11 Moms: My Adventure in San Diego
It's been a little while since I've posted anything and I miss rambling on and sharing with everyone soooo much. Getting the house and our lives moved cross country has taken a little longer than normal with the cute little 5 month old. Well.... maybe if I would do a little less sitting and holding him I would get more done, but the house can wait!
I spent this past week in San Diego, away from my sweet children while attending some military training. Training to help me provide support and assistance to Navy families in my husband's squadron. During that training, a group of 11 women took an unforgettable journey together. We sat through multiple briefs from varying ranks of military men and women explaining our upcoming adventure. Then we 11 moms decided to put on life vests, cranials (protective head gear with ear protection and goggles) and file in one-by-one into the back of a US Navy C-2.
We strapped into our 5 point harnesses, helping each other navigate in to the many staps and give reassuring smiles and hand holding... the mostly 30-something moms were playing mom to each other now. We had a crew of boys making sure we were attached properly to the military aircraft and understood the hand signals to look for... ooh and no windows, besides 2 port holes near the back! We were lifting off from a beautiful beach setting to land on a US Navy aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean - hoping that we would catch the 3-wire for a safe landing and not lose our lunches in the process. We were nervous, sweaty, hot, cold, hearts pounding, saying a few prayers and "what the hell was I thinking!?"
We reached the carrier, circled and waited to head down for our landing. The crew put on their gear as the time got closer and we all got a little more anxious. Then we got the signal form the crew "here we go" yelled loudly over the roaring prop engines. We heard the first noises as we hit the deck, caught the 3-wire and felt all of that momentum come to a complete stop in a couple seconds. There were squeals, cussing... what any good sailor's wife would do. As we taxied, they opened the back hatch and there it was, the beautiful blue ocean, jets, helicopters, and all of the young men and women working hard.
The takeoff story is even more amazing... but before that, there is an even more important story - our military men and women.
The trip that the 10 other women and myself were lucky enough to be part of was to give us a glimpse of what our Navy men and women deal with on deployments... and insight and appreciation that we could take back to our respective squadrons and share with other spouses, our local communities and friends. We are all proud of our men and women in uniform, but I feel like it is easy to start taking that slogan for granted and for it to become a hollow sentiment. It is hard to grasp what it is like for service members to be deployed for 3 months, 6 months, 10 months, even a year. As military spouses, we are dealing with our own stresses, loneliness, and issues... but today I have a new respect for what our service members do. They work around the clock, in a heightened sense of alert at all times, sleeping next to a couple 100 of their buddies, eating in large groups. They can't just get away for quiet time to re-charge... they are always on duty and away from the ones that they love and the comforts of home. After spending about 27 hours in that working environment, I get it... and God Bless them for what they do.
At the end of our time on the ship; climbing up and down ladder wells, watching day and night flight operations, eating awesome ship food, sleeping in our bunks, and meeting the fabulous crew... it was time to head back home. The only thing standing between the 11 of us and stable land was a catapult to take us from 0 to 150mph in 2.3 seconds!! Again more briefs about our takeoff and putting back on the quite sexy cranials, goggles, ear protection and flotation vests. Once again we walked in a line across the flight deck. Just like ducks, stepped into the plane and started strapping in again. The only thing you can hear is the roar of the plane and every yawn, sneeze and noise from yourself echoing in your ear protection. We had all watched the planes take off and knew we had to maneuver in line and up to the catapult... but there's no window to look out so we waited for the sign from the crew again. Feet up on the bar to protect our shins, and chin to chest. It took a few minutes, seemed like an eternity of course and then we got the signal. I started counting to 30 (they had said it was about 30 seconds from signal to launch... and I desperately needed something to focus on). I said 31 and BAM we were off!! There was a silence and feeling of being pulled down tight into yourself for 3 seconds (I counted those too haha). We all screamed, clapped and yelled "Let's do it again!!" It was the best roller coaster ride of my life! and just like any good military guy... we headed straight to the bar after landing, had a beer and swapped sea stories... the 11 moms who survived the most amazing adventure.
I chose to not take my DSLR camera, since I would probably have been distracted and landed my butt in the ocean... but my iPhone did just fine!
Thank you to the USS Carl Vinson and her amazing crew for an unforgettable experience.