July 24, 2009

This Day in history (my history at least)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of my entrance into the United States Navy. I look back on my time in the Navy with mostly fond memories. I went in 22 days after I turned 18, fresh out of high school, so wet behind the ears, but so hopeful, so determined to make a life for myself. I finished my basic training with few issues, but I had a few issues in my chosen career field school and was summarily dismissed, and sent out to the fleet with no designated job. Since I had attended an engineering field career school, I was placed in the engineering division of the guided missile frigate USS McInerney (FFG-8). I learned seemingly everything there was to know about auxiliary equipment, meaning everything that wasn't the main propulsion units. Diesel generators, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, air compressors, hydraulic equipment, it was quite a learning experience.

We were deployed to the Persian Gulf in January of 1991, in support of Operation Desert Storm, and proceeded to due our duty as an escort for merchant ships traveling through the area, as well as escorting other navy ships such as the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), which was a WWII battleship providing what they called NGFS, or Naval GunFire Support. It was quite a sight to see those massive guns firing in the dead of night from 2 miles away, a flame rippling out into the darkness like fingers reaching out to ensnare the target, and then a few seconds later, being able to actually feel the shockwave as it reached our ship, like a breeze out of nowhere.

The only time I was faced with my own mortality was ironically the day before we left the Gulf, our superiors thought we had stumbled into a minefield and set battle stations. I was so scared, and yet, because of my extensive training and constant practice drills, I was calm and kept my mind on my job. Still, I couldn't help but think of what would happen if I died. Would anyone remember me? What will my parents feel like? My life had hardly begun, it would be such a shame for it to end now, but at least I would have died serving my country.

Well as you can see, I did not die that day, nor did anyone else, turned out to be a false alarm. I still have very fond memories of standing out on the McInerney's deck, at night, with nothing but the stars and the ocean as far as the eye could see, and to this day I don't remember ever feeling more content. There are more stars in the sky when you are out on the ocean, no light pollution to obscure them, and being on the water, something about it is soothing to me, like I belong there.

I got out of the Navy in July of '92, and have since gotten married and became a father to 3 beautiful daughters. I used to regret leaving the Navy, but now I feel that things happened for a reason, and I would not trade my life since then for a chance to go back and stay. I take some comfort in the fact that the ship I called home for 2 years, my ship, is still in commission. She is doing her duty, serving her country still, when many of her sisters have been decommissioned, so for me, part of me is still out there too, on the water, content, and all is right with the world.

If you are interested in seeing pictures of my ship, and others of the U. S. Navy both past and present, click the links below.

http://www.navsource.org/

http://www.navsource.org/archives/07/0708.htm (USS McInerney)
http://www.navsource.org/archives/01/64a.htm (USS Wisconsin)

1 comments:

Bella Foxglove said...

That was amazing! I agree with you, being in the middle of the ocean, with no light pollution to disturb your vision of the zillions of stars, combined with the sound of the waves..there is no other feeling like it on Earth...