“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40)
Underway! Shift colors!
With those two commands the USS Okinawa LPH-3, with the help of the assigned tug boats, pulled away from the pier and headed out towards the open sea.
For the second time the young sailor was headed on another WESTPAC as part of his naval service. Accompanying him was a crew of 400 sailors and 2,000 United States Marines. The Captain, over the 1MC, said that the ship was ordered to Hawaii, then the island of Okinawa and then navigate to the Philippines for maintenance and liberty call.
Two of the most favorite words for a sailor.
Leaving the four battalions of Marines off at Okinawa, an additional four battalions boarded the “gray lady” and the course was set for the Philippines. Underway once more, the small floating village continued on patrolling the vast Pacific Ocean and all the while not knowing that a tempest was forming. Soon one of the Navy's most formidable members of its fleet would be fleeing from one of the worst typhoons to form in the Pacific in recent years.
Without incident the Okinawa arrived in the Philippines and was moored at Subic Bay Naval Shipyards. Routine preparations began. The gangplank was set up, supplies were taken on, the ship’s power was transferred from the dock, etc. The ship and crew thought they would be docked for two weeks.
However, Typhoon Rita was about to issue new orders, for this storm was bearing down on the Philippines and specifically, the USS Okinawa LPH-3. Soon to be proven, was that Typhoon Rita was the strongest storm in 1978 with surface speed measuring 150 miles per hour.
Two days later the Captain ordered, in the light of the approaching typhoon, that preparations be taken to set sail. The plan was to ride out the storm by navigating away from the intensity of the storm.
The young sailor was aghast. It seemed to be counterproductive to set sail out into the storm, rather than staying in the safe harbor. But obviously more seasoned and experienced sailors knew what was best, and of course, obedience to the Captain’s orders were followed.
No sooner after the ship set sail, that the reality of the intensity of the storm was realized. The ship swayed back and forth. Items that were on wheels rolled from the starboard side to the port side and back again. Sea legs were put to the test, and eating was out of the question as motion sickness set in causing the young sailor’s head to ache and his stomach to turn.
Days later, and unfortunately after many agonizing days of seasickness, the sailor realized the wisdom of this course of action. To have stayed in port, would have allowed the typhoon to toss the large floating fortress into the unforgiving land, and cause tremendous damage to the ship and its crew. The best plan of action was to set sail into the storm and allow the seaworthy vessel to stay within its element and survive the storm and its punch.
For us, the storms that nature brings can range anywhere from hurricanes to typhoons to tornadoes to wind storms to hail to an excessive downpour of rain, etc. Often these storms can cause damage to property and can adversely affect the lives of those who are in the path of these acts of nature. Additionally, these disasters can equate to a significant financial impact.
Worst of all however, is the impact of storms upon an individual’s emotions and resolve as the loss realized can make one question the purpose of working so hard and sacrificially.
In addition to the reality of physical storms, there are other storms in life that individuals often have to contend with. Some of those storms could include loss of a loved one, medical issues, loss of employment, etc.
The list is almost endless.
Consequently, it is important to take heart because we as individuals are not immune from the “storms of life.” Therefore, it is best to learn from a naval secret on how to respond when a Rita comes into our life. In that lesson of life, the best way to avoid the most devastating effects of the storm is to actually set sail into them.
For it is in setting sail into the storm that we will learn to trust and obey the Captain (our God), the seaworthiness of the vessel (our indomitable spirit) and learn to depend upon those around us or the shipmates that we sail with.
Storms can and do destroy—but out of the damage, destruction, and darkness, comes a dawning of improvement, insight, and illumination.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Brian Aird emigrated with his parents to Chicago, Illinois and eventually enjoyed the small town life of Wausau, Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from high school and one year of study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a 10-year commitment of service in the United States Navy was afforded which included many opportunities of education, life experience and travel.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, he attended The Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training and was commissioned as an officer in The Salvation Army where he served in various communities throughout the western United States for a period of 12 years.
Following this life changing experience, the American Red Cross became a new arena of service for 10 years. Currently, his vocation is once again with The Salvation Army where he serves in Northern California as the business coordinator. Four lovely children and eight darling grandchildren decorate the lives of he and his wife.
He is an avid Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys the game of hockey and loves to write.
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