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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death." -- Harold Wilson

174--California: Midway Magic--the Celebration
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 11 2004 - 20:23 PST
cherie writes: The 600-guests of the final voyage included many of the Navy’s finest, political leaders, major donors to the USS Midway and a few representatives from the press.

It was a day of ceremony and fanfare. Midway was patriotically decorated with flags and banners. Passengers lined up on the flight deck as tugs wiggled themselves into place. The lines that secured Midway to her berth were thick as a child’s thigh. It took nine men to handle each line--four men on the dock, and five men on the ship. As I watched the final line shimmy through the water, a whistle blew. Our journey across San Diego Bay had begun.

“I feel like I am on a floating parking lot,” Jean said. I can’t even feel that we’re moving.”

Tugs pushed and pulled the 74,000 ton Midway across the bay. Everyone aboard got a certificate to commemorate the historic journey. Stars and Stripes and other sailboats glided by to get a closer look. Kayakers paddled over in awe. From the flight deck they looked like colorful toothpicks sprinkled in the water.

During Midway’s final voyage I had the pleasure of sitting next to 83-year-old Alex Kapitanski. I looked at his fluffy white beard and immediately thought of Santa. “So that’s what St. Nick does in the off-months,” I thought.

Alex (AKA Santa) regaled me with epic accounts of his service to our country. Alex told me that he’s had his photo take with the last 10 presidents. He has me beat out—I only have my photo with one.

“President Eisenhower himself pinned the Silver Star on me,” Alex said. As Alex told me stories, he kept one eye on the seat next to him. He was saving it for his son.

He was just getting to the crucial part of his story, when a man took the seat next to him.
Alex looked at him and said politely, “I’m sorry, I’m saving that seat for my son.”

“I am your son,” the man replied.

“Oh, I didn’t recognize you!” Alex said. We all laughed and then Alex continued his tale—right where he left off.

Midway was filled with distinguished veterans like Alex Kapitanski, each with their own triumphant past.

Midway’s final passage may be over, but San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum is just beginning. Alan Uke started the “Midway Magic Foundation,” which he hopes will raise 30-50 million dollars for an endowment fund.

“If we can raise enough money,” Alan said, “we can eventually make the admission free.”

Thanks to Alan’s leadership and dedication, Midway will now be a symbol of naval heritage for generations to come. I think Alan Uke summed it up best: “I want Midway to tell the story of the American Navy and the 200,000 sailors that served on it over the past 47 years.” After Midway’s arrival, the skyline of San Diego is forever changed.

To find out more about “Midway Magic” click on
www.midway.org

video [5 Megs, Windows Media]

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Cherie with the Midway Magic cake.  Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Cherie with the Midway Magic cake. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too.

RADM Riley Mixson and Chairman Alan Uke make the first cut in the cake with a sword.

RADM Riley Mixson and Chairman Alan Uke make the first cut in the cake with a sword.

About 600 guests were "crew" aboard the Midway for its final voyage.

About 600 guests were "crew" aboard the Midway for its final voyage.

The highly decorated Alex Kapitanski, had the silver star pinned on him by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The highly decorated Alex Kapitanski, had the silver star pinned on him by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Cherie, Alex, Ed and Jean. *Photo by Greg.

Cherie, Alex, Ed and Jean. *Photo by Greg.

Jean is touched by the moving ceremony.

Jean is touched by the moving ceremony.

Speech!

Speech!

Cherie with the Founder and President, Alan Uke.

Cherie with the Founder and President, Alan Uke.

Mark Deskins flew in from Washington DC to celebrate Midway's final voyageby ringing the Quarter-Deck Bell.  The USS Midway will be USA's 5th aircraft-carrier museum.

Mark Deskins flew in from Washington DC to celebrate Midway's final voyageby ringing the Quarter-Deck Bell. The USS Midway will be USA's 5th aircraft-carrier museum.

Cherie shakes hands with Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Cherie shakes hands with Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Jean with the Congressman.

Jean with the Congressman.

Cherie with Scott McGaugh, head of media relations for the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum.

Cherie with Scott McGaugh, head of media relations for the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum.

Fanfare awaits the Midway on the pier.

Fanfare awaits the Midway on the pier.

An inflatable Statue of Liberty and other bouncy things were donated by Party Pals, a sponsor of the event.

An inflatable Statue of Liberty and other bouncy things were donated by Party Pals, a sponsor of the event.

Kayakers paddled over to watch the Midway pull into its new home on the south side of Navy Pier 11A.

Kayakers paddled over to watch the Midway pull into its new home on the south side of Navy Pier 11A.

The little tug boat that could.  "I think I can, I think I can."

The little tug boat that could. "I think I can, I think I can."

A huge American flag waved from the ladder of a firetruck.

A huge American flag waved from the ladder of a firetruck.

Beware of Jet Blast. *Photo by Greg.

Beware of Jet Blast. *Photo by Greg.

Cherie and Jean squish through the door, ready to join the party on the pier. *Photo by Greg.

Cherie and Jean squish through the door, ready to join the party on the pier. *Photo by Greg.

The Midway was decommissioned in San Diego on April 11, 1992.  Now, almost 12 years later, it is being turned into a museum.

The Midway was decommissioned in San Diego on April 11, 1992. Now, almost 12 years later, it is being turned into a museum.

Choppers are cool.

Choppers are cool.

Cherie and Jean with Rear Admiral Jack Hines, Deputy Commander, U.S. Third Fleet. *Photo by Greg.

Cherie and Jean with Rear Admiral Jack Hines, Deputy Commander, U.S. Third Fleet. *Photo by Greg.

Familes cheer and welcome the Midway home.

Familes cheer and welcome the Midway home.

"Hi Poppie!!" the children scream in excitement.

"Hi Poppie!!" the children scream in excitement.

These are the only umbrellas you are likely to see on a sunny southern California day.

These are the only umbrellas you are likely to see on a sunny southern California day.

Everyone stands to pledge allegiance to the flag.

Everyone stands to pledge allegiance to the flag.

The inflatable Lady Liberty stands tall.  (The real statue was too heavy to haul all the way to California.)

The inflatable Lady Liberty stands tall. (The real statue was too heavy to haul all the way to California.)

Speech!

Speech!

Can you find Jean? (Look under the inflatable eagle.)

Can you find Jean? (Look under the inflatable eagle.)

The crowd listened and cheered.

The crowd listened and cheered.

Each of the passengers took home "final voyage" certificates.

Each of the passengers took home "final voyage" certificates.

Jean with some Midway fans.

Jean with some Midway fans.

Sailboats slide right by the aircraft carrier.

Sailboats slide right by the aircraft carrier.

Greg is all smiles.

Greg is all smiles.

Stars and Stripes comes in for a peek at San Diego's newest attraction.

Stars and Stripes comes in for a peek at San Diego's newest attraction.

Greg and Jean.

Greg and Jean.

Stars and Stripes gets a closer look.

Stars and Stripes gets a closer look.

Crowds gather to see what "Midway Magic" is all about.

Crowds gather to see what "Midway Magic" is all about.

The band's all here.  You have to be very secure with your manhood to play the piccolo.

The band's all here. You have to be very secure with your manhood to play the piccolo.

Jean enjoys a full day of Midway Magic.

Jean enjoys a full day of Midway Magic.

An aerial photo of Midway's last voyage courtesy of the US Navy.

An aerial photo of Midway's last voyage courtesy of the US Navy.

Cherie, during the crossing. *Photo by Jean.

Cherie, during the crossing. *Photo by Jean.

A fireboat with the California in the background. *Photo by Jean.

A fireboat with the California in the background. *Photo by Jean.

Thousands gather for the celebration. *Photo by Jean.

Thousands gather for the celebration. *Photo by Jean.

The Midway docks for the last time. *Photo by Jean.

The Midway docks for the last time. *Photo by Jean.

The Midway has arrived.  *Photo courtesy of Jim "GUIDO" DiMatteo (Chair of the Midway Airwing Committee)

The Midway has arrived. *Photo courtesy of Jim "GUIDO" DiMatteo (Chair of the Midway Airwing Committee)

A photo of Midway taken from a satellite 400 miles away! *Photo by Keesey Scott at Space Imaging.

A photo of Midway taken from a satellite 400 miles away! *Photo by Keesey Scott at Space Imaging.

The lights are bright in San Diego.  *Photo courtesy of Jim "GUIDO" DiMatteo (Chair of the Midway Airwing Committee)

The lights are bright in San Diego. *Photo courtesy of Jim "GUIDO" DiMatteo (Chair of the Midway Airwing Committee)