This is the third installment of Southwest Family Member Marco Melloni's reports from the USS Nimitz. His second report is here.
Land of the Rising Sun
Today, I sat on the sea and watched as the colors of morning broke and rose gallantly over the island nation of Japan. A brand new day seen in a brand new way. Breathing in Japan's brisk coastal air, I am revitalized. Three weeks of being crammed within a boat, with thousands of other sailors, washed right out of my soul. A new beginning to last the four days we are here. For this short time I am not a sailor in my mind. I am myself again. Free from the shackles and restraints that I take upon myself. Yes, once I set foot on land, I will be an ambassador for the military in all my actions. Yet, in my mind, I am a civilian and a tourist. As I look out, the features of this new land begin to form and take shape under new life. It is a sight to see, and I can not wait to explore this land of the rising sun.
We set out today leaving Japan in our wake. Four days we spent indulging ourselves in its culture. Although Sasebo was not exactly the port that I had wanted to visit, I had a blast. I had wanted to pull in to a larger city like Tokyo, since I enjoy more the city life and the huge shopping districts. However Sasebo was just as fun in its own way. We started out by doing a bit of shopping and exploring around the city. As we became satisfied with that, we started wandering farther out. Taking side streets and old stone stairways, we made our way about halfway up the nearby mountain. At that point, we had the choice of either continuing up the curving mountain road or forge our own trail. We chose the latter. As we ventured higher and higher the excellent view of Sasebo and its surroundings simply became greater. What sights there were to see deep in these mountain forests. Taking our path straight up the mountainside, we found ourselves at the base of an apartment complex near the top. Here we stopped for a short while to rest and enjoy the view. As we sat there, a little girl of about the age of four and her mother came out on their balcony above and greeted us. The girl was so cute standing there waving at us. We talked and entertained them for a short while. With that, we continued on our venture by way of an old stone stairway that leads to the peak of the mountain. Along this stairway were many historical objects. As we reached the top, we learned that we had stumbled upon a museum nestled up here in the mountains and at the highest point, an observatory to view a full image of the world around us in all directions. It was a truly amazing sight. We stayed up there and watched the sun set. After that, we took the roads down heading back into downtown Sasebo. It seemed to take a surprisingly long time down compared to our straight shot upwards. We reveled in the oncoming silent night. Walking down towards civilization in an almost trancelike calmness, letting the wonders around us seep into our souls, and letting the thoughts in our minds wander free. The following days consisted of more exploring of the city. Taking whatever roads spiked our interest and seeing some great sights.
It was an amazing experience, but now we must continue on our way. We have a few other port visits coming up, and I hope to keep you updated on all of these. However, none will be anticipated as much as our final stop. The goal that we all look forward to. Returning home to our friends and loved ones. I hope to see you all soon and want you to know that your thoughts are with me.
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This is the second installment of Southwest Family Member Marco Melloni's reports from the USS Nimitz. His first report is here. It's just a few days until Valentine's Day, and Marco's post reminds us of those who can't be with their Valentine.
The long goodbye.
It is currently late Thursday afternoon on the day of departure (January 24). For me, my day started at 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. I dragged through a full work day in preparation of pulling out to sea, and returned home to spend some time with my friends before leaving for four months. However, the one person I wanted to spend my last minutes with lives up in LA. Not only that but, due to school and work, she would be locked up until 10pm. Sadness, well not enough to deter me. Borrowing a car from a good friend (BiB I owe you my life, man.) I drove up to LA for a few hours. Not a very responsible thing with having to be back at the house by 4:00 a.m. in order to start getting ready for my next work day, but I think that, with as much of myself I'm about to give to the military, I deserve the right to spend my last few days as I want. Cuddled up with the girl of my dreams, I forged my will for the hard goodbye that was coming. Those last few moments mean a lot to me, and will hold me over for the next four months. And with that I returned home, prepared for work, and I went on with another long day of preparing to embark on a four-month tour. The rest of the day was filled with goodbyes, packing, and hauling all my belongings, which would keep me occupied during my time out to sea, onto the ship. This stretched out into the wee hours of the morning and right into liberty expiration.
With the rising of the sun, activity can be seen all over the ship. Preparations are being made to leave land behind. Crowds are gathered in the hangar bay either waving off loved ones, or making use of the last few minutes of cell phone reception. Under the watchful eyes of those we leave behind, we pull in our lines and slowly begin our slow trudge out to sea in our new home--a city of grey painted metal, inhabited by an average of 5,000 sailors creating a new community to live in until we reach home.
We have been on our way now for the better part of the day now--my third and final trip out into the Pacific Ocean before I leave the Navy at the end of this year. Unlike my previous two deployments, the reality of leaving my home, friends, and loved ones has yet to set in. I sit here within a hulk of metal feeling the gentle sways of the ship on open water, and do not feel like I am more than a car ride away. Perhaps it is my mind rejecting the loss that it is not yet ready to accept. Perhaps I am simply getting used to this duty that I have been given. In truth, though if asked about it I will deny, I am a little glad to be heading out. Not many people experience the adventure that we sailors go through. Yes it can be a trying time, but think about what we go through: A lifetime of new experiences clumped into such a short time. The anticipation of pulling into new and wondrous lands. Exploriong new places. Meeting new people. I can definitely say that port visits are the highlight of my time in the Navy, and I enjoy setting loose to explore locations that some people only read about in books. And that is what you will be hearing about most from me in the near future. Yes, I will be including information about our daily lives here on the ship, but it is the port visits that we look back on, and what I will be speaking of in my next blog. I can't say where it is we are going, but I am definitely looking forward to it. It is a place I have had much anticipation visiting, and I am sure that my next blog will be filled with many stories of the adventures I will have while there, along with several photos of my exploits.
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Our longtime readers know that we followed Southwest Customer Francisco Delgado on his deployment last year to the Persian Gulf. To show our support for the men and women of the USS Nimitz, we want to continue the diaries with one of Francisco's former shipmates, Marco Melloni. Marco is part of the Southwest Airlines Family because his father, Bruno, works in our Technology Department here in Dallas.
Hello, I am IC3 Marco Melloni. I am currently stationed in San Diego California onboard the USS Nimitz, and I am serving my final year of service in the US Navy preparing to depart on my third and final deployment over seas. I work in communications electronics in support of my ship.
Seven days, that is the amount of time I have left here in sunny San Diego before I depart on yet another cruise into the Pacific onboard this mighty aircraft carrier. I have completed two of these six-month cruises into the Pacific since boarding this ship several years ago. In fact, only a few months ago we pulled into the waiting embraces of friends and family after my second voyage into the deep blue sea. But as duty calls, we turn right around and prepare to repeat our task. Much has happened in this short period home. Friendships were won and lost, strengthened and weakened, but in the end we do what we can to make the best of this little time we have. People join the military for various reasons. Be it patriotism, duty, a hope for a better life, or self betterment. Yet in the end, we all make the sacrifice for those we leave behind. It is those people that stay behind that give us the strength to continue on and drag through months at sea. I have noticed now with the coming of my third departure that within the short weeks and days of leaving, my bonds with those whom I care about grow oh so very strong. It is not until you realize that you are to be without, then and only then do you realize just how important what you have really is. With this in mind I am spending these last moments in the best ways that I can. With the people I care about, the friends who carry me through it all, and the love who holds my heart. In the coming months I will be giving as detailed a description as possible of our journeys until we finally again, return home. I hope that my writings will give to you all an open eye into the workings of our everyday life.
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