In 1979, we became shipmates.

GM & Bops dropped me off with you

while you were "top kick" at Lemoore Naval Hospital.

You had to play papa-and-mama for me--

a 10th-grader with issues and dreams.

Until 1983, the Central Valley was home.

The small-town life suited me just fine,

and Alverez Housing became our home port.

Living on base was a real experience.

We ate shrimp together at the CPO Club,

and you watched me slowly leave my shell.

You taught me, nurtured me, protected me--

yet landed on me as I needed to have it done.

Football games and dances at the high school

led to my maturing from boy to young man.

When I graduated in 1982, your pride showed

like a rainbow after a heavy summer shower.

You gave me advice on how to handle dating,

and Playboy became an approved info source.

When I started dating Karen, you were there

to ensure that no shotgun weddings took place.

Now I am nearly 50, no son of my own--that's OK.

You have some graddaughters to deal with from Jeri.

I'll always be grateful for your loving guidance,

as father, mother, sailor, Corpsman, veteran of 'Nam.

So I raise a glass of iced tea to toast you, Dad.

And I thank you for all your love and guidance.

May God see fit to grant us both another year--

the Master Chief and La Placa Rifa--

father-and-son shipmates since 1963.

--RKJ

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