Standing My Watch


Robert Thomas "Tommy" Nipper

b 14 Oct 1918 Chuckaluck, McMinn CO, TN
d 27 Mar 1995 Athens, TN buried McMinn Memory Gardens, McMinn CO, TN

The above photo was taken during WW II aboard the US Navy supply ship called LSM 54 on which my father was stationed as Boatswain's Mate. My mother, for whom his poem below was written, has indicated which sailor is my father by writing in pen on the old photo. She also added an arrow idicating the chief officer and wrote the ship's name. At that time, Daddy could no longer write because of palsy, but he always pointed out the second sailor to his chief's left because of the monkey he held and kept aboard ship. Recently, Susan Foley identified her father-in-law as standing second to the left of the sailor with the monkey. He is Donald P. Foley died in 1984 in Chicago, IL. He was once bitten by the monkey; I recall my father telling about that.

Daddy wrote this poem as he stood a lonely all-night watch during the war. Mama lovingly and carefully kept this poem in a very old purse for years until she inherited her grandmother's trunk where she put it. In the last few years of her life, she and Daddy gave me this poem written on notebook paper in his own handwriting. At my request, Rev. Leonard Arnold, read this poem as part of my father's funeral service. Daddy never expected that -- much less that his poem of love and tribute mailed to his wife so long ago, would be placed on the internet. It is placed with admiration this day, 13 July 2001, as a memorial tribute to him. My understanding of patriotism came first-hand from him. I can still hear him singing, Anchors Away! So, when laid to his final rest, I wept and wished him "a happy voyage home!"

Standing My Watch
by Tommy Nipper

Standing my watch tonight,
Looking out over the sea,
The stars are shining down brightly,
And it is always you I see.

I remember when times were different --
Then I did not have to dream;
Whenever I came off duty,
You were always there it seemed.

But now I am fighting for our future
So that you and I may live free;
That's why tonight I am dreaming
Of times as they used to be.

Do you remember those days of heaven
That we spent in our own little dell?
That's why I cherish our memories
Out here in this living hell.

And I pray to God you will cherish
And always hold on high
The fact that I love you dearly
And my love shall never die.

I shall never doubt for a moment
My trust that I placed in you.
My prayers are all for our future
For the love and happiness we're due.

The wind is beginning its fury,
The stars are beginning to fade,
But my heart is warmed by your promise
And strengthened by the love you gave.

These are the thoughts I am dreaming
That our love is stronger than might;
I hope and pray for our future
Standing my watch tonight!

"The Person I Most Admire" by Shane Ratledge

©1999--present year by Sandra N. Ratledge. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any reproduction or inclusion of this website's contents in publication whether online or in print is prohibited. Do NOT copy photographs and upload on Find a Grave or any other internet websites, blogs, attach to family trees, or print in publications. Do NOT copy stories, articles, documents, sketches, anecdotes, letters, obituaries, content data, etc. and attach to family trees or upload on other websites of any kind.

Sandra Ratledge

All you kinfolks, put some mail in that old box!

This site is dedicated to the memory of my mother,
Beulah Cline Nipper, a beautiful product of the Knobs.