I originally posted this on my first blog. In fact, it was THE reason I started blogging. I had an experience in my life that I never forgot, and I always thought, “you know, if I die, I’d really like to at least get that thought down on paper… or something”. So I started blog over on blogger and tried to put it into words. I wasn’t very good at it initially, and it sort of psychologically and creatively exhausted me and I wound up splitting it into two posts that were spread out over a couple of weeks.
I just got an email that the domain name for my old blog was expiring, and I finally decided that I was going to go ahead and delete the account and shut it down.
But I really didn’t want to lose this one post (well, two posts actually). So I’m going to just re-publish them here as one long post… for posterity. At least until I delete THIS one…
So without further ado…
The fourth of July and Douglas Dimberg
It’s officially the fourth of July and this is what I remember:
It was November 30th, 1988 (by the way, as a side note, I had to go look that up in my cruise book. Sad isn’t it?). I had worked about eighteen hours that day. I was an Aviation Ordnanceman on the USS Nimitz and was working “CAG Arm-Dearm” and was on Cat 3. This meant I was working the third catapult all day, which meant cats and traps, or as they’re commonly known, takeoffs and landings. Those days are rough because you have to be up well before the first takeoff, and stay until the last trap of the day, which is usually just before midnight. So getting up around six, and working until midnight was pretty much the standard “Cat 3 day”.
So there I was, just getting off work, and looking forward to catching up on a little rest. I was finished, showered, dressed for bed, and ready to call it a night when I heard it,
“GENERAL QUARTERS, GENERAL QUARTERS ALL HANDS MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS. PROCEED UP AND FORWARD ON THE STARBOARD SIDE, DOWN AND AFT ON THE PORT SIDE…GENERAL QUARTERS, GENERAL QUARTERS”
Without missing a beat, off came the sleepwear, on went the greens, redshirt, and boots, and out the hatch I went. My berthing at the time was on the level just beneath the arresting gear aft, pretty much under the 4 wire. I was above the hanger bay and below the flight deck. When I woke up every morning to go to work, I normally would proceed out of my berthing area, thru a hatch leading to the catwalk outside. This would place me along the edge of the flight deck, on the port side, where the landing safety officer would normally stand. I’d hop up the ladder, up on deck, and I could cut straight across the flight deck to work. Honestly, since it was after flight quarters, and there was nothing landing or taking off, it would be fine to head out to my shop in this manner, even at night under general quarters.
So off I go, getting ready to head up the catwalk to the flight deck when “Tucker”, another AO, came down from precisely where I was going. “Can’t go that way,” he said. “Why not?”, I asked. “Because it’s all on fire”.
It took a couple of seconds for that to sink in.
End of Part One.