As an 18-year-old kid fresh out of high school in the Naval Reserve, I received my orders after reporting to Treasure Island, San Francisco, for active duty. After a plane ride out of Travis Air Base, a stop in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then on to Midway Island, I finally caught up with my ship, USS Maddox DD-731 based out of Long Beach, Calif. Preparing to go on my first West-Pac for naval gun support and enemy interdiction along the coast of Vietnam, little did I know just how demanding and spartan a lifestyle awaited me aboard that ship which became my home for the next two years. Living with almost 300 other sailors was a real test in getting along with people, living in tight spaces out in the middle of the ocean 30 days at a time without setting foot on land. The first three days aboard ship were the toughest trying to get past the sea sickness, however on the third day upchucking on the bridge in a garbage can, I was fine for the next two years. During that time aboard ship, going through combat and storms that would scare the life out of most sailors, I developed my sea legs and was initiated as a Shellback. That was over 48 years ago, and it was one of the greatest adventures of my life. In hindsight I am proud of my service to my country, and thank God, my captain and the crew for being able to survive it all and help me come home. There is always more to the story, ask any veteran, but that is for another time and place. God Bless all my brothers and sisters who serve, and have served with their lives this great country of ours.