Saturday, February 21, 2009


(click on photo to see detail)

Today we got up at 1:30 in the morning (yes I said 1:30 AM!) to drive to Norfolk, VA to see the Sailor Son off on his first long deployment on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. (news item here) And it's 8:00 PM and I'm still awake! However I have to credit The Tramp for this since he did all the driving. Three and a half hours each way. I got to snooze in the back seat on the way home. :-) Love you honey. XXX

While The Tramp got a well-earned nap, Dad and I went with the Navy Wife to the Naval base at 6:00 am to wait at the pier. Boy oh boy was it COLD! We were early enough to drive right up and park facing the stern of the ship so were able to keep warm in the car until the the ship started to pull away. The Sailor Son was pleased to be one of the sailors "manning the rails" but I wonder how he felt about it when it turned out to be such a COLD morning. No coats or gloves. Just his "Cracker Jack" uniform and "Dixie Cup" hat. Brrrrrrrrrrr!!! The wind chill was well below freezing and we were frozen through down on the pier in our winter coats with hats and gloves. It's extra windy up on the decks!

We arrived at the base at dawn, worried there would be a crowd. It was ok though, the crowd and news cameras showed up a bit later. We found out we wouldn't be allowed out onto the pier itself but still had a good view. The Navy Wife said the homecoming is a big hoopla with bleachers, food stands and music and we should be sure to come back for it.

The pier was crowded with cranes and equipment.

The ship docked next to the Eisenhower was the recently commissioned USS George H.W. Bush. It sure looked brand spanking new!

The ship was supposed to leave at 8:00 and at about that time the tugs showed up and the process of getting ready began.

Then we heard the order for the sailors to "man the rails" and got out of the car to see if we could get a better position to take pictures. There are over 5,000 sailors on the ship so it's a privilege to be chosen. At first they were standing at ease. This is the stern. The sailors below were on duty. Several were manning guns, I believe some were on watch, and the rest were ready to work with the tugs or pull in the ropes from the pier.

Then they saluted for the Star Spangled Banner. When they say "manning the rails" it's kind of a misnomer. There are no rails! (except that bit of thin rail at the stern) Yikes!

While we shivered and huddled we watched the tugs slowly pull and push the ship away from the pier. The sailors stayed at attention.

The ship slowly moved away from us, around behind the Bush and out into the Chesapeake Bay. In this view you can still see the sailors manning the rails. The Sailor Son wasn't on the flight deck, he was in the center bay of the hanger deck, hopefully out of the wind. The Navy Wife is going to blow up some of my photos and see of he can tell her where he was standing. I doubt he could see us either but we had a quick phone call at 6 am and he knew we were there, which was the important thing. (click on the photos to enlarge them)

We gave chase and stopped at two other vantage points to take photos, thankful to see that the sailors were no longer on deck! Then we went home to warm up. And what could possibly be more heartwarming--than grandbabies!!!

Dirty face from breakfast, runny nose and drool from teething. What could be more precious to a grandmother?

And this angel spit up on his mom, spit up on himself, and spit up all over me. Made my day.

Hope you had a good day too!


Lorraine said...

wow - you have had a busy day....hope all goes well with his deployment...I hope they didn't have to stand on the deck for too would have been freezing!

Patchwork Penguin said...

WOW!! I bet that was an awesome experience. Please tell your family thank you for their sacrifices to this country...... I know they don't always here it, but they are very much appreciated.


Jeanne Turner McBrayer said...

I bet that is a sight you will never forget. A very proud moment. Best of luck to him and his shipmates on this deployment.

Clevelandgirlie said...

Katie you must be so proud. (beautiful pictures) We send our prayers that God keeps a watchful eye on him. I know He will.

Nancy said...

Thank you to your son and his family for their sacrifices. Prayers for a safe deployment. What an honor to stand on the rail. But wouldn't you think under the circum stances, they could be dressed warmly? Obviously Moms don't run the military. :-) You must be very proud.