It was the stuff dreams are made of.
Sitting in a warm wood-paneled tugboat cabin, a small knot of men could sense it. They spoke it in rough, homely words, cradling cups of coffee. "Some tough old guys there," said one, as the rusty LST-325 chugged past flying flags of many nations, its white-haired sailors standing proudly on deck. "You ain't joking, buddy," said another.
Then, as the boats moved down the harbor, the tugboat men moved outside to stand on the deck of their boat, the Mobile Point, which was to escort, then push the warship to its docking place.
For a few moments, nothing else mattered. Not the cold wind. Not the ups and downs of the stock market, the disputed presidential election, or the price of gas. There were just these old guys, tears shining on their cheeks, as they entered Mobile's harbor. They didn't seem to have any formal drills planned. They milled around a little, standing alone or in groups of two or three, taking it all in.
The tug's crew saw a normally busy harbor stand still, as all down the riverbanks guys in hard hats paid the elderly sailors homage. They held flags, and saluted and waved. A Navy crew stood at attention in blue coveralls and white hats.
"Strange, that the Coast Guard was totally against this whole thing and now they want to get involved," said Ralph Moore, a Vietnam veteran, after watching the Coast Guard boats for a while. "I guess they showed them."
The boats plowed through brownish water. Ship horns blared and reverberated off the buildings
(Continued on page 4)