Dad, Doctor, Captain

Dad in uniform, early in his career.

My father served in the US Navy for twenty years. He joined up, originally, because the service would pay for his education to become a doctor, something he would otherwise be unable to afford. His career was varied and interesting to say the least.

He served aboard the USS Essex as Flight Surgeon, he helped develop the ejection system for the Gemini spacecraft, and he was the CMO (I believe) at Pensacola Naval Air Station for the last seven years of his career.

A recent picture of "his boat."

Ultimately, it was his time at Dugway Proving Grounds (remember dead sheep in Utah?) that led to his untimely death from ALS . I’m convinced that he played with some nasty nerve agents that eventually led to the disease. That, and four of his working partners also developed major motor neuron diseases leave little doubt in my mind.

The Gemini Ejection Seat. I have a video of Dad in this thing on some sort of rail, testing it. His neck was never the same after.

You might notice I have mixed emotions when it comes around to military matters. I am, however, very grateful to the people who serve in the military. I am proud of most of my dad’s many accomplishments while serving this big beautiful country of ours.

I know he was away a lot when my brothers were younger, and my mom was practically a single mom. By the time I was born, he’d managed to be working on land-based projects. I don’t remember a time where he was not around. He gave up interesting duty stations to prevent more moves. I remember him talking about how lucky we were that he didn’t take an offer to serve in Uganda in 1969 or 1970 but chose Pensacola instead. I lucked out in being born the youngest and got to grow up with him in the house my whole life. When I was twelve, he brought me into the office during the summer and put a white lab coat on me. He let me help with intake physicals by taking EKGs, hearing and vision tests, glaucoma testing and, yes, blood tests. I imagine his being in charge had something to do with all that, but I was oblivious to anything other than how fun it was to go to work with my dad, the Captain.

He was a good man.

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