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.
MASTERPIECE #1762 - Per Wickenberg, Swedish *Oedipus, Now Wishing He'd Sprung For a Pair of Those Eclipse Glasses*, 1833 Oil on canvas mounted on panel
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