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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Band of Brothers & Sisters!

Biking our way to Fitness!
It just amazing to be here at a military campground and meet so many interesting people, all with different stories, but nearly all related to the military directly or indirectly through marriage. From enlisted ranks to officers, they all have a unique story. The common ground here is that we are all on the same playing field now that we are retired. Some, like Captain Troy, still have a direct active roll in the military. He is the Captain of a support ship (US Navy) here in Key West. He his not in the Navy at present, but under contract until July as the ship’s Captain. His ship goes out in the Gulf and does support work with Navy Seals. Can’t say what they do because I don’t know, but I think submarines are involved! Another guy is an instructor at the US Army Underwater Diving and Survival School, right next door on Fleming Key. Those are some of the active stories that I know of. I am curious to hear what Janet (One of the two camp host) story is. I’m told she was a Gunny Sergeant in the Marine Corps. It just fascinates me to meet these people and listen to their stories and of their careers.
John, a former helicopter pilot, flew Hueys in Vietnam. Dustoff (Medical evacuation helo.) Ironically he was stationed in place Fubuy, Vietnam (SP) in 1969. A buddy of mine, Dick, was wounded in Fubuy (SP) and could have been airlifted out, maybe by John?
Sally was a Navy (Operating Room) nurse and served in the Middle East. What great people we have met here in Key West! Their stories and accomplishments are of the unsung heroes of our great Nation!


Needless to say, I have been lagging behind my expected exercise. Mainly, the cause is the unfavorable weather conditions. Wind and rain were the culprits. Nearly a month has expired with the weather not being in our favor. This morning was sunny, but cold. I showered early at the campground restroom and headed back to the camper. Helen followed a little after. I made a decision to up the ante a little with the bike portion of our exercise routing.
Instead of going around the island and having to stop for traffic lights, pedestrians and stop signs in our ten mile loop, we would instead cross the bridge over to Fleming Key and exercise with the Special Forces! Well, not exactly with them, but exercise on the same road that they jog on in the early morning. From the bridge, at the campground, to the gated compound on the far end of Fleming Key is a mere two miles. Going to and from four miles, times three would give us 12 nonstop hard pumping miles! Helen did the first round, but the incredible wind encountered put the muscles to the test.
Since I’ve started this routine I now feel I’m getting my duly needed exercise and finally starting to notice a little weight lost.
A little insight into Fleming Key route. Starting on the bridge that sits high above the channel that lets many charter fishing boats out into the Gulf, one can get a view of dozens of sail boats anchored just off shore. This view is on both sides of the bridge. Descending on the Fleming Key, the road takes a right and sharp left following the ocean. On the left, stands a barbed wire fence with an old ammunition dump with its bunkers separated by hundreds of feet between bunkers. Further down, the ammo dump appears to be still active. The road is paved and straight for the next mile and a half.
SGM Jerry Patton
About a mile down the road, sitting on top of an old telephone pole, lies a very large bird nest. It is a Hawk, who owns the nest and she is feeding her young. To the right, is a Navy materials testing laboratory. From this point forward, the trees narrow to the road for about a quarter mile. The next field of vision is the beginning of the United States Army Special Forces Underwater Training School. The road does an “S” curve and here on the straight-away is the memorial to a great soldier. SGM Jerry Patton! As I pedal by, I hand him a salute and say, “ Good morning Jerry”. My only wish was to have met him in person. Take a minute and read his memorial on the accompanying photo.
The locked gate is just ahead…the turn around point for me. The return ride is another two miles back to the starting point. On the return run, I often get to see six Hawks soaring thirty feet above me. If I wear a black hoody with the hood on, the Hawks will check me out a little closer. They will soar within 25 feet, with their heads definitely looking down on me. They give out a distinct chirp and move on, “no food here” is what they are saying to the others.

That is what we saw and did!

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