Picture this: It’s 5 a.m. on a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, somewhere in the world. The United States is at war, and the ship is part of the action. Two young sailors are rousted out of bed on orders of the captain …
because their mother and father want to talk with them!
They never expected it, but thanks to satellites and the magic of radio, the emotion of those moments over thousands of miles was more than touching.
It was also thanks to the captain of the USS Constellation, John Miller. He’s a man I’ve not met in person but whom I feel I know because he’s been a guest on my KSFO Radio program several times, from the Connie’s home base in San Diego and from the Connie across the world, in peace and, now, in war.
I’ve been onboard a number of navy ships (surface and submarine) but my time with the Connie was an experience of a lifetime. I wrote about it in my first column for WorldNetDaily, and since then, relish the fact that I’m the only talk-show host with “my own” Navy!
We flew to the ship off the California coast and landed on deck. The Connie sailed north to San Francisco and under the Golden Gate Bridge for the annual Fleet Week. I was onboard for two days and one night and, in the process, learned about the Navy and shipboard life and the skill and discipline of the crew. It took my breath away.
It’s an amazing operation and, in fact, is a microcosm of the organization that won in Iraq. There are rules and regs – a plan and a system. People have responsibilities and are held responsible. The ship operates like a beautifully crafted Swiss watch.
Transpose that to the overall Iraq operation and you see why we were successful. We knew what we needed to do and how to do it. And we did it successfully.
In the middle of the war, we asked Capt. Miller if he would be on my program again. He graciously agreed and, early that April Saturday morning (for him, 5 a.m.), we made the connection for my program, 6 p.m. in San Francisco.
The beauty of talk radio is that we touch lives. My talk with Capt. Miller, beyond the ship and how operations were proceeding, also involved the humanity of the military. When we talk about “the men,” “the sailors,” “the crew,” we’re talking about real people. People with families and friends and children. People with private lives to which they’ll return when their time in uniform is over.
Each time Capt. Miller is my guest, we hear from listeners who’ve served on the Connie, or whose friends have served, or from people with family members onboard now. This time, a caller said he helped build the ship 41 years ago at the Brooklyn Navy Yard!
As always, we get calls from those who have family members on board. “Mike” said his son Nate was on board as chaplain’s assistant. A couple of calls later, “Linda” called saying her son Shawn was a petty officer on the Hanger Bay.
What I didn’t know was that Capt. Miller sent word to roust the two sailors out of bed to be on the radio … with their parents! Talk about two, stunned guys. Conversation across the miles between son and father, son, mother, and wife – tears and “I love you’s,” but with shyness, knowing that the radio world was listening on one end and the captain on the other! Yikes!
But the capper came when we heard, with a shriek of excitement:
“HI DADDY! ”
“I WOV YOU!”
“I love you, too.”
With Daddy almost speechless, I asked the child his name and age. Austin said he’s “fwee.” I said, you’re 3 years old? He said “Yup!”
Then Mommy – Theresa – came on the line and it was mostly tears and “I love you” and “I miss you.”
I was teary myself. It was pure emotion and I felt almost an intruder. Yet, I appreciate we were allowed to be part of a moment those young people will never forget.
Nor should we forget, ever – that the people in uniform as we watch the war on television are not actors. They are the real stuff – the right stuff – that makes this country great. We must never forget that because of them, we maintain our freedom.
The following e-mail link can be used to communicate with the crew of the USS Constellation:
The captain said they try to make these letters available to the crew and have them answered. Listeners to Barbara’s radio talk show who have written said they got great responses.