It has been nearly fifty years since I took the oath and entered into the service of our country. This was service in the form of four years in the US Navy. It was 1965 and the Marines and Army were drafting to fill their ranks. There was a war going on and with the draft board nibbling on my heels, I followed the tradition of my father and volunteered. He served in the Navy and was stationed on Guam during the second world war. He was a Yeoman and had to contend with Japanese soldiers coming down out of the mountains and getting in the chow lines.
I landed at catapult one on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Saratoga. I found myself under a jet air plane loaded with bombs, rockets, and napalm ready to be launched down the flight deck and into the air. It was one of the most dangerous places to be serving in the Navy.
I was a young man unafraid of the dark or any obstacle placed in my path. Like a few special young men of the era … I was of that select group who would live forever.
I served four years on the flight deck in the steam catapults … was hurt only once during a night launch, and was considered by the younger members of the cat-crew … the Old Man at the sterling age of twenty-one. Young, brash and fearless … I didn’t have a fearful thought or regret.
Nearly fifty years ago … time marches along. During the time since I left the Navy, I have seldom talked about my time in the service.
Only in the last few years have I given those long four years much thought. Flashbacks now haunt me from time to time along with the standard assortment of colorful nightmares. I once glanced at a demonstration television at a big box store when I noticed they were playing a HD tape of flight deck operations. I had to turn and walk away. It placed me right back on that flight deck so realistically that I could smell the jet exhaust.
I am proud of my service to my country. Many during the sixties ran away or failed to serve. I have not suffered any physical or mental related to my service. It was all a duty to perform upholding a family tradition of honorable service. The flashbacks and nightmares, I will have to deal with in order of appearance and hope they do not become more troubling. The infrequent bouts of depression that visit me are pain medication related.
To all who have served and are serving our country, I salute you and wish you God’s Speed.
Next Week … Something Interesting or something current …