I spent years on a tin can. (That’s Navy talk for a small warship). The USS Tattnall (DDG-19) and the USS Stark (FFG-31) to be exact. When I left, my sea counter was just 28 days shy of being at the 4 year mark (that’s the counter that is used for when you are attached to sea duty).
So, needless to say, I spent a lot of time aboard those Naval Warships.
And in that time, my uniforms took on a smell that was.. well.. navy? (I don’t know how else to describe it)
And what does navy smell like, you ask?
Diesel Fuel Marine. The entirety of the ship reeked of it. After a while, you got use to it, but anything you had with you on the ship eventually took on that smell. My wife would always make comments about how my uniforms smelled, or how my seabag had this stink about it or how the clothes I took on a cruise just would never smell the same.
It was pretty pungent.
But, a few years ago, I was going through some of my old stuff packed away, and opened a box containing a bunch of my Navy stuff. As I opened the box, the smell seeped out and into my nostrils and immediately…
I was transported back to the days of the open ocean, salt spray on my face, the sun shining down, the wind whipping around, the vibrations as that huge metal beast glided through the water.
I smiled as I remembered in an instant 4 years of my life. Shipmates, ports of call, underway drills, standing watches, midnight coffee, midrats, crawling through the belly of the beast as part of an OPPE Tiger Team, working on my ESWS pin, sea and anchor details.. you name it, it all came flooding back.
Now, I grant you, DFM is not a good smell. It’s definitely not cookies or perfume or anything remotely close. It’s a very harsh gas smell.
But the memories tied to that smell…
Now those make it all worth while.