Roger and I are both Vets. I am retired Navy, and he retired from the Army. Tomorrow is our National Holiday, originally commemorating the end of the “War to End All Wars” at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Now, we are engaged in the 10th year of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we should all pause and recall the sacrifices of those who are serving now and honor those who have served in the past. My father also is a Navy retiree. This photo is of CDR Robert B Segal and Midn 4/c Mark Segal from my freshman year in the OU NROTC program. Because I grew up in the Navy life, I knew what kind of sacrifice it requires, as much from the families as from our service members. I spent a lot of Holidays, Birthdays and weekends on duty or at sea. Being in the Navy and being a Surface Warfare Officer, meant being on ships, and ships belong at sea.
Big ships, like the USS Ranger (CV-61), what better way to spend 7.5 months deployed to the Arabian Sea than with 5000 of your closest friends and a 24 hour, 90+ plane airport 8 inches above your head. Those planes are loud, I mean really loud.
Beans, bullets and gas are kept flowing through a highly unnatural process called underway replenishment. Take a 90,000 ton aircraft carrier and drive it up 125 feet from a ship filled with aviation gasoline. Stay there for 2 hours or so, making very tiny adjustments.
Sometimes we got to practice what would happen if we ever found an enemy submarine, besides it sinking us. We played along and got to launch ASROCs. Small ships were always around the carrier and much more fun to be on. I spent most of my career on destroyers, but most of the ones I served on are now scrap metal. Putting them into dry dock was always a challenging, but an impressive, feat of engineering.
I got to visit lots of countries, some of them nice, some of them not. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, I got to go all the way around South America, all the way to Tierra Del Fuego and into the North Atlantic. All the while ready to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic”. I witnessed shipmates dying in a tragic fire, saving the lives of others by securing the equipment they were operating. Throughout our history, brave men and women have willingly given up their peaceful lives to protect our way of life. Tomorrow‘s holiday should not just be a chance to go shopping, or not go to work, it should be a time to reflect and thank all the veterans you know. Especially remember those who didn't come back.