Two Navy Ships

Often, Navy families have it as tough on deployment as their Sailors. This first-person narrative illustrates some of the unknowns families face:

I am 10 years old, sitting alone on the living-room floor watching a Peanuts holiday special. It’s the Saturday before Thanksgiving – Nov. 22, 1975.

The cartoon is just about over when a special news bulletin interrupts at 8:25 p.m.: “The aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy and the USS Belknap have collided in the Mediterranean Sea.”

Then: “Oh, my God.” It’s my mom’s panic cry echoing from the kitchen.

Within seconds, the telephone rings and neighbors knock on the door of our Port Lyautey home in Virginia Beach.

My dad, Petty Officer 1st Class Newton Blihar, had started his day aboard the Belknap.

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