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June 18, 2017

A Terrible Day for the Navy Family

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US Navy ends hunt for 7 missing sailors as bodies are found in the ship

I saw the FoxNews.com headline last night. My face sagged. Those tiny muscles that control our facial expressions all fell asleep at once. A long, slow breath-flood rushed from my slack lips.

I thought about those seven families. The families who haven’t heard from their USS Fitzgerald sailors.

They can do the math.

While the Navy scrambles its Casualty Assistance Call system to deliver official notifications, the families who haven’t heard from their sailor worry.

Yesterday, I got numerous texts from friends. “Patrick’s not on the Fitzgerald, is he?”

“No,” I assured them. “The Nimitz. He’s doing fine.”

When you know someone in the Navy, your heart races whenever you hear of trouble at sea.

This Father’s Day makes me so sad for the families of those seven sailors. And those injured. And those whose careers were ruined when the freighter collided with the USS Fitzgerald.

When we send our kids off to boot camp or ROTC or the Academy, we feel a terrified pride. We feel successful, having raised a child to adulthood. A child with the character and discipline and commitment to take on such a difficult, dangerous job.

We feel terrified that we’ve relinquished responsibility for the safety of our country to the child we bathed in the kitchen sink only a few short years ago. How could we put so much on their shoulders? Those shoulders we bathed in SPF-60 sunscreen only yesterday.

My Father’s Day wish to all the military fathers is simple: may your son or daughter serve with honor, distinction, and a safe return home.

P.S. I removed a Father’s Day post I’d written last week. Its message was overcome by events.

And if the Fitzgerald was intentionally rammed, I pray my sons have a hand in killing the bastards responsible.