Adventures At Sea (Part 5)
November 19, 2013
Continued from November 11, 2013
After spending a while with the Captain, we were lead back down the nine flights of stairs that we’d originally trekked and then down one more flight of stairs – I think (if we hadn’t had guides everywhere we went, I would most definitely have gotten lost!). We were lead through several different passage ways. The doorways on the ship are not like a regular door in a house or building, the knee-knocker – or the part of the frame that is part of the metal of the bulkhead – comes up about 1-1/2 to 2 foot off the floor and then the door frame is inserted, so you have to be very, very careful traversing the hallways. Trust me, as danger prone as I am, I made sure I paid real close attention to where I was going. We finally made our way to “DV Way”, this is the hallway of visitor rooms that we would be sleeping in much later in the night. The rooms were beautiful and I know that they were not indicative of the conditions that your average crew-man lives in, but it was comfortable and more than enough for no longer than we were actually in our bunks. Each room was named after a job with the government that George H. W. Bush had in all his many years serving our country. I shared the “Ambassador” suite with one of the ladies from Ohio. We each had a desk and a locker to put things in. There was a sink and mirror in the along the wall opposite our beds, and then a double bunk compartment type bed unit. There is a flat screen television in the room too that shows everything that is going on on the flight deck from multiple angles.
(This was home sweet home!)
We spend maybe five minutes or so in our rooms and our escorts return to take us to dinner. We are escorted through the maze of passageways and maybe back up or down a flight of stairs to a beautiful dining room. The table was set with twelve place settings and was absolutely immaculate. We were greeted by the Captain; the Admiral; the Admiral’s Chief of Staff – Captain Sean Moriarty; the CAG – the Commander of Airwing Eight “Team Ocho”, Captain Daniel “Dozer” Dwyer; and the Commander of the Destroyer Strike Group “Desron 22”, Captain Kenneth Long. The Admiral’s Chef had prepared dinner for the twelve of us. The officers were dispersed through the table amongst us. I sat beside Captain Moriarty and directly across the table from the Admiral. We each had name cards in front of us so we knew exactly where to sit and there was a menu provided to tell us what we were about to partake of. Dinner was spectacular! We had a garden green salad with lemon and pepper oil dressing to start. The main course was breaded chicken breast with beurre, blanc sauce, roasted potatoes, and red and green pepper confit. The chicken was so tender you could have cut it with your fork. And dessert was a pecan tarte. We talked with the officers while we ate. The Admiral is an impressive fellow. He could pass for Ray Liota’s twin brother. He is a Naval Academy graduate and an F14 and F18 pilot. He was very personable and very forth coming with answers to our questions. All of the gentlemen that we were dining with were amazing men in their service and achievements. They were all very humble and very gracious hosts. We were able to meet the cook staff just before we left the dining room. The chef was assigned to the Admiral, so he went where the Admiral went, the others that were serving us and were helping in the kitchen were regular crewmen working their turns in food services. I was impressed by the fact that the Admiral knew a little bit about each one of the young men and was able to share it with us.
(Our dining room for the evening)
After an amazing dinner and even better conversation, our escorts came to get us. We were led, again through many passageways and I don’t remember how many stairs, to the hospital area of the ship. We met with the ship’s doctor and saw their ER and their OR, the ICU, the fifty bed sick bay, and the physical therapy room. They have a lab that can do basic blood work. They have basic digital x-ray capabilities. And they can do some surgeries, including oral and maxillofacial surgery while underway. For most cases, if there is a way to transport a sailor to a land based hospital for surgery, this is what they do, but if they have no choice, they have capabilities of doing almost anything on board. We learned that the airwing also travels with a flight surgeon.
When we left the hospital area we were taken to the library, internet access area, and chapel. We met with the Chaplain and he took us into the chapel where a group of sailors were practicing a song for Sunday morning’s worship service. This was the type of singing that gave you goose bumps on your arms and made you want to holler “AMEN” at the end! Absolutely beautiful! We were able to talk with them afterwards and they were truly, an incredible group of young Americans! On our way out of the Chapel and to our next stop, we did pass the NCIS office! No, sadly there was no Dinozzo, Gibbs, or Callen waiting on us, but we got to see the door.
Check back next week for more to this story!