Kemejuk's Korner

Christmas Wishes, 2003

Christmas Past brings recollections of Oklahoma City’s WestPac deployment in the late 60’s and early 70’s, when the holiday was always spent in our home away from home, Yokosuka. Most of us were thankful to be far from the ongoing war, but still would have liked to be at home at that time of year. Many shipmates of course had their families in Japan with them, so Christmas was a little like Christmas in the States for them. (Finding the right Christmas tree of course could be a problem). Single crewmembers had a totally different perspective of the holiday, and in many cases had to resort to Honcho Street for holiday ‘cheer’. Remember when our ship did actually figure in the holiday spirit though, hosting the annual “Oklahoma City Children’s Party” in Club Alliance for hundreds of our shipmates’ small children, plus a few dozen needy children from a local orphanage? And of course, it was special to see the ship with her candy-cane decorations on the 6-inch guns, the star high in the mast, and lights strung from foc'sle to fantail.

Christmas Present still finds us in tense times, with hundreds of thousands of America’s military scattered around the world in places most wish they had never heard of, yet bravely standing their ground. Of course, we must continue to recognize that those forces volunteered to serve our country, and like it or not, can always be counted on to live up to their agreement to defend our freedom, wherever this Christmas finds them. Ironically, those closest to where the first Christmas is widely believed to have happened are the ones most in need of being at home this holiday season.

Christmas Future will hopefully bring us extended peace in the world, with most of our military forces home on American soil and in American ports. The hard work and determination of our forces abroad this Christmas can only pay dividends for Christmases to come.

Merry Christmas to my shipmates of all generations.

Jack Kemejuk, 1968-74

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