We're giving away a trip to Mexico, and that reminded me of a long week behind BARS! Yes, I've visited Mexico once and that was the last time.

This is a true story never actually told but here it goes, quickly.

I visited Mexico once, and it was by way of the enormous ship, The USS Sacramento. I had just come off a temporary assignment on board the USS Abraham Lincoln working on a radio/television station overseas on deployment. I can't remember exactly the reason for our visit, but I'm sure we went to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico due to a missed port in Australia as a so called, "make-good."

The USS Abraham Lincoln was also home ot the famous, "Mission Accomplished" speech from President George W. Bush.

Small background on leave and watch responsibilities. Your ship has to be manned 24 hours a day in or out of port. Military members may get vacations or what we call leave, but when you're on leave, someone else isn't. When you're at work, there is also something called, Watch. This is designed to protect the ship from attack, emergency, or immediate departure. The Watch team should be able to man the ship or base on a skeleton crew completely.

This is where I say, please don't judge me. This wasn't wartime, well before 9/11, and our presence in Mexico wasn't a threat. This was strictly for the crew to have fun and I came in the Navy a few years out of high school which equates to - IMMATURITY.

Long story short, I played in the all day crew versus officers volleyball tournament. After winning, the crew celebrated by consuming a lot of shots which is how I ended up at the Cabo Wabo Cantina. Fast forward to us fighting each other, Mexican police, and jail. Well, rewind a bit to the fighting each other. I was innocent in all this with zero drinks in me and was just hanging out with the boys.

I remember taking off through the streets of Mexico looking for our Master Chief, explained the situation, and he ran one way with me going the other. I made my way back to the ship with him waiting and thanking me. I with a big smile started to head to my berthing (sleeping quarters), and that's when it happened. The Master Chief said, "Wait a quick second, aren't you supposed to be on watch?" It was like that moment in Christmas Story when Ralph is helping his dad fix the flat tire and say's, "Fudddddggggggggeeeeeeee."

I quickly studdered through my honest but misleading response, "yes master chief but I was taking pictures during the crew volleyball tournament and was heading back."

PAUSE: You do realize that when you try to get out of something, you usually dig yourself deeper right? I mean this was a master chief in the United States Navy. This salty (term used to described experienced members) veteran had been serving our country since before I was born. I just wanted to acknowledge that little detail. This guy was probably a war hero for all I knew and somehow I thought this line of excuse would work.

The master chief responded in very simple form, "...ahhhh, at midnight?" I guess I didn't think the timeline all the way through. Hey, I was being honest when it comes to taking photos and all the other stuff. There is a minor shade factor as I stumbled in the bar with friends instead of coming straight back. Long story short, I got busted!

A week later I was standing attention in front of the man I worked directly for, the commanding officer of the ship. You could call him the president of your ship for civilians reading. I will tell you that I was lucky because I worked for the "man." The master chief said straight up that he didn't believe me, didn't like me and wanted me to understand that he didn't trust a word I said. That said, It was the captain that threw me a lifeline. I escaped this court appearance with a warning. I look back and laugh, but a captain's mast can get you stripped of benefits, pay, and dishonorably discharged. This is no joke! I was lucky. You live and learn.

I served four years and would have re-enlisted with guaranteed Armed Forces Radio. The Navy was willing to re-enlist with a sweet little six-year commitment and that's when I decided to try my luck on the outside in Seattle. The rest of my story is history.

Here's what I also remember about Mexico as you might be preparing to win our big trip. Mexico was so colorful, beautiful, authentic, and warm. Cabo San Lucas is a resort filled city, and it showed. I remember the whistle blowing like a constant alarm that usually meant someone was getting tequila shots directly from the bottle. I remember the beautiful blue waters and most importantly my shipmates, my friends.

Want to have your own experience in Mexico?