This little girl from Chidester, Arkansas took a leap of faith almost 15 years ago to see what life had to offer. So the only thing I knew to do was go join the Navy and so I cussed and dranked like a Sailor!! But serious, I wanted to do other things other than the navy, but I needed a free ticket out of Arkansas. To Great Lakes, Illinois is where I went to boot camp in the middle of a freaking blizzard!!!! So I slid and fell on ice while trying to march! Oh and I was shoveling snow too! Y’all know if you went during the winter! On top of that I had dyed my hair honey blonde about 6 or 9 months before I joined the navy. While the color grew out, it also changed colors. The color was a bright orange color, and it was hot mess! My RDC or drill sergeant (for non-navy) took one look at me one morning and said: “WOW, you got some wild hair!” Being a little shy, timid and flat out awkward back then I was thinking “Yea, like totally.” After that I went to 4 commands and served on 2 ships but also was assigned temporally to 2 other ships also. The longest I’ve ever been out to sea was 120 days. Nothing.But.Ocean.
I thank God for all of the countries that I was blessed to see(“…He maketh me lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.”) and the amazing people that have touched my life. My best command was in Apra Harbor, Guam (my first command). An island that is 50 times smaller than Hawaii(30 miles long to be exact) and the elements of your own neighborhood. The funny thing is that we worked like nobodies business back then and we fought, hung out, had house parties, even our very own DJ that turning the spinning and turning the records!!! Sat on front porches still in our uniforms cussing and drinking like Sailors, cooked on the weekends and still partied like it really was nobodies business. Only to go to other countries and make the best memories ever. If you know the hunch or remember the Hunch in Yokosuka, Japan-well what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It was a family. Some of the friends I meet back then were friends that I was searching for even when I was girl in high school. Those people are still my best friends till this day. Time went by so fast. But I would not change nothing about that time. Well maybe somethings. The military does not define me, but it is apart of my life. I dont expect everyone to like the fact that I served. But at the same token I dont expect for one to blatantly disrespect the uniform. I dont frown on anyone that makes the choices to support their own. It’s not a life for everyone cause your life is really not your life anymore once you raise your right hand. Raising your right hand, saying the oath and signing the contract is the choice that person wishes to make.
Luckily we had a period in Guam where we were in port for close to 6 months and I can honestly say that was the best time while I was in Guam. All those house parties? Yep! Unfortunately a horrific tragedy occurred on 9/11. That day did shaped the state this world is in now. After that it was not relax in Guam for a while. But no where as near as rough as it was in Virginia. One year prior to that a US ship was bombed off the coast of Yemen. When news broke of that story I remember being Sasebo, Japan at the time. Our chief was briefed us on the story the next morning. I had only been in the navy for over a year and could only wonder “this is real” We were very lucky to not even be on that side of the ocean back then. But it was not fortunate for some of those service members either. Later on in my career I had to work for someone that served on that ship. All I could say it was an experience and at times it could be hard to hear the stories over and over again almost to the point you thought you might have been on that ship, trying to save the ship and save the lives of the ones that were severely injured. I could go on but I can’t anymore.
Thinking back I had a chance to work with the British Navy briefly while I was in Virginia and somehow I charmed the socks off a British fellow. He wanted me to come out to England when time permitted and wanted to take me around the country side of England. Me being me was like “Oh yea, I would love to go!!!” Well my ship came back to Norfolk and when I stepped foot off the ship the day we got back I didn’t give that chap a thought. Yea, I know that was my fault!! That was one of many personal lost! One of my professional lost was taking a tour in Virginia when I had a chance to go to Spain for 2 years. I know what some may think. But being in Virginia really taught me more about the fleet that I dont think I would have gotten in Spain. I still had a chance to see Spain, wished I could have seen more of the country but at least I had a chance to go and it is beautiful…. So to all my Veterans today this is your day. And like we were told at the end of boot camp “Bravo Zulu on a job well done!!!” Thank you for being in my life cause God placed you for a reason. I said I wasn’t going to do this, but I’m always a big pile of love inside. I thank the ones that took the time to read this.
Crystal S. Purifoy-USN OS(SW)