Ralph W. Hayward
Served on the Ranger from Nov. 89 thru Apr 92. AIMD/IM-4 Division
AS2 (Aviation Support Equipment Technician (Yellow gear/GSE)

I was born on October 21st. 1962 in Denver, Colorado. I was raised lacking a lot of the things that other children had. My father being an alcoholic had not realized at the time that my life would be affected by the bad effects of his disease. Still he was a good provider and always worked hard to make sure that my mother, my older brother, two younger sisters and myself never went without food, clothing, shelter or any of life's many necessities.

My mother was a very kind, gentle and loving lady. Anyone could always find comfort in her presence. Her death, due to a heart attack in 1982, struck a devastating blow to my life. At the time, I was only 20 years of age and just starting out with a family of my own. I still have questions that will go forever unanswered due to my sweet mothers life being stolen from all who knew and loved her at the age of 38.

I married the very beautiful and lovely Paula Hawkins who was and still is my High School sweetheart. We have been married happily for over nine years now and have been blessed with two of the loveliest little girls to ever grace the earth. My oldest, Amanda, was born in San Diego in June of 1983 less than a year after my mothers death. Holly, my youngest, was born in Denver during January of 1985. My family means everything to me. I strive to give my children all the love that I received as a child, plus I have been going through my own second childhood giving them all the things I lacked.

I was a Sailor in the Navy, who had suddenly found myself fighting in a war that I had failed to consider as I took the oath to work for my country. I am proud to have served my country in such a way, although I would never again want to go through the mental torment that is respective of any war. My job in the Navy was to supervise the repair of "Ground Support Equipment" on board the Aircraft Carrier, USS Ranger. This is like the gear you would find at any Airport that is used to tow, start and service aircraft. The Ranger spent a total of 92 days in the Persian Gulf, from 15 January to 17 April. We were there to fly the first and last strikes of the Desert Storm war.

I first took the oath in April of 1980, more than a year before I would have graduated from High School. I spent almost four years on the USS Kitty Hawk before my enlistment came to an end. During my time on the Kitty Hawk I worked to pass the GED which I received in 1981 just a short time before I would have graduated. I took my experience back to the civilian community in April of 1984. After working at odd jobs, still lacking the experience necessary to gain employment that would pay enough for me to care for my family the way I wanted, I once again took the oath in July of 1986. I worked at Naval Air Station North Island, in San Diego, California for two years and four months before transferring to Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Two (HS-2). After working as Line Supervisor for 11 months at HS-2, I was transferred to the USS Ranger. I served on the Ranger through April of 1992 when I Graciously accepted an Honorable Discharge, three months prior to the end of my enlistment through an early out program being offered at the time. Upon receiving my discharge, I returned with my family to our native Colorado to begin a new life after Military Service.

The following pages contain thoughts, feelings and emotions that have all been part of my life since High School. I started writing a little poetry here and there after I quit school and joined the Navy. I have only recently gotten serious about writing and preserving my thoughts and feelings. Although practically everything I have ever written is contained in this book, I called it a "Cruise Book" because of the short time before and the time during the Desert Storm cruise that most of this was written.