Big USS Midway, little Chris (on the pier to the right)
As we're still waiting for the two (very late season!) hurricanes to blow through Mexico, we've been walking and exploring all over San Diego. This is a big military town, and a HUGE Navy town.
This sign reflects on the water across the bay from Espiritu
Of course, San Diego is the location for our generation's ultimate rah-rah military movie, Top Gun.
"I feel the need...the need...for SPEED!"
(our words exactly when Espiritu tops 7 knots)
There are three aircraft carriers, two submarines, one battleship and several Coast Guard cruisers within a mile of Espiritu's anchorage here in San Diego. I'm not sure if that makes us feel safer...or more vulnerable, considering the mood of the planet these days.
Speaking of men in uniform, we found this little love note on Espiritu the other day after returning from our days errands ashore:
It seems we need an "anchor permit" from the San Diego Port Police to drop the hook here. Who knew? Who ever heard of such a thing? We followed orders, which were to drive Espiritu to the Harbor Police facility for a full inspection. Were were granted a permit to anchor for 30 days. Whew!
The next day, our old, OLD friend Mike Odegaard (he and Chris went to kindergarden together in Orange County) drove down and spent an afternoon with us here in San Diego. What a treat!
Later we went ashore to explore the aircraft carrier USS Midway.
Next to the carrier is a gigantic statue of the famous 1945 photo "The Kiss." Frankly, I've never cared for this photo. If you look at the nurse, she really doesn't look into it. Her arm is arched back in a defensive motion, almost as if she was being mauled.
But I quibble.
After seeing the statue from afar, naturally I was curious about one thing...
...yes, you can see her underwear. (I had to look)
Chris aboard one aircraft carrier (Midway) with another aircraft carrier in the background.
Yes, we are in a military town, maybe THE military town on the planet.
Do you think those little tables and barstools were on
the back of the boat for the sailors to use in 1945? (Ha)
This thing is beyond huge. We spent 3 hours climbing every catwalk,
traversing every porthole and squeezing up and down its hundreds of staircases.
I was exhausted!
"Take me to Espiritu or lose me forever!" I said to my energetic skipper.
"Nope, we're only half done!" Chris said excitedly, charging off to explore the bridge.
Captain Chris plans his attack on the bridge
This sign saying "DEFCON ONE SET AT 0200" was written on the bridge.
Everyone knows "DEFCON ONE" was what Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington reached in the other massively popular (and well done) Navy movie of our time, Crimson Tide.
DEFCON ONE is the worst of the DEFCONs. DEFCON FIVE, on the other hand, means "society is at peace."
You can see teeny-tiny Espiritu in the anchorage in the
distance in this view from the Midway bridge
A rather eerie thing about this tour is they have mannequins in some of the rooms of the ship. Above, the ship's chaplain eats a chocolate chip cookie and reads his Bible in his cabin.
This mannequin in sick bay didn't look so good. Crank up the 02 -- he's a bit cyanotic.
Chris all alone in the mess hall...
...well, not ALL alone...WHY is there a BOMB in the corner of the mess hall?
Yikes! We're below the waterline!
Pipes and wires everywhere, with two Christmas trees down the hall
I'm driving the Midway! Yes, that's me...at the helm. :-)
World's biggest shackles!
The carrier was filled with retired Navy veterans who volunteer as docents for the tourists.
I love my husband. He's such a good man.
He stopped to greet and chat with nearly every one of the dozens of these guys on board. With a handshake and a greeting, Chris would ask them for details of their service and listen to their stories.
Chris with his new friend
We spent several minutes listening to this gentleman's stories of his Naval adventures in the most sacred of all rooms aboard -- the room where the pilots are briefed on the details of their upcoming mission.
Just like in Top Gun!
And like in Top Gun, the names/nicknames of the pilots were hanging on the wall. Instead of "Maverick" and Goose," it's "Frenchy," "Stubby," "Plato," "Douche," "Pony Boy" and "Itchy."
Even though my first instinct is always to try diplomacy before military action (I don't like the word pacifist, but a better one doesn't spring to mind), I think it's only human to drop one's jaw in wonder at the sheer size and strength of our nation's military might.
I have the greatest respect for the men and women of our military. We have countless family and friends who have served with honor. My uncle was killed in Korea. My dad served in Germany. My brother Craig served in Afghanistan and is currently stationed in Italy. Chris' brother Michael even served aboard the Midway during an Army stint in Japan!
And yet, I have concerns. Modern war has caused more death and suffering than anything in our planets history. So I think it's something we should enter into only as a last resort.
Japan and Germany were our "greatest, sworn enemies" during WWII. The Midway itself was built in 1943 in preparation for the grand invasion of Tokyo, which never happened after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Now, only a few decades later, Japan and Germany (as well as Korea) are amongst our closest allies.
A Japanese tourist clowns around with a mannequin on the deck of the Midway,
which was built to destroy Japan.
History and time have a way of settling differences and easing longstanding resentments.
The Midway was strung with lights showing support for Paris,
France after the terrorist attacks earlier this month.
It seems there are some in the military and government who are eager to go to war again. But I have to think of the human cost.
A ghostly mannequin pilot looks down from the deck of the Midway, as a reminder of those countless young men and women from all countries and cultures who have given their lives during times of war.
I don't know the answer. I guess all I can do is share the principal that I believe in every fiber of my being:
Peace = Victory