Recently I was following a post on one of my submarine Facebook pages. The original guy had posted about a lack of recognition. To be fair, he had a lot of supporters and frankly I can’t give him a hard time since I have seen some of this through the years myself.
“Okay I have somewhat of a bitch to air:I have been looking for a new career however when I get the part of the application for Veteran Status I find that I do not fit any of the categories!!!! It simply appears to me that the time I spent on the XXXXXXX does not matter since it was only the Cold War and I didn’t get some little medal for doing what I so proudly volunteered to do – Serve My Country!!! Apparently those of us that served in the 70s – 80s are not a protected status.
Okay I am done bitching – just had to air my frustration with the lack of respect we receive as veterans of that era.”
That got me thinking about why I joined. The passing years have probably clouded what I was thinking about on that Monday when my parents drove their seventeen year old son to the recruiters office in McKeesport Pennsylvania.
I joined the Navy 42 years ago today for one very selfish reason.
I wanted the adventure that my very convincing recruiter promised me was around every bend. He did not lie. I certainly did not join for the recognition since I was aware that the service was looked down upon by my generation (that whole Vietnam hangover thing).
Now to be fair, there were a few girls who thought I cut a nice figure in my dress blues. Seeing a certain girl’s eyes the first time she saw the newly minted sailor was worth the endless push ups and grinder runs in boot camp. But once you return to base and are surrounded by other sailors similarly dressed, the magic wore off a bit.
After doing one four year tour on active duty I came home (like many other vets) to a population that was in recession. Jobs were non-existent and the economy was spiraling out of control. Being a vet meant shit to a war weary country so after struggling in the reserves for a few years doing less than minimum wage jobs I went back on active duty and never looked back. The Navy provided me with the best adventures of all from that point on. In fact, April 24, 1981 marked the commissioning of the USS San Francisco (SSN 711) and that started the most memorable part of the journey.
Within six years I made Chief then Warrant and got my education. There were a lot of sacrifices along the way with my wife in tow and we only did one shore duty (5 boats, a tender and a drydock) I retired in 94 and have been working in business and industry almost non-stop since then. Its nice when people remember to say thanks but I have long since figured out that we are subject to the whims of the nation and its “leadership” No one owes me a thing. I went for the adventure and can truly say I got what I went for. Anything else is gravy and as tenuous as the daffodils in my garden – here today and gone tomorrow with every change in the weather and the wind.
There is an old saying in the Navy that we picked our rates and certainly that had a lot to do with our fates. But for any submariner, you can be proud of yourself if you wear the dolphins of a qualified man. Expecting much else from non-submariners is a fools errand. No one but a fellow submariner can understand the sacrifices, the challenges, the personal nature of the business and the real hardships we often suffered. No real submariner will ever reveal all of the times we did things we knew were not supposed to do. The Cold War was a lot hotter than many people will ever know. I don’t ever remember anybody ever telling me their life was worth the $55.00 a month sub pay we were so generously given. But as so many of my shipmates have said over the years, I would gladly do it all over again.
I am a blest man for the friendships and relationships developed over those many years. It does touch me when a younger person sees “Navy” on my hat or jacket and remembers to say thanks. I’d like to think they know what they are thanking people like me for but in the end, all that matters is that when my country needed me, I was able to meet the test and answer her needs.
20 thoughts on “A little respect… 42 years later, its still not that big of a deal”
Thank You, Bob!
You are welcome my love
Well said and thanks. Respectfully, ex SSN RO ’72-’74
Bless you for your service!
Thanks Debby. Our Dad’s led the way
I believe that if Robert Ritchie was still alive he would salute you.
As a Canadian I would like to thank you for what you done for your country. I appreciate it.
Lest we forget…
As a footnote…
I have been to many places in Canada and seen the grace and beauty of its citizens. While we are separated by a common border, I pray that we will always focus more on the things that unite us.
I am French-Canadian and I have found many relatives of mine that are descendants of my ancestors.
My journey through time has been quite amazing, and I found amazing people along the way, one of which was Donna who was Odna Lagasse’s granddaughter.
Donna is the one who shared all of Robert Ritchie’s mementoes. I met Donna on the Internet when she found my blog, then I met her in Connecticut when I visited my third cousin Joe. That meeting was quite an epiphany!
My grandfather Stanislas Lagacé emigrated to Connecticut in 1889. He changed his name to Dennis Lagasse. My grandfather Léo Sr. came back to Quebec in 1907.
I knew nothing about my roots until 2007 when I got hooked on genealogy. This passion led me to write a blog, and down the line I found your post about What to tell our grandchildren?
You have to click on the link on the above post to fully understand why I have been writing since 2009…
Reblogged this on theleansubmariner and commented:
Four years has gone by since this post. Even more water under the keel. It just keeps getting better though. I am on chapter ten of my book about a real American hero and hope to have it finished by this summer. In the meantime, here is a short blog about respect.
Nice Mac. I look forward to reading the book. You made an impact on me many years ago and for that I hold you among the many who helped shape me.
Thanks John. You left a good impression on me as well. I think of Western Michigan often and miss many of my old friends and comrades.
You know how much I respect undersea warriors (and other military) One of the good things about traveling around inside the grocery store is looking for, and finding, veterans to thank…and ask what service and duty. Makes my day. Nice to see that you’re on chapter 10. Editing is a whole other story…it’s a bear, usually. “I don’t get no respect” Rodney said. Enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCaDKtFsQQg
Thanks my sister. I am plugging away at it and will be ready for the edit mill soon. The ideas are what matter. The story tells itself but I will be looking forward to the right editing that will make the story stronger. I have already been through the process once with another project and it is a bit humbling. But if it helps the reader, that is all that matters. I have this vision in my head for what it should look like. I have lived with that vision for a few years now and it is very compelling. The more I have dig into the source material, the more I realize that there is a reason for writing this book.
There are probably far too few of us who thank veterans enough, but I certainly try to do my part.
What’s going on with your health? I would think being off of Facebook would certainly benefit one’s blood pressure numbers…it is still a cesspool in many ways.
Health is excellent. Just got off the treadmill from my early morning walk. Looking forward to the weather getting better so I can do it outside everyday. Hope you are well.
All good in Tennessee! Hugs to all.
Reblogged this on Tales of an Asia Sailor.
Reblogged this on SSBN-727.ORG.