25 August 2007

Arrived in the real world 10yrs ago.

Well dear readers. Yours truly, has decided after many moons of consideration to head to his 10yr high school reunion. I am going with the romantic interest. It will be interesting to see how we all have changed since high school. I am still feeling kind of scared about this, but the romantic interest has told me that she will stand by my side and help me get over it.
I know the biggest change for me is that I didn't got to college and now 10yrs later am basically middle or upper management of a maintenance work center. Most of my close friends from college have been out of the college for about 6 years, they are more then likely still in the drone in section 7-b status. That along with the fact that I can tell some really funny (or bad) sea stories of being to places like Lisbon, Naples, Portsmouth, Hiroshima, Rhodes, Palama, Cannes, Monaco, Mount Vesuvius, Crete, Dubai, the Gold Suk, etc.
So as I write this I am arguing with myself about whether to wear the uniform, even if it is the whites, or just go in a nice blazer and pair of slacks to my reunion which is tonight. Will have to hit up the romantic interest and ask her opinion.

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24 August 2007

Meet another family that lost 5 sons to a war

Reading about the Hubbard family today in the news and about how this family gave up three of thier sons to the war in Iraq. Then with the lost of an US Army UH-60 Black Hawk heliocopter the Hubbard family had lost two sons to the war. The first one LCPL. Jared Hubbard to a roadside bomb in Ramadi in 2004 and now Spc. Nathan Hubbard died. All the Mainstream media seems to be making this a big deal. I feel for the family and the lost of their loved ones, yet this isn't the first family to lose one or more member in the same war. Thinking about this at lunch with some of the guys that I work with, I remembered the name of another family that lost all 5 of thier sons in the same battle in World War 2. That family was the Sullivan family when the ship the sons were on was sunk from under them in the meat grinder that became known as Guadalcanal.

The five brothers: George, Frank , Joseph, Madison, Albert; aged 27, 25, 23, 22, 19 respectively. They joined the US Navy after Pearl Harbor after hearing that one of thier sister's boyfriends had died at the Japanese attack. All five of them enlisted in 1942 and did so on the stipulation that they serve together. They all came from Waterloo, Iowa. The Navy bent over backwards to make that request happen. The oldest two, George and Frank had previously served in the Navy for an initial four years and had gotten out in May of 1941 before the war crisis froze everyone in place. After hearing about a close friend and boyfriend of theirs sister named Bill Ball who had died that terrible morning of December 7th, 1941. The brothers decided to enlist again in the Navy to take the fight back to the Japanese. Through out the entire enlistment request they stated they wanted to served together. So the US Navy honored that request, mainly as a PR stunt initially. So they all were processed together, sent off to boot camp together, and then only time there were broken up was to attend the rating specific schools. After successfully graduating their A-schools the 5 brothers were assigned to the USS Juneau (CL-52) a light cruiser that had been recently commissioned.
The Juneau had previously served in actions in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Her previous claim to fame was as part of the blockading force off some of the French colonies still in the Americas. The tied down the Vichy French naval units to prevent them from sorting and razing all sorts of havoc with Allied Shipping. As the naval war in the Pacific became something of desperation, the Juneau sailed Brooklyn Naval Yard to be refitted and made the transition through the Panama Canal into the Pacific theater of Operations. it was during the refitting that the Sullivan Brothers joined up with the crew of the Juneau.
She joined up with the USS Wasp (CV-7) task force as they sortied out of New Caledonia to help support the US Marines on the ground at Guadalcanal. It was during the Battle of Santa Cruz, that the Juneau first tasted combat. The Juneau was there with the rest of the screening destroyers to help and rescue the survivors of both the USS Wasp and the USS Hornet (CV-8). Both of which were sunk during the battle. The screening force brought home a total of 1910 survivors from just the Wasp alone.
During the third Battle of Guadalcanal that the Juneau was sunk. The Juneau formed a covering force for Adm. Richmond Turner's cargo ships, which were bringing in fresh troops and needed supplies to the Marines ashore. On the morning of 12th of November the ship arrived off the 'Canal and with in hours they were attacked by Japanese bombers out of Rabaul. The Juneau put up a great fight in helping to protect the transports from the air attack, it was that night when things went bad for the Americans. A strong Japanese naval force composed of 2 battleships and numerous cruisers and destroyers came south down the slot. The Juneau was one of three light cruisers, two heavy cruisers, and 8 destroyers trying to form a covering force to still protect the cargo ships in the Iron Bottom Sound and protect Henderson Airfield. During the battle the Juneau was struck by a torpedo and she along with the two other cruisers the Helena and San Fransisco were trying to make it south to the US Naval Base of Espiritu Santo. The Juneau had three torpedoes from the Japanese submarine I-6 put into her on the morning of the 13th of November. The Juneau broke into and sank in 20 seconds.
Dear readers take that in for just a second. imagine having your bed shaken and your house disappearing in 20 seconds. That is what it was like for those men onboard the Juneau. 20 seconds is about how long it takes to start a car, 20 seconds is how long it takes an average person to dial a long distance telephone number. 20 seconds is about how long an average computer takes to boot up to Windows.
Frank, Joe, and Matt Sullivan died instantly to either the torpedoes or from the ship going under in 20 seconds. The youngest Al died from drowning later in the day and George survived for about 4 or five more days before succumbing to his injuries. Out of a crew of 700 only ten were rescued a week later. The reason that the other ships in her group didn't stay to rescue survivors was due to the threat of the submarine and it was only a pair of ships that had no weapons with which to fight a submarine.

The aftermath of the Sullivan brothers event lead to the establishment of the Sole Survivor Policy with in the Navy Department and War Department. On top of that the Navy became stricter about where family members served in a theater of combat operations and what units they served with. There has been only one movie made about the Sullivan brothers, in 1944 and it was nominated for an Academy Award in 1945. The US Navy had built two destroyers and named them after the Sullivans. The most recently is an Alreigh Burke class destroyer, DDG-68.



22 August 2007

An Airplane's History

One of the big missions for the US Navy post World War 2 was the delievery of nuclear weapons. For a while the US Air Force had a monoply on this mission for the better part of five to six years. The US Navy had a few aborted attempts before the introduction of an airplane that would spend the next 4o years in the service of the United States doing either its primary mission or a few additional missions that was added on to the aircraft later on in its life. What was this aircraft? It was the A-3 Skywarrior designed and built by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation. It was designed by the famous Ed Heinemann. The Skywarrior's mission was to fly off the deck of an US Navy aircraft carrier and delivery a nuclear weapon against an important theater or strategic target. The plane carried a crew of three and could lift up to 12,000 bombs up to a range of 1325 miles. The only down side was the aircraft was built before the introduction of ejection seats. So one of the nicknames the plane earned related to its designation of A3D was jokingly called All Three Dead. The plane was pretty heavy and was flown off both the modern super carriers of the USS Forrestall class but also a pair or more were fitted able to fly off the older World War 2 Essex class aircraft carriers as well. The A-3A and improved model A-3B were onboard US Navy Aircraft carriers during the Suez Crisis, Tawian Crisis, Lebanon Crisis, and the Hungary Revoultion. There was a few squadrons that tried to use the A-3B over North Vietnam against some of the harden targets such as the infamous Dragon's Jaw Bridge or Thanh Hoa Bridge. The lost rate was pretty high at it was reasoned not to risk the Skywarriors over Vietnam in the bomber role.

The plane was replaced by the North American Aviation A-5 Vigilante in the early 60's. With the advent of a successful ballistic missile in 1960 for use on a submarine, the US Navy moved out of the stratgetic bomber role by 1964. However, it still retained the A-3 Skywarrior as a bomber in both the nuclear and conventional role. The aircraft was also modified to be both an electronic reconnasice aircraft and to be a photo recon aircraft. Such as the example to the left. As the picture on the left shows it could carry a number of cameras and with its great speed out run most of the fighters at the time. One of the more interesting items with the RA-3B Skywarrior is that it use to carry flash bombs that were incredabile bright. There were stories of these recon birds dropping these flash bombs at night and some ground observing reporting that the plane had blown up in the air. It was retired from the photo recon role with the introduction of the RA-5C.

Yet another mission assigned to this aircraft was the in-flight refueling mission and the aircraft was redesignated from A-3 to KA-3B. Here a hose and drogue unit was attached to the plane via an airstreamed fairing. There were plenty of stories through out the Vietnam conflict where the KA-3B crews might take themselves and thier tanker tracks closer to the feet wet points to help those aircraft that were damaged make it home or at least make the swim that much shorter.

One of the other mission and the mission that the aircraft would have from the time it quit trying to deliver a nuclear weapon till it was retired shortly after Desert Storm ended was as an electronic bird. It was either an electronic intelligence bird or as an electronic countermeasures bird. It served in this role from early 60's till 1992. This plane flew through out the Cold War and up thorugh its end preforming in front line service in one way or another.
The Skywarrior is still flying too. After a number of them were retired by the US Navy, Raytheon bought about 8 or 9 of them and are using them as flying test beds for new electronic systems or as range instrumentation birds during tests. I have seen one or two flying when I have gone down to NAS Point Mugu, CA for a missile shot with my squadron. Amazing that a plane introduced in the late 50's is still flying today.
If you want to see some more information about the this aircraft please go and check out this link here, A-3 Skywarrior Association.

Digging around I found a couple of videos shot of Skywarrior in action with either VQ-1 out of Guam or VQ-2 out of Rota Spain. You all might enjoy watching them as well.

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21 August 2007

Back to the good ol' days?

Other posters that I read from time to time (such as Cdr Salamander, Neptunus Lex, Steel Jaw Scribe) have commented about a pair of Russian long range bombers being intercepted near the US Territorial island of Guam last month. I recently received this link from across the pond of our good allies the British. The article mentions their quick reaction alert crews in their brand new Typhoon fighters intercepting a Russian bomber near the United Kingdom. This makes me wonder if things are starting to cool down again between NATO/USA and the Russian Bear. What is even more interesting is how the Guam thing and now this UK thing was only given a cursory overview by the US media here. Although I am not given to partisan politics that often, I do wonder if the mainstream media or even some of the more extreme POTUS haters out there couldn't of had yet another opportunity to hold President's feet to the fire about the cooling down of relations between Russia and the US. This also takes me back to pictures and stories from family friends of the days when it was GI Joe vs Ivan the Bear in the middle of the cold war. When the Soviets use to run their long range bombers out of their bases in Russia to Soviet client states such as Cuba, Vietnam, Libya, India, and which ever nation was in their pocket along the Atlantic coast of the African continent at the time. Thinking about those times brought me to these pictures. When at various times US or NATO aircraft intercepted some Soviet long range patrol or long range bombers near US territory or near US Navy task forces or near NATO bases.

A 102th Fighter Intercept Wing F-106 from the MA Air National Guard intercepting a TU-95 Bear E Electronic Patrol aircraft near Nova Scotia. Circa 1984 An A-7E from VA-146 off the USS America intercepts a TU-95 Bear D long range patrol aircraft in the Norwegian Sea during Northern Wedding '82

A F-4J of VF-41 intercepts a TU-95 Bear D near the USS Nimitz in the Indian Ocean in 1979.
A F-15 from the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing based at Elmendorf AFB and a F-14 of VF-74 intercept a TU-95 Bear G near Naval Air Station Adak, Alaska in 1986
A 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-15C intercepts a TU-95 Bear H near Nome Alaska in 2006 A Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16A intercepts a TU-22M belonging to the Soviet Naval Aviation over the Norwegian Sea in 1984A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18A intercepts a Soviet Naval Aviation TU-95 Bear D near Saint John's Bay in 1987
A VA-95 A-6E intercepts a TU-16 Bear J Electronic intelligence aircraft near the USS Enterprise Battle Group in 1989

A KA-6D and F-18A from off the USS Midway intercepts a Soviet IL-38 May maritime patrol aircraft while the Midway was steaming in the Sea of Japan in 1986.

I just wonder if when I go on cruise next time there might be a Russian tattle tail or two following us?



14 August 2007


A few years back I received a book for my birthday titled, "Stolen Valor : How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History" by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley. It was a book that attempted to attack the stereotypes of the Vietnam veteran. Which is they are a drugged out, homeless, psychotic person similar to John Rambo. Yet that wasn't true. During the process of research Mr. Burkett stumbled on a sub-type of person those living up the Vietnam Vet stereotype. That is the faker, the wannabe, the poser. Who is this person? Well most of them were found out to be ones who found their own military service lacking so they made something up, to pick up girls so they made something up, or to defraud the government they made something up. What is really interesting is how those in the military are obvious to spot these posers and fakes. Usually because something that the poser says about their service, when cornered about a certain moment or how they set up their uniform, or just how the poser carries themselves.
Why do I care about the posers? Well it seems as though there seems to be a certain trend recently again of certain people to claim that they are (or in) the military as a way to get something for free (such as VA benefits) or as a way to make a political statement and earn their 15 minutes of fame. It it s a total shame that these sorts of people come up and rob from the real experiences of those real soldiers who did do heroic things or just do their job day in and day out.

It is just sad that there are those who feel the need to commit fraud and spread lies to make themselves feel better.

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13 August 2007

An interesting day in History

Approximately 46yrs ago today August 13th, 1961 the East German Army began the building of something that became one of the symbols in the Cold War. The Berlin Wall.
A place where tanks and army troopers faced each other. A place where Presidents used to build their foreign policy creditenials

I am a child of the tail end of the Cold War. The time period when Jimmy Carter failed with Detente and saw Ronald Reagan bring his challenge to the Soviet Empire and one of the classic speeches he gave during his presidency.

A time when it was assumed that if the balloon goes up the first people to fight was the Berlin Brigades. The fear mongering movies about nuclear war during the 80's always assumed that it was going to be a riot in East Berlin which would of been the reason that the masses of Soviet armor would cross the frontier. Either that or the East Germans and their puppet masters the Soviets would close off all access and NATO would have to cross the border to re-open access to the city of Berlin.

I also remember hearing about plenty of spy stories being told in Berlin of trying to spirit people out or people in to the city. Then as I got older, reading of the horrible stories of those East Berliners who were shot dead by the guards as they tried to scale the wall. It was always assumed in the West that it was an order of the border guards and the Stasi (the East German Secret Police) were to kill those attempting to defect.
Well it has come out yet again in Europe that it was an order and someone digging thru some of the unshredded Stasi files a written order authorizing the killing of defectors. So now there are politicians trying to decide if there should be criminal proceedings against those members of the border guards and the Stasi.

Thinking about this day in history makes me think about some of the other things that happened today.

  • 1521-Tenochtitlan falls to the Spanish under conquistador Hernan Cortez

  • 1913- Stainless Steel is invented by Harry Brearley

  • 1937-The battle of Shang-hi begins between the Nationalist Chinese and Japanese

  • 1940-The Luftwaffe begins to use the newly captured airfields on the coast of France to bomb RAF airfields as the opening round of the Battle of Britain

  • 1953- The USS Mississippi (EAG-128, ex-BB-41) conducts the first shipboard launching of a surface to air missile against an aerial target drone. She fired a Terrier SAM against an F6F target drone.

  • 1963-USS Gen. R. M. Blatchford (T-AP-153), returns to Brooklyn Naval Yard after serving overseas for 2.5yrs in support of UN and US operations. While under the UN flag she carried 40,000 troops to Morocco, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia for peace-keeping operations.

  • 1990- The first two of eight super fast cargo sea lift ships, the USS Altair (T-AKR-291) and USS Capella (T-AKR-293) begin on-loading heavy lift cargo to head to the Saudi port of Jubail during Operation Desert Shield. These ships and their sisters are capable of 27 knots or approximately 31MPH and are being loaded with elements of a US Army brigade. Not all of these ships will make the 8700 mile trip to the Arabian peninsula. One will break down in the North Atlantic and lead to it being towed to a Spanish port, with its cargo being loaded onto other Military Sea lift Command ships.



09 August 2007

Scenes from the Flight Deck

Previously on "Scenes from the Flight Deck".

...He skipped that one and looked through the 15 or 20 messages that had been stacking up since he forwarded he email the Friday when he got off from work before the flights out. When he finally found the two with the name he was looking for. The romantic interest had written him twice. Once asking how the flight some general life subjects, the other email was some questions about himself. They had just barely known each other for a few days before he had to ship out. So it was perfectly natural to sit back and start to answer these questions.

He read those emails and then turned around and deleted half of those emails which didn't out right apply to him. Such fun emails as "NMCI will go down...", "NAS MasterJet Liberty Program has tickets to..", "Gate J35 will be closed because of maintenance on...". After he deleted those he in turn gave up the computer to the guys from the night check. They checked their mail while the night check supervisor was off at his own maintenance meeting. Same thing that was put out during day check was put out to night. They all started to mill around, he finally realized that he was tired. So grabbed his stuff from out of the drawer for personal gear and staggered back to the rack.
"Hey, Southern you going to chow?" AT1 asked
"Hmm," he said as he looked at his watch, "Nah, it is past 1900 and I don't feel like trying to scarf another water burger and fries again. So I am heading back to the berthing for a hot shower and some sleep."
"Okay see you back there."
With that he staggered on back to his wrack and watch as the night check guys were milling around getting use to the 12 on/12 off schedule. Walking past some of the staterooms where the TAD guys were cleaning in prep for the air crews flying on or taking laundry down of those ground officers that had already been on board for a few days. The air department guys who were doing the last minute testing and maintenance on either the cat gear or the recovery gear. Listening as the handlers began to reposition the SE. Also listening to all the conversations that went on as people walked around the passageways.
"...and so I told him to go to Toys 'R Us and buy the home game of "Go f--k yourself. Who does he think he is..."
"... Bulldog told me that Lex and Steeljaw were trying to get a CAG only spades tourney going up in..."
"....she stuck some letters in my bag while I was packing and I didn't even know it, now my bag and clothes smell of her perfume.."
"Hey, can I bum a cig..."
"Chief Sackdonuts wants these maintenance actions cleared before mid-rats...."
"...why are they showing 'X-men' again on SITE TV..."
"Pardon, me young man how do I get to the wardroom." someone said to him as he felt a pull on his sleeve. He looked around and saw this older gentleman in some civilian clothes and a USS Newboat ball cap that said VIP on the back. It pulled him out of his tripped down memory lane of being back out to sea after two years away.
"Huh? Excuse me, sir" he said with a slightly startled tone and confused look on his face
"I said how do I find my way to the wardroom," his gentleman said again, "I am looking for wardroom 2. I need to find a pilot with the nickname of Willy."
"Oh, here I will show you." He looked around and realized that he had only gone about 40 frames from where the shop was. So back tracking back up the way he came he pointed this gentleman to the wardroom. Realized that this guy had gotten separated from some sort of tour group. Thinking about the tour groups and VIPs took him back to being on board USS Oldboat. A slight smile crossed his lips as he thought of some adventures that occurred there. Then his mind cross of the romantic interest and an even bigger smile crossed his mind. He had that smile even as he laid down to get some sleep at the end of the day. His thoughts took him back to that last night with her and some of the best dreams started.

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08 August 2007

Shore Patrol with foregin sailors

So while out the powers to be in large and charge of the battle group decided to pull into a US port. Then we pretend it was a foreign port. What port did they decided one, Ft. Lauder dale. Been there done that told the story of being there a few years back to some of the guys I was working with. Some of them believed them some of them didn't. That is the joy of telling a sea story.

We find out that instead of going pier side we will be moored out and have to ride liberty launches in. No biggie. The watch bill gets posted a few days before and I find out that during a five day day port visit I draw duty twice. First and last day, again no biggie and the only time I have watch is the first day which is at the casino in town. Yes, dear readers the same casino that a celebrity died in just a few months back. I have the last watch on that day which is awesome. Why? Mainly, because I get a chance to skate back out of work and head to the rack, so that I can grab some extra shut eye. So it goes that we pull up to the beach front of Ft. Lauderdale around 0800 in the morning and after helping to complete an inspection on one of the aircraft, I rolled on down to grab lunch and then grabbed some shut eye. Woke up just before I had to go and stand the watch. Assigned the 1900 to 0200 shore patrol, because we are moored out and it was about 45 minute ride out on the launch. So I have to be down to muster at 1700 in the Hangar bay in a my working whites. Go mustered up with the shore patrol team and then wait for the launch to arrive at the ship. Spend a few moments on the phone with the romantic interest and then with the folks, while on the launch heading off to the beach. We arrived at the cruise terminals in town and see that the a couple of our escorts were tied up pier side and one Her Majesty's Ships, the HMS Manchester.

After arriving where they set up fleet landing, walked over to where the shore patrol team HQ was. Got the brief from the shore patrol leader about what our responsibilities were. Same thing as always, keep our people safe and try and prevent problems. I was told that I was the senior man of the team and was supposed to be leading the team hanging out at the casino. Found out there was no bus and we were going to be dropped off in a rental van. The best part to date was given a map that had been photocopied way too many times and try and give directions to a F-18 fighter jock. We would have gotten there about 20minutes later if he had just listen to the navigator, but those single seat jockeys just can't listen to anyone giving them directions while sitting in the seat next to them. We arrive and find the earlier SP team standing out front. Sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the tourists in their skimpy clothes or really bad and loud Hawaiian shirts.
Everyone piled out of the van, we then proceed to do turn over with the on coming folks and begin our walk around. The funniest thing was that when we checked in with hotel and casino security staff we were told this, "Your who and why are you here?" The head honcho told us in a tone that made us feel real welcome.
All six of us on this shore patrol party were hungry. A couple of guys went off to try the buffet, myself and two others went off to check out some bar-b-que joint. It was funny, because we were wearing our whites and they seem to attract all sorts of stains, even if you are sitting in an all white room some how some way you get some sort of stain on it. Anyhow, we sat down grabbed a bite of eat. I polished off a plate of gator tails and deep fat fried frog legs. One of the guys with me was a brand new petty officer and still new to the Navy. He ordered a pulled pork sandwich. The first bite in just dripped meat and sauce all over him. We all got a good laugh about it and luckily for him the bar keep gave us some soda water to mop out the stain. It didn't come out completely and made for a good way to give the new guy some ribbing as we walked around.
At this hotel and casino there was an outdoor shopping center and party block. On the outside near the hotel was a few family friendly restaurants and shopping block, but further near the back and closer to the actual casino area was the club block. The club block was composed of about eight to nine different up scale clubs of all different themes. That is where we spent most of the night. Bouncing from club to club, watching people spend their money and making sure that what few sailors that showed up were not causing problems.
It was pretty good for the first couple of hours. I think I spent more time getting my picture shot with pretty girls that night. It also seemed as thought I couldn't buy a drink either, all of us had to refuse what most people wanted to do, which was buy us a shot or a glass of beer. We had to refuse, so it was ice water or a soda. Plenty of hand shakes and congrats, which made a few of us coming from military unfriendly towns feel that warm and fuzzy.
The best part of the night was that we ran into a roving shore patrol team from the Royal Navy ship about 2100 (or 9 pm for you military types). By roving they were authorized a vehicle and traveled where the major tourist spots were to make sure their lads were not getting in trouble. Once these guys found out that the place was filled with hot women who loved sailors in their uniforms. Well, their car "broke down" :). I spent the rest of the night walking around enjoying the sights and talking with this Brit. We talked about everything from how much is sucks being away from home to how awful a few of our officers were. It seems as though things are as common no matter what military you are in. That it sucks to be away from your home and family, some of the officers are good and some you wonder how they made it out of the womb, the ship sucks, and liberty is good in any port near the equator during the summer time. The most amazing thing though was how after watching a few of these Brits in action with regards to a few of their rowdy people, which wasn't many, all it took was the stare or a sharp word and the guy knocked it off. Most of the US sailors were a little harder to control, but even then there wasn't any incidents the first night from off the carrier. Only a guy off a US destroyer got in trouble because he couldn't handle his liquor and his tongue.

Overall a successful night and a good first night in town, even if it was the duty day.

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02 August 2007

After 30 days haze grey and underway

I just spent the past 30 days haze grey and underway doing some exercises getting ready to head back out to show the flag, put warheads on foreheads, and defend the four points of light; whatever other sort of buzz phrase for foreign policy is being used in either the 5-sided wind tunnel, Halls of Wind, the garden of roses, and the halls of academia.
Overall it was fun and full of adventures with even more coming for a port visit to Southern Florida. Even cooler was doing the same with members of Royal Navy.
I am glad to be home and can't wait to spend the next month at home and spend it putting it back together.