Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flashback Friday - Ike!

Friday, July 15, 2011

My best guess is 1977 or 1978 for this picture.  From left to right is Lee, Darby Alan, me in the blue and red shirt, Beanie and of course Mom sitting in the Monte Carlo.  Here we are at the Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia in front of Dad's ship, the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69), affectionately known as Ike.  I know the picture isn't from 1976 because the ship was commissioned in 1977.  

Beanie is rocking his Happy Days "Fonzie" t-shirt, complete with the word "Aaayyy!" emblazoned across his chest and Henry Winkler with his signature leather jacket, white t-shirt and two big thumbs up.  I'm pretty sure Mom made at least one or two pieces of clothing that you see in this picture.  She's always been quite the seamstress.

Our dark blue Monte Carlo is almost brand new in this picture.  A young enlisted sailor with five kids buying a brand new car?  Well, I probably would've advised against that as a Division Officer but it worked out okay for Petty Officer Alfredo Cruz.  Lots of memories in this car to include several bouts of carsickness; my brother taking the car for a non-approved joy ride with no driver's license and getting into an accident with a pregnant lady; and a trip to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia that resulted in the fire department busting the car window to put out a fire inside the car.  The last thing you expect to hear after riding the Loch Ness Monster roller coaster is your name being paged over a loudspeaker.

The A-7 Corsair on the left has long since been decommissioned, just like the attack jet that replaced it, the venerable A-6 Intruder.  On the top right is the E-2 Hawkeye and it's huge round radar, or as I used to tell the kiddies while giving tours on the flight deck, the in-flight helicopter landing pad.  The Hawkeyes are still going strong unlike my beloved S-3B Viking.  Hey, times change.  And that's a good thing.

Dad served as an MS, or Mess Specialist aboard the Ike.  They've since changed the name to CS for Culinary Specialist.  Basically, he was a cook for the Navy.  Very tough work feeding 5,000 people three hots a day.  When my dad joined the Navy, the reality back then was that if you were black or filipino, you were going to be a cook.  That's just the way things were.  There certainly weren't any black or filipino commanding officers during the early part of my dad's career.  He served 23 years as an MS.  It wasn't an easy career but he did what he had to do not only to feed the 5,000 aboard the carrier, but also the five kids at home.

Today, sailors have the opportunity to do whatever they want if they work hard enough.  They can be jet engine mechanics, musicians, intelligence specialists, logisticians, special forces, search and rescue aircrew - almost anything you can think of.  I'm extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to fly jets, lead some great sailors, be the commanding officer of MSCO Korea and most importantly, serve my country.  Carol and I are planning a trip to San Diego so we can see our good friend take over as commanding officer of a US Navy warship.  BTW, he's African American.  Hey, times change.  And that's a good thing.

Happy Friday!


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