Thanksgiving in the Navy was different every year. My first holiday away from home was at my “A” school in Meridian, MS. It seemed strange at the time to walk to the chow hall to have lunch with friends rather than head up the hill to Granny’s house. But it would be the first of many non-traditional Thanksgivings…which after a few years became traditional in themselves. But one sticks out more than the rest. Thanksgiving 1998 found me sitting alone in Detroit Intl airport awaiting my flight home after having spent two days in transit from the Arabian Gulf. I’d disembarked the USS Enterprise fairly abruptly…my rack was needed for a linguist and I was just there to train my team and leave. It had been a hyper stressful few weeks…as the start of any deployment can be. But we lost lives immediately, had a fire scare in berthing, and were directed to pull all stops enroute to the Arabian Gulf. My boss was relentless, I had to leave fast. Training would be cut short. I had to go. So in the wee hours of the morning the week of Thanksgiving, I boarded a helo bound for Bahrain, leaving my novice team and a few awesome friends.
As I nibbled on a turkey sandwich at some random airport bar, the football games were interrupted with news of missile strikes and air assaults being launched from the Enterprise in support of Operation Desert Thunder. Never have I been so at odds with my feelings of relief, gratefulness, and guilt.
It was a rough deployment for everyone but that novice team did great…and those awesome friends have made a beautiful family!
So much thanks to and for those that can’t be with their families this Thanksgiving.