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A Sailor's Dying Wish
November 14, 2013 11:04 AM   Subscribe

I really don't have anything to add to this. They piped him ashore. CMDCM Grgetich leaned in and quietly told me how significant that honor was and who it’s usually reserved for as we headed towards the gangplank. Hearing “Electrician’s Mate Second Class William Bud Cloud, Pearl Harbor Survivor, departing” announced over the 1MC was surreal.
posted by COD (39 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lost my sailor dad a year ago Monday. He served on a destroyer too, but during the Cold War. I wanted so badly to tour a destroyer with him like the one he served on. I'm sitting here at my desk with tears streaming down my cheeks. Miss you, pop.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:26 AM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


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they really need to do something about the dust in this office - there seems to be something in my eye
posted by cyclotronboy at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


and quietly told me how significant that honor was and who it’s usually reserved for

Dumb civilian question: How significant an honor is it, and who is it usually reserved for?
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:36 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My dad, a WWII veteran, just survived a major health crisis. He's been talking a lot about his Navy days lately. He shouldn't even be alive after what happened to him, yet his 92nd birthday will be in December. That was one tough generation.
posted by tommasz at 11:39 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honors and Salutes of the US Navy. Looks like they went a little above and beyond the usual 6 or 8 sideboys.
posted by endotoxin at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


How significant an honor is it, and who is it usually reserved for?

Ship's captains and above, I think?
posted by elizardbits at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2013


Now there are two. There are two _______ piping someone ashore is a courtesy usually only afforded senior officers. Mr. Cloud was an enlisted sailor and would not normally have been piped on or off a ship.
posted by tommasz at 11:42 AM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Both of my parents are retired Navy vets, and reading this story made me cry uncontrollably. That's very moving.

All the funerals I've ever been to thus far have been military funerals, and I know when the time comes for my parents (hopefully a long time from now!) that no matter how hard I try, when they do the 21 gun salute that I'll be crying like a baby.
posted by EricGjerde at 11:46 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. Lovely, just lovely.

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posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2013


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posted by mule98J at 11:49 AM on November 14, 2013


I don't know if its because I grew up in a Navy family, or just that I'm still surprisingly human, because there's an awful lot of water coming out of my face after reading that.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 11:50 AM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


(thanks, tommasz.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:52 AM on November 14, 2013


Thank you.
posted by Dr Ew at 11:54 AM on November 14, 2013


Dang, it's awful dusty in here, too.

Makes me think of all my father's friends who came to his services: half of them crusty old Navy master chiefs, and the other half equally-crusty old admirals, all of them united under the single tag 'shipmates' --- 'cause once you earn that shipmate label, it's forever. (Oh, and EricGjerde? Let me warn you now about that 21-gun salute.... we knew it was coming, but my siblings and I all still flinched in unison. I was holding it together till then, but firing that salute ripped me wide open.)
posted by easily confused at 12:00 PM on November 14, 2013


Even dumber civilian question: this is the kind of pipe we're talking about, right?
posted by XMLicious at 12:00 PM on November 14, 2013


XMLicious: yes, that's it. For such a little thing, it can make a big sound.
posted by easily confused at 12:02 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me warn you now about that 21-gun salute.... we knew it was coming, but my siblings and I all still flinched in unison. I was holding it together till then, but firing that salute ripped me wide open

Yep. Always louder than you think, too.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:03 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


*tears*

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posted by gaspode at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2013


I just sent this to my father, after I dried my eyes. He is a Navy vet (Vietnam), so younger than Mr. Cloud. He is also being treated for a significant cancer (don't smoke, kids). He's been reminiscing a lot about his time as a machinist's mate, and I think this will speak to him.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 12:20 PM on November 14, 2013


I have no affiliation to the Navy, apart from having read a lot of Patrick O'Brian, and can confirm that yes, it's dusty in here.

That was lovely, COD. Thanks for sharing.
posted by coppermoss at 12:22 PM on November 14, 2013


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Thank you for sharing. Wow.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:23 PM on November 14, 2013


Bless 'em.

When I talk to my parents & in-laws now -- they're getting older -- I listen for small requests. They never ask me for much of anything, and if it turns out there's something they'll want in their last days then by God I want to make sure they get it. And if anyone asks me for a hand with a thing like this, I want to show up and pitch in.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:34 PM on November 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fair winds and following seas, Bud.

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posted by MoonOrb at 12:48 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thank you. Brought me to tears.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2013


Bravo Zulu to the new Dewey crew. Bravo Zulu!

Here's a link to EM2 Cloud's Dewey's Wikipedia entry. It saw significant action and I can tell you living on board an old "tin can" (destroyer) would not have been a picnic in the best of conditions, which were not the conditions Petty Officer Cloud and his shipmates endured. I served in the Navy on a number of ships and was assigned temporarily to a Korean era tin can and it was harsh compared to a sleek Spruance Class (I'm dating myself)

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posted by Mojojojo at 1:16 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 21-gun salute is startling. The presentation of the flag is...difficult.

This is a lovely story and I've had to push back a phone meeting 5 minutes so I can un-shake my voice.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:18 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually attended a Navy retirement today (of a CW03). This was really touching, and a terrific tribute to the officers & sailors of the Dewey.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2013


A wonderful story. Old sailors have a kind of class only younger sailors can hope to rival. Wish we'd been able to do something like this for my Grandad, a commended merchant navy engineer. Best we could do was the ferry to Cuxhaven.
posted by runincircles at 2:53 PM on November 14, 2013


You don't get piped aboard or departing with sideboys unless you are a high ranking official i.e rear admiral or above, or a senior member of government.

Captains, commodores and admirals are announced according to their position - a captain is piped aboard or departing with the name of their command, for example the captain of the Dewey (even though he is a commander, he is addressed as Captain of the ship he commands) is piped aboard with "USS Dewey, arriving" or, less formally, "Dewey, arriving". Side boys aren't present until you get a rear admiral or above.

The honor they bestowed - I counted eight sideboys on each side - is well above what even the President gets. These sailors truly honored EM2 Cloud's service as only the Navy can.

Fair winds and following seas, old salt.
posted by disclaimer at 4:38 PM on November 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


What are ships' coins?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:46 PM on November 14, 2013


The most surreal piping I ever heard was when the president came aboard and it was announced over the 1MC "United States, arriving."
posted by MoonOrb at 5:36 PM on November 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and a ship's coin is literally a coin that is embossed with the name of the ship, and maybe a crest or seal or something. They're traded--it's a kind of collectible.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:38 PM on November 14, 2013


Fellow sailor here, part of a long familial history of USN/USMC service. Really touched by this. Here's an example of a captain departing...

I once had the honor to witness a burial at sea for an old salt. A sad but warm reminder of being part of a fellowship that stretches all the way back through the mists of time to Ulysses.
posted by CincyBlues at 7:49 PM on November 14, 2013


Incredibly sweet.
posted by arnicae at 7:53 PM on November 14, 2013


seeing these old soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and remembering how freely and how much they gave, they and the victorious dead, makes me recall my "Gettysburg Address" and how Lincoln said that "from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion."

They gave their last full measure of devotion in their prime, and went on to live, by and large, quiet lives thereafter. I find it difficult to express my admiration of them.

Fair winds and following seas to the old salts, and a well deserved rest to all those then preceded and will follow Bud.

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posted by StrangeTikiGod at 11:17 PM on November 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Former Navy employee here: a "ship's coin" was also called a "command coin" at my research lab, and they are more generally called Challenge Coins. A Commanding Officer (of a ship or a shore installation) can give them out as an official "good job" token.

Fair winds and following seas to EM2 Cloud.

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posted by jason6 at 7:52 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The most surreal piping I ever heard was when the president came aboard and it was announced over the 1MC "United States, arriving."


The piping is done when the dignitary approaches, not when he or she actually boards. This resulted in a slightly more surreal piping that I heard:

About 1990, President Bush was in the Caribbean for a summit--I want to say it was in Bermuda, but my memory isn't that exact. The Navy frigate I was serving on was detailed to assist with security (basically just making circles in the water off the coast, running our radar and sonar). The President had some free time, so he wanted to tour our ship. They brought him out in a rubber boat, and the call went over the 1MC, "United States, arriving!" Unfortunately, the seas were a little rough as they approached our accomodation ladder, and they had to back off, wait a little, and try again. A few minutes later, "United States, arriving!" but the seas were still too rough. We heard "United States, arriving!" about three or four times in all, before they gave up and headed back to land.
posted by ogooglebar at 9:47 AM on November 15, 2013


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posted by chaosys at 11:15 AM on November 15, 2013


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loved this!
posted by honey badger at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2013


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