Letters Home - 3 rd Mail Call
Lt. Ralph Bishop
Weíre shoving off on a routine mapping mission soon but I just had to get the news to you as I know youíre en-route to your parentís place and I canít tell you by phone -- Mortonís not coming with us this trip!† Thereís a snafu with the diving bell repairs in New London and he and Chief Jones are staying ashore with it!† You know what that means?† I will be acting exec for this mission!†
This is my big chance sweetheart.† I finally get to show Nelson and Crane what I can really do!† Iím going to have this boat running like clockwork!† Iíll teach this goldbricking crew that Iím no pushover for slackers and informality.† Admiral Nelson likes efficiency, well; Iíll show him that Morton isnít the only officer aboard his boat that can provide that.† Iíll bring a little precision to things around here in no time; theyíll have to notice my skills then!
It wonít be easy, the crew have been used to an easy ride most of the time. Curley Jones is a seasoned CPO but past his primeÖ he wouldíve been beached before now if it werenít for Nelson.† Morton is good at the paperwork and organization but mostly green when it comes to military discipline in my opinion. He listens to all the crewís gripes too much; doesnít he know sailors are always griping about something?† I donít want to hear about their broken hearts and emotional problems --- this is the Navy, you sign up to do you duty and serve your country anyway an officer decides, not to fly home every time a kid grazes his knee! I get the feeling he doesnít agree with my way of dealing with the men but I rely on my years of experience to handle them!
Mortonís just too young and untried for active duty in the position heís in; he still has a lot to learn about leading men into battle.† He may think theyíll follow him because they think heís Mr Nice Guy but a crew looks to officers who know what theyíre doing when the chips are down-- thatís got be why Admiral Nelson didnít promote him when Captain Phillips got killedÖnot enough command experience in emergencies, he knew Morton wasnít ready to step into a captainís shoes.† Well, he may have seniority thanks to a lot of luck but I have had command experience and I donít care if a crew likes me or not as long as they snap to and obey my orders!†
Iím going to make sure Nelson and Crane notice that I can do the job just as well if not better than our esteemed exec!† I know all the scuttlebutt about him and Crane being big buddies means that Morton is pretty secure aboard Seaview for now but he must have some ambition for himself, he canít want to stay in Craneís shadow forever! When he does go after his own command, I donít want there to be any doubt who the next XO should be.
After all, Crane is off boat as much as heís on for ONI, so when our captain is off playing hero, the XOís in charge, I can live with that for a while.† Who knows, Crane is in a dangerous line of work, if anything should happen to him itíd be only natural for the right exec to step up and take charge.
Donít get me wrong, I wouldnít want anything to happen to the guy, heís an okay skipper and we all know Nelsonís pleased to have him so he might take too many personal risks for the admiralís liking but the guyís just a natural hero type. Heís Navy and seen a lot of action but heís just as soft on the crew most the time!
The command staff maybe set tight but when it comes to commanding Seaview, but a man can have expectations canít he?† I just have to make sure Iím in the right place at the right time to take over.
Youíd like that wouldnít you sweetheart, being married to Seaviewís skipper?† Just think of the prestige that would get you. Weíd be calling the shots then.† That would impress all those officerís wives that you think ignore you now and your father would have to stop harping on about my lack of rank then would he?†
This has to go into the mailbag.† Iíll let you know all the details when I get back honey - I just have a good feeling about this cruise, this is my chance to get noticed and Iím going to make it count!
Dear Mrs Blake,
It is with deep regret that I enclose the unfinished letter of your son Seaman Alan Blake. It was found in the crewís quarters after Seaview was raised and returned to port for repairs. As it was addressed to you I am sending it for him.
You will already know of the circumstances surrounding your sonís bravery.† He gave his life to help his boat and friends and I would personally like to add that I consider it a selfless act of courage that saved the lives of everyman aboard and that his record will reflect the valor he displayed!
The full circumstances of the incident preceding the accident have been investigated and minimum blame attached to your son.† It was an error of judgement that he bitterly regretted and considered himself solely responsible for but that was not the case and Iím sorry that I cannot tell him that personally.
Captain Lee Crane.
By now youíll have heard the bad news and be worrying worse than you normally do about me.† I wish I could call you or talk to you somehow to tell you itíll be okay but I canít -- things are real bad here Mom, and Iím more scared than Iíve ever been.†
Mom, you remember how you used to tell me wishes are just dreams that havenít come true yet---- well, I wish this werenít happening.† I wish none of those guys was dead and most of all I wish I was coming home on leave again to find you fussing over me cos you think I havenít been eating right!
I screwed up!† I screwed up so bad and because me a lot of my friends are dead already and the rest of us could be that way real soon.
I love you Mom. I know I never said it enough before but when Dad walked out on us you were the strong one and I guess I took everything you did for granted. I donít think you ever knew how proud I was of you. The way you never gave up, the way you kept a roof over our heads, made sure there was food on the table, clothes on our backs. YOU did that Mom, only you.
I know I wasnít much help, I was real a wild, stupid kid growing up and gave you a lot of heartache and still you never gave up on me and I never stopped loving you for it.† I felt like I was going nowhere and needed to get out to make something of my life before I ended up in real trouble!† You thought I was just running away but it wasnít like that, honest, none of this is your fault, the Navy was what I wanted and the Navyís been good to me Mom; it made me grow up. I like having friends like Evans and Ski and Patterson that I can rely on and having a job where guys respect what I could doÖtill now anyway.† Iíd do anything to put it right again!
I know if the worst happens youíll be hurting but you gotta promise me Mom, youíll get past it!† Youíre still young enough to have a decent life ÖI know you and Barney are close so why donít you up and marry the guy like wants you too and let someone else take care of you for a change?† I know you arenít waiting to get my permission exactly but if you ever needed it, you got it. I shouldíve said something sooner but I figured thereíd always be enough time; you deserve some happiness Mom -- take it.† Remember Iíve always loved you and Iím sorry for all the bad stuff I did, it was never meant it to hurt you.
Ö geez, the air down here is foul, itís making me all light headed Ö Iím sure the boat just moved again, I can hear some of the guys talking, I better go see what the problem isÖÖ
Hi ya Sharkey,
Hehe, I just found out why you only get called by your surname† -- Francis.† Thatís one heck of a fancy name for a crusty old sea dog like you bud! Iím just glad I lived long enough to laugh about it with you. Iíll just stick with Curley thanks!
I tell you Sharkey this mission was a doozy! I must be getting old Ė I used to enjoy a little excitement but I guess you can do without it when you know the lives of all your buddies depend on you getting them out of a fix!
When we got word Seaview had gone down with all hands, it was like a punch in my guts Ė they needed help and we were stuck in New London with a busted diving bell!
When Mr Morton got back from talking to them on the emergency phone I knew it was bad.† He donít like to show what heís feeling muchó he kinda hides behind military discipline most the time but Iíve got used to reading those blank looks of his and I knew he was real worried. He was as antsy as Iíve ever seen him and if you knew this guy youíd know that werenít good!
We worked on that guidance system for hours but couldnít find the bug in it!† Finally Mr Morton just up and ordered the bell loaded on the carrier and said we was going to try getting to them by controlled descent!† To his credit he said he wasnít going to order me along Ėhe gave me the out if I wanted one but I wasnít about to let him go it alone, heís got guts alright but he needed help and they were my friends down there too for Peteís sake!
It was pretty hairy, maneuvering through an abandoned minefield without
guidance control ainít my idea of fun.† I thought weíd bought it when we tangled with one of them and it exploded just above us; that shook us up pretty good I can tell ya!
I still remember the look of surprise when I called Mr. Morton Ďskipperí just about then, it just sort of slipped out but thatís what he was in my book. Heís going to make one fine captain some day; I can always spot the good ones!
You shoulda seen the guysí faces when we got there Ė and the admiral, he was smiling like he was fit to bust!† It werenít all good news though, we lost some real good guys Ė I guess you heard all the poop thatís been going round over what caused the accident Ė I tried to tell the admiral Mr Bishop wasnít right for Seaview but I guess he just wanted to give the man a fair chance.
Blake made a bad mistake for sure and I guess it coulda happened to any of us but he sure made it right for the guys. It was a crying shame it happened that way at all!
Now Seaviewís all raised again and the repairs are about done.† Mr Bishop has left us. The Doc said it was because of his injuries but the guys think different Ė they could be right.† The admiral ainít saying nuthin but I reckon he knows who was really to blame for the foul up.† He wonít ever say it but I figure he knows Mr Bishop was a rare mistake for Seaview --- the guy just didnít fit right.
Did you hear Bullís in town?† We met up last night and sank a few beers together Ė he sends his regards and wants to know what happened with the little redhead you were keeping company the last time we saw you Ė† he reckons she had the eye for him all night and wouldnít mind renewing aquaintences he says!
Be seeing ya around Francis Ethelbert Sharkey --- he he, no wonder you kept a name like that to yourself!
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