|Quarters in the sonar shack were a bit snug.|
From 1983 to 1989, I served in the United States Navy. I was a sonar technician during a time when we were sort of like rock stars. The Tom Clancy novel The Hunt for Red October had just come out. It created such a fuss that we were actually briefed on how to respond to any questions about how close some of the information may or may not have been. President Reagan was in charge and the Soviet Union was still in one piece. It was all kind of crazy. And at 18 years old...it was my ticket to see the world.
I believe that every young man and woman should serve right out of high school. Seriously, how many of us really knew what we wanted to do with our lives back then. Also, the military is a great way to experience some things that you will never get a chance to do otherwise.
I was able to play football on the ice cap at the North Pole...visit places like Cairo, Egypt...Rome, Italy...Barcelona, Spain...and Nice, France. I met my best friend, Steve Hobart...and I met my first wife (who Denise and I are friends with to this day).
Above all, I learned just how good we have it here in this country. You truly gain a new appreciation for the United States and all it has to offer once you see the plight of others. I learned how important it was to preserve our great nation's freedoms.
I want to take a moment to thank all of the men and women who serve now and have done so in the past. You do more than you realize at the time, and for far less appreciation than you deserve. You have come home to protesters and an ungrateful nation on more than one occasion...you have missed the birth of children...first steps...and struggled with the helplessness of not being there during family tragedies. And some of you left, never to return...or did so in a draped box.
So thank you for all you do, and I am proud to say that I gave my time, while humbled by those who continue to do so.