A NAVY VETERANS LAST WISH – Military life is different and many military retirees live out the remainder of their civilian lives following routines and ways of communication that were established during their time of service. From keeping time to rolling instead of folding laundry or waking at the crack of dawn pride and stability run in the blood of every veteran.
“Thank you for your service and sacrifice”- Michigan
Being in the military and serving one’s country shapes our young men and women in a way that no other occupation on earth can. They learn of honor, duty and self-sacrifice. They make friends, learn to accept and work alongside those they disagree with and how to live a life so structured and mundane in its routine that would cause most of us to go crazy.
“I’m a fellow sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy. We love our “girls”, sometimes it a love/hate relationship, but its love nevertheless. I’m glad that Machinist Mate Bowman got a chance to go “home” for a visit. Fair winds and following seas, my friend.”- Halifax
All of these benefits are intensified when you add a ship or a submarine to the mix. It becomes your floating home; the very representation of the country you love and choose to fight for. Our military men, no matter what country you are from, have provided each and every one of us with the freedoms and government we enjoy today.
“Machinist Mate Bowman, so many of my generation owe so much to your generation. I am so glad you were able to visit your own ship again”- Boston
Men like Gerald Bowman, an American Navy Veteran, who at the age of 82 has had the privilege of once again walking the decks and corridors of his former home, the destroyer “Laffey.” Bowman served his country well, completing three tours of Korea during his brief four years aboard the Laffey where he worked as a machinist mate.
“I proudly salute you and am humbled by your selfless service to this nation. Happy you were able to get your wish”-Belize
Suffering from congestive heart failure, Bowman is now in his last days and wished there was some way to show his family what his life was like in those early years. After finding out that the Laffey has been cleaned up and is now a National Historic Landmark, his daughter contacted the Dream Foundation in hopes that they would find a way to fulfill his final wish.
“I’m pleased he made it to look around. He could now maybe with his daughters help write about his experience and hopefully it will be displayed in the ship when done. God bless you sir”- United Kingdom
With the Dream Foundation ,Stars for Heroes and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum working together, Gerald Bowman and his daughter were flown to South Carolina to see his beloved ship, the Laffey. Together they walked the passageways where memories came quickly and he told his daughter stories of what it was like as a young sailor. He was able to show her where he worked, ate and slept as he relived the sounds and smells of long ago. It was a treasured time and one that will be remembered for a lifetime.
“It is an honor for us to serve those who have so bravely served our country. Mr. Bowman’s final wish is a testament to his patriotism and sense of duty.”- The Dream Foundation
So much of our living history walks among us in the hearts and minds of our veterans and these organizations are working hard to preserve the memories and honor the sacrifice that was given. Museums dedicated especially to the military and retired ships that are now dry-docked are one way as a nation that we can pledge to uphold the ideals and freedoms we enjoy today as a result of the battles of the past.