Veterans’ Reflections: Third-Generation Sailor Recalls Service
By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2010 As a third-generation Navy man, John Gainer knew what kind of commitment and dedication it would take when he accepted a commission in 1992.
Former Navy officer John Gainer, bottom row center, poses for a photo with several signalmen assigned to the communications division aboard the USS John L. Hall. Gainer said it was a great honor to have served fellow Americans. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Service to our country is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen of the United States,” he said. “It’s one thing my father taught me, and his father had taught him. It was something that was taught to us through our family -- that service and dedication to the cause of freedom is something to be upheld.”
While he was serving aboard a ship in the Persian Gulf following Operation Desert Shield, Gainer said, he was reminded almost daily of that dedication to service as he oversaw maritime intercept missions. He and his crew were a part of the Mideast Force’s naval blockade in 1994. If an incoming ship was thought to have cargo violating United Nations sanctions on Iraq, it was up to them to go through the ship’s hold to find it.
Gainer said some of his most vivid memories come from long days and nights, watching his crew dig through boxes and crates searching for contraband.
“Sometimes we would spend eight, 10, 12 hours out on a ship, going through crates and boxes, making sure there was nothing illegal being transported to Iraq,” he said. “Their dedication to that mission was most impressive to me.”
But the best glimpse into Gainer’s own dedication to his country comes in his humility about it. While some brag and boast of the great things they did while in uniform, Gainer said he was just happy to be able to work for the nation and, as he put it, “the cause of freedom.”
“I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to serve -- to serve the American people and to defend the Constitution of the United States,” he said.
(“Veterans’ Reflections” is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.)