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January 31, 2014 / iDriveWarships

My Spartan Brothers

EN2 James HowesSURFPAC Sailor Returns from IA

By EN2(SW) James Howes, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

It’s been a year since I left for an Individual Augmentee (IA) deployment with MCM Crew Spartan. I was proud to relieve the Sailors who were waiting to come home after being deployed for eleven months. I had the jitters that Sailors normally get when reporting to a new command. Once we checked in with our prospective crews, we were addressed by LCDR Edward Pledger, a seasoned MCM sailor who would be our new CO for the year. The first thing he did was warn us that it would be hard at first; we’d work long hours, and were in for a long training cycle. But he also had hopes that someday while reminiscing with our grandkids, we’d look back and remember this year as the best of our lives and Navy career. Most of us laughed, but as time went on, it all became true.

Our training cycle became one of the shortest in Navy history. In just four months we were certified and ready for the next part of our tour. We took some leave, said our goodbyes, and were on our flights heading to the sunny Kingdom of Bahrain and USS Sentry (MCM 3). Most of us knew what we were getting ourselves into. We had plankowners from other minesweeps, ATG inspectors, instructors, and even a couple of aviation-types that by the end of deployment became “snipes” in every aspect of the word. We were Crew Spartan, the originals.

All of us have been asked during our career why we joined the Navy. Like most, I was trying to pay for college, wanted to see the world— but most of all—I was looking for camaraderie, that family feeling, and the brotherhood you can only get by serving your country. And for the first time in my 11 years of service in this great Navy, I found what I was looking for. MCM Crew Spartan became my family. If there was a new addition to a Sailor’s family, or an unfortunate loss, the entire crew felt the joy and sorrow of our fellow shipmates.

There was not a single goal that the crew set out to accomplish that we didn’t achieve—from 100% for ESWS and SWO qualifications, to over 95% in every area of our warfare certifications. I truly feel we lived up to the motto, “the best damn crew.” We made every call to sea that we were ordered, and even sent our Sailors to assist other crews with INSURV.

Now that I’ve returned to shore duty, I find myself missing my old crew. It’s almost like leaving a close friend behind. Looking back on deployment, I know there are a lot of things I’ve learned about myself, my rate and what I’d like to continue in the future.

In the words of DC1(SW/AW) Crouch, “HOOOOOO-YAH CREW SPARTAN!!!!!!!!”… you will be missed.

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