This is a later version of me just a few years ago:
(U.S.S. Laffey, Mount Pleasant, SC)
I'm off for a few days, taking a trip up to Buffalo New York to participate in a working field day aboard the Navy destroyer, USS The Sullivans (DD-537) which is now a museum ship.
(me, waving from the back row)
Most people are unaware of the fact that the third largest fleet (currently) in the world, is the historic fleet, that is, ships of all nations (mostly U.S.) that are preserved as museum ships.
I've been helping out as a field day participant since 1996, first aboard the Gearing class destroyer, U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy (DD-850) in Fall River Mass.
It was a real deja vu weekend, walking the passageways of a ship that was utterly identical to my second ship (back when I was in the Navy) the U.S.S. Higbee (DD-806). It was both a little weird and a lot of fun.
Closer to home (when I lived in Michigan) was the U.S.S. LST 393.
This amphibious ship was part of the Normandy invasion and then in civilian life was converted over to a Great Lakes car-carrier. I think the 393 is still undergoing a very long process to return to WWII livery as a museum ship in Muskegon Michigan.
Here I am doing overhead work in the well-deck of the 393...
and chipping paint on the pilot house door:
I've also helped out on the U.S.S. Laffey (DD-724) in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina...
the sister-ship and spittin' image of my first ship the U.S.S. Dehaven (DD-727). I did two field day weekends aboard the Laffey and made the acquaintance of one of the finest guys I've ever known, retired senior chief petty officer Vic Fletcher, who has since gone to his celestial reward.
That's Vic in the center of this jolly group, Jim Sehey (bottom left) is a National Park Service Volunteer at Cowpens (I think). Vic actually served aboard the Laffey when they both were on active duty.
Here's my favorite shot of Vic as I was leaving the Laffey. Vic is on a bollard, what he referred to as his "favorite seat".
This is the last time I saw one of the nicest guys I ever knew.
Yes, there's some clowning around by the occasional doofus(that's the battleship Massachusetts in the background, also a museum ship). But everybody else works very, very hard. That's Retired Chief Boatswains Mate, Ron Black (below) making a splice.
Its a real treat to call a guy like this "shipmate" even if only for one weekend a year.
I always really enjoyed these events. It felt great to be doing something so worthwhile, alongside such a great bunch of guys, on these remarkable steel veterans of so many oceans.
That's odd...my beard used to be much darker than my helmet...must be the camera.