Live from WV

My maternal grandmother is turning 80 this month. We scraped and saved and have found ourselves in the small town in WV where I grew up. Mrs. Snipe and Pocket Monkey are quite possibly the only 2 Chamorros in this town at the moment. One of my cousins in college told me he learned that this is the second least diverse city in the US.

It is good to see all the family but everyone has aged a lot. It is the first time I have darkened my mother’s door in seven years. Some people have passed away and many businesses have shut down. All the manufacturing that we were famous for in my youth has dried up. Consequently, a lot of restaurants have shut down.

More to follow. Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

60 Minutes of Play

Pocket Monkey likes playing with his friend outside. I fall into the “60 minutes of play” camp. In my world, 60 minutes of playing outside is invaluable. Mrs. Snipe mentioned that it felt like neglect. My response, “He is playing outside. With friends. I love it!” In my world, if you use the buddy system, and play outside, you are ahead of the curve! I strictly enforce the buddy system. If your friends go in, you come in. PM is learning about football from his friend. I love it! I come from an era where parents only got involved if you did something stupid. We check on the kids randomly, because that is what responsible parents do.

In our apartment block, all the parents know each other. “Don’t make me tell your Mom” still carries weight. PM and friends play football and manufacture adventures.

Speaking of adventures, we had a decent snowfall Saturday night. We went outside and commenced snow related shenanigans. A fellow parent teamed up with me to chase kids with snowballs. I was hesitant to throw a snow ball at someone else’s kids until I was given the “A-OK”.

“Just throw it They need to learn!”

I love parents that are as mischievous as me. We teamed up in a proper pincer and got the kids with snowballs from both sides.

That is all. Fall out, and carry out the Plan of the Day!

Christmas Memories

Christmas is my favorite time of year. It always has been. I have been everywhere on Christmas. I have been in Australia, the Persian Gulf, and parts unknown. I now have a wife and child. It is the ultimate blessing to share Christmas with them. Because I could be literally anywhere on Christmas Day, I cherish the ones I get to share with my family.

I once participated in a search and rescue on Christmas Day. On shore duty, it is not quite as hectic. We went shopping today for the last minute presents. We will enjoy Christmas dinner with the same folks from the Thanksgiving post.

The gifts are wrapped, plans are made, and fun is ready to be had. I am not in the Gulf, or in some other God-forsaken locale.

We read the Christmas story from the Book of Luke to Pocket Monkey tonight. Jesus is the reason for the season. We are training Pocket Monkey in the finer arts of Christianity.

On this Christmas, please pay homage to those who are the watchmen on the walls. They are missing all the festivities in order that we may live free. They are the sheepdogs. They dress like the wolf in order to protect the sheep. I have been there, and I have no doubt that I will be there again.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

Thanksgiving With Kith and Kin

Many people from my family use the phrase kith and kin. As explained to a young me, kin is the family God saw fit to bless you with. Kith is the family you would have picked if given a choice in the matter.

This year was a lot more kith than kin. It was still fun. We choose ham instead of turkey due to some picky eaters in the thundering herd of young ‘uns. All the sides were the standard bit. We had stuffing, taters, veggies, candied sweet potatoes, and pies.

We were at a friend’s house. We provided a couple of sweet potato pies courtesy of great grandma’s recipe. I helped them get the their papa down here from an old folk’s home near The Major Metropolis. That made me fell warm and fuzzy inside.

We all laughed because despite our collective efforts to not make too much food, it seemed we had enough left over to feed a small battalion. We split everything down the middle and each of the two families got sufficient leftovers for a couple of weeks.

After supper, we played with the kids and watched a movie. Our friends don’t get cable, so we didn’t watch football. Most of the kids are small, so playing football in the backyard seemed rather ambitious. After being in some real remote locations in the world for Thanksgiving over the years, having no football was not an issue. Being with family and friends was far more fulfilling.

I shall go to bed tonight with the echoes of children’s laughter in my head and an overstuffed belly. We reflected as a family on what we are thankful for. Pocket Monkey stated that he is thankful for sleepovers with friends and a cozy house. I was proud. Keeping him warm and safe is one of my major goals and priorities.

That is all. Think before you drink. Fall out and carry out the plan of the day,

Strong Men and Strong Legacies

A couple years back, two veterans that are very near to my heart passed on. One was my paternal grandfather. The other was one of his good friends. These are men that would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. They would be at your house in a hot minute if you suddenly needed a friend. During the course of a Facebook conversation bemoaning their loss, my brother made an excellent point. It is our job to be those men for the next generation. My Dad is now Grandpa Snipe. I am now Uncle Snipe. It is our job to give the same care to the next generation that our forbearers gave to us. Take the lessons we learned, and pass them down. Such is life. If ever you look back and think about the good old days, bring those days forward. Teach the young ones how to ride well, shoot straight, and speak the truth.

I realized one day that I am a rare creature. I have been in the US Navy since before 9/11. There are very few of us left in today’s US Navy. One day, God willing, I will be the old guy that kids look up to with awe. I want to be worthy of the legacy of Grandpa and his buddy. I want to eventually be the worn out old man at the parade doing his level best to stand up in the presence of the National Ensign. I want to be known for helping others and supporting other vets. I want my legacy to be such that my future grandson and his friends view me with the same awe and respect that I viewed my Grandpa and his friends with.

Every man has a season on this earth. I want my season to be worthy of comment. If no one is mourning when I pass, then I have failed. I want to touch lives, even if it is in the smallest way. I want to live my life in such a way that even my exes show up at my funeral. My Dad’s ex wife showed up at Grandpa’s funeral. That must be the surest testament to a man’s character ever. In short, I want to be like my Grandpa. I want the whole town to know when I pass.

That is all. Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

Veteran’s Affairs

No sailor stands watch alone. Whether you are a snipe or a top rider, you have support while you are on watch. A top watch to guide you and answer the random WTFs you are bound to encounter on watch. When you retire, or just plain leave, it may seem that you no longer have that support system. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I am here. It is my duty to support you. Whether you served for 10 minutes or 10 years, you are my brother in arms. You are my battle buddy. I have learned from your mistakes and triumphs. The least I can do is give you a shoulder to cry on, or a good old bitch session.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) is big news these days. Some former sailors/soldiers feel that it is weakness to seek help. I call bull. General Order Number 9 instructs us to call the Officer of the Deck in any case not covered by instructions. Calling for help is not weakness. It shows maturity and good judgment.

If you feel that the darkness is closing in, call me. Call one of the many like me. We are here for you. I have the utmost respect for any veteran, from any service. Any help I can give to you is yours to have. You have taught me many lessons. Some good and some ridiculous. A problem is 10 times worse if it is hidden.

This post is meant to bring awareness to PTSD. You don’t have to be military to help. Ask the hard questions. Provide the needed support. Know a resource or two. Don’t be afraid to get a vet the help they need. If all else fails, remember ACT. Ask, Care, Treat. It works for suicidal intentions and PTSD.

I have seen it in the war vets in my family. From WW2 to Vietnam, the problem was just under the surface. Nobody asked. It was understood that certain subjects were taboo. Would talking about it help? No one can really know. At my brother’s wedding, we had several generations of combat vets. From Vietnam to present. We all had our own nightmares. We also had our own funny stories. Whether it was grown men fighting over cans of beans and weenies, or almost using an M-16 in lieu of a pellet gun for birds on the flight deck, we had stories. Let me tell you, a Grandpa and his grandsons laughing over some ridiculous war time situations is awesome. Some things haven’t changed in 50 years.

Even if you aren’t kin to a veteran, you can still get some awesome sea stories. Just ask. Support the American Legion, FRA, and VFW. By supporting them, you support veterans of all stripes. Remember what these men did for you and yours. There but for he grace of God go you.

That is all. Fall out and carry out the plan of the day.

Those That Have Gone Before

http://williamlopez1984.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/the-medal-of-honor-a-handful-of-hereos/ has a post that really opened my eyes. It expounds on how few people can name a Medal of Honor winner and how many people can name all 5 Kardashians.

The Medal of Honor(not the Congressional Medal of Honor) is this nation’s highest award for military valor. It calls for service above and beyond the call of duty. For men whose call of duty includes rescuing comrades from burning rooms, and surrendering only as a last resort, above and beyond is some next level valor. Like Mr. T, Duke Nukem, and GI Joe rolled into one awesome fighting man.

I have met a few Medal of Honor winners and heard others of them speak. They are some of the most humble farm boys I have ever met. I couldn’t quite picture them charging machine gun nests with flamethrowers, or organizing desperate last stands. The historical record shows that they did just that. They took lives and saved lives. It was their call, and they answered.

There are two Navy Seals who recently earned that medal that now have ships named after them. One jumped on a grenade, which is a movie cliché, but a real life choice. The other exposed himself intentionally to enemy fire while calling in reinforcements.

On a whim, I gave Mrs. Snipe a quiz. I asked her how many Kardashians she could name, and she named one. I asked how many American Idol winners she could name, and she named five. I asked her how many Medal of Honor winners she could name, and I got a blank stare in return. I can name three. It would have been four, but I forgot Woody’s last name. He is from my home state, and spoke at my church once. He is the basis for my flamethrower example above.

I posted earlier about what constitutes courage. These men, and their brothers, had it in spades. Even if they were scared to death, they manned up, and did what was required of them. These men are real heroes. The ones I have met or heard speak, downplay their actions. They will say they hid in a foxhole like a good LT. They almost always skip the part where they stood up, guns blazing, in the face of a numerically superior enemy, to give their men time to reorganize and counterattack.

That is what Americans should be honoring. Not some tart who is famous because she is famous. Audie Murphy and Sergeant York were two of my heroes growing up. Not a ballplayer or celebrity. Two men, who in their respective wars, earned an amazing amount of awards for valor. To further prove my point, it is worth noting that Alvin York was a pacifist, who entered the war only reluctantly. When he realized that his squad was in grave danger, he hunted humans like he hunted ducks. He didn’t find it proper to let men die because he didn’t want to kill. It seems to me that most men of that caliber find themselves in similar circumstances.

If you can name more celebrities than Medal of Honor winners, please reevaluate your priorities. I, for one, proudly represent the fighting spirit of those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world. It is my mission to learn about them, and to tell their stories.

Always remember, fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.