18 April 2006

Hi jinks, Fun, and excitement while ashore part 3

Last Southern Time and on this Southern Channel we learn that our hero had pulled into Miami/ Ft. Lauderdale for their "Fleet Week" celebration. He was trying to survive his duty day and had just been flashed by some fine, up standing members of the U of Miami female student body.

So after seeing this boat with all these good looking female bodies going by very early in the morning on a really nice morning. It made me feel happy to live. About 10minutes after that fun and excitement, the voice of god came over the flight deck announce system.
"Alright folks, you have seen the exciting highlight of the day. Man up for your tour spots, first tour group is on its way up. Stand by to run el 4, el 4 going to the flight deck, run el 4."
Upon which a loud ringing and buzzing happened and in the far corner of the ship's flight deck the aircraft elevator named "elevator 4" went up from the hangar bay with about 200 people all being lead by the poor saps who actually had to travel all over the ship taking people to the different tour spots. After it stopped and the safety stanchions were taken down, the tour guides basically let people go and say once you have walked the flight deck and told everyone meet up at the base of the island and they would go one with the rest of the tour.
Now I was standing under neath an F-14 we had and because "Top Gun" is generally one of people most favorite movies they can identify with it right away, I was mobbed by about 100 some odd people all trying to take pictures of it. They ducked underneath it as they walked from the nose to the tail, took pictures of it all from all over, put their kids in front of it took pictures, put their kids next to me in and had me hold them as they took pictures of me with their pictures. To me it filled me with a large about of pride about being in the Navy and doing the job that I like to do. I also gave my little spiel about what was being shown at this moment in the aircraft launch procedure. Gave a description of all the chaos that went on to launch and recover aircraft. Fielded questions, etc. Like I said, I really enjoyed and got pride out of people saying. The whole day went like that, elevator 4 would run, a mass a people, answer questions, tried to keep the people from bumping their heads on the airplanes, send them on their happy way to see the rest of USS Old Ship
The scariest moments during my day was when a couple of "Mr. Geedunks" were all looking around the plane and stared to get right under the tail hook and take pictures of the assembly. Well even though the hook was had a safety pin in it, it still weights about 75-80 pounds and comes down with some force when there isn't any hydraulic power on the plane. I had seen it happen earlier in a different underway period watch an experienced maintainer actually break his foot because when he pulled the safety pin out to ready the airplane to be moved the tail hook wasn't completely stowed and it came down and the point landed on his foot. Crushed the steel toe of his safety boot right around his toes and broke his foot.
The best moment was when a group of high school girls came through from their school science class and came to look at where science and math could lead them. While their teacher/chaperone's was off looking at something else they surrounded me and had pictures taken with me, wearing my white hat and neckerchief, both individually and as a group. A couple of the attractive girls when they had their pictures taken with kissed me on each cheek. A couple of them when they had their individual photos taken tried to re-enact the closing scene from "Officer and a Gentleman". You know the one there Richard Gere's character carried Debra Winger's character out of the paper mill. That moment gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling for a different reason. I traded information with the instructor for that group and corresponded with that little group for a couple of years. I think a couple of those girls thought about it and maybe got turned by my recruiting efforts because I just saw one of them going through aircraft specific training recently were I am at now, and last time I talked to them was about 6-7yrs ago.
The part that broke my heart about that day was when a tour group from the local veterans group came on board. There were the Desert Storm vets, Vietnam War vets, Korean, and some World War 2 vets. When they all came up, I did my spiel and listen intently with rapture as they told some of their war stories. Yet it was when one of the World War 2 vets who came up to me hobbling on a cane with a vest marked with the vets hall that he belonged to on, thanked me for doing my job. I talked to him for a little bit and found out that he was on the other USS Oldship during World War 2 from the start to the end. I got looking at his vest again and saw that they had stitch into a spot where we normally wear our ribbons that he had a couple of the ribbons reserved for some heroics that fall between the Navy Cross and the Navy Achievement medal. Seeing a member of the World War 2 generation come up and give me the hand shake and a pat on the back again gave me the emotion overload.
The last moment from that day that really got my warm and fuzzy meter pegged was when a kid that wasn't much older then 5 or 6 came up to me and asked me if I was a real sailor. It was almost like that Applebee's commerical, that shows the kid talking to the proby firefighter and asking him if he is a real fire fighter.

I went through this day doing this in 4hr stints from 8am till about 730 that night. At the end of the day even though I had intially bitch and complianed as was my right being an E-3 about being tasked with it initally. I really felt good and proud to be wearing my uniform that day. That night when i had a quick chance to hit the pier and use the phones down there I made some calls home and to some other family. Talking a cousin and his wife, she mentioned that her father owned a club down in the Miami area. I had meet the man once when I was up seeing them and playing with thier kids. He was an interesting man to sit and talk with, he had spent a lot of time in the FL and Bermuda area running various night clubs and resturants, he left me with an open invitation that if I was ever in the region I could get in free. My cousin's wife gave me the name of this night club, I decided with my day of liberty the next day to go and visit the place when it opened.

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