At any time sharing memories of days gone by is special, but never more so than when you’re able to congregate with a group of like minded people who share a common bond stronger even than some family bonds.
This past weekend I was privileged to be invited to attend the 35 year reunion of a group of young people who joined the Royal New Zealand Navy. The organisers managed to time the reunion exactly to the day they all meet 35 years ago. As 16, 17, 18 years old, they were mere children then. It was amazing to see the people they have become and hear about the different journeys they had taken since those hard, scary “under training” days.
I now know how lucky I was to be an instructor for one of the eight classes of recruits that year. I had 14 young ladies under my care for three months of gruelling initial training. By their passing out parade I was so very proud of what they had achieved.
Many of those attending had not seen each other for years, possibly since they left that initial training, but the weekend of sharing memories of those early days very soon restored the bond and it was like no time at all had passed. Hearing the girls sharing memories also became a revelation for me as I heard of escapades I’d never known about. Some made me cringe, how could I have allowed such flagrant disregard of the stringent rules to occur? I guess I wasn’t as aware of what was going on under my nose as I thought.
Do people in other occupations develop such a bond? I believe the Armed Services, especially the Navy, bring something to a person’s life that cannot be replicated anywhere else. The Navy becomes a family and the link between those who served seems never to be severed. We are bound together by our service to Queen and country, but even tighter by our service and support to each other.
I see this bond at every RNZN Naval Women’s Association function where those serving during World War II mingle with currently serving members as well as all those who served in the intervening years. I saw it again at the BCT 2/80 reunion this weekend. It makes me realise how very fortunate I am to belong with such an amazing group of people, those who served in the Royal New Zealand Navy.