Friday, April 10, 2015

I - Initiations

My Theme / Timeline

The US Navy has many proud traditions that have been carried on thru generations.   There are many that I never went thru, but the ones I did - I'm proud of - even though I was in a kinder, gentler Navy than the old timers experienced.  Don't get me wrong, we did our share of what could maybe possibly be called hazing, but no injuries or damage were ever caused.

When you get advanced in rank, tradition is that you get punched in the arm to ensure your 'crow doesn't fly away'.   Most times, the old-timers asked if I was New Navy or Old Navy.  If you said Old - you'd get punched, altho I never ever sported a bruise from this.   Marines get the red stripe tacked onto their dress blue pants when they make that rank.

Getting my certificate that said I was allowed to wear that crow & chevron!
March 1995  I really needed a haircut!  Totally unsat.

When you earned a warfare pin (I am EAWS qualified, or Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist - there's also Surface Warfare and several others), you wear a pewter pin on your dress uniform above the shirt pocket or an iron-on emblem on your working uniforms.  But that also gets tacked on.

The most important and meaningful initiation I went thru was from becoming a lowly Pollywog into a Proud Shellback - crossing the Equator.  This is what I mentioned back in the "D" post about knowing I was in trouble.  I crossed the Equator going to Diego Garcia and was not initiated.  

So I received a supeona, listing my transgressions and ordering me in front of King Neptune and Davy Jones.   Back in the day, this was pretty gross and painful, but mine was more of a cleansing.  Lots of water.  And you were at the mercy of current Shellbacks.  We skipped thru passageways singing Christmas carols and got into a food fight with cold green spaghetti noodles mixed with lima beans and other random food items.  We got sprayed with fire hoses.  We crawled thru a maze lined with plastics bags with water pumped all thru it- the wet plastic felt like slime!  One of the girls from the disbursing office (the bank) and I were told to serenade whichever Shellback happened to be there - we both burst into Friends in Low Places!  We had to swim the length of an F-14 engine crate filled with sea water and whatever other shenanigans the Shellbacks came up with.   Then we got a shot of O'Doul's fake beer and tradition stated you stripped off your clothes and boots and threw them off the back of the ship.  Smart people wore bathing suits!

I only got a few pictures - I wasn't sure what to expect but I was sure my camera wouldn't survive.  The uniform of the day was inside out & backwards.

Those already initiated could be more creative with their attire - like my boss here.

Here are some good shots from the Lincoln's WestPac Cruise Book....

Going in front of King Neptune & Davy Jones.

Being cleansed on the aircraft elevator.  We got sprayed all the way from the hanger bay up to the flight deck.
Some people had to attempt to blow water out of the padeyes.  These things were where you could hook chains to and keep planes from rolling around.
Not even high ranking officers were safe!  This guy was a Lt Commander. You can see how big the pool is - an F-14 engine had been stored in this.
I've heard tales that there is an option to skip this initiation, but you are forever looked down at with scorn if you do.  I don't know anyone personally who had skipped it and even wanted to ! That thought never crossed my mind.



  1. Had to pull out my husband's career albums after reading this and flip through to his Crossing the Line photos - just as you said, inside out and very wet! His Chief's initiation photos are even better because I started the album with a list titled "Don't Ask What They Can Do With..." and it went on to list a variety of vile, messy, and smelly things like gorgonzola cheese, anchovy paste, spaghetti and meatballs, shaving cream, squid, and ended up with 150 lbs of cat litter and 1 live goat! I was very thankful to his sponsor for capturing every moment on film.

    1. I had heard stories from my recruiter what he'd gone thru - and I am SO glad I didn't have to "Kiss the Royal Baby" or crawl thru anything saved from the galley.
      When I was in Pensacola, I heard part of a Chief's initiation going on (thru a wall) - I heard a large amount of glass shattering and someone yell that if you're going to do something - do it right! And I saw new Chiefs waddling around the base in formation - with their pants around their ankles, singing some cadence about being penguins.
      I'm crazy late getting back with replying to comments, but I promised I would and here I am!!

  2. Replies
    1. It was interesting to see what other departments had their people doing. It was pretty much a free-for-all.

  3. Replies
    1. They are! It makes that occasion so much more memorable!


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