Jim Fletcher had told his granddaughter sea stories since she was in diapers. They were practically “attached at the hip” when she was young, said the retired chief warrant officer — working together in the garage, the toddler learning the names of all the tools.
So the fact that toddler Sam (short for Samantha) Fletcher became Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class (SW) Sam Fletcher didn’t surprise the Navy man. But a request from his granddaughter over dinner more than a year ago did.
BM3 Fletcher, who enlisted in 2009, asked CWO4 Fletcher (ret.), who enlisted in 1965, to help perform her re-enlistment ceremony aboard her ship, the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, when it returned from its deployment.
Old salts don’t cry, of course, but they may have been chopping onions in the back of the restaurant, or maybe CWO4 Fletcher accidentally put his hand on the grill.
“I said yes right away,” he said in a Friday interview from Dover, Ohio, where BM3 Fletcher was visiting her grandparents while on leave. “Right after I took that lump out of my throat.”
Deployment came first — BM3 Fletcher and Iwo Jima headed from Norfolk, Va., on an 8 1/2-month journey that covered much of the Middle East. She added Jordan to her list of favorite stops, which already included Rota, Spain, and visits throughout 4th Fleet as part of the Continuing Promise 2010 humanitarian effort.
Her grandfather’s Navy stops weren’t any less exotic or impressive — four years in Spain, he said, plus time on the aircraft carrier Bennington during the Vietnam War and on the carrier Independence in the mid-1970s, when it was based in Norfolk, Va.
He retired in 1987. In January, Fletcher, 69, was heading back to Norfolk, back aboard a ship, in a uniform he hadn’t worn since the tail end of the Reagan administration.
“It still fit, straight out of the closet,” he said. “Just as good as it could be.”
BM3 Fletcher, 24, couldn’t have imagined anybody better to help her re-up.
“Hearing about all the places he went, the people he met, it has everything to do with [joining the Navy],” she said. “He’s one of the people I respect the most.”
So, what’s your re-up story? A family member or mentor? An exotic location? An aquaflage-covered child? Country music icon Toby Keith? Send Scoop Deck a short write-up and a photo, and let us help you share your experience.