by Kimberly A. Cook (Twitter@ WarriorTales)
I’m one of those personality types who need closure, tidy endings, aka a wrap-up. Not that I have control issues – much, but according to my Myers-Briggs INFJ category, leaving possibilities open for eons raises my blood pressure. With that in mind, I am blowing my own cover and saying goodbye to a volunteer project I worked long and very hard on, the USS Ranger Foundation.
Long story short, we tried to bring a retired USS Navy aircraft carrier 125 miles upriver from the Pacific Ocean to her new life as a Museum, Memorial, Education Center, Tourism and Special Events and Emergency Preparedness site. In 2005 I attended a Foundation board meeting with a marketing plan draft and got thrown on the Board of Directors. Literally. Figured they needed some Army blood amongst all those retired sailors and pilots, I guess.
Worked my tail off on the project until work and family needs made me step back in 2008, but I maintained the Foundation’s phone line. Fast forward to July 2010 when I needed to turn the phone line over to the Foundation’s Development Director. Shannon Chisom and I bonded, especially when she finally met the person who everybody would tell her, “Oh, Kim used to do that.”
It was an exciting time with the Foundation since a potential site had finally been secured in Fairview, Oregon. I volunteered to set up Twitter and the YouTube Channel for the Foundation, since I figured I could manage that with the day job, writing and family. The first day I met Shannon I went from posting two Spec Ops Cat videos on YouTube to interviewing the mayor of Fairview. Ha! Mission creep struck and soon I was the Online Media Manager and handling the Foundation’s Facebook page, Twitter, Zazzle store, Pinterest, posting to the Main Web Page, and producing 25 YouTube videos, in addition to a thousand other things.
In the end, our dream was not to be. We came close, very close. Throwing grenades and horseshoes close. With amazing support from the City of Fairview staff and citizens, plus all of East County, government entities and our elected representatives, we damn near did it. U.S. Navy budget constraints and time did us in. USS Ranger was to be bid out for scrap as a package with her de-commissioned sister carriers sitting in Bremerton, Washington and the Navy couldn’t wait any longer. With more aircraft carriers coming off active duty, they needed moorages. We got that word directly from the Secretary of the Navy’s Office.
When the news came last winter, the Foundation still worked behind the scenes hoping for a Hail Mary. Didn’t work. We never had a “final meeting” for our Team Ranger Staff and volunteers. We closed the Foundation office and put items in storage. It took several months for the Board of Directors to decide what to say on the web site. Recently I closed the Twitter and YouTube accounts, Zazzle is next.
It broke my heart to lose USS Ranger. She is a historic aircraft supercarrier whose like will never be built again; Navy ship building needs have changed. She was a decorated Vietnam War and Desert Storm veteran plus a movie star in “Top Gun” and several other films.
My greatest regret is she did not get to live on in retirement to serve again honoring the men who sailed on her, those who flew off her and never returned and those who died on her decks. In her new role, Ranger would have been a memorial to all women and men who served in all branches of the Armed Forces, active, reserve and guard.
So I want to thank all the Ranger veterans, all our veteran helpers, Team Ranger staff, volunteers and citizens who worked hard and fought to save the great Gray Lady. We didn’t give up the ship, but we lost her anyway. I had the honor and pleasure to go aboard Ranger in 2005 and 2012. Since I want to make sure we keep a part of her legacy alive, I posted her final YouTube video I made on Spec Ops Cat’s channel for all who want to see it again.
The video also shows what you can do with a still camera, a Flip video recorder, some paid music, creativity and some practice. You can almost move an aircraft supercarrier. We had a dream and we went after it big time. Will I miss USS Ranger and the vision we had for her? More than you will ever know. Will I give up dreaming big? Never!
My favorite photo I took of the great Gray Lady, USS Ranger, in January 2012. She is truly the “Top Gun of the Pacific.”