In my Navy career, I was many things.
Machinist Mate, Submariner, Career Counselor, Master Training Specialist, Docking Officer on a Floating Drydock and Engineering Officer of the Watch on board a large surface ship.
But before I was any of those, I was a boomer sailor.
Boomers of course are the nicknames for Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN).
Our mission was to prove to our enemies that if they fired first, the response would be so devastating they should not even consider firing first. For forty years I have had a dream. It is not every night. It only comes when something in the world goes a little crazy. The day I wrote this was one of those days not long ago. When politicians start talking about consequences for using military action, I wonder if they ever have the same dreams?
This will probably not make much sense unless you were there.
On my boomers, the only place I could escape from the endless drills and work was my rack. Inside that small coffin like space you had the only moments of personal escape you might find for months at a time. Sometimes that wasn’t such a great thing. At the end of one of my earliest patrols on the George Washington, we performed a routine missile launch to test the accuracy of the missiles and the competency of the crew and boat. I had worked very hard to get my sub quals done in one run. Believe me, it wasn’t so much out of ultra professionalism back in those early days, it was the realization that qualified men no longer had to mess crank. I think mess cranking should be a requirement for every person on the planet. You quickly learn a work ethic and humbleness all in one shot.
As a reward for the work I did, the Captain had me brought to the Wardroom to participate in the shoot in a very unique way. I got to pick the missile numbers out of his hat. It felt pretty awesome to be selected for this task and I was really honored. But shortly after the very successful launch, a version of this dream started happening.
I had it again last week as North Korea was rattling a very dangerous sabre.
I used to have this crazy dream
That woke me up in sweat
I’d barely just laid down my head
It can’t be my watch yet?
The lights were on in berthing
And every rack was bare
The boat was barely moving
There was nothing in the air.
I went into the mess decks
And not a soul was there
The plates and cups were all in place
They’d all been placed with care.
Above in the control room
The crew could not be found
The boat was auto hovering
And barely made a sound
Above the conning station
A clock of black and red
Was slowly ticking down the time
The world would soon be dead.
The only thing required to fire
Was just a single hand
With fingers gripping tightly
It would all go off as planned.
I’d squeeze the trigger slowly
And one by one they’d fire
As each bird left their tube
They flew into the pyre.
I used to have this crazy dream
That all the world was gone
And I was on a submarine
That just sailed on and on.
3 thoughts on “A Boomer Sailor’s Dream”
Mac, I’ve wondered if they ever think about things like that as well. And your dream, well, it reminds me of Nevil Shutes “On the Beach” which I read in about 7th grade and haunted me for years, still does, some days.
I vaguely remember the movie. I am sure that people who have never actually servd rarely think about the big picture stuff
Probably so, but I did, maybe because I had my dreams. Never saw the movie, that I remember, but the book moved me.