040614-N-0119G-020 Atlantic Ocean (June 14, 2004) -- The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) surges through the water of the Atlantic Ocean. Enterprise is one of seven aircraft carriers involved in Summer Pulse 2004. Summer Pulse 2004 is the simultaneous deployment of seven aircraft carrier strike groups (CSGs), demonstrating the ability of the Navy to provide credible combat power across the globe, in five theaters with other U.S., allied, and coalition military forces. Summer Pulse is the Navy's first deployment under its new Fleet Readiness Plan (FRP). The strike group will conduct a scheduled training exercise followed by overseas Pulse operations. Official US Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Rob Gaston. Image released by LT K.R. Stephens, PAO CVN 65.


A fall breeze caressed the Charleston Harbor as the morning sun rose to eye high. We’d driven from 2 a.m. until 8 a.m. to bring his cremated ashes from North Georgia to the deck of the USS Yorktown. There we’d complete Bobbie Clifford Crawford’s final request: to disperse his remains into the Atlantic Ocean.

Bob was a Navy vet. His best friend from those days, Frank Hirdning, and Frank’s charming wife, and full-of-life daughter joined us there. The ship rested in solitude at Patriot Point. The planned program was executed to perfection. We were alone there to pay one last goodbye to a friend, a father and a brother. A poem read. Memories remembered. A prayer prayed. But something went awry. Bobbie—true to form—was not ready to cooperate.

As scheduled, when dropped, gray ashes descended toward the briny deep from the ship’s fantail, but they caught an updraft and appeared to jet outward to sea. Toward the direction of the blinding rising sun they flitted and sailed. But then, just as quickly, they reversed direction. They darted downward and then back up again. Just as they reached the ship’s rear railing they indiscriminately pelted those who watched: his eldest son, his youngest brother, his best Navy friend and his family. The ashes finely coated all the anchors away gathering.

Into finely coiffured hair the stubborn ashes penetrated. Thickly they meshed with makeup, changing the color of faces and rough textured garments. Eyes were irritated by whimsical flying grit. Tears were shed.
This was just like something my brother Bob would do. Obnoxious, cantankerous, and no bobbing head for anyone, his entire life—and then some.

Hail and farewell, champion of the contrarians. Hail and farewell, my brother Bob.