Drilling out

Friday night as I sat waiting for dinner at Kabob Kafe in nearby Ellicottville, New York with my wife and daughter my Blackberry buzzed. I picked it up and looked and I had been “poked” on Facebook by my nephew, Tom Watkins. Tom was letting me know that he just “drilled out” of the U.S. Navy’s Ceremonial Guard. He graduated from Boot Camp in August and went right to Anacostia Annex in the District of Columbia. I don’t know too much about the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard other than it is a highly trained outfit. I kept a picture of Tom on my phone so that every time I opened it to use it I would remember to pray for him in this new assignment. He won’t graduate officially for another eleven days but he’s made the grade and we’re all very proud of him. I hope to speak with him soon.

Today is special for me too and each year I remember that I too graduated from Boot Camp at Great Lakes, IL on the 13th of October at 1300 hours from the 13th Battalion. I led graduation carrying the American flag in the color guard. Just last week I thought of my shipmates and how much I wished I had one more day with them to catch up. I miss them a great deal and the older I get the more I wish that we hadn’t lost contact.

It still fits

I got out one of my old white hats as I prepare to return to the Great Lakes, IL area tomorrow. It still fits and it’s in very good shape. I thought I’d bring the hat with me so that my nephews could see it. I had been looking for my old neckerchief that I wore with dress blues. I was going to give it to my nephew as a gift from an old sailor to a new one. Alas, I can’t find the neckerchief. I’ve got my dress blues, dress whites and a couple of white hats, but no neck gear. My Dad gave me his neckerchief from World War II after I got out of Boot Camp and I wore it on some occasions. I wanted my nephew Tom who passes in review on Friday to have a keepsake too.

Tom passes in review on the Feast of the Assumption. It’s a day that has meaning for Tom. He brought it up in a letter he sent me a few weeks back. There is something Marian about the Navy and Great Lakes. I’ve loved the color blue all my life and Friday I’ll be in one of the bluest places on earth. I’m going to get Tom a gift certificate to Starbucks. He said the chaplain said that God’s love is like a double chocolate chip frappucino and I think the chaplain might be right on the money. God bless Tom, his shipmates and the United States Navy.

Good news

My nephew Tom has been named Education Petty Officer for his division at Navy Boot Camp. I’ve been praying for his success and safety everyday and this is good news indeed. In 1972 I was given the same assignment when I too was at Boot Camp. This is one of the coincidences of life that’s difficult to explain. I wonder what set Tom apart in his division commander’s eye.  He’s tall, very bright and must have a good military bearing. He must command respect and equally important be able to get the message across to other recruits who need help learning their lessons.

Good luck and Godspeed

Tomorrow my nephew enters boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. He will be the third generation in our family to “go Navy.” I called him tonight to wish him well in his new career. I was speaking to a retired Navy recruiter yesterday and that man said that today’s recruits don’t face the hazing that was part of my experience in the early 1970’s, but that my nephew will face rigor nonetheless. I hope that you will join me in praying for Tom as he embarks on this journey. All recruits face a transition from civilian to military life. They leave behind the familiar surroundings of home with its comfort and familiarity. They make the transition to military life. They learn to become part of a team. It’s the end of individuality in a culture that stresses just that.

I remember my own transition. I joined the Navy because that’s how my Dad had answered the call during World War II. Like Dad, I went to Boot Camp at Great Lakes. Those first days were an awakening. I met a lot of great young men and formed relationships that I still remember nearly thirty-six years later.  I had a really great company commander. He was Chief William W. Boyd. Chief Boyd was near the end of his Navy career when he took us through boot camp. We loved him and visited him after we got out of boot camp. I hope Tom does as well.

No news is good for me

Life has been very busy and I’ve not had time to record my thoughts here in a number of days. I also missed the second anniversary of my entry into blogging. I’m grateful to all the folks who stop by and read my thoughts and in turn share their own. Blogging and blog reading has become a major pastime for me. I read the RSS feeds of over a dozen blogs each day. I get most of my news from blogs. In the past couple of months I’ve stopped listening to and/or reading daily newspapers and televised news. For the most part I’m more contented. I’ve found their constant hype of Brittany Spears, Election 2008 and other items to be a distraction from the problems faced by real people everywhere on the planet. Continue reading “No news is good for me”