Last night I attended the Khaki Ball in Joe's honor.
I understood this event to be a semi-formal night filled with dinner and dancing within the chief community. I had no idea how touched I would feel while I was there. And how sad that Joe was not able to have this experience.
This event is so much more then just a party. It is the night where newly pinned chiefs and their spouses are welcomed to the Chiefs mess. And boy was I welcomed. I was joined by 11 other wives from the USS Alexandria Goat Locker. Although sad that Joe couldn't be there, the ladies enjoyed making me feel special. We pointed out Joe's name in the program. They encouraged me to stand up when the new chiefs stood up. We took a group picture to send to the boat. We even got a compliment from the speaker of the evening on our support while our men are deployed. He explained how important it is for us to come to the Khaki ball to re-connect with the community and how glad he was that we were here in our husbands places to do so. He wished them well and sent his own "angels" to watch over them.
I was truly amazed at the "re-connected" I witnessed. Hand shakes, hugs and kisses were exchanged all night long. This was family. At points I felt like I was witnessing a big family reunion. And then I would remember that Joey and I are now part of this amazing group of people. Of History. Another family within our tight knit submarine family.
Does it get better then this?
So proud of my Chief. Can't wait to see him in Khaki.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Last night I attended the Khaki Ball in Joe's honor.
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 4:01 AM
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
In the news yesterday:
USS Nebraska sailor dies following accident near Hawaii
Sep 22 2008 · UPDATED
A sailor aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nebraska died Sept. 20.
The Navy submarine was conducting operations near the island of Oahu, Hawaii when the sailor died, according to a Navy news release. The Navy described the sailor's death as accidental. The name of the sailor has not yet been released.
Lt. Kyle Raines said the sailor was given medical treatment on board the submarine and was placed on a medical helicopter. He died while en route to a hospital.
Raines said the accident was "an isolated incident" and no other sailors were injured. An investigation into the cause of death is ongoing.
The USS Nebraska is homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
My thoughts and prayers go out the family of this sailor as well as his submarine family aboard the USS Nebraska!
Edit: The idenity was released: Machinist Mate 3rd Class Michael A. Gentile, of Fairfield, Maine.
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 4:44 AM
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sometimes you need their words...to make it to the next day.....
And today *drum roll* I got them!
Wanted to share just a small part of a fantastic email from my husband:
I know I am very loved and spoiled, I hope that you feel you are loved
too, I was a little worried there for a bit. I thought that you might have
forgotten how special you are to me and how you are the light in my eyes and the
wind in my sails and the jelly to my peanut butter.
Literally. And read it over and over and over again!
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 11:04 AM
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
My first email from Joey the Chief finally arrived. Turns out he got pinned with the same anchors that his COB was pinned with, they came from his first Chief who retired the year before he made Chief. That meant a lot to him.
He swears that he made sure lots of guys took pictures and someone even videoed it for me! Another neat thing that happened is when Joey was in Bahrain...he was trading coins and the one the Mine Sweeper gave him was the USS CHIEF coin! What a neat memory from his transition season.
I really wish I would have got to share those moments with him but I am equally glad we both had our submarine families to fall back on.
Quick Thank-You on my end to:
Illene Breckle- For helping me get all of Joe's new uniforms to send.
Jeannie and Ken- For Keeping me sane and helping me understand the transition
Erica and Shawn Sharpe- For Keeping both Joe and I from jumping off a ledge!
Stephanie- For keeping me company and listening to my complaints/sobbing.
Kelly Kirk- For listening to me complain/cry and offering suggestions/solutions.
Eric Doe and Tony Kirk- For watching over Joe during the transition. xoxo
The USS ALEXANDRIA Goat Locker- The great welcome and support! Can't wait for Khaki Ball!
My friends and family- For all the cards and packages they sent to Joe during the transition.
Well, transition is over. We are excited!
Oh - and the end of Joe's email:
Chief Joe LaCouture
P.S That means you are the Chiefs wife. You instantly just got like 15 times hotter
then you already were.
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 1:34 PM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Today - Joey was pinned at 1:00PM.
Congrats Chief LaCouture!!
I am very sad that I did not get to pin him- Our best friend wrote me an email about 1/2 hour before the ceremony to tell me he understands that me having pictures in the next port means his life or death in the future. I think I may have reminded Joe to take pictures a few times in email...like maybe 100.
I sent a big poster that I signed from all of our friends and family for my adopted sailor-Jason Parks- to hang while he was getting pinned. He emailed to inform me that he hung the banner while Joey was getting pinned. Now..I'm waiting to hear from Joe.
I am so so so proud of him. People constantly ask me how I do it. It's easy when you're married to someone so amazing.
You are making a transition that on the surface appears very simple: A small step from E6 to E7. Can't be that hard, can it?
Yet this isn't a small step, Shipmate. It is a huge leap from the authority, responsibility, and duty of First Class Petty Officer to those of a Chief Petty Officer. There is nothing simple about it.
This transition should scare you. You should continue to experience some trepidation long after this process.
Fifteen years after I was initiated I still find myself learning, facing new challenges, and seeking the collective wisdom of my Chief's Mess. Every day I work hard to be nearly as good as those men and women who came before me, and those with whom I currently serve.
It is an awesome endeavor, walking in the shadow of the great and the brave.
Maybe it is because of these anchors. They are metal, as many rank insignia are, but they convey a certain strength of character, a more direct purpose, and a much broader significance that others. These anchors can take a beating. You can immerse them in tears and blood, salt water and mud, jet fuel and bilge crud. Buff them up and watch them shine. Just like the men and women who wear them -- the Chiefs -- they clean up nice.
These anchors are durable. They last.
And, yes, your anchors will take a beating. Your shipmates will cry on them and bleed on them. It is you who will make things right, because you are now the Chief.
These anchors have to shine a little more brightly than other collar devices. Young Sailors need to see them, must be able to find them quickly in times of duress and emergency. They must shine as beacons of leadership because where Chiefs lead, the crew follows.
Where Chiefs lead, the Navy excels. And where Chiefs fail, we all fail.
Maybe that is why these anchors, unlike any other U.S. military rank insignia, uniquely identify their wearer's service - U.S.N.
These anchors are passed down from generation of Chiefs to generation of Chiefs. These anchors I wear today were given to me by a long-since retired hero: A Navy Master Chief who has been my leader, my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. But these anchors are not mine. I am holding them for a perhaps more able and more deserving leader who will in turn hand pass them on until someday they will be worn by a Chief Petty Officer not yet born. I expect some day you will hold them for a while.
These anchors I once wore are now yours and should be worn proudly. I know you have earned them. However, these anchors are earned again each and every day. They are earned on the deck plates and flight lines, on ships, and boats, and at remote locations wherever you find Chiefs leading -- wherever Sailors look for the Chief in times of stress, times of fear, times of uncertainty, and times of loneliness.
They look for these anchors, Chief, to guide them, to bring them home safely. These anchors stand for a tradition of sacrifice and duty, exalting achievements and heart-breaking losses.
Yet these anchors survive. They endure.
Always remember, however, you do not choose these anchors.
These anchors choose you.
Congratulations, Chief, and welcome to the Mess.
-- JOCM(SW/AW) David M. Butts
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 1:55 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The rain brought more water damage to the roof that is getting repaired tomorrow. The roofers came to drop off the materials and talked to my dad again. Turns out we need to pitch the roof- so that $1500-$1800 I thought it would cost.... now is $3200.
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 9:03 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
OK... BIG things that have gone wrong during deployment ( Which we are only about 1/3 through.. )
My windshield wiper motor had to be replaced. Over 3 hours of labor- they had to take apart then entire dashboard
Aggravation level: 6 out of 10 ( I had to get rides to work...etc )
The flat roof above our office started leaking into the closet in the office. I noticed it a bit late- and had about 8 soggy boxes to go through.
Aggravation level: 9 out of 10
The flat roof that was fixed started gushing water just two days later. Turns out they forgot to seal a major seam. Ceiling completely ruined.
Cost +350 ( They had to take some money off the orginial quote for aggravation )
Aggravation: 9 out of 10
Having the entire ceiling ripped out and replaced due to above roofing mistake
Cost : 0
Aggravation level: 8 ( I had to move everything out of the room )
Waking up THIS MORNING to dripping from a different flat roof on my head in my bedroom. Ran upstairs to brush water off that roof to not cause any damage to ceiling. Called Roofer. Got re-dressed and headed off to speech in Massachusetts.
Cost estimated 1500 ( sigh )
Aggravation: 8 out of 10
While on route to speech ( about 15 minutes away ) car stops working. DIES! In the middle of 95N. Call AAA. Have it towed the 70 miles back home(I am a gold member, so that was free-thankfully). Company called a cab. Got to speech 45 minutes late. Completed a 50 minute speech in 11 minutes. Mom picked me up and brought me to her salon in RI where I waited a few hours for our neighbor Pete to pick me up. Brought my car to my mechanic Matt's.
Cost: 315 (altentator)
Aggravation 10 out of 10
What else will happen? Notice I only mention "BIG" things that have gone wrong.
I'm at my limit.
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 1:43 PM
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Well..Stephanie and I decided to celebrate (vague) 1/3 done with deployment. Again- the reason I have to be vague-and the reason we didn't celebrate on the actual day is- "Loose lip...sink ships". Speaking of- Check out this link to see some of the actual posters that were hung during World War II:
Anyway- We took a little liquor tour. First we had pizza(oh so yummy) and red wine at this quaint little place(that was so us!) in Mystic. We walked over to an Irish pub and sampled their Halloween beer. So good. A definite for Joe to try next year. Then the hunt for dessert left us at AZU in Mystic. Not only did we have VERY yummy desserts-we also tried two different martini's. She had a Milky Way while I had an Expresso and then I had a pear while she had a...what was her second one? We ended our celebration(we toasted at every place) at my house. We gushed over glamour, shared a few cigars and ended our liquor tour at 10:00pm.
So- to Jimmy and Joey- We raised our wine glasses, beer mugs and martini glasses to you. We love you, miss you and are so happy to be 1/3(or so) done!
And...now as I get ready for work this morning... I raise my water glass to you Stephanie. Go us! I'm so glad you're part of my life. xoxo
Nothing better then good friends during deployment.
Except maybe the skype ring....or 3:00am wake up calls from hubby... But...good friends is a close 2nd!
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 5:30 AM
Saturday, September 6, 2008
After chatting with an older couple last name in the store. I think they enjoyed my proud submarine wife conversation- Near the end of our time together, She asked me if she could ask a person question.
I said- "Sure".
"Who will you and your husband be voting for- My husband and I always are curious what our military thinks..."
I told her I could only speak for myself -
The answer: McCain/Palin 08 - Why?
Strategy for Victory in Iraq
The Importance of Succeeding
John McCain believes it is strategically and morally essential for the United States to support the Government of Iraq to become capable of governing itself and safeguarding its people. He strongly disagrees with those who advocate withdrawing American troops before that has occurred.
It would be a grave mistake to leave before Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated and before a competent, trained, and capable Iraqi security force is in place and operating effectively. We must help the Government of Iraq battle those who provoke sectarian tensions and promote a civil war that could destabilize the Middle East. Iraq must not become a failed state, a haven for terrorists, or a pawn of Iran. These likely consequences of America's failure in Iraq almost certainly would either require us to return or draw us into a wider and far costlier war.
The best way to secure long-term peace and security is to establish a stable, prosperous, and democratic state in Iraq that poses no threat to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists. When Iraqi forces can safeguard their own country, American troops can return home.
Support the Successful Counterinsurgency Strategy
John McCain has been a leading advocate of the “surge” and the counterinsurgency strategy carried out by General David Petraeus. At the end of 2006, four years of a badly conceived military strategy that concentrated American troops on large bases brought us near to the point of no return. Sectarian violence in Iraq was spiraling out of control. Al Qaeda in Iraq was on the offensive. Entire provinces were under extremists’ control and were deemed all but lost. At that critical moment, John McCain supported sending reinforcements to Iraq to implement a classic counterinsurgency strategy of securing the population.
That strategy has paid off. From June 2007 through March 2008, sectarian and ethnic violence in Iraq was reduced by 90 percent. Civilian deaths and deaths of coalition forces fell by 70 percent. This has opened the way for a return to something that approaches normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi. Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and provincial grassroots level. Sunni and Shi'a chased from their homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning. The "Sons of Iraq" and Awakening movements, where former Sunni insurgents have now joined in the fight against Al Qaeda, continue to grow.
Those gains would be lost if we were to follow the policy advocated by Senator Barack Obama to withdraw most of our troops and leave behind only a small “strike force” to battle terrorists. That is, in essence, the same strategy of withdrawing from Iraq’s streets that failed in 2006. John McCain advocates continuing the successful counterinsurgency strategy that began in 2007.
Push for Political Reconciliation and Good Government
Thanks to the success of the surge, Iraq's political order is evolving in positive and hopeful ways. Four out of the six laws cited as benchmarks by the U.S. have been passed by the Iraqi legislature. A law on amnesty and a law rolling back some of the harsher restrictions against former employees of the Iraqi government have made it possible for Iraqis to move toward genuine reconciliation. The legislature has devolved greater power to local and provincial authorities, where much of the real work of rebuilding Iraq is taking place.
More progress is necessary. The government must improve its ability to serve all Iraqis. A key test for the Iraqi government will be finding jobs in the security services and the civilian sector for the “Sons of Iraq” who have risked so much to battle terrorists.
Iraq will conduct two landmark elections in the near future – one for provincial governments in late 2008 and the other for the national government in 2009. John McCain believes we should welcome a larger United Nations role in supporting the elections. The key condition for successful elections is for American troops to continue to work with brave Iraqis to allow the voting to take place in relative freedom and security. Iraqis need to know that the U.S. will not abandon them, but will continue to press their politicians to show the necessary leadership to help develop their country.
Get Iraq's Economy Back on its Feet
John McCain believes that economic progress is essential to sustaining security gains in Iraq. Markets that were once silent and deserted have come back to life in many areas, but high unemployment rates continue to fuel criminal and insurgent violence. To move young men away from the attractions of well-funded extremists, we need a vibrant, growing Iraqi economy. The Iraqi government can jump-start this process by using a portion of its budget surplus to employ Iraqis in infrastructure projects and in restoring basic services.
The international community should bolster proven microfinance programs to spur local-level entrepreneurship throughout the country. Iraq's Arab neighbors, in particular, should promote regional stability by directly investing the fruits of their oil exports in Iraq. As these efforts begin to take hold in Iraq, the private sector, as always, will create the jobs and propel the growth that will end reliance on outside aid. Iraq’s government needs support to better deliver basic services—clean water, garbage collection, abundant electricity, and, above all, a basic level of security—that create a climate where the Iraqi economy creation can flourish.
Call for International Pressure on Syria and Iran
Syria and Iran have aided and abetted the violence in Iraq for too long. Syria has refused to crack down on Iraqi insurgents and foreign terrorists operating within its territory. Iran has been providing the most extreme and violent Shia militias with training, weapons, and technology that kill American and Iraqi troops. American military spokesmen have also said there is evidence that Iran has provided aid to Sunni insurgents.
The answer is not unconditional dialogues with these two dictatorships from a position of weakness. The answer is for the international community to apply real pressure to Syria and Iran to change their behavior. The United States must also bolster its regional military posture to make clear to Iran our determination to protect our forces and deter Iranian intervention.
Level with the American People
John McCain believes it is essential to be honest with the American people about the opportunities and risks that lie ahead. The American people deserve the truth from their leaders. They deserve a candid assessment of the progress made in the last year, of the serious difficulties that remain, and of the grave consequences of a reckless and irresponsible withdrawal.
Many Americans have given their lives so that America does not suffer the worst consequences of failure in Iraq. Doing the right thing in the heat of a political campaign is not always easy. But it is necessary.
John McCain on the Road Ahead
“I do not want to keep our troops in Iraq a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests there. Our goal is an Iraq that can stand on its own as a democratic ally and a responsible force for peace in its neighborhood. Our goal is an Iraq that no longer needs American troops. And I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine. But I do not believe that anyone should make promises as a candidate for President that they cannot keep if elected. To promise a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, regardless of the calamitous consequences to the Iraqi people, our most vital interests, and the future of the Middle East, is the height of irresponsibility. It is a failure of leadership. “
“I know the pain war causes. I understand the frustration caused by our mistakes in this war. And I regret sincerely the additional sacrifices imposed on the brave Americans who defend us. But I also know the toll a lost war takes on an army and on our country's security. By giving General Petraeus and the men and women he has the honor to command the time and support necessary to succeed in Iraq we have before us a hard road. But it is the right road. It is necessary and just. Those who disregard the unmistakable progress we have made in the last year and the terrible consequences that would ensue were we to abandon our responsibilities in Iraq have chosen another road. It may appear to be the easier course of action, but it is a much more reckless one, and it does them no credit even if it gives them an advantage in the next election.” –John McCain
We have lost so many always- In their honor, in their name.... let's finish what we started.
How do I feel about Palin? So far - I love her.
So- Military families-Who are you leaning to? Just curious- Comment back!
Anyway- Just my opinion - And that's what blogging is for- right?
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 12:30 AM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I truly had a fantastic birthday! Thankfully my husband(Until Joe gets home) Stephanie is home from vacation. After work yesterday- Stephanie took me out to S and P Oyster in Mystic for some wine and seafood- yum yum!
and..... *drum roll* I even got a birthday email. A really mushy one. It was perfect(not a word I usually describe for the way Joe shows affection). It included this song:
Hello Love and Happy Birthday!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday dear Monkey!!
Happy Birthday toooo youoououuouououo!
The best part is I can picture him singing that very song- If he was home. In the morning. He may have added a little dance to it. He can be so silly. He usually makes me laugh so hard my insides hurt. It's so much harder to feel that connection when he's gone- but then I get my silly email song- and *pop* there it is again.
Oh so sweet....
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 10:53 AM
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday...Samantha...Happy Birthday to me!
My parents came up to CT last night to ring in the big day with me! We went out to dinner and they picked out some beautiful items for my birthday that I needed for work. I actually started my birthday last week when Regan(my favorite 3 year old) handed me her very own "happy dopey" gift. It was a Cole Haan wallet- so I think her mom may have helped her pick it out. It's super cute. Now, I need the matching designer purse!
Joe left a beautiful card for today- ( Wow- I'm a lucky girl- Birthday wishes from under the sea!) Joe's really not an emotional guy when we talk- or even in email- BUT it seems if he can write on paper, seal it and not have to worry about having feelings- I get them! Listen to how cute: " I've been thinking about you..about us...and all the special times we have shared. Those times wouldn't be the same without you. I think of our heart-to-heart talks, of sharing secrets, dreams, happiness and even tears Through everything, I can count on you to listen, advise, encourage or simply say- I know just how you feel- And thought I hope you already know how very important you are to me, I thought you might like to hear it on this special day. I wish I could be there. Have a great Birthday"
I'm going to enjoy having a few of my close girlfriends over Next Sat for some liquid celebrations.
Well... In the famous words spoken by Regan Hope Laurie - Happy Dopey Mantha.
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 4:37 AM
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
This is Joe's 2nd calendar square of deployment!
It's one of my favorite days in the whole wide world- The day we eloped!
This isn't to say I didn't love our clambake reception and having all my friends and family around while we professed our love- because I did. This day was secret and special in it's own way though.
Posted by Joe and Samantha at 6:06 AM