"Uncle Ahnold" gave me back.
I have my Sparks.
The long story behind this one. I went to Radioman "A" school when you had to do morse code to graduate (you had to copy 18 wpm or better at 98 percent). It took me, what I thought was forever to get there. Everyone has a point where their brain goes from hearing the sound, thinking what it is, to typing it to hearing and typing (just knowing what the character is). My stumbling block was 14 wpm. Once I got over that it it became "easy".
In short, I busted my ass to graduate. The big thing, knowing that I was in my heart a RM, was having a first CO who was "Old Guard", who called BMs "Boats", who called QMs "Wheels" and who called RMs "Sparks". Think of it this way (for my sci-fi geeky type friends *S*), most of the engineers in the engine room would always answer the sound powered phone this way "Engineering, Scotty speaking". That, being called Sparks, was probably, sorta better than being called "Chief".
Ok not quite but its close.
As time went on the rate name changed from RM to TC (Telecommunications Specialist). I hated it for a time, I was an RM darn it. But I learned to live with it.
Then the Coast Guard decide it was time to reorganize the rates. They combined the TCs and the Radarman rate into the OS rate, which is what I was teaching where I worked, after I retired. I knew it had to be done but what got me was that they did away with the sparks as the designation for the rate.
When they decided that, that was pretty much one of the last straws in deciding to submit my retirement letter. I mean overall I "did my time for king and country" and it was time to move on but having them take my sparks away...it would have hurt.
In fact when the Rate manager wrote me and asked if I would reconsider my retirement letter (since I submitted it before Sept 11 and they needed the folks after that), my response was no since my rate was going away and I though it was time to move on. Actually he was the one that decided that the sparks would be retired. No asking folks, no seeing what the troops thought just made a decision (and he isn't even going to be an OS, which really killed me).
So my signature file for a time was "They can have my Sparks when the pry them from my cold dead hands". and yes some of the e-mails to the Rate manager had that very signature file on it.
So MCPO Nessamyer, it is now official, you can't take these away from me...period.
While waiting for Wendy to get this drawn up she asked if I was "channeling my inner super hero". I told her no that it was the symbol for my rate in the Coast Guard, that I was a Radioman and that I was the guy folks called and talked to when they were in trouble, that I did it for twenty years before retiring. Her response was priceless and I will always remember....
"Well you were sorta a superhero"
She understood since she spent time as an EMT before becoming a tattoo artist. She was a superhero too.