Rita Young Allen, Ms. Alabama Sr. America 2017!

U S Navy

Rita...Ms. Alabama Sr. America 2017!
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ATAN, Paul D. Allen

Dear Friends,
Our son, Paul Allen, was a Sailor in the U.S. Navy.  The following are photos and emails of his journeys.  Please pray for all our military.
                                                   ~Philip and Rita Allen

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USS Carl Vinson - Paul's Ship

 
Hey Papa
    Just had you on my mind a lot today and night. It's 3:30 in the am here, and I'm pulling an all-nighter because we have room inspection tomorrow.  I am determined to have my closet clean this time, instead of just tossing stuff in it to pass. We failed our last inspection, only because I moved in the night before, not knowing it was the next day, while at the same ime, my roomate just got back from two weeks' leave. So basically, we had a room that needed some minor attention to be passable. We had a re-inspect on Saturday at 9am, and everything was kosher.
    The reason I've had you on my mind is there is a man in our clas who is a 1st class petty officer, and I would imagine he's about your age. He reminds me so much of you, it's uncanny. When we learn new lessons, it seems to take him the longest to grasp the concept, the hands-on labs seem to baffle him beyond all belief, and some of the simplest procedures seem to stump him, yet he not only passes, but aces every test thus far. He has a very calm, cool, and collected demeanor about him, and a very pleasant smile. He wears somewhat large glasses, that is, until it's time to read, then out come the reading glasses. He carries a sling type bag into class, the one that's more like a soft briefcase or a laptop carrying case, and he's got everything anyone would need to stay organized at his fingertips. Our instructor can't teach more than ten minutes without him asking a question. It almost irritates me, but it reminds me so much of you that I almost cry everytime he talks. I miss you very much, and I'm so glad you raised me the way you did. Even though I'm just an E-3, I'm the richest person on this base, because I have a zest and appreciation for life that no one else has. I want you to know that I'm in heaven, and you gave me the tools to put myself here. I'm surrounded by people that want more, can't wait get this or that, and are mad because they didn't get the loan for the $20,000.00 car they want. It disgusts me, but at the same time, reminds me how fortunate and how loved I am. I don't think I've ever before scrubbed a toilet with my tears as I did tonight. You've taught me to clean the lowest toilet base and to climb the highest tree, and no matter which, I'm not too good for anything or anyone. I envy you so much, and I just hope that one day I can be a third of your stature, strength, vision, kindness, and most of all, your love for people that not only love you back, but also for those who couldn't care less about you if they tried. I'm so sorry for every one of your tools I left out, and every time I didn't just take 20 mins to cut the grass before it was knee high. I'm sorry for every time I got frustrated when you asked too many questions about computers, or went slower than I wanted you to go. I'm sorry for every unfinished project I started, and for every time I didn't have time to talk to you. People talk about their credit and how they need to build their score up, well, this is the only credit I have that brings me down, and I need to build it back up. All that time, I couldn't make time for a proper relationship, and now it's come to a 17" screen and 88 keys. I'd give so much just to give you a big "bear hug" right now, but I can't, so I hope you can feel the emotion in these words I'm writing. I love you very much, and I look forward to seeing you again.
Your Son,
Paul

 
Hey Mom!
    I should be in bed right now, because we are switching to daycheck for two days starting tomorrow, but, surprise, surprise, I can't sleep! One contributing factor is that my squadron is doing night flights tonight, and those planes are kinda loud! Anyway, I had a pretty exciting day. I'm sitting here listening to "Highlights from Phantom of the Opera," and it brings back so many memories.
    I've been thinking about the terrorists and the war we face today. Mom, we no longer fight a war with an enemy, we now fight a concept, and it literally scares the living daylights out of me. These are no longer the days where guerilla warfare means hiding in trees and bushes, waiting to ambush and confiscate our own weapons to use against us. We now fight an enemy that uses our entire way of living and trusts against us. How can we fight those that are literally dying to kill us? How can we punish someone who believes that his greatest honor is not only to willingly die for his country, but who is jumping, striving at the chance to die for an idea? We can't just kill Saddam Heusein, or Osama Bin Laden, although this is what the public thinks and wants to happen. There is someone, rest assured, that is ready, eager, and willing to step up to the plate, and pick up where they left off. This is no longer Hitler, Mussolini, or Napoleon, their ideas were clear: take the world by force, and it will be ours. It's like stirring a creekbed - how do you clean it? How can you clear the water again without disturbing the creek? The war we fight today is no longer against principalities and powers, but against division of ourselves, it's against the desire of the public to point fingers at anyone in power, it's against making the wrong choices. Mom, my future is at hand, and I cannot, and will not stand idly by and let my life and my freedoms and the things I believe in be taken from me. I proudly stand tall as a United States Sailor, and with God's cloud before me in the day, and His fire behind me at night, I will fight this battle as Christian did with only a sword and breastplate. I'll not turn my back, I'll not duck and run, and when the ledge is too small, the heat is too hot, and dark is too black, I'll thrust my sword in the air and be confident that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and there is no burden He has given me that I cannot bear. I may travel the hill of difficulty 12 times, but as long as I'm traveling, I will make it. Every footstep I take here is not only already laid out, but etched in stone, and I can't begin to comprehend or explain the things that are just falling together here. Even in my greatest dreams, and my gadget world fantasies, I could not have begun to fathom this peaceful state and reinforced life. Momma and Papa, I love you very much.
Much Love, your son,
ATAN Allen, United States Navy

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Paul's Shop on Base at Whidbey Island in Washington State

 
In the daily course of life, sometimes we forget why we are put on this Earth. Sometimes we get too caught up in paying our bills and showing off our unpaid cars. Sometimes we judge each other so much that we forget; one day you might save my life. Here in my life with the Navy, we are reminded daily to lean one another, put all disgruntled spirits aside, and do whatever it takes to protect the freedom and democracy that governs our ability to show that car and to pay that bill. Tomorrow I will be leaving on detachment to the USS Carl Vinson, CVN 70 (http://www.cvn70.navy.mil/), beginning our three week work up and calibration for our six month cruise in January. I'd like to tell all of you back home that I haven't forgotten what I'm fighting for, have you? I have 13 hours of work every day that reminds me of you, my precious friends and family, and reminds me that I joined the military to protect you, and that I will gladly lay down my life if it means that yours is safe, and your freedoms are tangible. Today is September 11th. Three years ago today, our foundations were rocked, but they were not crumbled. Three years ago today, many people lost their lives; many more lost them trying to save those who were still alive. Three years ago today a "Fearsome Eagle" was awakened, and today that eagle, that symbol of God, freedom, power, peace, protection, and country flies into the heart of Hell, avenging those lost lives. The words "Never Forget" under every picture of the destroyed twin towers has become quite a cliche, but I pray that you stop today and make that cliche real. I pray for the cloud by day, and the fire by night. I pray for the ability to serve my country, to serve you, and to be an essential cog in the machine of success. And most of all, I pray that you pray for me, for my squadron(http://www.naswi.navy.mil/vaq-138/), my shipmates (http://www.naswi.navy.mil/pao/index.htm), the firefighters (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/memorial/lists/by-name/index.html), their families, and everyone who has suffered loss so that you might be free. This is just a reminder that we do not fight in vain. We celebrate independance every day, not just July 4th. We will not be shaken, and we will not be defeated. In conclusion, I love each and every one of you, and I think of you more often than you can imagine.
In a few short words:
NEVER FORGET
 
Sincerely,
 
ATAN Allen, United States Navy

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The type of Plane Paul and His Crew work on.

Hey mom!  Ok, so I have a lil more time to write this time, I'm off work now, and I'm in my shop. I must say, thus far, this detachment has been the hardest thing in my life I've ever had to do, but I know in my heart that it is and will continue to be the most rewarding. Right now, I wash dishes about 14-15 hours a day, my hands are cracked, my feet are blistered and bruised from being on them for so long, and I'm very tired at night. The good news is, I sleep well, despite the very very small space I'm given. I took many pictures for you to see, and I even put up one of my shoes to show you exactly how large my rack is, since a picture can be confusing sometimes. As far as when we pull into port, I can't say the date of anytime we stop or leave for security reasons, but I can reference it  something that only you and I know, and that way you know when I'll be back. Well, that's really all I have to say for now, I need to go t bed, cuz work comes early! I love you both.
-ATAN Allen, US Navy

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I'm almost home!!!
Nihil Minor Quam Optime  (Nothing Less Than The Best)
That is our squadron's slogan, and it is what I hold to. I am now an official sailor. I have now faced the desolate yet beautiful open waters of the ocean. My transformation from recruit to sailor is done. I have never seen nights so dark and days so bright. The scenes are breathtaking, and the operations are astounding. I really wish you could be here, just for one day, to experience what I have. I have never felt so alive, nor so accompanied in a place so isolated.
Vis Per Mare  (Power At Sea)
This is the ship's slogan, and together, we form a mighty force that cannot be stopped by the powers of man. I do not know what inspired me to write you these words, I guess I'm just excited to be getting off the boat soon, along with being excited that I have successfully completed a very interesting venture into the wilderness and the unknown, and have emerged stronger, more knowlegeable, and more ready to face the next challenge. It all seems very scary and difficult at first, but given a few simple rules to follow and following them has lead me to success every time. I could only wish that everyone I have ever come in contact with could experience what I have thus far, and I know it only gets better from here. Well, gotta go pack now, I'll call you as soon as we get to port! I love you!
 
-ATAN Allen, US Navy

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USS Carl Vinson

 
Hey Mom and Papa!
    Well, haven't talked to you in a while, sorry, I've been pretty busy. If I can ever get up to the flight deck with my camera, I'm gonna send you some pictures and videos that will blow your mind. It's simply more than you can imagine. Planes coming in for a landing, looking like they're gonna run straight over you at about 200 knots (that's about 165mph), and then they touch down go from 200 knots to 0 in about a second. Not only that, they land at full throttle just in case they miss the wire, they can take right off again, and not just roll off the flight deck, so the F/A-18's usually land with full afterburners, which is a bone chilling, teeth chattering, and mind boggling experience. I wish you could experience it first hand, but I guess videos will have to do. I love you so much, and I can't wait to share my experiences of the world with you guys, it's gonna be great!!! Well, I gotta go for now. I love you, and we'll talk later.

ATAN Allen, Paul D.

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The Sailor's Creed:
 
I am a United States Sailor
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the World.
I proudly serve my country's Navy Combat Team with Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.
 
I thought you folks might like some more "meaning" to go along with the story about the playing of "Taps".......
Every morning at 0800, the Ensign (flag) is raised to represent the starting of the day, and the Star Spangled Banner is played during the evolution. Meanwhile, the entire base comes to a complete stop. Every car stops where it is, ever sailor and marine stops what he or she is doing, faces the Ensign, (or the origin of the music if the flag can't be seen), and salutes proudly. This ritual is again performed at the end of the day, at whatever the predetermined time for sunset is, only at the end of the day, Taps is played. I have yet to do this or see it done from afar without a flood of chills and at least one tear in my eye. If you could see it, it would make you break down and cry. This, along with the sailor's creed written above is everything we fight for. This is the reason I am out here on the open sea for 6 months, working 13 hours a day, and this is the reason you are at home enjoying every freedom we try to keep safe. Thank you for all of your support, and for those of you that are retired or even prior military, thank you for the stepping stones you have laid before us. I was on the flight deck working tonight when suddenly, drills started with the 50 caliber machine guns. I can't imagine what Viet Nam or Normandy was like, but if I had to, this would have been it. There were loud bangs and explosions everywhere, bullets with tracers lighting up the night sky, and small explosions off in the distance. Talk about chills.... I stood there in amazement and sent up a small prayer and a huge thank you for all those who have gone before me and have experienced more than I can imagine. Again, thank you.
 
Until Next Time,
 
ATAN Allen, Paul David
United States Navy

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Hi Mom,
    Well, I'm sitting here in Guam. We pulled in yesterday, and I'm on duty today, which means I can't leave the ship, but I get to go back out tomorrow and the next day. I don't really know what to say, I'm kinda at a loss for words I guess. Guam is still a country of it's own, but it's considered U.S. soil, so there's no exchange rates or anything, which is pretty cool.  I slept through the whole pulling in process, mainly because I had just gotten off work, and it's a lot easier than standing in the long line waiting to get off the boat. It's better just to go after the main rush is over. When I finally got off, it was funny, because it looks like we're parked in the middle of nowhere! Like a scene straight out of 7 Days and 7 Nights, there's this huge ship pulled up to what looks like a deserted island. Most of it's cliff-like banks, and there's one road that comes down to the boat. The main gate is about 6 or 7 miles away, so walking would prove to be pointless. We have a charter service set up to take us out into town, but on the way, everything seems to be pretty run down, kinda like a big Ghetto. It's easy to see how well off the American economy is, and at the same time, it's hard to imagine anyone complaining. The beaches are beautiful though, more so than any I've ever seen I think, even in movies. Maybe that's just because it's real and tangible, but it's really nice. Back to the buildings, even in the nice area where the Planet Hollywood is, there are a lot of really plain, square, run-down looking buildings, and most of them are either strip clubs or massage parlors, pawn shops, or something of the sort. It's sort of a grungy way of life mixed in everywhere you go. There aren't as many people on the streets selling stuff, and the population of course is a lot thinner, but still the same sort of place. However, inside what I call the "Tourist Buildings," or the nice ones, everything is really nice. They even have outlets for Gucci, Prada, Versace, a lot of rediculously high priced items. I really wish you could see the things I'm seeing, I'd love to share all of this with you, but alas, I can't! Well, I've got a bit of work to do, so I guess I'll go for now. I'll try to write you another lengthy email before we pull out, since I rarely get the chance to do that underway, but I know how you love them! Well, I love you, and I'll talk more later.
 
Love,
-Paul

 
Hey Mom and Papa,
    I just wanted to write you again and let you in on some thoughts I'm having.  This whole adventure is going by so fast. I thought this cruise was going to be something that was long and drawn out, and something hard to endure, but as usual, since God gives us nothing we can't bear, it's goin by like a cool summer breeze! I'm beginning to rise in status in the shop now. Instead of doing all the minute "airman" jobs I was before, I have proven myself worthy of much bigger tasks, ones that occupy my time immensly and that are interesting. This "rise in status" can mean a lot of things for me. It can mean that I take on even greater responsibilities, and therefor am able to advance quicker. There's a rumor that after this test, there will be no more exams for advancement, it will strictly be based on performance evaluations, which in my opinion is really good. I am the most junior person on my shift, yet already I'm being entrusted with jobs that are very hard and very vital to our mission success. Well, I guess that's all for now. I love you.
 
Love,
-Paul

 
Hey Mom,
    I'm really glad you had fun in NY despite your cold. However, it's kinda funny that we were both sick at the same time, but the only difference is you were in NY, and I was in Singapore! Heh, I know you said you wanted a post card from every place I went, but I didn't get you one for Singapore. I got you one from Guam, because it's actually still U.S. territory, but for Singapore I got you a real live souvenir!! You are so gonna flip out when you see it, and you're gonna treasure it forever! Actually, I got you two souvenirs from Singapore, but I only paid for one. We were walking down the sidewalk when a coconut fell right beside me, just as I thought of you in New York, because we were walking up to a really busy part of town. So I picked it up, and despite all odds of the possibility that I wouldn't be able to keep it, I passed the checkpoints, so I'm sending it to you. Well, I gotta go now, but I love you, and will write more later.
 
Love, Paul

 
Hey folks,
    I just wanted to put in a special prayer request, because I know when you guys get together, mountains start moving, and waters start parting. I'm taking my E-4 advancement exam at 0630 in the morning, which is in about 6 hours, and I'm asking for prayers of reinforcement to recall all that I've studied, and to have a clear, fresh, and undisturbed mind. Working on a 4.5 acre steel surface with approximately 70-80 jet aircraft, of which 10-12 may be turning, landing, or taking off at any given minute, and knowing that if I drop a single screw anywhere, the whole multi-billion dollar operation will be aborted within seconds, combined with being soaked in sweat from at least 120 degree heat from jet exhaust everywhere, makes for "somewhat" of a stressful environment. There is much, much more that I could go on all night speaking of, but that's not the purpose of this email. It is simply to ask for your most fervent prayers during these four hours I have to take this test. It's a 250 question test, and will be a great undertaking of huge responsibilities, and the biggest step thus far in my career, and further than that, the biggest step of my life. Right now, it should be about 11:00am there, so most of you should be getting this before I take my test. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers so far, I see God move every day here when no one else does, and it amazes me every single time. I love all of you, and I can't wait to see you guys when we're all done.
 
Love,

ATAN Allen, Paul D.

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Just wanted you to see a typical sunset out here. ~Paul

 
Hey Mom and Papa,
    I guess I just need to vent a little and hear some words of encouragement from you. Why do the troublemakers succeed while the peacemakers get pushed down and swept under the rug? I realize that this is what Christ went through his entire lifetime here on Earth, but do the tables ever turn? I guess I can just keep my "nose to the grindstone" and have faith in the fact that all things really do work together for the good of those that love the Lord, but wow, it's so hard right now. Some days, it seems I can do no wrong, and then there are days where I can do nothing right. I guess just keep praying for me, and send me some words of encouragement. I love you so much, and I miss you so bad. All those talks I shrugged off, all the times I could have sat and talked, but instead was leaving tools out in the rain, and all the times I was disrespectful are all I can think about amidst these turning jets and hard bearing supervisors. Well, I'm crying now, so I guess I'm gonna go do some work. I love you both very much, and no matter where you or I go, my home and my security is and will always be the aura that surrounds you, and the harsh, comforting words of truth that flow out of you.
 
Love,
 
-Your Son

 
I won't know about my test results for a good while, things at work are going well, and I can't tell you where we are, however, I can tell you we're in a very hazardous place, and we're gonna be here a while, so if you remember how I told you the cruise was gonna go, then you'll know where I am. We're actually flying real combat missions right now, and everything I do is highly important. It's kinda eerie knowing that if my job is not done, or even worse, only half done, then people will die. Not just Navy people either, but the ground troops that we're supporting also. Well, I just got off work, and I need to get out of daycheck's way, so I'm gonna go for now. I love you both very much, and I'll write more when I can. Again, I love you, bye for now.
 
Love,
-Paul

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Approximately one fourth of the Flight Deck on the Ship

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-----Original Message-----
From: Jensen, William J. CDR (VAQ-138)
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2005 11:22
To: VAQ138_ALL_HANDS
Subject: OIF Day 4

Yellow Jackets,
 
    As we begin our 4th day of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) I send a hearty Bravo Zulu to all for ensuring we fly combat ready jets in Iraq.  Our mission is among the highest priorities in this theater and as a team we are fulfilling this mission with style.
 
    Airframes repair of 500's troubled landing gear was key in ensuring we met the demands of the flight schedule.  The troubleshooting, replacement of failed components and precise by-the-book rerigging ensured this bird passed its confidence flight on its first hop.  My crew successfully flew that bird over the beach later that night.  Possibly the assistance of two admin guys (YNC and NC1) who walked away with greasy hands were our good luck charms.  Also, Avionics' grooming of our jamming systems ensures the bad guys get their daily dose of electrons!
 
    As many of you know, XO's crew was the potential target of an itchy trigger finger Iraqi insurgent who launched a hefty "bottle rocket" at our bird.  XO's nerves of steal ensured the Prowler remained on station despite the spiraling threat - well that and the fact his crew never alerted him to the threat on the opposite side of the jet!  Little do the insurgents know but we fly higher than their toys can travel.
 
    From our jamming station over Baghdad at night, one can see the on going campaign against insurgents occurring in Northern Iraq at Mosul.  Often huge expanses of Baghdad city lights will blink out for no apparent reason.  Military convoys can be seen snaking their way through the suburbs - it is their safe arrival that defines our mission.  We are within close proximity to the Iranian border and the flames of their oil fields can be seen over 100 miles away while wearing night vision goggles.  In the day while flying over Fallujah you get an appreciation for how challenging the desert terrain is, how challenging life would be - this is a nation that lives without our Western's society of "modern necessities"; McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Costco are not in their cities.  What truly surprised me was the absence of any boat or shore front properties on the three huge lakes in the middle of Iraq.  No jet skis, no fishing boats, no kids swimming - a hard life - one that will eventually change as we coddle their budding democracy and ensure it's ability to survive before pulling out our forces.
 
    Below is a photo of a convoy we are escorting.  The flat bed truck with the white package is called the MOAG - stands for Mother of All Generators - and it's huge!  The Yellow Jackets are tasked with providing jamming protection to ensure the USMC convoy's safe arrival.   This convoy comes to a complete halt until we arrive on station.  We are flying 4 OIF events per day (5-6 hrs each) until the package is delivered (FEDEX refused to ship it).   Subsequent to its delivery we will return to the normal battle rhythm of 3 OIF events per day.
 
 
    Keep up the great work - what you do saves American lives in Iraq - each and every Yellow Jacket is critical to mission success!
 
r/ Skipper

CDR W J Jensen
CO  VAQ-138
USS Carl Vinson
J-3961/7908

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Battle Group with Paul's Ship in the Middle

 
Hey Mom and Papa,
    About the email from our Commanding Officer, in case you didn't get it, there were two shops mentioned, airframes and avionics. Just because I know you don't know all the names and nicknames for our shop, some are AT's, Avionics, Aviation Electronics, and FATS.  To make it short, right now, we have the hardest job on the boat. Go back and read that email again, and every time you see the words jamming, escorting, and protection, that's our shop. Our equipment is more important than any bomb, missle, or .50 caliber ammunition. When I get home, I can tell you all about it, but until these missions are over and done with, and Prowlers are no longer needed, I can't tell you details because it's Top Secret. Also, look at that picture again and see if you can pick out the prowlers; there are 2 of them in that strike package. Well, I gotta go for now. I love you!!
 
Love,
-Paul

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Hey Mom,
    I'm sending you a picture of one of our birds about to do a cat shot (take off on the catapult) at night, as viewed through Night Vision Goggles (NVG). The guy closest to the aircraft at the rear is the "shooter," aka the troubleshooter. When he thinks the jet is ready, he'll throw up his flashlight in his left to signal a thumbs up, and the jet will then launch.  Well, gotta go for now, hope you enjoy the pic!
 
Love,
-Paul

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Dear Carl Vinson Friends and Family,
 
I am happy to report that the USS Carl Vinson has taken up station on the "tip of the spear."  We are now completing our turnover with the H. S. Truman so that she may begin her long awaited voyage home after a doing superb job supporting our Nation's tasking in the Gulf. 
 
Since I last wrote to you, we stopped for a well earned 4 day port visit in Singapore.   Most got off the ship for at least a day or two.  All seemed to enjoy the time to recharge batteries and it looked like some saw a bit more of the sun then they intended.  After we left Singapore,  we transited through the Straits of Malacca, all the way around India and into the Gulf.  For those in the ship driving business it is quite a challenge to safely navigate thorough those waters as they are the busiest sea lanes in the world.  As has become the norm, your Vinson Sailors performed brilliantly and made the transit look easy.  Along the way we continued to fly and train in all our mission areas so we would remain proficient and ready to assume our duties on arrival in the Gulf. 
 
As an aside, just a few days ago we crossed the equator and in accordance with Navy Tradition had a ceremony that transformed a large portion of the crew into official "Shellbacks."  Crossing the equator is a once in a lifetime event and for hundreds of years Navy vessels have marked this event with an official ceremony.  It was a break from our normal routine, all had a good time, and it was followed by s superb steel beach picnic on the flight deck.  To a team that has been working hard in some very hot tropical weather, the simple pleasures of hot dogs and hamburgers in the sun was a truly enjoyable event.
 
Now that we are in the Gulf our focus has changed from preparing and training for combat operations to executing combat operations.  Starting tomorrow our airplanes will begin flying missions directly in support of our troops on the ground in Iraq.  At the same time, we and the rest of the ships in the strike group will be working to help set conditions for security and stability in this important region.  It is a complex mission that includes detecting, disrupting and denying international terrorists the use of these waters.  It means that every day, 24/7, your Vinson Sailor will be on watch - rest assured they are well trained and more than ready for the mission.
 
While on watch here in the Gulf, our Operations Tempo (OPTEMPO) will be high.  All on the Vinson Team will have relatively long days, and the temperature will be climbing from the high 80s now to the 90s next month and to 100+ a few weeks later.  To make sure we are ready we just completed a Safety stand-down and reviewed our procedures for safely operating under these conditions.
 
When not on watch your Vinson Sailors continue to amaze me with their drive and dedication.  All those eligible have just finished taking the recent Navy-Wide advancement exams and we have high hopes for a lot of frockings and promotions when we get the results of those exams down the road.  Additionally, we have 7 full time college professors aboard and over 500 Sailors are just beginning their second of the three semesters of college classes we have scheduled for the deployment.  On top of that about 30 others are working on their MBA through a special Video Teleconference class we have set up.  Those not involved in those classes continue with their individual warfare qualification programs and personal in rate trading programs.  As I said,  their drive and dedication is unmatched and awes me every day!
 
Again, thanks to you at home for taking care of our loved ones when we are gone and sending us countless e-mails, cards, letter and care packages.  Your unwavering support continues to be the metal that allows us to serve!
 
All the best,
Captain Kevin Donegan
Commanding Officer
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) 

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Papa,
    Tagalog is the main language spoken in Guam, and Mandarin is the main one in Singapore. I really like the idea of being able to learn it from the web; that means I'll be able to when I get back to the rock. I don't know how much of a participant I could be in a Spanish club, especially since it's been about ten years since I learned it. Ten years.... wow. Doesn't seem that long. Anyway, Mandarin is gonna be a huge undertaking when learning to write it. Speaking it shouldn't be that hard, but writing is a whole 'nother story! While I'm thinking about it, tell mom I'd really like a homecoming meal when I come back. I know I want pot roast, stir fry, mashed potatoes, green beans, hot buttered toast, (fresh buttered homeade bread would be even better!), whole corn (not on the cob), pineapple upside down cake, and some mm-mm good homeade sweet tea! I know that's a lot of stuff, but I don't think it's too much to ask, do you? I'm sure if she needs help, her army will help her, but she has to make the pot roast; nobody can make it like her. Remember when we used to be driving to cut a yard early in the morning, just as the sun was peaking, and we'd be pulling off hunks of a homeade loaf of bread, you with your "go coffee," and me with my mug of sweet tea? Man, I miss those days, but I guess the bread will do for now, that is, if she can pull it off. I know it takes a while, even after she's found the "starter" she needs. But if there's any way at all, it'd be appreciated beyond thanks. I'm gonna be calling you guys here pretty soon when we hit this next port. I can't wait to talk to you. Well, it's time to go eat breakfast. I love you, and I'll write more as soon as I can!
 
Love,
-Paul

 
Hey Mom,
    I am back on the boat now, and the phone place wouldn't allow me to make credit card charges from their phones. They weren't regular pay phones, they were AT&T phones geared towards using a prepaid phone card, and those were all sold out. Well, I'll try my best to call you when we get paid again, cuz I can call from the ship, but it's usually a long line, and it's about 50 cents a minute. I got you and Papa some souvenirs from port, which was The Kingdom of Bahrain, by the way. Our currency conversion was a markup of 265%!! One of our dollars was 2.650 of theirs. And the money system was kinda neat, they were called Dinars and Fils, and it takes 1000 Fils to make a Dinar, so it was like having another decimal place. I've got some of their money to send to you, but not much, since it was so expensive. Well, I need to go for now, but I'll write more later, I have a LOT to tell you about! I love you both!
 
Love,
Paul

Hey Mom,
    I know that the funeral had to be somewhat hard on you, but we all have reminders, probably myself more than anyone right now. Tell Lauren I'm sorry, and my spirit is with her, as it is with all of you, because you are really the reason I'm out here. Yeah, I have a cool job, and I enjoy it, but ultimately, I can't fully do this job without thinking everyday of whom I'm helping protect. I can truly say that each day accomplished for me is another day I've lived within the protection of the hands of God that you guys pray so hard to keep around me. Well, I gotta go, but I love you all so much, and can't wait to get home.
 
Love,
Paul

Well, I was feeling really depressed and taken down and invaded night before last, so I stopped all my thoughts, and began to do the simplest thing I could think of to balance this drop into darkness, and that was to count my blessings. Here's what I came up with:
1. Breath of Life
2. Cloud by day, and fire by night
3. Food to eat
4. A place to lay my head
 
And when I reached number four, I couldn't stop the chills running up and down my spine. I was smiling for seemingly no reason. God will give me nothing I can't handle. I also realized that I'm resilient, I am strong, and no matter what happens, I'll still have my life and the family that I so dearly love. I realize this might sound cheesy to some, but to me, it means everything. I have a peace that passes all understanding and my head is clear. I love you all so much.  It's really great to know that you love me and care, and I will see you all soon. I gotta go for now, but I'll try my best to write more later.
 
Love,
-Paul

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Yellow Jacket Family and Friends,
 
   On Monday a Hornet squadron from our Air Wing had a midair collision over the skies of Iraq.  It was not the result of enemy action.  Neither of the two pilots have been recovered at this time. 
 
   We count our blessing that the Yellow Jackets were not involved in this unfortunate mishap.  These pilots, and those in our Air Wing, are among the elite aviators our Navy has to offer.  Please say a prayer tonight for the missing men and their families.
 
God bless them and their families,
Skipper
 
 
Also an added note from the skipper:
 I've just learned that as a result of the mishap all outgoing e-mail has been shut off - only COs have the ability to send outgoing e-mails - this will continue until the next of kin are properly notified.  Please inform the wives that the ship can receive e-mails but our Sailors are currently unable to send them.
 
Shannon and Joy

Hey Mom,
    I'm fine and dreaming! I've got so much to talk to you about, but it'll hafta wait until I can call you. I'm sorry for the delay in all the emails, but I'm doing the best I can. I've already started my job search, and I think I've got some pretty good options open back at Whidbey Island. I feel like I've been released into an entire new world of opportunities now open to me. I'm so glad to be done, and ready to make something very prosperous and worthwhile of myself.  I'm determined more than anything to finish my degree and get that big job I've always wanted. With my GI bill, now I have $30,000 to go back back to school with. If you see another "big picture," then please tell me, because I can't see the pieces of this puzzle falling together any quicker or more accurate. It's like I have everything I need to start again, and not only that, I've been dropped right smack dab in the middle of it, geographically speaking. Well, I'm too excited to think of anything else to type right now. Anyway, I'll call you as soon as I hit shore somewhere. I love you and Papa so much!!  Tell Papa I love him lots and thank you for the "I love you" email he sent me. I don't have time to write him myself, so please tell him.Well, I'm gonna go now.I can't wait to get home!
 
Love,
-Your Son
 

Hey Momma,
I can't wait to tell you all about my experience.  Yes, I'm prepared this time. For the first time in my life, I feel prepared. After working on a space 1,025 feet by 344 feet, elevated 70 feet in the air, with about 80 $60,000,000 jets, of which at least 15-20 are running and 2-3 are launching and landing at all times, yes, after all that, I feel like I can handle anything - not just handle it, but be happy with wherever and whatever it is. "I have learned to be abased and I have learned to abound..." sorry, I don't remember the reference, but it's quickly becoming my motto. Well, I gotta go, but I love you and Papa and sissy and gammy and Terry and everybody I can't list more than you'll ever know!!
 
Love,
-Paul

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Mom, this has got to be one of the funniest, yet most accurate pieces of Navy humor I have EVER found!! It is so funny to me, because I can identify with everything that's said. Anyway, hope you get a kick out of it!  -Love,   Paul
P.S.
"Old Salts" or "Salty Dogs" are terms referring to one who's been in the Navy for a long time and has spent most of his time at sea.

Some Ways For Old Salts to Simulate Being in the Navy

1.  Lock all friends and family outside.  Your only means of communication should be with letters that your neighbors have held for at least three weeks, discarding two of five. 

2.  Surround yourself with 200 people that you don't really know or like: people who smoke, snore like Mack trucks going uphill, and use foul  language like a child uses sugar on cereal. 

3.  Unplug all radios and TVs to completely cut yourself off from the outside world.  Have a neighbor bring you a Time, Newsweek, or  Proceedings from five years ago to keep you abreast of current events. 

4.  Monitor all home appliances hourly, recording all vital information  (ie: plugged in, lights come on when doors open, etc) 

5.  Do not flush the toilet for five days to simulate the smell of 40  people using the same commode. 

6.  Lock the bathroom twice a day for a four hour period. 

7.  Wear only military uniforms.  Even though nobody cares, clean and  press one dress uniform and wear it for 20 minutes. 

8.  Cut your hair weekly, making it shorter each time, until you look  bald or look like you lost a fight with a demented sheep. 

9.  Work in 19-hour cycles, sleeping only four hours at a time, to ensure that your body does not know or even care if it is day or night. 

10.  Listen to your favorite CD 6 times a day for two weeks, then play  music that causes acute nausea until you are glad to get back to your  favorite CD. 

11.  Cut a twin mattress in half and enclose three sides of your bed.   Add a roof that prevents you from sitting up (about 10 inches is a good  distance) then place it on a platform that is four feet off the floor.   Place a small dead animal under the bed to simulate the smell of your bunkmate's socks.

12.  Set your alarm to go off at 10 minute intervals for the first hour of sleep to simulate the various times the watchstanders and nightcrew  bump around and wake you up.  Place your bed on a rocking table to ensure you are tossed around the remaining three hours.  Make use of a  custom clock that randomly simulates fire alarms, police sirens,  helicopter crash alarms, and a new-wave rock band. 

13.  Have week old fruit and vegetables delivered to your garage and  wait two weeks before eating them. 

14.  Prepare all meals blindfolded using all the spices you can grope for, or none at all. Remove the blindfold and eat everything in three minutes. 

15.  Periodically, shut off all power at the main circuit breaker and run around shouting "fire, fire, fire" and then restore power. 

16. At least once a month, force the commode to overflow to simulate a  'black water system' boo-boo. 

17.  Buy a gas mask and smear it with rancid animal fat.  Scrub the  faceshield with steel wool until you can no longer see out of it.  Wear  this for two hours every fifth day especially when you are in the  bathroom. 

18.  Study the owner's manual for all household appliances.  Routinely  take an appliance apart and put it back together. 

19.  Remove all plants, pictures and decorations.  Paint everything  gray, white, or the shade of hospital smocks. 

20.  Buy 50 cases of toilet paper and lock up all but two rolls.  Ensure one of these two rolls is wet all the time. 

21.  Smash your forehead or shins with a hammer every two days to  simulate collision injuries sustained onboard Navy ships. 

22.  When making sandwiches, leave the bread out for six days, or until  it is hard and stale.

23.   Every 10 weeks, simulate a visit to another port.  Go directly to the city slums wearing your best clothes.  Find the worst looking place,  and ask for the most expensive beer that they carry.  Drink as many as  you can in four hours.  Take a cab home taking the longest possible  route.  Tip the cabby after he charges you double because you dress  funny and don't speak right. 

24.  Use fresh milk for only two days after each port visit. 

25.  Keep the bedroom thermostat at 2 deg C and use only a thin blanket  for warmth. 

26.  Ensure that the water heater is connected to a device that provides  water at a flow rate that varies from a fast drip to a weak trickle, with the temperature alternating rapidly from -2 to 95 deg C. 

27.  Use only spoons which hold a minimum of 1/2 cup at a time. 

28.  Repaint the interior of your home every month, whether it needs it  or not. 

29. Remind yourself every day: 'it's not just a job, it's an adventure!' 

30. Mix kerosene with your water supply to simulate the de-sal plant on the ship picking up JP5 in the intake -- if a lit match thrown into your coffee pot doesn't ignite it, add more kerosene.  

31.  Stand outside at attention at dawn and have the poorest reader you know read the morning paper out loud.  Be sure to have him skip over anything pertinent. 

32.  Every four hours, check the fluid level in your car's radiator.  Check the tire pressure and replace air lost from excessive pressure checks.  Be sure to place red tag on ignition stating "DANGER:  DO NOT OPERATE" while you perform these checks. Inform your neighbor as to the results of these checks, have him tell you to repeat the checks because he did not see you perform them. 

33.  Paint your house grey (exterior) include windows except for rooms you do not frequent, paint your car grey, paint your driveway a different shade of grey. 

34.  Wait outside your dining area as a family member eats a meal, then have that person serve you a meal prepared several hours earlier. 

35.  Shut all blinds and doors at sunset. 

36.  Clean your house 'till there's absolutely not a speck of dust anywhere.  Call on a stranger to come inspect your house.  Ensure stranger sees dust that has collected in the time it took to find him.  Stranger cannot leave until he finds irrational fault with your house/belongings.   

37.  Hang Christmas lights in June.  When the neighbors ask, say,  "deceptive lighting." 

38.  Hang white lights when relatives visit.  When neighbors ask, say, "friendship lights."

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GOD BLESS AMERICA!
 
Rita Young Allen, M.A.

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search, and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
 
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 1:4

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Off Duty!

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Concert Soloist & Music Instructor
Published Author & Consultant
Teacher/Trainer
Motivational and Inspirational Keynote Speaker

124 Aurene Road ~ Gadsden, Alabama 35904 
                                      334-546-7216

Rita Young Allen...Southern Belle
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Jacksonville State University
Master of Science in Management (Healthcare Administration) from Troy University

Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Minor in Music
Associate of Science in Music Education, Vocal Performance

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