Gibbs pulled the collar of his coat up against the wind that had picked up. He felt the cold coming off the water and into his bones. He hated memorial services under the best of circumstances. Not that there were ever good circumstances for that sort of thing. But standing outside on the water, in February in Bremerton freezing his six off wasn't exactly his idea of fun. He started wondering again why he'd decided at the last minute to fly the 3,000 miles for this thing.
His proximity alarm began tingling and when he turned he noticed a man next to him. He looked to be about Jackson's age, maybe a bit younger.
"Looks like lots of folks turning out to say goodbye."
Gibbs hadn't expected to have to make small talk with anyone today, but he supposed it was inevitable. "Yes sir."
"So, when did you know her?" Yeah, this guy was definitely a chatter.
"'79 to '80." Gibbs mouth curled into a sad smile at the memory. "She was my first."
The man exhaled. "Rough time. Especially for you Bellhops." He lessened the sting of the insult by handing Gibbs a flask and a plastic cup. "Here, this should help with the cold."
Gibbs laughed in spite of himself. "Thanks. We always appreciated the chauffeur service."
He poured a bit then took a sip. He felt the alcohol go to work warming him almost immediately. The light had caught the flask as he handed it back and highlighted the engraving.
"So Admiral, when did you serve on her?"
"Miss Kitty and I go back to the beginning. August 11, 1961. I was still a wet Lieutenant when we sailed around Cape Horn. When we pulled into San Francisco, I thought it was the most foreign place I'd ever see in my life." Gibbs couldn't help but laugh at that.
"Then we took off for the Phillipines, Hong Kong and Japan. It was like I'd left for another planet. I was on her when President Kennedy boarded and I was still on her a few months later when we fired the guns to honor him." His voice had grown thick with emotion. "I owe a big part of the man I am to her."
Gibbs raised his 'glass' towards the carrier they were both looking at, "To the Kitty Hawk and all the men and women who knew her."
The Admiral joined with his flask, "Fair Winds and Following Seas old girl".