March 23, 2014

A Sailor, not a Marine, not a Seal...

Every so often, I get reports from friends who describe my history in the armed service, saying that I was a marine or a Navy Seal. No, no, no I respond, I was a sailor. I say in half jest: "Think Gene Kelly", so as to shift the reference. I wasn't a special operator, not in the elite special forces, not a combat marine. I was in the post Vietnam Navy, my ship was a cruiser in the South Pacific and the most action I saw was the rescue of Vietnamese diaspora, "boat people" in the South China Sea, and not many boats at that. It was the beginning of the long post war peacetime interregnum and all that my ship did was to run exercises, training and visit ports of call. If you could interpolate Gene Kelly's and Jack Nicholson's portrayals in the videos that bracket this blogpost, you might come pretty close to my experience in the military. The Last Detail captured much of the feel of the environment and characters that I had met along the way: the old salts, the raw naiveté of the new recruits, the crusted system naval bureaucracy. That movie was uncanny in its verisimilitude. The only aspect not captured there is the peek into the future that I and my fellow swabbies were privileged to witness, where computers were connected to radar sensors, where the real world gave birth to a virtual one, where ships, aircraft and satellites shared data streams twenty or thirty years before the public at large did the same thing.

Posted by Dennis at March 23, 2014 4:49 PM

Leave a comment