I saw him walking down a highway on the outskirts of Memphis, Tennessee picking up cans and then throwing them into a wire shopping cart that he was slowly pushing. When I stopped to speak with him, I realized I was talking to someone who served our country in the US Navy.
“I was on the USS Kitty Hawk, that was the last ship I was on. It was an aircraft carrier,” he told me. The Kitty Hawk was a supercarrier, which was one of the largest aircraft carriers of its time. It was commissioned in 1961 under the command of William F. Bringle.
Years after its commissioning, the ship was nicknamed the “Shitty Kitty” by some of its sailors because it would often breakdown while at sea. The USS Kitty Hawk was one of the longest operating vessels in the Navy, which meant it was one of the oldest prior to its decommissioning in 2009.
This enlisted shipmate told me that he moved to Memphis as a child with his mother and grandmother. He was born in Mississippi. During our short conversation, he talked about his life as a child and later his love for the Navy. The Kitty Hawk was one of two ships he called home over the years.
This shipman loved to travel while in the Navy. Today, he travels the Memphis area in search of cans to cash in to survive.