Selections of Writings by Ralph W. Hayward
FOR PAULA, AMANDA AND HOLLY,
MY LOVE, MY LIFE, MY INSPIRATION.
COMMANDING OFFICER: CAPTAIN, ERNEST E. CHRISTENSEN JR.
EXECUTIVE OFFICER: CAPTAIN, CARL W. (TAD) CHAMBERLAIN
AIMD OFFICER: COMMANDER, H. S. EZZARD, JR.
DIVISION OFFICER: LIEUTENANT, JOSEPH H. S. BORJA
NAVY GRAY BENEATH SKIES OF BLUE
PROTECTING THE SEAS SO OUR FLAG FLIES TRUE
MARINES GO TRUDGING THROUGH THE SAND AND MUD
FOR AMERICA THEY SPILL THEIR PRECIOUS BLOOD
AIR FORCE BOMBERS BY DAY AND NIGHT
REMOVING ALL THREATS WITHIN THEIR SIGHT
ARMY TANKS THUNDER OVER AND THROUGH
TO KEEP YOUR COUNTRY FREE FOR YOU
WE'VE GATHERED HERE TO FIGHT A WAR
SO FAR WE HAVE THE HIGHER SCORE
JUST REST WELL THERE AT HOME MY FRIEND
WE'LL RETURN HOME AT THIS WARS END
MOM KEEP A PLATE FOR ME AT THE TABLE
I'LL BE HOME FOR DINNER AS SOON AS I'M ABLE
DAD PLEASE TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY CAR
IT'S HARD TO TUNE IT FROM SO FAR
BROTHER, SISTER PLEASE DON'T WORRY
WE'LL TRY TO END THIS IN A HURRY
SWEETHEART KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING
YOU KNOW FOR YOU MY HEART IS YEARNING
KEEP FAITH AND FLY THE RED WHITE AND BLUE
AND WE'LL WIN THIS ONE JUST FOR YOU
DEDICATED TO ALL VETERANS PAST AND PRESENT
AND TO ALL OF THOSE WHO HAVE LOVED ONES
IN OPERATION DESERT STORM
GOD BLESS YOU ALL
RALPH W. HAYWARD
26 JAN 91
GOING TO WAR
I STRAIN TO LOOK THROUGH SWOLLEN EYES
AND I SEE MUCH TO MY SURPRISE
THE TEARY EYES OF FATHERS AND MOTHERS
OF WIVES AND CHILDREN, SISTERS AND BROTHERS
BUT I JUST STAND HERE ALL ALONE
AND WATCH THE WAVES OF THOSE UNKNOWN
FOR NO ONE CAME TO WATCH ME GO
TO FIGHT THE WAR AND KEEP PRICES LOW
NO ONE CAME TO SAY GOOD BYE
I MUST BE STRONG, I CANNOT CRY
FIVE THOUSAND MEN WILL LEAVE TODAY
FOR OUR RETURN WE HOPE AND PRAY
I FEEL SO COLD AND SO ALONE
PLEASE SOMEONE MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE
WE'RE GOING TO WAR AGAINST IRAQ
NOT KNOWING WHEN WE WILL BE BACK
WE'LL FIGHT ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT SO LONG
WE'LL FIGHT REAL HARD WE'LL FIGHT REAL STRONG
WE'LL FIGHT BY DAY IN THE BLAZING SUN
WE'LL FIGHT UNTIL THE WAR IS WON
SOME OF OUR OWN WILL SURELY DIE
WHO CARES IF ONE OF THEM IS I?
I SIT AND WONDER AS MY TEARS BURN
WILL YOU BE THERE IF I RETURN?
Sad but true, these are the feelings of a good number of service people who seemed to have nothing to look forward to upon our return while still making preparations for the cruise.
We've been out to sea for four days now, though it seems much longer. The first day was the hardest as it always is. I could feel the sadness and grief all around me like a dense cold fog. We had to leave our families for six months, maybe more, to take care of and provide for themselves while we are out fighting a war, "A real war!" One man gets greedy and sends armies to take land from others, now we have to go and fight this mans armies to get this land back for its rightful owners. Everyone is just as concerned for his own survival as he is anticipating being held in the arms of a loved one so that his tears can finally be released once it is all over. Tears of frustration, loneliness, sorrow and fear have been locked away and will continue to attempt escape. Feelings as real as the war itself now plague our minds. There is little doubt that we will all return, victorious and very much alive and relieved. Still we must think about the worst possible scenarios and conclude that defeat is possible. To fight in a real war is something that very few men on this great war ship have done. Most of us are very new even to the threat of war, but we have been trained well and feel strong and able. We will continue to train and prepare for the next month before we arrive on station in the Persian Gulf. There are high hopes that this evil man will pull out his troops and make peace before we arrive, unfortunately this doesn't seem very likely. For now we will just hope for the best and see what happens. pray for us and keep faith that we will return.
12 Dec. 90
CHRISTMAS ON THE RANGER
As I awoke this morning, I was struck by a variety of unpleasant feelings and emotions, among these were feelings of loneliness, sorrow and grief. Today was December 24th, 1990, Christmas Eve. I did my best putting on my uniform while trying not to think much about this disillusionment, but this was all in great despair. I walked slowly to the shop and found myself sitting amongst others with very much the same mental attitude, and although it seemed that everyone was caught in the same cloud of desolation, there were also great feelings of brotherhood. We were all out here, lost it seems, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no one but each other for a family. The morning started out unordinarily quiet, almost peaceful. As the morning progressed however, and the day shift started filing in one-by-one, there seemed a true spirit had entered and was in our presence as if not to be denied. The guys started to talk a little and shook hands to wish each other a Merry Christmas. The feeling of brotherhood started to grow and as the brotherhood grew, so did the conversations. There was talk of the traditional Christmas that this year would not be. Talk of families that would spend this Christmas without a husband, a father, a brother. Talk of past Christmas missed and hope for future Christmas to come. There were those who talked and those who just listened. I remember one man talking about how this would be his best Christmas in several years, for he was protected from the scorching heat of the day and the bitter cold of night. This year for this man there would be no fox holes to dig or to sleep in. Some of the men who are usually quiet and don't talk much went around and gently tapped the other men on the back and waited with an outstretched arm and an open hand to wish them a Merry Christmas. You could see faces with the unmistakable look of solitude, but these same faces had faint smiles of hope and peace. We are here to share in the spirit of Christmas together. This may not seem like much to some of us, but this year it's all we've got. I think of those who have it worse and say a prayer for them and for ourselves that next year we can be with our loved ones and there will be peace on earth.
24 Dec 90
A day for giving, caring, rejoicing, believing in God and your fellow man.
Today is Christmas on board the USS Ranger. We are on our way to the Persian Gulf to reckon with a man named Saddam Hussien. This man came from Iraq and is now occupying Kuwait. He thinks he can just go into other peoples countries to take their land from them. He thinks he can control the world oil market. We are on our way to show him just how wrong a man can be.
We are here on Christmas day, lost in time in the middle of the Pacific. Our families back home are spending Christmas without us. We can only hope that those who are completely alone can get together with someone, possibly another family member on this Holy day to help fill the void of our absence. We have only each other to fill the void of solitude from our families.
This morning we came into work and exchanged handshakes, a few kind words to one another, and heart-felt Christmas greetings. All-in-all, this Christmas has not been as bad as one would have perceived it would be. In a time of emotional distress and loneliness, we all stuck together and made this as good a Christmas as it could be considering all circumstances.
Now we can all look forward to a short port visit in Subic Bay, Philippine Islands before we press on and steam towards the Persian Gulf to fulfill our mission.
I have been away like this before. This time I will be away from my children who fortunately have not had to deal with my absence for such a long period of time. There are others in similar situations as my own and yet others who are away from home for the first time. I only hope that we can continue to feel the same brotherly love until we return to our families.
It's going to be a long haul and we will have to deal with attitude flares and mixed emotions all the way through, but I believe that we are a pretty tight bunch and that under these or any other circumstances, we can all pull through for each other to complete this mission victoriously, to take the pride we gain back home with us for our scrap books, and be better men from the experiences gained during this fateful cruise.
Christmas day 1990