This is the story of my life so far: 68 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
Fall 1978: trials at sea of equipments and armaments of the Georges Leygues
After the trials at sea of the propulsion system in the first semester of 1978, the equipments and armaments of the Georges Leygues were tested at sea during the fall of 1978.
I have no real memories of these trials at sea and no anecdote to tell you.
During this period, as my direct boss, the "Chef du Service Détection" (radar an electronic warfare lead officer) was posted on another ship, I became his replacement.
In January 1979, I had finally decided to marry Geneviève in April 1979.
But before that, the Georges Leygues had its "Traversée de Longue Durée" (Long Crossing) in February and March 1979.
February-March 1979: TLD (Long Crossing)
Recent view of Abidjan harbor
From Brest to Abidjan, we had on board Admiral Philippe de Gaulle. The admiral wanted to have a reason to go to Abidjan so that he could see president Félix Houphouët-Boigny to exchange stories about his father Charles de Gaulle.
There were no video distribution yet on French ships. But there were movie projectors and in the junior officer wardroom, we had a screen. So, from time to time, we would invite the commanding officer and the senior officers to come watch a movie in our wardroom. They usually accepted the invitation.
So, of course, as the admiral was on board, we extended the invitation to him too. And he came several times to watch a movie with us.
As each movie had several rolls, during the time when a new roll was installed on the projector, there was a distribution of ice creams to anybody who wanted.
I still can see in my mind the admiral eating an ice cream while watching a movie in our wardroom.
We stayed a week in Abidjan from February 13th to February 20th.
The commanding officer of the Ivorian Navy was then Commander Lassana Timité, who had been with me for two years at the École Navale. We were very well received by the Ivorian Navy.
I see now on the Internet that Lassana Timité became an admiral, that he became the Chief of Staff of the Ivorian Armed Forces, the only Navy officer to do so, and that he died in 2000 when he was around 50 years old.
Our next port of call was Rio de Janeiro .
The French Navy had a bad experience with a ship that was in Rio during the Carnival: when it was time to depart, 25% of the crew was missing. Many sailors had become somewhat crazy during the Carnival. The story I heard told of sailors that came back six months later to the French consulate to be repatriate. Of course, there were severely punished by the Navy.
So, the French Navy had decided to never have a ship on call in Rio during the Carnival.
The Georges Leygues was in Rio de Janeiro from March 1st to March 7th, just after the Carnival that had finished on Ash Wednesday on February 28th, the day before we arrived.
the Special Group champion [of the samba schools] marches for one more time on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday.
Samba parade on the Saturday after the Rio Carnival
So, this exhibition of the champion of the samba schools happened on Saturday March 3rd. I saw this and it was spectacular.
Those that were on duty this day and wanted to go see this exhibition tried to find somebody to replace them, but not all of them succeeded.
I remember one sailor who was doing his military service and was on duty; he left the ship illegally to watch the samba parade. He was caught and was punished, but he said that he did not regret what he did and he would do it again, because he thought that there was no chance for him to watch such a spectacle during the rest of his life. I could understand him very well.
We came back to Brest at the end of March 1979.
A month later Geneviève and myself got married.
Continue to Part 59
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