by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

'Teamwork' might well be the most overused...  Most misunderstood word in use today.  Most people are never afforded the opportunity to witness true teamwork in its purest form.

We have.  Every man who wore Dolphins knows what being part of a highly trained eighty-man team is like...  Eighty men functioning as one to achieve an objective...  No hotdogging...  No stellar performers...  No signing bonus...  No individual headlines.  It was always 'The crew'...  'Ship's company'...  The men...  The lads...  My boys...  Collective terms.

You live together...  You work hard together...  You pull liberty together...  You toss down suds together...  Same bar, same men...  And yes, if need be, you die together, as witnessed many times.

When you are taken into a crew, it is the ultimate package deal.  You will be forever identified with the history of a ship and everyone honored to serve in her.  That gentlemen, is what riding the boats gave us in exchange for a big chunk of each heart that beat behind Dolphins.

You could have signed up for a cushy job in the Podunk National Guard issuing socks and jocks...  But you didn't.  And in so doing, you became my brother.

I have no right...  No logical explainable reason to feel a strong kinship with the magnificient folks who sit up nights tossing transcontinental bricks at each other on Rontini's cyberspace gotcha-go-round...  But dammit, I do.  That was the gift the U.S. Navy gave me for being taken into the team...  And horsefly, the Navy gave it to you.

There are officers who wear heavy duty hardware who will tell you in no uncertain terms that it represents the work of eighty men.

I had both the pleasure and honor of meeting Capt. Eugene Fluckey, a gallant officer if ever there was one.  It was at the submarine celebration of the 50th. anniversary of our victory in World War II.

I said, "Sir, that medal said it all."

"Son, I wear this medal because the crew lets me.  The only thing I ever won on my own was a freckle contest at a local department store when I was a kid."

That statement was a true submariner representing the best of what service in submarines is all about.

Teamwork has a beginning but no end.

A while back, a lady made a posting on Rontini's magic carpet that went something like this;

"You should have known my dad...  RM1(ss) Willie Wonka on USS Pimplefish out of..."

I did darling, and hundreds just like him.  Unlike you, I had the priviledge of smelling his stinking socks three weeks out...  We shared oil slick coffee, riding heavy seas.  I dropped by his rack when he was under the weather to see if he needed someone to stand his watch.  After a Little Orphan Annie mail drop when your old man was running all over the boat showing off your baby picture, I told him "You were the ugliest kid I had ever seen." and he pulled my watch cap down over my eyes and planted a Mammy Yokum boot in my butt.  I left overlapping beer glass rings on many tables with him and would have fought like hell to be first in line if the sonuvabitch had ever needed a pint of blood.  And when he checked into the Big Receiving Station in the Sky, I was one of the six ugly guys who left the cemetary and hit a local bar, and sat up to 3:00 AM telling sea stories on him.  He was submarines and I knew him...  We never met sweetheart, but we all knew him.

When you are a true team, you don't go home at night...  You take the good and the bad in stride and you always know you're not in it alone.  Any other use of the word 'TEAM' is pure bullshit.