A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying my morning coffee and watching The Today Show. I was about to move on to my next assignment when I heard someone on the TV say that there was going to be a segment about the returning of an aircraft carrier to it’s base after a long deployment.
I poured myself more coffee and settled back to watch. Soon, Jenna Bush-Hager, began explaining that she had been to the port when the crew of the USS George H.W. Bush (Aircraft carrier) were welcomed ashore to reconnect with their families. This aircraft carrier is named after Jenna’s grandfather and former President, George H.W. Bush.
I really enjoyed watching families reunite after the deployment of a family member. This one was really fun and special. I saw one crew member meet his newborn daughter for the very first time. I also enjoy when a returning military member surprises their son or daughter by dressing up and showing up at school.
Sometimes something like this reminds me of a double family surprise that I was involved in as a member of the Indiana National Guard. After my basic training at Ft. Knox, I was sent to an advanced training course at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Because I was returning home after this training assignment, I was allowed to drive my personal car to the training.
The training was very intense, and we spent the weekends studying and trying to keep up. Weekend studying allowed me to get better acquainted with a few classmates. After the third week, our instructor gave us a weekend pass without any weekend assignments.
I quickly connected with three of my classmates and suggested we should go to Baltimore for the weekend. A couple of them didn’t even know that I had my car with me. We got our passes, grabbed some clothes, and we were out of there.
Soon, we were on the highway heading to Baltimore. It was a Friday evening and traffic was very intense. We were making our weekend plans while we were slowly moving in the traffic.
We were traveling on a four-lane highway. I was in the outside lane heading north. We were listening to music on the radio and enjoying ourselves. As we were driving, I noticed a car pulling a small travel trailer in the left lane. It was several vehicles ahead of us. I smiled because it reminded me of home, because it looked like my parents’ car and sort of like their travel trailer.
A few minutes later, the left lane slowed, and we got quite a bit closer to the car and travel trailer. I began to smile and slowed down, so I stayed behind the trailer. I pulled closer a couple of more times, just to be sure. I then explained to my buddies that the car and travel trailer in the lane beside us belonged to my parents.
I made a quick plan and pulled alongside of them, and we yelled and waved. It was my mother, father, sister and her college roommate.
They were shocked and surprised. Dad and I did some fancy maneuvering and finally got both vehicles into a parking area. We laughed and hugged for a long time. They explained that this was supposed to be a surprise visit from them and not the other way around.
I told them that I was totally surprised when I saw their car and trailer. They really did surprise me, but I got to return the surprise in about 10 minutes.
My buddies caught a bus to Baltimore, and I followed my parents to the camping ground where they had a spot reserved for the trailer. It was a wonderful weekend and I believe we laughed the whole time. I had to tell the entire story in class on Monday.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools. He can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.