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“The Tin Can Sailor” By: Raymond C. Calhoun Essay

The Tin Can Sailor was written by Raymond C. Calhoun, a Sterett gunnery officer who retired at the rank of captain from the U.S. Navy in the year 1967. His book primarily revolves around the story of a vessel christened and named after the celebrated Andrew Sterett, which is a valiant fighting ship who went to brave World War 2’s perils. The story was narrated by a junior officer of the battleship who personally experienced the torture and hazards of the war for two years. The chivalrous fighting vessel earned a glorious Presidential Unit Citation for participating in the third battle of Savo Island.

(Calhoun, 1993)

Naval traditions and leadership styles on the past can be well compared to that of the present. An example of this is the emergence of a new type of naval management called the intrusive leadership. Unlike participatory, autocratic and democratic leadership, intrusive leadership involves running people’s lives, denying the spirit, individuality, intelligence and even the whole personality of the sailor. It is almost similar to the ways of autocratic leadership wherein the leader’s word is the law and does not involve others into the decision-making process.

An autocratic leader may also resort to manipulation and even force just to arrive at their goals. This type is the most commonly used during World War II. It is brutal compared to the ways of participatory leadership wherein the leader involves other people in the conclusion- making process. On one hand, democratic leadership is also close to the values represented in the participatory leadership. In the democratic leadership, the approach used to arrive to a certain decision also requires participation in the people involved and supervision is done in a very minimal way since the individuals are the one who is responsible to their own actions.

When it comes to the naval traditions of the past and the present, differences come to the length of training of the men. Since there is a war occurring at that time, much of the tradition and orientation to the navy’s glorious history is necessarily discussed lightly or even omitted due to the need to quicken the specialized training to enable the officers to be put to early combat. These caused men to either die or end up tortured by the enemy because of lack of experience and proper preparation. (William P. Mack)

In the present, however, our soldiers were able to get the adequate time and experience needed before placed out to combat due to the absence of pressure of a waiting war. Now, officers and men of the armed forces are individually tested on the “prisoner of war” environment making them more professional to the battlefield. Customs and traditions are commonly emphasized by the Navy in times of peace because these long term events and values gives men the inspiration they need when stressed on the battle itself. (William P. Mack)

Nautical and historical ceremonies are also important to soldiers because it gives the greatest incentive for the officers to carry on bravely both in peace and in war. The reminiscing of the Navy’s glorious olden times gives a mentality for the men to keep on living to the expectations assigned by the officers of their history.

(William P. Mack)

These cited facts are all displayed in Raymond Calhoun’s work of art. The Tin Can Sailor not only illustrates the glory of the Navy. It also magnifies the somehow forgotten grandeur of the men who are worthy to be called our heroes.

Works cited:

Calhoun, R. C. (1993). Tin Can Sailor. 224.

William P. Mack, L. L. P., Royal W. Connell. Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions.

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