January 13, 2009 by esarsea
My son Hugh leaves today onboard the USS John C. Stennis for a 6 to 8 month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean. Deploying with my son are the ashes of my wife’s late father, “Chief of the Boat” William F. Heffelmire, for burial at sea.
We were fortunate to have a family member deploying at this time. It was Heff’s wishes to be buried at sea. Hugh and “Grumpy” (as the grandkids called him) were quite fond of each other. Hugh would often stop by to visit Grumpy after school to play cards, or for a game of pool in the basement.
Although Heff was a sub sailor, I don’t think he would mind his final deployment being on a surface ship, as long as he was with family.
Pictured in the photos are images of the USS John C Stennis underway.
“When your final dive is made, and your battery’s running low,
You’ll know there lies a boat for you many fathoms here below,
With your annunciators jammed on full and your depth guage needles bent,
Your accumulator’s dry of oil and your air banks all are spent,
It’s then you get to wonderin’, “is my life’s boat rigged for dive?”
Your guessing drill commences, “am i dead or still alive?”
You pace the flooded decks with scorn and curse the flaws of man.
Into realms of rex you’ve stepped, and here you’ll make your stand.
To live your life, as sailors must, at the bottom of the sea.
There’s one you’ll have to reckon-that one, my friend, is thee.
Will your conscience do you justice when the final muster’s in?
Did you lead the kind of life you should in every port you’ve been?
The answers to these questions and many, many more,
Are locked in the hearts of sailormen from cannes to singapore.
So, when your day for mast rolls ’round. the choice is up to you,
Sailor chart your course of life right now. chart it straight and true.
Now’s the time to flood your tanks and trim up ‘fore and aft.
It’s a trifle late when the klaxon sounds to square away your craft.
Your final billet lies below, on “old ocean’s” floor.
So, be ready when that last word’s passed.
Sailor, rest your oar!
Poem courtesy of goatlockler.com