She’s Out in the Open Gulf Waters, Now

Clear of Pensacola Pass and moving under crystal blue skies, with fair winds and following seas.

As it should be. A fitting day for a valiant lady’s last sea voyage.

The fellow with his hands in his pockets was on Oriskany ~ as a ten year old. He said they were living in San Francisco when the ship came in. His uncle was a crew member and brought them all out to the boat for a tour. It was magical for a young boy, he said, climbing all over her.

“There’s not much I remember from being ten, but I remember that day.”

And now he was here for her day.

The fellow to his right will be watching from a boat Wednesday, as Oriskany goes down.

It was surreal on the beach. About a hundred or so folks, most staying in their cars, watching her progress. Quietly. Reverently. The light so bright it hurt your eyes, but it made the turquoise and emerald in the water pop. Oriskany under tow, moving imperceptively along. Sometimes the smoke from the tugs looked like it was rising from the carrier itself, while the base helo worked it’s way back and forth. It was a snapshot moment of a vibrant past. A flash of memories, of had beens. Then the tug smoke would dissipate, the angle would change, the tow cable would reappear and her escort ships would move closer. I couldn’t decide if it felt like a funeral procession or witnessing a dead man walking. To my right, the Blue Angels came overhead, lining up to land at Sherman Field ~ just getting home from a weekend airshow. The past and the present together there in that crystalline instant. As it should be.

I’m glad I went.

9 Responses to “She’s Out in the Open Gulf Waters, Now”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:

    Wow, gorgeous pictures and words Sis.

  2. Kathy K says:

    Thanks for the report and the pictures. Beautifully done.

  3. Tainted Bill says:

    So long, old girl.

  4. mojo says:

    “…let there be no weeping at the bar when I put out to sea.”

  5. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Ah, the lady finally gets her rest. Thanks, THS.

  6. Cindermutha says:

    Beautiful! I really miss the Gulf right now. It’s a lovely place for a ship to retire.

  7. Nightfly says:

    I’d say it was one last parade in honor of a life well-served, Sis. Your post does it great credit.

  8. Tainted Bill says:

    What I should have said is “My God, Bones. What have I done?”

  9. Heh, McCain’s ship when he was a pilot. Me and my big brother went out on the USS Ranger when I was eleven. She was in the Bay during Fleet Week 1970 and our dad had been at Annapolis with her Captain. We got the big water tour. Out past the Golden Gate, when she turned and the whole flight deck tilted 20-degrees it seemed like you could slide right off into the sea. It was AWESOME! Plus the planes taking-off practicing bomb-runs and machine-guns going and ordnance exploding was simply wonderful.
    You can still visit, you just need a mask, fins, and a tank. She’ll make a wonderful dive site, a really spectacular one.

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