Liberty Call!!

One of my deepest regrets during my 20 years in the Navy was spending entirely to much time on the ship and not participating in one of the many tours that were offered when we would hit a liberty port. When stationed on one of my four ships we went to Bali. I saw that a mountain bike trip was being offered and I’d heard that Bali was a beautiful place. So I signed up to take a bicycle tour.

Most of the tour was just riding mountain bikes all over the countryside seeing the sights. It was guided tour so we had to stay on a path, but the sites were so amazing!

Part of the tour to see a historical garden. A historical garden filled with monkeys.

When we walked in it was a wide open courtyard with a gate. One of the first things they told us was, “DON’T TOUCH the monkeys, they could get violent!!”

If one crawls, jumps, or climbs on you just gently move and it’ll get off of you.

So our tour starts and it was a self guided tour through these beautiful gardens.

A lot of monkeys. Small, large, skinny, big and everything else you can imagine.

We’re taking pictures of everything and we start to take pictures of the monkeys.

Within a few minutes into the trip we’re walking and sure enough a medium size monkey jumps on my shoulder from behind me. I never saw him coming.

This monkey had to be at least 25 pounds. Give or take. The size of it made me lean to one side until it got comfortable and sat on my shoulder.

My friends were amazed! They started taking pictures and I’m hamming it up since it chose me to climb on me. I’m doing everything in my power not to “upset” this monkey.

That happiness soon changed to agony when I felt something. I was puzzled at first because it wasn’t another monkey. It wasn’t getting upset over anything. So what was that feeling?

That feeling was something very, very warm running down my back. Well, running isn’t a great description. Let’s say gushing, yeah gushing would be perfect.

You guessed it, this massive animal was peeing down my back!!! So now I was moving rapidly from side to side trying to get this peeing animal off of me as quickly as possible and my friends are like, STOP doing that! STOP doing that, you don’t want to upset it!

By now I’m embarrassed and freaking out. Get this monkey off of me! My friends are now of no help because they’re laughing hysterically!

I finally get it off and I turn around and the back of my shirt is completely wet!

Do they help? NO, they are rolling from laughter!!

The monkey runs away and I had to get a new shirt.

So our tour is cut short and I go into town and purchase a new shirt from a vendor surprisingly close to the beautiful gardens.

I wonder how many sailors he’s sold new shirts to?

Sleep, a wonderful thing.

My story starts up again after we just finished combatting a huge fire on the ship underway during a workup. The fire lasted over 15 hours.

Read that post here: http://www.stevetessler.net/smoke-smoke-smoke/

Sleep never felt better after that. We’d accomplished so much as a ship it was an amazing feeling. The ship was a huge mess everywhere and the task for the next week was getting it back together. We always had to be ready for anything, anytime.

The problem with any huge casualty, is a huge mess to clean up afterwards. With diligent work we cleaned up the mess in about two days.

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Where has Steve been?

I’m the king of excuses. I can lie like the best of them. I’m a professional at procrastinating. Where have I been? Well, I stopped writing. Why you’re asking?

I just did. I quit. I felt sorry for myself. I lost touch with everything. I was on a great streak and just quit. It’s so easy to just quit. Quit a job, quit, life, quit anything if thats’ what you’re wanting to do.

I’m back now and I’ve set a goal. A huge goal for me, finishing this book!

By August 20th all of these posts and more will be compiled into a book that I’d love for you to read.

I appreciate your patience while I was away and I also apologize for not being man enough to keep writing.

So heres a quick recap of my story.

I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I spent 22 years in Albuquerque before joining the Navy. I joined the navy so I could provide medical insurance for my daughter.

I got married in April, went to boot camp in May 2007. Graduated in July. Went to A school in July till September. Went on 30 days leave, went to my first ship in the USS Coral Sea.

I look forward to continuing my story with all of you! I was down but now I’m BACK!!

20,000 Days…..

I read a book recently called “20,000 Days and Counting” by Robert D. Smith.

It’s a short book that packs a punch! The author writes about how on his 50th birthday he goes off on his own and reflects on his life. He then writes personal e-mails to all of his friends and lets them know what an impact that they’ve had on his life.

Many respond by e-mail, others call worrying about him! He assures them he’s fine and that he just wanted them to know what they have meant to him over all of these years.

When I read the book I couldn’t put it down. It is an amazing book by an author who doesn’t call himself an author. You see this is his first book he’s ever written.

Robert D. is the most enthusiastic person you will ever hear speak or meet! Nothing out of his mouth is negative. He is one person I would love to met someday!!

The reason Im writing this is because of a friend I met at work one day. This friend of mine, David, had the same attitude as Robert D.! I never saw a day where he was down and out or upset. He even got let go and came back to a different job for this same company.

After reading this book I gave it to another friend. He read it and from what he told me he liked it. But I could tell it really wasn’t for him.

I then gave it to David and that’s when he was let go. At first I felt bad he was let go but I was happy that I gave him this book to read to show him that life would go on and not to be discouraged.

So to see him come back was GREAT!! Still happy, and grateful to have a job. I asked him if he liked the book and he said he loved it and I could tell that he had gotten something out of it. He asked if I wanted it back and I told him to keep it as long as he needed it.

David said that he wanted his brother to read it. I said absolutely hold it as long as you want.

Well a couple of weeks passed and I saw him again with the huge smile he always had on his face! I loved talking to him because he always raised my spirits!! I asked him if his family liked the book and he said they were loving it!

A week later another friend gave me my book back, he said that David was looking for me to return it and so he gave it to him to find me.

I got sick that next couple of days and was out for two weeks.

I came back to work and went to clock in. I saw a sign posted by our time clock and when signs were posted like that it usually meant that someone has passed away. I usually don’t pay attention to these because I usually don’t know that person.

This time was different. I immediately felt ill. I was shocked! I was mad, and so so sad.

It was David that had passed away… I asked if anyone knew how, why or what had happened? He was as old as I was. What had happened?

We were friends but I never really knew about him other then the fact he was married. I never knew his health situation or anything really personnel about him.

He had diabetes and had gone into a diabetic coma and passed away.

By the time I saw the posting everything was done! The viewing, funeral, everything…

My friend was gone and I was sad… gone was his contagious smile. Gone was his laugh.

I then remembered about the book I gave him. I was glad that he read it just months before.

It also made me think about my life and the friends I meet everyday and the friends I have now.

Life is so short. Take care of yourself so that you can live longer then 20,000 days! Make sure you are living a life that people will look back on and say WOW!!

At this posting I’m 18,059 days old.

How many days old are you?

Postage stamp landing

I knew that I had somewhat of a dazed look on my face after hearing we’d be flying to the ship on a C-2 Greyhound, I thought a greyhound was a bus or a dog, not a plane.

Sure enough it was a twin prop plane that had approximately 20+ seats for passengers. If you took all of the seats out you could put quite a bit of cargo inside of them, but today’s cargo was 16 souls and mail. I was one of those souls.

We had to put on a life vest (not one of those big orange ones), but one that resembled a regular safety vest. Inside of it was a life preserver that could inflate manually or automatically. We were also given a set of hearing protection with two high impact plastic pieces on the forehead and back of the head, it was called a cranial. I guess because it was supposed to protect our head and ears, but we also had to wear earplugs in addition to the hearing protection. We also had to wear goggles.

The third piece of equipment that we were given was a second life preserver to hook around our waist. It was all wrapped up and you wore it on the front of yourself like a fanny pack. All of this equipment really made me question the pilot and this flight.

We then were asked how much we weighed, because they need the plane balance and our seats were assigned according to our weight.

Walking up to the plane with all of our additional gear, it looked pretty normal until we got inside and I saw that we had to sit backwards. We would be facing the back of the plane for our entire flight.

By camera operator: "C-2A Interior DN-SD-03-16988"

By camera operator: “C-2A Interior DN-SD-03-16988”

If you’ve been reading my posts you’ll remember me saying that I ALWAYS got carsick and seasick. So I knew this flight wasn’t going to be pleasant. Riding backwards in that plane reminded me of riding down the road in a friends station wagon riding backwards.

Everyone was given a seat assignment and then they started to load the plane with mail, it was a lot of mail! I wondered if they were going to be making another stop to drop off some of the mail or if it was all going to the ship?

So we had on all of our protective gear and were told to seatbelt ourselves in, I felt like I was in a race car, you know the 5 point harness. We then had to make it tight enough that we didn’t move, not even an inch.

After that the engines started up and the props started turning. The plane was shaking and rocking back and forth and all I could smell was the exhaust from the engines.

The air crewman in the back started going through a preflight brief. He had to scream over the noise of the engines.

HOW’S EVERYONE DOING TODAY?!?! WE’RE HEADING TO THE USS CORAL SEA! THE FLIGHT WILL BE APPROXIMATELY 2 HOURS LONG! IT SHOULD BE A FAIRLY CALM FLIGHT! ONCE WE GET CLOSER TO THE SHIP I’LL BRIEF YOU ON THE LANDING PROCEDURES!

We then taxied down the runway and took off. Once up in the air we were allowed to loosen our seat belts, and the exhaust smell still lingered. But the noise level was so loud that you couldn’t talk without yelling and who wanted to have a conversation like that?

We all tried looking out the few windows that were in the plane but all we saw was ocean for miles and miles, nothing else.

To get an idea, picture this; Fill your bathtub up with water and find the smallest thing you can find that will float. The size of a postage stamp is perfect. That’s what the ship looked like from the plane as we circled it.

The air crewman started shouting again.

ALL RIGHT! WE WILL BE LANDING SHORTLY WHAT I NEED ALL OF YOU TO DO IS GRAB YOUR SEATBELT STRAPS AS YOU CROSS YOUR ARMS OVER YOUR CHEST! I THEN NEED YOU TO PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN AS FAR AS YOU CAN! AS WE LAND THE PILOT WILL ACCELERATE! WE DO THIS IN CASE WE MISS ONE OF THE FOUR ARRESTING GEAR CABLES IN ORDER FOR US TO TAKE OFF AGAIN AND TRY TO RE-LAND!

We circled the ship and then took a very hard left hand turn. It felt as if my stomach had dropped out of my body. I felt a cold sweat come over me and I wanted to throw up. It felt like all of the blood rushed to my legs. I’d never felt that nauseous before in all of my life!

As we came in for a landing I could feel the plane swinging from side to side as we kept our same speed. The plane was dropping, dropping and WHAM!!! We hit the flight deck with a CRASH! The pilot gave it everything that plane had and the engines were screaming! It seemed as if the plane was going to rip the arresting gear cable out of the ship but we came to a sudden stop in mere seconds.

We caught the second wire. A picture perfect landing.

Next Week: Where are my DC Men at!!!

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