A Social Network for Navy Veterans of the United States of America
For a while now I have been working on a project that once launched should have a significant impact on the lives of many Navy vets and the ships that survive today! But, in the process of setting up the idea, I need to get feedback, input and involvement from those that would participate. That means you! That project is the creation of the "Veteran's Historical Navy". It will be an association of Navy veterans serving again as veteran crew members on our country's historical ships. The initial creation of this association is being kicked off by a few of the museum ships here in the Northeast. However, as each crew is contacted they are enthusiastic about signing on.
On a number of occasions I have asked the question to Navy vets that seems to illicit the same response more often than not! "How would you like to go back in, put that uniform back on and serve again?" Almost everyone says "I'd love to!" So now I have to ask, "Would you?"!
A couple of years ago I signed on to the veteran crew on a museum ship here in New York. She is the USS Slater, DE-766. The last Destroyer Escort afloat in the US! No, I never served on a DE. I hardly saw a deck in my few years as a US Navy sailor. But, I wish I had! So, now I do! It means a couple of days a month on her decks and an occasional nights sleeping in her racks. One thing I noticed that was unique with our ship, in addition to her being owned by the vets and not the Navy, was her sizable, talented and dedicated crew. There is everyone from a junior member of the crew that is still in high school to our 90 year old senior Chief. Then I started looking around at the other ships of the historical fleet and discovered how varied the situations were. Some had very active and sizable veteran crew members and some hardly any. It also seemed that those with a large dedicated crew were thriving and those with few were struggling to remain afloat! It is not just a case of lack of money in many areas. It is also a lack of care! Our crew has spent 15 years restoring the Slater. Their hard work and dedication has resulted in one the most authentically and completely restored museum ships in the country. It also means she has potential that most would only dream of, sailing again under her own power!
The biggest and the most important purpose of these ships is to educate about, memorialize and honor those brave souls that served and sacrificed upon their decks! It is scary how little is remembered or how little is taught these days! But, the very existence and survival of these ships depends on the rest of us that served in their shadows stepping up to the plate! That needs grows ever more crucial as each day goes by! There is however a benefit that only a Navy vet can understand when they step back across the brow, pause, salute the flag and step upon those decks. So many of us look back on those days and wish to return to that time. We miss the camaraderie and the satisfaction in the jobs we did! We miss our shipmates and the fun we had as well as the turmoils we endured! We would love to be 18 again! Whether you're 24 and just finished a single hitch or 80 and retired after 30 plus years, "Once a Navy man, always a Navy man"! (OK, woman too) Most of us feel that we raised our hands and took an oath and that there was no escape clause or expiration date on that oath. There is still a way to honor that oath, feel that pride and enjoy that camaraderie again. Whether you only give a day or two a month, one week a year or more your service is essential!
There so many ways for Navy vets to serve again that almost no one should be left out! If you live a distance away from any museum ship, you can join an annual or bi-annual work party crew. If you were to take one week of that vacation time and spend several days on board, sleeping in the berths, eating on the mess decks and waking to reveille there is no trip that can compare! Imagine being able to spend that time with your son or daughter and having them experience what that part of your life was like! If you live near a ship and have too much free time on your hands, you can feel that pride again in being part of a ship's crew, history and continued service! If you are really lucky and live near those few historical vessels that are able to sail again, you can go that one step further and feel the vibrations of those engines humming and the sight of that wake at your stern. Just talk to the vets that every year sail the LST-325 up the Ohio River and bring her history to thousands! Or, talk to the vets still restoring their vessel, LCI-713 with the goal of also cutting through the waves again! Even if you never saw "sea duty", now is the chance to make up for it!
All that training and experience may be in your past. But, I'll bet the skills and the knowledge are still there! Many of us went on to fields that made use of that training. Many of us continued in similar fields and expanded our knowledge and experience! Still more made a career of the Navy and expanded and mastered their skills. Whatever your rate was, you're needed! From Boatswains to Engineers to Molders your skills and abilities are urgently needed! That ship can go from "at risk" or "in peril" to "thriving" and/or "haze gray and underway" just from your contributing your efforts and the efforts of your shipmates! The veteran crew members of a historical ship are the real asset that supersedes money! What you get from being able to put that uniform on again, feel a part of a crew again and continue to fulfill that oath has no price! There is no way to attach a dollar figure to it! Yet, your contribution to your ship would be of great value!
So Chief, PO3 or Commander, what do you say? Are you game?
In addition to commenting here, feel free to go to http://www.historicalnavy.us and use the email button to respond with your comments or ask questions. The site is still being built and has yet to launch. But the gateway is there while it is under construction.
No David, I missed that calling! But, I guess I am now!
Actually JL, I have a slightly used DD you can get for $1million! You just have to be able to tow it back from Mexico and have a place to put it!
David, I haven't checked with the engineers yet. But, I am assuming that putting some sawdust in those engines wouldn't work the same as in a car! Plus, one does not market it as a "new model" but instead as a "classic"!
It's never too late to cross train for a new rate! LOL
But then again, I am sure you could scrape and paint!
Hey Jim I never did haze gray and underway thingy, I always ended up going O.D green machine "Seabees". But I did spent six days on a supply ship riding it back to Christchurch, NZ from McMurdo. Down the road from me is the battleship North Carolina and they are trying to get some repairs done to her
Just like I said to JL, Gery! It's never too late! I was a land-lubber myself, almost always in a Naval Hospital! I am sure the North Carolina is looking for "new" veteran crew members as well!
ME back in the NAVY?? NOW??? LOL!!!
I remember how I used to RUN up and down the ladders on the ship. Hector had a few long, steep ones. I could run down them fast and get the whole thing shaking hard. Up was a bit slower, but I could still run up them without missing a beat.
I would need a team of Corpsman following me around just to keep picking my ass up off the deck and patching up my boo boos.
That followed with a burial at sea detail.
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