Lorie Swayze is a property administrator with NDBT’s Property Management and Leasing group. She served in the US Navy for 4 years and has been with NDBT for 4 years. These are her thoughts about serving our country as we honor all who served this Veterans Day.
As former US Navy PS2 Swayze, serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, I am more than honored to have been able and allowed to serve my country. Growing up I never really thought about the military and didn’t really understand what people had been through to allow me to live freely in this country. It was just something my grandpa did before my mom was born.
My grandpa, Wendell Lewis, served in the US Army as a mechanic during the Korean War. The story my mom told me of his service was all I knew beyond the bits of war mentioned in old movies and TV shows. In my young mind, it was a thing that happened “so long ago” it was simply a memory old people had. Later, I found out that others in my family also served, such as my grandpa David, my great uncles James and Norman, my mom’s cousin Clarence. Since then, my cousins Tyler Lewis, Jesse Woodard, and my brother Samuel Swayze have also served in the US Navy.
I was lucky enough to grow up during a time when we didn’t have to worry about family and friends being drafted into the military or even consider that we might not be safe. I was more sheltered than most, but just like most other children in the U.S. I was completely oblivious of how blessed I was for when, where, and how I was raised.
Fast forward to 2009. I was in a rough spot in my early twenties and my cousin Tyler said, “Lorie, I just joined the Navy. You should go talk to my recruiter.” I thought, could I really join the military? Next thing you know, I’m talking to the recruiter and a month later being shipped off to bootcamp.
I made it through bootcamp and “A-School” and was sent to NAS Whidbey, WA and assigned to an electronic attack squadron, VAQ-141. We were attached to the USS George H.W. Bush, did one tour in the North Atlantic then through the Suez canal, down and around to the Persian Gulf. Once back at Whidbey, my squadron was moved to Japan where I was stationed at NAF Atsugi for more than a year before my contract was up and I came back home to finish college.
I did get to see some amazing things, some good and some not so good. I lived on one of the largest types of warships in existence – an aircraft carrier; climbed Mt. Fuji; viewed the largest bronze statue of Buddha; visited the Tokyo tower; saw the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa; experienced Stonehenge, Bath, and London; traveled to the Colosseum in Rome and an ancient Roman amphitheater in Spain.
I will never again take for granted being able to choose my own partner, vote, hail a taxi, or even order my own meal without a male escort. Now, for the rest of my life, I will never forget how blessed I am to live in the U.S.A.
To me Veteran’s Day is about remembering and respecting all the veterans out there, sprinkled around in our everyday lives, for their part in keeping our country strong and safe. Each one gave up at least part of their life at home to go and serve this country to make sure we can keep living in this wonderful place I call home.