Sunday, June 1, 2008


Gitmo, to me, is, perhaps, similar to a relationship one has with a (former) significant other, in that your memories of that time are sweet and positive, but today the relationship, if there really is one, is negative.

Gitmo is one of those places where I learned to be an adult and assume adult responsibilities.

For about an 18 month period, Early Spring 1961 to late Summer 1962, I was in and out of Gitmo many, many times on two different Navy ships. The first ship was a WW2 Sumner class destroyer. I was a third class Electronics Technician, ET3 in Navy speak who maintained radars and equipment associated with Combat Information Center or CIC. I also stood underway watches in CIC. The height of my proficiency was the ability to radar navigate out of Gitmo harbor.

Normally, the folks on the bridge control the movements of the ship. But as a exercise to prepare for foggy weather, the ship uses radar to navigate so everybody can be experienced in this maneuver. That was the Radarman’s job (Operations Specialist in today’s Navy), but I had gained the skills, working outside of my rating to be able to give the orders to navigate using radar out of the confines of the Guantanamo Bay harbor. Of course, everyone on the bridge was watching shore line and bouys and would have taken over If I goofed up. But I got us out safely.

But from the Bay of Pigs to the Berlin Wall crisis in 1962, I had far too much familiarity with Gitmo. But, you know what? I take a lot of pride in my accomplishments during that period of my life, not the least of which was a great deal of “personal growth.” I got married and eventually we had our first child on the way. Of course that helps you grow up real quick.

But the responsibilities I had thrust on me and which I mastered helped show me how an adult is supposed to conduct themselves.

Those are very fond memories and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is a large part of those memories.

Today “Gitmo” is a mark of shame. A place that I wish my country was not involved with. A concept of holding people prisoner in a place where”we” can make any law we want to. It is a concept that is foreign to my idea of what Constitutional government is supposed to be. It is akin to the Russian gulag or a Nazi concentration camp.

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