Friday, August 27, 2010

What a Week it has Been

In 1961, after ten busy and happy years, I left the Air Force as a Tech Sergeant to become a Field Engineer with McDonnell Aircraft Company. I really didn't want to leave the Air Force but service pay was not very good when you had a family of seven. Ironically, not long after I left the Air Force the government came up with a lot of improvements in the support of enlisted personnel and a month after I got out I heard that I had been on the promotion list to Master Sergeant. However, all of this was too late for me to go back.

I loved my years and work at McDonnell and the people I worked with were some of the greatest co-workers a person could work with. I'm not going to say our work was easy because it was long hours, hard, work and there were a lot of painful family separations, like cruises with the Navy and deployments with the Marines. I went on a carrier qualification cruise off the Virginia coast with a hectic flight and maintenance schedule. That was on the USS Independence and our accomodations were far enough forward that we had a catapult right over our head. I can assure you that there was no sleep from 5:30 in the morning until well into the night.

Then there was the shakedown cruise of the brand new (then) nuclear carrier Enterprise in the Caribbean working out of Guantanamo, Cuba. Two weeks after Lisa was born we were off on a cruise (several months) to the Mediterranean Sea. Three or four days after we got back to Norfolk in October we were off again for a couple of months on the Cuban Blockade with no days in port. It was nerve-wracking with long hours and hard work and by the time I got back home I probably looked a lot like the picture (a classic sketch from the old days of what a Field Service Engineer looked like - I have no idea who drew it but it IS a classic.

Meanwhile, my wife was holding down the homefront and I will never be able to repay her for all she did. She watched over five very young children. She endured all kinds of trials in the process and I cannot express my deep love for her enough for all she put up with.

Likewise, it taught me a lesson on the the trials and tribulations service families go through and fills me with pride in our Armed Forces families. I learned what they go through and I salute them.

Well, I looked in the mirror over the weekend, at the height of our moving experience and suddenly I saw a figure that really reminded me of this ancient picture.I can assure you,
I was no budding beauty when we were at the most challenging time of the move. At the moment I'm looking less like the cartoon - but a lot older and I hope a bit wiser.

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