Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Time Flies

I was reminded, yesterday, that it was fifty years ago that President Kennedy announced to the public that our nation was blockading Cuba. Aerial reconnaissance had revealed that missile bases were being established on Cuban soil - facilities so close to America that our nation was endangered. And I was there.

Not because I wanted to be. I had just returned from a Navy deployment in the Mediterranean. I was informed of our new departure right after lunch one day - told that we needed to be aboard the USS Enterprise in four hours. I called home and told Joyce to pack my bags. She responded that they hadn't really been unpacked and where was I going. We had been told that the ship was pulling out of Norfolk on a hurricane evacuation. That included my squadron's aircraft as well. I never stopped to ask myself, "Why do field engineers (civilians) have to go on a hurricane evacuation?

I did what I was told - skidded cruise boxes of support material down the stairs at NAS Oceana, rushed home and on to Pier 12 at NOB (naval operating base) Norfolk and shortly after we were under way out of Chesapeake Bay and into some rough weather. I began to think it was a hurricane evacuation. Until the next day.

Then came aircraft changes - A3J Vigilantes from Florida were flown off the ship - A-4 Skyhawks came aboard. The announcement came to us - "We're going to blockade Cuba and we have no idea how long it will take."  Communication from the ship to home was not allowed and so, knowing what we knew, we were unable to let our families know. That is, until they heard the Presidents announcement and all they knew then was that we were in harms way. That was hard on loved ones but that is service life and though we were civilians we were no different in our responsibility from any active duty Navy personnel in the same situation.

We remained on combat readiness for some time. The ship was assigned south of Cuba where we went back and forth between Cuba and Jamaica. Finally the Russians backed off. The tension of combat readiness eased and then boredom set in. We still maintained flight operations but it was obvious that the worst of the deployment was over. Now it became a waiting game. It finally ended not long before Christmas.

Now, fifty years later Enterprise is still sailing. It served in the Vietnam conflict. It served in the Middle East conflicts. But ships get old. Many ships do not maintain effective operations longer than 20 or so years of service, For Enterprise it's been over fifty. Newer ships have been deactivated but Enterprise sails on. I've heard she will be retired in 2013. If true, she will have amassed a significant record. And I'm proud to have been part of her history.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Lovely Cottage in the Country

It's been a busy week. A couple of days ago we checked out houses that Vic and Amy have been looking at should his job keep him at Headqurters. Our greatest impressioin has been that the stories about the DC traffic appear to be true. To be sure, we haven't been in the capitol city itself yet - but Alexandria and Arlington traffic has convinced us that Indianapolis traffic isn't so bad after all.
Needless to say, the Beltway congestion has lived up to all the stories we've heard.

So, our visit yesterday to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon was a breath of fresh air. A lovely home with a marvelous history. There was a strong reminder that our first president had some great dreams for the future of our country.

The first time I ever saw Mount Vernon was way back in 1941, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. My dad was making a stop at the War Department to initiate his return to active duty in World War Two. The house itself remained as beautiful as ever, and this time we spent hours roaming the plantation rather than the few minutes we had in 1941. I loved the view from the front porch looking down over the Potomac River. It was easy to see what made the estate so special to Martha and George. (Am I being a little flip usaing their first names?)

But the trip was more than sightseeing trip - it was an emotional trip in history.
A reminder of where out country came from and the values that were so important in the formation of thiss nation.  One of my favorite reminders of the greatness of George Washington was a painting of the General at a dark moment of the Revolutionary war. I've included it in this blog because it says a great deal about our first president. A reminder that in our darkest moments prayer still matters. Even today - and maybe especially today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On the Road Again - Again - Again....

We've completed a trek to the Washington DC area. The picture is a random one on Interstate 68 as we crossed from West Virginia to Maryland. It was a beautiful ride though the better half did not enjoy the winding roads even if the Interstate didn't have too much traffic. See, the problem is that we have gotten accustomed to the straight-as-an-arrow highways of the Midwest..

Then as we began to get complacent when we got down hill and the roads got straight - we discovered that there are a few other cars in the DC area. Actually - a lot of cars all moving at least 10, 20, or 30 miles an hour faster than we were going - and we were going the speed limit.

As I've said before, a GPS sure makes a trip a lot easier. We used the mode for quickest routing andall went well. That is, until we got close to Washington proper. Someone in the GPS programming department must have been to DC before because it kept routing me in any direction other than the Interstate. But I found they knew more than I did as they guided us down the Washington Memorial parkway. What a lovely ride with quick views of he Washington Monument and the Potomac River.
Not a chance for a picture - but it took us where we wanted to. Then we got a really good look at the Pentagon - nut not good enough for a picture.

But we got to Amy's - knocked on what we thought was her apartment door and guess what - Some
young guy who didn't look anything like Vic opened the door. (By the way, Vic was on the Gulf Coast on FEMA business  so we didn't expect some man) When it suddenly dawned on us that Amy lived in 306, not 305. Oops.

Making life more interesting - when we got to the apartment complex there was no daughter to be found - turns out I had said we were (according to the GPS) 20 minutes to destination (which I conveyed to Amy by cell phone) and which she thought afforded enough time to make a run to the store.  Another oops - but all ended well - complete with a slobbery welcome from Pippa - the tiny guard canine of the estate.

Anyway, we're here and have been surrounded by rain all day. Our wish for the evening:  better weather programmed for tomorrow and a good chance for capital (or is that capitol? photos.
Watch for then next exciting chapter.