Sailors anxious, hopeful about '03
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — As Jan. 1 dawned with war clouds already massed on the horizon, sailors here indicated that making resolutions this New Year was a whole different game.
High on several lists: not hopes of heroism as much as determination to meet any challenges ahead by performing well.
Simply, they want to measure up.
“My hope is, in light of everything that happened, that I’ll be able to do the job the Navy pays me to do,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Hayward Murray, a cryptographic technician with 7th Fleet staff embarked aboard the USS Blue Ridge.
“I want to keep my family safe and just to be watchful and careful.”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Austin said that in a year when so much is unsettled, she’s promised herself to take what she can in stride.
“I’d be a better worker if I stressed less,” said the 21-year-old Ohioan, a boatswain’s mate aboard the Blue Ridge.
“It just worries my parents more.”
Austin also said she talks with her parents “a lot,” and doesn’t see that slowing down any time soon.
Seaman Apprentice Scott Frederick, 23, from the USS Chancellorsville, also vowed not to let distance keep him from calling home.
It’s a promise his parents, in Knoxville, Tenn., made easier to keep.
“They sent me this for Christmas,” he said, holding out a prepaid phone card.
Frederick, who used all his leave “right after boot camp,” also has another resolution — “a simple one: just to make it home.”
For others, current events seem to have snapped more-personal goals into sharper focus.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jon Clark, for instance, wants to quit smoking.
“That’s probably my No.1 priority,” said the USS Kitty Hawk crewmember. “That and spending as much time as possible with my wife. I want to pursue my educational goals as well, which I can also do while we’re under way.”
“I made a lot of little promises,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Denison, 25, also from the Kitty Hawk. Denison said he has two children to whom he promised “just the routine things you want to do with them: fishing, trips, little things.”
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jakarri McFolley, from the Blue Ridge, said his mother made him promise to stop spending so much money.
“She knows I love to shop, but I also know I need to start saving,” he said.
And if Petty Officer 3rd Class Ron Shirk of the USS Cowpens has his way, he’ll be leaving Asia.
“I’m going to stay focused on getting out of Japan,” said the 22-year-old, who said he hopes to transfer to either Spain or Puerto Rico.
“I’ve been here for three years. That’s enough for me.”
But for many, international conflict remains the horizon against which any personal course must be charted.
War is what Fireman Jeremy Lyle, 23, said he has been trained for.
Assigned to the Blue Ridge, Lyle’s promised himself to “do what I can to keep myself safe and others safe, and just make sure we all get home safely.”