I joined the Navy in January of 1964. After boot camp and jet mechanic school, I was flown over to the Mediterranean to catch up to my duty assignment. I was assigned to VA 36 aboard the USS Saratoga. During my time in VA 36 I made the dearest life long friends. I was blessed to know them, serve with them, and remain in touch with them to this day. There is a small group of shipmates that try to get together once a year. We are all in our late 60's and early 70's now. We still enjoy each others company and share a bond that was forged on the flight deck night crew so many years ago. There are some shipmates that we have tried to find and have not yet. We recently lost one ship mate to cancer. This year we spent several days on the Gulf Shores in Alabama in rented condos. It was planned that most meals would be in the condo together. The ladies went shopping during the day and the guys spent our time talking and around the outdoor pool. We had the occasional beer. On our last night we went to Lambert's (home of the throwed rolls) for dinner. Lambert's is an raucous experience wrapped around good food.
From left to right. Mike originally from Denver, now he splits his year between Denver and Mesa, AZ. Manuel originally from Louisiana and still lives there. Hugh originally from Texas and now lives in Mississippi. Hugh retired from the Navy. Myself originally from Rhode Island. I now split my time between Rhode Island and Florida. BJ originally from Georgia. BJ also retired from the Navy and still lives in Georgia.
Here we are with the ladies, Hugh and Samra, Carol and Ed, Marsha and BJ, Manuel and Zella, and Mike a single guy. We all had a great time, we talked and ate too much. We left two ideas on the table for next year. Gettysburg or the low country of South Carolina, possibly Charleston.
I am so lucky to have served with them.