Skip to comments.Where our Sailors Rest
Posted on 05/24/2019 5:00:32 AM PDT by Jacquerie
If you ever want to sleep with a blonde again, you had better shoot down these bastards as soon as they come up - a destroyer captain motivates his exhausted crew shortly before a kamikaze attack. The sea-battle toll for Okinawa, which ended on June 21st 1945, was 36 U.S. warships sunk and 368 damaged. Almost 5,000 sailors were KIA and another 5,000 wounded.
War naturally conjures images of brave infantrymen. Almost 200,000 soldiers and marines rest in cemeteries around the world.
Too often forgotten are the Navy and merchant sailors felled at sea. Its understandable; there are no battlefield memorials, no marked graves, no poppies, no flags. Its still a shame. Few are the photo memoirs of engineering room slaughter-by-steam, of those blown overboard, of those who survived the battle only to die of burns, thirst, or sharks.
Some had proper burials. Did boot camp recruits know their Navy-issue hammocks did double duty as burial shrouds? I dont know, but should your Memorial Day weekend find you on an Atlantic or Pacific beach, make a mental note to say a few words of thanks.
I would extend that request to say that, no matter if you’re landlocked, don’t forget the heroism of “those who go down to the sea in ships, who sail upon great waters.”
They were the first to defend our country, and have never failed her.
Having served at sea in the USN, I doubt that the captain used the term “sleep with”.
A friend of mine served in the 60s aboard a destroyer that had been at Okinawa. He said that it had been relieved early from its duty station by another destroyer, that would be going home after its turn...the destroyer that relieved them was subsequently hit by two kamikazes and sunk.
Thanks for this. Yes, the brave Navy personnel lost at sea are too often overlooked.
Peace to all.
“Having served at sea in the USN, I doubt that the captain used the term sleep with.
Summer, 1955 and my ship was sailing through Okinawan waters, the crew just relaxing on the way to Hong Kong. Quietly 2 older guys, late twenties/early thirties, wearing their dress blues appeared. They walked to and stood by the starboard (right) life railings. It got very quiet.
Suddenly they snapped to ATTENTION and together saluted across the waters. 200 teen-age sailors wondered “What the H**l?” One kid asked a Chief, “What’s going on? Who are they saluting?”
The Chief’s voice, as always, carried across the decks, “They are saluting their old ship, a destroyer that is STILL on Picket Duty. You guys looking OUTWARD are wrong....you must look DOWN..’bout a half mile.”
Dead silence as a couple of hundred teen-age sailors stood to attention, facing starboard and saluting.
I was told as a young squid that if I wanted to be a hero I was wearing the wrong uniform. Rag hats and dungarees could not compete with parade dress marine attire but our job was more important than any other because how the Hell do you think the heroes were transported to earn their glory? Superheated 600 PSI steam @ 750 degrees from ruptured lines is not an easy way to go when you consider bread is baked at 350 degrees.
In 1960, USS Princeton discovered a US submarine that had been sunk in WWII. We couldn’t retrieve any bodies (too deep and too old), but we had a symbolic burial at sea, complete with rifle salute.
That’s how I’ll be buried.
The Men Who Sail Below
Now each of us, from time to time, have gazed upon the sea,
and watched the warships pulling out, to keep the country free.
And most of us have read a book, or heard a lousy tale,
about the men who sail these ships, through lightning wind and hale.
But there is a place within each ship, that legend fails to teach
it’s down below the water line, and takes a awful toll,
a red hot metal living hell, those sailors call the hole.
It houses engines run by steam, that make the shafts go round,
a place of fire, noise and heat, that beats your spirit down.
Where boilers make a hellish heat, with blood of angry steam,
and molded gods without remorse are nightmares in your dreams
Where threat from the fires roar, is like living in doubt,
that any minute, would with scorn, escape and crush you out,
where turbines scream like tortured souls, alone and lost in hell.
Those men who keep the fires lit and make the engines run,
are strangers to the world of night, and rarely see the sun.
They have no time for man no beast, no tolerance for fear,
their aspect pays no living thing the tribute of a tear.
For there’s not much that men can do, that these one’s haven’t done,
below the decks, deep in the hole, to make those engines run.
And every hour of every day they keep the watch in hell,
for if the fires ever fail, their ship’s a useless shell.
When warships meet to have a war, upon an angry sea,
the men below just grimly smile at what their fate may be.
Turned too below, like men fore-doomed, who wear no battle cry,
it’s well assumed that if they’re hit, the men below will die.
Foe every day’s a war down there, when the gauges all read red,
six hundred pounds of heated steam will kill you mighty dead.
So if you ever write their song or try to tell their tale,
the very words will make you hear, a fired furnace wall.
And people as a general rule, don’t hear of men of steel,
so little’s heard about this place, just inches from the keel.
But I can sing about this and try to make you see,
the hardened life of men down there, cause one of them is me.
I’ve seen these sweat soaked heroes fight, in superheated air,
to keep their ship alive and right, though no one knows they’re there.
And thus they’ll fight for ages on, till warships sail no more,
amid the boilers mighty heat and turbines hellish roar.
So when you see a ship pull out, to meet a warlike foe,
remember faintly if you can “the men who sail below”
Summer, 2001 - my Destroyer was sailing to Australia and along the way, whenever we were close to a lost US Navy ship or sub, our Ops Officer informed the crew about the specifics of the battle and we rendered honors.
I hope other ships are still doing this today. Thanks for sharing a great remembrance.
If I remember correctly, the M type boilers on 2100, 2200 and 2250 class tin cans produced superheated steam at a max of 850 degrees.
I did hear that the navy thinks Marine stands for:
Just damn. These stories still bring a tear or two to my eyes...
Wow! Me too! Just happens!
If buried on land, sailors
are gone but not besodden.
I’ll let myself out...
The five brothers, the sons of Thomas (18831965) and Alleta Sullivan (18951972) of Waterloo, Iowa, were:
* George Thomas Sullivan, 27 (born December 14, 1914), Gunner’s Mate Second Class (George had been previously discharged in May 1941 as Gunner’s Mate Third Class.)
* Francis Henry “Frank” Sullivan, 26 (born February 18, 1916), Coxswain (Frank had been previously discharged in May 1941 as Seaman First Class.)
* Joseph Eugene “Joe” Sullivan, 24 (born August 28, 1918), Seaman Second Class
* Madison Abel “Matt” Sullivan, 23 (born November 8, 1919), Seaman Second Class
* Albert Leo “Al” Sullivan, 20 (born July 8, 1922), Seaman Second Class
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