Well, I’m home – for now. I have to leave tomorrow to deliver a car to Roanoke Rapids, NC; an eighteen hour round trip. But the time I spent with my shipmates was priceless. I really look forward to the reunion each year because it rejuvenates my spirit.
I thank you all for your comments and your well wishes. I have spent the last two hours getting caught up on all your blogs, and I am just as glad to be a part of your world, too. You folks are fun, funny and have courage that I wish I had just a little bit of.
When I have time I will tell you about my ship and the men who served aboard her. I was so fortunate to have serve with so many fine and brave soles who allow me to be apart of their crew. From WWII to Korea to the beginnings of Viet Nam, I worked along side combat veterans who earned many medals for bravery and wounds received in combat. And yet they are the most humble and decent group of guys I have ever been around. But, then we are all in our late 50’s to late 80’s. We are too old to be mean – just cantankerous. We are all grandfathers and some great-grandfathers. Some still have nightmares, but all have made a life for themselves and their familys. You would like them, too.
It was fun sitting around drinking a beer or two or twelve or twenty and telling and retelling the old stories. But they are just a funny and thrilling and sad as the first time I heard them. We are always having new guys show up due to the outreach program we use to gather up veterans who served aboard her, and they add new stories and memories to each meeting. And we all get to sit around and say Fuck, and Goddamn, and other words dear to navy men all over the world. The wives just sit and shake their heads and let us get away with it once a year. Of course, many of them (my Sweet Tea wasn’t there) will probably get their mouths washed out with lye soap when they get home, but, man, it was worth it.
However it is good to be home and sitting in my chair and sleeping in my bed – although I will be alone. And it was wonderful to hear the voices of my grandkids this afternoon. I really missed them. I visited the family home of Jessie and Frank James and I went to a riverboat museum in Kansas City, Mo. J-Man would have loved it, and Bug would have loved all the horses that were everywhere. I’ll get to see them Friday, and I’m ready, now.
I did think of E. Craig when I saw a picture of his ship, the USS Sullivans DD537, in a destroyer book in our display room, and I wish Biddie and her family the best and have them in my prayers. I just found out about her situation today, or I would have commented sooner.
Thank you, again for your comments, and I will tell you more when I get back from my trip.