Military families sacrifice during holidays

By GORDON JACKSON | The Brunswick News, Ga. | Published: November 21, 2012

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — When duty calls, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory Rose sometimes has to make painful sacrifices.

Rose, a mass communications specialist at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, causing him to miss the first birthday party for his twin sons.

He has also missed two of his 6-year-old daughter's birthdays, much to her dismay.

"It's pretty difficult," Rose said of missing key events and holidays with his family. "Thanksgiving, Christmas, other big holidays and birthdays, it's tough. You realize sometimes you miss things."

Rose said his twins are too young to be upset over their father missing their birthday. But his daughter doesn't understand why he has to miss some holidays and important events with her. But one day, he hopes she understands.

"I guarantee my wife talks to her," he said of his daughter.

Luckily, Rose said he will be able to spend Thanksgiving with his family this year.

But for those in the military who have duty on Thanksgiving, the holiday will be treated as just another workday.

Sailors serving on surface vessels will have the day off, even at sea, except for crew members on duty that day. Most sailors, regardless of where they serve, will be served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey and all the trimmings.

And sailors can settle in to watch football games after dinner — even on surface vessels at sea — if they are in an area where a signal can be picked up.

Those serving on submarines will also have the day off if they aren't on duty. But watching a football game after a turkey dinner is not an option if the boat is on patrol because Trident submarines ported at Kings Bay stay submerged for the vast majority of time they are deployed.

"Submarines are tough because once you're down, you're down," Rose said.

Duty on submarines is also difficult because sailors don't have the ability to contact family members by cell phone or Skype whenever it's convenient, Rose said.

They are allowed to send messages called "family grams" periodically, when the submarine gets close enough to the surface to raise its antenna to send a signal.

Things are a little easier for those serving in the Coast Guard unit in Brunswick.

Boswain's Mate 2nd Class Mark Andel said Thanksgiving is considered a normal workday for duty station personnel. But the local Coast Guard Auxiliary makes sure Coast Guardsmen eat a traditional holiday meal.

The meal is so good, even off-duty staff shows up for the meal prepared by auxiliary members.

"The Coast Guard Auxiliary, they definitely spoil us," Andel said. "They make us a really good meal."


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