On Wingnuts and Boots

“…without a Respectable Navy, Alas America!” – Captain John Paul Jones

“A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.” – President Theodore Roosevelt

“I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’” – President John F. Kennedy

Though at times, many time, I hated being in the Navy, I fear that I have fallen prey to that disease of most old men; Looking back. But look back I do, and with great pride at what I was a part of. I was about as dumb as they come, but being there; and being there with all the great people that I was surrounded with, now gives me a great and awesome feeling of honor. An outsider looking in would have thought that we all hated each other with all the pseudo-derision we plied to one another. It seems that every little group was “dissin’” the others. Electricians calling ELTs “smooth crotches”, Machinist Mates “knuckle draggers”. Then it was the “f’ing nukes” vs. the “forward pukes”. But all bubbleheads banded together against the “target” sailors. Yeah, I guess it was just part of the culture. And God help you if you showed any sort of weakness! Any weakness would be acted on quickly! Whew! But man, when it hit the fan, we were all part of the same crew. Sure you’d get aggravated at this person, or that person, but we were… well we were all in the same boat! And we knew it too.

Since I’ve been a civilian, I’ve missed the camaraderie we had on the boat. People out here hold grudges. I’m the same person I’ve always been. I tend to tell it like it is, and I rarely hold my tongue. But I will praise you, and I will apologize if I’m wrong. It’s not about me, it’s about us. That’s the way I feel at our company. But out here in the civilian world, “they” really do eat each other! Sad. Gossip mongers and such. Well, yeah the radio shack was “rumor control central” but hell that was different. Wasn’t it?

I just have to say that I would work with any of my old shipmates again. No matter what. I do think we were changed by that time, and, in my opinion, changed for the better.

I know you guys have all gone on to succeed in all that you’ve done. I just hope that we have all shown those around us a bit of what was good about that time.

Ok. Back to work.

2 responses to “On Wingnuts and Boots”

  1. Well in the Navy your lives depended on that forward puke or smooth crotch. You couldn’t eat them because then they wouldn’t be there to at your six when the target sailors arrived. In the corporate world, they can eat you and replace you. They might have to do a little extra work for awhile, but there are no lives at stake. (Livelihoods maybe). They also didn’t have the benefit of the discipline of boot camp, nor the consequence of punishment from a superior. H/R makes it so difficult to actually discipline an employee, that you are better off just eating them and replacing them. And those younger workers grew up in an entitled environment and just don’t understand the work ethic or the teamwork that you and I may have grown up with. I am very lucky to have a group of people that work as a team and understand what that means. But then again, I try to lead by example that very concept. Those attitudes come from the top – and my guess your leaders in the Navy were much better at it than the ones you have now. Hang in there.

  2. Tammy hit the nail on the head, talking about the lack of work ethic and the entitlement attitude of the younger set. Her comments about H/R and the difficulty of effective discipline resonated with me, too. The touchy-feely teamwork obstacle course exercises are effective for some period of time, perhaps more as morale builders than as teamwork lessons, but years of learning responsibility at home and being given appropriate consequences from an early age surely serve workers better than post-hire attempts to teach teamwork and work ethic. The armed forces might have a monopoly on effective worker discipline and on post-hire team training that sticks! At least some of those workers (our vets) make it back into private industry to mentor the values they learn in the navy or in the service of Uncle Sam. Perhaps mandatory government service should NOT be dismissed out of hand, as conservatives have been wont to do. There are larger lessons to be learned that have ceased to be taught in schools (where values teaching seems to imply a lack of separation between church and state). Families with two wage-earners who are products of the me-generation and who grew up as instant gratification consumers seem to be dropping the ball, too. If the military has the monopoly on teaching some of the work values the general public is missing, let that training be part of compulsory government service!

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