Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Dad, My Veteran

My dad joined the Navy when I was almost 3 years old. My dad served 20 years and alot of those years were spent on sea duty. I have to say we were very fortunate that we did not have to move around like most military families. I grew up mainly in Alabama and then spent a few years from the age of 11 to 14 in Jacksonville/Mayport, Fl. The down fall of not moving around so much meant my Dad was gone for pretty long periods of time out to sea, traveling the world. My Dad was a "Gunners Mate" and as I used to tell me friends in grade school, "he shot the big guns on the ship". Here is a picture of my Dad and on the back it says:

Taken April 12th off the coast of Libya 1986. Cleaning out the gun barrel
after firing runs completed.

I would have been 4 years old when this picture was taken, which means my twin brothers were only a year and 1/2 old and my Dad was only about 22 in this photo.

I remember so many times seeing my Dad come in on a plane or dock on a ship, I have also seen him leave many times the same way. When I was little I used to get so excited when he would come home and I would cry when he left and honestly that didn't change as I grew up. Sometimes my Mom would try to suprise us and not tell us when Dad was coming home but she couldn't always fool me, I knew when she was up to something or I knew which direction the airport was when she started to drive that way:) My Dad and I always wrote one another and had a phone conversation when we could. I remember sometimes he would be so far away, we had to have an operator as a third party and say "over" when we completed what we were saying (like talking on a walky talky).
This picture is of my Mom and Dad on September 16, 1992:

My Dad served a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia and even at the age I was, I can remember being scared. I remember hanging yellow ribbons around the trees in my yard and we always had an American flag flying high on our flagpole. He returned safely and when he did, my 4th grade class thought it would be cool to have him for like a show-n-tell. It was so cool for my Dad to come to my class and talk to us, I was the "cool kid" on campus, atleast for that day.
My Dad missed many summers, holidays, field trips and just quality family time. But that's what you do when you serve your country, so it is a safe place for your family and all to live. The one important thing my Dad did not miss was my high school graduation. I had no idea he was in town and I saw him from where I was sitting out on the field. It was the best present ever!

The last few years of my Dad's service were spent on shore duty as head of security on the Navy base in Millington and he was also a traffic judge. My Dad's base was targeted a few times with all that happened with 9/11 and he did a great job of tighten things up and keeping everyone safe around there. My Dad retired as a Chief Petty Officer after 20 years of service in 2004. It was a very proud and happy day for our whole family. This is my Mom and Dad on that day:
I know my Dad has fought battles I can't even imagine and has seen things I will never know or would want to know about, and he did this all for our country and our freedom. I am so proud of all that you have done with your career serving our country Dad. You are the wisest and most courageous man I know. Thanks to all of our Troops and Veterans that serve our country but I would especially like to thank my own personal veteran, my Dad!

I love you Dad!

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