In Honor Of:
Navy Master Chief Raymond Ronald Reeves
Written: February 2007 and October 2007
In a room where, in silence, he goes to reflect
Thirty years that ran life through his veins,
He remembers the days when the ships and the sea
Were the chariot, and he held the reins.
A curly – haired boy saw no promise ahead
From his life in the sandy Midwest
So a voice in his heart turned the course of his life
And Time-Served turned him into the best
The boy of sixteen quickly grew to a man
Whose career shone like gold in the sun
He moved through the ranks for his conduct and truth
There is wrong, there is right – you choose one
He taught some about life, he taught some about death
Those who stood at the crossroads of fate
Were his favorites, the men with a mark or two down
And a choice they were too young to make
They wanted to go and they wanted to stay
And they wanted to jump off and swim
He explained all the angles, let them make their own choice
Much more often than not, they stayed in.
When this gentleman spoke no-one uttered a sound
From the ranks both below and above
It was not out of fear, disregard, or dislike
But from the highest respect and earned trust
For the man who stood true behind every word
Kept his ground watching other men run
Pain will shatter like glass all that bravery claimed
While the war was eclipsed by the sun
When time rang its bell and the piper came calling
For the ones who failed Discipline Class
Career-ending words echoed down through the halls
This man’s record was spotless as glass
He didn’t enlarge nor misquote his success
Late at night over vodka or Jack
A life saved or lost sat on absolute knowledge
Of procedure and errorless fact.
He was photographed, honored, awarded, and praised
By Officials at sea and on land
In recognition and thanks for superior work
By the Master Chief’s capable hands
His awards were for leadership, judgment and skill
He’d be first to jump in to command
Not for ego, career, nor political gain
For the lives and the futures at hand
Then the day had to come when the sailors went home
And the officers left for the shore
While the thousands rejoiced, one soul pondered inside
What the calling would be in his core
Now these letters, medallions, certificates, plaques
Show the differences made by one man
Whose career was his breath and the blood in his veins
When his destiny called him to land.
In a room where he goes to reflect on the time
When the sea and the stars shone the way
The walls tell his story, his life; and he wonders
How the time slipped so quickly away.
Written by Claudia Anne Kellberg
Please feel free to contact Claudia for for more info.
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