Profiles of the Extraordinary – My Friend Kathleen

Kathleen was a close friend of mine from my Navy days.  She and I were both Navy Supply Corps officers serving on a big ol’ gray supply ship.  We both proudly wore our US Navy uniforms with rank insignia on the right collar and the Supply Corps oak leaf & acorns insignia on the opposite side.  (Interesting note… supply officers are often called “chops” because their insignia looks a bit like a pork chop.)

It’s been over a decade since I last saw Kathleen.  The happy memories of our friendship are still vivid.  She served as the Food Service Officer on our ship.  Let’s just say that I ate well while on the ship.  We hung out once or twice on the Jersey Shore.  While overseas, it was Kathleen who accidentally ordered me my first Big Mac.  Our ship was visiting Palma, Spain and the only restaurant open was McDonald’s.  Kathleen tried ordering in Spanish. However, instead of getting one #4 value meal, she got four #1 value meals.  It was Big Macs for the whole gang.

My favorite memory is her involvement in my wedding.  She was one of six officers who participated in creating the sword arch for my wife and me to walk through after the wedding ceremony.

Sword Arch

Kathleen - 2nd from right.

But before I tell you more about Kathleen, I have to explain why I am posting this.  Truthfully, I never expected to profile her.  I have other posts in the queue, including another Profile of the Extraordinary.  There are certainly other issues that deserve my attention, especially in the political realm.  And despite their importance, I have not been able to click on the “publish” button to share them with you.

Why?  I wasn’t sure until tonight.  I suppose I thought that I had some good reasons.  I’ve been busy with grad school work.  I’ve suffered through some recent agonizing tooth pain. (Looks like I’ll need a root canal.  Ugh.)  I had a short bout with a stomach bug.  But those are just excuses.

The reason for this post begins with a recent trip to the Washington DC area.  My wife and I attended the wedding of one of my closest college friends.  He was also another Supply Corps Officer, and he served as my best man and leader of the sword detail for my wedding.  As we attended his wedding reception at Top of the Town in Arlington, VA, we marveled at the magnificent view of Washington, DC.  I was thrilled to chat with several other naval officers at the reception.  Interestingly, I discovered that three of us had served with Kathleen at one command or another. Navy Supply is a small community, I suppose.

View from Top of the Town

It was while talking to these acquaintances that I found out that Kathleen was nearby.  Matter of fact, you could see her place of residence from the reception venue.

Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery - Just below the Pentagon

Kathleen passed away about a decade ago.  In typical Navy fashion, we had moved away from each other, but we still exchanged Christmas cards. One year, I was surprised when we did not receive a card from her.  A few weeks later, we were stunned to receive a handwritten note from Kathleen’s mother.  It turns out that Kathleen had passed away earlier that year. I believe it was the result of some sort of heart condition.

I smile to know that she is resting peacefully in Arlington.  In my humble opinion, that is the place of greatest honor for an Ordinary Military Citizen to be interred.  She deserves to be there.  She was an extraordinary naval officer.  Dedicated, hard-working, professional, patriotic.  She was an extraordinary friend.  An excellent listener, a great sense of humor.  I still miss her.

It is difficult to type with tears in my eyes.  But they are tears of sadness and joy.

Fair winds and following seas, Kathleen.  Rest in Peace.  We miss you.

Profiles of the Extraordinary is a category within the This Ordinary Citizen blog.  It features Ordinary Citizens who show us what it means to be Extraordinary.  If you know someone who should be profiled, contact the author.

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