You Just Never Know

This past Friday I drove to Norfolk, Virginia to pick up my son from Sea Cadets Boot Camp. He was there for the past two weeks so I was there to attend his graduation and pick him up. He also wanted to tour the USS Wisconsin afterward.

I gladly attended his graduation ceremony but was not nearly early enough for my liking. I usually like to get to an event with plenty of time to spare so I can check out the best photo shooting angles, the lighting, check out any obstacles, and more. Well, the graduation ceremony location changed due to impending bad weather and heavy traffic were both reasons to delay my early arrival. I think I arrived about 15 minutes before the scheduled ceremony began.

I was given a program as I entered the facility, which was actually a hangar and now a makeshift graduation hall. I looked for my son’s name to figure out which company he was in so I could be close to him. I eventually found his name on the very back page and noted that he had some fancy brackets around his name. This indicated to me that he might be receiving some kind of award or recognition, so I positioned myself up near the side/front of the room to get a shot of his face if this actually happened.

The ceremony started. It was difficult to hear the speakers because sound doesn’t travel well in a hangar. A few cadets received awards and then the biggest, most prestigious award was being announced. It was the Battalion Honor Cadet Award, which is awarded to the most impressive cadet who is a cut above the others–above over 170 cadets in this particular case. They announced the recipient and sure enough it was our son, James Shank!

This proud papa kept his composure and shot away with the Nikon D300. I was equipped with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and a SB-900 speedlight. Here are two photos I snapped as James received his award and then was later marching with his company.

James checked out of his barracks, we grabbed a quick snack at a convenient store and headed over the USS Wisconsin. This battleship has a gloried history and is now open for topside tours. We had purchased our tickets online days before I departed for this trip to be sure we had a spot on a tour this specific day. The tour was led by a veteran who served on another Iowa-Class destroyer. He was fabulous and we learned a whole lot of details about this ship and how it was equipped for battle over the passing years. This ship saw active duty in World War 2, Korea, and the Persian Gulf!

Here are two photos I took on the deck of the USS Wisconsin, an amazing battleship with an impressive record of service.

The events of this day reminded me that you just never know what’s going to happen or what you might see, so have your camera ready at all times. I had hoped for better preparation and an earlier arrival, but all in all it wasn’t a bad day!

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