I think we see young Americans at their finest, operating their small boat in
a strange and faraway place. For, once away from their mother ship, they
are on their own so much, and often with their own quick decisions to make,
whether right or wrong. The mechanic becomes an engineer with an
engineer’s responsibilities. And the coxswain becomes a captain, or at least
must feel he is one, as away they go to some strange beach or to some
distant vessel which they themselves must find from among a lot of other
They always seem to have various articles which dangle around their waists.
For new things, or new innovations, seem to be added all the time, and
others discarded. Nor do I think that all of the things are exactly necessary,
but they do look good and they add an importance. A dangling of string of
mighty keys, for instance, which may or may not fit in anything.
The knives so often worn by these crews varied from a jackknife fastened by
a string to other knives almost as elaborate in length as a Civil War saber,
and the boys forever seemed to be pulling out these knives from their
sheaths, sharpening or testing the blades, and then returning them.
Our Navy of today would not be the Navy it is without these assault boat
coxswains. When the seas suddenly start pitching too high for the small
boats to return back alongside without danger of being smashed – or else
smashing something – the small boats usually stay off awaiting a better
moment to come alongside. The wind may be cold and the spray may be
cold, but during such times the small boat crews appear almost majestic as
they bump up and down in their own separated little world, and maybe they