The day my father's ship came in

In April of 1972 my dad's Navy ship (USS Newport News CA 148) was deployed from Norfolk, Va., to Vietnam.

My dad had to leave just a few weeks before my sixth birthday on the 23rd. Of course, at six years of age, you are upset that your dad will miss your birthday, but I had no idea he would miss Christmas as well.

As the months without him passed, my mother did her best to prepare my brother and me for the fact that our dad would not be home for Christmas. (That was the year the Christmas tree was tied to the wall with a rope so it would stop falling over every time the door slammed!)

On Christmas Eve Day the phone rang. On the other end was my dad asking to be picked up from the base. His ship had docked. The Newport News had made it home in time for Christmas!

Even though I was just six, I'll never forget the banner hanging from the ship, blowing in the wind. It read: "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!"

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