Monday, October 21, 2013


Rick Becker
12:29pm Oct 1
From the Shellback Group

238 years of Navy Tradition unhampered by Progress died today

Death of Navy Tradition By Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Sousa (ret.)

An obituary for Navy Tradition (USN, retired)— 1775-2013: In a press release from Washing­ton D. C., the Navy Department an­nounced the death of Navy Tradition today after a long illness.

Navy Tradition was born into a world of turmoil and revolution in 1775. Starting with nothing as a child, Navy Tradition evolved to be­come an essential part of the most powerful Navy the world had ever seen. He was present when James Lawrence ordered “Don’t give up the ship” as he lay mortally wound­ed on the deck of the Chesapeake. He witnessed cannon balls bounc­ing off the copper-shielded sides of the USS Constitution, “Old Iron­sides.”

He fought pirates off the Barbary Coast and suffered with his ship­mates on the battleship Arizona during the attack at Pearl Harbor. He fought his way across the Pacif­ic with Nimitz and saw MacArthur fulfill his promise to return to the Philippines. Navy Tradition was there when sailors fought bravely to save the frigate Stark after it was hit by a cruise missile and wit­nessed the launch of Tomahawk missiles from the battleship Mis­souri at the outset of Desert Storm.

Through all the strife, good times and bad, Navy Tradition was there to support his shipmates and give a balance to the misery that some­times accompanied a life at sea. Be the nation at peace or at war, Navy Tradition made sure that we al­ways remembered we were sailors.

He made sure that promotions were celebrated with an appropri­ate “wetting down”; crows, dol­phins and wings were tacked on as a sign of respect from those already so celebrated; chiefs were promot­ed in solemn ceremony after being “initiated” by their fellow brethren; and only those worthy were al­lowed to earn the title “shellback.”

But in his later years, Navy Tra­dition was unable to fight the can­cer of political correctness. He tired as his beloved Navy went from providing rations of rum to its sail­ors to conducting Breathalyzer tests on the brow. He weakened as he saw “Going into harm’s way” turn into “Cover your backside,” and as “Wooden ships and iron men” morphed into “U.S. Navy, Inc.”

A lifelong friend of Navy Tradi­tion recalled a crossing-the-equa­tor ceremony during World War II: “ I had to eat a cherry out of the belly button of the fattest sailor on the ship. It was disgusting. But for that few minutes, it took our minds off the war and to this day it is one of my greatest memories.”

In lieu of flowers, the family of Navy Tradition has asked that all sailors who have earned their shellback and drunk their dol­phins; who remember sore arms from where their crows were tacked on and were sent on a search for “relative bearing grease” or a length of “water line”; who’ve been through chiefs’ initiation or an­swered ship’s call in a bar fight in some exotic port of call, to raise a toast one more time and remember Navy Tradition in his youth and grandeur.

Fair winds and following seas, Shipmate. You will be missed.
Death of Navy Tradition By Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Sousa (ret.)








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