In 1989, I was the editor of Approach magazine at the Naval Safety Center, and among my duties was running the command’s booth at the annual Tailhook Association Convention in Las Vegas. I arrived a day before most of the masses and had a chance to get better acquainted with many of the association’s officers I’d only known as voices on the phone. They were just as helpful and professional in person. They were sincere, and it was obvious they loved the community and what it stood for.
Tailhook ’89 was pure joy for me. I ran into people from all walks of my past, many of whom I hadn’t seen for years. Catching up was exhilarating. We drank frozen concoctions by the pool; we walked the convention floor; we attended the panels and engaged in heated debate with our seniors, including flag officers. And we didn’t sleep much. It seemed like good, clean(ish) fun. By the time I flew back to Norfolk I was sure there could never be a better forum for a community to gather and celebrate itself.