Monday, February 07, 2011

Home Is The Sailor, Home From The Sea...

As ye olde poet, Robert Lewis Stevenson, loosely said in the poem Requiem, “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hills…body soar as hell, taking plenty of pills.” Or something like that.

Peeps, this was the best weekend I have had in many years. Yes, I am sore from climbing and descending ladders (stairs to you Army and civilian types) and from walking and swaying on a rolling, vibrating hunk of metal, but the trip was worth it all.

We arrived at the pier and proceeded to the USS Kidd (DDG 100) at Oh Six Hundred (6:00 a.m.)

We were checked in through security (and not one sailor, mail or female) threatened to search me or pat me down either. Just check our name off a list of invitees. We then went aboard and straight down a ladder to the mess decks where they served us breakfast.

Then we just toured the ship at our leisure. Of course there were sailors (ship’s company) everywhere and they were the best tour guides ever. NO ONE was too busy or too shy to talk to you. Even the sailors and officers who had their own family members aboard. They all answered any questions about anything on the ship and life aboard her. One thing I did notice, though.  The ladders seem to be much steeper than I remember.  And I use to be able to clime up and down them like a rat on a mooring line. Now it's one step at a time.  But I can still go down them facing forward. Not that old - YET.  Also, the passageways are taller.  For over two years this six foot four inch hunk of loving had to walk stooped over or get my scalp ripped from the overhead pipes and stuff.  On the Kidd I could walk straight up.


 This is the ship's Captain, Comander (CDR) Paul Bieraugel, addressing everyone.  This is one cool dude.

Some of the family, friends and crew on the helo flight deck.

I like this picture of a young sailor hold her daughter.  How hard it must be on her to leave her for months at a time.  Sacrifices are made by everyone who are serving or tied to a serice member. God bless'em all.

The guy on the right is Tom Anthony, a survivor of the accident that lost 74 young men. He was not only one of the 10 to survive off the front, he was a Radarman like me - and slept in the same bunk I had. The lady with the red scarf is Sylvia Campbell the Associations Secretary, wife of the President. J.C. (half shone with her) and the guy behind her smiling at the camera is my best pal, Earl Marchbanks. We served together. Seventy seven and still working full time at Fort Benning.


When we got underway, I was allowed to go into CIC and watch the guys (and gals) do the same shit I did when we left port.  Here they are tracking the ship's movement through the channel on the chart (map.)  I couldn't get too close and take pictures for security reasons.  If I did, and you saw them posted, I would have to kill you.

These two are looking at a radar scope - in color and with information on the screen.  Back in the day it was green on a black background and hand written notes on a board beside the scope.  The times they are a-changing.

Just to the right of the two guys above, this lovely young lady...What? Oh...sorry, this sailor is watching a television screen. There is a camera on top of the mast that will give CIC visual sightings, too. Good for close in identification that cannot be seen on a radar screen.

From there I went onto the bridge. This is on the starboard wing looking aft. Small wake means slow going out of the channel. The group below is Steve Kraus, also a survivor of the accident, and his son and daughter. Very cool people, too.

This is looking forward, of course, and if you look on the horizon to the right you will see another destroyer coming into port.

Also, a sub was coming in.  Here we are rendering honors to them and they to us as we pass.

Back on the bridge with the Captain, who put on a great show for us.

As soon as we cleared the last buoy, he kicked it up to 30 knots. The flight deck in port is at least 20 feet out of the water. Here it is on a few feet as the wake is kicking up and rear end laid down in the water. Incredible to see and experience. The sound, the wind whipping across the deck, the movement…getting turned on here folks…let me continue with the cruise narrative before...

Here is Tom again.  Check out the foam behind him.

And of course I had to give you some eye candy, too.  What kind of sailor would I be if I didn't have the ladies in mind. 

The ship's company set up the flight deck with tables and chairs for our lunch time.

As I said, the Captain wanted to show off. He told the peeps on the bride that he was gonna ‘tie the knot.’ We went into a high speed, emergency turn and then rolled back the other way and ran through two figure eights, the diameter being just a little over two ship lengths. The decks were at a 45 degree angle. It was fucking awesome.


This is looking forward to one of the turns.

After this, he slowed down and we had lunch. During lunch a Marine fighter jet put on a show for us. He made three passes up our port side. The first one was at landing speed for a carrier landing with the wheels down. The second one he zoomed past at attack speed (loud and great), but his third and final pass he broke the sound barrier 100 feet off the water and a half mile behind us. A huge white flash and a awesome boom. When he came by you couldn't hear him, but there was a white cone of shock wave coming off his tail. He was almost past the ship before the sound came along. It was all done before I could get a picture on my dinky little Kodak. But is was an incredible experience. It was even the first time of the ships crew, too. Not many people get to see a sonic boom and fly by at super sonic speed 100 feet off the water. I know, I know. You are so jealous. Suck it up.


Then, after a full day of sea maneuvers, 50 cal firing demonstrations, and two pods of porpoise (or dauphins. I only know one is protected and the other is dinner) chasing us, we headed back into San Diego. This is Point Loma, the sight all sailors look for. Like the Statue of Liberty or the Golden Gate Bride. When you see it you know you are home.


This is me and Earl with two Mustangs. A Mustang is an officer who started out as an enlisted man, came up through the ranks and went on to become an officer. These are two very cool dudes. On the right is Sean Page, from Dallas, GA, (his mom took the picture for us) my neighbor and the other is John Wojcik. Sean was a Chief Petty Officer and John was 1st Class PO when they received their commissions. John Wojcik even swapped coins with me. I now have his Mustang coin. Best gift ever.  Believe me, the swap meant more to me than it did to him.


This is CDR Jennifer Ellinger, the XO of the Kidd. In June, when CDR Bieraugel leaves for his next assignment, she will take over as Captain of the Kidd. One in a line of dedicated and committed women who will lead the US Navy into the twenty-first century and beyond. Ooooh Raah to her, too.


So now it's time to leave the lovey lady.  But as a sailor, I had to look once more, longly, at her ass.

And to ogle her front.

She is a very classy lady who is also has earned a Combat E on her bride for being an efficient ship during combat maneuvers and assignments. She will also be deploying again in June. I already have John down as a milsupport person to receive goodies from a jealous Georgian.

That about winds up this seafaring tail, folks. If you have any questions, just let me know.

Later, Peeps!


Dazee Dreamer said...

I bet you were in total 7th heaven. Those are some awesome photos

Anonymous said...

It looks like you had a wonderful time! I'm so glad you went on this trip. Thanks for showing us all the pics. I've never seen a ship like that before.

Anonymous said...

My heart is smiling for you, reading the words of this post. I can tell how much the experience meant to you, and hear the love in your phrases. So glad you had a good experience, you deserve it.

Kaydee said...

What an amazing post, Coffey!! It looks like you had quite the time and a wonderful journey down a few memory lanes. Thanks for sharing!

You know, next time you're down this way I need to show y'all some southern hospitality and have you over for some coffee and some sight seeing around Camp Pendleton. (not that there is all that much to see)

Paxford said...

wow! just wow! So glad you went!


Pamela said...

what a delightful tour. Thank you for sharing your special trip with us landlubbers.

Momma Fargo said...

Very amazing! Thanks for sharing your tour. I bet you were in just pure bliss the entire time.

suz said...

Wonderful pics!!! It looks like a terrific trip, I'm glad you went.

CI-Roller Dude said...

I think she needs more guns! Lots of Guns...
That was cool. I like the Navy folks I worked with over the years. for some reason, they seem more organized.
When we had Sea Bees for our security team for a short time, I liked the way they did things so much, that I used mose of their ideas later on. Good leadership skills!

Glad you got to go for a ride...hell, you could water ski off the back of that boat.

ParachuteCutie said...

I could not be more happy for you John! I'm so thankful you made this trip and grateful that you shared the pictures and excellent narrative with us.

Wrexie said...

THAT ROCKS! Literally. lol! I'm sooooo happy for you ...and sooo jealous too. That 'tying the knot business' just looked crazy fun. And the sonic boom. daaaaammm. I've always thought sonic booms were amazing... even when they knocked the dishes off the walls! Never saw one like that though... lucky sailor.
Glad you got to go deserved it. :D

Lickety Splitter said...

Wow, a ship full of men. That sounds like an adventure I could enjoy!

I'm sooooooo happy you decided to go. You can never have too many pleasant experiences! Loved the photos and the 6 ft. 4 eye candy ;)

Mary Manley said...

Great pictures! Much different that the cruise I took with Tom on the Evans. Glad you had a good time!

myevil3yearold said...

Thanks for sharing. I had to show my son your pics. Boo is quiet the enthusiast. He likes to tour battleships. He has only seen two. The USS Alabama and the USS North Carolina. He loved the pics. He thinks you are the coolest!

Sandra said...

This is awesome! I love that you were in a few of the pics, though, I'm always looking for you and your friendly face.
What an experience. I'm so glad you shared these pictures.

anon said...

Absolutely fantastic, John! Thanks for the tour!

Wow, I bet the figure eights at high speeds were a total rush!

And the look on that sailors face as she's holding her daughter, and preparing to leave her, really makes an impression. Bless them all and may they stay safe.

Glad you had such a great time, you deserve it, no matter what everyone says about you : )

Jamie said...

I loved this post, I can "read" your excitement and it's so refreshing. I love when my friends are happy. Hugs, buddy. :)

Barb said...

Wow. What a great experience. I'm really happy for you. :)

Ed said...

This is SOOOOoooo fucking AWESOME, John!

I am so glad you got to go!

And I am very jealous.

Ducky said...

I feel such pride for you, John. What an amazing experience! I am so honored that you shared and so thrilled that you had the opportunity.

A Speechless Duck and eyes aren't wet...that's just fog or sumptin'

Coffeypot said...

Thanks, guys. It was an incredible experience and I am so glad I went. You should be extra proud of our Navy. I know my faith has been resorted with the caliber of people we have serving.

Stacy said...

Wow. I know you were debating about whether to take this trip or not. Looks like it was a terrific weekend and I'm so glad you went and had such a good time. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tour, John. I'm honor your past service and salute those who carry on in out stead.

Unknown said...

No doubt your smile will last for many, many moons. Such an amazing experience! Thank you for sharing the photos of so many fine Sailors.
Once again, my heartfelt thanks for your service yesterday and all you do today. You are a good man.

Miss Em said...

A-hoy Blog Daddy,

Gosh it looks as if I'm late to the party.

I am SO en-vee-ous.

Thanks for sharing the pic's.
Glad to know that there are no new knots on the top of the "boney" housing thing sitting on that stake poking up between the shoulders.
Hope you caught a few winks on the way back cause I doubt that you slept much during the week-end.

Miss Em

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do love the mother picture. I'm glad that you went! I knew you were on the fence for awhile!

Unknown said...

first of all, love the pictures. second of all, that that picture with that sailor and her daughter well i'm that little girl and the young sailor is my older sister ok. get your facts straight people!

Unknown said...

First of all, love the pictures!Next,the picture that young sailor and her daughter, I'm the little girl and the young sailor is my OLDER SISTER ok! You people should get your facts straight before you blog or post something! >:(