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Missing Service Life

by on Jul.10, 2012, under Stories over the ages

A little walk…down Memory’s Lane… thanks to Tim Kramble

Occasionally, I venture back to one or another military post, where I’m greeted by an imposing security guard who looks carefully at my identification card, hands it back and says, “Have a good day, Sir!”

Every time I go back to any Military Base it feels good to be called by my previous rank, but odd to be in civilian clothes, walking among the servicemen and servicewomen going about their duties as I once did — many years ago.

The military is a comfort zone for anyone who has ever worn the uniform. It is a place where you know the rules and know they are enforced — a place where everybody is busy, but not too busy to take care of business. Because there exists behind the gates of every military facility an institutional understanding of respect, order, uniformity, accountability and dedication that becomes part of your marrow and never, ever leaves you.

Personally, I miss the fact that you always knew where you stood in the military, and who you were dealing with. That’s because you could read somebody’s uniform from 20 feet away and know the score. Service personnel wear their careers on their uniforms, so to speak. When you approach each other, you can read their name tag, examine their rank and, if they are in dress uniform, read their medal ribbons and know where they’ve served, honors bestowed and heroic deeds performed.

I miss all those little things you take for granted when you’re in the ranks, like breaking starch on a set of fatigues fresh from the laundry and standing in a perfectly straight line military formation that looks like a mirror as it stretches to the endless horizon. I miss the sight of troops marching in the early morning mist, the sound of boot heels thumping in unison on the tarmac, the bark of drill instructors and the squads as they pass by in review. To romanticize military service is to be far removed from its reality, because it’s very serious business — especially in times of war. But, I miss the salutes I’d throw at senior officers and the crisp returns as we crisscrossed with a “by-your-leave” sir.

I miss the smell of jet fuel hanging heavily on the night air and the sound of engines roaring down runways and disappearing into the clouds. I even miss the hurry-up-and-wait mentality that enlisted men gripe about constantly, a masterful invention that bonded people more than they’ll ever know or admit. I miss people taking off their hats when they enter a building, speaking directly and clearly to others and never showing disrespect for rank, race, religion or gender. I miss being a small cog in a machine so complex it constantly circumnavigates the Earth and so simple it feeds everyone on time, three times a day, on the ground, in the air or at sea.

Mostly, I don’t know anyone who has served who regrets it, and doesn’t feel a sense of pride when they pass through those gates and re-enter the world they left behind with their youth.

Face it – we miss it…………

Whether you had one tour or a career – it shaped your life!

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The Submariner

by on Jun.30, 2012, under Stories over the ages

“Of all the branches of men in the Forces there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the Submariner, great deeds are done in the air and on the land, nevertheless nothing Surpasses your exploits.”

Sir Winston Churchill 1943

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The Chief Tiff’s Lament – Thanks to Fred Ticehurst.

by on Jun.30, 2012, under Stories over the ages

Did you hear about the Chief Tiffy,
The man without a mate?
He’d fallen out with everyone,
but the Coxswain was his favourite hate.
Eventually the day came round,
And he stood at Heaven’s portal,
St. Peter was there in his best number ones
to greet the special mortal.
The Tiffy looked at St. Peter and said,
“I’ll not come in just yet,
I want to make sure there’s no Coxswain in here.
Said Peter, “You’re on a safe bets”.
So he picked up his bag and hammock,
And, believing St. Peter, went in,
The inmates of Heaven then trembled,
But Peter just gave him a grin
The Tiff went around and searched up and down,
With a fearsome look on his face,
At last he seemed at peace with himself,
There wasn’t a ‘swain in the place.
So life slipped by in the ‘boat’ in the sky,
The Chief Tiffy in charge on the wheel.
He was heard to remark, “What a bloody great lark,
This is just how a Coxswain must feel”
The rest of the crew were quite chokker.
Cursed the day Chief Tiffs were invented,
But power had gone to the old man’s head.
“I’m in charge now and I’m quite contented
But then there came that dreadful day,
Proper poorly the Chief Tiffy did feel,
For he spotted the badge of crossed tin fish,
A bloody great Crown and Wheel.
He went stomping off to St. Peter, and
In true Naval style made a complaint,
That he’d spotted an Infidel Coxswain,
Said Peter “I’ll bet that you ain’t,
Come with me” said the Tiffy and
Shaking his fist said, Just what the bloody “ell’s that?”
For there stood a vision, a Coxswain no less,
With gold badges and a tiddly hat.
” Hold on” said St Peter, “Just calm yourself down,
And I’ll do my best to explain,
That’s really GOD that you’re looking at,
He just likes to pretend he’s a ‘Swain!”.

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