FIELD DAY ON A GEARING FRAM 1B DESTROYER
I had the good fortune to spend 4 days aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, DD-850
in May, 2014. There is no destroyer anywhere in the world that so closely resembles
the USS James E. Kyes. If your memory fails you after all these years about what it
was like to live aboard the Kyes, then here is an opportunity like no other. I, and
70 other volunteers lived aboard DD-850 and ate 3 meals a day in the mess deck.
I helped to paint the torpedo deck and reminisced about my Navy days with sailors
who served aboard ships in WW-11, Korea, Vietnam and are even serving today aboard
the USS Zumwalt. Some of the volunteers have been doing this since 1974.
I brought my camera and my GoPro, so I now have lots of videos and pics to show
at the next Kyes reunion. I hope to do this again next year and I highly recommend
that other Kyes shipmates join me in this adventure.
All Hands Magazine sent a film crew and wrote a story about this ship and the
dedication of U.S. Navy Destroyer Veterans in trying to preserve this heritage.
Roger Donnay - Secretary, USS James E. Kyes Association
ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN
I liked the Navy. I liked standing on deck on a long voyage with the sea in my
John O'Neil, Captain USN (Retired) Jacksonville FL
face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere-the feel of the giant steel ship
beneath me, it's engine driving against the sea. I liked the Navy. I liked the
clang of steel, the ringing of the bell, the foghorns and strong laughter of
Navy men at work. I liked the ships of the Navy-nervous darting destroyers,
sleek cruisers, majestic battle ships, steady solid carriers and stealthy submarines.
I like the names of the Navy ships: Midway, Hornet, Enterprise, SeaWolf, Iwo Jima,
Wasp, Shangri-La, and Constitution-majestic ships of the line. I like the bounce
of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy Band, "Liberty Whites" and the spice scent
of a foreign port. I like shipmates I've sailed with...the kid from the Iowa
cornfield, a pal from New York's eastside, an Irishman from Boston, the boogie
boarders of California, and of course a drawling friendly Texan. From all parts
of the land they came-farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England- from the
cities, the mountains and the prairies. All Americans, All are comrades in arms.
All are men of the sea. I liked the adventure in my heart when the ship puts out
to sea, and I liked the electric thrill of sailing home again, with the waving
hands of welcome from family and friends waiting on shore.
The work was hard, the going rough at times, but there's the companionship of
robust Navy laughter, the devil-may-care philosophy of the sea. And after a day
of hard duty, there is a serenity of the sea at dusk, as white caps dance on the
ocean waves. The sea at night is mysterious. I liked the lights of the Navy in
darkness-the masthead lights, and red/green sidelights and stern lights. They
cut through the night and look like a mirror of stars in darkness..
There are quiet nights and the quiet of the mid-watch when the ghosts of all the
Sailors of the world stand with you. And there is the aroma of fresh coffee from the galley.
I like the legends of the Navy and the men who made them. I like the proud names
of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut and John Paul Jones. A man can
find much in the Navy-comrades in arms, pride in a county. A man can find himself.
In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea, he will still remember
with fondness the ocean spray on his face when the sea is angry. There will still
come a faint aroma of fresh paint in his nostrils, the echo of hearty laughter of
the seafaring men who once were close companions.
Locked on land, he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas belonged to
him and a new port of call was always over the horizon..
Remembering this, he will stand taller and say, "ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN" Amen!