On Wednesday, we went onto the naval base in Norfolk, VA to meet and greet our son who has been sailing on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in the Persian Gulf for the last 7 months. They were part of a strike group that I suppose was Deadeye Dick and GWB's whet dream of bombing Iran when and if they could find any excuse to do so.
We arrived on base at about 8 AM for an expected 11:30 AM docking by the USS Enterprise There were literally thousands of parents, spouses, children, family members and friends waiting just off the pier in a super huge tent the Navy had set up for us. It was cold, windy and the tent was appreciated by all. Many local businesses had set up shop in the tent with free food, coffee, cookies, hot chocolate, water, and so on. It was a party! Everyone was milling around, talking with everyone else and there was a huge contiguous smile throughout the entire populace there.
We went out on the pier about 9:30 AM and stood up front by the simple barricade of plastic line. We stood and talked and smiled and just had a fun time. There were so many people with so much good will and happy expectations. It was great!
At about 10:30 AM we could see the helicopter that circles the Enterprise as it comes down the channel to the pier! A big cheer went up, and for the next half hour, we watched the circle of the helicopter get closer and closer. Then, out of the cold grey day, a massive ship loomed into sight and the assembled crowd went crazy! It took about 30 minutes for the ship to be maneuvered into place along the pier by some monster tug boats, and then another excruciating hour and a half waiting while the scaffolding for walking off the ship and onto the pier to be put into place so the crew of thousands of seamen and airmen could come down from the ship to their waiting families.
A note to the Navy here: This is a nuclear aircraft carrier that was built in the late 50’s to early 60’s. Perhaps you Einstein’s in the new millennia could come up with a simple hydraulic version of a scaffold that just pops up and into place instead of having a Lincoln log set for a bunch of guys in orange jumpsuits to figure out how to put together? You know, American ingenuity, taxpayer money spent wisely and all that? I digress.
Finally, the elevator doors dropped and there they were! Naval Officers dressed in white shirts and the enlisted men in their dress blues. It was awesome and the cheer from the crowd was an absolute roar!
Down they came, out off the ship to the stairs and then down to the pier to their waiting loved ones. Most sailors were carrying items they had purchased overseas, including an inordinate amount of teddy bears! Watching them march off the ship, smiles spread from ear to ear, and all of a sudden it was worth every second of waiting for the orange jumpsuits to put that damned thing together.
After about five minutes I spy my son coming out over the pier and onto the stairs. I shout at his mother and sister “There’s David!” It gets kinda foggy from there. I know he made it to the pier, into our waiting arms and then we walked, with thousands of others, back across the pier, past the huge tent and to the parking lot to our vehicle. More hugs, more smiles, some tears and a lot of laughter just for the sake of laughing.
David was home. The USS Enterprise and all her crew were safely home.
Crossposted at Daily Kos.
And well told. I can't fathom the separation that service families endure on these tours. He's home for a bit then?
Yes, he's back for at least a year.
Since he is based in Norfolk, it's not far to Greensboro, so we will see him often.
North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!
North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!
Sweethoming at last!
Good for you! I know what you have gone though.
My son has return from Iraq at the end of November after a 15 month combat tour. He has op out of the Reserves forever......He is now working for the cause of liberty to get rid of the neo-cons and the police state mentality and control that exists in this country
The wait on the ship watching and looking
for wives, girlfriends, moms and families is just as exciting.
Being on the ship when the thousands rush the pier to get near the "lincoln log" structure is wonderful. Coming home to seeing that rush of people is beyond description. Knowing that every person there is happy to see you home.
When people talk about a ship coming to life, you have just experienced that!
Welcome HOME! Enjoy your leave!
Thank you David for standing the watch and keeping us safe
Awww, Welcome home David
I'm so glad you are all safe and sound.
Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.