Later today, I’ll be boarding a C-2A Greyhound with about a dozen others (including Digital Ronin Burt Lum) and flying to the nuclear-powered USS Nimitz as a “Distinguished Visitor” of the U.S. Navy’s overnight embark program. Crazy! Words can’t begin to describe how excited and honored I am to have this opportunity to meet the men and women serving our country and protecting our freedom. I’m also looking forward to meeting Navy Public Affairs Officer Jason Salata who manages the USS Nimitz Twitter account (@USS_Nimitz), which I’ve enjoyed following the past couple weeks.
“So what the heck is this all about?” is probably what you’re saying to yourself right now as you’re reading this. I asked myself the same question when I received the invitation e-mail on July 27 from Bill Doughty, chief of internal information for the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. I also asked myself this honest question: “how in the world did I get selected for this endeavor?”
The Navy has immersed itself in emerging media and has been actively reaching out to bloggers and social media users to participate in these embarks. I suspect this blog and my dabbling in social media has much to do with receiving this special invitation. In fact, a high-profile group of 14 bloggers, including Guy Kawasaki, spent 24 hours at sea aboard the USS Nimitz this past June. More recently, well-known Hawaii bloggers Ryan Ozawa and L.P. “Neenz” Faleafine did a similar embark aboard the USS Ronald Regan. I also have inside knowledge that Ryan and Neenz recommended me (and Burt) to the Navy for the embark. Needless to say, I’m extremely thankful to the both of them, thrilled to be going, and looking forward to sharing my experience here when I get back.
But enough typing for now. I’ve still got some packing to do and more importantly, need to ensure all electronic devices traveling with me are fully charged. The carrier won’t have Internet service, so I’ll be out of touch until Monday afternoon. Check back for photos, videos, and more then.
LIFE IN THE NAVY – MY FATHER’S PERSPECTIVE – PART 1
This opportunity is also very special for me as my father, Gary Kam, was in the Navy in the early 70s as an aviation electronics technician with the Strike Fighter Squadron VF-213 (the Black Lions) and spent time on the USS Kitty Hawk. It’s a part of my his life I don’t know much about, so I’m also using this trip to learn more about his days in the service. I’m starting with a short Q&A that I did with my pops yesterday to get myself up to speed before arriving on the aircraft carrier.
Nathan: What years were you in the Navy and what did you do?
Gary: I served from 1971-1975 as an Aviation Electronics Technician with the Strike Fighter Squadron VF-213 (Black Lions). We had F-4 Phantom jets which were the top planes at that time. The Vietnam War was still going on. By 1974 the war was winding down.
N: What was it like living on an air craft carrier?
G: Sailors adapt well. We fixed the navigation and electronics countermeasure equipment, as needed, after each flight. There are a lot of stuff to do on the carrier. You can exercise, go to the library, go to the flight deck when no planes were launching or landing.
N: What was the most memorable moment(s) of your Navy career?
G: Serving with fellow Navy men. Seeing the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Kenya, and England. You develop a strong friendship during your tour.
N: Did you serve during any major wars? Were you ever in battle?
G: The Vietnam War was going. We launched a bunch of sorties against North Vietnam. I was never in direct combat except for keeping the aviation electronics equipment up an running. The Navy pilots are a bunch of fearless and dedicated men. Give them a wing and a prayer and they will complete the mission.
N: What did you do for fun on the ship?
G: Anything to keep you busy. Read, talk to shipmates, exercise, look at the ocean and all the fish and sea snakes, etc. you can see.
N: Any words of advice for me before I take off?
G: Enjoy the moment. Not many, even Navy guys, are given the chance to land and take-off from an aircraft carrier. I never did. ENJOY AND HAVE FUN YOU LUCKY GUY!!!!! Love you…..Dad!