Fellow Ship Mate

I am writing this blog to honor and say thank you to a fellow ship mate who has gone above and beyond of just being a member of the crew of the USS Monticello.  Bob and his wife Maria Behm have been the ones getting the reunion together for several years now. I came aboard the Mo boat as we call her in 1968, I was an engineman which meant I took care of the engines on the 4 boats that we carried on board the ship. Bob came on board in 1969 and he was a Boatswain mate and part of their job was to be a Coxswain’s who would drive the boats and so we worked together some in this capacity. Bob read a poem that he put together about his time in the Navy and on the Monticello. Hear is his poem, it touched me also as he read it and so I would like to share it to show his love for the Navy and the Monticello. Thank you again Bob ( Beamer) Behm.

Beamer’s Memory

This is nothing less than a GRAND occasion. We are all shipmates
and family drawn together by the memory of our great ship USS
Monticello (Moboat).

I entered the Navy on March 26, 1969 just 26 days after turning 17. I
weighed a whopping 125 pounds! I progressed through boot camp in Great
Lakes and was finally sent to San Diego to begin my duty aboard the
Monticello. The ship’s crew was preparing for their journey to Bremerton,
Washington for an extensive dry dock period. I settled into my job as a deck
ape without much trouble and began to like the jobs that I was being
assigned.

It will come as no surprise to you that I liked the Navy! I liked standing on
the bridge wing as port lookout at sunrise with the salt spray in my face.
And clean ocean winds whipping in from the four corners of the globe. The
ship beneath me feeling like a living thing as her engines drive her through
the seas!

I liked the sounds of the Navy. The piercing trill of the Boatswain’s call.
The clang of the ship’s bell. The harsh squawk of the 1MC. The strong
language and laughter of my fellow Sailors at work! The Navy is where I
truly learned to cuss!

I liked the ships of the Navy, nervous darting LST’s, majestic battleships,
sleek submarines and the steady solid carriers.

I liked the proud names of Navy ships — MIDWAY, LEXINGTON,
SARATOGA, CORAL SEA, memories of great battles won and great
men who died in them.

I liked the tempo of a Navy band as we pull away from the oiler after we
refuel at sea!

I liked liberty call and the spicy scent of a foreign port. Hell! I even like
the smell of Olongapo!

I liked talking to “the ladies of the evening” giving my coins to the
ever- present children.

I liked all hands, men from all parts of the land. Farms of the Midwest, from
Nebraska, New England, the towns, the cities, from all walks of life. I
trusted and depended on them as they trusted and depended on me for
comradeship! I had one young sailor ask me to tie a double bowline for him
so that he could hang over the side, because he trusted my ability.

I liked the surge of adventure in my heart when the word is passed, “Now
station the special sea and anchor detail. All hands to quarters for leaving
port.” And I like the infectious thrill of sighting home port again with the
waving hands of welcome from family and friends.

The work is hard and dangerous. The going is rough at times. The parting
from loved ones painful, but the “All for one and one for all” philosophy of
the sea is always present.

I liked our guns! The loud bang! I liked seeing the sleeve flutter to the water
after we hit the tow line.

I liked the serenity of the sea after a day of hard work as flying fish flit
across the wave tops.

I liked watching the porpoise play chicken with the bow of the ship.

I liked the Navy in darkness, the masthead lights, the red and green
port, starboard, and white stern lights.

I liked drifting off to sleep, lulled by the countless noises that tell me that
the ship is alive and well and that my shipmates on watch will keep me
safe. I feared total silence.

I liked the quiet mid-watch with the aroma of strong coffee
permeating everywhere.

I liked the hectic watches when the exacting minuet of haze gray ships
racing at flank speed keeps all hands on a razor edge of alertness. I like the
sudden electricity of the “gong” of general quarters, “All hands man your
battle stations.”

I liked the traditions of the Navy and those who made them.

I liked the slang of the Navy: Fore, Aft, Port, Starboard, Snipe, Deck
Ape and “Turn to.”

I liked the names of Navy heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, John
Paul Jones and the Sullivan brothers.

A Sailor can find much to like in the Navy: comrades-in-arms; pride in
self and service to country; mastery of the seaman’s trade. A young man
can find adulthood.

And so in the years to come, when Sailors have come home from the sea,
they will still remember with fondness and respect the ocean in all its
moods. The impossible, shimmering mirror calms, and the storm-tossed
green water surging over the bow. And then there will come again a faint
whiff of cordite from the guns, the odor of stack gas, a faint echo of
engine and rudder orders, a vision of the bright bunting of flags snapping
at the yardarm, the faint refrain of hearty laughter on the mess decks.
Chiefs quarters and mess decks. Gone ashore for good. They will grow
wistful about their Navy days when they were part of the sea and a new
port of call was over the horizon.

And so I ask you to charge your glasses. Stand tall and say with me, “I
WAS ONCE A MOBOAT SAILOR.”

Thank you and may God bless you and the United States of America!

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15 thoughts on “Fellow Ship Mate

  1. Hi Jim, Thank you for sharing this wonderful essay. When I was a scout leader, we would take the scouts up to Fall River, Massachusetts to stay at the Battleship Massachusetts for a week or so. The United States Navy always treated the scouts like royalty!

    Liked by 1 person

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