Home is the Sailor

By lex, on June 25th, 2006

Home from the sea, and the hunter is home from the hills:


The Phuket thing fell through, alas. His government sponsored passport didn’t come through in time. A disappointment, to be sure, but not the first. It isn’t all beer and skittles, is it? I cannot tell you how many “round the world cruises” I sailed out on that ended up stalled in the North Arabian Sea.

So, a frigate out of San Diego, heading back up to Everett, WA. The sixty-man berthing, and all that goes with it. Some of the mids shirked, but not my boy-o: In port, he spent the day with his division until they were done. If there was paint to be chipped, he chipped it, a head to be swabbed, he swabbed it down. Getting underway he tended to his lines, and at sea he stood his watches.

It’s little enough to ask: There’s a give and take in the enlisted mess, and from what I can tell he gave as well as he took, while being respectful all the time – this was his time to experience “life before the mast,” and from now on he’ll see it not through the eyes of a Sailor, but through the eyes of an officer. It’s very important for those who would lead to know who it is that he is leading. I told him once that it was very likely that any Sailor he’d ever meet was as good a man as he was, and that some would be a good sight better. Not all of them have grown up with the same opportunities, and not all of them had the same expectation set. But they’d kill themselves for you, or to get the mission done, even if not always graciously. It’s important for a prospective officer to understand how they live, what they think, what they dream of. That their dreams are just as real as his.

His division officer wasn’t around much, and he noticed it. Couldn’t help but notice it. I’d also told him about that – I told him that the people who would work for him were the salt of the earth, who would work twice as hard as he would for half the pay. And I also mentioned to him that it can be a hard service at times, so the only way that a young seaman or airman can be guaranteed one hot meal a day, four hours uninterrupted sleep or a wisp of curtain on his rack to stand for privacy is if he’s got an officer he works for that gives a shit about him.

When his department head came around and asked for his division officer, he saw how the Sailors responded, “We have a division officer?” And he knew what they meant.

This is how we teach them. This is how they learn.


Yes. That’s a broomstick in his left hand. It’s Sweepers.


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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Navy, Neptunus Lex

2 responses to “Home is the Sailor

  1. Pingback: Index – The Best of Neptunus Lex | The Lexicans

  2. Pingback: Neptunus Lex: Essays On Leadership | The Lexicans

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