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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Navy Veteran Introduces Himself


Several months ago I ran into Stephanie Penick at the Shanower Memorial. We talked about various matters including Naperville, military service, patriotism, and, of course, Dan Shanower.

I mentioned that I had given a speech at the memorial back in 2007 regarding my friendship and Naval service with Dan. She asked for a copy. Later I sent her a few more of my written musings, asking her for her professional critique. Sometime later, she asked me if I would be interested in writing a monthly column for PN. I said, “Yes.”

My whole life I have enjoyed writing. At Highlands School, I got the bug to write from teachers like Mrs. Fawell and Mrs. Hanson. Later at Washington Jr. High and then NCHS, instruction from Mrs. Case, Mr. Taylor and Mrs. Jones furthered my interest in prose. Finally, at North Central College, Professors Guzman and Eastman helped me develop my own style and structure.

Then I joined the Navy.

There is absolutely zero creative writing in the military. And while I gained a lot of experiences flying helicopters off the deck of the USS MIDWAY (CV-41), I never got around to putting pen to paper and writing The Great American Military Novel. Writing the Squadron’s quarterly newsletter was about as close as I got.

In 1990 I left the Navy, returned to Naperville and applied to the FBI. In the fall of 1995 I left Quantico as a newly minted Special Agent. My first assignment was back in Chicago. For the next 21 years, my childhood sweetheart, Renae, and I raised our three girls a couple of blocks from where we had both grown up.

Similar to the Navy, the Bureau didn’t encourage Hemingway-esque reports – “Just the facts, ma’am.”

In 1993 I joined the Judd Kendall VFW Post, and found myself writing monthly columns in the KendallGram as I worked my way up through the Officers’ Chairs.

In the coming months I will attempt to entertain you with some chronicles of Navy life, law enforcement insights and, of course, tales of growing up in Naperville.

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P. Araya
Pablo Araya grew up in Naperville and enjoys writing about his experiences in the Navy, the FBI and growing up in the best town around. Contact Pablo at boblow9913@gmail.com.

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