I’ve been following this thing about the Captain, then Exec, of the USS Enterprise and his videos, and I am, to say the least, a bit bemused by the whole thing. I did tell you I served in the Navy, didn’t I? Well, it was a different freaking Navy, and I’m not sure I’d want to serve in this one.
For one thing, why did this guy, as Executive Officer of one of our major nuclear powered aircraft carriers, have that much free time on his hands? Really, he had so little real work to do that he had time to spend making these stupid freak films? You have to be kidding me. The Navy I served in kept our officers a whole hell of a lot busier than that.
The other thing is that, while our officers would occasionally crack a joke with us, there was a real sense of separation between officers and enlisted. The officers were always just a little bit aloof with us, and I think we wanted it that way. That was part of the sense we had of their dependability and, as a “white hat,” the first thing I wanted my officers to convey was an aura of dependability. I wanted them to be men whom I could admire, look up to.
Now, I’ll grant that was a different age, half a century ago, and a different kind of ship. Guys on an aircraft carrier probably don’t really give much thought to the possibility that their ship might sink out from under them; something that submariners give quite a lot of thought to, especially when with each dive the hull is creaking, groaning, banging and generally sounding as if it is about to disintegrate. We had a sense of impending doom that the bird farm sailors probably do not.
But a ship of any kind when at sea is a very special kind of environment, and I think John Paul Jones had it right when he said that a naval officer had to be more than merely capable, but needed also to be of, “refined manners, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor.”
I’ve always liked that description, because it actually fit virtually every Navy officer I ever served under. It was part of what I treasured about Navy tradition, and about serving in that honorable service. It saddens me greatly that it seems to have gone by the wayside.