A Small But Telling Symbol

by Bob 'Dex' Armstrong

Have you taken a good look at a modern day Petty Officers crow lately? If not, go do it. Then take a look at the crow worn by a rated Bluejacket in the '50s and early '60s.

Once upon a time the eagle worn by American Petty Officers was a fierce looking rascal… The crusty old bird had just made a meal out of two nasty world powers and had pointed wings spread in a defiant posture. He was the expression of a fighting force. His beak gave you the impression that he would tear a sizable chink out of you if you got out of line. Our old pal was a gallant fellow, the seagoing symbol of a nation with a 'DON'T TREAD ON ME' heritage.

Somewhere in time, when we weren't looking our old defiant crow got sensitized along with Naval leadership. He became a 'Mother may I' looking canary bird…. Today the cute little fellow looks like he would be more at home in a cage in granny's parlor than on the arm of a fighting sailor. The poor little fellow has literally had his little wings clipped and has become a sad caricature of his former self. Hopefully this is not just another step in an evolutionary process. It would be sad if one day our bluejackets woke up to find Tweety Bird perched on their rate designator.

I blame the complacency of our present Naval Force…They diminish your legacy daily and you lazy sonuvabitches let them do it. From award inflation to loss of your thirteen button blues. You let them hijack the meaningful and trade you horseshit for tradition. Did you raise hell? If so, either nobody heard you or nobody gives a good gahdam what you think… Which is worse.

At least the Army raised hell about the wholesale trashing of the beret, once the symbol of pride and distinction of U.S. Army Rangers. You guys let them slip you a bird out of Mr. Rogers' neighborhood and nobody heard a peep out of you.

Take a good look at that cute little fellow... Boy, is he a watered down sweet-looking symbol. I am sure he doesn't offend anybody but old sailors with long memories.

Jeezus, what a microcosmic symbol of degeneration… A smallbore representation of a pervasive lack of caring.

Who wrote to the editorial staff of All Hands magazine and said,

"What simple jaybird screwed with our gahdam CROW?"

I hope Arliegh Burke never sees the damn thing… I would hate to think a four-star wildcat like Burke would ever know that his boys were going around wearing parakeets.