Saturday, November 22, 2008

Anniversary

22 November, 1985. That is a date that I will not ever forget. On that day in Newport, Rhode Island, I raised my hand and took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It was the day that I was sworn in as and Ensign in the United States Navy. My plan when I started Officer Candidate School in August, 1985, was to serve for four years, get some experience and then go out and get a "real job." Well, it did not quite work out that way. Last November, after 22 years of service the the Navy and the nation it defends, I retired from active duty.

My career began on a cold, rainy Friday. My brother Michael, his then-girlfriend attended the ceremony. Michael was living in Boston at that time, so it was an easy drive for him. The biggest surprise for me was my two
oldest friends, Paul & John, drove through the night from Michigan to be in the audience when I was sworn in. To say that I was surprised is an understatement of gigantic proportions. Following the ceremony, we left Newport and headed to Boston to spend the night at my brother's apartment, as well as to have a sumptuous meal. We went to dinner at Locke-Ober, a fantastic icon of Boston, and then the following day Paul and John and I drove back to Michigan, where I would spend a few days before heading west to San Diego to attend Surface Warfare Officers School. Following 6 months of training, I left for "the fleet," reporting in May, 1986, to the USS NIAGARA FALLS (AFS 3) in Guam.

Along the way in
my career, I sailed all over the world, set foot on every continent except Antarctica, and pretty much had a blast. I saw more sunrises and sunsets at sea than most people see in a lifetime. I was able to drive a frigate, a destroyer, a crusier and a nuclear powered aircraft carrier as if I had stolen them. The Navy paid me to go to graduate school and looked after Deirdre when I was deployed. Mike (a former shipmate who is a retired Chief Petty Officer) stopped by the house last week to deliver some firewood to me. Mike asked me, "Do you miss it? Do you miss being in the Navy?" I told him, "Honestly, no. What I do miss is working with professionals like you." Sure, I missed a lot of holiday and family events, but I would not trade my experiences in the Navy for anythings. I had the honor and the pleasure to serve with the finest people this nation has to offer. I had a great military career, but I am now enjoying my second career working for the General.


10 comments:

BigFred said...

I again thank you for your invaluable service to our great nation.

Paul's Blog said...

Thank you for your service, too!

Lisa... said...

I second that. Thank you for all those selfless years of service to our country.

L.

Big Johnny said...

You got to do the Panama Canal...that's still on my "to do" list. I only got as far as Rodman, but I did get to drive over the Bridge of the Americas

Kirk Benson said...

Congratulations Paul. It was honor to have served with you during that time.

However, I must say, "Wholly crap, look at the size of those glasses!!!!!"

Big Johnny said...

"However, I must say, "Wholly crap, look at the size of those glasses!!!!!""

Is, was, and always will be...a chick magnet....

Paul's Blog said...

Yeah, PRK did wonders for my vision a decade ago!

Chicks still dig me even w/o the glasses. Just in case you were wondering...

Michael said...

Hey- I was there.

You left out our inadvertent post dinner trek thru the kitchen at the old Bay Tower Room, and our visit to the Hampshire House/Bull & Finch (aka Cheers). Maybe that was just as well....

Paul's Blog said...

What happens on liberty stays on liberty!

PK

Big Johnny said...

"What happens on liberty stays on liberty!"

And then there was our cultural stroll through Honolulu with Chucky...