On a journey…

Last month, over fifty men from our church, Clovis Hills Community Church, participated in the annual Hume Lake Men’s Retreat.  There were over 700 attendees from 26 churches from around the state of California there with us.   Our church this retreat each fall either a Hume Lake or Wonder Valley since I began attending in 2003.  The first retreat I attended was in October 2003.  As I reflect on the seven retreats I’ve attended over these last ten years, I realize how much my view of this event and my life in general has dramatically changed. Each year I go, I return charged up again to meet the challenges of the world that await me as we return “to the valley” from being “on the mountain”.  On this Thanksgiving Day, 2013, I want to share with you this story about my first retreat I attended to express my deep gratitude for how much the Lord has blessed my life since that time.

This story picks up where my FIRST story in this blog left off.  Though it was a huge burden lifted off me that my wife had found The Lord at the same moment I had recommitted my life to Christ, I still felt unsettled.  Knowing the amount of time I had been away from any church influence had been roughly 20 years was very convicting.   I never felt more isolated and alone those first 6 months living back in Fresno.  As most all of my closest friends at the time still lived elsewhere, it just seemed like I didn’t have anyone to share my burdens with besides Leah and by this point she had grown somewhat weary of my neediness for comfort and reassurance as I adjusted to my new career in a Healthcare IT role in Fresno.

My work situation in Fresno was becoming increasingly stressful as I knew I was not as much a fit in the specific role I had been hired for.   My role with my prior employer in San Jose grew to involve my managing engineers, machinists, technicians, networking specialists and other skilled engineering support staff involved in medical device and software development.  In my new role in Fresno, I was now managing very seasoned caregivers (nurses, therapists) who were assigned as Information Systems Analysts to ensure our systems considered how clinicians worked not just those who had saavy info-tech skills.   The types of temperaments between my prior work and this group and the work each did were considerably different and I was having difficulty adjusting to leading this team.   It was a trying time for my new direct reports as well as they adjusted to my style of management honed over years of working for a for-profit medical device company and prior to that as a US Naval Officer.  Yet, I attribute this misalignment to be all God’s plan in that (1) I would not have moved back to Fresno EVER if I waited for a Medical Device or other engineering role to open up there and (2) He had plans beyond simply carrying my own sense of self reliance / self worth in work that I had developed in my past two careers.

I had been going to Clovis Hills for nearly 3 months by the time I recommitted my life to Christ.  The church met in the gym at the middle school we lived near which was in part one of the reasons we had tried it out.  I liked to “hide” in the bleachers as to avoid being spotted by someone spotted me from my past.   I forecasted being asked “… where have you been???” and then find myself having to explain the long neglect of my faith.  Even after God restored me and my wife through the acceptance of our Lord Jesus Christ, I still had this haunting sense that I had to make restitution for my past neglect.

In this context, my life came to a pivotal turning point the week after that Sunday in October over ten years ago.  Knowing I was feeling isolated from my former friends and colleagues in the Bay Area, Leah suggested after church that I consider going to the church’s Men’s Retreat to meet some NEW friends.  As I was still feeling apprehensive about meeting anyone I might know or worse exposing my sense of vulnerability to a bunch of men I didn’t know, I meekly acknowledged her counsel saying I would check into it at the retreat info table outside the gym.

Checking out the materials on the retreat felt akin to being in the self-help section of a book store where you hope no one would notice you standing there.  It turned out there was a gentlemen behind the table who would not make this experience just a self guided one.  While looking at the brochures and the information at the table I tried to look like I didn’t notice him.  After a moment of silence, he asked the inevitable question, “… so what is your name?”   “Jerry Dickerson”, I answered sheepishly, expecting a cordial if predictable, “Well, it’s nice to meet you…”   Instead, his answer was a very emphatic, “… THE JERRY DICKERSON?!” indicating surprise that someone he knew so well went to church here.  I looked up and realized it was Phil Dodd, the father of a longtime school friend, Patrick Dodd.   Patrick and I had attended the same churches through much of my junior and senior high school years.  In fact early in my faith journey, Patrick and I played church basketball together.   Knowing Patrick was a young man of great faith during those years, I naturally remembered that having much to do with the influence of his father.   And here was Phil at that very moment recognizing me when no one else had for nearly the entire time I had been at Clovis Hills thus far!

This was a providential moment as my drift from faith began my senior year in high school.   My not having a regular mentor to hold me accountable as I went on to the Naval Academy, however, was a big reason I stopped viewing that going to church as important.   In fact, I started to coin the phrase “… MY church is wherever I go…” to suggest I didn’t need to be at a single church to be faithful.  I think this is a trap that most college age Christians fall into.  At this age, we tend to think our ability to reason things out amongst our intellectual peers is indicative of “enlightenment” and that “religion” is for those who have less capacity to think things out for themselves.   The way we rationalize (read ‘rational lies’) during these early college years is a subtle but common tool that Satan uses to encourage our self-deception thus making us less impactful to the Kingdom of God for this period of our lives.  Worse, not only does our self-deception hinder our own spiritual growth, it influences those who once looked up to us for our faith in God.  I personally know of several friends who observed my walking away from faith my senior year in high school as in part a rationale for their own drifting.

… yet God had a plan even in this!   For the moment Phil Dodd saw me at the Men’s Retreat table that fall Sunday afternoon, I felt “found again”.  For such a Man of God to still recognize me had to be God’s hand!  For the next half hour or so, Phil and I talked about all sorts of things.  He showed genuine interest and compassion for me personally and spiritually, something that I hadn’t felt for some time.  He never judged me for the past as I had feared might happen and in fact made me feel like it was just yesterday the Patrick and I had just graduated from high school.  As I reflected on the profound spiritual influence he had on Patrick and the reality of the loss of my own father seven years prior to that meeting that afternoon, I immediately viewed Phil as someone who could mentor me in a father-like way.   Longing for the conversation not to end, I helped him pack away the Men’s Retreat table materials and talked with him all the way back to his car long after everyone else had left church.    He had clearly made it seem very reasonable to get over my apprehension about going to the Men’s Retreat and so I signed up that afternoon!

At the Men’s Retreat the following weekend, I spent the couple days trying to meet and get to know other men who went that year to Wonder Valley.   This is where I met Patrick Vance and Doug Griffin, two great Men of God, and in a later Retreat, Tim Henry all of whom would later have great influence in my spiritual walk.  The main friendship that was deepened that weekend, however, was with Phil.   It was an experience I will always mark as the ‘low water mark’ in my descent into spiritual irrelevance and a deep depression about a life that seemed to have become inconsequential.  Feeling my life was ‘in the weeds” and very vulnerable, I asked Phil to help me find what purpose God had intended for my life going forward.   I did this in writing on a feedback card I think was meant to give to the Men’s leadership team for the retreat but I chose to give it directly to Phil instead.   He kept this card in his Bible and showed it to me again later this card as I think he cherished the sincerity in which I wrote it.

Phil’s response to my card was to invite me to go “…on a journey” together using a study called Operation Timothy (OT) as our guide.  Phil had been inviting many men on such a journey successfully in the past though I was unaware of it at the time.  He was known around the church as “Obi Wan” after the Jedi Knight who mentored Luke Skywalker from Star Wars.  I could not have chosen a better partner for this study as it turned out that Phil was the ministry leader of OT with 85+ men he’s taken through it to date!  He holds the title of “Elder Emeritus” for Clovis Hills Community Church having helped the Senior Pastor, Steve Davidson, along with their wives found the church over 20 years ago.  Phil was Steve’s original high school church teacher and mentor in Dos Palos many years ago.   Like me, Steve sought out Phil’s mentoring early to start the journey they are on together at Clovis Hills to this day!

Operation Timothy is a study designed to take two people through a spiritual walk together with the intent to have the typically older and wiser ‘Paul’ disciple the typically younger ‘Timothy’ much as the original two apostles did together helping plant churches along the way.  When I accepted Phil’s invitation to go on a journey with him, he became my ‘Paul’, and I became his ‘Timothy’.   For the next 18 months, Phil stepped me through each of the four books of the study, each going succeedingly deeper into scripture and how to apply it in one’s life.

During this 18 month journey, I began the transition out of the work role that was not working out and into my current role of Project Manager (PM), a role I truly God designed me for.   Fortunately, God was also looking out for me in my work setting for he brought around me a couple very capable executives who had tremendous capacity to mentor me professionally, David and Darrick.   Both of these men had served in Chief Information Officer roles prior to coming to Community Medical Centers.  They both saw I would be a far better fit as a PM then a manager directly of Clinical Analysts.

David at the time had been a contract Project Manager himself, taught me how much more influence one can have through projects without necessarily having the authority one has with Direct Reports.   I am very grateful to David particularly for having taken a chance to hire me out of a Medical Device engineering role straight into Healthcare IT largely on the basis of finding out I had graduated from Annapolis.  It turns out David, a former Army officer himself, lived and commuted from Annapolis, MD each week in his contract role with our hospitals.  He not only admires the Naval Academy for what it produces in future Naval Officers, he also sponsors midshipmen to visit his home as part of a program to give those far away from their families a home away from home.   It is by God’s hand I am certain that I met David, as I’m sure anyone of faith knowing my story would agree that my resume would have likely been overlooked if David specifically not made that connection.

Later, I met Darrick who took over as the Director of our Clinical Systems team and became my Manager as David returned to the Project Management role he was originally hired for.  Darrick, a man of faith and deep conviction himself, had a long successful career in Healthcare IT and helped me adjust to this new role of Project Manager.  I am very blessed to have had his support during this tumultuous time in my life.  His affirmation was a huge reason I didn’t simply give up and quit during this transition.   Between Phil’s spiritual mentoring and the professional guidance of these two men at work, I have landed well in my work, ministry and other roles in the community.

In quick summary of these past ten years, I found work life balance at last which in turn has permitted me to focus on my marriage and my role as father to two daughters who have personally witnessed my life change in becoming a dedicated disciple and follower of Christ.   I view the life change of my wife and daughters, in turn, as the VERY BEST demonstration of God’s plan to redeem my past life.   For you see, God has purpose even in our deepest most troubling times in life as evident when you see those you love come to find the same hope you have in Christ.  My return to Christ is living proof that fathers/husbands can and often do have the greatest influence in the spiritual walk of the rest of their family.

This story of the prodigal son is a timeless one and I believe my story is a retelling of it.  I saw recently a post by a dear friend who shared a link about why millennials are leaving the church in increasing numbers.  The statistics are pretty sobering… Over 90% of our youth leave the faith for a time as I once did.   Fortunately a similarly high percentage ultimately return to that faith.  This return happens at some time in life… some sooner, some later (… after 20 years in my case), but the key is that it happens quite often as Grace makes it all possible.  We are all in need of a Savior who doesn’t care as much where we’ve been but where we are going.   Fortunately, Jesus Christ came to save the world not condemn it (John 3:17 NIV).

I am VERY blessed that I re-learned the nature of my personal relationship with Jesus.  To prove that HIS Grace was real, I truly believe He arranged the circumstances which I would not only recommit my life to him but that I too would be refound by my friend and mentor Phil Dodd.  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me… Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV).

Phil remains my mentor and dear friend to this day.   Each year, we take a driving trip to either one of the wildlife preserves on the valley floor or to the foothills near Fresno in the early Spring to reflect on what God has done in our lives the past year.  Seeing the birds thrive in the wetlands, the flowers bloom and the normally brown foothills green at this time of year is a great reminder that our Lord grows things quite well after a long cold winter.  There are other stories of my desire to ‘press on’ that stem from this providential meeting with Phil at the Men’s Retreat Table in October 2003… but I’ll save those stories for later.  Until then, I encourage you too, to reflect on what you are most thankful for and PRESS ON…

Patrick Dodd and me c. 1978 on the Northwest YUG (Youth Under God) Church Basketball Team

Patrick Dodd and me c. 1978 on the Northwest YUG (Youth Under God) Church Basketball Team

Phil and I "birding" at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge in January 2009

Phil and I “birding” at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge in January 2009

Phil Dodd, Tim Henry and me at Hume Lake Men's Retreat,  October 2010

Phil Dodd, Tim Henry and me at Hume Lake Men’s Retreat, October 2010

Phil and I on our continued journey in the Foothills near Hensley Lake, March 2011

Phil and I on our continued journey in the Foothills near Hensley Lake, March 2011

Princeton Mine Strike…

After celebrating Veterans Day 2013 yesterday, I thought it apropos that I would share one of my own ‘veteran stories’ from my days serving in the U.S. Navy. First let me say this story as really not something on the order of a Battle of the Bulge, Midway or D-Day or anything of that sort, but for me at least, was as exciting a time as I’ve ever experienced during my five years of active duty service as a commissioned officer after graduating from the Naval Academy.

You will see after reading this story that I have the unique distinction to have served onboard one of two ships that was struck by mines during the Gulf War in 1991 while participating in Operation Desert Storm.   My ship was the USS Princeton (CG-59) and the other ship that struck a mine was USS Tripoli (LPH-10).  This story will give you the reader the first person’s perspective of what it’s like to operate a ship in “harms way” which is what the US Navy was and remains designed to do in defense of our country’s national security.

The mission of the US Navy is “…to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”  An application of that mission came to bear during the Gulf War in 1990-1991.   Our ship was one of the latest of the Ticonderoga class Aegis Cruisers at the time, and was assigned the Air Warfare Commander role in the northern Persian Gulf in support of the pending ground war with Iraq.  This particular cruiser was equipped with vertical launched surface to air missiles housed in silos on the fore and after part of the ship that could all be simultaneously launched if needed. These missiles would be controlled the then state of the art air/surface radar system employing steerable beam tracking that permits the ship to actively track hundreds of airborne contacts and engage  incoming hostile aircraft or missiles to include low flying surface to surface ones if necessary in full “automatic mode”.  As this made us the most capable Anti-Air warfare platform in theater, we were particularly well equipped to handle practically any kind of shipborne, air or land based attack by the Iraqi military forces. Thus the decision by the fleet commander to  assign us the mission to provide air warfare protection for the over 30 ship Amphibious Task Force operating off the coast of Kuwait and Iraq in support of the Theater Commander, Norman Schwarzkopf’s strategy to deceive the Iraqi military commanders into thinking we planned to amphibiously land on the beaches of Kuwait.   The strategy’s intent was to force the Iraqi military to stay locked down in that locale while permitting our ground forces to do an “end-around” into Iraq directly and trap those forces in a pincer movement that turned out to work perfectly.

I thought I would first share some background leading up to the events that make up the main story.   In August 1990, the USS Princeton was en route to visit Vladivostok, USSR.   We were one of two ships, the other being USS Reuben James (FFG-57), to visit this port since before World War II (1938). As the war with Japan and later the Cold War with USSR precluded our US Navy ships to visit this strategic Russian port, this was quite an exciting historical milestone to be part of.  The year prior to this visit, the wall between East and West Berlin was tore down symbolically representing the end to this Cold War between our two nations and the start of the “Glasnost” era that began toward the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency who worked closely to achieve this “detente” with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian premier. With this as a historical back drop, our ships visit was part of an exchange visit with Russian vessels visiting San Diego similarly to help further the new found peace between our two nations.

Unfortunately, in the midst of our visit symbolizing the end of this near 45 year stalemate between our countries, Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq, decided his own country would annex the nation of Kuwait, an oil-rich country near the northeast corner of Saudi Arabia and just south of their own Iraqi port of Basra at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf. The United States having strategic economic interests in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait immediately took Saddam Hussein to task for this invasion as an act of war on a sovereign nation. The United Nations agreed with then president George H.W. Bush and gave him the authority to put in immediate economic and military sanctions on Iraq as what became known as Operation Desert Shield. That Operation which lasted until January 15, 1991 had the main purpose to provide ample time for the US and her allies to build up military ground, air and sea forces in the area to first be able to defend Saudi Arabia from being invaded and later to then forcibly remove Iraq from Kuwait if other economic sanctions did not succeed in getting Saddam to leave Kuwait.

Rather than cancel our visit to Vladivostok, the 7th fleet commander, Admiral Charles Larson, who was traveling with us on USS Princeton chose to complete this historic visit.   Admiral Larson still had the task to then ready us and the rest of the Pacific Fleet to support our preparations to support Operation Desert Shield and later once the air war began Operation Desert Storm. We finished our landmark visit of Vladivostok then quickly returned to the United States to ready our ship to be deployed back to the Persian Gulf by year end. In that time, the crew of USS Princeton had to take care of personal business and ready themselves for war. On December 7, 1990 our ship got underway from her home port of Long Beach Naval Station and began the cross Pacific transit to the Persian Gulf. After a brief visit to Subic Bay, Phillippines for the New Year, we steamed at top speed to enter the Persian Gulf on January 13, 1991, two days before the beginning of the air war and the official start of Operation Desert Storm. For the first 3 weeks, we steamed closely behind USS Midway (CV-41)  on assignment to provide air guard duty.   Midway was launching and landing aircraft nearly continuously for these first few days of the air war and we kept close astern of the carrier in case one of the aircraft were to ditch upon launch or landing.   USS Midway was one of two aircraft carriers operating in the Persian Gulf launching aircraft attacks on Iraq (the other was USS Ranger (CV-61) who we had steamed across the Pacific with en route for the Gulf.   The aircraft aboard these carriers along with those the Air Force stationed in Saudi Arabian bases were used to methodically destroy all the above ground radar, anti-air SAM and gun emplacements for this phase of the air war against Iraq.   Our other role was to ensure Midway was protected from any air attack by Iraqi jet or land based missiles. With warnings that Iraq had at its disposal chemical/biological weapons, I remember this being a particularly stressful time and we did several drills where we practiced donning chemical protection suits and discussed how we would self administer antidotes to any kind of biological weapon like anthrax should Iraq choose to use such weapons.  Also during this Air war phase of the Gulf War, our ship was ordered to launch three Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise missiles on Iraq.

The air war, though quite effective at neutralizing any Iraqi Air Force threat, did not succeed at convincing Iraq to exit their ground forces from Kuwait, so by mid February, plans were made to begin readying for a ground offensive. Our ship was reassigned to the aforementioned Amphibious Task Force under the direction of the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), the command ship in charge of overseeing the “feint” amphibious landing of Kuwait being planned. On February 18, 1991, three days before the ground war would begin, knowing we were the ship most ready and able to take an incoming missile attack, and given there were intelligence reports indicating that some surface missile batteries had gone active on the Kuwaiti coast, our Commanding Officer (CO), Captain Ted Hontz, directed our ship to operate as close to the coast of our Kuwait that are operating box would allow us to be.  Captain Hontz was well aware that if one ship could react and engage an incoming threat it would be Princeton with its sophisticated suite of Aegis radar and surface to air missile systems.  Given the relative vulnerability the balance of the amphibious ships were to such an attack, Captain Hontz view was both quite brave and the most practical use of his command.

It was in this tactical situation, that I found myself, the Officer of the Deck (OOD) coming on watch at 7am in the morning of February 18th. As OOD, I am accountable directly to the CO for directing the watch team on the bridge to maneuver the ship per the CO’s orders. I had been OOD qualified since we first came into the Gulf and was accustomed to being in charge on the bridge when the CO was not there, but this morning was different.  Captain Hontz was already on the bridge, and as I was coming up to the bridge to stand my watch, I learned why.  Before taking the watch, I made my standard visit to Combat Information Center (CIC), the compartment just below the bridge where one gets the tactical situation based on the various radar systems and other intelligence available.  That particular morning, I found out that the USS Tripoli (LPH-10) had been struck by a submerged moored mine just below the waterline punching a hole in her hull. Though there was flooding on the ship, it had been contained and so they were still operational if somewhat compromised. The disconcerting part of this information was that Tripoli was 10 nautical miles further out from the Kuwait coastline then we were.   Our location was consistent with the CO’s orders to be closer to the known threat of surface missile batteries becoming active on that coast. Basically, that meant we, like Tripoli, were in the middle of a minefield…

So, as I came to the bridge to take the watch at 7am, the CO was on the bridge. It was clear to everyone the risks were high and so we were only moving at a minimal 3 knots to keep from drifting while still giving us maximum opportunity to spot any other mines under the surface akin to what hit the Tripoli. After I assumed the watch, the CO knowing we were as close to the edge of our operating box as he was permitted to bring us, commanded me to bring the ship around on an easterly course about 180 degrees from the direction we were heading.   When a ship is traveling this slow, it is equally slow to come about, so to speed our turn, I ordered the conning officer to back the starboard (right) engine 1/3 while forwarding the port (left) engine 1/3.   What this does to a two propeller ship is to cause it to pivot in place rather than actually turn through the water. Given that we wanted to proceed cautiously to avoid mines, this maneuver made quite a bit of sense.   In fact, that decision may have very well have saved the ship.

The problem was that we were actually unknowingly between two submerged Italian made “manta” mines that were lying on the bottom of the water which was roughly 60 feet in the area we were operating.   This type of mine is not set off by contact but by pressure typical of a caveating propeller or bow wave caused by a ship moving through water.   The closer mine was off our port quarter and as we pivoted our stern in the direction of that particular mine, the pressure wave caused by our propeller detonated that mine and began to lift our stern out of the water.  That mine set off a second mine off our starboard bow sympathetically and caused us to rock vigorously back in the other direction.   The combined trauma to the ship severely damaged the stern of our ship and one of the propeller shafts thereby making us dead in the water.   Additionally, several pipes internal to the ship burst and we eventually had to secure air conditioning which meant a temporary shutdown of our air defense radars and thus missile systems.  In sum, we became a big metal sitting target and extraordinarily vulnerable to missile attack.  Further, three of our crew on either end of the ship were thrown around quite violently and had to be airlifted off the ship for medical treatment.   Why I said above that the decision to pivot might have saved the ship was that these mines had they been set off amidships (center of the ship), we might have been completely lifted out of the water thus breaking our keel in two and thus sinking rapidly.  Rather, we ended up only turning into the mine rather than going over it and so the damage was thus deflected.

Through the valiant reaction of a well trained crew on damage control, the ship’s air conditioning and thus defense systems were restored and we were able to resume Air Warfare Commander role for approximately 30 hours until were relieved later by another cruiser in the area, USS Horne (CG-30).   Until then, without the ability to turn our port shaft/propeller, we had to await to be pulled out of the area by a salvage and rescue ship, USS Beaufort (ATS-2) preceded by a mine sweeping ship, USS Adroit (MSO-509), who ensured the area around us was cleared of any other mines.  It was a pretty stressful time as I remember being in a modified General Quarters status for all that time living with the very real threat that we actually might still lose our severely damaged stern and possibly sink.

Fortunately, we were safely towed out of harm’s way and eventually found ourselves in Bahrain where we were provided sufficient repairs to continue our journey further south first to Jebel Ali to offload our weapons and then on to Dubai, UAE to a dry dock for further repairs for an additional 8 weeks.

In late April, we were finally back underway under our own power again after being awarded the Combat Action Ribbon for our wartime action.  En route back to the Long Beach, we made a trip down below the equator after passing Singapore so we could hold a Shellback ceremony, then stopped again in Subic Bay Philippines, Hong Kong, and then Pearl Harbor Hawaii where we picked up family members for a Tiger Cruise which included my Dad, a former Navy veteran himself.   When we arrived back in Long Beach, we received a hero’s welcome that I’m sure seemed well deserved to those who greeted us upon arrival.   Despite the earned accolades, it still seems to this day humbling to those of us on the crew knowing we had simply heeded the call to serve our country during wartime and had in fact encountered military action.

Though it was a harrowing experience to hit a mine, none of us went into this thinking we would be heroes.  Mostly we were grateful that we were able to serve our country and return safely to our loved ones.   I am in particular grateful to have served alongside all the sailors and officers of USS Princeton and will remember fondly the time I called these men my shipmates.   We have plans as a crew to have a twenty-five year anniversary reunion on February 18, 2016 to memorialize the events that day we struck the mine.  I am looking forward greatly to seeing these shipmates once again!

Persian Gulf showing path Princeton took from mine strike to dry docking in Dubai UAE
Showing approximate location of Princeton mine strike relative to Kuwaiti/Iraq Coastline
Steaming near USS Midway (CV 41)
Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile launch on Iraq!
View of Port stern where steel girders were welded to support heavily damaged fantail
Picture of superstructure cracked by the violent trauma to ship by two mini strikes
Starboard side view of buckled deck near fantail
View of Mine Damage from fantail showing metal rope welded to superstructure and deck to further support heavily damaged fantail
Dad and me in Pearl Harbor as we pull out of Port for the last leg of the trip home...
My wife Leah crying tears of joy upon my safe return to Long Beach
Welcome home sign for me and my Dad who joined me for the last leg of the cruise from Pearl Harbor back to Long Beach...
Welcome home sign for me and my Dad who joined me for the last leg of the cruise from Pearl Harbor back to Long Beach…

ADDENDUM:   February 18, 2017… on the occasion of our 26th anniversary of the mine strike on USS Princeton.   A year ago we celebrated our 25th anniversary by visiting our ship homeported in San Diego.  We were blessed to have the chance to visit her current crew and get a VIP tour of the ship we once fought to keep afloat and ready for combat during the ongoing Gulf War.   I share here the memories of that visit and the reunion last year on this NEW Princeton Mine Strike Crew Website where I hope we get to share many future memories in the years ahead.