What is a Deployment Book?

A deployment book is an unofficial publication that documents a deployment or naval cruise – a “deployment yearbook” if you will. These books can become an invaluable keepsake detailing the deployment of military personnel. While deployment books may be common to military personnel, many civilians may not be familiar with the term. Yet these books are both fascinating and vital as they document moments in our history and are penned by people who were there, who actually participated in the events.


The contents of the book are typically completed by the company or crew with each person or most of the people making a contribution. However, that does not mean that everyone will receive a copy. This is particularly true in the case of Navy cruise books, the naval equivalent to deployment books. Navy cruise book printing tends to be quite limited with only about 2/3 of the crew receiving a copy in many cases.


But it is this scarcity, combined with the subject matter, which makes these books collector’s items. Collections may include certain time frames, certain companies, a certain ship or they can be very broad with not real rhyme or reason.


Deployment books and Navy cruise books have an interesting history in and of themselves. Sometime in the late 1800s, naval crews began documenting details of their cruises in log books. These log books evolved into the Navy cruise books that we have today and a U.S. Navy tradition was born. In the early days, the standard military deployment could be up to two years. Therefore, the log books covered a period of about two years instead of today’s typical one year or less deployment.


These books serve many purposes but one of the most important may be how they help soldiers as they reintegrate into civilian culture. They can help the soldier explain some things to their family and friends – things that they may be having trouble explaining or describing. These books can help the soldier and his family find and foster the closeness and familiarity that may have been lost or diminished by miles, time and indescribable events and circumstances.


At military reunions, veterans will look over their deployment books and reminisce. They may talk about the times they shared as strangers in a strange land, or remember fallen brothers. They laugh and cry and talk and remember.


A military deployment book or Navy cruise book is a good way to commemorate a soldier or sailor who has served his or her country. It is a way to preserve the memories and to tell a story in which mere words may not be adequate.

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