitar,
wired for sound:
electronic Tumbling Tumbleweeds.

shabby dirty man alongside
white robed man with wool-hooded jacket, looking like
Jesus in Pomona, returning to Sambo’s
after turning heads by asking for five balloons
and announcing,
“I’m going to bag some heroin.”
a real bad effort to impress
i guess.

Holes in the mountains.
Snow outside is real;
the cowboy has sung his song,
turned off the amplifier;
daughter, curled beneath the covers,
is sacred.
Full day.
grand canyon, cowboys, and
white robed, doped up jesus in Pomona
and sleeping daughter in the snow.

- Grand Canyon, Arizona
- December 21, 1981


howling rage of age,
have i become a past tense?
or perhaps i always was
only i could not decipher
my mediocrity
in the illusion of
the present tense.

well here i am now, baby,
wondering when the nickels
will cover my eyes
among the clods.

i don't find a great deal
anyone would remember me by
except the stone at my head.

Miss Peggy Lee once said,
"Is that all there is?"
or should be?

- Chula Vista
- January, 1989

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Navy terminology: a “one-armed Goekle”

SAN DIEGO – In 1968, Boatswainmate Chief Petty Officer Jones, a small, wiry Arkansan, befuddled the chief’s quarters on the U.S.S. Hawkins.

Upset, he barged into chief quarters announcing, “You just can’t get anything done right with a one-armed Goekle.”

The Hawkins chiefs, crusty experienced destroyer sailors were perplexed. They had never heard of any deck equipment called a Goekle, much less a one-armed Goekle.

The previous April, I reported aboard in Malaga, Spain for my first tour before the ship steamed through the Straits of Gibraltar and headed for her homeport of Newport, RI.

I became the first lieutenant, a surprise, as I had just completed a two-month Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) school in Key West, FL, and wrongfully assumed I would immediately become the ASW Officer. But the reigning ASW officer didn’t leave the ship until autumn. So I became the first lieutenant, or deck officer.

For the rest of my career, I benefitted from those first six months with boatswain mates. Deck seamanship with “tin can” sailors was a vital elementary education.


Shortly after we returned to the states, two twin brothers reported aboard and were assigned to my division. They were clean cut Mid-western boys, sincere and well-intended. But they were about one brick shy of a load in the intelligence department.

Soon afterward while chipping and painting, the eternal task of deck seaman, one twin was chewed out by his leading petty officer. Upset, he drove his fist through the screen of an intake vent, breaking several knuckles and cutting his hand, which required stitches and an arm cast. For BMC Jones, this twin became the one-armed “Goekle.”

Chief Jones retired that August, returning to Arkansas to become a gem cutter. The Goekles and I remained on the “Hawk” through a six-month overhaul in South Boston, a three-month stint in Guantanamo, Cuba for refresher training, a change of home port to Norfolk, VA, serving as the Apollo 12 Atlantic recovery ship, and the observation platform for below-surface Polaris missile test firings from submarines off of Cape Canaveral.

Legends of a Different Kind

I became ASW officer in September. The Goekles became legends.

One twin attempted to qualify for the storekeeper rating and was in charge of the ship’s paint supplies. While in the Portsmouth (VA) shipyard to strengthen the fantail deck to hold the Apollo capsule – it landed as planned in the Pacific – paint supplies were moved to a large conex box on the pier.

As command duty officer, I was in charge of the ship on a summer weekday when the duty boatswain mate reported this Goekle twin missing. We searched and discovered he had locked himself inside the pier paint locker. He never adequately explained how he did that.

His brother one-upped his twin after he became a “striker” for radioman. That autumn, the Hawkins was nested inboard another destroyer at the Norfolk piers. Again, I had the duty.

This Goekle had watch duty until midnight. His major responsibility was to receive messages and deliver them to the command duty officer (me).

After I took my tour of ship’s spaces around 2100 (9:00 p.m.), I turned on the wardroom television for the local news.

Tropical Storm

The first story reported a tropical storm had been headed northeast but made a sudden west turn, was upgraded to a hurricane, and was bearing down on Hampton Roads. Apparently, Navy ships had been ordered to make an emergency sortie.

I immediately called the senior duty radioman and asked if any radio traffic concerning weather and a sortie had been received. He said Goekle had been on duty.

About ten minutes later, the duty radioman came to the wardroom and handed me a pile of messages. The top message ordered an emergency sortie based on existing instructions. I had pulled out the instructions and determined, because of her status of repairs, the Hawkins would not be required to get underway for 72 hours. I called the commanding officer and reported the situation.

The storm turned again and we, nor any other ship, was required to get underway.
It turns out this Gloekle twin had locked himself out of the radio shack and was too embarrassed to tell anyone.

So now I always remember Gloekle’s need two-way locks and it’s difficult to get anything done right with a one-armed Gloekle.

Monday, March 15, 2010

To Maureen, Christmas 1990

i sit in this house alone;
it is a lovely, lovely house.
i sit in the house alone
because it is my job to sit here alone;
together is in my mind,
separating aloneness and togetherness on paper;
even sometimes
putting them together again.

it is a lovely, lovely house
a central theme in our lives:
this house, this lovely, lovely house
houses our daughter, our essence;

this house, this lovely, lovely house.
i sit in this house alone.
it is a lovely, lovely house.
The sun makes this house
glow while i sit writing alone.

i love this house,
the way it captures the sun,
pouring it into my soul
like a morning cup of coffee,
making writing alone easier.
yet the glow of the house is not warm,
the beauty of this lovely, lovely house
is not complete
until you come home to
this lovely, lovely house
making it, and me, complete.

- Bonita, California
- December 23, 1990

Thursday, March 11, 2010


little boys who write on walls
call it tagging and think it calls
for courage and defiance great,
think it makes them look first-rate.
they sneak around in dead of night
afraid they'll get caught in the light,
believing it makes them daring
as if someone is really caring
about little boys who write on walls
who think their deeds show they have great gall
when those who see the tagging, scorn
the boys' destruction in the morn.
knowing boys who write on walls
really have no balls at all.

- Bonita, California
- September 4, 1996

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Connnections Again

SAN DIEGO – Once again, I have made connections in the most unexpected places.

This past weekend, I attended a SYMLOG International Conference in Rancho Bernardo, about thirty-five miles northeast of my home in the Southwest corner. SYMLOG is the group dynamics system I have used in my consulting business since 1991.

Many attendees were high powered consultants, either internal in companies or independent. They came from Japan, South Africa, Mexico, and Canada as well as across our country. The majority were PhDs. And then there was me.

I arrived late on Friday due to another business commitment. The second session was nearing completion. The presenter was Bob Harig, the vice-president of Human Resources at Cracker Barrel.

I had missed Larry Newton’s earlier presentation. He is a consultant for Peter Rock Consulting in Charlotte, NC, and also works with Cracker Barrel. Another attendee, Lisa Hartmann from Indianapolis, is the Human Resource Manager at Cracker Barrel.

After Bob’s presentation, I mentioned to them I was from Lebanon and wrote columns for this newspaper.

We then began talking about Danny Evins and Lebanon, especially the Mitchell House, the Chop House, and Castle Heights. They praised Danny for his business acumen and his integrity.

Saturday morning, a humorous and insightful man named Luther Johnson spoke about his work with SYMLOG. Luther was an Air Force chaplain in Vietnam before becoming a successful consultant. His home is in Louisville, TN.

He spoke of his work with Post Traumatic Stress veterans. Two of my closest friends and golfing buddies in the Southwest corner, Al Pavich and Rod Stark, are associated with the Veterans Village of San Diego. Rod is the executive assistant to the current CEO. Al is retired from the CEO position and is the force behind VVSD being one of the most successful veteran rehabilitation programs in the country. Many of the veterans who have left the homeless ranks and beaten alcohol and drug addition, and many who are presently in the program suffered from PTS.

Luther went on to explain how he used SYMLOG in politics and how he worked with Wesley Clark in the last presidential campaign. Later, I told him of General Clark being a boarding student at Castle Heights while I was there.

Finally Luther described his successful work with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Department of Energy. In our later conversation, I mentioned I had done consulting work at the Hanford nuclear reservation in eastern Washington. Luther told me he was going up to the DOE office there in the near future to discuss using SYMLOG with them.

A later conference presenter was Joe Powers. Joe is the Director of Group Psychotherapy at the renowned McLean Hospital, a arm of the Harvard Medical School. He had worked with Freed Bales at Harvard in the 1950s when Freed was beginning to create the SYMLOG system.

Although the connection was not as direct, I went to Boston in 1985 as the subject matter expert to assist McBer Company in the final production of a case study, which was subsequently used in the leadership seminar for Navy senior officers. There I briefly met David McClellan. McClellan is best known for his work on motivation and was a contemporary of Bales at Harvard. In his appearance and dress, McClelland reminded me of Orville Reddenbacher, the popcorn czar, who lived on Coronado Island in San Diego and always wore turn of the century styled clothes.

The conference had been a regular occurrence in the 1990s but had been dormant for about ten years until this past weekend. Even though I had been somewhat awed by the intellect and knowledge which filled the room, I always learned something and left feeling empowered to use the system to help teams and individuals. This year was no different.

This year I also left with a sense of how small the world is. Thanks to the Navy, I traveled over a large of it and the number of times I have met someone with a connection to Lebanon or another part of my past is incredible, even more so considering most of those connections have been in far away places.

In spite of the exponential population growth in the world and the continual integration of cultures and the blurring of nationality through world-wide immigration, connections continue to make this a small world.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On the Foxhunter's Dying

The great Foxhunter, at eighty-five, died the other day;
On a sullen afternoon, he was laid away.
His fox horn, moaning loudly, will call the hounds no more;
The hills are rather empty without his tune to score.

Come an autumn night on the top of Billy Goat Hill,
Men will gather to hear dogs run and close in for the kill.
But with horns raised to their lips, they'll know that he's not there.
For his sharp, clear saddening note will not pierce the cold night air.

- Summer, 1966

Monday, March 8, 2010

Olympics: Good and Sad Memories

SAN DIEGO – This past two weeks of watching the Winter Olympics has brought back memories, both happy and sad.

My recall was triggered by last Monday’s U.S. upset of Canada in men’s hockey, wonderfully introduced by NBC’s Al Michaels revisiting the monumental upset of the USSR in the 1980 Lake Placid games. I had just returned to the Southwest corner from a “West Pac” deployment.

I had become friends with the UDT advisor on our amphibious squadron staff. Pete Toennies remains one of my closest friends. As a result of his friendship, I became an add-on to Navy SEALS who played volleyball on San Diego’s Mission Beach. Most of the SEALS were tall physical specimens. But one, Al Schaufelberger, was close to my height. We always played on opposite sides for that reason.

We became friends and enjoyed ridiculing each other. Al, a Naval Academy graduate, was an incredible photographer, especially in underwater photography. He was witty, warm, and had an ironic sense of humor, a trait which brought him, Pete, and me even closer together.

Watch it like it’s live

As those 1980 Olympics progressed, we complained about delayed televised replays of events actually occurring earlier. Al invited us and Pete’s wife Nancy to his home to the semi-final match between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. We agreed to not listen to the live radio broadcast or any scores in order to watch the replay as if it was live.

Greeting us at the door, Al asked Nancy if she would like to bet him on the game. He volunteered to take the Russians. Pete and I immediately knew Al had listened to the earlier broadcast or heard the score. We beseeched Nancy not to bet. Watching the entire hockey game, we refused to believe the U.S. would win until the last half-minute, about when Michaels made his legendary, “Do you believe in miracles?” play-by-play call.

We laughed a lot about that night until we all left the Southwest corner. Pete and Nancy went to Korea a few months later. Al was ordered to duty as the senior Navy representative at the U.S. Military Group, El Salvador, advising the Salvadorian military on counter insurgency and weapons traffic interdiction.

In May two years later, I headed east to see my daughter and rendezvous with Maureen, my fiancé, in Austin en route to my school in Newport, RI before our wedding and my subsequent reporting as executive officer to the “U.S.S. Yosemite” in Mayport, FL.

Bad News

To miss afternoon and morning commutes in El Paso, I stopped overnight in Las Cruces, NM. The next morning, May 26, 1983, I checked out and sat down for breakfast.

After ordering, I picked up the Las Cruces newspaper. On the front page was a one-column headline reporting my friend and jokester, Lieutenant Commander Schaufelberger, had been assassinated.

He had parked his armored vehicle to pick up his fiancé after her classes at the university in El Salvador. The bullet proof windshield was down due to the broken air conditioner.

Four men in a van pulled up; two armed men took security positions, one keeping Al’s fiancé from the car. The third man ran to the driver’s side of Al’s vehicle and fired four bullets point blank into Al’s head.

A Sad Loss

At my age, I have lost many good friends and relatives. As I age, I recognize this experience will increase with greater frequency. All of those departures have made me sad. But I don’t recall any having quite the impact on me as losing Al.

I spent my 600-mile drive to Austin that day thinking about Al. The image of him laughing with unrepentant joy as Pete and I realized he had successfully yanked our chain at one of the greatest events in U.S. athletic history kept coming into my mind.

One of the U.S. hockey players interviewed on the pre-game show Monday night pointed out there are a number of historic events we clearly remember where we were and what we were doing when they occurred. Nearly all of them were tragic in nature: JFK’s assassination and 911, for example. But one, the U.S. upsetting the Russians in the 1980 Olympics, was incredibly positive.

For me, even though I too clearly remember my whereabouts, this is no longer quite true. There is a hugely sad aspect to that Olympics historic moment.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sunken Ship

This commentary was elicited by an email sent by my former commanding officer of the USS Yosemite after she was sunk in an exercise. The Yosemitewas commissioned in 1945. i served as her executive officer from August 10, 1983 until April 25, 1985. She was decommissioned in 1994 and served as a training ship for youngsters, Sea Scouts. NJROTC cadets, etc. from decommissioning until several months before she was sunk.

Sunken Ship

The news came, as expected, from the Commanding Officer, a man who has Navy blue for blood in his veins. I did not call him “CO” or the aviator term “skipper” – he would have chopped off my head with that insult. I called him “Captain.” Without fail. I now call him Frank and a friend.

The USS Yosemite (AD 19), destroyer tender par excellence is gone.

The Navy radio message, the means of communicating throughout my Navy career, was the bearer of the news, forwarded by the Commanding Officer in the new mode of communication: e-mail.

The message subject was “sinkex” as in gone. That means she was sunk as a target in a Naval exercise. Since the message came from a destroyer squadron commander, I hope it was a surface ship that shot her down.

And I mean down. Two thousand, three hundred, and forty fathoms. That’s about 14,040 feet. Deep.

It is right that she went down that way, and hopefully it was shells from a gun mount, not a missile, but I suspect the latter sang the final hymn, read the final prayer for the good ship Yosemite.

Sailors use the feminine gender to describe ships. There is probably some politically correct group out there trying to neuter the tradition. That it is sad because the Yosemite and the other ships I served on were true ladies of the sea, elegant, practical and fearsome in their different ways. I loved all of those that carried me as part of their wardrooms.

The Yosemite was special. I confess I had to learn to love her. I went to her to serve as executive officer in 1983 for the sole purpose of attaining the necessary qualifications to screen for command at sea. I did not like tenders: they did not go to sea enough. They did not land amphibious troops and equipment; they did not fire guns and missiles; they did not hunt submarines. They did not scream around at twenty-seven knots with the spume of a rooster-tail off the stern and the wake as wide as a four-lane highway extending to the horizon. They did not belch landing craft out of the stern of a well deck in rolling seas.

But Yosemite had been there when I first met the Navy in 1963. She was the flagship of Cruiser Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, tied up at Pier One in Newport, Rhode Island. I was a midshipman on my way out of NROTC because I didn’t have good study habits nor good sense at nineteen. She seemed massive and imperturbable as I walked passed on my way to my destroyer and an eight-week cruise.

She was in Newport when I came back from deployment on my first ship after being commissioned from OCS in 1968. Her deserved reputation was such that we would figure out ways to get our repair work to her, rather than to take it to our “parent” tender.

And she was my last ship, the penultimate tour for me and the penultimate step toward my never achieved goal of command.

She could wheeze out fourteen knots with her four hundred pound boilers, but we steamed at ten knots most of the time. The fact sheet lists her top speed as nineteen knots but that was several tons and numerous years before I became her “XO.”

She steamed like a champion for my tour. We deployed for seven and a half months just a month after I reported aboard. She was the first ship with women as part of the crew who spent extended periods out of port (Most before had transited from port to port and provided repair and maintenance services pier side or moored). She provided repair availabilities for destroyers and cruisers while anchored off Masirah, Oman, and she accomplished in four days what normally took two weeks back in the states. She did that for fifty-five days, took a break and then did it again for forty-five days.

She had a crew of 900, including 106 women, and a wardroom of 44, six of whom were female, and gave me a completely different perspective of women at sea: the Captain said it best when he announced, “We don’t have women on this ship. We don’t have men on this ship. We have sailors on this ship and we are going to operate that way.”

She was given a letter of commendation for being a member of the Indian Ocean Battle Group, an unheard of honor for a repair ship.

She steamed as a member of the orange force in a Caribbean exercise, something tenders do not normally do.

She was in the middle of the eye of a developing hurricane, eventually escaping to the southeast before the winds and seas reached full hurricane strength.

She was proclaimed the best repair organization in the Atlantic Fleet.

Her crew was an amalgamation of old sailors, repair personnel who had seldom spent any time at sea, and young wide-eyed men and women, learning how to be sailors.

The first lieutenant was the best boatswainmate I knew in twenty years, even though he had outgrown the title.

The doc was so new he didn’t know how to salute or how to dress in Navy uniforms. He has become the godfather of my daughter and one of my closest friends.

And there was this special woman, the operations officer, a lieutenant, who was one of the best officers with whom I served.

And there were many others who had an impact on my life.

She was commissioned in 1944, the year I was born. She was decommissioned in 1994.

It is fitting that she went down the way she did. She spent her life supporting the fleet. She was sunk supporting the fleet, providing one last service.

And she and Davy Jones will sleep well together.

- Bonita, California
- December 2, 2003