It was truly a relief and a thrill to finally know some of what he's been going through, thinking, and feeling. So I thought I'd share some of the highlights from his letters.
"So I headed to the food court in the International Terminal... The lady pointed out the "Navy Special." ... She said, "You take care of us, we take care of you." ... I then sat down with my Thanksgiving feast and watched all the Europeans coming and going."
"We had to wait on the bus to take us to RTC—unfortunately, we learned, the bus would not be arriving for approximately seven hours. So, we literally sat down in rows on the hard floor of O'Hare's baggage claim, for seven hours, indian-style. They let us up for bathroom breaks, but that was all. They didn't allow us to talk either."
"I'm trying my best to be an asset to my division and a positive example to my mostly 17-20-year-old fellow recruits. I am not the oldest, however! We have a 36-year-old with a master's degree and a thick African accent..."
"I'm hoping to keep myself out of trouble, of course, but inevitably someone is gonna get us all in a bad position...especially since some of these guys are apparently incapable of shutting up."
"I'm also one of the better bed-makers in the division—many have admired my crisp 45 degree folds and sought advice from me."
"I am also the Trash Petty Officer, which means my rackmate, Kellogg, and I, yep, take out the trash. A glorious duty. ... Kellogg is distantly related to the Kelloggs of cereal renown. ... Spangler, the former professional trumpet player and aspiring writer. Blaesser, the future nuke who also got a 98 on the ASVAB. ... There are many more worth mentioning, all fascinating in their own ways."
"I must admit there have been times when I've asked myself what the heck I'm doing here."
"I miss you guys more than I can say—please give Ethan a kiss for me, and tell him not to grow up too much—he promised, so please remind him."
"I worry about you guys being on your own and hope everything is operating smoothly. Remember, you are the Captain!"
"I can't say how much hearing you guys over the phone brightened my mood—I love you both so much and am looking forward to our reunion already!"