I met my son John, who was assigned to the U.S.S. Constellation, in Hawaii on Saturday Sept 8th. I was to do a tiger cruise with him back to San Diego. It was to be a fun, relaxed cruise, aboard an aircraft carrier, with lots of show and tell and cool things to see and do.
We left Pearl Harbor (ironic) Sunday morning after visiting the Arizona memorial on Saturday.
When we woke up Tuesday (9/11) morning, everyone on board was talking about what happened and all TVs were covering the story. We were briefed by an officer as to what was happening and what our part was to be. Our immediate task was to get back to the West Coast so our fighters could help cover the coastal cities, and off-load the 1080 civilians on board. The officer advised us and the crew to go back to the fantail (rear of the ship) and the sponsons (side of the ship) to see something that very few people, (including the crew) had ever seen, an 88,000 ton aircraft carrier running at full speed. It was supposed to take us 7 days to get to San Diego, but the next day, Wednesday, we were a few miles off San Diego with our fighters, launching and recovering continuously. On Tuesday 9/11 I was lucky enough to spend several hours on the Bridge of the “Connie” as we launched and recovered aircraft that were protecting our battle group and the West Coast cities. One of the tigers (civilian) asked the captain if he thought we were in any danger. He replied that we were in the safest place on earth. He said, “we have a deck full of fighters, and are surrounded by warships”.
Before we docked on Friday, (unannounced and surrounded by gunboats and helicopters), the captain, John W. Miller, apologized because most of the fun activities had to be canceled. He told us that we got the see the ship and its crew “at their best”. 9/11 was a terrible day for the United States, but we got to see the American people AT THEIR BEST.