One night a Sailor had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Chief. Across the sky flashed scenes from his Navy career. For each scene he noticed two sets of bootprints in the sand; one belonged to him, and the other to the Chief.
When the last scene of his career flashed before him, he looked back at the bootprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his career there was only one set of bootprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his career.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Chief about it. "Chief, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that at the worst times in my career, there is only one set of bootprints. How could you leave me when I needed you the most?"
The Chief replied "My precious, precious Shipmate, I love my Navy and would never leave its Sailors. During your times of suffering and when you see only one set of bootprints, it was then that I carried you."