In April of 2007, I checked in the USS Stout in Norfolk, Virginia. I had been on the USS John S. McCain the year before. My first weeks on board the Stout were spent adjusting myself. The crew on the McCain was mostly an all males crew with the exception of Junior officers; while the crew on the Stout was an integrated crew. On the McCain, I did not have to deal with the temptation of the opposite sex; while on the Stout I had to deal with the temptation of the opposite sex. I did not feel I had enemies on the McCain; while on the Stout I met many detractors. However, this is not the story.
In July of 2007, our deployment began. We sailed east toward the Mediterranean sea. We reached Italy within a week. In Italy we stopped on the island of Sardinia. I did not visit much on that Island, because many of my peers wanted to just drink. I wanted to make memories instead. I remember eating at a Kebab stands in Sardinia. We spent a few days in Italy and then continued our journey toward the Suez Canal. Once we got to the Suez canal, it took us a whole day to cross the canal. It was one long journey needless, but we got to the red sea. Once in the red sea, we made a few stops in Middle Eastern countries, and on the horn of Africa and the Seychelles Islands. I will start with the visit in Djibouti. The Stout encountered a casualty in the red sea, so we had to stop in a friendly port to fix our problem. Djibouti was the place. Most of shipmates hated the climate over there. It was hot and humid, but I enjoyed it very much. I saw how dromedaries were being craned from one enclosure to the next. It seems cruel, because these camels never look happy. We spent two days in Djibouti and we went back to sea.
A few weeks later we had to escort a submarine through the Suez canal. We crossed again the Suez canal, and we stopped in Limassol, Cyprus. In Cyprus, I visited an Irish pub with interesting friends, and then we went back to see for about forty days. During these forty days we chased pirates of the coast of Somalia. We rescued stranded ships, and protected merchants ship from modern day buccaneers. We made our beer stop in the Seychelles Islands. I reenlisted on my way to the Seychelles, and I visited Grand Victoria Island in the Seychelles. I went snorkeling as usual, and I bought a bottle of Takamaka. My stay in the Seychelles was relaxing. A few days later, we made our way to Bahrain. Along the way, we picked up our new commanding officer, and we had our change of command in Bahrain. I visited the Soukh in Bahrain, and met old friends in the Middle East. I spent a week in the Gulf Kingdom. Our last country to visit in the Gulf was the Sultanate of Oman. We stopped in the port of Salalah. Our stay in Salalah was brief one. We then made our way back to the Suez canal. Once we got to the Mediterranean sea. We made a stop to the port of Haifa, Israel. It was odd to see soldiers walking in the mall with their firearms. In Haifa, I behaved like an ugly American. I ate at McDonald the first night.
On my second day in Israel, I went on a tour of West Jerusalem. On our way to Jerusalem, I took pictures with Israeli soldiers and my friends.
We visited the western wall of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was another place on my bucket list. We were in Israel during advent. It was an interesting time, because Jews were getting ready for Hanukkah. I saw the lighting of the Menorah at sundown. Israeli Christians were also getting ready for Christmas. I can say that Israel is a wonderful place to visit. After our visit in Israel, we set sail west to come back home. Our journey home weighed on my mind. I had left so many behind, but I had discovered myself along the way. Some of the people I journeyed with died years later, but I can say the 2007 deployment was one to remember. I learned a few things here and there. I look forward to another trip in this part of the world.