5-Around The World

5-Around The World

If you could make your yo-yo go over your head in a 360 degree arc and then come back up, they said you could do Around The World.
It was 1978 and a friend made in boot camp is a friend forever. Ken was going into the same field as I, advanced electronics. We would go to basic electricity/electronics straight out of boot camp and then to A School at the Great Lakes Navy Training Center.
If you remember the blizzard of 1978 in Chicago, then you know what it was like when I say they closed the U.S. Navy base for four days. The snow once plowed rose 8 feet covering cars on both sides of every street.
It was at that time when my friend Ken dropped out of the advanced electronic school and went on to Operations Specialist school. He was trained to watch the radar screen for approaching ships for navigational purposes. When school was over and it was time for us to receive orders to report to a ship, Ken got a Fast Frigate home ported in Norfolk Virginia. I received orders first to electronic calibration school and then to an aircraft carrier in San Diego.
From San Diego we deployed to the Indian Ocean. It was on one of those cruises I received a call from the signal bridge. They said someone on a ship running along side my ship wanted to say hello. Puzzled, not knowing exactly what was going on, I climbed the ladders deck after deck till I reached the signal bridge. I looked through the ‘Big Eyes’ a very large pair of binoculars mounted on the bridge and there was Ken waving to me from his ship.
We met in Florida at boot camp and each got on a different ship on opposite coasts, went half way around the world and met again in the Indian Ocean.
After the cruise when the ship went back to its home port of San Diego we were docked at the North Island carrier pier and each morning as I drove down around the strand highway between 6:30 and 7:00 AM the sun would be coming up over the mountains to the east of San Diego. I never really gave it much thought.
After a six month stay in the home port, we headed back out to cross the Pacific Ocean and to enter the Indian Ocean through the Malaccan Straights. The work days were 12 hours on and 12 hours off seven days a week while at sea. The ship had once again returned to the same place I had seen my friend Ken the year before on the previous cruise. Obviously not the exact same coordinates but in the same area of the globe.
After a twelve hour day at sea it was my habit to go out on a sponson and find a comfortable spot to sit and watch the waves and the expanse of ocean as far as the eye could see and think about the folks back home. Being in the late afternoon approaching early evening I often observed the sun setting far out on the horizon.
It was on one of those occasions it occurred to me that while I sat watching the sun go down over the horizon and since we were exactly 12 hours from our home port of San Diego, I could visualize from memory driving around the strand highway and see the sun coming up over the mountains. I realized from where I sat on the ship aided by my memory of San Diego it was, as though I could see all the way around the world.
After two and a half cruises over to the Indian Ocean it came time for me to leave that ship and transfer to a shore duty job. I received orders to a small navy base in Virginia. My arrival was just in time for the hurricane season to start up the east coast of the United States. We battened down and weathered the storm. Winter turned to spring and then summer. Virginia Beach became crackling with bikinis and sun screen. Shore duty was good with the ship behind me, I enjoyed my new job on base.
Being summer, construction projects began and with that the main galley was closed for an indefinite period. There were no fast food restaurants near the base. The Navy, which was always good about taking care of their own, opened the Chiefs club to all enlisted sailors so a co-worker and I went to the club for lunch. On one of those occasions, I was sitting having lunch and heard what seemed to be a very familiar voice. I thought for a while trying to place where I’d heard that voice before and when I turned around to my surprise there sat Ken.
We went from Orlando to Great Lakes Illinois. I went to the west coast, he went to the east coast. We met half way around the world on two ships in the Indian Ocean and then traveled to the other side of the world and met again in a chiefs club at the Dam Neck Naval Training Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Even if you travel half way or all the way around the world, it’s still a small world.