Onboard a Navy Ship

Monday, August 3

Shortly after settling in on the Essex, I learned it was movie night! As the sky darkened from the amber-orange hues of sunset to twilight grey, the crew began to assemble on the flight deck to watch the latest WWII movie – which would be their sole source for entertainment for the next 8 days. A portable screen was assembled in the middle of the deck near the stern of the ship, with warbirds as the backdrop. The screen was flanked by a PBY on one side, the B-25 Old Glory on the other. What a setting to watch a WWII film – it was spectacular!

Waking after my first overnight on the ship, I was amazed that I had a restful night’s sleep and grateful to learn that the coffee on board was strong and the ship even had honey to sweeten it. I like my coffee the way I like my men, strong and sweet. HA! – I feel like I can say things like that, since I’m on board a Navy ship.

Setting Sail at 1300

Damn, I foresee A LOT of math in the next week just trying to translate to military time. This morning I discovered that once we leave the pier, we’ll no longer have connectivity – yikes! Frantically I scramble to get to the flight deck and the makeshift office I used to post pics of Old Glory the night before – the seat of a parked tug. I check in at The Hangar and engage the team’s help getting the FedEx package delivered. We’re still hoping for the parts in order to properly secure Old Glory on the flight deck before we leave. Suddenly, I get an email notification, the package was delivered to the Lodge at the Navy base. Perfect, our mechanic Andres is on his way there now and will grab the box and return.

Unsure whether or not security will let Andres or the package through, I run/climb down from the ships’ topflight deck to the ramp many levels below (where I first came aboard from the pier). As I arrive at the ship’s entrance, they’re preparing to pull up the ramp. “Please wait,” I pleaded, “I have a package being delivered any minute.” “Yes, ma’am, the polite sailor says, “I can only wait a couple of minutes, we’ve got a schedule to uphold.”  I can see it now, the package shows up as the ramp disappears… think positive, think positive.

As if the Universe Heard my Affirmations

Andres pulled up with the package. Excited, I practically skipped down the ramp to meet him. Because of security/COVID restrictions, he was instructed to set the box on his side of the gate, and step back. After, I could reach through the partial opening in the gate and pick up the package. It felt like I was in a movie scene with a ransom exchange. Ecstatic that I finally had the box in my hands, like a dork, I paused and asked one of the guards to take my photo with it (even as my glasses were fogged from my labored breathing & racing to the gate).

I rush back up to the flight deck with the box and hand it off to Taigh Ramey, who has been coordinating the loading of the warbirds. He is grateful, his substitute for these parts were museum pieces from his personal collection. Old Glory as well as her parts have been delivered – mission accomplished.

Before losing my connectivity to the world for a week, I still needed to post to social media, update the BLOG, and send pictures to others that could potentially post them. Oh, and send some love to my family since I’ll be unreachable for more than a week!!! So, I race to the seat of my “Tug” makeshift office, happy to discover my water bottle right where I left it, next to the shifting lever.

Texting, posting, emailing, calling… right up to (and far beyond) the time we were no longer permitted, I was relieved to finally “give in” to being done. I put away my electronics to breath in the fresh air as we moved out of the channel and into the Pacific. Old Glory and I were officially on our way to The 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII in Hawaii!

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