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Eighth grade Honors ELA students in Elke Hesselgrave's class from Monroe's Park Place Middle School were assigned to interview and write a profile on a veteran.

Here is Lydia Martin's story. She wrote about Steve Blanton, USN, who today works at Park Place Middle.

The Janitor on the Sea

It’s night, and you’re on the deck. It had been a fairly warm day, being near the coast of Australia. The waves crashing on the deck brings the tickling scent of salt to your nose. Except, it’s not even waves; it’s as if the ship is riding on glass. You look up to the stars. It’s a perfectly clear night and you can see the stars perfectly. It’s as if you were in space, traveling amongst the stars. That’s what it was like for 22 year old Steve Blanton, a member of the United States Navy.
Steve was born on May 19th, 1960, in a small town near San
Francisco, called Pleasanton, California. A year after high school, 1980, Steve joined the military. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. So, he joined the Navy. When asked why, he chuckled, “I didn’t want to crawl on the ground.” Steve was ranked with the 3rd Class Petty Officer, and Boiler Technician during his time in the Navy.
When asked about boot camp, Steve shook his head, “That’s actually
the worst part about the whole thing...It’s stressful...They can wake you up at two in the morning, make you go out and do some marching, then you go to breakfast, go out and do some more marching or exercises.”
That doesn’t mean that Steve regretted his choice to go join the
Navy, “I would do it all over again,” he said. He admitted that he regretted leaving, “I was young at the time,” he chuckled, “Didn’t think right.”
While on the ship, Steve traveled to many countries including, Japan,
the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South America, and a lot more that he couldn’t even remember! Seeing different cultures and animals makes it so you, “have a more open mind,” as he put it.
One of the two medals that Steve earned during his six years of
service was from his Humanitarian efforts, “You would see a boat that
should fit only twenty five people with over a hundred… some countries aren’t like ours… people wanted to leave,” he recalled. “We didn’t send them back of course, we took them to Hawaii or something. The nearest military spot.” The other medal he got was for his Sea Expedition.
Steve told of his time on the ship, “You had to get ‘Privileges’.
Privileges to send letters to your family. You also had to clean your own tennis shoes… It was just a big sink and everyone would line up.”
Now Steve happily works as the Head Custodian at Park Place
Middle School, where he is loved by all students, “Steve is the best janitor in the whole world!” Laura Wittenburg (8th) cried. But he still has a faraway look in his eye when he starts to recall his time in the Navy, on a ship, in the middle of the ocean. “It’s a good experience,” he recalled, “It really is.”


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