I do a better job blogging about travel and stuff than squadron life. But that’s the whole reason we’re here, not to mention it’s kind of romantic and I’m super proud of Chris, so I’m being sure to include the ‘squadron life in Japan’ aspect more often. HSL-51 has been busy lately: last night we had our last Officer Spouses Club meeting under the 2009-2010 board, concluding my year as club president, welcoming our new CO and XO wives and—sadly—farewelling five friends who are dispersing to everywhere from Florida to Portugal. I realized from here on out, I won’t be saying goodbye to people I saw a couple of times here and there; now we’re saying goodbye to people we’ve interacted with constantly over the last 18 months or more. It’s harder than I thought it would be, but you know what they say, “In the Navy you never say goodbye, just see you later,” and all that. I am not good with emotions.
Anyway, a couple weekends ago we attended that ball we were late for, which Chris was deployed during last year, making it our first official ball together since he joined the Navy four years ago! Chris wore his service dress blues; I wore a strapless black top and an A-line, floor-length, shimmering burgundy skirt with black flowers. Black satin gloves, Spanish earrings from Toledo and a long Chinese pendant completed my outfit. Here are some photos. Monday we observed the 14th HSL-51 Change of Command Ceremony. Everyone was there. The officers and sailors looked classic and sharp in their service dress whites, except the pilots manning the showbirds (painted helicopters)—they looked smart in the squadron’s signature red flight suits. The commanding officers lauded their men and women for their hard work during the last 17 months, including tracking nuclear submarines through the South China Sea for several days straight, dropping tons of relief supplies in Sumatra, responding to a ballistic missile crisis (hello, North Korea—that was Chris last spring), and deploying 45+ times for more than 1,180 days across all the detachments. I was listening to this in a sort of suspended reality. I am so very proud of Chris, but often I have to partially block the reality of what he does from the eye-widening stories I hear almost daily. Otherwise I could go crazy with ‘what-ifs.’ So my suspended reality self got lightning-bolted back into my actual self with a rush of pride for Chris and what he and his squadron are doing here. This is real-world, really dangerous stuff…and it’s making a difference. It makes a difference to the people in D.C. who analyzed the info on the nuclear sub; it makes a difference to the starving children in Indonesia who ran to the sailors for clean water (incidentally, the helicopter crew told the people on the ground to please protect themselves and their kids from the debris that would swirl up in the rotor wash. They did this by putting plastic bags over all their kids’ heads—yikes!!).