Wednesday, November 13, 2013

16 Years

November 13, 2013 = 16 years as a sailor. That pretty much blows my mind. I don't want to say a whole lot today about the past 16 years but thought I'd share just a slice of it with you. It's been an interesting path, for sure, and one probably not repeated too often. Let me see if I can sum it up in one discombobulated poem....deep breath....

Wiping tables at Mickey D's
17 years old, not idea what to do
A recruiter stopped me, that spot remembered today
"Come take a test...come see me, ok?"

One test then a second test
Off to boot camp in 1991 I went
Naval Nuclear Power School, hardest school the Navy had
Got mono, passed out in the shower, but graduated still

Trained on a submarine in Charleston, SC
Then reported aboard a nuclear guided missile cruiser
Her name was "Virginia"...the USS Virginia CGN-38
Drug ops in the Caribbean, a crew of 500

I decommissioned her, her days were soon over
Off to a brand new ship, a brand new aircraft carrier
The namesake a senator, his name was John C. Stennis
From an old ship to a new ship, "plank owner" on both

Diagnosed with vasovagal syncope after passing out one night
Flew me off on a helo, my wife awaited ashore
Limited duty at the Red Cross, but soon returned to service
Another carrier, south of Iraq, her name the George Washington

It had been 8 years now, it was time to serve ashore
Working on fast attack submarines was my new job, for sure
It sucked, it was miserable, but I didn't go to sea
I finished, at last, my college degree...for free

10 years done, one child born to us
I said "goodbye, Navy"...our days are done
A few moves across the country, but ended up in our hometown
Two children in tow, the need to serve continued to grow again

It was 2007, I had achieved my graduate degree
The Navy, a commissioning program, I raised my hand again
A Supply Corps Officer I became, wearing a butter bar on my collar
The Reserve, a "part time job," I was a sailor once more

Some four years later, the butter bar turned silver
I said my goodbyes and this sailor went to the desert
Afghanistan is not pretty, it's ugly in fact
So very poor, so much hate, so much American blood shed

I saw those 30 Navy SEALs go home in flag-covered caskets
I was on the front line, holding a salute I'll never, ever forget
Loaded on C-17s, a Heroes Flight like none other
" just have no idea what is going on over here."

Home at last after the longest 7 months of my life
Reintegration was interesting, a struggle to say the least
Back to my "job," never the same like before
My desire to serve grew once more

Deeply integrated into my Supply Corps community
I love the relationships I've built within it
Close, mentor-like, a bond like no other
I love my Navy, I love being a sailor, I regret none of it, ever

Today, I recruit my relief. Yes, I am a Navy recruiter
Yet integrity remains the bedrock of all I am
I recruit pilots and every other flavor of Naval Officers
There is no better job for me, in uniform..for my family...for my country

So 16 years are now behind me
I have no idea where it will ever end
20 years? 25 years? 30 years, perhaps?
Only God knows, only God leads the way

It was two short days ago, Veterans Day 2013
I spoke to little kids, about 500 or so of them
Their faces, lit up, I asked them to raise their hands
If they want to serve, would they volunteer, does our country have a chance?

Hands up everywhere, excitement was in that small crowd
Yet 1%, only 1% of our country serves today
It is an be part of that 1%
To be a sailor, to serve my country, to wear my country's cloth

I'd be a great failure if I didn't close out today
Without saying "thank you" and "I love you" to my bride of nearly 21 years
"Babe, you've stood beside me through thick and thin,
You are but 50% of my service to my country.

Wind beneath my wings? Wind in my sails?
A reason to get up? A reason to keep moving forward?
I love you with all my heart, I love serving together.
'A Navy Wife,' you hate that phrase, but this sailor's wife you are. You are my wife, my bride."

Never short-winded, always too much to say.
I love my country, I love my U.S. Navy.
Never forget those serving today, the Navy is on watch 24 hours a day
Honor, Courage, Commitment, they ARE the Navy way.
May 2011, Camp Mike Spann in Northern Afghanistan with Afghan soldier

Beneath F-15 Strike Eagle at Bagram Air Field, northern Afghanistan

F-15 Strike Eagle on flight line at Bagram Air Field in northern Afghanistan

USS George Washington, CVN-73, my 3rd ship

USS Virginia, CGN-38, my first ship but now decommissioned

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USS John C. Stennis, CVN-74 during sea trials which I was a part of. Nothing like standing in the hangar bay and seeing ocean out one side and the sky out the other during maneuvers like these. Great times!

Today: I've got the watch.

1 comment:

Jerod Husvar said...

Thanks, brother for everything you do. This country is a better place for your service and I am a better man for your friendship. And thank you to M, as well!