August 2, 2002 was a fairly tough day for about 323 sailors that I knew. I was also not happy to see this day come. This was the day we were leaving for our six month deployment. Going on a deployment isn't all bad, but it is nowhere close to all good. With most things you take the bad with the good, and this was one of them.
The sun was shining bright on a typical Hawaiian morning. There was a fast paced hustle around the ship while we were preparing it to go out to sea. All of the sailors were in their dress white uniforms saying their goodbyes to family and friends. The media was on the pier to film us exiting the port. Children were crying as they saw their fathers go away. Men were crying because of having to go away from their families. Women were crying while they gave their last kisses for a long time to the men they loved.
This was the scene I saw while standing aboard the guided missile destroyer named the USS Paul Hamilton.
My name is Josh. I was a sailor. I was twenty years old. I had been in the navy for a little over three years. I was an Operations Specialist. I was a second class petty officer (equivalent to a sergeant) with the enlisted surface warfare supervisor insignia. I was what was considered salty, meaning experienced in the way of the sea.
The definition of Operations Specialist is pretty much what it says. We were required to be specialist in many different operations. Due to optimal manning, or skeleton crews, we often took on more jobs than most people can fathom. The type of jobs we most commonly did was to gather and analyze information from...