25 March 2008

Farewell to Paradise

For the last two weeks, the ship buzzed with activity. But now, the storerooms and magazines are full, and the last items, the fresh fruits and vegetables, were loaded on Friday. Finally, after a deceptive calm overtook the ship for the weekend as RUSSELL’s crew finished their personal business and packing - and savored their last hours at home - RUSSELL took in all lines yesterday at 1:29 PM and headed fair for sea.

U.S. Navy Photo

My weekend overflowed with many of the routine activities of a holiday weekend – an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday and services and dinner on Sunday. I squeezed in the critical items on my “Honey Do” list, and even managed to pack most of my last-minute items without detracting from the family time. Still, Monday morning came all too quickly, and after making my spouse’s favorite comfort foods for breakfast, Eggs Benedict with tomato and asparagus and Mexican chocolate mocha, we piled into the car for an unusually quiet drive to the ship. Finally, after the last of the goodbyes and prayers of Godspeed, the business of the day surged to the forefront.

Now go to your stations all the Special Sea and Anchor Detail

The hard work and planning that went into a fast cruise and one-day underway after our leave periods expired manifested itself immediately when the Officer of the Deck ordered the sea detail to their stations. Long periods in port tend to dull our mariner skills, and when we pretended to go to sea on the 15th and went to sea on the 18th for the day, the ship struggled here and there to execute the plan. Not so on “Game Day”. All hands were on station and on time, and with the exception of one bridgewing pelorus, all our equipment worked as designed. In what felt like no time at all, heat billowed from the stacks and all lines were hauled on deck, and the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch’s whistle screeched over the ship’s announcing system as he called out, “Underway. Shift colors.”

Soon, we were bidding farewell to Mighty Mo’ and turning out of the basin for the channel. As we pulled away from the pier, though, the crowd struck me as unusually thin. I soon discovered why. All along the channel, the shores were dotted with small groups and individuals gathered to say their goodbyes and wave as the ship passed. A man and three children perched on rock at the water's edge, and stood at attention and saluted. The ship’s whistle howled one prolonged blast in farewell as we passed the final group, left our home behind, and hurried off to undertake the potentially deadly business at hand.


Steeljaw Scribe said...

Fair winds and bon chance XO. 'twill be following the Russell's exploits here and in my more official capacity. Re. the departure crowd - I well remember waiting to see the crowds at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel waving to us as we were outbound - that was my marker that we were well and truly on the way out.

Anonymous said...

Have a good one guys!

Eric said...

Having found you by chance earlier today, I wish you all Godspeed and God's watchful eye as you go about your duties. Know that there are many here you may never meet praying daily for each one of you.

On another note, I am impressed with what you are doing with this blog and may share it (with discretion) with my fifth grade students.

Safe journeys to you all!

historyguy99 said...

Came your way by Galrahn's link.

Looking forward to following your journey. "Farwell Paradise" caught the mood of shipping out as well as I've ever read.

Well written!

ELP said...

Congrats on the new blog and best wishes for a safe war patrol. Not much looks better than a Burke class with that over-sized U.S. flag flying.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good blog, you are right that we don't hear much about the Navy in the War on Terror. I'm looking forward to reading your posts about the ship's duties. Wishing you Fair winds and following seas!

David Axe said...

Looking forward to the blog. Just keep in mind the Coast Guard's cautionary tale:


LCDR Chris van Avery, USN, Executive Officer said...

We're well versed in the cautionary tales, that's why we've constructed to posting rules as they are - to keep everyone, including me, accountable to the readers and higher authorities.

The Lizard said...

Good luck! I was on a ship in company for RUSSELL's first deployment. It's hard to believe how long that's been, and I still beat myself over not getting one of those ball caps!

Sail safe.


SJBill said...

XO van Avery and RSL crew,

Have a great cruise and get on home safely.

I head a rumor that DDG ship's stores have brown shoe polish for sale. That said, give a big howdy to the Air Group. Keep 'em flying!

-SJBill (late AX, from the good old days)

LCDR Chris van Avery, USN, Executive Officer said...

Sorry, no Air Det aboard RUSSELL - or any Flight I DDG. We've got a deck, but no hangars or associated maintenance spaces.

Gary Cruse said...

RSS'ed and QAP, sir.
Gcruse RM2 1961-65

andrew said...

Fair winds, good luck and good hunting.

Will be following your adventure with interest. Thanks for your service.

Anonymous said...

This was a great idea, CDR Avery. I'll be keeping an eye out for your blog every day for updates.

Byron, who has worked on three of your sisters: Carney, The Sullivans, and Roosevelt, and who thinks the Burkes are the best looking destroyer that ever put to sea.

MishMosh said...

This is a great idea for a blog. Thank you for posting it. I was working in the penalty box on the pier when the Russell glided by, it was a very moving sight, moreso because I know & care about people aboard. I wish you fair winds, good luck and will be sure to check the blog daily for updates. Aloha.

Rosemary said...

Gosh, after reading all these comments, I feel a bit clueless. (As far as initials. lol)

From a woman's pov: I found this post to be very touching. Very good job.

I noticed that that you do not have Soldiers' Angels listed as one of your links. Are you aware of them? If you have any Seamen who do not have anyone writing to them or sending carepackages to them, give SA an email. We'll hook you us.

May No Seaman Go Unloved (or unappreciated).

dianainsa said...

God Bless all of you from a landlubber and a civilian to boot. Found your site via Mudville Gazette, we have to work very hard to get the news that the MSM refuses to report. We wanted you to know that there are millions more like us who support you and your mission, but we don't seem to get a lot of media attention either!

Homefront Six said...

Looking forward to reading more! And we are looking forward to your safe return (we live here in Paradise - up in the "green"/Army side of the island).

mduncan121286 said...

Great Article, it put me in tears so you know its good!

Anonymous said...

[in the voice of that Mr. Budweiser Radio Announcer Guy]

Today we salute you, sailors of the Russell...

This Buds For You!.

hope y'all get to enjoy some Fosters while you are out and about

Paunchy Old ex-Destroyer Squid