The following post was written by Stephen Beck, Airman Apprentice, USN.
When you talk to some sailors about getting their ship underway, they’ll probably give you a sense of nonchalance for it is a very common event for them. If you were to talk to me, however, you would get a mixture of anticipation, pride, and excitement. This is because I am stationed aboard the USS Constitution; the Oldest Commissioned Warship Afloat in the World. Not only is she 213 years old, undefeated at 33-0, and our Nation’s flag ship, but she is my first command. Only a handful of sailors have been able to say that, and I am honored to be associated as one of the lucky few.
Being a junior sailor (graduating 18FEB11), tomorrow marks a historic day not only for me, but for the Navy as a whole. I’ll be going on an underway for the first time in my naval career, but I’ll be doing it on the USS Constitution while honoring the Battle of Midway. This battle, regarded as the most important battle on the Pacific Campaign of World War 2, is where the United States Navy defeated an Imperial Japanese Naval attack against Midway Atoll. It gives you a very humbling feeling to know that you share the same uniform as the brave sailors who fought and gave up the ultimate sacrifice to defend our Nation.
One of the uniforms I wear, however, is very specific to this command. I speak, of course, of our 1813s. These are very similar to what the men would have worn during the war of 1812, and are what I’ll be wearing for the underway tomorrow. It’s a surreal thing, sometimes, to be on the ship at sunset; watching the light glimmer off the water, and seeing the crew wearing their 1813s. For a moment it feels as though I’ve gone back 200 years and seen a moment in time. Sometimes I walk the ship just to take in her beauty and see all that she is, and I often wonder what stories she could tell; of the battles she has seen and the men who’ve served aboard her. I feel very privileged to be a part of this crew, and there is no where I’d rather be than here in Boston. Being around the rich history of not only this ship but of our Nation is more than a history buff like me could ever ask for.
As we ready the ship to get underway, I have an overwhelming sense of anticipation. I remember a year ago making the decision to join the Navy not knowing where it would take me. I never dreamed it would take me this far. I am not only surrounded by the best sailors the Navy has to offer, but I have the opportunity to serve aboard Old Ironsides, one of the most famous ships in American Naval history. I couldn’t ask for a better start to my career.