Crewmen say farewell to shipmate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Crewmen say farewell to shipmate

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January 17, 2002

Albany-- As thousands of American troops head to the Persian Gulf for a possible war with Iraq, one Albany veteran is coming home. Chief Petty Officer Billy Taylor recently returned from the Middle East--his last tour of duty after more than two decades in the Navy. His colleagues helped him celebrate his retirement today, but they're thinking about war.

Chief Petty Officer Billy Taylor bids farewell to the United States Navy-- but says he will return if called back to duty, "If the inevitable happens and my country calls me I will be proud to serve."

Taylor has served proudly for 23 years--most recently on this ship, the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy. The air craft carrier spent six and a half months in a combat zone--the Persian Gulf, "I myself didn't think the crew could hold up because they were young and inexperienced, but they surprised me, they held up quite well."

Today, the crew is anxious to return to duty. "We kind of feel left out." Master Chief Peter Cianci says the crew is not scheduled to deploy until 2004-- but he thinks they will be shipped out sooner, "Nobody wants war but being in the military we are called to serve and do what's needed, kind of feel want to be in the fight also to get our licks in for the country."

But now, it's good bye to Officer Billy Taylor, who proudly took the "licks" for 23 years.

The U.S.S. JFK is undergoing routine repair and overhaul that's expected to last until September.

Posted at 5:40 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com