I had just reported to a new ship (New to me) the USNS Observation Island tied in San Diego Ca. We were sailing to Hawaii and I was notified that my father had just passed. Normally they would pay me off and I’d be on my way home, but I requested that I just take leave to go home, and meet the ship in Honolulu and all I would miss was the trip across the Pacific and none of the Mission. The ship’s Master made my request happen, off to the Navy Travel Office to purchase the required tickets.
The lady at the office was a young Filipina government employee who was booking my |Bereavement*) ticket, she was plucking away on her computer and announced that if this had only happened the day before she could have saved me over $300.00 in airfare, I told her that I would mention this to my Dad when I got to Boston!
I of course was extremely upset over the loss of my Father and my Rock, as during my entire life I could live anywhere and work at any job I wanted, knowing that if I failed I could go home and he would dust me off and send me out into life again. (He never had to do it, but I knew he would!)
This taught me a lesson that I used on my kids years later. Our Daughter, after finishing college here in the Philippines’ got a job with a Japanese firm on the Subic Free Port. Of course she lived at our house free and clear. She was offered a job in Singapore, at four times the money. Her Mother was upset and against it, but after the way I’d lived my life I was quite proud of her.
The day she was flying out, I pulled her aside and explained that while she was out there she was connect by a strong tether to us at home. One phone call and I would be on an airplane to Singapore to solve any problem she had and fly her home that day if required. Nothing ever came up in the four years she was there, except she wanted to marry her high school sweetheart who now was a fellow American. I always liked the kid. She told me later in life that what I said to her at the airport made her time in Singapore a wonderful experience. I guess I did my job!
Back to the young lady in the ticket office in San Diego; My friend Charlie (Who was taking me to the airport) looked at me and I looked back, and at the same time we burst out laughing, she gasped and became upset over what she had said, I told her that what she said broke the tension I was feeling and I thanked her as she had made me feel better. Knowing my Father, he would have busted a gut over it too. Eleven days later I arrived in Honolulu after laying my Dad to rest at the Nation Cemetery at the former OTIS AFB on Cape Cod.
Little did I know that the ship was going to spend the winter on the Allusion Islands off the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia doing things we are still not allowed to talk about, I’ll assume because it would bore people to death. I wondered what ship I would have been assigned to and where that ship would have gone if I taken the pay off from that Air Force “Research” ship? No place could have been colder!
But what a terrible thing it would have been if Charlie and I had missed the high times of beautiful Dutch Harbor on the Island of Unalaska close to Alaska in the month of January. But you can trade a case of New York steak’s for more Alaskan king crab legs than will fit in the rented pick-up truck we had. (We met a lot of TV reality stars and boy can those guys put down some beverages)
* Bereavement Airline Ticket is regular price with no discount but will guarantee you’ll get on the flight…But you must have proof. (I had a telegram from the American Cross)