Once I Was A
E.A. Hughes, FTCM (SS),
Copyright 1958, 1978
(see his bio
I like the Navy.
I like standing on deck during a long voyage with sea spray
in my face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere -
The feel of the
giant steel ship beneath me,
it's engines driving against the sea is almost
beyond understanding -
It’s immense power makes the Navyman feel so
but yet proud to be a small part of this ship -
A small part of Her mission.
I like the Navy.
I like the sound of taps over the ships announcing system,
the ringing of the ships bell, the foghorns
and strong laughter of Navy men
I like the ships of the Navy - nervous darting destroyers,
proud cruisers, majestic battle ships,
steady solid carriers and silent
I like the workhorse tugboats with their proud Indian
Iroquois, Apache, Kiawah and Sioux - each stealthy powerful tug
safely guiding the warships to safe deep waters from all harbors.
I like the historic names of other proud Navy Ships:
Princeton, Suribachi and Saratoga.
The Ozark, Hunley, William R. Rush and
the Constitution, Missouri, Wichita, Iowa,
Arizona and Manchester,
as well as The
Tecumseh, Cole and Nautilus too-
all majestic ships
of the line -
Each ship commanding the respect of all Navymen
known Her - or were privileged to be a part of Her crew.
I like the bounce of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy Band,
Whites", “13 Button Blues”, the rare 72 hour liberty
and the spice scent of a
I like shipmates I've sailed with, worked with,
served with or
The Gunners Mate from the Iowa cornfields;
a Sonarman from the
Colorado mountain country;
a pal from Cairo, Alabama; an Italian from near
some boogie boarders of California;
and of course, a drawling friendly
lad that hailed from Muskogee; and a very
congenial Engineman from the
From all parts of the land they came -
farms of the Midwest,
small towns of
New England -
the red clay area and small towns of the South -
the mountain and
high prairie towns of the West -
the beachfront towns of the Atlantic, the
Pacific and the Gulf -
All are American; all are comrades in arms -
All are men
of the sea and all are men of honor.
I like the adventure in my heart when the ship puts out to sea,
and I like
the electric thrill of sailing home again,
with the waving hands of welcome from
and friends, waiting on shore.
The extended time at sea drags;
is rough on occasion.
But there's the companionship of robust Navy laughter,
devil-may-care philosophy of the sea.
This helps the
The remembrances of
past shipmates fill the mind
and restore the
memory with images of other ships,
other ports, and
other cruises long past.
Some memories are
good, some are not so good,
but all are etched in
the mind of the Navyman
and most will be
I like the sea and After a day of work,
there is the serenity of the sea at dusk.
As white caps
dance on the ocean waves,
the sunset creates flaming clouds that float in folds
over the horizon - as if painted there by a master.
The darkness follows soon
and is mysterious.
The ship’s wake in darkness has a hypnotic effect,
white froth and luminescence that forms
never ending patterns in the turbulent
I like the lights of the ship in darkness -
the masthead lights,
red and green sidelights and stern lights.
They cut through the night and appear
as a mirror
of stars in darkness.
There are rough stormy nights, and calm,
still nights where the quiet of the mid-watch allows the
ghosts of all
the Sailors of the world to stand with you.
They are abundant and unreachable,
but ever apparent
And there is always the aroma of fresh coffee from the
I like the legends of the Navy and the Navymen
that created those legends.
like the proud names of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Beach,
McCain, Rickover and John Paul Jones.
A man can find much in the Navy,
in arms, pride in his country.
A man can find himself and can revel in this
In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea,
he will still recall
with fondness the ocean spray
on his face when the sea is angry.
come a faint aroma of fresh paint in his nostrils,
the echo of hearty laughter
of the seafaring me
who once were close companions -
Now landlocked, he will
grow wistful of his Navy days,
when the seas were the largest part of him and a
new port of call was always just over the horizon.
Recalling those days and times, he will stand taller and say:
"ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN!"
My name is E. A. Hughes, I am a retired US Navy Master Chief
Fire Control Technician (SS),
but I did
serve on a Cruiser, a Battleship and 2 Destroyers before
I was selected to
teach Submarine Sailors their own equipment.
Destroyer was the William R. Rush and
I left her right after the Cuban
go back on another Destroyer.
I loved going to sea on surface ships,
I had a great appreciation for the sea and the Sailors
that I sailed with.
After my first Navy hitch I attended Denver University on the GI bill.
During that time I wrote a short essay, which was a requirement for English 102.
I titled my work "Once I Was A Navyman", this was in 1958.
By the end of 1958 I was back in the Navy. Where I served another 20 years.
After retiring from the Navy in 1978 I added a number of things
to "Once I Was A Navyman",
these things included Navymen that I had known,
where they were from and some of the ships
they served on,
as well as a number of ships that I served on during my
Many Navymen that I have
known and ship sites that are on the internet have
welcomed my work and if you would like to include "Once I Was A Navyman"
on your site, it would please me as a former William R. Rush crew member.
E. A Hughes
USN (Retired) Copyright 1958, 1978
You may email me at:
Hughes 235 at aol.com?subject=Once I was a Navyman Poem
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