in Geezer

Letters to Grandma: 17 May 1990

[Note: Read this post first for an introduction.]

This is an interesting letter in many regards. It shows my growing appreciation for world affairs.

It was interesting back then to read the intelligence reports that were coming in as India and Pakistan nearly went to war. At one point there was talk about being diverted to Mumbai for a week or two to help calm the situation down. Things calmed down before we could get there, however.

I cringed at reading the Bhopal reference. At the time, though, I was angry at both for nearly blowing themselves (and possibly other countries) up.

I also was quite prescient on Iraq, noting its aggressiveness three months before the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait.

As for returning with a “war hero” look, fuggedaboutit! Out of all the medals and ribbons I mentioned we wound up earning only the Sea Service ribbon. While we didn’t earn a Navy Expeditionary Medal, we did earn an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (which, as you’ll note from its Wikipedia page, prevented us from earning the Humanitarian Service Award).

My ship never did earn the coveted “Battle E,” even with a skipper who went on to become a vice admiral.

17 May 1990 [age:21]

Grandma –

Sorry About the delay in writing. The mail out here in the Arabian Sea isn’t exactly the most efficient. Right now I am at 2047N 05914E, right off the coast of Oman in the Middle East. In six days I will pull into Muscat, Oman for a short port visit before heading to Australia (Perth). This little stretch up here in the Arabian Sea should be the turning point in the deployment.

The news in the MidEast has kept the ship’s attention since we got here. Pakistan and India looked set for a fight when we got here but now are just “exercising.” The Indians may have been brought back to their senses by that big hurricane that hit their southern coast. The VOA was calling it the worst natural disaster to hit India in a decade. I wonder if Bhopal counts …

Iran and Iraq are not shooting each other or anything else now and that’s good to hear. Also Iran and the U.S. just agreed to settle their small claims against each other, another good sign. Frankly I’m worried, as I’m sure Iran is, about Iraq’s military aggressiveness. They nearly did in the U.S.S. Stark not too long ago. Three years to the day.

It’s been almost a month since the ship wandered across a boatload of Vietnamese refugees. There were 35 of them and they were in mostly good health after being at sea for six days. Luckily, we have a crewmember who is (or was) Vietnamese, who translated for them. We turned them over to Singapore and from there they will be transferred to their desired countries. It felt great to be an American.

I will be looking like a “war hero” when I get back to San Diego. I have earned a Sea Service ribbon (90 days at sea) a probable Humanitarian Award (for the refugees), a possible Navy Expeditionary medal (for Persian Gulf operations), and maybe the coveted “Battle E” – (best ship in the squadron). Not bad for a “boot-camp” on his first deployment (and maybe his last, hopefully).

I called home from Thailand and learned about C.J. I keep waiting on pictures or a video, but I guess I’ve been forgotten out here. They’ll probably have trained him so well he takes my arm off when I go home on leave! Good doggie! Good doggie!!

There isn’t much else going on now, so I’ll wrap it up. Thanks for the letter (nice stationary!) and I’ll write again after Australia.