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The Men behind the Hero, White House, and the Men..

John Glenn was whisked down to Key West, Florida right after his
successful splashdown to Earth. He was the first American to complete an
orbit around the world. As our first space pioneer, he was flown down to
the southern most point in the continental United States for isolated
rest, medical evaluation, and observation. Presidents like Truman have

used the site for vacation and retreat away from the mainland.
He rested comfortably in a Navy quarters reserved for VIP in the Base.
Indeed after such a triumphant journey he deserved the best America could
offer. He was only a Colonel at that time but my friend was assigned to
serve him and make sure he was well rested. My friend was selected
because he was the top flag steward ashore. He took care of his daily
amenities. One reason the astronaut stayed in Key West was to keep him
away from media frenzy and curious onlookers.

Ernie Arrogante and I were onboard the Submarine Squadron in the far end
of the Naval Base. It was different service altogether but we knew that
the Marine Aviator was destined to be famous one day. We dared our
friend to take us inside the VIP quarters were John Glenn was staying to
get his signature. I still remember the Austin Healy sports car we
drove around the back to get a glimpse of the lanky Hero and his
signature. He was so tall that he almost did not make the space program.

The requirement was the same as onboard submarines; ceilings are low
thanks to the lack of space. He wanted so badly to be an astronaut that
at night he compressed himself so he would be accepted. He was paid $200
more that month because of his flight time , which was the same as if he was on board submarine. We really
have a lot in common.

It is so long ago that I have forgotten my friend's name. It might as
well be as the thousand names of Filipino Stewards are lost now. They
served well in the United States Navy Tradition in their humble ways. So
that heroes can live their destiny without the menial task.
Today wherever my friend is, I am sure he will be telling his kids that
for a few days he was in the same company as John Glen who depended on him
for few days.

In October of the same year, John F Kennedy came down to the base to thank
the Navy for the successful Naval Blockade. Historical interpretation of
Kennedy will be subject to change but he was admired for not backing down
in the cold war showdown. The October Missile Crisis was the closest
Americans have come to WWIII. We were too young to die and we just
starting our Navy career anyway. That year I saw two great American
legends.

A few years later, John Glen political career was put on hold because he
slipped over a freak accident in his house in Ohio. It's funny to
speculate that it may not have happened if my friend was there to make
sure he was safe. He would ensure that John Glenn concentrated on the
business of just being a hero.

Years later, I saw TV coverage of the Democratic national convention.
John Glenn was one of the early favorite.  His presidential dream slipped
away in the process as his speech was drawn outin the circus like political
arena.    In just a short moment of political
drama. Unfortunately for the Senator from Ohio it was not as exciting as
going down in his Mercury capsule. If he became president he would
continue to receive the privilege of the United States Navy's best
service. The personal service for by dedicated and trusted staff at the
White House has been a Naval tradition in this century. A command
performance.

Filipinos in the US Navy

phix7@yahoo.com Nestor Palugod Enriquez