Rick Rogers’ story on the return of the USS Ronald Reagan in today’s Union-Tribune is touching, but something’s not right.

In case you missed it, Rogers tells the story of young Reaganite Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Williams and his girlfriend Misty Carothers. The point of the story is that the two “met” on the Internet while he was on deployment with the Reagan, which left San Diego in January. Yesterday, they were finally going to meet in person when the Reagan came into port. Rogers gives us a little poetry about the encounter:

Their love is the stuff of fairy tales, or at least of modern love with an ode to technology

OK. Sounds interesting, actually, that a young sailor on deployment could get enough time on the Internet to start off a full relationship. You certainly couldn’t have told a story like this a decade ago.

They met via the Internet while Williams helped navigate the Ronald Reagan around the Western Pacific and Carothers, a single mother, ran her family in Carlisle, a landlocked town in south-central Pennsylvania not far from the Maryland state line.

In other words, they had to meet on the Internet some time after the Reagan left San Diego and entered the “Western Pacific,” right? But that doesn’t jibe with a quote Rogers passes along from the young sailor:

“I’ve been talking to her for 10 months, now I’m about to meet her,” Williams said when asked how he felt.

How has he been talking to her for 10 months if he supposedly met her via the Internet while the Reagan was on deployment? The Reagan went on deployment in January – six months ago.

They either didn’t start talking on the Internet 10 months ago and Rogers quoted Williams incorrectly (or the sailor misspoke), or they did start communicating on the Web 10 months ago and Williams wasn’t on deployment when they did, which would kill the whole point of the anecdote.

It’s probably just a simple mistake – we all make them. But I was particularly interested in this story. Like I said, if true, it would tell a lot about how much technology has changed a sailor’s life.

SCOTT LEWIS

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