to have served for 22 years in support of the men and women of the USN and USMC. I was fortunate and never spent any significant time someplace I wasn't reasonably happy to be. Short deployments so family separation never lasted more than a few short months.
Ships I sailed in: USS Milwaukee AOR-2 (ASW exercises and UNREPS in the Atlantic), USS Juneau LPD-10 (deployed with 3/4 Marines to AMPHIBTREX in Thailand), and USS Frank Cable AS-40 homeported in Charleston, SC. Ashore: 4 years total in Okinawa. Norfolk, VA, Beaufort, SC (MCAS and MCRD "where it all began for some of you"
, SUBASE Groton, CT to name some.
I wish every veteran (Vietnam Vets especially) could have the kind of experience that the citizens of New York City provide during Fleet Week. You know I am not all that fond of NYC, but people in NYC know how to say thank you to service members. More than once I fought tears when a customs agent at JFK said "Welcome home" when I was coming home after 30 hours of travel from the far east. Those thank you's do mean an awful lot.
Grunts and Gunners, Snipes and Bilge rats, Riggers and Repairmen, all those who serve or served with honor have earned the highest respect and appreciation. I have had the opportunity to break the ice and bend an elbow with a WWII veteran who donned diving gear to recover remains of sailors from sunken ships in Pearl Harbor; a Vietnam veteran who hunkered down with his buddies and called in a napalm drop on his own position when they were overrun during Tet. Ordinary Americans who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances and rose to the occasion.
I have been lucky and blessed, always "in the rear with the gear" when it mattered. When I go up to the VA hospital, I see all these old guys. It is good to stop and think of all they have done.