[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Yesterday I had lunch in the Chiefs’ Mess, and for the first time in two patrols learned that the Chiefs’ have their own motto: Ask the Chiefs.
One of the first things the Captain told me was that the Coast Guard lives and dies with its Chiefs, and I’ve seen nothing on either Alex Haley or Munro to contradict that. They’ve seen everything, they’ve done everything, they teach everyone – Chief Greg Colvin teaches them how to shoot, Chief Will Ray and Chief Heidi Eystad how to fight fires, Chief Wes Guilmartin how to get the ship where it’s going, Chief Gene Mason how to do CPR, Chief Marc Blecman how to live underway.
They are as a group rowdy and raucous and definitely a tough room, especially on each other, but there is no group you’d rather have at your back if you were in trouble. In attitude they hover somewhere between parents who practice tough love and a SWAT team. I didn’t dare go into the Chiefs’ Mess until I was specifically invited, and now they can’t beat me off with a stick. Hands down they tell the best, the most merciless and unquestionably the most uproarious stories, although I have been sternly cautioned that what happens in the Chiefs’ Mess stays in the Chiefs’ Mess. Aye, Chiefs.
Ask the Chiefs. Simple, direct, and oh so true. Also, my writer’s spidey sense can’t help but notice, two short vowel sounds followed by a long one, a two-syllable build up to a strong finish. Someone did that on purpose.
(And they have the best pirate voices ever. Don’t ask me how I know.)
Today I took my morning espresso to the bridge and hung out with OOD ENS Dan Schrader, BM2 Matt Hendricks, BM2 Steve Garon, and SN Dennis Gordon on the four-to-eight watch. Steve’s getting married to Rachel in June and he’s going to work for the CG MSST in San Diego while she studies to be a vet. Matt’s going to Florida to Station Key West. Dan and Dennis are coming to Alaska with Munro.
We launched the helo twice. We cancelled a main engine room fire drill, the P.O.D. thwarted yet again. Todd’s algebra class sits for their midterm tomorrow, as always ops permitting.
Also ops permitting, my writers’ workshop meets for the last time tomorrow. It’s been an interesting class, with a lot fewer dropouts than I expected, especially since it isn’t for credit. Some of the students have serious talent. One thing that surprised me was that very few of them write about being underway. They’re living it, they don’t want to write about it, too. I have an idea about that, though….
I look almost normal again, or at least no strong man has stepped hastily aside when he sees me coming lately. Although on the whole this crew was pretty sanguine about my close encounter with the Darwin sorter. “We’ve all done it,” SN Samantha Crane told me. She was the one who told me that iron helped bruises fade faster. I started remembering to take my One-a-Days and she was right. Maybe Doc needs to recruit her. I’m just happy I’m not going to live out my life as a cross between Cyclops and a gargoyle on Notre Dame.
Today’s photos are a miscellany, they don’t fit into any one blog topic and I’ve been looking for an excuse to post them. Enjoy!
For those of you who have inquired, this is how the blog works. At some point during the day I choose the subject of the blog, usually based on crew members, something that happened that day, some ship’s system or procedure I’ve been puzzling on for a while, like flight ops or tac numbers. I’ll ask the Captain if it’s okay. Sometimes it isn’t. I take photos and get good quotes (easy to do with this crew). After it’s written I submit the blog and photos to the Captain, the XO and Ops for scrubbing. This is so I don’t commit any OPSEC (operational security) errors and, you know, start a war on stabenow.com.
Then I post the photos to the Flickr file, acquire the thumbnails, copy them to the blog typescript, and copy and paste the whole thing onto the website. Then I go back and lay in the links to Munro, Alex Haley, previous posts, Fred’s Place, Hitron, like that. This can take hours because Internet access is very slow underway. Et voila!
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Author and founder of Storyknife.org.