October 28, 2007
This letter is written with the highest respect and regard for the United States Navy, for this website, and for the recipient. I humbly with all my heart that you read the letter and poem, for I believe you will find it well worth the few moments time. If not, I apologize. There is a message here, a true story that needs to be heard. At some point, it will arrive on the right desk and reach the right person, who will see its value and fit for their website or publication, and therefore know what to do. I hope I have just done so! I am only the writer, and I know what I must do.
I choose this time to submit my writing for reasons that will become clear in the letter. I believe it should reach more people than the Master Chief for whom it was written. I seek nothing for myself in any way. I wrote the enclosed piece in honor of my Uncle, a thirty-year Navy career man who, as he served, shone a clear and true light on all the best the United States Navy had to offer, and sought no glory for himself.
He was known for several definitive hallmarks: One was his complete and thorough understanding of, and respect for, all Naval rules and codes – at all times. When crisis struck and the Commanding Officer was called away, he often assumed the lead. My Uncle was qualified due to his procedural knowledge, clear and rational judgment, and the trust from his peers. Each Commanding Officer knew his men would be in good hands, and was grateful.
Another trait was his absolute and unshakeable integrity: No matter with whom and what he was dealing, whether he was seen or unseen, recognized or unrecognized. He would be acting with that same integrity at 4 A.M. alone or 4 P.M. in public.
However, the role for which he was born occurred off the clock when work was finished, and it came from his heart. Hour after hour, endless afternoons and evenings he spent talking with those younger sailors whom had collected a strike or two on their record and were at that terrible soul-wrenching crossroads where the repercussions would last forever – to stay or go – and were too inexperienced too see it. He told the truth in stark, straight-up words without judgment, lectures, or promises. With candor and humor the men trusted, he then asked each to weigh life’s options: with completion of a full term of duty or with a bail-out, whether medic ally, “special”, or (more likely) dishonorably. Time after time they opted for the more promising outcome and chose to stay, yet would not come to realize the full enormity of this decision for many years.
Our Armed Forces provide the backbone for this proud country, allowing triumph and tragedy to forever exist side-by-side, carving out man's true nature and character. Many heroic men caused events that altered our world forever.
One man made a difference on a smaller and quieter scale. His actions told of something far beyond all his promotions, commendations, awards, decorations, and medallions could ever show. More than most of us could ever know, for he sought neither recognition nor praise. The instructions came from his heart.
For all the men whose lives were richer and stronger, whose families knew health and opportunity, for the man who may have saved the life of one of those world-altering heroes because he stayed enlisted: someone remembers Master Chief Raymond Ronald Reeves, and would like to see him honored. Someone now understands, and is grateful. Someone struggling may find inspiration. I have written this letter for my Uncle to see his story and poem published, and to know that his life had meaning.
The second greatest moment of his life occurred recently, when I read the poem to him. This stoic man who, through the agonies and loss of wartime, never cried for himself nor for anyone else, let a single tear fall from each eye.
The first would be to see the poem in print.
Please make this happen, in honor of a man who quietly changed the face of his Navy.
Thank you, more than words,
Submitted by Reeve's very proud niece, Claudia Kellberg