By lex, on Wed – February 2, 2005
You’ve maybe read about it – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs : It starts with the physiological (think: food and shelter) and ramps up to self-actualization. I learned about it, for no reason I can now remember, while a plebe midshipman at the trade school on the Severn*.
We were led to believe that all human life existed on a scale of needs, that satisfying the foundational requirements gave us the opportunity (if not the surety) of progressing up the ladder. Someday, if we played our cards right and were lucky, sheltered, well fed, loved, possessed of adequate self-esteem etc. – someday, we’d be self-actualized. Maybe even highly self-actualized. Could happen.
One could always hope.
By lex, on Tue – January 18, 2005
Going from the general to the specific.
As a young LSO in training, in the summer of 1987, I decided to stroll up to the platform, in order to watch the last recovery. It wasn’t my team’s night to “wave,” but the more experience you get the better you are, and it showed motivation and individual effort. Both of these were considered good to show.
It was a dark night (you’ll never know how many sea stories start this way) with no horizon and poor visibility – standard fare in the North Arabian Sea in the summer time. But the air wing was experienced at the mid-cruise point. Most of the rough spots had been smoothed out. There were one or two exceptions: Your humble scribe, only recently reported aboard, and a Tomcat pilot from our sister squadron, who arrived on the same transport plane.
By lex, on Mon – January 17, 2005
I’m not sure where the term comes from. I just know that every carrier pilot knows what it means. And nearly everyone who hasn’t had a “night in the barrel” lives in fear of the night that the bill comes due.
And everyone that has, understands…
In the summer of 1987 I was deployed to the North Arabian Sea – a fresh graduate of the FA-18 training squadron, a “nugget,” I was new to all of the experiences of the fleet. My official mentors were the department heads and senior officers: the XO and CO. But my real mentors, the ones who taught me the essential survival skills of the junior officer, were my JO brothers.
By lex, on January 13th, 2005
This is maybe the hardest thing to write about.
I’ve lost a lot of friends along the way – dozens, when I count it up – and I mourn them all deeply. There were things they never got to do, smiles and laughter and lovemaking they missed, children grown to full flower that they never knew the sweetness of holding, and never knew the bittersweetness of letting go. But they all, all of them, died doing what they dreamt of doing, doing what they loved best. Knowing full well that it was a dangerous business, and that it was a certain fact that not everyone got to finish the race.
By lex, on January 10th, 2005
One of the very first things that a midshipman receives, once he’s started on his path to a commission, is a small pamphlet entitled, “The Message to Garcia.” It’s a brief, almost ridiculously simplistic tract, first published in 1899, that nevertheless helps to capture who we are as an organization – and the virtues of initiative, dedication and ability to execute the task that we value. This little nothing is an acknowledged first document, a sort of naval Magna Carta, that everyone understands – and it also serve to guarantee a sort of immortality to a man known only as “Rowan.”
By lex, on January 8th, 2005
Which is a sea story, combining a few of the exquisite luxuries of shipboard life, with some elemental discussion of the steam cycle.
Because I don’t think it’s been done, before.
The first thing you have to understand is that Guilt is the flip side of Duty.
And in the Navy we understand both concepts all too well. Duty of course, is what drives our daily existence – I have duty today, you might say. Or, I must do my duty. And, Duty calls. Do your duty in all things, R.E. Lee advised – you cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
And off you go, or else you get walloped over the head with the wooden spoon of guilt.
By lex, Tue – December 21, 2004
In the wardroom onboard the aircraft carrier from which I recently debarked was a small, round table, with single chair. No one ever sat there, and the reasons, both for the table being there, and for the fact that the chair was always empty, will tell the reader a little bit about who we are as a culture.