It was a sad time but also a good one. My wife and I had flown to Norfolk, Virginia to attend the inactivation of my ship, the USS Enterprise CVN 65. It was sad because of what was going to happen to her but also good, as I got to show my wife my ship. I have some great memories of my time aboard this great ship and of course some sad ones but this is not any of those.
We got to the ship two days before the ceremony and went to see her as they had opened the ship to to all those that had been on her or just wished to see the ship. There were lots of people around and many things going on as they had tours of the ship. The day before we got there, those that had been aboard could wander but the day we got there, they had put a stop to that and if you wanted to see any of the ship, you had to do a tour.
As we had just flown in the night before, my wife was not prepared to go up and down all the ladders we would have to take for a tour. We decided to just stay in the hangar bay where we collected what we could. We also talked to some of the people and sailors that were now onboard. It was great because I got to meet some of the plank owners, chat with them and share some stories.
We had met a couple of the current sailors and had been chatting with them, so before we left, they asked what it was like back in my time. I told them about going through the eye of a hurricane that the Navy ship Enterprise had endured during our six-month long deployment (Westpac) of 1978.
So there I was telling the story to these two sailors and as I was doing so, I noticed that a small group had surrounded us. One guy in uniform was holding a tape recorder and another was taking some pictures. Not thinking anything about it, I went on with my story. They were all like, “Wow, you guys went through a hurricane and went into the eye.”
When I had finished the story, the sailor with the tape recorder ask if he could get my name and the years I was on board because he was going to write an article based on my story and it would go into some newspaper. He had even taken a picture of me that he intended to use. Sad to say, I did not think to ask where and when the story would be published.
Anyway, I said that it was fine with me. In fact, I would love it. So he took the information and we headed off the ship stopping at a little store tent that was set up on the pier. We went back to our motel and I sat at the desk when all of a sudden a thought popped into my head.
“OMG,” I thought, “ I am now the old salt telling the sea stories to the younger sailors. I am now an old guy.”
What a blow that was!
Even so, we had a great time there. I got to chat with some of the plank owners after the ceremony out in the parking lot and was as surprised as anyone was when it was announced that the CVN 80 would be the next Enterprise. I missed some of my shipmates there but later made contact with them (Richard thank you so much). And that is how I found out that I became one of the same old sea salts that I used to listen to when I was a young sea pup, in the Navy, aboard the Enterprise
Another excellent Sea Story by Randy Perkins: