November 09, 2006

Why I Support the Navy

We’re in the home stretch here for Valour-IT. It ends tomorrow… the day before Veteran’s Day.

So tonight’s post is why I picked Navy. I think most of you know. I grew up as the eldest of three children of a career Naval Aviator. Graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he flew P-2Vs and then P-3s, did his stint in Naval Post Graduate School, and worked all over including the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratories. TGOO did Strategic War Gaming, which is actually what put us in our two year stint in Taiwan in the late 70s.

In the Navy, deployment is par for the course. Six months in and six months out for two or three years for ‘sea duty’ which means you can be with your squadron or you can be on a ship and if you fly jets or choppers, it means both.

The Saratoga was the first carrier I remember. While you Navy veterans may not have such fond memories of aircraft carriers, it was aboard the USS Saratoga that I consciously remember my first visit with Santa. At night, the ships lined up in Mayport, Florida were all decorated with lights. During the day, there was a big Christmas party aboard the ship. TGOO took us in all the spaces, the first time I'd ever walked through a hatch, and then below, next to one of the big aircraft elevators, sat Santa. Santa had a gift for me… and I think it was a doll.

Only a Navy Junior thinks of Santa and thinks of the smell of oil and JP5. To this day, my comfort smell is aircraft carriers. When I went to work at Company X, deep in the shop, it had that carrier smell. On my most stressed out days, I’d grab my binder and head out to the shop to take a deep breath and forget what was going on around me.

Shore duty didn’t mean TGOO was home much just because he wasn’t deploying. There was still an awful lot of travel. Meetings, schools, and just ‘Navy’ stuff.

Mom did it pretty much alone. Three kids and Mom. At the commissary, the paper bags in which our groceries were bagged had printed on the outside, “Navy Wife, The Toughest Job in the Navy”. I’m sure it said the equivalent at the USAF, Army and Marine Corps installations. And where I am sure it is true of the wives of other branches of the service… I KNOW IT TO BE TRUE of the Navy Wife.

I remember sitting at the port, waiting for carriers to come in, sailors lining the deck. The excitement of the families, the kids bouncing, beside themselves that Dad was coming home… wives and girlfriends dressed up and anxious. When I was young, we’d peer up to the thousands of faces on deck looking for TGOO, and of course could never find him. When I was in high school it was easy as he was the Navigator and had a Primo Seat. He’d wave down from the bridge and we could pick him out.

I remember my siblings and I making posters for him when he came home from 6 months in Keflavik or Sigonella, waiting at the hangar for his Squadron to fly in, plane after plane, rolling in… waiting for them to stop, running to the Tarmac, waiting to see which plane my Dad emerged from.

It is an odd feeling. You are so elated… but there are tears. I cry as I write this remembering, it is a warm feeling that constricts your heart and throat. It is a feeling I don’t have words for it is so overwhelming… I can’t watch reunions on TV or look at the pictures in our newspaper of Navy families being reunited. It evokes all the emotions… as if they were being felt fresh, as if I was the one standing there, hugging my Dad as my Mom hugged him tighter.

TGOO used to create advent calendars. We’d receive them 30 days before his return and he’d have spent hours and hours cutting out little aircraft carriers from light blue paper, and gently gluing them onto this sheet and under each carrier was the number until his return. We’d pull them off every day. Some deployments it would be a little airplane he’d have spent hours cutting out… probably with cuticle scissors. He’d have to have used something small.

It was my life. It is what I knew. It made me who I am.

And so… some pictures!!!

TGOO Boxing for The Academy in his Plebe Year.

TGOOkickingbutt.jpg

This is TGOO... his last year? I'm not sure. All I know is he's REALLY REALLY young here!

Midpicsm.JPG

This is TGOO, I believe when he was CO of his Squadron.

TGOO.JPG


My Dad always came home. I have friends whose Dads did not. My Dad came home physically intact. There are Dads that don’t.

Valour IT. Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops. Veteran’s Day is coming. Don’t forget our men and women who have made a sacrifice for this country. I haven’t. I won’t.

So… go HERE and pick a service under which to donate. It all goes to the same place folks. It’s all goodness.

Or go below and click on Navy to donate. I did and now you know why. The men and women in the Navy will always have my heart as it was in the Navy my father served and the experiences that helped to make me who I am… good and bad.

Go Navy!

P.S. It’s Lex’s Birthday. Go wish the Good Captain a Happy 46th!


Posted by Boudicca at November 9, 2006 08:50 PM | TrackBack
Comments

When I was a crewdog on Army helicopters, we landed on the deck of the USS Saratoga somewhere in the Adriatic. Great post, now I know why Navy is kicking our ass.

Posted by: Sgt Hook at November 9, 2006 10:14 PM

that Hubba is a lucky lady..

look at those bonnie knees...

no wonder he loves to wear a skirt...

Posted by: armywifetoddlermom at November 9, 2006 10:21 PM

awesome post, bou! your dad is a dreamboat!

Posted by: shoe at November 9, 2006 10:28 PM

Sgt. Hook, thank you! But I'm not sure the donors are coming from here, although I do hope. (I love my readers.) I'm not a big blogger like some of those other guys! I just keep hoping if everyone gives just a dollar, we'll all get there.

Shoe and AWTM- Ahhh... but my Mom! Eh. When they were dating, she looked like a young Liz Taylor. Now? Liz would KILL to look like my Mom. She's still quite the looker!

Posted by: Bou at November 9, 2006 10:43 PM

Nice post. Similar experiences.

And wow can I see some of you and Mo in that last picture.

Posted by: Sissy at November 10, 2006 11:39 AM

I know that dude.

Posted by: Toluca Nole at November 10, 2006 03:44 PM

Yeah, TN... you look just like him in that CO pic.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at November 10, 2006 08:53 PM

Angus + Toluca Nole = devastatingly handsome men

Posted by: Toluca Nole at November 10, 2006 09:03 PM

Heh... I'll take your word for it.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at November 10, 2006 09:11 PM

Bou, I tried reading this on the train and had to stop because I was about to start balling and people were already looking at me funny as it was.

I tried reading this quickly during lunch just before a meeting and realized my eyes were turning puffy and red, so I stopped.

I'm finally sitting here balling my eyes out because I know the feeling you speak of.
My baby sister achieved the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class before she passed. I was very proud of her and went to every graduation or ceremony that involved her. I remember there were a few times when I'd miss talking with her for long periods, before the internet age, that I'd surprise her and meet her when her ship would come in from various ports in Europe. I know the excitement, the anticipation, the wondering if as a woman, she's been given a hard time or if she was ok. It didn't matter to me that she had rank, she was my baby sister and I was always very proud of her.

I don't speak of her much because, well, I miss her. But today is a good day to honor her for her service.

Thank you for this post, even though I'm still crying!

Posted by: michele at November 10, 2006 11:31 PM

LOL..Howdy again from Houston. MY father was class of 1951..yours ?

Jane aka Boschka

p.s. if you see Boschka..it's me

Posted by: Jane aka Boschka at November 15, 2006 09:43 AM