The inspiration behind this patch is one of the greatest things I've ever witnessed in my time in uniform. So, story time...
The day before we pulled back into port from my first deployment, we had an award ceremony for all of the personnel in Air Department. Everyone was required to be there, in ranks, and looking as presentable as possible after spending seven months at sea. The Air Boss and Commanding Officer took the stage and began presenting awards to sailors one by one, shaking their hands and grabbing a quick pic for the gram. After they were done with the awards, the Air Boss wanted to acknowledge and thank the sailors who were either separating or transferring once we got back home. One of the guys he called up, took the stage, shook the hands of all the top brass, walked over to the mic, and yelled "E-3 till I'm free!!"
I'm not exaggerating, it was more hyped than when Jordan Belfort screamed "I'm not fuckin' leaving!" in The Wolf of Wall Street. People were losing their minds, myself included. All of the chiefs were frantically trying to get us to shut the fuck up and stand at attention. But, I swear all the pilots in attendance were trying as hard as they could to hold it together. It was like the shining beacon of hope we all desperately needed at the time.
Yo, Fish, if you're reading this, you're my goddamn hero.