by John Petersen
Coming up on 29 years since I made my way down the gangplank for the last time.
I remember that day like it was yesterday, set foot upon the pier, stopped and stared at that impressive hunk of gray steel, gazing slowly from stem to stern.
She was my home away from home, protective barrier to all those who I came to call brothers, if not family.
She offered me protection to not only the elements, but to those who would try to offend us. She offered me sustenance, warmth, consolation, and demanded of me in return diligence, hard work, sleepless nights, discipline, all of which I gave to her without a second thought.
She taught me how to grow up, how to make decisions that would impact others without putting others in peril. She taught me to savor the sunsets and moonless, star filled nights on a vast sea, and the frenetic pulse of unreps and drills of all types at any given hour, day or night.
She took me to foreign lands, some that most would only dream of visiting, some that others would rather not go. She taught me the idea of diversity, that all are created equal, no matter their position in life.
She was a US Navy warship, sleek and proud. And I, as a Navy sailor, will forever carry the pride I have to have served upon her.