The Poles on 9/11
In Memory Bright

Linseed Oil

The following is a guest post [annual re-posting from 2008)] from Ned Lundquist, a Navy veteran, who created the Job of the Week site and e-mail list, along with the DEFCON-1 list for defense industry positions. He sent the following out this morning to those of us on the DEFCON-1 list, and I thank him for allowing us to post this here.

Linseed oil:

Some things have an evocative smell.

A few years ago, the executive officer of a frigate based at Pearl
Harbor called my staff at the Naval Media Center. They had a Sailor
aboard the ship who wanted to be a draftsman.

The "undesignated seamen" or SN on a ship usually work in the deck
force, chipping paint and handling lines. As they see what's
professional opportunities are available on board, they can "strike" for
a rating, like Radioman or Quartermaster. A "Striker Board" will
convene and review the needs of the ship, and the desires of the
individual. If the Sailor is squared away, has done a good job with the
deck force and the ship needs a Quartermaster (QM), for example, he or
she can strike for that rating, and becomes a QMSN.

SN Michael Noeth wanted to be a Draftsman. The DM rating was and is one
of the smallest ratings in the Navy. There are very few of them
compared to Gunnerís Mates or Machinistís Mate, and certainly none
aboard a frigate. In this case, the executive officer wanted to do
something good for his Sailor. In spite of the fact that the ship was
about to deploy for six months, the XO called us and asked if his Sailor
could come and work with us to learn the DM rating and be able to take
the DM test for Third Class Petty Officer. If he passed, he could become
a DM3. If not, he could return to the ship and eventually strike for
another rating. For our part of the deal, we had to cover his travel

So, SN Michael Noeth came to work for us. He was placed under the
expert tutelage of our First Class Draftsman, DM1 Rhea Mackenzie.
Seaman Noeth quickly made himself at home in a back corner of the All
Hand magazine spaces. And it was here he set up his easels, canvasses
and paints. When I would come by, which was often, I could smell the
linseed oil he used for his brushes long before I reached his work area.
He would have various canvasses and illustrations that he was working
on posted around his desk, as well as
examples of artwork he wanted to emulate.

He learned his trade from an experience draftsman, created artistic
content for the magazine, and became a well-like and contributing member
of the command. At our Halloween party, he came in second place in our
costume contest. He was a dead ringer "Alex" from Clockwork Orange, and
was topped only by an even more convincing Cruella Deville from 101

Whenever I got near his work area I would be greeted by the smell of his
linseed oil, and I knew I would be in for some kind of surprise. Seaman
Noeth painted the cover for several All Hands magazines. Top see him
tackle these assignments was a joy, probably because he was enjoying his
work, and appreciative of the opportunity. On my visits, I would see the
many versions and sketches he was working on, and I could see it all
come together with the finished product.

He took the advancement exam and passed it. As his six-month temporary
assignment came to an end, his command allowed him to transfer to my
command on a permanent basis as they did not have any billets for a
draftsman, and we did. Soon, he moved on to other Navy assignments as a
Draftsman, all because his ship wanted to give him a chance to realize
his dream, and my command wanted to help him get there. But most of all,
because he deserved it.

He did, indeed, become a talented Navy illustrator and draftsman. He
was assigned to the Navy Command Center where he skillfully created
briefings and presentations for Navy leadership. He was doing just that
on September 11, 2001, when terrorists forced an airliner to crash into
that building.

I will remember a bright, ambitious, creative young striker whenever I
smell linseed oil.

(To see a list of the navy men and women lost in the September 11th
attack, visit