Times Past

March 2009


My single favorite page in any Proceedings issue is the last page: “From Our Archive.” It’s great to read of things past, but seeing the faces and emotions really drives it home. This has to be my favorite photo since joining the Institute. The full version of the picture can be found here:

From the August 2008 issue of Proceedings
From the August 2008 issue of Proceedings

It was around 2345 the other night when we discovered a goldmine of memories. As I checked in for the night, a firstie (senior) called me over. “Hey, I have all these pictures and video from your plebe year,” he said as he handed me a CD. “Thought you might have wanted them. Make sure they get spread around to your classmates.”

I was now holding a time capsule of sorts. This disc held images of my friends and I which we had never seen. Sites like Facebook make it extremely easy to share and view all your friends’ photos. That’s certainly neat but after awhile you’ve seen all of them; I was given something “old” but refreshingly new. It was our version of “From Our Archive.”

I grabbed a couple of friends, one of whom was currently reading old emails from plebe year (“Wow, did I really sound like that,” he wondered), slid the CD into the tray, and started going through it. The pictures chronicled our plebe year starting from Hello Night (August), where we were “welcomed” by the upperclass. That’s when we felt it. “I sort of wish I were a plebe again.”

Yeah, I said it. Do I really want to go rewind spend another two and half years to get to this point? No, not really. But there was something exciting, fresh, and simple about the first year. There’s something exhilarating about the “Us vs. Them” mentality of it all.

I know a lot of readers here are former/current military…I’m curious as to what you reflect upon and say “I sort of wish I were a _________ again.” Was it a remarkable crew? First division? First command?

Posted by Jeffrey Withington in From our Archive, Naval Institute, Proceedings
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  • Oddly, I think about this more often as I get older.

    I wish I were a Damage Controlman (was still HT in the 80’s though)on the USS Puget Sound AD 38 back in Gaeta Italy again. The crew was simply outstanding, the ship was happy. It truly was the happiest time of my life at that point and I absolutely wish I had never left. Yeah, first command too, but it was a truly special ship with a truly special crew.

  • For me, a nautical memory that still stirs is shipping out to Vietnam aboard the USS General John Pope AP-110 in 1966. I will never forget that quit time before the storms of life replaced the storms of the Pacific in early December. I looked up that old ship and last I knew she still rusts in Suisan Bay Reserve Fleet. Her memory resides in my mind beside those I left behind in Vietnam.

  • DeskJockey

    Warthog –

    There is nothing odd about it – face it, there is nothing like the experiences that we all share in the service (even the Army) to some degree or another. I am still in the fight – currently manning a desk in the Pentagon – wishing that I was back underway on any of the five ships in my past. It is the crew, it is the adventure, it is the sheer magnitude of what comes with leading men and women at sea (or shore for that matter) in whatever capacity. I had as much fun seeing young sailors and officers suceeding in their daily work or watchstanding as I did driving a CVN around the world. It is good to miss it – helps provide a perspective that maintains that edge – and breeds success.

  • Division Officer who stood OOD at sea watches. On a day-to-day working basis, it probably came close to being the most fun that I have ever had (with my pants on).

  • Andy (JADAA)

    Manned up and turning up on Cat 1 just after sunrise. First launch of the day, the smell of salt water, cat steam and jet exhaust and the sun low on the horizon, bright light under the low scattered layer of clouds. A mid-grade LT, senior enough to not always get the fid and junior enough not to be trusted with boring jobs!


  • Al

    Senior LT. Four MK III Patrol Boats under my command. Persian Gulf 1988. Mine infested waters, underway every night. Bad guys out there. Every day smoldering hot, every night tense. Little Birds flying around, Iraqi jets delousing the Iranians off us. Ships full of sheep, dropping dead ones-look just like floating mines at night. Weather changing every six hours. Making decisions hour by hour by hour, day after day, weeks on end. Every decision relevant! Not enough hours in the day, every hour worth it. Firing weapons every single day. Every sailor on the boats hours before required. Not one single inspection! Fastest five months of my life.

  • Fouled Anchor

    Jeff, the list is far too long. After an entire career, there are many things I wish I was back doing – but with the knowledge I have now – bootcamp, A-school, first command to name a few. The lesson for a young Sailor, like yourself, is to take advantage of every single opportunity, whether professionally or on liberty, so you can look back someday and say that you wish you were doing ‘that thing’ again instead of wishing you had done it.

  • b2

    Visualize being a LT, getting the bonus on shore duty and flying every day at the RAG. Day job- not too much responsibility/work and great RR buds. Miramar O’Club on Wed nights, X-C’s to everywhere, Porsche 911, Corvettes etc. Well, you get the picture, Middie. That could be you, too. I’m not sure just what sub/shoes reminisce about. 😉

    OBTW, if they had fed and housed me I would have paid THEM. That goes for all them flying deployments that had port calls, too!

    Hell, it was all good stuff except fer them night traps, SERE school and being a staff weenie at the end!


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