June 5th 1944 should have been D-Day. Instead because of a ferocious storm that descended across the English Channel it was a day from hell on the seas for the assault troops embarked aboard troop transports, landing ships and landing craft. Now those who have never ridden out a storm at sea on anything smaller than an Aircraft Carrier or modern Cruise Ship cannot understand what the thousands and thousands of land-lubber soldiers on those ships and craft went through. In fact they cannot understand what the sailors on the very largest of the Operation Overlord armada the battleships USS Nevada, Texas, and Arkansas while the British battleships Rodney, Warspite and Ramillies also were on hand. Most of the ships in the invasion were far smaller, cruisers averaged 9000-10,000 tons, destroyers about 1,500 tons. I have served on a 9,600 ton Ticonderoga Class Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser, the USS HUE City. I have also been embarked on the USS Agerholm DD-826, a WWII era Gearing Class destroyer, and a number of other ships including landing ships such as the USS Frederick, LST-1184 and USS Mount Vernon, LSD-39. I have ridden all of these in somewhat sporty conditions. I have never been seasick. However, even seasoned sailors can be sick as a dog and hurl chunks in heavy seas. I have also been a member of a boarding party and had seas come up on us while we were away from our ship. In heavy seas things can get sporty. When I was on Hue City we hit such heavy seas that we experienced a hull fracture that required emergency repairs and a short port call. My Skipper had me go down and bless the repairs with Holy Water. We also made a transit down the Arabian Peninsula with a Cyclone on our beam. We took 15-18 foot seas on the beam for three days. Believe me Aegis cruisers are top-heavy and do not ride well in high seas. We had an epidemic of chunks during that period. Likewise even a few injuries from crew members that were thrown around. Likewise, the soldiers had to make transfers down nets and Jacob’s ladders in heavy seas. This also can be a bit sporty. It is just a tad bit exciting to jump from the deck of a ship onto a boat which is going up and down about 6-10 feet at a time. Since I have jumped from a ship that was moving to a wildly bouncing boat; my hat goes off to the land lubber soldiers who jumped from ships to landing craft in heavy seas at D-Day.
Hue City’s Sister Ship the USS Vicksburg plowing through heavy seas. We were doing the same thing
Since the ships at D-Day were far less advanced, and the largest battleship, the Rodney was only 35,000 tons, or about half the displacement of the average modern cruise ship and one third that of a US CVN. Now imagine soldiers who have never been to sea except for the trip across the Atlantic to get to England, who were riding ships and landing craft of minuscule displacement. These guys suffered, in fact many prayed to land because fighting the Germans on the beaches would be easier than what they experienced at sea.
Unidentified WWII Sumner Class Destroyer Taking Heavy Seas
So when you remember the epic events of D-Day remember that the American, British, Canadian and French Soldiers who landed on those hallowed beaches named Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold and Sword had eaten little, hurled more and endured a hellish ride just to get shot at when they landed on the beaches. Having been shot at in Iraq I can say that it is not something that I want to do after being sick and puking my guts out. However, that might be better than puking. I have never enjoyed that…what a bulimic sees in this I do not know.
Yogi Berra once said: “We made too many wrong mistakes.” I absolutely hate making mistakes, I like to be right and I want my work to reflect excellence. The past couple of days the Deity Herself has reminded me that even I am human. The past two weeks I have worked about 132 hours, like who is counting, hours at our medical center. Part of this was due to being on duty and the other because I had to remain because of mission requirements. I had done pretty well until yesterday when at the end of the day I locked my keys in the office. I never do this, how the hell I did it I will never know, except that I had a brain fart because I was tired and pushing myself to handle a multiplicity of administrative and clinical duties over the week. Well, that was not all, my wrong mistakes continued. This morning I woke up, however since I didn’t sleep well this was not a great thing, except for the fact that I did not read my name in the obituaries of either the Virginia Pilot or the Stockton Record. I use my cell phone as my alarm clock. I have a ritual to go to work. I set what I am going to wear in one spot, pockets loaded, beat in the loops. I set my cell as my alarm and as soon as I wake up I put the stupid phone in my pocket so I will not forget it. Somehow today I didn’t do this last little bit. My phone was at home. I was so busy and tired that I didn’t notice this little omission. As I drove out of the parking garage I searched for my phone. What the hell it wasn’t there where I was sure that I had placed it. I turned my silver 2001 Honda CR-V around and drove back into the parking garage. I retraced my steps. Going to my office I called my phone. No answer. Crap. My next stop was Dr Maggard’s office. Interrupting him while he was on the phone I found the phone was not there. Damned again, double crap. Next stop was the head where I had deposited my recently rented coffee. One can never buy coffee only take a short term rental. Of course it was not there and I was damned yet again, in my exhaustion I was thinking crazy thoughts. So I went to the little Navy exchange where I had picked up a Diet Dr. Pepper for the trip home. Maude the cashier said I didn’t leave it there either. Damned, Damned, double damned and even triple damned I was pissed. I went up to the Critical Care Department Head’s office, damned even more, no phone. Crap, I was really getting upset, someone probably had it and was using. So I went to Pediatric ICU to see if by some chance I had left it there. I asked my buddy Cinda and others if they had seen it. The answer was no and I was yet again damned. So I called the phone one more time and Judy picked it up. I said “have you seen my phone?” She then said “I’m talking to you on it.” Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn and crap. I could have had a freaking V-8. I knew at this point that I was toast.
Not a Happy Camper: Too Many Wrong Mistakes
Between this comedy of errors I was working on Chief Branum’s memorial service bulletin with Commander Judy, one of our senior Nurse Corps Officers. We had it set; all I had to do was finish the bio. This I did as Commander Judy went up to work with Chief’s best friend. One problem. I was tired and had multi-tasked my ass off. Trying to answer two different phone calls, and two separate e-mails I started trying to close out the 95 different windows that I had open on my computer. I was damned yet again, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap and crap. In the process of closing all the windows I had not saved my document. All the work was gone. My brain was fried and I was pissed at myself for making so many far too many wrong mistakes. Thankfully, Commander Judy had remembered what was on the program and with the template that I provided was able to put it back together. She helped save my ass. I finally got home and was absolutely bushed.
The Deity Herself has made sure that I am taken care of even in times like this. I was scheduled for duty this weakened. For me, since I live at the cusp of the 30 minute response time I remain on campus. However, I got a call from our deputy command chaplain who told me that our Department Head, who had just returned from leave had told me to stay home that he would take my duty. Thank God for managers who who know when a pitcher has reached his limit. My boss is like this. He knows when to pull me out of the game before things get out of hand. I was making far too many wrong mistakes of exceptionally simple nature. I am really grateful for him. Once again the Deity herself looked out for this miscreant but very tired Priest.
Peace and blessings, Steve+