10 December 2008

Sometimes I Miss the Navy

Okay, as you can see in my profile, I served in the US Navy for 20 years. I recently retired from active duty in April 2007 and I am trying to fit back in to civilian life. There is a fair amount of difficulty adjusting to civilian life; for example what a civilian calls a floor, wall, ceiling, water-cooler, or bathroom I call a deck, bulkhead, overhead, scuttlebutt and head.

The Navy is full of unique terms like these; it is in the Navy the phrase "Cup of Joe" was coined, in reference to Chief of Naval Operations Jocephus Daniels who, in an attempt to placate his temperance wife, banned alcohol from Navy ships. The result is the United States Navy is the only Navy in the free world that does not allow the consumption of alcohol onboard ship, which is a tragedy of Elizabethan proportions if you ask the average sailor.

The Navy has also given us a very unique way of life; most of you civilians out there will not understand some of these references but all of the old salts I know will get a chuckle out of these. This is a short list of suggestions on how to simulate Navy life, courtesy of Elmer Venzke. Some of the ones he missed are, 'Invite forty or so bikers to take hammers and mallets and pound on your roof for 5 days straight, extra points given if they do it at midnight while cussing as loud as they can.' Another good one I like is raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling and place an alarm clock such that it will go off right in your ear and set it for random times throughout the night.

The hardest thing about transferring from Navy life to civilian life is my "sailor's language". Through the years I learned a colorful vocabulary sailing on these fine Naval warships; so colorful in fact that when we moved to Mississippi, I almost gave one of my neighbors a heart attack! Still, I have calmed somewhat and I am indeed glad and relieved that my tattoos can be easily concealed by a short-sleeve shirt. I'm not saying I am embarrassed by my tattoos, but I do recognize that visible tats can definitely affect one's hireability.

I had a lot of fun serving in the Navy; I don't know any sailor who can say it wasn't at least some fun. Still, I do miss the call on the 1MC, "Underway, shift colors." Sailing around this blue-green marble we call Earth has left me with many many memories. Maybe one day I will share a few stories with you, if you ask nice...


  1. "Ask nice," my ass! One bottle of Sailor Jerry rum and I'll have you singin' like a jaybird!

  2. LOL!!! That's my story and I'm stickin to it!!