Friday, November 7, 2008
I am married to a Navy veteran and have been for 32 years. He served for 20 years, 3 months and 1 day before retiring in 1993. Every November he jokingly reminds me of this and says I should be nice to him because he is a veteran. Most days to me he is just Jim, the husband, the father and the grandfather.
There is something in him however that him that made him a sailor. He loved his ships and being at sea in a way few people probably understand. I learned early not to take this love for the sea as something that took away from love for home and family but rather enhanced it by a call to service that protected those things even when it meant sacrificing time spent at home. His first ship was the USS Proteus and you see it here in the top photograph. This was a subtender that was home ported on Guam. While serving aboard her he became a BT (boiler technician) and learned the skills needed to do the job well.
The career he started on the Proteus as a young kid ended 20 years later on the USS Duluth which is the second ship pictured. In between there were others ships and shore duty assignments. He was serving on the USS Norton Sound in Port Hueneme, CA when we met. After we married he did a second tour on the Proteus that let us have our first home on Guam. Following that we spent several years in San Diego and then ended up in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Jim was made a chief (E-7) after 12 years of service and master chief (E-9) after 17 years and most will tell you that the speed of that advancement is a tribute to an outstanding sailor. He wanted to end his career on a ship and he did. While I stayed behind with the kids in Salt Lake he did his final sea tour aboard the Duluth. He was the command master chief aboard this ship and his retirement ceremony was held on her decks.
He has been retired 15 years now and every once in awhile I ask him if he misses being at sea and the pride of serving in the Navy. The answer is always yes.