‘Final Days’ By Aaron Roome

In the seventies I did a six-year jolt in the Navy. To say my experiences were often outside the normal curve is putting it mildly. I was a sonarman, meaning that is how I was trained, although beyond standing the sonar watch I did little in that capacity; as in, we never once found a sub. I was on two different destroyers, both WWII vintage, and while they would have been fabulous in WWII, in the cold war and after thirty years of service, let’s just say they were past their expiration dates. Oh the joy. Breakdowns, fires, collisions, bad morale, general hilarity. Sisyphus comes to mind. This fragment of memoir will describe my last days on my last ship. Details of a sailor’s life with the young Tim Robbins playing my part. On the final deployment, this time to the North Atlantic (sound cold? It was), we participated in an exercise with NATO navies and one fateful night collided with the USS John F Kennedy, the friendly neighborhood aircraft carrier. Terror, friends, trauma. Fight or flight without the option of either. Trimmed of our superstructure and bent and broken, we slunk back to Charleston for a period of recovery for the crew but not, as it turned out, for the ship. The USS Bordelon was for the trash heap. She was totaled. Months of in-between. Odds and ends of life in those days. Mistakes. Growing up. Decommissioning of the ship and dispersal of the crew. Me? I had a few months to go, so, off to another ship. That’s another story.

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