April 9, 2005 three newly minted Children of the Revolution (CAR) attended the Florida State Society Daughters of the American Revolution (FSSDAR) annual Spring National Defense Luncheon in Orlando Florida. Their paternal grandfather was to be a featured speaker and his subject was the POW experience as exemplified by RPOWs Jim Stockdale MOH, Doug Hegdahl and Mike Christian.
The young ladies had been recently exposed to the Blue Angels performance in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and had been equipped with Blue Angel flight suits from the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola Florida. They knew their grandfather was a Naval Aviator and had been a prisoner in some war. Given their age they had no concept of what this all meant. It was not a matter of “secrets”; it was a matter of age appropriateness. This day’s luncheon presentation was to be their first exposure to some of the realities of imprisonment.
A few days later at Nativity School, Valrico FL, Allyson was given a first grader’s “pop quiz” assignment of writing about jobs. What follows was not prompted by any adult or suggested by any family member. It was spontaneous and from the heart.
Learning About Jobs
I want to be a Blue Agel. Blue Agels fight bad gise. My grampa use to be a Blue Agel.
Onc my grampa got locked in a kage he was not saposto. My grampa was just trying to get a bad gie. The bad gise got him.
I love plains because my grampa use to fly plains. Plains look cool. Sometimes plains look scarey. Most of the time they don’t look scarey. My mommy is maybe going to get me and my sisters a pain ride for us.
I love plains spaships and cool stuff just like that.
This interest in flight is not a passing fancy as evidenced by Allyson possessing an autographed picture of astronaut Capt. Wendy Lawrence USN. Wendy invited Allyson and her family to be Crew Guests at Cape Kennedy for the July 13, 2005 launch attempt of STS- 114. Allyson attended the astronaut’s family breakfast, had her picture taken with two astronauts, toured the Visitor Center and was bussed out to the causeway to observe the launch. The fact that the launch was scrubbed at the last minute made little difference. She was part of the hoopla and excitement leading up to the grand event. The astronauts were disappointed but Allyson was not. She had been part of something big.
Of course her grandfather was never a Blue Angel and never claimed to be. He was a “World Famous Golden Dragon” (CVA 14; CAW 19;VA -192) at the time of his capture. He spent no time in a cage, which actually might have been a little bit better than the holding cells in the “Heartbreak Hotel” section of Hanoi’s Hoa Lo prison (“The Hanoi Hilton”). But she sure was right in her assessment that “the bad gise got him”. They got him and held him for six years and two months.
Allyson is one of four daughters born to two former Marines – Dawn Alvarez Stratton USNA ’87 and Patrick Thomas Stratton USNA ’87. Both her parents served in the combat zone in the First Gulf War and now make their way in the civilian world in Valrico, Florida.
July 21, 2005