I’m writing this the day “after” instead of the day “of” so please forgive me if I get things out-of-order, or, God forbid, forget something. I might even spell something wrong. It could happen because I’m going to write in present tense, pretending it’s yesterday
The first order of business was to see about connecting with Cedric in person. So far we’ve only been texting while things get sorted out about whether or not he can leave his barracks with us. Since he’s still new to the Navy, and currently stationed on an Army base, Army rules apply and they require that their newbies obtain a Battle Buddy to move beyond the bounds of their barracks. The Buddy System. Makes sense. Cedric had a Buddy lined up for last Thursday so we could see him but that Buddy backed out. When Jennifer heard about this she told Cedric, “Remember that when he wants help.”
That’s my girl!
That put Thursday out of reach so we arranged to meet him at his barracks this morning so we could hang out with him at the picnic tables on the Navy side of his barracks which is shared with the Air Force.
When we arrived there were about 10 Air Force folks, men and women, performing yard maintenance all across the front of the building, which is very large, sending grass clipping odors our direction in such a manner that Diane found it hard to breath. So, she departed for the safety of the car until they were done. Before leaving I captured them.
Cedric and I, who are not similarly affected by grass odors in such a manner, sat at a wobbly picnic table talking about his new life.
He said he actually liked Boot Camp better because it was a mindless (my word) existence that didn’t require decisions, just obedience. With the shift to Fort Lee he retained the obedience requirement, obtained more freedom, and was tasked with the added aspect of adopting unfamiliar Army regulations into his behavior pattern. I can understand his confusion.
We talked for about an hour during which time I learned a bit about how his daily life goes. He’s only been on the base for a week so really hasn’t had much time to assimilate. His school started on Monday and they already have them playing with knives, an unanticipated treat. And it wasn’t just a butter knife, but a really sharp one.
I learned that FC1 Clark is in charge of the Navy aspect of the barracks today. FC stands for Fire Control meaning his job is mainly on ships at sea dealing with guns and missiles. Being here, in this job, is a way for the Navy to give him a break from sea duty. Cedric calls him their baby sitter, which it is in a way. He approves all the standard requests for liberty so he’s an important person this day in the daily lives of the sailors in the barracks.
By now the lawn mowing had been terminated because lunch was looming on everyone’s radar. Food was becoming more and more important. Even our stomachs were beginning to sense the need for sustenance in order to make it through the afternoon to supper. So, Diane volunteered to make a run to Subway and bring it back for us to eat.
About that time FC1 Clark left the building on his way to lunch. He wasn’t gone long, and Diane was preparing to leave on her mission to obtain a sandwich when he returned. I stood by Diane, wishing her well on her quest as FC1 Clark exited his vehicle.
I timed my return to Cedric so it intersected with Petty Officer Clark’s trajectory so that I could thank him for his service, and to introduce myself. As I expected, he was a very congenial young man who was willing to explain the rules for Liberty Buddies for me. We just talked Navy, something I think he misses.
At this juncture I must profess that not once did I reveal my Navy rank in an attempt to coerce a desired answer to an unasked, but simply inferred request. That was, of course, was there any reason why I couldn’t be Cedric’s Liberty Buddy since we were not going to leave the base.We just wanted to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity to visit with Cedric.
He tipped his head to the side a little, pondering the situation, then he asked, “what’s his last name?”
“Walters,” I told him.
He turned, aiming his voice at the picnic table where Cedric sat and said, “Walters!’
Being attuned to the sound and tone of FC1 Clark’s voice Cedric jumped to attention and quickly assumed a familiar position in front him. I learned later that Cedric was seriously afraid that I’d said something to get him into trouble. Then FC1 Clark said, “go get that liberty request you filled out and bring it to the office.” Then he turned to look at me and said, “bring your Grandpa, too.”
Stunned, Cedric departed on his mission and returned shortly to escort me into the building.
The entrance is set up to mimic boarding and leaving a ship and proper decorum is maintained throughout the process – salute the flag, turn and salute the Petty Office Of the Watch (POOW) request permission to come aboard, permission granted, then proceed into the building. Very proper stuff.
At the office, Cedric stood to the side of the door, then knocked, asking permission to enter. I screwed that one up by just marching ahead of him into the office. Seeing my mistake, I backed out and let him go first. At the desk I signed him out and away we went to Pizza Hut.
Yes, we opted for Pizza Hut instead of Subway. It was a good choice. Lunch was really good. Turns out the Pizza Hut on base is typically populated by Army so we two sailors were pretty much a minority. It was fun to mingle with them and they were all very polite and respectful.
From there Cedric opted to just hang out in our hotel room for the afternoon. The deal about being his Liberty Buddy was that I had to sign him back in prior to 2000. So, we made a pact to be back before 1930. During that time, Cedric did this …
Just hung out and watched a movie, ate popcorn, and visited.
Later we stopped by Subway to get Cedric a sandwich, then we stopped by his school on the way back to sign him in. I call it the Knowledge Distribution Center, or KDC since were in the land of acronyms once again.
That ended the day.
It was a good one.