Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity of taking 11 of my boys (my oldest room plus one helper) to tour on board the USS Robert G. Bradley, the US Navy frigate that was stationed here for one week.
What a special treat that was for us! First, the boys have never been on anything like that ship and may never be again! Second, my dad was a Navy sailor, achieving E8, Senior Chief Petty Officer ranking before retiring after 20 years. But I don't recall ever touring a ship. If I did, I was too young to remember it. So it was really special for me to be on board and see an example of where he spent much of his working life.
Many thanks to Chaplain Andre' and anyone else who helped arrange this tour! It was an honor for me and a great opportunity to show my boys something so out of their norm! The US Navy is partnering with the "rather" small Mozambican Navy while they are here, assisting with some training and building relationship. So immediately as we went on board, we passed a row of about 20 Mozambican sailors - I think that was really cool for my boys to see!
I had spent some time the day before practicing a little march and good military posture and saluting with the boys but I think they got overwhelmed on board and rarely remembered it! Joao Macamo, my special boy and the biggest of the bunch, got excited at one point and hugged one of the senior chiefs! He got some ribbing from his men asking for hugs too after that!
But every so often they did remember to salute and were very pleased with themselves when they did!
But, kids are kids wherever you go - when I asked one of them what his favorite part of the visit was he said "ummm, - the candy!"
Later in the evening, my director Steve and I went back to the ship to collect the Chaplain and two of his buddies, Sam and John, part of his lay leadership, to go out to dinner. It was so nice hearing about their lives and experience. When I told them about my dad, they gave me a lot of wonderful feedback, saying my dad had obviously had a very successful career, achieving a lot and that I had much to be proud of in him. They actually gave me a lot of insight into my dad's work, as they explained more to me of what a Senior Chief does than my dad ever has. It is obviously a position held in very high regard. One of them asked me to thank my dad for his service!
We had a great dinner of steak and Mozambique's famous prawns, with lots of swapping stories. When we took them back to the ship, Sam quickly went to get me a ship's cap as a gift. He returned with a medallion that honors Chief Petty Officers! I think it's a very special gift that he gave me. It does say the name of his ship, which my dad never served on, but he said he wanted to give it to me in honor of my dad and again, to thank my dad for his service to the Navy and his country. Thanks Sam for that very thoughtful gift that I'll be honored to share with my dad, US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer John C. Anderson, Ret.