Deployment Chronicles–> Article 30 “Coming Home.”

Our trek back across the ocean was not very eventful but it was full of little exercises with the ships we were transiting with. The seas were rough but that’s what you can expect in the late fall season entering winter months. We managed to avoid all of the storms and stay on the good news side of things. I did need to take a few motion sickness pills but nothing too serious.

Once we transited the Atlantic we came sailing into Mayport FL, the whole strike group included… even the carrier. While here we embarked different individuals for what was called a “Tiger Cruise”. I’m still not really sure how the Tiger Cruise got its name but it basically is where you embark friends and family (no wives or girlfriends allowed) and they are able to sail back with you on the ship and the ship does a whole bunch of things that show everyone a little bit about the Navy. My dad sailed back from Newport RI a year before, and this time I invited my best friend from college M to join us for the deployment reunion. She of course wanted to finally see what I do for a living, and she was very excited to come back with us and see.

We had a grand time. They held all kinds of events with the strike group, we even did a full power run against all of the other ships to see who was fastest or realistically who was the least broke. haha. Fighter jets performed an air show from the carrier and we conducted an UNREP for everyone to see what that is like as well. It was really a lot of fun.

THE NIGHT BEFORE WE PULLED IN:

The night before we pulled in we did have a channel fever night, (although I don’t think it is anything like the English Channel fever the British do), but none the less there were events leading into the night and most importantly a very serious game of BINGO. J had, like always, bought $$150 in bingo tickets and so he definitely needed help for his last chance to win. I was really pulling for him this time since we had about 6 bingo games throughout the deployment and he had seriously paid no less than $100 on tickets per game and didn’t win one thing.

We were sitting on the mess decks and the big game was about to come up for a 46 inch TV and I was playing 6 of his cards when the captain tapped me on the shoulder. He said, “I just found out where you are going, do you want to know?”

I instantly became very nervous because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know or not so I told him I would come up to his cabin to find out once the game was done. I was nervously looking at M and I told her I wanted her to come with me. She said she would.

After the game we walked up to the Captain’s cabin and the Executive Officer (XO) was in talking to him. I looked at them both expectantly because I knew that the XO knew too. The captain said, “You wanted to go to Japan didn’t you?”

I hesitantly said, “yes”.

He said, “Well you’re going to Sasebo, to an LSD (Amphibious landing ship dock)

I just stared back at him not even realizing I had been holding my breath. I was very torn. I had wanted Japan very much, but then when I got it, it became very overwhelming all at once too.

He told me about my next ship, one that I had never heard of, he told me I’d probably get my orders in the next few months, and then he said I could digest all of that and come back and talk to him later with more of my questions.

M and I walked out of there and I immediately went into freak out mode for the next 20 minutes. Japan, Japan, JAPAN! I’m moving to Japan for almost two years. I’m going to be living and communicating (or not communicating since I know not one Japanese word) in Japan for the next two years. Wow. That was just something to take in.

COMING HOME:

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Needless to say I didn’t sleep very much the night before the end of my first and the ship’s first 7 month deployment. When we pulled in everything was a whirl. I felt like my life was on fast forward and I was watching everything happen but outside of myself. When we pulled into the pier I saw my dad’s worn WVU hat that I had given last Christmas bobbing in the crowd. My mom was waving frantically beside him. They were looking for me, but were unable to find me.

The brow was thrown across and the first group of people came on board. It was a very crisp, cool, winter day to finally be back home.

When I was finally able to get off the ship, I ran to greet my parents with M in tow and after we had made a greetings I broke the news to them about my next tour. My mom started crying, I should have guessed. She was just seeing me and I would be leaving again soon to live overseas. It was overwhelming for her too. We laughed a lot and I told them about some of the deployment and introduced them to the new officers. I don’t think my day calmed down at all until that night when I finally got to sleep in my own bed again, after so long.

Coming back to the house to see everyone was great! My roommates were all there. The house was packed that night since we had my four boy roommates, me, M, and all of our family members. It was a very sarcastic night as well, since we had not been able to make fun of each other for so long aside from the emails.

The experience of a “Coming Home” is not one I will easily forget and nor do I take for granted all of the little things that mean so much. It was a great day to be A’mericin.

Deployment Chronicles–> Article 1 “And so it begins…”

Preparing for the deployment has taken much of my time. It has been very eventful this past few days to say the least. E arrived back in the states from Ecuador on Friday and then she and my mom and dad drove down yesterday to bon voyage me today when my ship pulled away from the pier.

MY SEESTER &I.

The goodbyes were very hard. I had to say goodbye to my roommates and my family, and emotions were high. My roommates and I stood in a circle hugging for 5 minutes straight and when we pulled away from the pier this morning that’s when I finally realized 7 months is going to be a loooong time on the ship. The atmosphere was very different today. There was an anticipation in the air, for what I cannot be certain of, I just know it felt different.

FAMILY<3

As I walked down to my room to change out of my summer white uniform once we were headed out the channel, I also realized that this crazy ship is no different. We went from event to event. I will not be sleeping today and probably not tomorrow either. I have a scenario from 0300-0600 and tomorrow isn’t looking any better either.

Right after manning the rails.

Our first Steele beach picnic is this Sunday. That’s when everyone gets to relax and they grill on this huge grill we have and we listen to music. Apparently there will also be a mini driving range set up on the flight deck. I guess that’s what gets to happen when the commodore is embarked.

Pulling away from the pier.

The seas have already been treating me poorly. As soon as we got underway we started rocking. It doesn’t help that we are headed straight across to open ocean. Luckily, I started taking the pills two days ago, but even still I’m really feeling it. I can’t even go up forward to my spaces because it is horrible up there and the bow is just pounding into the water and I can’t handle it.

I wonder what the seas have in store?

NEXT–> Article 2 “Seasickness isn’t for the Weak”

Tour of the East Wing of the White House: Thoughts and Facts.

In case you are unaware the East wing of the white house is the part that the president resides in. The West wing of the white house is where all the business is conducted (The Oval Office) and the North and South is the front and back.  Yesterday I was standing outside of the  South gate watching a security man and freezing in only my suit waiting to get in. We were waiting for my friends cousin P (a secret service agent) to find us so that he could give us the tour. He works at the white house at all different times and he also works at other buildings in downtown D.C. all of them not allowed to be discussed here.

Boy was it cold. I didn’t want to be bothered with a coat though and neither did the five people that I was with so we wore our suits and froze. I can’t believe how much they have already transformed the streets for the inauguration. Quite crazy. Bleachers have been erected everywhere and on all street corners in the surrounding vicinity and there are people moving things in, building different structures, and preparing things everywhere. A lot like bees I would have to say. When we found P (it turns out that we were at the wrong side of the gate and had to go to the North side) he used his security clearance to get us right in. I loved that.

We went through the building that they have set up for checking you for weapons and then down the ramp and back outside to enter the white house on the East side. yay! Walking in I immediately was mesmerized. There were two guards standing decked out in everything, guns clipped everywhere and they had M-16 strapped around their waists. Serious soldiers. P knew them and I walked up and said hello as well. They were actually very nice.

There is so much history in the white house you can practically feel it. I kept thinking of National Treasure and all the history they made up for the movies. I don’t know why? Moving down the first hallway I started stopping and looking at all of the many picture frames that had all sorts of different events encased in them. Frames dedicated to first ladies and all that they have done, different inaugurations at the white house for presidents and all of that good stuff. I read all of them, this stuff kind of fascinates me :).

Entering another hallway P said that this was dedicated to all of the first ladies. For some reason Hillary was hanging up on the main wall and then moving down there were pictures of various different first ladies that have lived here.

Fun Fact: George Washington is not the first person to live in the White House. He started the plans but died before the White House was finished. John Adams was the first president to live in the White House.

On the side we saw different parlors that they still use of course in excellent condition. On the right, was the White House library, where they have over 27,000 different volumes.

Walking up to the first floor we entered a huge room which is designated the gold room. Wow, The chandeliers were massive and everything inside of it was ornate and quite alive. All decked in gold. P said that the chandeliers are cleaned twice a year and an entire team of people come in and take each one apart a strand at a time to dip and clean off. Wow. He also said that civil war soldiers slept in this room to guard the president before the secret service came into being. They also had a picture of George Washington, the original that was in the first white house before it was burned down. They new they would be attacked so they took it out and it survived.

There are portraits of presidents everywhere. The portrait of JFK does not have his face showing. This is because the man who does all of the portraits of the presidents never saw his eyes before he was assassinated and refused to paint the picture any other way. I found it quite humorous the fact that they had JFK and Ronald Reegan in the same hallway across from each other. They might be good friends in heaven now but the Great Debate stated otherwise. They also have a picture of FDR standing up which is obviously peculiar, but apparently he was at the bottom of the steps and stood up to be transfered to a different chair and they captured a picture of it and made it into a portrait.

There was only one wedding in the white house and that was president Grover Cleveland.

The rooms are all sectioned by color. There is the Gold Room, the Green Room, The Blue Room, The Red Room, and the main hallways. In the green room P told us a peculiar story about a picture of Independence Hall that was located there. He said that someone was over in India and purchased the painting there for seven dollars. They then brought it back to the states (the story of how that happened is unknown) and it ended up at the white house. Now the painting is priceless and it was purchased for $7. Above the picture of Independence Hall is a picture of the coast and this painting is actually the first painting int he white house that was painted by an African American. I have a feeling it might become Obama’s favorite one.

The second to oldest painting located in the white house is the portrait of Benjamin Franklin and the oldest painting hangs in the presidents bedroom.

The history here is overwhelming and crazily we were able to walk out the South Entrance and stand on the steps. It felt good. Reallll good. I like it there.

After our tour was over we went down to the newly renovated Smithsonian of American history. We didn’t have time to check everything out but my focus points were science and technology, war, and entertainment.

Highlights from these sections: Dorthy’s ruby slippers, The puffy shirt form Seinfeld, World War II, Dumbo, the house of miniatures, and the Star Spangled Banner. How do they have the original Star Spangled Banner?!? No photos were allowed but it was pretty sweet.

Fact about that flag: One of the stars was cut off of it as a memorium in the 18oo’s.

I had a fun filled day of history yesterday and I enjoyed every second of it.

Confessions of a Writer<3