Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here's a flashback from the summer of 1996.  That's me and Matt "Joose" Tobler in Dublin, Ireland.  As if being in Ireland while aboard the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY wasn't good enough, Joose and I were incredibly fortunate to have been chosen to do the airshow at Dublin International Airport.  Airshows are the best.  We got to fly our mighty S-3B Viking into Dublin proper.  My guess is that's the first Viking to ever touch ground in Ireland.  A couple of other squadronmates got to do another airshow at the same time at the airport in Shannon, Ireland.  Before the airshow even started, the Airwing did a big flyover of the city.  I forget exactly how many jets were in the flyover but it was a bunch.

That port call in Ireland was one of the best weeks of my entire Navy career.  We expected the people to be friendly and they didn't disappoint in the least.  The entire country was super excited about the Kennedy's visit.  There was even a nationwide lottery held for tickets to visit the ship.  Word got out that some of the Irish citizens that won these tickets were selling them for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  And all the ticket got you was a tour aboard the aircraft carrier.  I think it was the first time that an aircraft carrier had ever visited Ireland.

The airshow hosts were fantastic.  They treated us to special events on a daily basis.  I remember visiting castles, seeing the US Ambassador to Ireland and other big wigs, sipping Guinness in taverns that were built in the 1500s, and having some incredible seven course meals.  They bought a brand new fleet of vehicles just to support the aircrew.  Making some new friends was one of the best parts of the whole experience.  I'm hoping to get back to Ireland one day.  We shall see.

When it's time for some well deserved rest and relaxation, sailors love to hang out in their civilian clothes while on liberty.  So there was some moaning among the JFK crew when the Commanding Officer of the ship put out the guidance that sailors going on liberty ashore had to be dressed in their summer whites.  That moaning came to a screeching halt though after the first day of liberty.  For that blessed crew of the great ship JOHN F. KENNEDY, led by CAPT "Fast" Eddie Fahey, and those under the charge of CAG "Condo" Capalbo of Carrier Airwing Eight, in that specific moment in time, in that magical wonderland known as Dublin, clad in those dashing summer whites, this epic port call would be the closest any of us would come to being rock stars.

If you had on your summer whites, you couldn't pay for a beer.  People were asking for your autograph.  You were kissing babies.  It was insane.  A good buddy of mine described the experience as being trapped in a prison full of hot chicks with a handful of pardons.  And unlike those mere mortals that had to return to the ship as liberty expired at midnight (or later depending on your rank), Joose and I had no such boundaries because of our lofty airshow status.  No Cinderella carriage turning into a pumpkin for us.  For the record, Joose and I were, and still are, very happily married men.  No funny business for us.

If I had some foresight, I would've predicted this internet/blogging thing and taken more pictures.  Carol just reminded me that the reason I only have this one picture to show from the Ireland trip is because I was so incredibly busy picking out the perfect gift for her.  Of course she told me this while doubled over in laughter.  In one of the dumbest moments in Chris Cruz history, I came home from Ireland with nothing but a stinking airshow t-shirt for Carol.  Deservedly so, I'll never live that one down.  No Waterford crystal, Celtic jewelry or Irish hand-knitted sweater.  Nope.  And I'm usually pretty good about that stuff.  Guess I just lost my mind or something.  Must've been the cider.

Anyway, I better close this out before I get myself into more trouble.  It's never good to remind your better half of the really dumb things you do.  A t-shirt?  Sheesh Chris.  Happy St. Paddy's Day.


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