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    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Name Change for Sleepy-Eyed Whiners. YOU decide.

    I initially started this as a reply to an ongoing feud between myself and someone calling himself "el.sid" who disapproves and thinks Sleepy-eyed Whiners is a pejorative.
    The comments are scattered all over the place, but the latest is in this thread.

    El.sid, first, the correct link to the story for those who want to read it. At least we have established that you think some self-deprecating humor, in the form of this blog's name, is somehow disrespectful to the submarine force, or shows a lack of respect from the author (me) or others for the dangers that lurk for submariners. The genesis of this was a shipmate, who, in response to the CO's assertion that we were all "steely-eyed killers" correctly pointed out that we would more accurately be described as "sleepy-eyed whiners," since that is what most of the 19-24 year old crew was. Knowing something about sailors and soldiers and airmen (not so sure about Marines), my feeling is that most of us, especially in that age group, are more about the whining than the killing. I think that's more of an American trait. Look, we like to complain about things, but, when the chips are down, we will get the job done. See the beautiful dichotomy in that? I do. I think it's great. To help you out, check out this from the Onion News Network, as they try to bring the reality of war to a generation raised on Halo:

    Those of us who spend some time here in the sublogoshere do it out of our tremendous respect for the men we served with and seek to take the silent service out of the dark, silent world it was in for much of the Cold War (and earlier). You haven't spent much time on MY blog, or on those linked to the right, if you think ANY of these people (most of them retired, but a few still surreptitiously blogging on active duty) do this out of anything other than a love and respect for what they did, and for what good, intelligent, and dedicated men still do today.

    You, my friend, have way missed the boat on that. You know, for a brief moment, I thought I'd poll this community, and see if others feel as you do, and I'd change the name if the consensus was it was disrepectful. I might still do that, if enough active sub bloggers felt that way. But, my argument remains the same. Submariners tend to be a cynical and humorous group (you, excepted). Like any group of men living in close quarters for long periods of time, at great danger to themselves (for us, it is the ever present crushing sea depths, not to mention the possibility of an actual enemy attack) they look for outlets to relieve the stress of those dangers that lurk. Every guy I worked with knew that just outside a thin strip of HY80 stood sea pressures that would quickly kill. We joked about Steinke Hoods (I think those are all gone now, replaced by an ascent system that could actually work) and how those were developed so we could assure our families there was some way we could survive an accident. Every man on my boat (and every other sub I've had the pleasure to ride, visit, or talk to friends and colleagues about) knew and understood well the dangers we faced and the importance of each man doing his job in saving the ship. I served with a Chief who survived the Bonefish fire. His tale of horror is honestly something every submariner should have to hear over and over and over. Believe me, they would approach every fire drill in a different way hearing his words.

    We're not like the surface navy, where there are damage controlmen etc, etc. On a submarine, each man could find himself "in charge" in some space with flooding, fire, or whatever other casualty you can name. The point is, el.sid, that even in the most dangerous situations, where instant death lurks constantly, you can not expect people with an ounce of humanity, to constantly be on edge, waiting for the proverbial next shoe to drop. People need and crave outlets, and they use humor to ease their fears and other emotions.

    I had no doubt that, if the time came, the absolute whiniest guy on the boat (hey, maybe that was me) would jump instantly into action in the event of a casualty and do his duty, and there would not be one word of complaint. You see, that's the beauty of the silent service, and military life in general. The ability to look around you, to laugh at the crazy bureaucracy that surrounds, the silly rules, the (seemingly) constant drills, the people who are wound perhaps one turn too tight; and yet, still know, that in a time of crisis, every one of those guys, from the one who created the stupidest rule to the one who bitched loudest about it, would, when called, rise instantly, head to his station, and do whatever was necessary and use his training and skills, to save the ship, your life, and his own. I am sorry you're offended by the title. Maybe guys don't complain anymore. Maybe the Navy has become such a utopia that they feel no need. I can't believe guys at sea for long periods of time are all rah-rah all the time. I find that impossible to believe, in fact.

    I will extend my offer. If the joke goes too far, and if enough sub bloggers who I respect (and that would be nearly all of them), side with you and tell me so, I'll consider changing it.
    How's that for a compromise?


    reddog said...

    It's a great blog name, one of the very best. Don't change it. Like Cid, I've wondered if you're really a submariner. Something about you doesn't ring true, can't really put a finger on it.

    Radioman makes sense though. They're a little different. They 're exposed to a lot of stuff they know is important but don't fully understand and can't ask about. That's a very rare situation for a submariner to be in. Maybe that's it.

    Jay said...

    Red, I really love you. You know that. Radioman. I confess a fondness for radiomen.