Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

E-Mail from an Ensign


This is an e-mail from an Ensign stationed aboard a U.S. Guided Missile 
Destroyer. We received this from his Dad who is in the Battle Group. I 
thought you might enjoy the thoughts of a 23-year-old to his father. 

Dear Dad, 
Well, we are still out at sea, with little direction as to what our next
priority is. The remainder of our port visits, which were to be centered
around max liberty and goodwill to the United Kingdom, have all but been
We have spent every day since the attacks going back and forth within 
imaginary boxes drawn in the ocean, standing high-security watches, and 
trying to make the best of our time. It hasn't been that fun I must 
confess, and to be even more honest, a lot of people are frustrated at the
fact that they either can't be home, or we don't have more direction right
now. We have seen the articles and the photographs, and they are sickening. 
Being isolated as we are, I don't think we appreciate the full scope of 
what is happening back home, but we are definitely feeling the effects. 
About two hours ago the junior officers were called to the bridge to 
conduct ship handling drills. We were about to do a man overboard when
we got a call from German warship that was moored ahead of us on the pier in 
Plymouth, England. While in port, our ship and theirs got together for a
sports day/cookout on our fantail, and we made some pretty good friends.
Once at sea they called over on bridge-to-bridge, requesting to pass us 
close up on our port side, to say goodbye. We prepared to render them 
honors on the bridge wing, and the Captain told the crew to come topside to 
wish them farewell. As they were making their approach, our Conning Officer 
announced through her binoculars that they were flying an American flag.
As they came even closer, we saw that it was flying at half-mast. 
The bridge wing was crowded with people as the Boatswain's Mate blew two
whistles - Attention to Port - the ship came up alongside and we saw that 
the entire crew of the German ship were manning the rails, in their dress 
blues. They had made up a sign that was displayed on the side that read 
                        "We Stand By You". 
Needless to say there was not a dry eye on the bridge as 
they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and we cut our salutes. 
It was probably the most powerful thing I have seen in my entire life and 
more than a few of us fought to retain our composure. 
The German Navy did an incredible thing for this crew, and it has truly 
been the highest point in the days since the attacks. It's amazing to think 
that only a half-century ago things were quite different, and to see the
unity that is being demonstrated throughout Europe and the world makes us 
all feel proud to be out here doing our jobs. 
After the ship pulled away and we prepared to begin our man overboard 
drills the Officer of the Deck turned to me and said "I'm staying Navy."
It was a beautiful day outside today. We are no longer at liberty to 
divulge our location over non-secure e-mail, but we could not have asked
for a finer day at sea. 
I'll write you when I know more about when I'll be home, but for now, this
is probably the best news that I could send you. 
Love you guys. 

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