One of the greatest things I’ve been able to do with my dad has been to share some of my Navy experience with him.
The first chance was on what we call a “Tiger cruise” on the aircraft carrier Abe Lincoln, good ole CVN72. My dad rode the boat back with me from Hawaii to San Diego and we had a blast.
Dad got to see the helicopter I flew in, fired a machine gun, ate navy chow fit for prisoners, and slept in a jail cell-sized bunk with my fellow HS-6 squadron mates. We had a blast and years later when I left the rescue swimmer community for the SEAL Teams I’d be able to sneak dad out on a few ops.
I had taken him to San Clemente Island and to a few sniper ranges in Camp Pendleton before we moved the course to the midwest.
I took dad out on a range and stalk day and we had a great time showing him around and introducing him to the guys.
My close friend and fellow SEAL, Eric Davis, was usually along on most of my “sneak your dad to dangerous work” days and was also present during that time. I think Eric enjoyed this because he had lost his father at a young age and liked being around my dad.
As instructors, we had a lot of leeway. I think my dad got to fire about every gun in the inventory — 50 cal, 300 wing mag, SPR, and so on — and see the students stalk. (I’ll leave it to you to find what the weapons’ abbreviations stand for. I’m always amazed at how much information you can get off the net these days.)
Side note: My dad visited the class with my former student Marcus Luttrell who, only a few months after dad’s visit, would go MIA in Afghanistan. Talk about a touching history.
The biggest kick was taking dad out to drink with Eric and the other instructors in San Clemente that night. Since I was the sober designated driver, I couldn’t resist demonstrating how to do a proper J turn with my dad and Eric in the passenger and bench seat while they were roaring shit faced.
After three or four high-speed offensive and defensive driving maneuvers, we pulled the old girl into the parking spot, her tires smoking, for us all to sleep it off. Apparently, from the look on their faces as they went to bed, I enjoyed this more than they did.
Burnouts with dad in a Navy truck. Priceless.
I will always have these memories and hope that my dad cherishes them as much as I do now.
Love you dad.