Another lunch stop, and on the threshold of the Bay of Naples.  Gaeta, I learned is the home port of a US Navy ship USS Mount Whitney which is the flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet and a command-and-control electronic platform.  I mention this because when I was 25, I was offered orders to Naples or Tokyo and I chose Tokyo.  I now see my JAGC role would have been part of the relatively small support footprint for the 6th Fleet in Gaeta and Naples.

This was entirely different than the support role I had at a full naval air facility at Atsugi, Japan and with a carrier group home ported in Yokosuka harbor.  It was in one of the principal military forward bases of the U.S. Navy during my early 1980’s active duty and I enjoyed the challenges and excitement of this posting during the late cold war.  We were keyed up because of the Iran hostage situation and the shooting down of the Korean Airlines 747 over the Kamchatka Peninsula by Russian fighter aircraft.

The Russian bear has again reared up and created more death and chaos, more than during the cold war, but we were united as a nation in our understanding of the threat posed by Russia then.  Now because of Trump reigniting American Isolationism and his inexplicable admiration for Putin we have no unity of national purpose to oppose this inhumane leader and government.  There is absolutely no reason for destroying the economic progress of Europe and indeed Russia using 19th century colonial and criminal concepts of national pride and it puzzles and angers an old cold warrior.

I bring a modern issue into this story of our travels because we are following ancient Rome from Italy to the Hadrian wall.   Rome’s engineering, military power, civil organization (competing checks and balances between the sources of civil authority), liberal minded incorporation of other peoples and beliefs into their vast area of control resulted in greater wealth for all and a reasonable, not perfect by any means but better than clan warfare, level of peace for close to a millennium.  We as Americans are in that position.  We have kept the greater peace for almost a century because we have been active in the world for the general betterment of ourselves and others even though we have not been perfect.  If we want a more tranquil and prosperous world, we must be actively involved.

Back to travels in Europe:  We had a wonderful lunch on a gritty waterfront for a modest sum.  Just the sort of experience we hoped to find.  No English spoken, but enough broken Italian and a bit of French, on Heidi’s part, sufficed to complete the order of an outstanding meal of local seafood.

Another interesting thing we learned is that cats are highly prized and cared for, even those that are “wild”.  Therefore, I include a photo of two adventuresome and comfortable felines.

February 11, Gaeta, Italy01