Monday, January 26, 2015

Here and There

I've had just about a month's time actively participating with the Honor Guard. It's actually been about a month and a half, but I had two weeks of leave in the middle of that and that hardly counts.

Shot rifles or played the bugle for five funerals my first week back. My training came back to me pretty quickly, but I have to admit, even a weekend off can get my brain rusty. Had hiccups even today during practice with the rifles.

The week after that I had none at all (since it was my "primary" week previously), and am still waiting for computer access so I can stand duty in the office.

What I really love about this command is the time allotted for PT in the morning. I swam a mile in the base pool for the first time today. Often times I just run outside and on Fridays, we meet up for command PT.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


That's Temporary Assigned Duty... I was offered the chance to serve with the CNRMA Honor Guard. That's Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, to those of you unfamiliar with military acronyms.

I didn't find out that I was accepted for the post until I returned from two weeks of POM (post overseas movement) leave. I came back to the ship on December 3rd (a duty day... but all I had was the watch in Maintenance Central... so it wasn't too bad at all), and had three days with my division as usual. And I was told on the 4th that I was transferring "that week". Boy, was that a surprise! So on Friday (after a full morning of getting things straightened out with my division) I found out where my new command was... after an hour or so of searching. I met the LPO and turned in my paperwork and he told me what time to show up on Monday.

That was last week, my first with this command. Did a little bit of checking in with Admin and whatnot on Monday, then proceeded to train with flags and rifles for the rest of the week. The first day with rifles made my right hand and my left hip rather sore, but I learned it.

Our job is to perform military honors at funerals, and I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to serve this way. The assignment is for six months too. I am excited.

Monday, December 1, 2014


NINE MONTHS. It was an eternity ago that I set off on my first deployment, wide-eyed and expectant of many adventures to come. And I did have them... I just didn't believe that I would change as much as I did. People told me that by the end I'd be using foul language with the best of them... and maybe I do feel a bit more brassy... much more confident and at ease with myself than ever before. But I didn't change much beyond that. I still love Jesus, and still want to do nothing but please him. My husband Mike and my sister Meg told me they noticed these changes in me as I spent my POM (post-overseas-movement) leave with them and the rest of my family for two precious weeks.

How does one tell the story of the greater part of the year in a few paragraphs?

I didn't cry when we left... not even when Michael waved goodbye from the pier as I waved back from the foc'sle to see him off. We weren't leaving for a while, and my Sea & Anchor station was in Sonar Control on the Fathometer. Wouldn't be able to see him as we pulled away. It was kind of a rainy, overcast, gray day. I was very ready to go. Had been preparing for this since boot camp, nearly 3 & 1/2 years before. It was time. I was excited.

The funniest thing that happened the first day at sea was the successful suicide of our printer. Although tied down, it decided to jump off the shelf and fly across the room, shattering itself right in front of the door to Sonar Control. The seas were a bit rough. I managed to keep my dinner down all through watch, and I thought I was good to go once I made it into my rack, but it was not to be. My stomach felt so twisted up and sick, that it wasn't five minutes I was laying down and I realized there was no hope but to run to the head. And only then was I finally okay.

Looking back at my emails to Michael, I see that I got really frustrated with things right away. I had to jump through numerous hoops to try and get a new printer for the division. And I was having a hard time with the person heading up the Second Class POs Association. She had asked me to be the secretary, and then started lording it over me when I couldn't meet her expectations because of my watch schedule or what not. So it started out with a bang.

There was one night on watch where we got to listen to some whales... that was the only time I've ever heard them; it was one of those unexpected moments of pure pleasure! Lots of things in the Navy are dull, monotonous and rather annoying. But the random times where you find joy makes it bearable.

We diddled around in the Atlantic for quite a while longer than we needed for crossing it. We were doing exercises as if we were preparing for deployment... not on it! Crazy! There was another destroyer that was having trouble and we stayed with her, going very slow.

But when we finally did cross, I was put on the permanent SCAT (small caliber arms team - I think that's what it stands for). So that meant that I was topside on the foc'sle, at the starboard .50 cal mount in a helmet and flak jacket with live ammo in case we were attacked while going through the restricted maneuvering of the straits transit. THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR! The day before we were just off the cape of Trafalgar, but I hadn't realized it... and I was thinking about Nelson anyway. "Nelson sailed here!" I thought. I didn't know that it was where he had died.

It was so exciting to see Morocco! and Spain to port! The lights along the shore gave a little definition to an otherwise dark morning. The carrier and cruiser were out ahead of us, so I had quite a view the whole time. Africa and Europe! I still couldn't believe it. And a little later on, after the sun had come up blazing red behind the mountains in Morocco and turned golden as she kept rising, I saw the ROCK. It was huge! I could only imagine what it would have been like to see it back in the day and feel comfort if you were aligned with the crown or fear if you were not.

So we were in the Mediterranean. It was sunny, and calm compared to the Atlantic in winter. The evening of the transit, I had my First Class Petty Officer Murder Board for ESWS (enlisted surface warfare specialist) qualification and pin. Ms Roberts, another sonar technician, was doing it with me. We were terrified, but managed to pass with only a few look-ups. Engineering killed us, because it's all so new, it was like learning a new language. We both had Weapons down pat!

It was a few days before we pulled into our first port. I think we had to move the torpedoes again while we sailed... we were either moving them from the magazine or just taking them out briefly to make sure the tubes still fired. Our first port was Souda Bay, Crete (Greece). I think it was my favorite, but that might have been because it was so. They were very stern on the Quarterdeck about how "Liberty is a mission!" and about how were were single-handedly representing the United States to the people of Greece... etc. That is true to some extent, but I just can't believe it's as serious as all that.

Us Sonar Tech Girls went out to a lovely cafe and had lamb and wine. I don't think I could have been happier. We walked around the town, bought some souvenirs, and found our way up a hilltop in the center of the town and had an unbelievably beautiful view of the city stretched below us and the green hills and towering mountains surrounding us. It was wonderful

From that port visit, we transited the Aegean Sea to the mouth of the Dardanelles. I was again on SCAT for this, taking over just as we were passing the first city, Canakkale, Turkey. There were monuments to the ages past... castles guarding the way to Constantinople, and also a poem written on the hillside about WWI. I was in heaven. [Here are some more pics.] My watch lasted until we reached the Sea of Marmara (on the return route, I saw the beginning part I had missed the first time; it was very meaningful to me to see it all... my university's fight song was written just after WWI and includes the line, "it's harder to push them over the lines than past the Dardanelles." My Division Officer is also an alum of the University of Washington, and he mentioned it was exciting for him for the same reason.)

We visited Constanta, Romania [I took a sponsored bus tour with my friends that went to Peles Castle, Dracula's Castle, and included a lunch and dinner buffet of local sausages, cheeses, wines, etc. We had a very fun time]. After a short exercise with the Romanian and Bulgarian Navies, we also visited Varna, Bulgaria. I loved this port too, spending relaxed time out in town with my Sonar peoples. Varna has peculiar memories for me... on my duty day, my watch was manning the .50 cal at night. It was in the middle of the watch and I had to go! Got permission, but in my haste, I slipped on the ladder down to berthing and hit the inside of my left thigh on the bar supporting the handrail... I had a bruise about 10" square that took weeks to go away. I was lucky I didn't break my ankle or something.

We stopped by Souda Bay again on our way south, but this was just for re-fueling and a stores on-load. No liberty at all because it was only for a few hours. Our first Suez Canal transit was on my birthday, March 25th. And I spent two sets of three hours of it at the .50 cal, very hot in my gear. I had the first watch (from Port Said to the Peace Bridge  - and I saw a train rattling alongside that had a horn like a duck) and the last watch of the transit, exiting through the city of Suez.

So, most of the excitement was over after that. We stopped some gun-runners, but that was more of a drag than anything, waiting for permission from other countries to do anything at all with them or their skiff. I continued work on ESWS, having my Chief's Board on April 4th (It was then that my life changed. If I could do this, if I could speak in front of the subject knowledge experts, I could do anything. Just before it started, one of my fellow Lay Leaders got on the 1MC and said the evening prayer... it encouraged me beyond words to know the Lord was with me and was going to help me. I was calm and ready then. My heart returned to normal.) And not many days after that, my Senior Chief nominated me for the Weapons Department Junior Sailor of the Quarter... which meant another Chief's Board. You walk in, say the Sailor's Creed by yourself, get inspected, then sit down and answer a couple questions from each of the dozen or so chiefs. Nerve wracking, but I was confident. Got pinned (ESWS) by my best friend on April 18th in the Gulf of Aqaba, and that was when they announced my name as the Junior Sailor of the Quarter.

That was over three weeks of sitting around in the Red Sea. Plenty of time to think about life and what a person wants out of it. Because there is nowhere to go... nothing to do but whatever keeps your mind off the boredom. After the all-consuming ESWS was done, I spent a solid week or so typing up my notes and putting them on the share drive so other people could use them. Then I spent another couple weeks planning how I would build my house back in Washington. Drew it out very carefully about five times. Went back and forth and around about if I wanted to re-enlist or not... but that's not to be finally decided until 2016.

But on April 19th, we pulled in to Aqaba! The next day I was able to go on the all day tour of PETRA! I rode a camel with my best friend (each on our own camels) and had a fabulous local lunch buffet at the end. It was a two-hour bus ride from the ship to the city. Slept a lot on the way back! I remember thinking as I walked the ruins of the ancient city... "This is why I joined the Navy." It was that cool! The day after that I took another tour, this to Wadi Rum, where we were driven around the desert in pickups driven by teenagers and managed to stay alive. Visited a site were Lawrence of Arabia stayed with the Bedouins, and had another wonderful Arab-style lunch. order to keep myself busy after ESWS, I had volunteered to take on the task of organizing the ship's library. We had over fifty small boxes of brand new books shoved under the tables of the library/career counselor's office. The Navy General Library Program sends us these boxes every so often... and they'd been stacking up. Took me about a week or two, but I went through them all, cataloging them and organizing them... over 4,000 titles I think. I found several awesome books to read myself while I did this, like On the Map, The Guns of August, The Hiding Place, The Killer Angels, and Code Name Verity. Overall, I read 36 books and started a few others. I had a bag full of books from home that I had brought along too.

Although I had been sewing for people on board since the beginning of deployment, I made it official, putting it out to the crew after the change of command in Aqaba, when the new captain was going to allow us to use the old cloth crows on our new flame resistant coveralls... in an All Hands email, and also with a note in the POD (plan of the day) for an entire week around the first of July. I also offered coverall repair, and people started coming to me for putting badges and patches on their dress uniforms and working uniforms too. By deployment's end, I sewed for roughly half the 300-man crew. Kept me busy helping people... which is my happy place. I have a half-size sewing machine that I keep in one of our equipment rooms up forward.

I'll have to condense. In May we pulled into Muscat, Oman, (I stayed at a very swanky hotel resort with a couple friends, and then the next day we went snorkeling). Then we spent half a month in the Gulf with the carrier before stopping in glorious Bahrain. Played baseball against the US high school team there. We also had DITS, (division in the spotlight) where our spaces get inspected. We did great, but the chain of command WILL WORRY anyway. We left the Gulf in the end of July, in order to escort submarines through the Suez canal... We had a short break in the Med, pulling into Cyprus in the beginning of August. That was lovely fun. Stayed at another swank hotel with the ship's Navy Counselor, and I made sure to go swimming out as far as I could. There was a quick stop in Aqaba again near the end of August. That was when I got qualified for Sonar Supervisor and took over my own watch team. I didn't go on any trips this time, but did enjoy a morning 5K run with my friend the second day, and a very salty swim the next. September 1st was our last southbound trip through the canal; in total we completed 12 transits... 6 southbound and 6 northbound. It's safe to say that I know every inch of it pretty well.

It was another month and a half of patrolling the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Arabian Gulf before our port visit to the United Arab Eremites at Abu Dhabi. I took a city tour on my day off. Got to see their huge grand mosque, and had to be covered up in a long black paper-thin dress and shawl. October 26th marked our last day in the Middle East. And then we steamed for France (so to speak). We pulled into Villafranche-sur-Mer, France, next to Nice, for a wonderful three-day visit. Took the train to Monaco while we were there, and saw the Oceanographic Museum; best I've ever seen. Had a very rocky trip from Villafranche-sur-Mer to Gibraltar... just as bad or worse than it was the first day back in February. This time I was wise to myself and didn't eat very much.

I spent the last week across the Atlantic obsessing about that book... Code Name Verity. It spoke volumes to me... it's about a couple of young women in the WAAF (Britain's Women's Auxiliary Air Force in 1940) who over the course of three years fight the Nazis in different ways and become best friends in the process. One ends up flying planes for the ATA, and the other becomes a special agent in the SOE. The book is narrated by the special agent who has been captured in France. As a teenager, I was reading 500-page history books about WWII before I read things like Jane Austen. Not only did it speak about topics I knew little about (plane ferrying and the French resistance), but it made me laugh about things only military women understand... and it made me feel less like a prisoner myself after reading about someone being tortured by the Gestapo. And I bought the follow-up novel (Rose Under Fire) that was all about Ravensbruck, the women's concentration camp... and that made me appreciate even galley food.

So yes, deployment felt rather like a prison sentence, but there were glimmerings of hope and happiness sprinkled liberally throughout it. And then we were released November 15th. What joy! God bless America!

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Watch of a Kind

The main focus of these last couple weeks was to complete our required maintenance check that requires divers to go into the sonar dome after it gets put on air (normally it is filled with water). But because of the frigid conditions in Norfolk these days, it got can-ex'ed (Navy slang for cancelled). The diver's gear was frozen solid, so they simply couldn't do what was required. We're in three-section duty this week... so Tuesday, we completed the water-to-air interchange, which required me to get there super early to work with Senior Chief on getting it done on time. Went off without a hitch, but since we were so busy all day, us Sonar Techs on duty were taken off the section's watchbill. We had our own watchbill... to monitor the dome pressure in the dome cage (where all the pipes and valves for air and water are). It was freezing cold up there. I had my sweat pants on under my uniform... and I was still cold! It was sort of dull duty, so to keep warm I shined some of the brass valves (which kept me much warmer as long as I did it).

Because of the weather and the amount of snow on the roads on base, the base was shut down and only "mission essential" personnel were required to be at work, so right at noon (the set turnover time) the off-going section was let go! Not only that, but we weren't required the next day on Thursday either! A free day off! And today is my duty day as well... and we had a two-hour delay (extra sleep time!), then I had a dental appointment first thing after quarters. We put the dome back on water, and that took a few hours. Then I was able to do duty section things again... there was a great need for sweepers, since people had tracked tons of dirt onto the quarterdeck with the snow... and we had to clean it up. Kind of difficult, since a bunch of it was mud... but we did pretty well. Then I helped my people with a check on our cooling skid, which dragged out way too long. Then I spent the next couple hours before watch fixing cracked lagging in a few of our spaces. I love fixing things!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Busy Week!

Sunday, January 5, 2014


 On the bridge on a duty day... waiting for colors.

 Two hats...

 Two banes of my existence: transmitter cables and public speaking

 Doodling on our whiteboard. Who knew the sonar symbol looks like the top of a bowling pin?

On SCAT during our Nov-Dec month-long underway. You could say it was a little chilly.

Holiday Stand-Down No. 2

Just re-read my entries from holiday stand-down from last year... how long ago that was! And how far I've come from then! It was the very first time I stood an armed watch!

This holiday period in port really was holiday duty for me. My first duty day was a Sunday (had the mid-watch on the Quarterdeck with an Ensign from section 5 as OOD)... and the next was Wednesday... the 1st of January (afternoon watch on the Quarterdeck with BM2)... and the final was yesterday, a Saturday (Combat Systems Maintenance Central evening watch). As the first two were holiday routine days, we didn't have training and I had tons of time to get all my required training courses done. There were drills on Saturday, but we knocked them out in the morning. I was Team Leader for the DC drill for the first time... thankfully it was an easy flooding/pipe patching drill in self-serve laundry. We enthusiastically got it done right the first time.

Since it rained a lot, we swept a lot. I nearly swept the non-skid off of the missile deck by week's end. :)

And the ship did us all a good turn: since our pre-deployment leave is so awfully short, they let us have two days off during the week. We had short workdays on Monday and Friday, then we had time to relax Tuesday through Thursday. And boy, did that feel good. I started making a habit of leaving the ship in civilian clothes... and it made me feel even free-er. :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Month-Long Dream

Hello from the Truxtun... at my new station this last underway on the Small Craft Attack Team. (This I did at least four times the first week, and then three or four more times during the last three weeks.) I became very familiar with the process... and was usually the first one on station. For the last event, I had to take the covers off myself, and I put them back on when we finished too. I think I resemble a turtle in my flak jacket and helmet.

The ship passed all its tests with flying colors, especially Sonar, which scored the highest out of the entire strike group during the exercises. Something to be proud of for sure! There were at least two weeks where we were under the microscope, with ship-riding inspectors (a retired Sonar Senior Chief and the Navy's only female Sonar Master Chief - still active duty). Because of this, we were very busy in Sonar all the time... keeping it clean, running environmental data, sitting at the stacks, being vigilant. Despite this, my watch-mate and I managed to take and pass our Work Center Supervisor and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist written tests; significant achievements in our Naval careers. And we managed to start on our First Class walk-throughs in the last couple days. Our former LPO gave us an in-depth grilling on all our Sonar gear before he signed off on it.

While on SCAT, I managed to see my very first flying fish! Also saw a couple sea turtles right up next to the ship as we sailed by, and dozens of dolphins... and even a baby dolphin or two. And I didn't mind getting all the fresh air either! The most fun day though, was when we had strike group maneuvers in rough seas... at times the deck looked like it was at a 30-40 degree angle and felt like riding a stand-up roller coaster. I had the time of my life! Got soaked by a few waves crashing on the deck, but didn't mind much because I knew I'd be able to get warm and dry as soon as we were stood down.

Was it only two UNREPs? No, I think there were at least three. I was on the fo'c'sle line each time, usually ending up second in line for the brunt of the hauling of the line from the oiler. There's a really tall guy at the station who always takes the first spot. I loved the last UNREP we did though... it was after dark, so even though it might have been more dangerous, it went easier than any I had done before. Before I knew it the probe was connected and we were taking on fuel.

I think it was three Man Overboard drills as well; only one of them was "real". It was from another ship in the strike group and it turned out being a false alarm. It definitely wasn't part of the schedule though, as it was in the middle of the night. I've never seen people turn out of their racks so fast before!

Ages ago, at the beginning of the underway, I brought some home-made pumpkin pies for my division to indulge in before Thanksgiving. Another fun event, near the end, the First Classes had a "Caroling on the Mess Decks" event. I shocked myself by volunteering to sing into a microphone for a well populated crowd (that included the CO and XO), and further surprised myself by not faltering when singing O Holy Night as if I was at home with my family sitting around the Christmas tree. They tell me I did well too... it felt a bit like an out-of-body experience, I was so struck with fear.

What was good for me was my watch section. The three of us females had a good time together; we're all a bit experienced, so we knew what to do and we did it. We were the best watch section (in my totally unbiased opinion) always cleaning the space and diligently marking contacts in the log, just as we were directed. I also learned a bit about a couple types of messages we have to draft and send to either the strike group or the data center. There were a lot of messages to send this underway... every day.

Even besides our duties, my watch section was headed up by our newest Sonar Supervisor, and she encouraged us to work out with her nearly every day. I know I wouldn't have worked out half as much if it wasn't for her... and she was already someone to look up to... she's the lead tech and my sponsor when I checked onboard, a year and a half ago.

When we were finally ashore, it all suddenly seemed like a very long dream that we were waking from. It took me a good while to fall asleep, since it's so quiet at home.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hands-On Learning

We had an issue with our transmit box during testing the week prior, so this last week was up in the air as to when we would do what. Had some diagnostics on Monday or Tuesday... finished at midnight... then there was the matter of getting everything repaired. But the tech reps were quick about their job and showed us a thing or two as they went. It ended up that on Friday the 15th we had to plug all the cables back in, but it went a lot faster this time since we did it all together, with the tech reps assessing our job and helping out too. Then we were finally able to do the regular test on the system capabilities that night, and everything was back up and running smoothly. Even though I had to stay very late (got off at 2100) I learned so much about how our system works... so glad I was there to learn!

Sunday was duty, so it was laid back again in holiday routine. Had the last Combat Systems watch, so this time I even got to sit down and relax while I monitored all the alarms. Spent a good deal of the day organizing my stuff on board. Very happy to fit my little quick fix sewing machine in my personal drawer... that will come in handy big time for the upcoming advancement season. Friday morning alone I had two rush jobs... one for 2nd class crows and one for a parka liner tab.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Tale of Two Duty Days

Once it was the busiest of times, and once it was the quietest of times...

The first day I was unable to vote... and the second I was unable to get a free dinner from the Olive Garden.

Election Day, November 5, was very, very busy. When I arrived that morning, there was a line of contractors all the way across the brow, waiting to get checked in by the overwhelmed Quarterdeck. I was busy with Sonar in the morning, then I had to bow out for the afternoon watch. ... in which I continued checking in over 30 more contractors, keeping track of badges (people coming and going for lunch), ringing the Captain off, back on, and back off near the end of the watch. And I started off with ringing eight bells at noon (signal that all is well on-board). I used to be afraid of the bells... of ringing it too hard or to soft into the 1MC speaker... but no more! After having to ring it twenty times on one watch, I simply had to get over it really fast... and I did. Even with all the contractors and all the bells, the craziest time was when I had three different things to pass over the announcing system with two phone calls coming in at the same time... all while I was trying to call someone myself, for someone who was waiting on the Quarterdeck. After watch (whew!), there was sweepers and anti-terrorism training, and a damage control drill... pipe patching drill. The whole day went by in a flash; it was a little wild.

Veteran's Day, November 11, was very, very slow. There was no training, and generally nothing going on overall. I took it pretty easy... watched two movies on my laptop, took a short nap, then did sweepers with the duty section. I returned below after mustering on the Quarterdeck because no one brought a dustpan or foxtail with them and one was needed very badly. So I picked up all the piles of dirt that everyone made and also did lots of detail work along the knife edge (lip of the hull) of the Quarterdeck area since those coarse brooms don't reach those tiny places very well. Immediately after that I had early chow for watch reliefs, because I had the evening watch as Petty Officer. My OOD was a duty swap from another duty section, so that was nice to get to know someone else a little better. Once watch was over, I called my husband and went straight to bed after we talked for a few minutes. Ended up getting 6 or 7 hours of sleep! That was very nice!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lots of Testing (for two weeks)

The last week of October (28-1st), Sonar was involved in more scenarios... this time in conjunction with other ships on the waterfront. I had another meltdown on the announcing system... I read certain facts, but each time my Sup made me re-do it, I'd get something else wrong or forget one of the four or five things I had to say in the report. Made me feel completely useless... but again, this was the first time in a long time I had had to make a report. With practice, I will do just fine, but at that moment I wished I could have resigned. We were back at the schoolhouse on Monday, but I was back on the ship after the first lecture.

This week (Nov 4-8), we thought we were finally going to have a down week, but not so. There were more inspectors on board to do system tests... again. I also had meetings for the cruise book committee (a year book for deployments) and the beginnings of the SCPOA (second class petty officer's association). We'll see how they both go.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Back to the Classroom

After a week of working hard and staying late... for Sonar, it's another week of working hard and staying late. I mean, isn't the weekend enough of a break? :)

Early Monday morning, I dropped my husband off at the airport and still had time to come home and eat breakfast before changing into my uniform and reporting for duty... at a schoolhouse. We had special Sonar training and drills all week... the first two days for five of my fellow Sonar Techs and I were taken up with in-depth training for the environmental computer system we use to predict what sound will do in water... and therefore help us understand the best setup to use for Sonar.

Starting Wednesday, we had scenarios all day every day... and I was finally able to get formal training on the sonobuoy processing "functional segment"... a fancy phrase we use for a computer program. I'm excited about learning it because it's fun, and it's my next step on the path to becoming Sonar Supervisor.

My duty day was Thursday... since I was busy with Sonar, I didn't have to go to Turnover or Sweepers. After a brief training on the messdecks after dinner, I did some more training with the Sound & Security (engineering person who monitors water systems) watch-stander as he did his rounds. Got some sign-offs for ESWS and my OOD PQSs. Had the Mid-Watch as POOW on the Quarterdeck. I was so tired afterwords that I forgot to call my husband (we talk every night). I got three hours of sleep before I had to get the system up and in training for the day's scenarios; it had to be taken down for my maintenance check on Thursday.

Friday was a big day for Sonar. My Senior Chief transferred to his new command around noontime. We gathered on the forecastle for a medal ceremony, hugged him goodbye, then lined up as side boys as he was "bonged" off the ship. Two bells rung, "full rank and name, departing." [Commanders (O-5) and above get four bells or more (Ding, ding. Ding, ding) whenever they arrive or depart.] Whenever someone completes their duty aboard ship and transfers, they are allowed to be rung off. I was sorry to see him go, but I like our new senior chief as well. It was a busy day, too. Immediately after the ceremony, WEPS told us to go to Sonar for the last scenario, although we were already on the move. And first thing that morning, I had a simulated weapons shoot at an indoor range on base. The actual weapons were there (50cal, M240), but they were connected to a computer program as we fired at a screen. It was pretty fun.