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Dave Sekol - United States Navy

The cab driver stopped in front of the USS Oklahoma, a destroyer.  Once again, I told him I was looking for the LST, Vernon County, but playing the inscrutable Japanese, he pretended he didn’t understand. 

A nice day and plenty to look at, I didn’t press the issue.  I paid him, tossed my duffel bag over my shoulder and started walking.  For fifteen minutes, I passed massive piers dwarfed by the U.S. Navy’s great ships, the pride of Pacific fleet, tied alongside.  Although as roughhewn and cynical as a young man could be, even I was awestruck by the sheer might of the world’s most powerful and sophisticated navy. 

I reached the end of the last pier, turned the corner, beheld the Vernon County and stopped in my tracks.  Compared to the boats I’d just passed, that LST was a sick joke.  A big, ugly rust bucket, to me it looked like a Mickey Mouse boat.  It occurred to me a prankish colony of cartoon elves had tacked a superstructure onto a river barge and called it Vernon County.  At dockside, grim-faced, sweat-soaked sailors scraped and painted the hull, losing their battle against decades of corrosion and decay.  I looked at that tub and thought, oh, my God.  That’s my home for the next three years.


1. The Vernon County
2. "Fine, I’ll join the army."
3. Rewarding conformity
4. The LST
5. Freedom tax
6. Interrogating VC
7. Zombie-like
8. Yolanda
9. Dog therapy
10. Anger rush
11. EDMR therapy