There is a tradition in the United States Navy that no submarine is ever truly lost at sea. Those boats and the crews who don’t return to port are considered “still on patrol” in perpetuity. Active duty sailors would never dream of leaving their still on patrol shipmates behind, so every year, usually at the Christmas holiday, sailors manning communications hubs ashore and at sea send out a message. They send holiday wishes for health and happiness to those they know will receive it, and the same wishes to those listed as still on patrol.
What if those submariners who never returned are still out there? What if it’s the energy of the yearly good wishes that keeps them going on their eternal patrol? And what if their eternal patrol protects the living against threats more otherworldly than mundane wars between nation states?
What about other military men and women, disappeared or lost at sea, in the air, or on land? Is there a Roman Legion still manning Hadrian’s Wall? Are there ghostly flight crews who herd hapless aircraft away from the Bermuda Triangle? Tell us stories about military men and women who continue to protect humanity long after they’ve taken their last breath. Tell us what happens when they take the oath to protect their people not just from threats foreign and domestic, but supernatural as well.
I hadn’t come across the “still on patrol” concept before. From Wikipedia, here is a memorial plaque from the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia:
It sounds like an interesting anthology at the very least….reminds me of J G Ballard’s One Afternoon at Utah Beach (the text of which is not, as far as I can find, available online)