Where There Is No Glory
Originally Published in the U.S. Coast Guard Magazine, 1943
EVERY TURN of a ship's propeller marks the heartbeat of a floating community. And nurturing those vital hearts are hovering men --men of the Black Gang! These men know that engines can't rest. A day has twenty four hours; a week has 168, but neither the end of a day nor terminus of a week brings surcease to the engines which do drive, drive our ships of war.
Engines drive ships to Hitler's threshold, Engines drive all to the waters of the Jap. Those engines cannot fail. for if they fail some soldier's gun will go silent, some fighting man will go hungry, some wounded man will die.
Deep in the bowels of Coast Guard ships grim men in their midst the reek of oil, the stench of steam and the ceaseless chatter of mechanical power and ruggedness in motion. Machinery, men.
There's little glory for the Engineers. These grimy working jockeys of machinery have never been considered good "copy" by reporters and photographers. When bombs fall, when torpedoes lurk, when guns blaze, the Engineers scurry to their battle stations far below decks where, like ,wierd subterranean, gnomes. they wrestle with, the steam and electricity and machinery that KEEPS THE SHIP ALIVE.
When the "Old Man" on the bridge rings for "Full Speed" to meet the foe it's the Black Gang that sends the ship cleaving through the water like a greyhound. Let the Black Gang go down on their assignment and. . . . .
Neither in life nor in death is there anything neat and clean about the Engineers. Theirs is an existence of sweat and grime and toil, plus a superior knowledge of marine engineering. A death in the midst of boilers and steam and shafts and machinery is not nice to think about but it is the price which has been by many Engineers who have been at their below-water posts when tragedy struck.
There's a peculiar pride about Engineers, a pride difficult be understood by persons who have not known the thrill of commanding. controlling, directing and maintaining the loud thunder of steam and the bright lightning of man-made electricity.
When the history of World War II is eventually written, there will surely be a special chapter devoted to the recounting of the modern miracles of marine engineering performed by men of the Black Gang who have coddled all manner of machinery and kept propellers turning with monotonous regularity and dependability
Theirs is an assignment of anonymity,-as can be observed by the absence of names of engineering officers and enlisted engineers from the majority of stories coming from battle zones. With a modest touch of humor, men of the Black Gang have said, "Oh, we just go along for the ride." But no one needs be told that, if it were not for the Black Gang, there'd be no ride!
From the third-class fireman cleaning burners under the watchful eye of a watertender up to the engineering officer aboard our largest troop carrier there is a bond of common pride and respect. They keep the propellers turning!
They control the mechanical power of landing barges. They keep airplanes aloft.
They maintain power plants at great shore installations.
They are THE ENGINEERS!
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