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The humor and innocence of the United States Navy Sailor is captured in the unique and sportive tales of a salty master chief set in the final quarter of the twentieth century.

Sweepers sweepers man your brooms is a phrase readily recognized by any Sailor who ever woke up on a United States Navy ship. In his Navy memoirs Retired Navy Master Chief Jeff Zahratka, a twenty six year veteran chronicles rich adventures that carry the reader to exotic settings from Karachi Pakistan to Severmorsk Russia. Sweepers Sweepers is a colorful story with uncanny notice of the odd occurrences that take place between the life lines of Navy ships and isolated shore establishments- not a story about bombs, battles, or spectacular explosions, Sweepers Sweepers Man Your Brooms is his story about how people of great diversity coexist in eighty-man bedrooms while living out of devices known as coffin lockers.

Consistently found in the effectuation of extraordinary events, the
ubiquitous American Sailor may be found crawling through garbage in an equatorial Shellback initiation or baring their derrieres at a Soviet aircraft carrier while traversing the Cape of Good Hope. He may be discovered in hand to hand combat, not with a human enemy manned up at a fire control console on an Aegis cruiser, but with a toilet brush in a Greek hotel room, fighting to the death with a mutated species of an ancient Hellenic centipede.

The author fails miserably at camouflaging his affection for the city of Pittsburgh and his long time devotion to their high powered sports teams. He provides many insightful moments relating to being a fan from afar through some of the greatest years in Steeler and Pirate sports history.

The story is a rich and historically accurate account of a caste of
characters from seaman recruits with attitudes honed on tough urban streets, to brown juice spitting good ole boys that learned to love the sea. There are associations and first hand opinions on the actions of young naval officers who today are among the top ranking leaders of the force.

Sweepers Sweepers Man Your Brooms is a tapestry of the social morays, historical events, and military technologies that define the character of the Navy for the last thirty years. The reader will experience sufficient history to educate, and an infusion of personal opinion which will serve as a catalyst for debate. Above all; however, the story will remind Americans why they love Sailors, and remind old Sailors of why they love the Navy.

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Comment by jeff zahratka on July 31, 2009 at 6:16pm
I wanted to let folks know what's coming back to me about this book. Because it is self published I have not even broke even from a monetary perspective, but if you read some of these comments you will see why it has been so rewarding to put it out there.

What shipmates are saying about this salty manuscript

Master Chief,
>Read your book cover to cover. It was excellent.
> Look forward to the next one.
>Thanks for your service
>Paul Day RD2
>USS Coontz DLG9

Anyone whoever stood watch underway is bound to enjoy and appreciate “Sweepers, Sweepers, Man Your Brooms.” Master Chief Zahratka brings back all of the good memories and lets the tough ones drain to the bilges. What the Master Chief does best is humorously describe all the zany characters he served with by providing us with a front seat view of his real life experiences. Every ship had at least some of these characters and “Zeke” brings to the life the ones he knew which then reminds us of the ones we knew. Who wouldn’t identify with his description of how the EM1 Miller on the Yorktown came to called Petty Officer Beno. “...He made it quietly clear that there will Be No liberty, there would Be No Leave, etc. … until his standards were met.” Ha! Didn’t I work for that guy?

“Sweepers” is a fun and easy read but it is also a real and meaningful look at what the popular phrase “Service to your Country” really means. The Master Chief doesn’t dwell on the fierce demands that he, his shipmates and his family had to meet, but he mentions them, and for those in the know, that’s enough. I reccomend this book whether you only finished your first term or stayed for the duration “Sweepers” will bring a smile to your face.

Kevin McGill

Colchester, CT

You have served God, Country, Family and the US Navy well. Thank you for
your sincere dedication and devotion. I know you would be modest and say

there was nothing special about your service, but that would be an
injustice. Career military team members never ask for awards, they only
produce results of the highest standard to protect and defend the people
of the United States of America.

Myself, having been a small part of your career and enduring the same
hardships and great events (Don't think I could have done 20 years) that
can only happen on an Adams class destroyer, they were accurately
detailed in this wonderful book with a colorful sense of humor and wit
as to make any destroyer sailor reflect and peer back into their youth
with fond memories. As I read the book and followed along, I realized
you that you had come full circle, as you arrived at each new duty you
always reflected back to the Lawrence and the original IC gang (aka the
Bairds). IC2 Jeff Rodgers

We finally received the books yesterday. I still can’t stop laughing. Susan is a die hard Bengals fan (go figure) and the first page was a hoot! We are heading to San Diego tomorrow for Susan’s sons graduation from Marine Boot Camp. I plan to have my copy of the book finished before I return. I will send both books to you for autograph when we get back. I may have to order some more as interest is rising.
Blacks Beach here we come!

This is a fantastic read about the feelings and adventure of Navy life and is a MUST READ for all Old Salts. You will picture yourself in the characters and find humor in their relationships as they are so dramatically portrayed by the authors wit.
EM2 Mark Rothrock

hi, I got your book for christmas. my goodness. I can not put it down.. all those memories on the adams class ddg's. being an ic man, commissioning ships. 1200lb steam , gas turbines.
all of that. i used to sleep on the Ic shop deck around the gyro while on west pac cruise. it was the coldest place on the ship..or it was the warmest place on the ship...on the uss waddell ddg-24 last of the class. we did a 75-76 west pac cruise..
monroe ICC Monroe Seibel

Mr. Zahratka,

I received your letter addressed to the Benfold IC Shop. I took interest in your book and bought it last weekend from Reading It is now part of my nightly routine before I go to bed. I’ve been enjoying the good chuckle before I turn in for the night. So far I really enjoy your book because I can relate to the stories. Once I finish the book I will pass it through the shop to all my other ICmen.


IC1(SW) Jones, Jason
CE Division LPO
USS Benfold DDG-65

Hi Jeff,

John Larney of the USS Brush Reunion group sent me a copy of the book to review. I will be sending him my comments in a few minutes, which are favorable. It brings back many fond memories of my days aboard the Brush. I spent a little over 3 years onboard as an FT or FC in the new jargon. We worked closely with the IC personnel because their work area and gyro compass was in the same area as the main battery computer. I worked on the 56 fire control system.

We have been able to go aboard some of the new ships as part of our reunions. It sure is different from our days. In fact, we went aboard the Preble (DDG88) in San Diego and the cruiser Leyte Gulf in Norfolk and our tour guide each time was a young lady. The new destroyers are nothing like the Sumner class I was on.

Enjoyed your book and glad you had a fulfilling career in the Navy.

Fred Moebius

Jeff, I've been laughing my *ss off reading your book at night. I especially enjoyed the moment of revelation you had when you saw the IC1 reading a technical manual written by a guy named Hefner. :) I've also noticed you and I share a lot of similar experiences with our careers. In bootcamp, I worked at the Brigade Inspectors office for Service Week, and I'll have to tell you about the first time I ever made coffee for those Chiefs, which was THE FIRST TIME I ever made coffee period! OMG, they had never tasted anything like that!

OSCS Kirk Hardesty

Hello Jeff,

How are you doing? I am enjoying your book. I read it most of the way back to Okinawa. It is an easy read and I like your style. Your stories are great too. As I read them, I could easily picture the images (your burglarized seabag, your heal-skidding/skiing accident and Iris's smile to name a few).

I hope you consider a 2nd edition.
Happy New Year Shipmate!

Walter Meier
Cisco Academy Instructor
CTC-3, Camp Hansen, Okinawa

By LCDR "squid1" - See all my reviews
This is an outstanding book highly recommended for anyone who has served on "haze gray and underway", for anyone who wants to learn what navy service is all about, and even for officers :) to gain a better insight into what makes sailors tick. Almost every anecdote brought back familiar and fond memories of my own nearly 22 years in the U.S. Navy. Having been stationed in some of the same commands and ports made "Sweepers, Sweepers Man Your Brooms" a very special read. This is not just a book about going to sea or what sailors do, rather an insight into how they think, their likes and dislikes and why they do what they do. To the author, a Hearty Bravo Zulu for a job well done.

LCDR Howard Mirkin

Master Chief,
My daughter gave me your book for Christmas. Just finished reading it and boy did it bring back a lot of memories. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. BZ to you for writing it in a fashion that former sailors can relate to. I have recommended it to many former and active sailors.

John SHC John Forte

I received your book the other day, I've been reading it a little each day. So far Shipmate I love it. Boats
BMC Warren Mattern

Below is the NEW 3/17/2009 review from

Sweepers Sweepers Man Your Brooms
By Jeff Zahratka

(291 pages)

Reviewer: Bernie Ditter

Overall Rating: Three Stars: Recommended. A solid effort.

Retired Master Chief Zahratka recounts his "twenty-six" in this entertaining and informative book. For one who is considering a career in the Navy it should be a must read as it chronicles an almost perfect progression of assignments, schools, mentors, teachers and opportunities that resulted in a picture perfect career: all that a a wife and two children.

Were it not for the absence of war and chase scenes it might be considered for a screen play.

The chief put his time in during the last 26 years of the twentieth century and, while there were no war stories, his was a time of technological marvels as he moved from Adams Class to Arleigh Burke Class to the daunting Yorktown and in between two tours on the Yellowstone, a battle tender.

For the most part we are introduced to hundreds of enlisted men and women and officers who the Chief encountered during his naval career. Some recollections were significant as lifelong friendships were established while some were, as we all know about, just some one of the "80 plus who shared your bedroom".

Highlights of his ports of call are very interesting especially the visit to the former USSR following its collapse. The up close and personal contacts in Severmorsk, Russia are a look into communism that few Americans have ever seen. If anything, the chief is a good story teller.

Life in the Navy will be better understood by someone not in the service and will bring a smile to the face of those who have.

The most inspirational aspect of this book is the seamless and almost effortless way that the chief managed his career for those 26 years giving credit always to someone besides himself. I am certain that he is remembered with favor by many of those he wrote about.

available at

Congratulations, "Best Ever" book.

Hey Jeff,
Just back from my Vacation. The reunion was great. we had 171 people there and it was a great time. Thanks for the books. I did not have the time to read the whole thing but I did read the chapter on the Ole Girl and it was great. I remembered a number of the guys that you wrote about. We gave one way to the shipmate that came the longest distance and Audtioned the other. we were able to get $40 dollars for it. Thank you so much. We have a good nest egg from which to start planning the next one from that as well as the other things that were donated.
Thanks again and maybe at the next one. We are kinda looking at 2 years in Charleston ?!?! kinda sorta thing. We'll see.

I am Ed Madden, Plankowner IC man on Yorktown. 1st WSN-5 Tech on Yorktown, NC2 Plotter, IVCS, and ET NEC's, WRN-5 & Old Omega. Recently went to July 4th Reunion was drawn to get your book. I am world's slowest reader but retention is near 100%. Your book was great, even though I got out after 6 years, the relationships are like family. I especially liked the parrallel with your navy carrer and mine. It made me wonder for the 1st time what if i had stayed for 20 or more. Also on page 19 where your seabag was the victim of a theif, your comment about older PO's help, caused me to stop and call Grep Piecora since he always credit my self and John Dulovich IC man as his real mentors. As I said we are like family 25 + years later. Also OSCM Mike Zimmerman told me about how fun you were when he was your shipmate. Mike was a mentor and confidant while I was young. I also have a connection to you via Pa. I am originally from Opelika, Al. as my life moved forward. I left Navy worked for Uniroyal Goodrich in Al, then Bridgestone in Tn., then Honda of America Mfg. Inc. in Columbus Ohio. My 2nd marriage is to Columbus native and OSU fan, we own a cabin on Indian Lake in Pa. I am a new Steelers fan and have ski boat with Steeler emblem due to it being white with black/gold stripes, lake friends love it. My cabin is near Latrobe and just north of Somerset. I know my message was long but wanted to introduce myself. Wife will be next toread yopur book then I am sending it or buying a copy for Grep Piecora. The book does not deserve to be red and put away it needs to be shared. Thanks for your writing.
Ed- IC2 Yorktown

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Comment by David Alan Vasquez on June 17, 2009 at 11:07pm
Here's one! Sweepers Sweepers man your brooms! pick up all those little rooms! Sweep them high and Sweep them low! Catch the corners as you go! Now Sweepers!! Someone threw this out to the crew on one of my ships along time ago and it has stuck with me ever since I am almost positve it was on Lockwood I don't think you would hear this today, I just thought I would share it with everyone.
Comment by jeff zahratka on May 12, 2009 at 12:13pm
ATC(AW)Todd Brown just back from Iraq and a former student here at our Oceana Learning Center won a trip to Hawaii withe the following essay on the term SHIPMATE. Great words:

'Shipmate' is a term with inherent connotations of teamwork, camaraderie and belonging. It embodies duty, honor, courage, commitment and excellence.

'Shipmate' exclaims the spirited commonality of all Sailors: One Team! One Fight! It illustrates hardships shared, victories won.

'Shipmate' defines common purpose: ships, seas, defense of freedom. It carries echoes of war, heroes and the fallen.

'Shipmate' is a fire-hardened, selflessly earned title that boasts, "I am a United States Sailor!"
Comment by jeff zahratka on April 14, 2009 at 12:35pm
RonThat cattle car in GITMO Your wer talking about a got a good paragraph on it on Page 93. That damn cattle car was unforgettable.
Comment by Ron on April 12, 2009 at 3:14pm
Heres a story that will help Sailors remember some they may have served with... It did me !

2 young boys sitting on a side walk playing with dog poop... A Private walks by & says " What are you boys doing playing with that dog poop ?"... Making a Gunney Sgt... Private...He says to himself " I have to go get the Cpl he'll love this... The Cpl walks up with the Private & says to the boys " What are you boys doing playing with that dog carp ? "Were making a Gunney Sgt... Cpl.. why?" Just at the time a crusty old United States Navy Chief Petty Officer over hears the boys & says to them: " What in the hell are you two fine young men doing down there on the side walk palying with that Dog Crap ?"... "We're making a Gunney Sg... Chieft" ... says the boys... "Well" ,says the Old Salt,, why arent't you making a United States Navy Warrent Officer Lads... With out looking up they both say " Not enough s*** chief!"

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