How I Met the Love of My Life Part 3

9 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

My friend, Bud, and I had joined the U.S. Navy Reserves in the middle of our senior year (big mistake).  We did this to impress the girls (before I met DiVoran) when we wore our uniforms around town, on Friday nights, after our reserve meetings.  But after graduation, I realized what a foolish thing I had done, and I wanted to get my “active duty” over with so I could go to college.  Some of you may remember that back in those days, when you signed on the dotted line to serve in the military, there was no getting out of your commitment.  You were in for the length of your service time, and that was all there was to it.  I had asked DiVoran to marry me, gave her a diamond engagement ring, and asked her to wait for me until I got back from my active duty.  She wanted to get married right then.  After talking it over, I finally agreed to us getting married as soon as we could, and she agreed to wait for a while.  We also promised to write each other every day I was away, and we did.  

After boot camp I shipped out on the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) for a Med Cruise.  That was a wonderful experience for this 18-year old swabby.  I got to visit most of the countries that ring the Mediterranean.  When the ship’s tour of duty was over, we were relieved, on station, by our sister carrier the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42).   The voyage our ship made across the north Atlantic, returning to the United States, was one of the roughest I was ever on during my time in the Navy.  We ran into one of those historical nor’easter storms, that sailors have talked about for centuries, and believe me it was brutal.  We docked at Norfolk, VA to off-load the air group, non-essential personnel and equipment.  

The ship was scheduled for a major two-year overhaul which would include the addition of a canted flight deck.  There were no dry-docks available on the east coast, so the ship made the trip around South America (the ship was too wide to go thru the Panama Canal).  We visited cities on the east coast of Brazil, made our way round Cape Horn and stopped at Valparaiso on the west coast of Chili. We also stopped at Panama City, on the west coast of Panama, and finally at San Francisco, CA as we made our way north to Bremerton, WA.

I was able to watch the “Yard Birds” work on the ship for a month while I waited for my transfer orders.  That was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about the ship I had never knewn.  I finally received my orders transferring me to the USS Hector (AR-7) in San Diego, CA.  The Hector was going to be tied up to Pier 1, at the San Diego Naval Base for about six months.  It was during this time that I was able to attend a Diesel Engine Mechanic School and obtain my rating as an Engineman.  My mother had good friends living in La Mesa (not far from the Naval Base), and they invited me to their home for dinner several times.

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 63 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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