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Location: TUCSON, Arizona, United States

Friday, October 26, 2007


The first thing you notice after months aboard ship are all the luxuries of daily life ashore, like showering without holding on and going outside to run. Looking out the window and looking in the refrigerator. I've been back a week and the delight in such things has still not worn off. I missed swimming and cycling the most. Thanks, apparently, to global warming, it's still cycling weather here in Wisconsin. Everything has its upside, even the carbon dioxide buildup in our atmosphere.

If you read any comments you've noticed a couple of cowardly self-appointed patriots have been critical of my observations of navy operations and people. I say cowardly because they hide behind pseudonyms while excoriating me for not appreciating military life and it's "sacrifices." It's amusing to read timid loudmouths like these two complain about my writing, published under my name for all to read, including the officers and crew of the USS Cole, whom I invited to do so. None of them found my opinions objectionable. Reading over my writing for the time underway it seems to me I devote about ten percent of my comments to personnel, duties, and behavior. A good deal of that is about the crewmembers who were my students, most of whom did excellent work while fulfilling all of the demands of watches, duty calls, and drills. I salute them again for their efforts and wish them well in their careers.

Most of those careers will not be in the navy. My anecdotal survey of young officers and crew revealed that fewer than half of the officers intended to continue after the years of their required first tours--even those educated at the Naval Academy--while something like eighty percent of the crew intended to leave after their initial four to six years. The reason I heard most often was that enlistment meant payment for college afterward; the very appeal you see made on the recruiting posters. So our military is filled with young people trading years of their lives for college funds, a government program to educate those who couldn't otherwise afford higher education. The Department of Defense is running a huge college scholarship program.


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