I’ve shared just a little bit about how I was bitten by the boating bug, but a lot of folks have wondered how I became equally, if not more so, passionate about America, this bold and beautiful country where I am so blessed to have been born.
Like many things, I suspect it’s a result of a variety of influences, but there are a couple of standout factors, the first of which would be my father. My dad, Joe O’Malley, was born in Pennsylvania, and all he ever wanted to be a Navy helicopter pilot. (He had read the book and then seen the movie, “The Bridges at Toko Ri” which featured a talented and brazen Irish-American pilot, played by Mickey Rooney in the movie, who would fly behind enemy lines to rescue downed aviators.) My dad joined the Navy and became what was then called a “NavCad,” or Naval Cadet, and he went through flight training at NAS Pensacola in 1961.
My dad is a handsome fella and funny too, a natural-born storyteller, and several years after finishing flight school and being stationed in Hawaii, he met my mother and the two of them fell madly in love. Here was this dashing naval aviator and there was this gorgeous, tall, shapely and blonde Texas gal. They were (and are) a wonderful couple – and I still have vague, hazy memories of my dad scooping me up in his arms while he was wearing his Navy whites – the dress uniform that makes pretty much every fella look great.
My dad flew in the Navy for seven years and then got out in 1968 to become a Pan Am pilot. He was my hero then and has been every day since then. I can’t help but think that a large dose of my patriotic nature was influenced at a very early age by having a father who served his country and has, to this day long after having left the service, been zealously devoted to the United States and all the good for which it stands.
I’ve said it before, but it can never be said often enough, “Thanks, Diddy. I am so grateful that you inspired in me a love for our country, a realization of how blessed I am to be an American, and for working hard and making sacrifices to give me the best life possible. I love you — the whole wide world.”
Have a wonderful week, my boating friends!
Patriotically, nautically yours,