A Chat with Reggie: A United States Navy Veteran
The USS San Jacinto (CG-56)
A few weeks ago a local news paper, The Daily Citizen, wanted to test out a new feature where someone would interview everyday people and share their stories. I was selected to bring in some samples to see how it would work out for the paper. My first assignment came to me, literally. I was having some cable problems and a technician was sent out. He has some nice tattoos on his arm and I asked if they were related the military. They were not related to the military; but were the names of his kids and a tribute to poker, one of his favorite games.
His name is Reggie and he's a Veteran of the United States Navy, with 5 six month cruises and 1 eight month cruise under his belt. He was on the USS San Jacinto (CG-56) when she made history. The San Jacinto, was among the first US Naval ships allowed inside of Russian waters after a long period of tension between the United States and Russia has been settled. A source here at CombatACE confirmed that the USS San Jacinto and another boat the USS Kaufman, an FFG, did indeed visit Russia in August of 1989.
Reggie says one of the things he'll always remember. The citizens, in the part of Russia he visited with his crew, have never seen an African American, other than on TV. “We got off the boat landing and I can remember we had a translator with every group as were walking down the street.” Reggie said, “These people spotted us because we're in groups of ten and they started running and the translator explained to us what was going on.” The experience Reggie recalled involved curious children touching their skin and hair to see if he and some of his shipmates were real. They even wanted to take pictures with them.
The trip to Russia went well and Reggie's service gave him the opportunity to visit many different countries.“As a kid you hear stories about different places and wonder how it is.” Reggie said “All these places over seas are just like everywhere else. You have your good times you have bad times.” Reggie went on to explain that most of the times what we see in the news is what they want people to see. The opportunities the Navy gave him allowed him to broadened his horizons and better understand different cultures around the world. He got to see first hand how people live their lives. It frustrates him to see how the news reports various events. “Me and guys at my job, the old crew, who aren't there anymore, were all ex military.” said Reggie “We used to try to tell these people that half the things they see on TV is nothing like they said. My parents would call, worried about me, because of the events they heard about on TV, and I would just laugh. When I came home my mother would ask why I was laughing. I would tell her that things weren't as bad as they news was making it seem.”
Reggie was on the job and I did enjoy talking to him, as I do a lot of people. It turns that he too likes talking to veterans especially those from the WW2 era. He admires how well they did their jobs despite the challenges they faced and the equipment they had to work with. I asked Reggie what is a lesson he'd be willing to share, considering all of the time he spent in the Navy. He said “When I first joined I had an older man on the ship who said to me “I'm going to tell you one thing young man 'Always stay true to who you are.' Even though you're going to a lot of places, and will see a lot of things and even when people are going to put you on a pedestal. Stay true to who you are. At first I was thinking that makes to sense. As I got older I got to see what he was talking about... If I had to talk to someone now that was considering to join the Navy. I would tell him to work hard, be smart, and stay true to who you are.”
Sound advice for those willing to enter the service or stay in civilian life. Reggie explained about not letting people talk you into doing something you're not comfortable with. Do not feel compelled to buy into the hype. Stay true to yourself and do your role.
We here at CombatACE want to thank Reggie for taking the time to tell us his story, and for his service in the United States Navy.
We would also like to extend our thanks to the many members here of CombatACE who too have served, or are serving in the United States Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of their countries around the world.
Lastly I would like to thank Typhoid, he too is a veteran of the United Sates Navy, and I invite you to read his interview. He was also the one who confirmed the events of the article. His ship the USS Belknap got a chance to visit Russia as well but they were not with San Jacinto and Kaufman. They were called away to handle a crisis but in December 1989 they were able to visit.
Speaking of crisis, when you read Typhoid's interview you'll learn about another event he was apart of, and how you can use Strike Fighter to revisit that event.