Deck Department was a very love/hate relationship. We would paint, chip, grind, and do other manual labor…including lots of cleaning…from 7am until 7pm. Then I would have a midnight watch to stand. All the sleep I would get for each day was like two separate one-hour naps.

I got to the point that they would make me do this for 30 days straight. We would come into Norfolk, find restaurants and bars that would serve us prohibition alcohol…like moonshine, and we would drink up, watch a movie, and go back to the ship and sleep from late Friday night / early Saturday morning until Sunday morning.

I loved standing Helm and Lookout watches, though. Maverick Has the Ball was from Deck. I also saw a pod of 50 foot sharks.

Who wants to go deep sea fishing?!?!?

Watching the jets was fun. It was especially fun to drive during flight ops. Underway reps and the ship channels required a Master Helmsman. They offered it to me, but I would have had to cancel my vacation home, and I didn’t want to do that. It’s OK. I didn’t miss out on much.

I met my best friend and best man, Eric Sullins. He grew up in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, and I moved there to go to school at SWBTS in 2008, after I left the Navy. He still lives there, and we used to hang out frequently.

The friendships that were born in that time were fun. I miss my fellow Sailors.

Mike Birkhead

Tim Whitney

Jesse Trujillo

I love and miss you guys.