11 March 2007

25 years

Twenty-five years ago today I reported in to NTC Great Lakes to start boot camp. And what a lot of changes those twenty-five years have made....

At that time, a couple months before my 28th birthday, I'd been in a total of nine states - all in the Midwest - and had never been out of the country. My furthest north was in the wilds of far-northern Wisconsin; my furthest south was St Louis.

In the next 21.5 years I visited 29 more states, as well as twenty US territories and foreign countries. I visited Asia and Europe, and both flew over and passed through a corner of Africa (though I still haven't actually set foot in that continent). I crossed the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer (not in that order), though I didn't quite make it to the equator; my furthest south now is a point somewhere to the south of the southern end of the Panama Canal. I've flown across the Atlantic four times, and the Pacific once. On three submarines and one surface ship I've visited a total of 33 ports. I spent three years in Hawai`i, and almost three in Scotland. And I've been through the Panama Canal once, and the Suez Canal five times. "Join the Navy and see the world," indeed!

Hard to believe it's been three and a half years already since I retired. Lots of great memories, and a few cool souvenirs. (Someday I may get all my "funny money" all together in one place: Canadian dollars, yen, Hong Kong dollars, pesos, baht, won, pounds, escudos, pesetas, kronor, lira, drachmae, dirhams, dinars, francs, euro and tolarjev.) I'd like to get a denim jacket and decorate it with the flags of all the places I've been: the US flag at the top, then the twenty others, and the flags of Panama and Egypt (representing the canals) at the bottom.

I think the thing I miss the most about the Navy is the thirty days a year of leave time, but I also miss the travel, and all the neat places I've been. Someday I'd like to go back to a few of those places, taking my family with me. But the best part of retirement is being able to stay at home every night with that family.

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