During my tour of active duty in the United States Navy I was afforded the opportunity to serve aboard two ships - the USS Jouett CG-29 and the USS Lake Champlain CG-57. As a crew member I became familiar with the sounds of the different bells, whistles, and alarms and gained knowledge of the purpose of each. One alarm in particular that I became very familiar with was the alarm for general quarters.
Sometimes the alarm would be sounded as a drill to test the crew’s response time and to ensure that they were always on the alert in the event that a real battle situation was to occur. However, without the foresight of whether it was a drill or a real battle situation, whenever the alarm for general quarters was sounded, crew members knew that they literally had minutes to batten down all the hatches and report to their assigned battle stations.
Upon arriving at their assigned battle stations each crew member had to don their protective battle gear, communications with the bridge and Damage Control Central had to be established, a full and complete muster report of the crew had to be taken and reported to the Officer in Charge, and every crew member stood at the ready at their assigned posts. Staying alert on the part of all crew members, from the highest ranking officer to the lowest ranking enlisted member, was paramount. All it would take to cause a disaster and utter chaos would be for one person to be inattentive at a critical moment.
I can still recall one such critical moment while I was serving aboard the USS Lake Champlain. The ship was scheduled to do missile testing and as was the normal procedure, the alarm for general quarters was sounded and everyone was at their assigned battle stations. During the course of the testing, the tracking device in one of the missiles malfunctioned, and instead of heading for its designated target it turned about and started heading back towards the ship. If it had not been for the crewmen monitoring the radars to report what was happening, and the crewmen who were standing by on the guns to shoot the missile down, there could have been a complete disaster that day, and it is quite possible that this author would not be writing this article.
The alarm for general quarters is sounded on many occasions in the world today. The missiles that are being fired at us are not the conventional type, but they are the fiery darts of the adversary. As a crew member aboard ship must always stand a vigilant watch and be on the alert for any possible danger, we too must “be sober, be vigilant; because [our] adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). As we prepare to go into battle we must remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Therefore, we dare not go to battle unprotected. As a crew member aboard ship must don his protective battle gear at general quarters, we also must don our battle gear by putting on “the whole armour of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
In order to be fully dressed for the battles that we face in this life, we must have “[our] loins girt about with truth, and [have] on the breastplate of righteousness”. Our feet need to be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. We also need to take “the shield of faith, wherewith [we] shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”. And we need to take “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (see Ephesians 6:14-17). In addition, we need to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
We are reminded in Scripture that "whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction" (1 Nephi 15:24). When the alarm for general quarters is sounded, may we always be found faithful and standing a vigilant watch that He may extend His arm and support us against all the fiery darts of the adversary, and be with us in every time of trouble (see Doctrine and Covenants 3:8) is my humble prayer. And I leave these thoughts with you humbly in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.