Ever since I was a boy the sheer presence of the docks at the Norfolk Naval Station has always stirred one type of emotion or another in me. My father served 22 years in the United States Navy and I can remember as a child standing in the very same place where the Inactivation Ceremony for the world's first nuclear powered aircraft carrier the USS Enterprise was taking place. In that same area, I was either sending my father out to sea or waiting for him to return home from his deployments.
While on assignment the other day, I stood amid the crowd thinking about the orange ice cream popsicles my dad would often buy me from the little market that used to sit just a few hundred yards from the water. His homecomings ran like clockwork. First my father would disembark from the ship and of course my mother, sister, and I would run and hug him. Next we'd all hop into the ol' brown Chevy Impala to head home, but not before my dad stopped and bought ice cream for my sister and I. It meant the world to me.
Mid-day dream and just as I was about to leave the dock and call it a day, retired Petty Officer 3rd Class George Mallory caught my eye. I watched him closely and for a split moment his eyes spoke what his words would later confirm. "It's like attending a funeral, I'm sad to see her go," said Mallory while reflecting about his time serving on the USS Enterprise from 1961- 63.
After swapping a few stories we went our separate ways. I walked away, like Mr. Mallory, I too was moved by the memories of yesteryears.