All I want for Christmas is a real good tan.


Have you heard this Kenny Chesney Christmas song? It came out during last Christmas season, but since we have agreed as a society to bypass Thanksgiving, it’s already making the rounds on the country stations this year. [Quick editorial: Can’t we take a day to be thankful for what we already have before starting the mad rush to give and get more stuff?] For those that have never heard it, it’s about getting away from the cold, winter weather and taking a tropical vacation for the holidays. Pretty much the opposite of “White Christmas”

I grew up in the South, so a white Christmas holds no sentimental value for me. Heck… I remember riding my new bike over to my Grandmother’s on Christmas day while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Personally, the idea of a tropical Christmas appeals to me.

Some of you may be saying that I already live in a tropical paradise here in San Diego. I admit that the weather is nice, but have you ever waded into the Pacific off the California coast in August? Imagine it in January. Granted, we don’t have to bundle up in parkas, but sweatshirts are the SoCal uniform from November to April.

Well… this year I get my wish. Courtesy of Uncle Sam, I am getting an all-expenses paid 6 month trip to a tropical Caribbean island. That’s right! I’m headed to Club Gitmo!

As far as I know, I’m going to be working on the administrative review board that determines the disposition of detainees’ cases. That’s all I know about the job – that and the fact that I have to report to Arlington, VA on December 21st.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Gitmo as a detainee facility, as I realize the human rights pitfalls that surround such an undertaking. But the pragmatist in me has to ask, what choice did we have? We can’t try these folks in our criminal justice system. They aren’t U.S. citizens, nor did they commit crimes on American soil. They aren’t traditional POWs, as they aren’t members of a belligerent country’s armed forces. We certainly can’t play “catch and release” with terrorists that are hostile to the U.S.

I believe that they have been correctly characterized as “illegal combatants”, which are in fact covered under the Geneva Convention. We are fighting a war against an enemy the likes of which no one (except maybe Israel) has ever faced. During unprecedented situations, unique solutions are attempted and sometimes mistakes are made. Were some mistakes made in detainee handling and processing? Undoubtedly. Did our government and military make a good faith effort to process these individuals in accordance with international law? I believe so.

I hope to gain some insight and understanding of the process during my temporary assignment. To the extent that security concerns permit, I hope to share it with you in this forum. Though I’m not excited one bit about leaving Whit behind for 6 months, I am upbeat about the work that I will be doing. It’s been over two years since I was last involved “operationally” with the GWOT, and I’m happy to get back into a more active role. I’ll let the Marines and Soldiers on the ground dole out the battlefield justice, but I’m content to work behind the scenes to ensure that our nation’s enemies are brought to justice off the battlefield as well.

6 Responses to “All I want for Christmas is a real good tan.”

  1. DeJon Redd Says:

    I wish you a safe trek and a swift return, my friend. What a tremendous opportunity! Enjoy yourself and if you see anyone trying to light their nikes like a cigarette, run like the dickens.

    Can’t wait for some turkey and football.


  2. Whitney Says:

    I would say, “Doesn’t anyone feel sorry for ME?” But I feel sorry enough for myself that no one else needs to. 🙂

    I will miss my husband very much and am not so thankful to the Navy for our Christmas present!

  3. Annie Says:

    I feel sorry for you!! I’ve been through it now, too. You and Joe have been apart much more than DeJon and me, but such is the life of a sailor. Should’ve joined the Air Force, Joe.

  4. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Hey Joe, I do look forward to your impressions. I hate that your assignment is for so long, but on the (little bit) bright side, that should afford you ample opportunity to gain perspective there.

    Half-off the subject, how long are you guys set to be in your current location? I know you’ve been there quite a while now, but I don’t know how the Navy works irt length of stay in an assignment.

  5. Joe Longhorn Says:


    I’m on orders here in San Diego until December of 2006. After that, things are up in the air a bit. Not sure where we’ll end up.

    We’ve been in SD since May of ’03 and this is actually the second set of San Diego orders in a row. I don’t expect a third.

    More good news, though. I’ll be coming home a few weeks earlier. Of course, that’s because they just bumped my reporting date up to 5 December. Good times.

  6. Victoria Says:

    As a real Kenny Chesney fan you saw the TV show “somewhere in the sun”. Did you feel the urge to walk in his footsteps, to visit the places he was talking about, to experience the sunsets he showed you?
    We can get you there – on a Caribbean sailing vacation.
    Start your Virgin Islands yacht charter in St. Thomas in the Marina American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook, where Kenny keeps his motor yacht. Cruise to St. John and have a burger at his favorite beach bar “Woody’s”. Make a tour over the island and see the gorgeous views from the hilltops. Anchor in front of palm fringed beaches like Cannel Bay or Trunk Bay and dive into the turquoise waters for a swim or snorkel trip. Have a drink in the cockpit of your crewed charter yacht “when the sun goes down” and get blown away by an indescribable sunset. Sail the BVI and visit one of his featured restaurants at Jost van Dyke, “Sydney’s love and peace” and have a delicious lobster meal. Swing in the hammock at White Bay and experience yourself the feeling of “living a different pace”.
    No shoes, no shirt, no problem!

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