I like standing on deck at sunrise with salt spray in my face and clean ocean winds whipping in from the four quarters of the globe-the ship beneath me feeling like a living thing as her engines drive her through the sea.
I like the sounds of the Navy-the piercing sound of the boatswain's pipe, the clang of the ships bell on the quarterdeck, the squawk of the 1MC and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
I like the vessels of the Navy-nervous darting destroyers, sleep submarines, laboring amphibs and steady solid carriers.
I like the proud name of Carriers Midway, Lexington, Saratoga, Coral Sea-memorials of battles won.
I like the lean angular names of the Navy "tin-cans" Barney, Dahlgren, Mullinix, Cowell, Haynsworth, Parsons, McCloy-memorials of heroes who went before us.
I like liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port.
I like the surge of adventure in my heart when the word is passed, "Now go to your stations all the special sea and anchor detail- that is, " Now go to your stations all the special sea and anchor detail - all hands to quarter for getting underway."
I like the serenity of the sea after a day of hard ship's work, as flying fish flit across the wave tops and sunset gives way to night.
I like the feel of the Navy in darkness-the masthead lights, the red and green navigation lights and stern light, the pulsating phosphorescence of the ship's wake.
I like drifting off to sleep lulled by the noises large and small that tells me that my ship is alive and well, and that my shipmates on watch will keep us safe.
I like quiet mid-watches with the aroma of strong coffee.
I like the sudden electricity of "General Quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations," followed by the hurried clamor of running feet on ladders and the resounding thump of watertight doors as the ship transforms in a few brief seconds from a peaceful workplace to a weapon or war-ready for anything.
I like the traditions of the Navy and the men and women who made them.
I like the proud names of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John Paul Jones.
In years to come when sailors are home from the sea, they will still remember with fondness and respect the ocean in all its moods - the impossible shimmering mirror calm and the storm - tossed green water surging over the bow. And then there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, a faint echo of the engines and a vision of bright signal flags snapping at the yardarm, a sound of hearty laughter on the mess decks.
Gone ashore for good they will grow wistful about their Navy days, when the sea belonged to them and a new port of call was ever over the horizon.
Remember this, they will stand taller and say:
" I WAS A SAILOR ONCE. I WAS PART OF THE NAVY.