She's joining the Navy and defending our freedom

She wore her white and black hat low over her eyes. The black uniform was unbroken except by the seaman's patch on her shoulder and the red and yellow medal over her right top pocket.

Natalie Nicole Lopez turned 18 last summer, and in a week she will be headed to her first ship as a member of the U.S. Navy.

Natalie is a Douglas High School graduate and joined the Navy through the delayed entry program.

"I didn't know what I was going to do and I wanted to travel," she said of her decision to join the Navy.

She went to basic training, or what we used to call boot camp, at Great Lakes, Ill.

"I liked it," she said. "It wasn't too hard, but I feel like I accomplished something. Now it is time to take the next step."

Natalie is assigned to the USS Ranier, a fast combat support ship berthed in Bremerton, Wash.

"I'm nervous but everyone has to report to their first ship sometime."

Many people who join the service attend school before going to sea and have their jobs picked out before they report to a ship.

But Natalie reports as a blank slate, an able bodied seaman who might take on any one of a number of jobs, from boatswain to quartermaster to yeoman.

She hopes to eventually do something related to aviation, either as a mechanic or working with ordnance.

Natalie is the daughter of longtime Douglas residents Bambi Wood and Joe Lopez. Bambi is also a graduate of Douglas High School, something that amazes Nancy Dickson, Natalie's grandmother.

Nancy, who answers the phones at the Nevada Commission on Tourism, is very proud of Natalie, who came to visit on Friday.

For the next week, Natalie will be working with her recruiter until the big day comes and she is on her way to join her brothers and sisters in the defense of the republic and our Constitution.

Veterans Day is Monday and it is important for all of us to remember not only those who fought for our country in the past, but also those who are presently in harm's way.

Natalie is just one 18-year-old girl, but she has stepped up to make a difference in this world of ours by going forth to defend our freedom.

May all of those defending our nation in these trying times enjoy clear sailing.

It was an odd thing, but it turns out my wife, Jennifer Hollister, rode the bus to school with Natalie's mom, Bambi.

Both graduated from Douglas High in 1981. This sort of thing never ceases to amaze me.

Arts and Entertainment Television re-aired the "City Confidential" segment on Virginia City just before Election Day.

I also note that Storey County came within 13 votes of approving the marijuana question, the closest it came to a win in any of Nevada's counties.

Perhaps some parts of Nevada are a little more swinging than Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick's.

Best line from election night coverage goes to Carson City's own Craig Swope while talking to School Superintendent Mary Pierczynski about the bond victory.

"We're on the air, so keep it clean," Craig said as Mary picked up the phone.

I thought the chimes on the Laxalt Building had piped down a little and it turns out they have.

Bill Kelley said the amplifier has failed and the carillon had to be shipped back east for repair.

He said the folks in charge hope to have it back up and working in two weeks.

Bill didn't think I should mention this, but the thing only had three days left on the warranty before it went out. That was a lucky note.

Kurt Hildebrand is former managing editor at the Nevada Appeal. Reach him at 887-2430, ext. 402 or e-mail him at


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