Sea Story 7

 

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Italian protesters outside the Naval Base Sigonella gate. Aerial view broadcasted on the guard tower’s TV.

Every year for the reserves, naval personnel has to go on what is known as an AT, or annual training. These trips can last for as little as two weeks to almost a full year. Either way, it’s good work and it keeps service members updated on their roles in the military.

I’m part of a reserve unit known as Naval Support Activity Naples, Detachment 106 Chicago. As an Information Systems Technician, my main role over at NSA Naples is to manage network systems and to operate general computer equipment wherever necessary. NSA Naples is not based in Florida, but it is based in Naples, Italy. If you can guess, every year I get to go to Italy to perform my AT. The work is a lot of fun and I get a lot of leave time to explore the city and Italy as a whole. More on that later. This last summer was my first year at Naples, so it was a unique experience to say the least.

The first day I arrived there, I reported to N6, also known as Information Systems. The shop was 100% government contractors, and all of them were pretty damn chill. The work was cake as well; I would go and DRMO equipment (basically take them apart and recycle them) and log them in a excel spreadsheet. It’s a bit below my ability level, but I’m not complaining. I’m getting paid for this.

A few days go by of doing that, and we are notified that in a few weeks, the base will be inspected by other government agencies to look for network vulnerabilities. In preparation for this inspection, the government contractors and I would do an in-house inspection to make sure that we don’t fail the big inspection. Did I mention that we’re doing an inspection?

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Sea Stories V – High School Sweethearts and Best Friends

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I made it to my bed (or rack, as it was now called) the night of the Moment of Truth. My division was sleep-deprived for 49 long hours. I’m pretty sure I saw the utensils at the galley swing-dancing in front of me; that’s how tired and cracked I was. In the 49 hours I had been at Great Lakes Recruit Training Command, my division got off those coach buses in the middle of the night, we spent hours getting our gear issued, getting our hair buzzed off, and going through hours of paperwork. On top of that, we ate 5 times at the galley, we spent time cleaning the head, (bathroom) we spent time stenciling our gear, and we received initial medical checkups. It was due time for sleep. The recruit division commanders were giving us 8 full hours of sleep, and our new temporary home was at the USS Red Rover. (It’s not actually a ship. It’s just a building named after one). Lying face up in my rack, I thought about my last day, right before the Navy.

 

I wanted to cry for her to see, but I didn’t as well. It was strange.

 

It was only that evening we were watching Silver Linings Playbook. We cuddled and hugged each other until it was time to leave. We didn’t watch Ant Man with her parents that night, either.

It was only that afternoon we were sitting on the balcony of her house, reading some book about palm reading. I didn’t agree with her choices of what I was in a hand. It was only that morning we went out for breakfast, and we had one of our last meals together. At least the last one I spent taking her out. We switched cars to her driving after breakfast. I felt pretty happy in her arms.

“I love you.” She said back to me, parking the car in my driveway. “I shouldn’t say that, but I don’t know any other love like you. I wish we had more time, too.”

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Sea Stories III: Angry Filipinos

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(By the way, I’m going to begin to use stock photos from now on. What, you think you can take photos in basic training? By the way, these girls look about excited as I was. Even I’m impressed with their enthusiasm.)

The Petty Officer rounds us up, not unlike cattle. Wide-eyed, matching the looks of the individuals around me, we all sternly follow this strangely dressed man down by the departure gates of O’Hare airport. I almost forgot my bag in the USO office; it’s a bit redundant to say, but that would have sucked big time.

It was strange. O’Hare was an airport that I was so comfortable with. From the departure gates, I could see all of the terminals and check-in booths and rent-a-car stations that I remembered from when I was younger and I would be going on family vacations to wherever around the country or world. I felt pretty old now, and I just turned 18.

We were instructed to sit down on the floor of the terminal and to “shut the f*ck up”. I say that in quotes as I do not use sentence enhancers lightly. The guys in charge of us really did have mouths like sailors, and that scared a few of us. I thought it was hilarious.

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