Sunday, March 6, 2016

Pax & etc. & so forth & so on

This morning when I meant to finish preparing for our adult Sunday School class, memories were stirred reading “Memories and shared sea stories: Memories of those who have touched our lives” by a retired admiral with whom I once served on a selection board. 

That was 1966-68 during my first Navy assignment to WashingtonDC. We were selecting junior officers to attend postgraduate school, and seems to me we were both lieutenant commanders at the time. My commanding officer liked me and assigned me to those boards a couple of times as an opportunity to meet promising other rising officers in our branch of the Navy, and sure enough, I worked on those boards with several young officers who later became admirals, all really good guys. 

Honestly, though, I love having been in the Navy now more than I did forty and fifty years ago, when my present and future, and where Linda and I lived and raised our children, was up to the Navy and not our own decisions. But some of the tours were great, especially my first sea duty, in a destroyer, which I loved so much that it caused me to make my own decision to shift from USNR to USN and hang around, so I did have that one choice! 

I also loved that first tour of duty in Washington, and especially loved my last tour in Washington and working with my office staff, including a naval reserve officer who always got his annual two-weeks active duty tour simply by wearing his three-striper uniform to work; and my 5th floor corner office in Crystal City, from where most mornings I watched Admiral Hyman Rickover emerge from his apartment building across the street below. The “father of the atomic submarine,” Admiral Rickover was a character and the butt of many, many “Rickover Stories” by officers who had worked with him over the years. Most of those stories were hilarious but only in retrospect. Though I never worked for him, I once was “drafted” to go to Washington for the dreaded “Rickover interview,” but was saved by the timing: just two weeks earlier we had arrived in Japan for a three-year tour of duty, and our new Chevrolet station wagon and household goods hadn't even arrived yet, were still in transit across the Pacific Ocean.

After consulting me about what I wanted, my new commanding officer fired off a rebuttal criticizing Rickover’s office for poor timing, and they apologized and backed off. Otherwise the last two-thirds of our lives might have been a different history and other memories entirely. Looking back this morning, I would hate for that to have been so.

Pax and all that.


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