NO SECOND THOUGHTS: Damn the Torpedoes

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

This column is dedicated to a special veteran.

He didn’t cross the Delaware with Washington. He wasn’t there when Lee surrendered to Grant. He didn’t storm Normandy. He wasn’t in the jungles of Vietnam.

But he was on the Pacific Ocean.

This column is dedicated to a special veteran in my lifetime (1985-now).

He didn’t storm the desert in the Persian Gulf. He wasn’t involved in Kuwait. He wasn’t part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But he did sign up and spent two years away from his family.

This column is dedicated to a special veteran who taught me the values of honesty and hard work.

He went through basic training. He hopped on an aircraft carrier 2/3 of the country away from home. He came back and went to college as a nontraditional student, one with a wife and two children to feed.

But you wouldn’t read about him in a history book.

This column is dedicated to a special veteran who, aboard the USS Ticonderoga, was a Navy crewman on a mission in the Pacific Ocean to rendezvous with Apollo 16 and return them to shore.

Upon finishing college at University of Arkansas at Monticello, where he earned a bachelors of science degree in forestry, he found vocation in the logging woods, keeping his nose to the grindstone until someone recognized his ambition and wisdom.

But you’re not going to see him featured in the news (except maybe this once).

This column is dedicated to a hero to this country, a hero to his community and a hero to Yours Truly.

He eventually landed the job of his dreams at Ray White Lumber Co. in Sparkman where, since before I was born, he has been a professional, accredited forester who can put a proper bid on a thousand acres of pine logs based on the way it smells (at least that’s the way it seems).

But you’re not going to believe this: My dad served aboard the USS Ticonderoga from November 1970 to August 1972 and was on board during the Apollo 16 recovery mission. He’s been across the equator more times than he can remember, but he’s still deeply rooted in southwest Arkansas.

This column is dedicated to my dad, James Phelps, U.S. Navy veteran. Happy Veterans Days to him and all the others out there who have served.

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